Breeze, Birds, Bananas
We have been in Saint Lucia for one month and are still adjusting, but things are improving. We have and continue to struggle with internet issues, especially during the Christmas holidays while the kids are out of school. Mornings are best to be online when I attempt to upload pictures and do these updates for you, which take a very long time because of the slow speed to operate, or sometimes prepared posts just mysteriously disappear.
Our favorite morning place is our balcony, sipping coffee and reading/praying, as we are slightly up a hill, and feel the heavenly breeze! The picture above is from our balcony, and if you look closely, you can see the ocean and the marina, and the giant mango tree in our front yard. We found the big grocery store which is spacious, not crowded, but best of all, plays awesome Christian worship music in the mornings, and Christmas music the rest of the day! And it is air conditioned! It is a bit warm here for me. I occasionally have sweat running down my back as I prepare dinner or walk in the hot sun (even with an umbrella), or often just glisten all over. It can be exhausting and wears me out sometimes. That is why I love the breeze so much! The temperatures are very consistent - high about 85, low of 74, humid, no air conditioning. If you are outside in the shade, with a breeze, it is very nice. A fan in our bedroom is essential for sleeping.
I am so glad God blessed Merle with household repair skills! The humidity causes anything metal to rust quickly including the washing machine and the metal covered salt shaker! We can still hang clothes to dry, if it doesn't rain! Merle has been working on toilets, the roof, the shower head, and coming up with designs for a better fruit picker, among many other things. Another difficulty is getting around. The roads are narrow and windy, with heavy Christmas traffic. Going the two hours to the airport on the far side of the island is not easy, or walking to the hardware store or grocery store, and carrying home groceries.
The fresh fruit is lovely, when available. We even have fruit growing in the yard, but I am not familiar with some tropical fruit and don't know how to tell when they are ready. Meanwhile the birds and big fruit bats love them, too! Below is soursop, grapefruit, giant avocado, whitish sweet potatoes, and some strange bumpy green thing (good for digestion?)!
There is a little black bird with a red bib that flies into the door on the balcony, down the stairs, and turns into the kitchen to nibble the tiny bananas in the corner! He is correct that they are delicious, along with the mangoes that grow in the yard, but vegetables are not easy to find and are very expensive! I love hearing the very loud tiny frogs at night, and the chirping birds in the morning, but I don't enjoy the karaoke club near us that plays loudly until 2 am! Some nights, it is the battle of the bands with questionable singers! I have seen two kinds of hummingbirds, a small fast one, and a large black iridescent one. The occasional flowers are beautiful, of course. And the deep blue sea!
The most difficult aspect of life, besides the heat, is the price of groceries, especially meat and vegetables! Because it is a vacation spot for Americans and others who are wealthy on one side of the street, the regular people on the other side still have to pay the high prices that the resorts are willing to pay. Even the scarce local growers charge high prices as they have to live in this economy, too. As we are on a very tight budget, beans and rice or potatoes are common dinners for us at the YWAM base, and occasionally chicken. I make my own granola from oatmeal, as I did in the States, and lunch is fruit or a sandwich, though good quality bread is also expensive. Broccoli is very high, as well as squash and other vegetables, which has been very difficult for me, as vegetables are my favorite thing to eat! Some American products are available, but are catastrophic in price. Even canned goods are expensive because the sailors coming through stock up with them. A ham for Christmas, if someone could afford it, was $70-80! We had chicken, baked potatoes, salad, and black beans, carrot cake, peanut butter blossoms, and then watched "It's a Wonderful Life!" It is good to reflect on the goodness God gives us in our regular lives - being rich because of friends and family, and knowing the Lord, of course.
This fall, Marilyn and Guy were becoming weary from the load of ministry, needed encouragement to keep going, as they were about ready to give it up, and were praying fervently for the Lord to bring a mature, experienced couple to help them. The WYAM Base is an excellent location, expensive for them alone, but a great place for ministry, teams to gather, meetings, kids club, and more. God gave them this wonderful, though deteriorated, place, but they needed a bigger team to help cover the cost to keep it and support the work, as well. We were praying for God to show us where He wanted us to go, as we felt led to be in Central America or the Caribbean, and be able to stay in English as I was not excited about learning another language. We weren't sure if French or Creole was spoken more than English, but as it turns out, English is the main language with the others as more local dialects. As we considered St. Lucia, we looked on line at the WYAM base and could see they needed encouragement and had needs that perhaps we could fill. God must have planned it as prayers have been answered for both of us! We are interested in making a difference and contributing to the needs they have, help to build stronger marriages, families, and lead children into a relationship with the Lord. As someone once said, it is better to build boys into godly men, than to try to repair men. It is so encouraging to be united in God's love and fellowship as we move forward to multiply ministry and build the body of Christ. We brought some special gifts for Christmas. Love those smiles!
Our lovely American friend, Denise, invited us for Christmas dinner and it was wonderful! A feast with turkey AND ham and all kinds of extras! We brought mashed potatoes, carrot cake and cookies. We played games and Merle and I were really blessed by the prizes - a racket for killing mosquitoes and a gift certificate for the grocery store! Wow! Plus their place is beautiful with a pool in the complex right on the bay! This generous couple bought new pots and pans for the base for us to use! The old ones were very worn out aluminum with the non-stick coating all worn off, with broken or missing handles. Ah, the generous body of Christ! Maybe you could help, too! We have lots of needs! Like a new relay for the water pump - $200. And getting the big refrigerator fixed, which we desperately need!
We have been enjoying getting to know the people at the Lutheran Church that Denise and Chee attend. The other church we visited was quite loud and long. The teenagers put together a play for Christmas. The steel drum player was amazing! Such an interesting instrument! I love the symbols on the Christmas tree - reminds me of our Jesus Tree at home. A team came from Watertown, WI (where my sister lives!) to lead Vacation Bible School last week!
Any new place takes major adjustments, and we are adjusting, but there is a lot to learn, many new people to get to know, and of course, missing my children.
We hope your Christmas was merry and bright and the New Year full of Jesus and great joy!