Do as I Do

I should have titled this post, “Action, Not a Bag a Mout” but my non-Jamaican readers might have wondered what was going on (tee hee).  Anyway, here goes.

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I told you all about the dump I found when I got to Banda Aceh and the super cleaning that I did so I could sleep peacefully at night.  I also told you that I was going to pray about how to keep it clean.  The solution came naturally.

The super cleaning took place on a Sunday, my day off.  The next day, Monday, A and I went out and bought 2 new brooms, since the other 1 broke at the end of my cleaning frenzy.  On Tuesday, after I awoke, had my devotions, showered and dressed, I grabbed one of the 2 new brooms and swept out my room and the common areas (large living room, 2 volunteers’ rooms and break room).  I just couldn’t bear the thought of all my hard work starting to deteriorate so soon.  Although I had cleaned as best as I could in 1 day, I knew that there were still pockets of dirt that would drift into the clean areas and dirty them up.  For now this was the best that I could do.

That Tuesday set a daily pattern.  Every morning, I would sweep my room and those common areas I mentioned , and once per week I would wipe them out.  I did this for a purely selfish reason – simply because I wanted to keep my living and working environment clean.

Before that week was out, I noticed that A and B had joined in the daily cleaning.  They would sweep and wipe the 2 classrooms every day before they started working.  This was new because I had noticed during my first week that no cleaning of any kind had taken place in any part of the centre.  I assumed that they felt bad that I was trying to keep the place clean.  After B left (just less than a month after I arrived), A and I fell into an unspoken agreement to work in sync to keep the place clean.  Between us, we managed to sweep the common areas daily and mop weekly.  By this time, I was cleaning not only for myself but also for the children because I felt like they deserved to walk on clean floors and sit in clean classrooms.  A few weeks later, one of our local volunteers (she’s an American bule who helps us out by teaching a class) mentioned that this was the cleanest she’s ever seen the place in the months that she has been coming here, and that she doesn’t mind walking barefooted now.

I know that talking about cleaning is boring but I’m making a point.  I started my cleaning schedule for my own sake and wondered how I would keep it up.  But my doing this unpleasant task despite my misgivings or what I was used to set an example for others that I didn’t intend or expect.

It got me thinking about how often in my life I have missed the opportunity to inspire action in others by my own actions instead of by my words; so many times, I cringe just thinking about it.  Still, my ruminations showed me that this is actually a habit I’ve been developing over this last year of my life without fully realising what was happening – I’ve been learning to do instead of say.  It’s why I’m in Indonesia.  It’s why I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.  And it’s why I will take on the next adventure that God has in store for me.

However, my ruminations also showed me that although I talk less and act more in some areas of my life, I still talk far too much in other areas, so I know I have a long way to go.

Oh, Lord, that You would continue to teach me to shut my mouth more and act instead!

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