Community is something my husband and I talk about regularly. We firmly believe that as believers, we are to be in our community. Because of this, we have sent our kids to the local public school (I thought about sending them to a different school for French emersion) and have gotten involved there. Last year we were part of an initiative called F&ST (Families and Schools Together) that we continue to be involved in and this year Steve is the treasurer for the Parent Council. We are at the school every day that our kids are and have gotten to know parents, students and teachers. Steve's parents have also gotten involved at the school as well, leading F&ST and serving at the Breakfast Club. It has been a joy for us to get involved. We have met so many great people there.
But it didn't start that way. Although I'm rather loud and talkative, I'm also very shy. I have a very hard time starting conversations, but when I do, they tend to go deep quickly. I also find talking through a language barrier very challenging which is a problem at a school with such a high ESL rate. Aris' jk year was also the year that I was pregnant with Kian. I was extremely large and was babysitting a little boy which made going to and from the school problematic. Steve worked from home a lot that winter and consequently got to meet a lot of parents. My wonderful husband will talk to just about anyone. He's great at starting conversation and is really good at communicating across a language barrier. This skill was put to good use as Steve purposefully tried to start conversations with those on the fringes. When I started coming to school more regularly, Steve had build a lot of bridges that I could then follow across. Thanks to his efforts, I know have some great friends. I've also become a lot more comfortable communicating across a language barrier, although it really helps if I'm well-rested. :)
Periodically, over the last 3 years I've really doubted myself. I wonder if I could really make a difference and if I'm doing the right thing by my kids. Many of my friends have chosen to home-school or put their kids in a Christian school. They have great reasons and wonderful stories of interaction with their kids. Having a child in full-time school has caused me to envy my homeschool friends who have their kids full-time. Attending a concert at the Christian School and listening to 6 yr olds recite the history of the Old Testament makes me wonder if I have hugely shortchanged my kids in denying them a wonderful opportunity to learn about God in school.
In the last month, there have been a lot of little things that really seem to confirm that I'm in the right place. Community doesn't happen overnight. Relationships don't magically develop in a week. The task that we've set out to do takes years. It isn't easy. I may never see the results of what we're called to do. But I am seeing hope and change and making new friends.
We had a beautiful day today. Our family was invited to lunch at the house of another family from school. Their oldest is in Aris' class and their youngest is in Zane's class. I had been chatting with the mom a bit and invited them for a playdate over the Christmas holidays. We had a lovely time getting to know each other. They are from India and she is doing her PhD here. We had such a good time chatting that she wanted to have us over for a meal when her husband was home. Today was the day and it was wonderful. The food was spectacular (I heart Indian food!), we had great conversation and another bridge was built. I ended up borrowing her girls and taking them to the mall with me. The store we wanted to go to was closed, so we had to try something different. Let's just say that 3 little girls in Bath and Body Works is a lot of fun! They all smelled wonderful by the time we left the store. Next we headed to the shoe store and 3 little girls tried on shoes. As a reward for good behaviour, we had popcorn for a snack. Oh what fun we had! And I made a friend.
Living life together takes time. Building community and showing Christ to those around us takes time. It is such a blessing though when I get to meet new people, hear their stories, share wonderful meals, and walk alongside them. I am so blessed by the wonderful community around me and I hope I am a blessing to them in turn. :)