Friday, August 17, 2012

the house of my dreams

Not long before leaving Davao to begin our home assignment, my friend Jessica invited me to take a walk with her to visit some families in a nearby village.  We started out together beneath the scorching afternoon sun.  Though the village was nearby, yet in ways it felt as if we were entering another world as we turned down a dirt road and wound our way past banana trees laden with purple hearts and tethered goats seeking respite in the shade.  

Bamboo woven walls and corrugated tin roofs fashion the homes of the villagers here.  Laundry hangs from lines and over makeshift fences to dry, and vibrant single-use packets of detergent dangle for sale outside a home.  Chickens peck hungrily along the dusty road while valuable caribou graze.

The sound of children’s voices grows loud as we approach the home of Jessica’s friend Em*.  Outside her place we find children lined up, waiting, eager.  Jessica pauses at the door and explains that this house once sat in a couple of feet of mud each time it rained, but after some investment and improvement, it’s now a dry home with two levels.  

Em greets us warmly, introduces her beautiful children, and proudly shows me her home.  The front porch has been converted to an enclosed room, a place where Em shares the good things God has provided for her family with the children of her village.  Here is an incredible treasure, unusual in Davao, and unheard of in a village like this – a library of children’s books, teaching resources, and space for children to gather and learn. It's a combined dream come true for both Em and Jessica.

Behind this room is their family area.  The bedroom is complete with a door for privacy, not a standard feature in most village homes.  A hanging curtain partitions the dining area from the kitchen, a room complete with built-in counter, sink, laundry area, and indoor stove.  
says Em with unmistakable delight,  
“is my dream home.”

She proudly displays her herb garden, growing lush and strong in cleverly recycled soda bottles.  But it’s the spiritual growth I’m really excited about.   

Beyond the explosion of shoes at her front door the eager children of the village wait for Em, who teaches the Word of God to them; words she received with joy and now shares with hearts hungry for eternal bread, an imperishable treasure, a salvation full and free and forever.

 I’m surprised to see familiar faces in this room, smiles of recognition, murmurs of ‘Hi, Tita Barbara!’  These children are some of the same ones who come to our gate for a job or to visit.

These are children I’ve longed to reach, aching for the words to communicate something of the gospel of grace when I speak so little of their language, and they so little of mine.
 And here is Em, in their very own neighborhood, teaching them His word, encouraging them in their very own dialect to hide this Word in their hearts.  It makes my heart swell with thankfulness to know that these friends of mine are here in Em's house, learning of God’s goodness.
Now, months later, I find myself thousands of miles away in a beautiful home prepared for us by loving hands for these months of our home assignment.  This place is pretty close to perfect, and as I look around, I find myself thinking of Em’s dream home, and reflecting on what MY dream home would look like.  What kind of neighborhood would it be in?  What floor plan would be just right?  What sort of furnishings would I choose?    

Then I stop to wonder: could all those carefully chosen material elements, regardless how perfect, truly compose the home of my dreams?  

Or does Em have it right? 
Maybe the most beautiful of dream homes is simply a place of contentment with God’s gifts, and a spot to share the goodness of God with others around me.   

Could I not do that wherever I live?  
Maybe this, right now, wherever I find myself, could actually be 
the house of my dreams.

Em* - not her real name


Jaymi Bragg said...

As always, this is so encouraging! It was surreal seeing you last week. Love to you all!

us5 said...

thank you, Jaymi! ♥ it was great to see you...looking forward to more time with you soon!

Unknown said...

Worth pondering deeply! Are my dreams engendered by my desire to find a shortcut to meaning in my life or are they coming from that indescribable longing for God's gracious presence in my life and the lives of others?

OliveTree said...

Em definitely has it right! I love this: "a dream house is simply a place of contentment with God's gifts." What a miracle that she has that library for the kids!

us5 said...

isn't that library amazing?!? it makes me smile just thinking of it... :)