September 06, 2006

lime trees and lemon lights

I was suprised to see lime trees in Albania. It turns out that they are a rare but seen thing! I remeber lime trees in the back yard of our Sierra Leonean, West African home years ago. I love limes, so when I saw them in Albania my prayer was - "oh Lord let me live in a home that has lime trees in its yard!" After the first visit to Shkodra to find a house I was extrememly despondant - never imagined finding anywhere that would come close to being livable - the communist era apartments where way too out of my world for me to cope with. I never expected such emotions - me raised on the mission field - me ready to go to the poorest of the poor! The second trip to Shkodra was on my birthday - and if possible - it was a worse experience than the first!

But - the first house we saw was lovely... It was old - artistic, no doubt falling down, but full of character and had a wonderful garden - roses, little ponds and walls, iron cast table and chairs, abundance of grapes and fig trees and an orchard of lime trees! Joy filled my heart - could God be granting me a dream come true? It was never in question whether or not I would live there - Judith who was certainly my senior and the one who could care for such a garden, and who needed two rooms, not just one - the whole question was - would she have this house? I prayed - "Lord if its not for Judith - then let it be for me!" And kept it close to my heart for the day.

We searched on - and had a nice stop at a traditional restraunt for my birthday meal - though I found myself at the verge of tears every moment! Eventually at the end of a long day we came to an apartment that was thought to be ideal for me. It was fine - but it wasn't nice - it had Muslim things up on the wall, old cigarette ends lying around and it was enclosed with a big iron door - I felt locked away and awful. Everyone was saying - "oh you must decide - is it for you?" and the owner was pressing me for an answer. I had no idea, Judith still hadn't decided on the dream home and I had lessons to learn in standing up for myself. I said okay - "I'll take it - just lets get out of here!" I thought - there will never be a place I want to call home - so this is it - I will make do. That night however I was far from at peace and I talked to my parents on the phone who insited I make the choice I wanted for myself. I talked and prayed with Judith and Sonya - whose house I was staying over at. They pressed me to be wise - not to back out of an arrangement, to realise it was close to the church, but I could not bear the thought of living there. As I prayed and fell asleep I asked God for his choice and abundant wisdom and courage to stand up for what I needed. Then drifting off to sleep I remembered the other apartment I had seen...

It was in the communist apartment block that surrounded the statue of Isa Bolentini. It was a mess, but it was simple and it was out in the open - central to the city and authentic - had an old belfast sink in the kitchen and when I had sat out on the balcony to breathe in the feel of the place there was a string of lemon lights that light up at night time, and I laughed with God - "is this the closest to lime trees that I'm going to get?" I watched all the people and traffic and thought - yeah - maybe... but like always nothing seemed good to me and my unsettled heart. The next morning all I wanted to do was go to the Isa Bolentini apartment! I shared my decision, faced the consequences and all was approved and encouraged and put into place. Isa Bolentini house was not the lovely grand garden home which would have been a haven hideaway - but it was an apartment in the midst of the life and problems and noise and dust - but it was a place I could call and make home - and it was my choice and my commitment - and I believe Gods placing of me in this town. By God's enablingI stood up for myself and claimed my lemon lights home!


NB said...

I love your blog Beth and I am really encouraged by the way God provided your home.

Mary said...

beth, i really do hope to meet you one day. i love your stories. your writing makes me feel like my ear is well to your heart. in this little way, know that i pray that the joy you give me be returned to you ten fold. i'm thinking of you.