This past semester, I led the dorm staff through an appreciate inquiry of our lives here. One thing that came through clearly was how much we all value the simpler lifestyle we lead here in Malaysia. We all don't possess a lot of 'stuff' and what we do have we share freely ... like cars, bikes, dishes, equipment, tools, etc.
Keys to cars are kept in people's staff mailboxes so if you need a vehicle during the day, you are welcome to it. We personally have a set of keys to a friend's car and use it often. (OK, I know what you are thinking - who pays for the gas?? We chip in our share. We're not that cheap!!) Many of us ladies have the Mikasa Christmas dishes and loan out what is needed to make a full set. Furniture is often seen being carted around from one place to another as people's needs change and they give away what they've accumulated. Clothes are passed around constantly as kids outgrow them.
I love this kind of living. I remember our small group in Lumsden joking about starting a commune on one member's farm land. Its not a bad idea, actually its biblical. But it wouldn't fly in Canadian society where self-sufficiency and affluence are touted as the way to live well. But it does fly here, maybe due to the missionary salaries, maybe due to the fact that others around us don't have half of what we possess anyway.
All of this opened the continuing dialogue Tim and I have about our finances and our future. Tim was just finishing up our taxes and lamenting the fact that next year, due to strange Canadian laws, we will have to pay tax for the first time in 20 years, even though we will make 1/3 of what we did when we lived in Canada. That led to questions like will the money in the bank and RSP's be enough to buy a house, pay college tuition and buy whatever else when we decide to return home? I mean, the simple life here is great but if we can't provide for anything beyond here, maybe its not so great. Then we concluded, like we always do, that God knows our needs long before we voice them and His faithfulness to care for us is certain.
With that conversation ended, we walked over to the staffroom and found a bunch of stuff left by a family moving away today. Things like Parmesan cheese (way too expensive to buy here but sent from the States!), Body Shop bath soap (again WAY too expensive), great books to read, a bunch of spices, chocolate (gotta love it!!) and for me, Tupperware measuring cups. Now you may think this a ridiculous item but I have been praying for an extra set all year and was prepared to buy them when we go back.
But God, who knows our needs long before we voice them and is faithful to provide, had a set of measuring cups ... just for me. It was a fairly powerful lesson about living simply and trusting God ruthlessly despite what the tax forms says and our bank account may show.
Matthew 6:19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.