Sunday, June 17, 2012
Thanks Daddy for always supporting my dream to come to Africa. Thanks for always saying that I will be the safest if I am living inside of God's will even if I am in a dangerous place than if I was out of God's will and in a safe environment. This is something that has stuck in my mind and I have quoted you on this several times in response to people asking me, "what do your parents think of you coming to Africa?" I hear of people who struggle going out onto the "mission field" because their family is so against them going. I have never gotten that from you and I am very, very, thankful. Your support means so much and I usually fail to thank you. Thank you for trusting God with my life and dedicating me to Him. Thank you for praying with me and for me. Thank you for rejoicing with me and for encouraging me even though finances can look scary sometimes. I am on the journey of learning to trust Him. Thank you for being such a faithful father. You have taught me a lot and have helped me grow in my relationship with my Savior. Your reverence to Him sticks out in my mind. Keep imitating our Heavenly Father. I love you!
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Here are some fun cultural observations and experiences that I have had...
Having an abundance of awkward silences. For many Zambians its not as awkward as an American would think it is. I'm getting used to it.
Having the electricity turn off almost every evening, in the place I'm currently staying, usually for an hour or two. Even though it can interfere with cooking and the gas stoves have to be pulled out and turned on, there are certain things about the electricity being off that I am beginning to love. Some nights we have storytelling which is when one member of the team shares their life story/testimony. Just so you know, it's much better by candlelight. We have all of our meals and story times out on the porch around a picnic table and the weather in the evenings are wonderful.
Walking through the villages and hearing shouts of "Mazungu!" from the children is something that makes me smile. That is not really how you spell Mazungu but it basically means "white person." Its kinda like "Where's Waldo." The kids start shouting and pointing when they see a Mazungu. Even though most are excited and happy about seeing a white person, there are some smaller children who scream and cry because they are scared of us.
Having crowds of children watch you do things like they are watching a movie. Last week when I was in a village, me and a few others were cutting vegetables outside of a house and lots of kids just come and stand in front us and stare. This is many of many experiences of being intently watched by little children.
Trying to get used to using Kwacha, the currency in Zambia. Its a little over 5000 Kwacha per US dollar. So something like a small jar of peanut butter might cost around 16,000 Kwacha.
Washing clothes by hand.
Eating nshima and rice, nshima and rice, nshima and rice...and then actually craving them when you don't have nshima and rice. Kind of strange...
Riding on the public transport called a "mini-bus." From where I'm staying, it costs 2500 Kwacha (50 cents) to hitch a ride to town which is a couple of miles down the road. You just walk to the main road and wait for a mini-bus to come and you hop on and tell them where along the road to drop you off. Sometimes the buses are already packed but it's funny how many people they still let in. One time I sat on a friends lap because it was so full. Also, seatbelts and safety are not so much the thing here.
Going "off-roading" as one guy joked about. Sometimes, when driving a vehicle, they will swerve way over to avoid the potholes, even swerving off the road. Its fun to go zig-zagging down the street.
Riding on the left side of the road messing with my brain because it's so backward.
Trying to get used to saying "I'm going to use the toilet" instead of "I'm going to the bathroom." Very awkward.
Being scared when someone said that they had "the flu" and hoping that I would not catch it. Later I found out that Zambians call the "flu" what we call a "cold." I was very relieved!
Realizing that I will not see rain for two and a half straight months.
Seeing hundreds of people walk or ride bicycles alongside of the the roads every day wondering how there are not more accidents. It is not uncommon for vehicles to pass pedestrians coming within inches apart from each other.
Swimming, bathing, and washing dishes in Lake Tanganyika is a very unique experience.
Getting electric shocks when touching the shower nobs is quite exciting. Last week someone even said that the water in the pot that was used for cooking was conducting electricity so I stuck my hand in, and yep, it was. And some of you know that electric shocks are not exactly my thing.
Knowing that I don't have "African eyes." Many Zambians can see and walk in the dark much easier than people from the Western world can.
Realizing that no matter how much someone might protest, cultural values, ideas, and practices are deeply ingrained in people. Going to another culture helps me see this a lot more clearly than I did before.
Congratulations to those of you who read through this whole list. :)
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Imagine going to Africa for a summer and coming back without a huge, impressive story to tell. Something that I want to be able to say at the end of the summer is that my trip was absolutely life-changing, that God worked in incredible visible ways, that my spiritual life grew in leaps and bounds. These types of things have been on my mind recently. And they are wonderful to pray for, but I was getting to the point that I was worried and felt stressed out that something crazy-out-of-the-ordinary was not happening. Yes, I'm enjoying exploring different aspects of the culture, meeting lots of great people, and getting my feet wet in various areas but I was letting fear hinder me. My fear was that I would finish my trip and not be able to report that it totally changed my life. I feared that maybe it would be mediocre or that the trip would be less than I expected it to be.
As I was travelling to a village by boat a few days ago (I will post about that experience soon) I had a good conversation with a Zambian gentleman who challenged me to concentrate on the small things. He didn't know it but he talked through some that I had been struggling with. It was basically a mini-sermon on the boat ride. It was great. He was passionate about helping others grow in Christ. During our conversation he mentioned how people tend to want to jump to do BIG things for God. We want to go to Africa and be used in incredible ways that impress others and that make us feel accomplished! He was right. I was convicted but was also encouraged to focus on the small things and to be faithful with them. This removes some of the pressure of waiting for something huge to come along. Maybe God wants to work in ways that are not so obvious or that just take longer to realize how he is working. Yes, God is working in wonderful ways here and he is growing me in my walk with him but I cannot be obsessed with waiting for one or two incredible events to happen. I might miss out on the beauty and blessings and growth that happen in daily life. And God uses seemingly small things to change our lives such as some of the conversations I've had recently. The man I talked to used the illustration that if we try to take huge leaps we will be clumsy and off balance. If we are willing to take small steps toward what God is preparing for us then we will be steady on our feet and will learn how to humbly and passionately live for Him.
This is not supposed to be a disappointment or a downer even though that is what it feels like sometimes. It is meant to be a reminder and a challenge to seek God without being distracted when there is a lack of "fireworks" events. Praise God that he works in other ways as well! I love my faithful God. And whatever He continues to do with my time in Africa it will be rich and beautiful and I want it to honor Him with however He chooses to work. Please pray that I will learn how to faithfully walk closely to Him even if the steps seem small.
Monday, June 4, 2012
|Lazarous praying with children in Makalulu during Global Day of Prayer|