The pineapple plants—that’s what did it. That’s what nearly made me pull out the white sheet. For several months I was teetering on the brink of surrender, ready to roll over and yell, “I’m done!” Living in a house on a mission property with a school in the yard afforded our family little privacy, and it was wearing me down. People coming constantly to the door, the noise of the children playing in the yard, the mentality that everything around our place belonged to everybody… But I could survive this. I would.
I was hanging up laundry when it happened. From the wash line, I had a good view of the yard. The recently planted container garden was thriving, its tomatoes and peppers reaching toward the sun. At the edge of our garbage pile, I had just planted two pineapples. I had no experience with growing pineapples, but after reading an article on how easy it was, I had saved two pineapple tops and planted them. Pineapples take a long time to bear fruit, but even if we never got to enjoy them, maybe someone else would.
The school children spilled from their classrooms, ready to play Capture the Flag for recess. A general din ensued as children dashed across the yard, chasing each other. And then—as I watched—two children raced across the yard, through the garbage pile, and over my pineapples. The plants toppled. They lay there, uprooted, and that was my undoing.
My unsuspecting husband received an earful when he dashed upstairs for a cup of coffee. “I’m tired of living here. I’m tired of having everything be one communal property. I’m tired of the school children leaving their chip bags littered around the yard. I’m tired of all the noise at recess, especially when I’m trying to rest in the afternoon. I’m tired of balls hitting the house. I’m tired of our fruit trees getting stripped. I’m tired of sharing our vehicle. I’m ready to move back to the States.”
In spite of being ready to pack my bags and never see the fruit of my labors, I carefully replanted the pineapples that evening. The next day they were toppled again.
The next evening was baptism. Four young people stood at the front of the church. The girls in their white dresses and white veilings, the boy in his white shirt and black pants. Each took a turn expressing his commitment to God and the church, their voices thick with tears as they asked for prayers and the help of their fellow church members. They looked so pure, so beautiful as the water splashed on their heads and dripped onto the floor. These young people were not perfect, but their hearts were in the right place. Not every day was a step up, but the overall trend was upward. They had potential. God could use them. God would use them if they continued to hold their hands out to Him.
This is what it’s all about. This was why my husband spent hours and hours teaching and preparing lessons. This was why he pushed history class aside occasionally in favor of a good discussion. This was why we lived in Belize, giving up our private life and our possessions. And yes, this was even why I put up with toppled pineapples, which were now lying shriveled on the garbage heap.
I came away from the baptism refreshed in spirit and ready to face yet another day of children in the flower bed, trash in the yard, and yelling outside the window. Someday eating fresh pineapple from my own plants just won’t matter.