We had such a full day of community yesterday! I summed it up this way on Facebook last night:
"Community is not always fun and easy. There is lots of compromise, tongue biting and forgiving along with lots of laughs, smiles, and collaboration. When it all comes together, the messy and the beautiful, it is such an incredible experience! Feeling blessed to be part of this community today--my heart overflows with the goodness!"
We began our Sunday slowly. We had such a full day on Saturday and we all went to bed way past our bedtimes! We went to see the Anchorage symphony perform "Disney in Concert: Tale as Old as Time" for the 2pm showing. It was fantastic! They performed music from most of their big name animated features. They had a team of 4 outstanding vocal performers who sang and they showed snippets from the movies as they played. It was a great family show and the perfect way to introduce the girls to the symphony. Afterwards we went grocery shopping and then out to (late) dinner with some friends. A great family day!
So...yes...Sunday began slowly. Pancakes for most of us, waffles for one of us, cups of coffee and snuggles on the couch. We went to our usual 11am church service which was wonderful...I love our church family! At church we were invited to a wedding that was happening at 3pm. They've been engaged for a long time and they were waiting for all of her paperwork from Taiwan to clear. It did and they decided to 'just do it' and planned a last-minute outdoor ceremony, hoping the weather would cooperate.
At 1pm the Samoan church here in town was celebrating 'White Sunday' which is a holiday in their culture where they celebrate children. It was a fun service, run completely by the kids. Our Samoan community is the most joyful group of worshippers I have ever met! It is always so uplifting and inspiring to worship with them and this event was no different. The kids recited memory verses, sang, danced, preached, and performed skits. The service was just wrapping up when it was time to head to the wedding.
The weather cooperated and it was dry through the service. The bride and groom rode away on his bike and we all went to the reception at the restaurant owned by his family. There were cousins and nieces from Anchorage, so there was a dance floor full of little girls dancing! It was just a great day of community celebration and it made me remember something I read a few weeks ago. Pop over there and give it a read...Shannan and her husband made a big change several years ago as well and in this particular post she is reflecting on their choice to put their kids in public school and their community.
People ask us all the time why we live here and when we'll leave. I don't think either of us really thought we'd be here this long or that we'd still be happy here 5 years later, but in total truth we are! We feel called here. We have learned so much from the people of this community...so much we never would have learned living isolated in the middle of our 20 acres in Washington. We worked so hard and we built a life surrounded by people who looked and thought and acted just like us. We loved (and still do love!) those people and leaving was so very hard. But. Somehow in letting go of that life we grabbed onto a life that has taught us so much about who we are and who God is. So many people have touched our lives here in ways that we would have never been open to before moving here. The lessons we have learned and been able to share with our kids have become central to our core beliefs. We truly love the people here. When we made the move the decision to move here was all about us and our kids but thankfully a bigger picture has been revealed to us. As Shannan puts it,
"What we weren't prepared for was the prevailing goodness we'd find. The caring and hilarious and soulful hearts of our neighbors and teachers and friends.
The dirt of humanity lives here, yes, as it lives everywhere. It might be more visible here, more in our faces. We choose to see this as an opportunity to talk with our kids about real life, failure, heartbreak, and sin. We talk now, while the stakes are still relatively low. We build the conversation brick by crumbly brick, cringing sometimes at what's yet to come, but doing our best to remember fear and discouragement have been vanquished. (Joshua 1:9)
Now, we work and play and celebrate alongside folks whose walk with God might not look exactly like ours. Theirs might not resemble ours at all. It might not even exist. But we're neighbors now. We belong to them, and them to us. This community is confusing, sometimes. It's annoying, sometimes. It's frustrating and heartbreaking.
Often, it's as easy as a slice of pie. It's the gift of a lifetime, this blending of races, rich cultural heritages, wildly different positions on the ladder."
Yes, and amen!