Sometimes, I get tired. Work at the orphanage never seems to cease. There is always something else to do – school to teach, lesson plans to make, sick kids to care for, dinners to cook, kitchens to clean, games of duck-duck-goose to be played, storage units to be inventoried, children to be read to, Bible studies to be taught, floors to be swept. At times it can be overwhelming.
Sometimes, I find it difficult to force myself to rest when there is so much to be done. And other times my body and soul demand that I take time to myself to breathe and rest, to sleep, to spend some time in prayer, or open up a thick book.
I am one of only two members of our group who hasn’t been knocked out for a few days with some kind of miserable sickness, and I am determined to keep it that way. So resting serves a functional purpose, but also an emotional and spiritual one as well. Just as the work here is fulfilling and unique, so too is the rest.
Every day, I find some time to sneak off to my room, climb onto the top bunk, and open my Bible. This time spent dwelling in the Word instead of the world is my anchor and my foundation for the day. And the time spent writing open, honest prayers in my journal gives me the strength and the clarity I need every moment of every day, no matter where I am on the planet.
There are other moments of rest throughout the week, as well.
On Saturday mornings, when the day starts later than usual, there is nothing more peaceful or relaxing than sitting on the porch in the cool of the morning, snuggled in Chris’s warm sweatshirt, sipping a cup of mint tea or hot chocolate if it is a little chilly, and reading a book.
After lunch, after the children have been put down for their naps and I’ve read a few chapters of Charlotte’s Web to the first graders, and the day gets a little too warm, one might lounge in the main house, chatting in low voices or watching television listlessly (if there is power), dozing intermittently in a warm patch of sunlight issuing from the window.
If one is not on clean-up duty after dinner, another opportunity to rest might be found after everyone has finished eating, but no one has yet risen from the table. It is then that we recline at the table and listen to stories of the Morrows’ time as missionaries, or discuss our homes, or talk about the children. As the bonds of friendship grow and strengthen, we find rest in the fellowship of other Christians.
Sunday is our official day of rest. We hold children’s church in the morning, and it is the most adorable half hour of our week, featuring children’s songs sung in precious voices and a performance of a Bible story. Today’s was the Tower of Babel. Several other volunteers and I spoke in different languages and attempted to build a tower out of Lego bricks that kept falling over, much to the amusement of the children. After children’s church and our own Sunday worship service – sometimes a recorded message from a pastor in California or a Bible study in the main house – Sundays are a day to rest, to watch a movie, take a nap, read a book. They are warm, calm, slow, and lethargic, the perfect end to a busy week.
Resting does not come easily to me, whether I am here or at home. Neither does being quiet, which is why I am trying to become more disciplined in being still and silent. There’s really no such thing as silence in the orphanage. Even during naptime, when the sounds of raucous play or crocodile tears do not issue from the courtyard right outside my door, the silence is broken by the sneezing of goats, the buzzing of flies, the laughter of the nannies, and the chatter of villagers walking down the road outside. I spend my nights listening to the squeaking of geckos, the tapping of rats, whistles of bats, and the howling of wild dogs in the distance.
However, I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard true silence in the States, either. I spend the majority of my time surrounded by other people, and even when alone or when no one is speaking, the silence is still corrupted with the beat of music, the humming of air conditioners, the growl of lawn mowers, and the roar of traffic in the distance. Silence here is more alive, more organic, than any quiet I could hope to achieve in the States. And here, unlike at home, I find it easier to clear my mind and push out the sounds of the world. It isn’t easy, but I’m working on it.
Even in the midst of insanity and business, this is a place where peace can be found.