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!
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!