On May 31st, 2012 the Maxwell family boarded a plane and moved to eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland) to live at Project Canaan. I hope to update my blog on Saturday mornings and share, as honestly as I can, the highs and lows of our life in Africa. We are living on a farm in a remote part of this tiny Kingdom and are serving the community as well as the orphans and vulnerable children of the nation. Thanks for joining us.
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Saturday, May 30, 2015
“What is a Good Life?” by Chloe Maxwell
Morrison Academy Graduate 2015
Yesterday Chloe graduated from High School at the Morrison
Academy in Taichung, Taiwan.Ian,
Spencer and I were thrilled to be able to attend her graduation, and in honor
of our amazing daughter I am posting, with permission, this paper that she
wrote for her “Senior Topics” class this year.The question asked was “What is a Good Life?”
Here was her answer to that question:
“Life is full of
memories that stack up as you wait in anticipation for the next one you will
make. The question is, when you look back on those memories, will they add up
to the good life you might have hoped for? We spend so much time, money and
energy trying to reach our next goal, get the next best thing, continue
advancing through life, but I fear that one day we will look back with regret.
If we take a moment to stop and look back, look at where we are spending our
time, then we might have a chance at living “the good life.”
One day during my
Freshman year, I was at “Cirque” practice and my “coach” wanted us to take a
break from what we were doing, spread out on stage, and lay down. The Seniors
knew exactly what they were doing and seemed relieved, but I, clueless, and
just followed along. Our coach told us to shut our eyes and to try to visualize
what he was saying. We were told to imagine ourselves in the most relaxing
place we could think of. Immediately, I was at the beach. He continued to walk
us through this; what the place looked like, the colors, the temperature, etc.
Of course, the bell rang and we had to wake up from our happy places and go to
our next class, but when I think back to my “happy place” it really does line
up with what I would love in reality. If I could live on the beach for the rest
of my life in the sunshine, with no worries and unlimited funds, wouldn’t that
be the life, the “good life”?We could, “Imagine there's no countries,
it isn't hard to do, nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too, imagine
all the people, living life in peace…” as John Lennon says in his song Imagine. The beach, no worries and
living life in peace?All of those
things sounds like a pretty good life to many, but not to everyone.
I look back on my
life, all 18-years of it, and so far I would say I’ve had a pretty great life.
Living on three different continents, riding elephants cowboy-style in Kenya,
white-water rafting down the Zambezi river in Zimbabwe, climbing the ancient
castles in Portugal, watching my mom being made a Chief in Malawi, these are
all memories I will have forever and might be some of the coolest things I get
to do in my lifetime, but without these memories and experiences I would still
say I have the good life.
Growing up in a
stable family that loves me and is healthy would certainly go on my list for
the “Good Life” bucket list, but it’s the small things that make it onto that
list, that are the most valuable. Sitting at the counter talking to my mom as
she makes dinner with Norah Jones playing in the background, family dinners
when we used to talk around the table and would laugh to the point of falling
out of our chairs, walking through our garden in Canada watching the plants
grow while stealing a couple of raspberries, strawberries and peas in a pod
along the way.
Those are the
things that make life good, but there are other memories that aren’t as sweet.
I had a friend whose
life that was the polar opposite to the fairy tail childhood that I experienced.
After growing up neglected, abused and raped she was forced into prostitution
to become a “magician,” as she used to call herself. Five children later, at
the age of 24, she was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS as well as multiple drug-resistant
Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). That was when I met her, the clock started and I only
had two-years to build a relationship with Gcebile.
We were complete
strangers from totally different backgrounds, yet we were still able to build a
relationship that would bring us close enough that we would called each other
sister. This girl that had had the hardest life possible, was still full of
life and joy. We would laugh together, and she would tease me about boys always
putting in her piece of advice saying, “I’m watching you, don’t be off doing
anything because you will look back and not be happy about it.” The last time I
saw her I sat on the edge of her bed as she was tucked in, barely skin and
bones. Though I couldn’t admit it to myself, I knew this would probably be the
last time I would get to see Gcebile, and I was heart broken.
That memory of
giving her my favorite ring that she loved so much, seeing the joy in her eyes
that she was finally home at Project Canaan, and hearing that last “I love you
so much my sister, I’m watching you” will stay with my forever. When receiving
that phone call that Gcebile had passed away, after building that close of a
relationship, many might wonder what was the point? When writing plans for the
“Good Life” you might wish for, this would certainly not be on most people’s
lists, but it was on mine and I would never change that. I got two years with
one of the most incredible, strongest people I would ever meet. Why would I
change that for a life with no worries on the beach? “Not only so, but wealso
glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
perseverance and her character sparked hope in thousands of people praying for
her around the world. Not hope as in a want or a wish, but a certainty, that
God is good and his plans are best. Even the memories like this make the good
life good, just in a different way than you might expect.
that I have has been developed over the years from the new cultures I have been
immersed in, the diverse people I’ve gotten to build relationships with, and
the incredible experiences I have had the opportunity to experience. I wouldn’t
change any of it, but what does that mean for me? When I’m 80-years old and
look back on my life, what will make me think that I lived a good life?
I started to think
about this the past year a bit, and it made me pause and seriously think. I
don’t want to be constantly waiting for the next event in my life or for the
next destination travel date to come up. Instead, I want to pay attention to
the present and live my life for today.
Referring back to
the song Imagine with John
Lennon, I could, “imagine all the people, living for today…” but maybe a better
choice would be heed the words of the Apostle Paul, who said, “I know what it
is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the
secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12)Paul had a purpose-filled life, and I
hope to follow in his footsteps.
to pay attention to every moment and act as if it is my last, as opposed to
just seeing the big picture and racing through. Focusing my priorities on other
people instead of myself, as John Bunyan said, “You have not lived today until
you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” Being able to
look back on my life and know that what I did have a purpose, that would be the
only way I could say I lived a good life, the good life.
I have been shaped
and molded, and will continue to be as the years go on, but I hope that as I do
I will be able to live like Paul talks about living in 1 Corinthians. “We are
fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are
strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and
thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard
with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we
endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of
the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.” (1 Corinthians
I realize this
sounds insane, and not at all like the life someone sane would want to live. It
might even sounds fake as my faith is still so small, and it seems like a
stretch to want to have a faith to live like this, but it is true. To live a
life of total humility sounds like total freedom to me, and what Paul is
talking about in this chapter is having humility and grace in our broken world.
The last thing
that would contribute to the good life I might dream of, would be people. What
would life be like if you didn’t have great friends to share it or go through
it with? I want to make friends that will become my life-long friends. People
that know me completely that I can be myself around that are non-judgmental and
that I know I could trust. You want people who stay constant in your life that
you can invest in each others lives and can encourage each other and be there
for each other when things get tough. Not only that though, you want people in
your life that you can laugh with and enjoy life with. This aspect of my good
life equation would be pretty essential, but might be tougher than I realize.
Life may just be a million memories, crammed together, to some people, but I will
make my life, the good life.”
Thank you Chloe for writing this.We are so incredibly proud of you and we are so thankful that that you are such a big part of our "good life".
Live from Taiwan…I am incredibly thankful for HIS plans.