I don't have a "usual" genre since I still feel like a babe in my writing. I must say, however, that poetry is probably my favourite genre, including song lyrics, and it has been the genre I've been dabbling in the longest. Reading good poetry is like getting a little slice of heaven on earth. And when I write a poem that I know is Spirit-inspired I feel the same.
For a few years now my children have asked me to write down the stories of our lives, which have been anything but typical. We have worked overseas with Wycliffe Bible Translators for most of the last 30 years and have moved more than 20 times in that time. See. Not typical. So I started thinking about how to do that in a creative way and when I came across this online course, I decided that this was what I needed to jump start my memoir writing.
I am almost finished the course and while I do enjoy getting the memories down on paper, I don't always enjoy the process. That's mostly because I have to follow specific writing prompts which I have found stifling at times. However, these prompts have been forcing me out of my comfort zone which is always a good thing because I am being stretched. Plus, it teaches me to give it all to God and rely more on the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance.
I guess I am discovering that I have a LOT of stories bottled up in my head that I need to share, specifically with my children but also my extended family. They have all been reading my essays and have been very encouraging to me. And I am continuously reminded that God is good and faithful and loves my stories too.
The following excerpt is from one assignment entitled, "At the Trail's End." This event happened when we lived on a little island in the southern Philippines called Ramos Island (you probably won't find it on a map because it was only 8 km in diameter). No roads. No electricity except for the solar panels on our roof. Our only contact with the outside world was on a 2-way radio that we used once a day to check in with our center. To say the Molbog people were poor is an understatement--they basically survived from one day to the next. One day a lady came to our hut asking for medical help for a little girl who had fallen out of the sling she was in while her mother was burning a field. I grabbed our medical kit and followed her to a hut I had never been to before.
That's the background to this excerpt:
We zigged and zagged to the trail’s end and finally arrived at a crude, one-room hut. “Help me, God. Help me give hope,” I whispered as I risked the rickety steps. There, on a low table in the centre of that one room lay the little girl. A group of adults sat cross-legged around her. The emotion in their faces surprised me, one of shame more than sadness. Nevertheless, I greeted each one out of respect and turned to the girl—a malnourished five-year-old. Most of her right side was burned, her thigh and arm the most serious with second-degree burns. Except for remnants of gray ash, her face was untouched for which I was thankful. She was awake and looked at me with fearful red eyes. I responded with a slight smile, forcing down my own feelings of inadequacy. I can help this one little girl, give her hope. I asked for some water and pulled out my soap and bag of clean cotton cloths. I worked slowly and gently, knowing I was causing pain but that I had to do this right to prevent infection. Then I gently wrapped gauze around her thin, delicate foot, leg and arm. The room remained silent. I knew no words of comfort other than, “I’m sorry” but the words seemed inappropriate.
As I worked I remembered a comment an acquaintance back in Canada had made: “There are at least 500 million poor people in the world. What is the point of even trying to help?”
I looked at the child before me. As she fought back tears I saw her strength of will. It was a strength that I had witnessed in the Molbog people since our arrival—a testament to their desire to survive in a destitute world. And then it hit me. I could not help the 500 million poor in the world but I could help one. And so, turning to the one laying before me, I offered her my hand, my cursory medical understanding and my surrender to be in it with them. This could be the bridge to cross the great cultural divide.