Summarizing how you and your family are doing after the first 6 months on the field is important. A Physician’s Assistant and his RN wife and two children serve in Africa. These are the wife’s honest and insightful answers to 3 important questions.
Tomorrow marks our 6-month anniversary of leaving the US and re-building our new life in this African country.
I’ve had this post hanging over my head for weeks now, knowing that I should write a reflective post on our first 6 months…but where do you start?
How do you encompass everything?
I don’t think I can deal with all the emotions of unpacking the goodbyes and what has transpired for us in the last 6 months.
Thankfully, God knows my heart well, and he sent (via a friend) 3 questions to focus on as I reflect over our time since arriving here. So, here it is…
1) How is your heart? Are you struggling to find joy?
I am happy to report that I feel like we have really turned a corner since the New Year.
Lucy having a consistent pre-school schedule, as well as D having a set schedule at the health clinic, has really helped get us into a rhythm / routine, which I function much better within.
We have the home to a place that it is comfortable, so any projects that we take on (which there always will be…) are really elective and not necessarily mandatory for meeting basic needs.
I still have issues with scoliosis and chronic arthritis (secondary to the Mystery Illness of September), which make some days difficult when it is flaring up. Otherwise, though, it remains a “background noise” that mostly doesn’t interfere with everyday living.
So, am I struggling to find joy these days? Thankfully, no, (on most days).
Does that mean this season is better than the last?
It sure feels better, but I know that the sorrows that endure through the night, are secretly the seeds planted for joy in the morning.
We/I definitely went through a period of deep grieving of all that we had left behind, and all the dashed expectations of what we thought life and ministry here would be that it actually wasn’t (not by anyone’s fault but rather by the sovereign hand of God).
While that period of grieving was uncomfortable and often painful, we see how it was also sowing the very important seeds of joy that we now are beginning to see shoot forth new life.
Do we still have times of being uncomfortable and are there still challenges?
You better believe it!
Not much about our physical circumstances have actually changed.
Rather, we have changed.
I think we are becoming “more comfortable with the uncomfortable” and more capable of finding joy where before it was seemingly impossible–and more pliable in the hand of the Lord.
What better place could we be in?
And how could we have asked for anything better than the thorn He chose for us to endure the first four months on the field?
Out of the thorn (which will forever be present), we see a green shoot of Hope growing forth.
One day, maybe, it will bloom into a beautiful rose…today, I’m just thankful for the green shoot of Hope 🙂
2) What is one thing you love about where you now live?
At this very present moment, a strong cool breeze is blowing through our house (announcing that the rains will soon be coming!) and in this moment when temps have been 100+ for months, I could not love anything more!!
But then I think of the most beautiful sunsets we witness from our backyard every night, and the cloud-covered mountains that background our days, and they are all things I love about our life here.
I’ve discovered (at least for this point in time) that I have a love/hate relationship with the African concept of time.
It has forced me to slow down, to be intentional in even the passing interactions I have with people, and to just take my eyes off “where I am going & what I am doing”, and focus on who is in front of me.
This, of course, is always a challenge when you have squirmy toddlers who are fussing and constantly entering “danger zones” whenever you turn your back.
Other things I love about this place:
–I love our home and how we can walk out the door and be at the church, or take a little hike and visit the river.
–I love looking out my window and seeing the cow who gives us milk, or goats grazing in our yard.
–I love the people we serve with, even though we are a diverse crowd.
–I love that my children are getting an unfiltered childhood (to a certain extent).
–I love that our table conversations include such things as death and grace, and Satan and Jesus and lizards and roaches and Hello Kitty.
–I love that Jesus is here with us & we can finally feel His presence.
3. What is one thing you crave often?
Thanks to an abundance of people who know how to love us immensely well, I can actually give an answer that does NOT include chocolate (disclaimer: this does not mean to stop sending it!!! Jesus knows we need it on a daily basis, and I trust He will continue to provide that sweet goodness.)
But, what do I crave often?
I think D & I would both answer that we crave a good ole deli sandwich. At this very moment I would say a turkey wrap from Jason’s Deli, or even better, a grilled chicken sandwich from a specific BBQ place in our home town in the U.S.
And of course, good and cheap Mexican food (I would pay an arm & a leg for some salsa & queso right now!).
On the non-food list, I think we crave being in the presence of those who have a history with us & know us well.
I would give anything for an afternoon coffee date with one of my sisters, my mom, or a friend from home.
It would be REALLY nice to just call up a babysitter & arrange a night out on the town, just us. Or even to have a nice place to go to–a reason to get dressed up, and real clothes to actually dress up in!
Other than that, we crave having something (anything!) consistently work in our life.
One of the tools that is shaping our souls is the minuscule frustrations of not having consistent power, water, internet, cell network (or anything else for that matter).
–You return from an expensive big city stock-up trip and then stress about losing groceries in your freezer because the power is out for a week.
–You really need to write a newsletter update or return important emails, but the internet is down for days.
–You really need to contact several of your teammates (or your spouse), but the cell phone network is down for hours.
–You try to communicate with walkie-talkies but the batteries fail.
–You constantly try to make sure your water tanks are filled so you don’t get stuck without water when the main pipe to the water fall has issues (which are frequent).
–You have to stop major work projects for weeks because your ATM card has a glitch and won’t give you the money to pay workers.
It is always something, and even on good days, the best-made plans are subject to failure.
And don’t get D started on what this looks like at the health clinic…it is x100, and the stakes are life and death.
And, so we feel God continually asking us:
“What are you going to do with that failure?”
“Where is the source of your joy?”
“What is the motivation behind what you are doing?”
“Now, come. Follow me–you really don’t need that stuff anyway”.
And, that’s where we’re at folks.
Hopefully that is a good 6-month update and gives you an idea on how you can be praying for us 🙂