There seems to be a few things that show up every single day in life here for us at New Hope, themes if you will that I can’t seem to get away from and are part of our daily routine.
Some of them are activities: Doing hair, worship/music, coloring/drawing, dancing..... but probably the most peculiar that many wouldn’t guess but is so necessary to add to this list is:
To tell you the truth, I feel like rice has become a big part of my life here as funny as that sounds.
I eat it at least two times a day.
I have seen it in so many different shapes and forms.
It is more than a staple here, it is a necessity, something that we just don't go without here at New Hope.
I have had it sweet, I have had it seasoned, I have had it white, I have had it in soup, I have had it on the side, I have had it burnt and crunchy (which is called ‘con-con’ and it is a very popular and tasty way to eat it here in the DR which I happen to love), I have had it as the main course and they can even manage to make it in dessert form as well.
But, there is always something that comes with eating rice:
cleaning the pan it is cooked in when it is done.
Because here in the Dominican Republic, we don’t believe in rice cookers, we use big huge stir-frying pots and cook it on the stove with lots of oil and water. And you can imagine that in the end, there is a lot that is stuck on the bottom and sides after you’ve served everyone up (hence the ability to eat the burnt and crunchy part almost every meal as well).
I have had the honor of washing the rice pot countless upon countless times throughout my last couple months here. And this is where my learning has come in:
After all the rice is served, we pour water into the pot so that the rice has a chance to begin to soak up the water and make it easier to scrape out the remaining rice and scrub it clean.
However, there have been many times where I have begun washing the pot prematurely, before the remaining rice had the chance to soak up the right amount of water, and it has ended in me using all my might combined with steel-whol in order to try and take off what’s left over and more than a few times someone has come up to me and told me that I need to refill the pot with water and leave it longer because I started cleaning too soon.
Many times as people, we go in to a situation, step into a calling, begin a new journey, and we begin scraping the pot clean before the water had enough time to soak.
When I came into these girls lives, I walked into their lives and came in strong. I began correcting them immediately, and my mommy-radar kicked in on high gear and I was ready to train. I knew the calling the Lord had placed on my life, I knew why I was there, I was eager, excited, feeling unstoppable... But that didn’t mean that they were ready to receive all that I was ready to give.
and I struggled. I mean really struggled. There were times I cried myself to sleep wondering and calling out to the Lord, telling Him that He had to have gotten it wrong... How was I ever going to belong in this house while I was facing so much rejection?
And they are just girls... Little girls I would think to myself... How could I be so defeated? How could I be so brought down?
But now, after cleaning so many pots of rice...
They just needed more water and a little time to soak.
It is necessary for us to get clean. It is necessary for the crap in our lives to be scraped out, but we really can’t do it ourselves. That without water being poured in and over us, up and covering the hardest parts, we won’t be softened and ready for the cleaning that’s ahead of us.
I believe that God wants to use us to be the cleaner in other people’s lives. I believe He uses us in relationships, in social settings, in families, in churches, in ministries, etc. in order to reveal the brokenness in others and help them recognize the higher, heavenly call that the Lord has for each and every one of our lives. But.... The water is the most important part.
And can you guess what/who the water is?
He is our water. He is the one softening, reshaping, enabling the change and preparing us for it. He has to be poured out FIRST. He has to be invited in and recognized as the most valuable, the only way for true healing and lasting transformation. He is the water of life that flows, His Holy Spirit is released and we follow in His direction and leading, and then we too as people get to be part of that change of atmosphere and direction, the healing and redemption.
As God has been poured out and become the center of our relationships, the girls have continued to soften. I had a time where I left for a week because my family came to the Dominican and we got to vacation together and when I came back, my big girls (ages 10-13) were jumping and hugging and telling me that they needed to give me a “punishment” because I had left them for “so long.” They were asking immediately that I would pray for them, overflowing with stories and information of what had happened in the last week that I had missed... Right before my eyes I saw that there had been a shift in our relationships, and it continues to seem as though there has been a transformation between us as well as in them.
The space allowed for a greater “soaking”, for them to rest and have the space away from all that I had been enforcing and teaching them over the last couple months. It allowed for God to soften the hardness that I had been trying to scrape off prematurely like I do when I’m cleaning the rice pot too soon. The distance and absence revealed to them the goodness of God allowing me to live and do life with them, and still today we continue to grow closer together.
It isn’t easy by any means, and I’m sure there will be moments when I am scraping away and the Lord will have to draw me back and remind me that they have to soak a bit more before they are ready, but now I am certain that we are in this together, that the Lord has called me for a purpose and a reason, that these girls have a destiny and I get to be part of how that is released in and through their lives.... and what a privilege it is.