I am forever falling behind. It is the story of my life. My house looks like a disaster zone more often than not, I make meals occasionally or we just eat fries or cereal for supper, I have a to-do list that never seems to get done.There are times where I fall behind because of laziness and times when I fall behind because I just need a mental health day. I often fall behind on laundry because of low water pressure and dishes because the lamp we currently use to light the kitchen is too dim to see the dishes at night.
There are also times where I have my whole day planned, and I am talking PLANNED, and I get interrupted and my plans fall apart. Interrupted by my cell phone, an email, a sick child, or someone at my gate.Today I was interrupted by three children. These same kids also interrupted me 2 weeks ago. They live nearby, 3 siblings, 12, 9 and 6. Two brothers and a little sister. The first time they showed up they were with a concerned adult who found them walking home from school in their uniforms right when school was starting. After talking to neighbors, she discovered these kids were spending a lot of their school days at home. Their parents both work and leave the house early; there is a 17 year old sister who is supposed to be looking out for them in the morning, but this plainly isn't working. 2 week ago I took them to the local social worker, and today I did the same. I was out burning my garbage (it's what we do) and saw these three heads sticking out of the tall grass. I sent Tyson to see who it was (our kids don't have school because of conferences. More interruptions!!) and sure enough, it was my 3 friends.
We walked to the SW office, found out no one would be in til 11, so we came back home and they watched a movie with T and J. Then we had a two hour wait at the social work office. While we were waiting, an older lady came to join the queue and it turns out she is a neighbor to the family. She came into the office with us when it was our turn and was able to fill in some details for the social worker. I am glad they will be taking further steps to see that the parents are aware of what is going on and that the children truly understand the dangers that face them when they skip school; men who are looking for young boys to sell nyaope (drugs), men wanting to rape little girls, big trucks and buses speeding down the roads, dangerous animals (the game fence is currently down near us, so the potential is there!) After being told all the dangers, the 6 year old was sobbing, so I held her on my lap. She didn't want to let go when our time with the social worker was finished.
Did I have plans today? Yep. Do I have two children of my own to look after? I do, and I did, running home during the two hour wait to help them with lunch. Do I have deadlines to meet, people waiting on me to send them information, thank you letters, ministry updates and the like? Of course, and now I am not going to finish all of those things today. I suppose I could have ignored the children, started my garbage on fire and came back to my computer to work, but I am learning that God works in the interruptions. When I lay down my plans, I can better follow His plans. Is it possible these are just three naughty kids skipping school? Actually, there is a really good possibility that this is exactly the case. Does that mean these children don't deserve to be looked after and cared for? Should I turn my back and shut my gate?
Last week I also dealt with interruptions. Local friends who write and tell me they are bored. I know this is a backwards way of asking for an invitation, so I go out and fetch them for the afternoon, in the middle of a day that has already gotten away from me as I tried to clean the house and work on my to-do list (the same one I planned to tackle today). I could have just written back and said "sorry you are bored, see you another time", but I am learning more and more how the relationships I build are the more important work I am doing here. Feeding children is good work, handing out school supplies is a worthy endeavor; sorting out clothes and books, collecting blankets and winter hats these are all worthwhile things. Yet taking the time to sit and get to know a person beyond their first name, making space for others around our table, being willing to drop what I am doing to meet the needs of the other - this is where I am seeing God work the most, when I invest in people and learn to be open with them and allow them to see the messy parts of my house, hear my getting angry at my children, learning that I don't know how to do everything. When I am vulnerable, I can say "See, my life is not perfect, I am not perfect, I fail A LOT and I need Grace. I need a Savior. This Jesus I used to mention to you in passing, He is the ONLY thing holding me together today and everyday."
Sometimes the interruptions are a bit odd, like last Monday when school was cancelled because of elephants! Yes, as I mentioned above, the game fences have been damaged and the elephants found their way into Bethesda. It was our own version of a snow day, only with elephants! Darin and I both had plans on Monday, lots of plans. Darin ended up taking Tyson out with him and Jori came with me to the Distribution Centre. She helped me sort toys for our centres, a job I had put off for too long and had to get done on Monday as it was the only open day of my week. It was so good to spend time with my girl, to have her working alongside of me. Darin and Tyson also had a great day together. The interruption of elephants, which caused me much crabbiness at first, ended up being a gift. Darin and I are often running around in many directions while our kids are at school, and our kids are largely unaware of this. When we know they will be home from school, we plan accordingly (like I planned to be home today, but see the interruption up above!). We thought about rearranging our plans last Monday, but taking our kids along and allow them to engage with the work we do was so much better for all of us.
I have often thought about sitting down and writing a post about a typical week for us, but I don't know when we last experienced a "typical" week. Unexpected situations seem to pop up more often than not. These interruptions don't shake up our lives, but they are what make our lives.