11 October 2011

The day we got to sit under a thatched roof.


10:45 pm: reading for before bed, later than normal:

John 5:

1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] [b] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

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11:30 pm: tossing and turning in bed, reflecting on life

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12:15 am: in the bathroom crying.

What more can I do?  God has blessed me with so much.  There will always be people who need.  I will always have more than I need.

Jesus preached. He healed. He had great compassion.  Just look at John 5.  Jesus helped the man at the pool.  I will only be here for another week, but there will be many more people that need help.  That need to hear the Truth and that need His love.

I’m only able to love because he first loved me.

I feel like I’m not making a difference.  How can I use my life to make the greatest impact?  To heal the world: by bringing them news of salvation.

I can only do so much.  But I want to do so much more.  I want to heal everyone.  I want to make a big impact for you, Lord.  I feel like at work today I wasn’t effective.  I feel like living my life in America, I’m not effective.  I’m wasteful of my time and my resources. 

If I can’t do everything, does that mean I shouldn’t do anything?

God, how are you using me?  Am I doing all you call me to?  I know I’m only human, I’m not big enough to mess up your plans.  Am I?

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12:30 am: I call Ryan.

I’m so wasteful.  I’m not effective.  I don’t give enough.  I don’t love enough.

Comparing myself to Jesus, I have too much.  I give too little.  I love with boundaries.  I’m selfish.

Ryan comforts me, speaking Truth into my life.  I don’t remember much because I was tired and upset, but he encouraged me to keep fighting.  To not give up.  That my work isn’t useless.  That our Lord is bigger and stronger than me.  And He planned it that way.  That He hears me when I cry.  That he holds my broken heart in his hands, remolding it to become more like His heart.

God, mold me, shape me, use me.  This is for you.  All for you.

I want to use my life, our wedding, everything, for the greatest impact on the world.

“It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you might live as you wish.” –Mother Theresa

Let me love your children more than I love a fancy wedding.  Let me love your people more than I love new dresses from Target.  Let me love your Word more than I love my comfortable life in America.

Let me love you above all.

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We turned right off our dirt road for church this morning.  That’s the direction away from town, and I think its south but it could be north.  It doesn’t really matter I guess.

We traveled way far to the right.  Past Ibenga hospital, past Chipote where the leper colony is, past the police station, to another town that started with the letter I that I can’t remember because there’s a lot of words here that I’ve never heard of before and I have problems remembering things out of context.

But it’s one of those places I’d remember if I heard.  Which I probably won’t hear again because we don’t usually travel to the right from our dirt road, we always travel to the left, towards Luanshya, Ndola, and Kitwe.

Usually, the missionaries pray before we set off, which I think is a neat thing that I think I’d like to start doing when I get back to America.  Usually I just pray before big road trips, but they pray all the time.  Even when they’re just dropping us off at the clinic.  When we’re running late, one person will drive and another will pray.  Which we did today.

But I didn’t close my eyes, because you never know when the car will hit a huge pot hole, causing you to need to duck so your head doesn’t hit the roof.

So I decided that God would still hear our prayers if my eyes were open, watching for danger and keeping me from getting dizzy.

We missed the turn off onto the dirt road because we were all looking for “a dirt road with a tree stump on the ground right next to it” and we never found that.  We took the “back road” to the church, which was much bumpier than most of the dirt roads we’ve been on.  People grumbled about it a lot, but Frances and I, considering that we’ve been here 3 weeks, have adjusted quite well to the culture, and we enjoyed the bumps.

We arrived at church.

It wasn’t at all what I was imagining.

You would think, that I would stop having expectations by now.  That nothing would surprise me.

I was a bit thrilled because we were about to walk into a building that was smaller than the living room of my apartment in Dallas, made entirely of dried mud, complete with a thatched roof.


[Frances and I outside the church, after the service]

The pews were also made out of mud.  There were bee holes in the walls because it was ant mud.  There was a nice breeze because the ceiling didn’t completely touch the walls.

But the place was packed.  51 people was the recorded attendance. 

We’re not sure if that counts the drunk man that walked in at the end, threw his hands up praising the Lord, breathed whiskey breath on everyone, stole a bible, and walked out 5 minutes later, just after attendance was announced.

I felt super guilty because we sat in chairs up at the front of church instead of on a dirt pew.  While I’m thankful we didn’t get dirty, I don’t feel like I deserve to be up at the front of church, introduced as a “doctor from America,” which the people are so thankful for.  I don’t deserve it.  But I get VIP treatment anyway. 

Church was fabulous. 

The message was quite similar to last week.  A lot about changing your heart, and living for the Lord with your changed heart.  I’ve been reading the beginning of each of the gospels this week, and I’m beginning to notice that both Jesus and John the Baptist proclaimed they were here to preach “a baptism of changed hearts and lives…” (Luke 3:3) 

I really love dancing at church.  Sometimes I do it in America anyway.  But people dance and clap so well here.  Only sometimes they clap, pause, clap, clap, clap, pause, clap, and it’s too hard for me, so I sway along to the beat and just clap when I feel like it.


[imagine pews filled with people clapping and dancing, because it’s way better that way]

After church we had a delicious meal of Nshima, chicken, and greens.  I’m not sure what the greens were, but they were really good.  I’m sure if I asked for the recipe I wouldn’t understand what half of the ingredients are.  But after our meal I used some of my new vocabulary, “Na tota Mwani,” which, I think, means “I thank you very much person I respect.” 

After finishing our meal and washing our hands in a bucket because they were covered in food, as the people here have discovered that hands make the best utensil ever, much easier to clean than a fork or spoon, AND you know if something is too hot before you put it in your mouth, we went to see the chickens.

I can’t stand anything more than burning my tongue on hot coffee or soup.

If you’ve ever had coffee with me (which, many of you have) you notice that I always wait forever to take the first sip because I’m terrified it will be hot.

Which isn’t a problem if you’re picking up Nshima and dipping it in a hot, soupy liquid.  You feel that it’s too hot to put in your mouth before you burn your tongue.

Brilliant.

But back to the chickens.  People here really are a lot smarter than I would be.  They built chicken coups out of plastic bags that you get when you buy groceries, and hung them from the roof.  Then they built chicken ladders up to the coups.  This way, the snakes can’t steal the chicken eggs.  Only the humans can do that.  (because I learned that an egg doesn’t become a baby chick if it doesn’t incubate under the mother, and chickens lay at least 1 egg a day, so you can eat a lot of eggs if you save them from the snakes)


[chicken coups]


[man holding a precious little baby chick that I was terrified would be rejected by its mom because whenever you see a baby bird in America they tell you not to touch it because then its mom won’t love it anymore because it smells like a human, but don’t worry because Frances told me that was just a wives’ tale]

We took the “short way” back to the paved road from the church.  When we got to the paved road, the driver said, “there’s that tree stump, it wasn’t here when we passed by earlier, someone must have moved it back after church.”  Unlikely.

We arrived at home and we got on our computers to blog and stuff.  Then we took a short nap.

We love Sunday nights, because it means delicious dinner with the missionaries.  They like to talk a lot, but the food is really good.  We had a real Texas dinner because it is our last Sunday with them.  We had spaghetti and meatballs with peach cobler, breaded chicken and rice, ham with cornbread and lemon tart, and, just last night, Texas sized steaks with Texas brownies for desert.  I’m not sure what made the brownies from Texas, but Frances and I loved them.  We’re sad Sunday meals are over though.  We’re sad to be almost done here. 

When we got home, I watched 2 episodes of friends with Ryan.  I sat on the couch alone, and skype was a bit slow so people’s mouths didn’t move along with their words (when they moved at all) so it wasn’t the ideal arrangement for watching TV with your fianc√©.  But it sure beats not watching TV together at all.  Whenever I had a comment, Ryan had to pause the episode, but there was at least 10 seconds of lag time between when I said something, he heard it, and then he paused, and then my computer acknowledged he paused it, so we didn’t say much to each other.

But it was an experience we shared.  The only time I “watched TV” in Africa, I watched it with Ryan.

Which is pretty cool.  Thanks Skype.

That night before bed I read a slew of chapters my favorite of which was Luke 6:38

I feel like people talk about 6:37 “Don’t judge others, and you will not be judged.”  But I can’t tell you the last time I heard anyone talk about v38: “Give and you will receive.  You will be given much.  Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap.  The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.”

The way you give to other is the way God will give to you.

God constantly blesses me abundantly, above and beyond what I could ever need.  Why is it so hard for me to give?  Why do I want to hold on to all of it, even things I clearly don’t need? 

God, in light of all I’ve learned today, and all of who you are, please help me to give more.  Time.  Talents.  Energy.  Love.

Above all, Lord, help me give your love.

Amen.

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