Community

This cloudy Saturday found Sarah and me busy in the kitchen cooking tons of granola (okay, really only two gallons) to take out to Marulaon.  This trip will be shorter than most, only about eight weeks.  We also made banana bread and cookies to share, and I worked on supper prep as well.  But all of this cooking got me thinking about community.

Quite often, I run out of ingredients.  In the last few days, I've had to borrow garlic, soy sauce, and eggs from my sweet neighbors.  But thankfully, it's a two way street.  I loaned out yeast and onions today.  Part of the joy of living at SITAG is the sense of community it provides for our family.  One of my colleagues dropped by with a cantaloupe she picked up at market because she knows I love cantaloupe.  (They remind me of my grandparents who still keep a garden at their home on Lake Conway.)  And tonight, another colleague mentioned that she had seen a 20kg bag of onions for sale because she knew that we were looking for a big bag to take out to the village.  Aaron promptly went out and bought the onions!


Obviously, our SITAG community is built in.  We desperately need each other if we are going to survive and thrive here.  But back in our passport culture, it's very easy to live independent lives, never even meeting our neighbors much less going to borrow an egg from them.  We struggled on furlough as we tried to create community, be involved in other people's lives, and encourage people to drop by our house.
My friend, Gayly, sends me the Urban Farm magazine.  I think it's my new favorite.  In the May/June edition, the magazine ran an article about living in intentional community.  For most people I know, that concept would immediately be labeled "weird".  But it's a Biblical concept!  Loving your neighbor as yourself.  God made us all different, and you may not want to go buy a house with three of your best friends and their families. 
Our family likes to cook.  So, for us, building community looks like taking cookies and thank you notes to fire fighters or the dentist or church staff when we are back in the States, and here we take banana muffins to the district priest and the catechists in the village.  I have a friend in Mississippi who is gifted artistically, and she shares her skills to bless people with art lessons for children or with a keepsake for our children's librarian.
But might you be willing to use whatever gifts God has given you to interact with your neighbors?  Could you adopt a widow?  Volunteer at a food pantry or crisis pregnancy shelter?  Run in a race that is fundraising for a good cause?  I'm curious, what does look like for you?

Comments

My next door neighbors are retired. They're often out in their backyard, watching the squirrels and relaxing. I love going through the back fence and just "practicing the art of sitting" with them :D We DO borrow things back and forth, though they've rescued me more often than vice versa (most recently when I had to finish cooking a turkey in their oven!)

Your effort will be greatly rewarded :D

Julie
Anonymous said…
I love your approach to community! As you know, one of the biggest factors in our decision to buy a house where we did was the "small town" vibe of our big-city neighborhood. My favorite example of how I've benefited from this is the night I called a neighbor at 11PM because our fridge had died. I was able to take several dozen packs of frozen breastmilk to her house while we figured out what to do. How's that for neighborly, huh? We also share our backyard with the neighbor kids, serve on our community council, volunteer at the tutoring center for school children down the street, host neighborhood meetings in our home, and strongly support our neighborhood food co-op (and by extension, our local farmers). I am so grateful for the "in this together" nature of our community.

Love your giving spirit! --Liss
Choate Family said…
Julie and Liss,
I love reading the stories of community done right! Thanks for sharing :-)
Joanna

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