Stat Counter

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Lessons Learned

Back in the fall our maintenance man made a concrete bridge connecting two parts of the school so instead of hopping over a little ditch, students could walk across. I was coming out of the office as the concrete was drying and principal told me, "Put your hands in it! It's still wet!" The other teachers agreed so out I went to immortalize my handprints at PCS. I hope in 5 or 10 years to come back and put my hands right back there.


Last week the PCS staff and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch celebrating my time here in Pohnpei and imminent departure. At the end I got this beautiful local handicraft as a gift and had the chance to say a few words. I'd been thinking about what I was going to say, perfectly calm and collected inside my head. Then I got up to actually speak and immediately my eyes filled with tears. I managed to squeak out a whisper, "I've learned more about hospitality and generosity the past two years than ever before. Thank you for inviting me into your family and teaching me how to be a better teacher and friend."

Hospitality. Generosity. Rest.

Those are the three biggest lessons I have learned here.

Pohnpeians have Matthew 25:35 on lockdown, "For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me."

If you go over to someone's house or walk by people eating together, you're likely to be invited to come eat. Homelessness and hunger are not major social justice issues here. Why? Because everyone has a family. And if you have a  family, you have a place to stay and food to eat. Family is serious, serious business. Loyalty to family runs to the core of your being.

Where hospitality abounds, so does generosity, whether that be generosity with one's time, money, food, or energy. It seems as though every weekend there is some sort of fundraiser happening around the island (bingo, sakau, raffles) and whole villages will go enjoy the social event and support whatever cause their neighbors are fundraising for.

The other supreme lesson I've learned is rest. Rest, rest, rest. I've rested more here than ever in my life. I've read 117 books (that's 37,256 pages!) in 22 months. I've played more games of Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride than I care to admit (and loved every minute of them) and learned to just be. Life moves at a slower pace here and people realize the value of rest, not only when you're sick but also when you're perfectly well. Rest is good for the soul. Always.

Apparently I needed a last minute reminder about the importance of rest. I've been down for the count these last few days with a terrible case of cold sores. My mouth is riddled with them. And they HURT, besides making my lips/face look like an alien. Not exactly how I envisioned spending some of my last days in Pohnpei. I finally got the right medicine Monday from my doctor after being mis-medicated at the hospital and am slowly on the road to recovery. (It is now Thursday and I look normal again - yay!) In the process I've done one thing: rest. Monday I spent the entire day watching movies and sleeping and reading different blogs. I took my meds and didn't talk or smile (it hurts!). My Principal was having an allergic reaction to some fish she ate and between her swollen face and my swollen lips, we were a quite a mess. When I went to Kindergarten graduation on Tuesday and the teachers all took one look at me after the ceremony and told me, "Emily, go rest. Go now!"

Pohnpeians know that our greatest strength comes out of a place of rest. Not from a place of striving or seeking or racing. From a place of rest.

Today, may you spend some quiet moments in true rest. Whether you are sick or healthy, worn down or walking on top of the world, may you rest and know the great strength that comes from it.