You may recall that I became part of the CRU team as International Affiliate Staff. This weekend I have been asked, by the local CRU director, to speak to the local ministry group and other local Christians. This will be my first time speaking to this group and to date I have only met two of the local ministry people. Well, second time really but right after a girl lands in a foreign continent is a little soon to speak. I needed to see straight before trying to put a speech together.
Please keep me in prayers as I prepare these “words of encouragement.”
I simply pray to be a vessel, a mouth piece, of encouragement from the Lord. Nothing I say is of any worth but words of the Father is living water. Let whatever I prepare to speak about be just that.
This is also the first time I will use a translator. Pray with me that the Lord gives him the words also. Translating from english to french is actually difficult.
I truly believe God orchestrated this whole African adventure; although, I feel truly insufficient when I think about the task at hand, I can’t wait to have a front row seat to His mighty work. The place I serve may change but He never does.
They have asked me to come encourage them in their endeavor to serve God and this ministry. It is true that from a westerner in a western culture I have plenty to say on the subject. I understand the struggle to maintain consistent and or committed members. I understand the plight of weariness, being downtrodden, and burdened. I understand so many trials of ministry leadership; however, from a westerner in an African country, all I think is I have much to learn.
I am excited and humbled; I look forward to sharing how the meeting, or “reunion” as we say in french, goes.
It is January and like everyone else, presumably, I am contemplating last year and looking ahead at this coming year.
Where am I? Have I fallen back or have I made great strides in my life? Isn’t that, truly, the whole point of resolutions, to finding something to redeem or improve within ourselves?
I am not going to lie, I do not think I am, or feel like, the woman I was in 2014. I took a beating in 2015, there is no way to get around it or sugar coat it to move forward to 2016. I have no intention of staying stagnant so I have to look it straight in the eye.
I think that will be the theme of my year. Not because I chose it but because that is what I see before me as the option.
What do I mean by this? I mean, fellowship is and is likely to remain slim, anemically so, pickings around here.
I have some things on my mind and I am hard pressed to figure out who to talk to. You know, in regular life, you have a spiritual buddy or two. You have someone you go to when you need to hash out an idea, get a second option, or assist with a problem. So when you are basically the lone protestant Christian and your friends are 6 -9 hour time zone away, where does one turn?
Sure, we know the answer is the Bible, don’t we? It is one of those christian phrases we throw out like, “I’ll pray for you” or “have a blessed day” but do we actually follow our own advice to, “look in the Bible?”
It is not always our first instinct, is it? Many times we just want to curl up on the couch and Netflix binge or have coffee with a trusted friend or mentor. Yeah, you know it true, I know it is true.
It is not wrong to look for a friend or mentor to talk to. In fact it is Biblical (ex. Timothy, Titus) but it should never be our only source. We are not called to follow man but to follow God.
And yet, in 2015, I was so battered the best I could muster was a silent broken cry from my soul. I was definitely in Netflix binge mode. Well, Hulu, but who says that?
I think we all could relate to this at some point in our life. This is what life is, valleys and peaks. To say none of us have felt so weighted down at some time (or two or three) in our life would be flat-out denial.
Isn’t He amazing! As heavy as I felt I always had hope. Why? Because He never leaves us there. He patiently waits for us to climb out with a hand extended. To say His grace is sufficient for me is an understatement! Just writing that sentence makes me tear up because the words are so powerful. How can one not serve such a God that grows us and waits with us even through the storm?
I was not at my best and like any human my least favorite parts of me seep out. You know those parts we all strive to cover and hide from the general public. Those parts of us we strive so hard to bury but God knows all about, regardless of our fruitless efforts. Yup. Not a banner year for me.
Ostrich. Lots of wanting to be an ostrich moments.
Not even Job rode a storm and said, “I sailed through that perfectly. I never made mistake or sinned the whole time!” So, never beat yourself up about it, just get up, dust off, and move forward. Storms in life are meant to mold, shape, and purify. They are not tragic low lowpoints in your life because beauty is going to come from it.
Onward and upward!
Feeling like I may be able to breathe again, I am looking forward. I feel both terrifyied and excited to see what lies ahead in 2016. I will miss the direct and immediate (time zones) conversations with friends and spiritual buddies while I am here; however, I choose to see this as an opportunity to be free from distractions and focus on what matters: God my creator, Jesus my savior, and the Holy Spirit my counselor.
Time to refocus and get back in tune with why I was created with my creator. Time to grow deeper.
I would love to hear what you think this year has in store for you.
It has been nearly a month since our arrival in Africa but here is something I typed up a while ago to help catch you up…
Well we made it. This past week has been a whirlwind of activity, struggles, and trumps. I think it is time for an update of our first week here in Gabon.
To back up, our flights went well. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Upon arrival one knows they are not in Kansas anymore. We were greeted warmly by staff and escorted swiftly through the process, VIP style. I was grateful to get home quickly and sleep.
We arrived at dusk and it was blustery, gloomy, and beautiful. There are palm trees, tropical flowers and bushes everywhere, and a lovely ocean to greet us. We were whisked away in vans to our new home and I am not embarrassed to say I am in awe. I feel a bit like an African princess or something. A truly amazing compound.
Our sponsor delivered a few groceries requested and cooked us a meal. So after the excitement of exploring every nook of the new home we did eat a bite before bed.
Even though exhausted, we were up and ready to go at 7:30am (1:30 am D.C. time). We had things to do and appointments to keep. I met a LOT of people the first morning. We went out and had lunch which amounted to roasted chicken on a french baguette with pickles, mayo, and lettuce with a side salad. Yum. I was shown around the city and saw where other Americans live. We all live near each other which is great because we can walk to and from each others compounds.
I made it to the grocery store to pick up a few items. I really mean a few items because it is the most expensive place I have ever lived; yes more than Italy, California, and D.C. It looks enough like a grocery store, just really small. I recognized many brands and items from our time in Europe which was comforting. Shopping was much easier to do here. I got this.
To school we go! Wow what a campus.
Their library room is an apple store. Their grounds are a botanical gardens park. Their lunch room serves the children at tables and chairs with real dishes and glasses. I am impressed. I saw their ballet studio, dance room, gymnasium, theater, walked the outdoors hallway to peer in classrooms, and saw their outdoor amphitheater. If they don’t want to go, I do! The classes are small, they’ll ride with the other Americans kids to school,and have after school activities before coming home. I think they are going to enjoy themselves.
Marine’s Ball anyone? I wasn’t too sure about going to a ball right after landing but it was actually fun. It was a nice room, food was great, and conversation flowed. Jason and I snuck out to the beach and saw an innumerable amount of crabs all over the sand and it closed an amazing night. The kiddos went to a co-workers home, met new friends, and enjoyed themselves immensely.
My only requirement for this day was that I wasn’t leaving. I didn’t want to do anything! Well, if you have met my hubby you’d know I lost. We drove north and went to an interesting part of town. Now, we live in the nicest suburb in the city but it doesn’t take long to drive out of it.
The road was riddled with deep swallow-your-jeep potholes. It was muddy, scattered with stray dogs, and lined with shack styled beverage stands, tiny food stores, and (maybe) restaurants with music. Still a little unclear as to what those places were. We drove for a while but with those roads means we didn’t go terribly far, it just took a while. Then Jason stopped and parked.
I am not getting out.
Yeah, if you know my husband, you know I lost this too. My adventurer got his three ladies out of the new car and walked us over to a blue shack with palm tree thatched roof for a beverage with an ocean view.
I settled in pretty quick after I realized how friendly it was, regardless of the appearance. The kids were hard to swing however. Jason tried to bribe them with a soda. Rachel took the bait (not a shock there). The drinks are in reused glass bottles and Hannah was not impressed. Jason and I joked (sort of) about hoping they were cleaned properly. An interesting moment happened though when the server brought out two glasses with ice in them. I honestly didn’t think anything of it but my experienced husband was on top of things. I quickly took their glasses and with my hands scooped out the ice and threw it over the deck as inconspicuously as possible. Dysentery over a beverage our first week did not sound appealing. We would never get them to go out again.
Jason left on a trip. Already. I am not fond of lonely nights in a giant house, I did not sleep well. Ha! I am such a chicken. Maybe too many scary movies as a kid…
Jason returns only to leave again the next day. And so begins our life in Africa.
A mysterious new life; I wonder what God has in store?