Some things happen really fast in my life here in Indonesia. Sweat on my face when I move just a millimeter? Two seconds. Getting lost when trying to find a roadside guy who sells mangos? Five minutes, shorter if my kids are fighting in the back of the car. My sprint time through the house with a humongous spider chasing me? One nanosecond.
But many other things seem to take forever. Perfecting my yogurt recipe so that it doesn’t separate. Six months. Learning to truly enjoy a cup of hot tea in the home of a friend on a hot humid afternoon? Five long, sweaty years. Completely mastering the local language… I’ll let you know when it happens. My kids are learning this, too. They’re figuring out that while it’s easy to meet a new kid for the first time, it takes time and effort to learn enough language and allow the new friend to get used to the foreigners to be able to move past acquaintance to friend. They’re seeing that it takes Mom a while (a year?) to figure out how to order a homeschool day to fit in all the subjects and grades and heart talks and interruptions from the guys who come to our house selling raw honey or paintings of gold fish or woven bamboo floor mats.
This overseas life has taught me to love the things that only happen in time. Deep cross cultural friendships? They can start sometimes with misunderstandings and confusion and even fear, but given time, they bring the best treasures of growth and acceptance and love. Work that gets bogged down in bureaucracy sometimes? It can create doubt and tedium and frustration when you’re in the middle of delays. But it can also create a welcome space for growing relationships and better teamwork; new vision and renewed commitments in an otherwise busy life.
Finding ways to fulfill certain creative dreams like novel-writing, or ministry hopes like taking part in seeing hearts healed? It can seem impossible in the middle of having babies and learning culture and dealing with my insecurities. But the possible emerges in small, determined, flexible steps.
This is a lesson I can forget in a second when things seem hard. But it’s one that’s worth the time it takes to keep learning.