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TITLE: Lessons Learned from Others
By Billie Buckley
04/22/06
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Written for Saturday morning readers in a Faith and Values section in the "Hatiesburg American" newspaper in Hattiesburg, MS. I have written for this newspaper for over 12 years.
Lessons Learned from Strangers

It is impossible. It is simply impossible for an ordinary person who writes about ordinary days to share a recent happening in our lives. Will you join me today? Welcome aboard. Catch your breath as we embark for the Panama Canal.

Our first stop will be to anchor in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. From there, we will travel to a 1,000-acre rain forest natural reserve. There we board an aerial tram for an hour ride. If you look closely you may spot the sleepy sloth spotted by My Favorite Preacher who went with me on this journey. As we leave there is a gentle breeze and smooth seas.

Drum roll please. We are now approaching Gatun Lake and its three locks that are part of this masterpiece of engineering called the Panama Canal. Simply put, this engineering enterprise has shortened the trip around South America by 7,000 miles. A strong wind and moderate seas accompany our departure.

By popular command we will return to the Island of Curacao. You may be surprised by the “face” of Curacao with its spiffy rows of pastel colored town houses looking as if they were transplanted from Holland. We leave under a light breeze and partly cloudy sky.

Now, let me introduce you to new friends who share the personalities of the excursions on this journey of over 3,500 miles.

Gentle Rain Forest Personalities


Their names are Joe and Dianne from Pennsylvania. I remember their gentleness. Rudeness never rippled from them. In-your-face humor was not their style. They bloomed and shared their coping and enjoyment of life in a gentle yet forceful manner. I prayed, “Thank you, Father, for gentle folks with gentle ways who have walked softy with me on this journey. May I learn from them.”

Sturdy Panama Canal Personalities


Their names are Jack and Judy from Colorado. Sturdy, strong, secure, ever energized by work and out doors best explains these personalities. Deep roots anchoring them to the land were visible in their faces and language. I prayed, “Thank you, Father, for strong sturdy folks who have energized me. May I learn from them.”

Colorful Curacao Personalities


Their names are Peg and Jerry from Florida. Peg is 86. Jerry is 95. Bold rich color best describes their wardrobe and heart. Don’t look for natural colors of the earth in their clothing or personalities. You see they have refused to color their entire world with gray neutral tones, even though Jerry is in a wheel chair because of a stroke. In spite of their own needs or weariness they involve themselves in the needs of others. I prayed, “Thank you, Father, for those who refuse to use only one color-gray. Thank you for their use of every color in the coloring box. May I learn from them.”

We are safely docked now. End of voyage. Anchor home. Old friends take the place of new friends. Micki and Joe are our “peas and corn bread friends”…. along with squash, tomatoes, and fried okra. They knew we needed a good night’s rest and a home cooked meal. They were there. They provided. I prayed, “Thank you Father for providing for me through old and new friends. May I be a good friend to others, too.”
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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