It was a beautifully bright, glowing weekend day. I was sat in the lush and lively garden of a new friend. We were enjoying getting to know one another in the shade of the trees, as they protected us from the heat of the strong sun. I had only been in Paraguay for a couple of weeks, and my trip to Paraguay had come out of the blue and the process from first hearing about the opportunity to finding myself on a plane was rapid. So, this new friend and a mini haven to relax in were very welcome.
Suddenly, in an all too fleeting moment, a tiny wisp flew by. It’s rapid movement was brief but captivating as it went from flower to flower drinking in the sweetness. I had just seen my first hummingbird and I was completely and utterly captivated.
It was one of the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen, it’s feathering a perfect melody of my favourite colours and the grace with which it flew and hovered truly incredible. God’s goodness depicted in a creation He must have taken so much delight in designing. I am so pleased our loving Father not only created such beautiful creatures like birds, but He even went as far to create so many different species some of which are so uniquely different it leaves me in awe. If the intricacy and beauty of a hummingbird does not speak of a loving, invested, omnipotent Creator then I don’t know what does.
From that day on every hummingbird has been like my own personal gift from a God who loves me and delights in seeing me smile.
Thankfully, for me, my journey with hummingbirds doesn’t end there.
One of the more fun elements of my love for hummingbirds’ dates much further back in my story. I am a 90’s baby and it goes without saying that Disney was part of my childhood. Pocahontas being one of my all-time favourite films and characters. Even now, as an adult, I resonate with her fierce independence and free-spirited nature. Of course, I now recognise the many flaws of Disney and some of what is promoted in the films I grew up on, but let’s put that aside and just be childlike dreamers who delight in fairy-tales for a second. For those of you who like to take the ‘which Disney character am I?’ tests, (don’t lie I know some of you reading this have done it) apparently, I am most like Pocahontas.
One of Pocahontas’ animal sidekicks is a beautiful, yet feisty little hummingbird with a slight attitude problem, Flit. Also featured in Disney’s Pocahontas is the dear Grandmother willow, an old, wise willow tree. If you know me well you might also know that willow trees are also my favourite trees.
It would appear that I have indeed been indoctrinated by Disney to like hummingbirds and willow trees, or maybe I like Pocahontas because of my love of hummingbirds and willow trees, who knows? At least I can be thankful that the possible indoctrination stops there and does not have me sat waiting for a prince to save me, not anymore at least!
All jokes and childhood memories aside, there is a little more to say about hummingbirds.
Paraguay had been my first sighting of a hummingbird, but not even close to my last.
I travelled from Paraguay to Peru, where I recall seeing a hummingbird whilst been shown some sights by a lovely missionary friend who had lived in Peru for several years. I remember being stopped in my tracks by the beautiful and not yet familiar sight of rapid wings and soft fluttering sound. My new friend, almost flippantly, said ‘oh yeah, you see hummingbirds all the time here.’ It was right then that I vowed and hoped to never stop finding a hummingbird captivating, to always be stopped in my tracks when I see one. I never want to take their beauty for granted. With such a fleeting beauty, it is always worth pausing and stopping whatever you are doing to watch them and appreciate their beauty, if you are blessed enough to see one.
Thankfully, I have kept that vow to myself. Even now as I sit on my balcony in Guatemala City, typing this history of ‘why hummingbirds,’ every time one approaches the feeder, just in front of me, I pause and look up in awe and admiration. Thanking God for His gifts.
From Peru I went to Guatemala, where I recall being sat in the then, rundown future protection home for Street Kids Direct. Back then it was more of a shell of a building, full of potential and hope, I was sat in the garden area and there came my next sighting of a hummingbird, it’s wings vibrating at rapid speed as it fluttered between vibrantly fuchsia coloured ‘Chinese lantern’ flowers, another one of my favourites.
God had gifted me with sightings of these incredible birds in each one of the Latin American countries during my 2016, future long-term location discernment visits. Which you can read more about here, ‘From India to Guatemala.’
It was then back in the UK, after my long-term location had been decided, my training at CMS had begun and I was visiting my link churches, one at a time, up and down the country, that God’s blessing continued.
Unfortunately, hummingbirds are not native to the UK. However, as I was welcomed into homes of members of my link churches, I saw pictures and artworks of hummingbirds. It literally felt like I saw them everywhere I went, of course part of me was now more aware and I suppose looking for them.
In one home (Trowbridge) it was a beautiful wooden carving of a hummingbird poised over a flower, in another it was a stunning depiction in blue and white on the side of a vase from Latin America.
In yet another home a lovely brightly coloured painting. And on my visit to my link church in Ilkley, Yorkshire, in other words home, I was being shown around at a local town festival when I saw a stunning painting for sale, a purchase that is with me now in Guatemala.
From that first sighting in Paraguay, and perhaps even before, hummingbirds have been a part of my story, at least they have been God’s gift to me each step of the way as I discerned my long term placement and then visited the churches which support me and my ministry now.
I know I will never stop pausing and delighting in their beauty and I will always see them as my own personal gifts from God.