Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reflections On A Year in Paradise

Two days ago we arrived back in Australia, after a year in Tonga.

Looking back, it seems an incredibly brave thing to do – sell your home and belongings, take your three young children (our youngest was only 11 weeks old when we arrived in Tonga) to a foreign country to live.

But now it just seems kind of...well, normal.

It’s been an amazing year. I’m sooooo grateful I got to experience it!

But it wasn’t always easy. In fact, there were moments when it was SO hot and humid that I thought I would die if I didn’t cool down immediately, and I was sick, the kids were whining and clinging, I was sweating like a polecat, mosquitoes biting me, and I wondered if I wasn’t actually in hell-on-earth....?

But out of the hell-on-earth came a spiritual transformation, when I realised that this experience, this life is entirely what I make it. Heaven or hell. My choice!

So I decided to make it heaven. I chose to see that things happen FOR me, not TO me. Every single experience is perfectly, divinely necessary for me to fulfil my full potential, and therefore in my highest good.

I feel I have been thoroughly transformed on the inside. I wonder does it show?

ALL of my worst fears came true. ALL OF THEM! I got seriously sick, my son hated school, and I got bored. And it was the best thing that could have happened!! I survived them all! No. More than that....I thrived.

FEAR 1. Somebody would get really sick. I just never thought it would be me! I got a cut on my foot which turned septic. I couldn’t walk for two weeks, my leg was so swollen and excruciatingly painful. But I survived, thanks to an old nun and the healing salt waters of the ocean. Now I look at my scars and I’m thankful to be alive.

FEAR 2. My son would hate school. He couldn’t understand the language, thought it was a bit of a lark to pass the time. We found out that he was passing the time mucking around outside the classroom. His dad soon straightened him out!! We made him go to school, and we informed the teacher to treat him the same as any other child in the class. After that, he applied himself, and the kid who began the school year unable to understand a word, finished the year placed 3rd in his grade!! He is now fluent in Tongan and recently performed a traditional Tongan war dance at a school concert.

FEAR 3. I would get bored and lonely. After 6 mths or so, I DID get bored. I missed the food, and the shops, and having my own kitchen, and hot water, and my own bedroom...and....and...

Then I had my revelation mentioned above.

I turned my energy into ideas, plans. I began writing a weekly health column in the national Tongan newspaper (I still am). I made two vegetable gardens. I started doing an evening yoga session in the backyard, and soon  4 other women began joining in.

See? All my fears came true....and it was the best thing that could have happened to me!! To us!

My teenage stepson came with us for the year. All six of us lived in ONE bedroom. Can you even begin to imagine? Some evenings, I had to put the baby to sleep 4 or 5 times, because people kept coming in and out, waking her up. Can you even begin to imagine? Sometimes I had some important thing to do on the internet, and so I organised someone to look after the kids, organised a lift into town, paid for an hour at the internet cafe, and then spent the hour trying to open one website. Can you even begin to imagine?

And yet, I have loved my time in Tonga. I am forever grateful!! I have learnt and grown and been stretched in ways I could never have forseen.

Our family has grown closer from the experience. Our children have a whole different view of the world. My husband and I are closer. When we lived in Australia, I was often frustrated and wished my husband would take the lead more, and not leave everything to me. Funnily enough, in Tonga the roles reversed. I stepped back because I wasn’t always sure what was expected or culturally acceptable, and he stepped forward and took the lead.

And so....what now?

You might have guessed...

We’ve decided to stay in Tonga for another few years. We’re here for the Summer, getting supplies and visiting family and friends. Next year, we’re planning to head back, build a house and start Tonga’s first ever health food shop!! I cannot wait to go shopping in my own shop ;-)

And  do you remember I once said that I wanted to create a kind-of Steve Pavlina website (but without the polyamory)?? Well, I’ve finally started working on it! By the end of the Summer, it will be up and running.

If I don’t post again this year, can I take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, filled with love and laughter...? Life is good. No, life is great!! Choose to enjoy it, Yes, every darn minute of it!!

One bedroom, six people, and six suitcases! Of course it was infuriating and inconvenient at times, but it was also cosy and comforting to be close to each other at night-time...

The village school my son attended. There were about 200 children, including high school students. Every week the students clean the school, tidy the yard, sweep floors and run odd jobs for the teachers.

 My son getting ready to perform a traditional war dance with his classmates. 
Infected mosquito bites on my legs. We all got them, except our baby daughter. After a few months, we seemed to acclimatize and didn't get them anymore. 
Paradise!!! Away from the towns is lush, unspoilt bush, abundant with tropical fruits, coconuts and root crops

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