We live on an adorable island the size of Delaware, which is one of 17,000 in the world’s largest archipelago. Visiting another for the weekend is like taking a road trip to Atlanta for this Tampa girl. Such is how I found myself saying yes to a weekend away on another island, one even smaller. Far from to-do lists and calendar schedules, I said yes to a trip with a friend. I said yes to a trip to the village where she once lived. I said yes to no schedule and no tasks.
Just a short 30 minute flight and we were there. Well, a 30 minute flight and a 3 hour car ride. And we were there. In a village at the foot of a famous volcano. People come from all over the world to trek this peak. To see the beauty it holds. To swim in a lake in the crater. To have a mountaintop experience. But we didn’t come for the peak, we came for the valley. For the people of the valley. The plan was simple. We would just walk around, past homes and to villages and see who was home. My friend lived in this village for almost 4 years, and has been gone from it almost as long. She made deep friendships, and was anxious to reconnect. I was along for the ride.
We walked for awhile, and I took in the sights. So similar to my home island and then so different. We were eventually recognized and invited in for tea and snacks. They talked and laughed. I listened and tried to understand. I saw the warmth in their eyes and I longed to know them too. We continued on to new homes. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the place. It was an easy day but a rich one. And the next day was more of the same. Word had gotten out that we were in town, and the invites were still coming. We spent the morning with an industrious woman who runs a kitchen supply store out of her home. She also cooks. And roasts coffee. I loved her. Her beautifully disabled daughter soon arrived home from school, which is a miracle in itself, because when my friend lived there, this young girl was denied school because of her disability. But both her and her mom shine proudly with her newfound love of education. Again, we shared snacks and tea. And I ordered some of her home roasted coffee. Just because I love coffee. And now I love her.
We continued our walking, which lead us to beautiful waterfalls hidden in green jungles. We saw one, and then another. They were simply breathtaking. As we walked on, I would just stop and take in the view. We were so high and could look down on the fields below. And not just the beautiful rice terraces, but corn and beans and palm trees. So lush.
We had dinner with a wonderful family. They spoiled us with all the food they shared. We just talked and laughed. They complimented my language skills, and I continually couldn’t understand what they said. Story of my life. They talked about the neighborhood bully that picks on their daughter and their teenage son who doesn’t want to shower. I was struck by how normal this dinner felt, half a world away.
Leaving this village, I was really impacted by the power of relationship. Without relationship, I would never heard these families’ struggles and rejoices. Without relationship, I would have been just another white face at a guesthouse. But relationship opens doors. Relationship allows us to do life together. To speak life and to bring life. But relationship takes time. I’m encouraged to see my friend’s relationships and am hungry for some of my own. This trip was a time investing and observing for me, and I’m so glad I went.