Monday, July 3, 2017

Week 45 - Fewer Light Bulbs

Dearest friends and family,

Productive minutes lead to productive hours, which lead to productive days and productive weeks. It’s Tuesday which means we are working on those hours and days, but I’ve got a good feeling this will be a great week. Productivity and efficiency can mean a lot of things and there are some differences in definitions that I’ve observed living here in a Latin American country. For example, have I ever mentioned how it’s perfectly normal for homes here to have fewer light bulbs than light sockets? And for the most part, to the extent I’ve been able to observe, this has little to do with money. I mean, cost might be a factor in some cases, but bulbs here only cost about 8,000 posts ($3) which is something that could be reasonably saved in a week or two. No, the lack of light bulbs seems to have more to do with productivity and efficiency. I can tell you that living with fewer light bulbs does involve moving them around often, climbing on chairs, lots of dark corners and occasional moments of darkness while a bulb is being moved from one room to another. And, at 6’3” tall, I can tell you my name is called upon often as I usually move bulbs 2 or 3 times a week because I can reach them without standing on a chair.

So why is it like this? I believe it is because life is so blissfully simple here - having more light bulbs simply doesn’t matter. I’ve been asked what has surprised me most about living in Latin America and I think this is one of the answers I would give. It is surprising how streamlined life is and how much better life can be this way. A story to illustrate. We arrived on Sunday night to the house of a family that I adore, the family Alvear, who are learning about the church and are eager to learn more. When we got there, Mateo the 11-year old son brought me a light bulb from the bedroom and I heard Hermana Lorena (the mom) call from the kitchen: “Erickksan, de me poniendo el coco, ya vengo.” I put in the bulb and a few moments later the family of 5 and we missionaries are all sat down in their living room. We shared an uplifting lesson and message and then played a quick game called “Stop” which is fittingly simplistic and involves ripping pages out of a notebook and writing words sharing in various categories sharing the same first letter until someone fills all the categories. (I think this game is called Scategories back home.) I got a laugh when we were revealing our answers and 9-year old Mateo had written “Medellin” in the spot for a country that started with “M”…his 14-year old brother Frankie laughed his head off in mockery but karma struck quickly when he wrote Paris in the same category for “P”.

It was an undoubtedly delightful night. I’m hoping that, in sharing these minute details about light bulbs and mistakes, I am able to call your attention to the warm family gathering complete with spiritual moments, laughs, stories, helping 5-year Valery write her words, and warm Cedron tea to fight off the cold outside. We sang, prayed, shared and strengthened one another for an hour before saying good bye and retiring to our apartment. And this is the image that will forever stay in my mind because this is what is most important.

It is my hope and prayer that my comments this week might help us all forget a little the things that don’t really matter and cling a little more to those moments and things that do. I mean, wouldn’t we all be happier if we could fit all of our material possessions into a 6ft by 6ft space? Wouldn’t we all be happier if life meant spending quality time with our family and nothing else? Wouldn’t we all be happier if we had fewer light bulbs than sockets?

Have a great week my dear friends.

- EE

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