Power Outages, Friends, and Some Laughs!

Hi guys! I’ve got some funny stuff to share with you and some serious stuff. This past week has proved to include both. So here we go!

As a lot of you may have seen on Facebook, we have had very little power the last couple weeks. As in, it’s been out anywhere from 4-14 hours at a time, sometimes daily! Thankfully power was on almost all weekend!

With that said, our week has been a little more adventurous than was anticipated! When the power goes, so does most of the water…And the little water we have, we have to use sparingly because we never know when the power will return!

Cooking becomes a “19th century and before” event, where charcoal is lit outdoors and food is cooked there. We have a single-burner propane stove that helps too.

With the power outage frequency and unpredictability, we are constantly taking advantage of the precious time the power is on! “Everyone take a shower or bath and then fill the tubs with water!” “Let’s get a soup made before the power goes out again!” “Start a load of laundry and iron any clothing that you might need!” “Someone please fill the water filter!” “Make sure all computers, iPods, and rechargeable flashlights are plugged in!” “COFFEEEEE!!!”

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Cooking outside!

Anyway, the moment God says to ZESCO “Let there be light” I think everyone sees that it is good! 😉

The other night, the power had been out ALL day; about 13 hours at this point…When the power goes out, the bathrooms immediately lose all water. So, we have to manually fill the back of the toilet with water to flush it, hence the store of water in the tub. So, obviously it was dark. Only one candle was lit in there; and I wasn’t sure if any water was in the back of the toilet or not. You know, maybe someone had filled it up. Anyway, I grabbed the one candle, and……you know those moments when you *facepalm because you did something so dumb? That’s the kind of moment I’m about to recount to you…I grabbed the candle on its stand and tilted it sideways to check the water level in the toilet. I honestly don’t remember whether there was any in there or not…All I remember is seeing a whole lot of candle wax pour into the toilet and all over the toilet seat!! Yeah, told you it was one of those *facepalm moments! Why on earth did I not think, “There is melted wax in this candle. Tipping it over is NOT a good idea.”? Needless to say, I had a rather unpleasant job to do.

Yesterday, the power went out at about 5:40 a.m. Mom and Dad were gone for the morning, so I prepared breakfast. Just a little FYI, it gets COLD here in the mornings and evenings this time of year! The gas stove was out of propane, so I had to lite the charcoal and cook outside…huddled in fluffy socks, house shoes, and a shawl wrapped tightly around me! haha… We ALL drank a cup of tea or coffee this morning to stay warm!

My week hasn’t been all surrounded by power outages though! Goodness no! Despite that annoyance, the week has been pretty good!

Saturday was Inshila meeting (see “The Greatest Education” where I explain what “Inshila” is). This month, we divided up boys and male leaders from the girls and female leaders and had our own separate meetings.

I can’t speak for the boys, but the girls’ meeting went really well! For privacy sake, I won’t share specifics; but many topics were discussed and many questions were asked by the girls. The main focus of our separate time was to give the girls an opportunity and safe-haven to ask questions regarding anything which they may not understand, or to share struggles they have and need help with.

The girls were very open and asked lots of questions! One girl’s story brought me to tears and at other points, tears almost came.  All in all, I’d say it went really well! I’m happy the girls are comfortable and open with my mom and the teachers!

We also had some time with our neighbor friends this week! Everyone is within shouting distance of each other, so all we have to do is shout a certain call to summon our friends. It’s almost like a secret language! There is a different call for each group of kids. If we want the kids at the farm across the road, we shout in a different way than if we want the kids to our left. And if they want us, we know what sound to listen for. This really comes in handy!

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Rachel and I! ❤

When they come to play, I always end up filling up the memory on my iPod with pictures and videos! Everyone loves to sing for the camera and pose for a picture or 2 or 10.. 😉 Some of them even like to be the cameraman and take pictures of me or each other! haha…

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Chris! I can’t get over this boy’s smile…..

One of them was using my iPod for the first time when he accidentally switched it to selfie mode. He just sat there holding the camera at all different angles making faces at himself!!! Haha! If only he had actually taken pictures of those faces!

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Christine in the back with the saber looking thing, Eluvis is being held by Mary! =)

On Sunday afternoon, only a few kids were able to play, so we only had enough people for a 3 on 3 game of futball. They are definitely helping my futball skills improve! Especially playing in such small numbers where I receive the ball a lot! We actually won! =D

We also spent time at Wiphan during the week. I was able to help Mamma cook and serve food in the kitchen, and then spend time with teachers and students! I had a nice time with my friends in hospitality, and also taking pictures of a fun group of boys!

These boys were challenging each other seeing who could tolerate sunlight being reflected onto their arm the longest! Proof boys are the same all over the world! lol! Always posing some sort of “man-challenge.” 😉

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The boys enjoying their challenge… 😉

Yes, life is a journey! Every day presents itself with trials and excitements quite its own. Viewing life, viewing every day, as a unique gift from God has added so much joy to my life! I start each day with my Bible and prayer; asking God to guide my steps as I embark on the path He has laid out for me today. By God’s grace, my relationship with Him is definitely increasing and growing stronger. I smile up at Him nearly every day because something makes me realize that I am right where I belong at this stage of my life!

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Trust…

For many years, I have struggled with trusting God. In my mind, I always knew what was best and had the better plan. I had my whole life planned out! I was (and still am) a dreamer. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I let those dreams and my plan become too important to me. My dreams were going to be realities; no matter what. My plan was going to happen; no matter what.

I was afraid. I was insecure at times. “I have to be friends with _ or else I won’t be popular!” “What if somehow I ‘miss’ the opportunity to marry?” “What if I speak out about Christ and am made fun of?” I know, I know, its super dumb…But I seriously thought it! Thinking those thoughts, I realized that I lacked trust and security with where God had me. I didn’t trust that he knew who my friends should be. I didn’t trust that He knew who my husband will be. I didn’t trust he knew what he would protect me, or give me strength to endure teasing. I didn’t trust…I didn’t trust…I didn’t trust…

I recognized this weakness, and I was sick of it. I was sick of doubting, I was sick of lacking trust, I was sick of feeling like I had to measure up to a certain person’s standard. “God I know you’re trustworthy in my mind! Why can’t I know it in my heart!? “ Finally, I did the only thing I could do: Pray and beg God to help me learn to trust Him.

The Bible tells us numerous times, “Ask and you shall receive.” That doesn’t necessarily mean if we ask for a million dollars we’ll get it (that’s a whole separate issue), but it means if we ask God to grant us something that helps us become more like Him, and we have faith that he will help us, he will grant us our prayer.

Since the time when I first started praying, God started working. The lesson I learned wasn’t easy. It took some heavy blows and some difficult situations to teach me that God knows best. But God proved His trustworthiness to me over and over. Just by granting me what I asked for, he proved that he is trustworthy and faithful.

As I look back on the last couple years of my life, I see how God used SO many things to teach me to trust Him. He gave me the friends he knew I needed. He gave me peace with my future. He gave me strength and bravery to share about him to others. He showed me that moving to Zambia IS what is best for my life. I could share story upon story…

Although the journey learning to trust God thus far has been tough, it was (and is) definitely worth it. Now, my life is so much more content and joyful. I’m not afraid of what God is going to do with my life. I’m not so stuck in my dreams that I’m not willing to let God be in control. I feel carefree. Not in the sense that I don’t have a care in the world, but in the sense that I don’t have to worry about tomorrow, about today, about anything regarding my life, because I know that God is in control; and I CAN trust him!

My job is to seek God with my life, not to seek myself. And if I wait patiently and listen, God will reveal to me His plan. I already see him doing that now. Since I have learned to trust Him, God has shown me so much! I have learned the gift God has given me (see… “Compassion…My spiritual Gift; What’s yours?”). I have learned how God is using me and my gift in the here and now. I’m still praying about how God will use my gift in the future.

People ask me all the time, “So, do you know what you want to do when you graduate?” I don’t mind the question at all! It gives me an opportunity to talk about what God is doing in my life, sometimes to people who may not know Him! My response is something like, “Nope. Not yet. I know that God has given me this gift. I also know that my main calling, if I have a family in my future, is to be a wife and mother. But I am still waiting on the Lord to reveal to me whether or not I should get a degree and what he wants me to do before I have a family. I’m learning to take my life one day at a time…because who knows what tomorrow will bring? I know what things I would be interested in pursuing if it is God’s will, but again, I can trust that he knows what is best for my life. God will show me in His time what His plan is.”

I have a lot more weaknesses I need God’s help with. I can’t wait to see what he does to grow me and draw me closer to Him in these areas! I can’t wait to see what he does with my life!

Busy, Busy, Busy! Fun, Fun, Fun!

This has been such a full week! I’ve done everything from stuff shirts in bags, saute dried fish, and walk through market, to butchering chickens and having lunch with friends!

A team of wonderfully sweet teachers from Georgia have been here with Wiphan this week; so we’ve spent a lot of time going around with them to different places and getting to know them better! Here’s a synopsis of some highlights this week…

Sunday…

We attended church with Pastor Aaron from Wiphan, as did the teachers. The service was beautiful and welcoming as usual. =)

After service, we went on a walk through the nearby village of Nkwazi. Oh how I enjoyed this walk!! We recognized many, many faces as Wiphan students or people who come to Wiphan for water.

Some of the teachers were able to meet the kids they sponsor, which was truly a beautiful and emotional sight! Many of the village children joined us on our walk. We left Wiphan a group of 15 or so, and arrived back at Wiphan a group of 40-50!!

One of my super sweet little buddies, Mike, held my hand throughout the whole walk. He followed us back to Wiphan where he stayed right with me. He didn’t join the other kids who were having fun taking pictures…Nope, he stayed right by me! He even fixed the strap on my sandal for me…It came undone and I stood on one leg to fix it, but before I could, he grabbed my foot, fixed my sandal, and placed my foot gently on the ground!

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Mike and I!

We went to eat dinner with the teachers after this where I enjoyed a WONDERFUL conversation with Mrs. Tami, one of the teachers, and her son, Skyler, who also came along on the trip. It was so fun to get to know all the teachers that evening! =)

Tuesday…

Our family went to Wiphan Nkwazi as we often do on Tuesdays. I spent the morning helping Mamma (Monica, the cook) in the kitchen; cutting tomatoes, tearing pumpkin leaves for a side dish, making tea, and other little odd jobs she assigned for me.

I was hoping my friends in the hospitality class would arrive while I was there so I could introduce Skyler to them. However, the day went on and they didn’t show up! I finally called my friend, who literally screamed out of excitement when she found out it was me on the other end of the phone.! 😉 lol… She told me what time class started and by the time we left, I was able to see her and two of my other friends and introduce them to Skylar. I’m so grateful that God gave me some good friends in that class! =) I’m kind of like the “unofficial member” of the class…joining them for their opening time occasionally and spending a majority of my time in their classroom.

Wednesday…

My parents spent the morning at Wiphan Mapalo, and in the evening the teachers, Skylar, and our friend Anna (who also works at Wiphan) came over for supper. We again had some really fun visit time!

Thursday…

The line, “Good morning campers! Rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties cuz it’s cold outside!” would’ve been completely appropriate this particular morning…We left the house by 7:15 to meet Anna, BaKathryn (‘COO’ of Wiphan), and the teachers.

One thing you outta know, the weather here is super nice; but early in the morning and in the evening (during this time of year) it is cold!! Everyone was bundled in jackets on the drive to Wiphan Westbourne, located 30 minutes away on this chilly morning!

I spent my morning there helping BaFebby, the cook, prepare kapenta (a small type of fish) and cut vegetables.

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Kapenta

I spent time with Alex (my brother) and Skyler, playing futball (soccer) with some of the children there. The kids told me: “Awe icisungu! Iwe icibemba!” (‘No speaking English! You speak Bemba!’) So I proceeded to speak in Bemba (as much as I could 😉 ) with them. We had such a fun time! I can’t wait til I’m fluent in the language!

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Wiphan Westbourne’s staff with the teachers from Georgia!

Afterwards, Mom and I joined the the teachers, BaKathryn, and Anna for a quick trip to the market where we mainly looked at icitenge fabric, which is used for skirts here. We met the ladies at one of the malls beforehand. I ran into a couple different stores for mom where I enjoyed some fun conversations that helped enhance my Bemba skills! =D

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Some icitenge fabric that mom and I have.

Friday…

We left in the morning for Wiphan Nkwazi where they were having a teacher’s conference. My plan was to sit in one of the offices and work on some school work, but it turned into a chicken-butchering party! haha…I helped Mamma (Monica) and a few other ladies butcher 10 chickens. Pastor Aaron and Skylar helped ‘behead’ them, and us ladies did the rest. 😉 I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside those ladies as we visited together!

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Plucking the chickens! =) (I’m wearing an icitenge in this picture)

Around noon, Dad, Skyler, Alex, two of my friends, and I went to lunch together. We had a fun time chatting about all different things! I enjoyed getting to know everyone better and learning more about Zambian culture! =D

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The lunch party! From left: Skyler, Brenda, Charles, Me, Alex

We returned to Wiphan after this and I spent time visiting with some of my other friends who work there and the teachers. I also spent some time kicking the futball around with some of the kids!

All in all, I’d say it’s been a very enjoyable, and enlightening week! I wish I could express all the emotions and paint all the pictures of what we have been doing, but there seem to be no words grand enough to describe it all!

God is using this chapter of my life to grow me and teach me so many things! I’m so grateful to Him for seeing fit to bring me here!

Series of ‘Unexpected’ Events….

I like to plan my days. Sometimes they go according to plan…and sometimes…yeah, most times…no. No, they don’t.

In my mind, today was going to be a very relaxing Saturday! Nothing really going on…until this evening when a fun night is planned with some friends! (Can’t wait!) I would have a day to sleep in, maybe read or write a little, tidy my room, etc….My mind was basically quoting Napoleon Dynamite as I imagined this day,”So Megan, what are you doing on Saturday?”

If you’ve seen Napoleon Dynamite, you can imagine my response: “Whatever I feel like I wanna do! Gosh!” 😉 lol

That was my outlook on today! But obviously God decided I needed to be humbled and realize that Napoleon’s line doesn’t always work in real life…In fact, it rarely does!

7:15 am- “Megan! Would you please open the door for me?” That was my wake up call…BaZenia was here and no one was awake to let her in! So she came to my window asking me for help. So, I hopped out of bed and ran to get the door for her.

9:00 am- Dad and Mom left for a couple hours, and decided that we could watch a movie. Not a bad start to the day! I think my Napoleon Dynamite theme was working so far!!

11:45 am- After confirming with Mom and Dad on the phone that I should go ahead with lunch, I proceed to look around for something to make. The most convenient thing: Nshima (the staple food here in Zambia consisting of boiled cornmeal, boiled to a consistency like really thick mashed potatoes). Why is this important? Well, thing is, I’ve NEVER made nshima before! And y’all, there’s an art to this + it takes a good load of muscle in your arm!! I literally started praying out loud. “Lord! Please help me make the nshima! Help me not to burn it or completely botch it!” I filled a pot of water and put it on the stove, beginning my adventure…

12:15- I made sure the boys didn’t tell Zenia or Steve that I was making nshima. They are masters at cooking it, and I’ve never made it in my life. I didn’t want to be embarrassed. Both of them left around this time anyway. I grabbed the bag of millimeal (cornmeal) out of the pantry and started adding it to the almost boiling water…”Should I add more? Am I doing this right? Wait, am I supposed to cover it now..or is that later?” Yes, I was nervous.

12:30- The boys helped me cut up some veggies to saute as sides, which I didn’t have a recipe for…but I think they turned out okay. 😉 Despite all my nerves, the Lord saw my need and somehow made my nshima turn out at least somewhat decent. 😉 After asking my brothers to rate it on a scale of 1-10, I received the following answers (in no particular order):

“10! This nshima is A.W.E.S.O.M.E!”

“Somewhere between a 4 and 6.”

“Hmmm…7 or 8..But I’m not that experienced with nshima, so I wouldn’t know.”

“Somewhere in the middle. 8”

Okay..I’m cool with that. At least it’s not a 1!

My nerves were just beginning to calm as I helped the boys set the table, when I realized two of our dogs had been untied!

We have two female dogs that fight incessantly! Because of this, we have had to rotate letting them out with our male dog. On Thursday, the two females were fixed (right in our front yard!!) by the vet, in hopes that would help the fighting issue. So today, we decided (since they are both still recovering and probably won’t feel up to fighting) to tie them up near one another so maybe they will get used to each other.

After a while, two of the boys, meaning well, thought the dogs would love to stretch their legs…so they untied them from the post and led them on a walk. Next thing I know, I hear the dogs growling and look out the window to see them begin fighting. One of my brothers was trying to pull the one dog away by her chain, while another literally hugged the other from behind trying to pull her off; not realizing that was incredibly dangerous!

It was about 5 minutes of chaos…(stress level now back to 100%)! I’m shouting at the boys to let go of the dogs because they could get hurt! Boys are hollering wondering where the mop bucket is (they stop fighting when we pour water on their heads). I’m thinking, “They just had surgery! What about their stitches!?”

Thank goodness, again God helped us, the dogs stopped fighting after a couple minutes. And although it was dangerous, I think the boys’ attempting to pull them off each other prevented the dogs from damaging their stitches. Thank you Lord Jesus!!

Dogs were retied; and we came inside to finish getting the table set. Half-way through eating, one of the boys looks out the window and says, “Guys!! Nono (one of the dogs) got away!!”

Everyone got up from the table and scrambled outside to look for Nono. Phew..the gate is shut! And thank goodness she and Coco aren’t fighting! We finally found her and tied her up again.

Just as we sat down to finish eating: “Guys!! Nono got loose again!” Round two boys!

Thankfully she hadn’t gone far this time (it’d only been 2 minutes). We quickly tied her up again, this time well.

Oh yeah…we’re still in the middle of lunch! Everyone sat down to finish with no further incident. It’s only 2 o’clock guys… And I’ve learned some pretty valuable lessons:

1) Napoleon Dynamite’s philosophy is flawed.

2) Nshima is messy to cook. The stove is literally covered in cornmeal…

3) I don’t think my arm workouts are necessary anymore if I’m making nshima consistently 😉

4) “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day will bring” Psalm 27:1

5) God is merciful! I was literally scared to make the food today! Yet God had mercy and helped it turn out fine. The dogs fighting could’ve been a major catastrophe! But God caused them to stop fighting…

I can plan every minute of my day, but my plan isn’t always God’s plan. Why? Because my plan isn’t always best. God’s is. What’s so good about the dogs fighting? Look at what God taught me through it! Also, it caused each one of us 5 kids to be convicted over something we had done wrong during the incident and apologize to one another, which strengthens relationships. So yes, God is good!

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28

My parents story…..They just arrived home with a ‘series of events’ story themselves! 😉 They just experienced CRAZY traffic because of a Chipolopolo (the Zambian futball team) game at the stadium, which happens to be just a mile or so from our house. This resulted in it taking an hour to get 5 miles down the road, Dad having to exit the car to stop traffic, and Mom having to direct a bit of traffic.. Wow…What a day this has been!

Do Something!

For a very long time, I couldn’t stand Matthew West’s song, “Do Something”. It is so intense and…well, I don’t really know how to describe the song, but I just didn’t like it, particularly the way he sang it!

Since being here in Zambia though, this song has come to mind numerous times…Here are the lyrics in case you haven’t heard it (if you look it up, you’ll see what I mean about it being intense 😉 ):

“I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill (shine shine, shine shine)
But we’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still
No we won’t stand still

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something [x3]”

I didn’t understand how someone could “shake their fist at heaven” or be so…angry! At least that’s what I thought when I heard this song. But now, I don’t think “angry” is the right word…I think, heartbroken, might be better. Sure, when you actually listen to the song he sounds angry; but I think he’s truly just heartbroken by the world around him, and expresses that very passionately!

I see now how he could feel the way he does! His song expresses some of my recent thoughts almost perfectly! I look around and see so much poverty, so much loss, so much hurt around me, and not just here in Zambia either! Reading different news headlines from the U.S. and the stories about Bruce Jenner and the Duggar Scandal, I’m scared and heartbroken over what our world is coming to! I haven’t literally shaken my fist at heaven; no, but I have been on my knees, crying, “God! Why don’t you help? Why don’t you do something?” and that’s when Matthew West’s song comes to mind, this line in particular: “He [God] said, ‘I did, I created you!'”

He created me for a purpose. Maybe that purpose isn’t to fix all the poverty of Zambia or keep the U.S. from falling deeper and deeper into their judgement and sin, but I’m “never gonna change the world by standing still”! No I won’t stand still! I won’t just sit around and observe problems and heartache. Maybe all I can do to have a part in “fixing” any of these problems is to pray. God might be calling me in a totally different direction than solving these issues, but no matter what God calls me to do, it won’t involve doing nothing.

So coming off the heels of my previous post, I’m praying through what God is calling me to do. He has shown me my gift of compassion. He has broken my heart over seemingly hopeless situations… I no longer hate this song. Instead, it is the cry of my heart! “Okay God, what’s my next step in life? I am the salt of the earth. I am a city on a hill. I want to shine for you! Help me shine! God I wanna ‘Do Something'”!”

Compassion: My Spiritual Gift….What’s Yours?

God has given everyone a gift. You may even have two or three. Today I realized my gift: compassion.

For the first time, I saw someone who had been beaten. Sure, I’ve seen it in the movies or on the news; read about it in magazines or books. But I had never seen it in person. It was a young boy, around 12, that I know. He had blood on all parts of his body. He couldn’t stand, and his breathing was labored. Tears even managed to escape down his cheeks as he lay on the ground.

Before I saw him, I had been told he was hurt; but the description I had been given was a “slap”. You can therefore imagine my shock when I found him bleeding and breathing as he was.

My immediate reaction was a sick stomach and tears. It hurt me so much to see someone hurting!

As it turned out, the beating wasn’t as bad as it appeared. He had been hit only in the face, and only a few times. We still aren’t quite sure where all the blood came from; perhaps his nose.

However, I felt no less heartbroken over the matter upon realizing it wasn’t so serious. This happened early this afternoon. It’s after midnight now. I still feel sick, and the tears still fall. I know he’ll be fine! A black eye and soreness will heal, but nevertheless, all I want to do right now is be there with him, tending his wounds, hugging him, telling him it will be okay.

So as I sit here writing this, here is what God spoke to me amongst my wild train of thought:

“You are this compassionate and passionate in this small thing; how much    more will you be with the big things”

So in amongst my wild thoughts of “I want to be a nurse. I MUST be a nurse! Can I take an online nursing course? It’s a two year course right? If I start now I can finish before I’m 19! Do they even allow 16 year old’s to take a nursing course? If I just studied up on a bunch of medical stuff, could I do volunteer work in nursing legally?”

So in amongst those wild thoughts, that is what spoke to me. I immediately came back with, “Okay God, how should I use this gift of compassion that you have given me to serve you?”

I’m still praying through this. I don’t yet know God’s plan and I don’t want to act on impulse; but I DO know that God gave me this gift for a reason! So I will wait for his timing to reveal to me how I should use it.

What is your gift? Maybe God hasn’t revealed it to you yet; maybe he has. If he hasn’t, ask him to show you. If he has, as him how he wants you to use it.

He has a plan for your life! I promise! You have a gift! I promise!

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things! I’m an ordinary teen, but I serve an extraordinary God! And through him, I am extraordinary!

See 1 Corinthians 12…and James 1:17

A Broken Dryer, a Garden, and ZESCO

Every day I’m learning. Every day God is teaching and/or showing me something new. Lately, God has been revealing to me the importance and value of hard-work, gratefulness, and setting the right priorities.

There’s been a video floating around on Facebook that some of you might have seen (here’s the link if you haven’t: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3HrkQaPHAA ) . The whole theme to the video is about how we (especially us ‘first world people’) oftentimes make a problem where there is no problem; or make one thing a priority when it’s really unimportant. The video shows different people from poor areas across the world making a statement such as, “I hate when my house is so big, I need two wireless routers,” but behind them, is their own home…a shack with leaves for a rooftop.  That really convicted me! Maybe I don’t make that specific statement, but I say things very similar, such as, “Ugh! Why is the internet so slow!?” I’m guilty! I’m guilty of prioritizing unimportant things!

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These last couple days, especially, have really taught me a lot! Circumstantially, we have had much more laundry to do lately and much more work involved to get it done! One cause is a broken dryer. We use our clothesline a lot anyway, but now we are forced to use only the clothes line. Not only this, but here in Zambia, there are these things called ‘mango flies’ that get in your clothes while they are on the line; and if you don’t iron the clothes they will burrow in your skin, leaving life-long scars. I think you see where this is going…yes, we have to iron every piece of clothing. Every sheet, every shirt, every sock, everything. So this definitely increases the workload!

Now, I’ll be honest, I actually LOVE using a clothesline! I really don’t know why…but I  do. Something about it is just so relaxing and peaceful to me (I know..I’m weird.)! Ironing; however, I could do without! I’m doing it, and it’s fine, but it’s by far not my favorite thing. But as I’m ironing these clothes, I’m thinking, “Some people don’t even have clothes to wear! Some people don’t have and iron and probably have scars from these mango flies.” And boy does ironing seem a lot less of a chore after that!

Gardening. I LOVE to garden! But, back in Missouri we had this thing called a tiller. It’s a big metal thing that tills the garden for you. All you have to do is turn it the way you want it to go (it’s a bit more complicated than that, but you know what I mean). Here, we have a thing called a hoe. It’s kind of like a shovel or an axe. You take this hoe, hold it up over your head, and then whack the ground with it as hard as you can. After it goes into the dirt, you pull as much dirt as you can up and out of the ground, loosening the soil. So, instead of pushing a tiller all across the garden, you get a serious arm workout using the hoe; and sometimes a blister or two or ten. Everything is done by manpower. The closest you get to machinery is a garden hose.

Then we have ZESCO. ZESCO is the power company for all of Zambia. And let’s just say  it’s a little unreliable…Where we stay, the power goes out at least 2-3 times a week, and usually for a few hours at a time. Lately, the power seems to be going out even more often.  This obviously affects many aspects of our daily plans. And it just so happens that it usually goes out at a very inconvenient time. When power is out, our water supply only lasts for a short time. So, we have to be very frugal with the amount of water we use. Along with very little water, we often have to find an alternative to our current cooking method. Since the stove won’t work, and the power often goes off right around supper-cooking time, we either end up eating really late, or using an alternative gas stove or the charcoal grill. It also affects many other imaginable things.

Take yesterday and today for example: I’ve spent the last probably 5 hours (give or take 30 min.) ironing clothes, hanging clothes on the line, pulling them down, etc. Yesterday, I spent a good two or so on the same job. I also spent a good hour hand-tilling the garden with Alex and BaSteve. The power was out for about 3 hours yesterday and was just out again today, but came on pretty quickly. (And this is just my perspective of the day. Everyone was working hard! Not just me!)

Anyway, that was the description of the tools God has been using to teach me the lessons. Now to tell you what I’ve learned…

The first lesson: the value and importance of hard-work, has been taught to me on a whole new level. I love to work. I truly value hard work! But, I value it with another mindset now. A mindset that realizes how blessed I am and how much I should truly appreciate the work I am doing and not just do it.  Not everyone has a washing machine! Not everyone has electricity! So what right do I have to complain?

The second lesson: gratefulness. This goes along with my hard-work lesson. I’m learing to be grateful for hard-work. That’s right! Grateful for the lack of consistency with ZESCO, grateful for the mango flies, grateful for a broken dryer, and grateful for blisters. Why? Because without certain conveniences, I am more grateful for them. Not to say that you can’t be grateful if you do have them, but for me, I’m learning to be more grateful without.

The last lesson: keeping my priorities straight. Personally, having less ‘stuff’ and less conveniences has helped me to become less materialistic. I’m realizing that I really don’t need all these things I thought I needed! Life goes on without power, internet; and a bajillion other things that I can subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) put at the same level as things that really ARE vital and important! If our car stopped working today, and there was no way to fix it, what would I lose? All I can think of is the loss of a convenience. And what will that convenience really gain for me in Heaven? Nothing. And would life without that convenience keep me from being able to share the gospel with the people around me!? No way! And those things are what’s important.

So in the end, I may not really like ironing, but I’m grateful for clothing. I may not like the annoying sound the back window in our car makes, but I’m grateful for transportation. I may not like when people sin against me, but I’ll forgive them, because I’m grateful to God who forgave me of my many, many, many sins!