The longer we stay in this part of the country, the more we feel part of the community. La Hacienda truly is a hub for many locals, and in a typical day like today, we find ourselves greeting many acquaintances and sharing times with friends.

Today was our last opportunity to spruce the place up before Johnny gets back, and we spent most of the day being productive. I was cleaning inside the house, removing cobwebs, vacuuming and tidying the kitchen for the nth time, and David was outside.

David on the weed-eater, May 2011
Today's glorious weather meant David could spend the day outside, trimming the long grass and burning off fallen branches and other accumulated deadwood.

We’re very thankful that we could borrow the weed-eater from Pat and Mandy (in Australia we call it a “whipper-snipper”) to cut the long grass around La Hacienda, as the ones that belong to this property are currently out of order. David has remarked that the very tasks that seemed onerous at home are the jobs that he can do with delight while we are serving others.

We feel that the motivation required to be content and happy — whilst maintaining a home and gardens — is insufficient if it’s just for our nuclear family alone! We need to know that our efforts are benefiting and enriching a wider community in order to justify the personal investment that we pour into our own activities.

For example, lawn-mowing and yard maintenance is the very activity that became devoid of meaning — and therefore burdensome — at our property in Brisbane. In February, David felt greatly relieved to pass the baton over to our wonderful tenants, Aslam and Karina.

It is no longer enough to serve and benefit our nuclear family alone. Our hearts hold a bigger vision, our motivation comes from our love for these people, and today — in particular — our productive drive is love for Johnny. Every particle, every portion, every piece of action is generated with the anticipation of the look on Johnny’s face and the joy in his heart when he sees what we’ve done for him.

Today I was initially a bit stressed because in painting the front of the house, I had removed the ramp that provided wheelchair-access through the front door. I needed to be sure that it would be re-built in time for Johnny’s arrival this evening. When I expressed my concern to David, he reminded me that I just needed to trust. “Trust the One who is in control,” he said, and I stepped back and waited to see what would happen. I needed not have worried in the first instance.

Nathan at work, May 2011
The girls were fascinated by Nathan's tradesmanship. He designed and constructed a new, double-width ramp across the the door today. Now when both doors are open, Johnny will have the option of which door he comes in. (We love homeschooling — institutional schools would not provide this kind of tuition prior to high school!)

Throughout the day, we’ve been rewarded by little visits from individuals — some we know only briefly, and others are those we’ve spent a lot of time with. Ian stopped by to chat with Nathan and David, Tony also came to pick up something. A new friend Tracey came and shared dinner with us along with Max and Alana Tobin. Even our good friend Mandy stopped in with her two daughters because she was passing by.

Shasa and Brioni riding broomsticks, May 2011
Brioni has started to ride a broomstick around in imitation of a witch. (I'm not sure which story this idea comes from, but I've grown into seeing it as harmless play-acting and not a sinister act.)

Even though we’re relative newcomers to this community, in many ways we feel that our friendships are more rich and extensive than those we experienced after ten years in Brisbane. The difference is not necessarily in the priorities of the people around us, the amount of time they have for others or the busyness of their schedules — the difference is in us.

Instead of being exclusive and petty in our friendships, pigeonholing our acquaintances into neatly labelled compartments, we are embracing many different individuals in our lives, accentuating their positives and loving their faults. Our lives are so much richer since we have let go of our own egos — in wisdom, in love and in Spirit — and these beautiful, developing friendships are a direct result.