I’m Back!

I cannot fathom how 8 months have gone by since I last wrote a blog post.

At the 2 month mark I attempted to write an update on every event from the prior two months.

…but my post ended up being novel length before I was half finished.

At the 6 month mark, I attempted to write something, ANYTHING! But I stared at a blank word document trying to figure out where on earth I should start…I never figured it out.

Now here I am…nearly 8 ½ months since my last blog post, I’m about to write one, and I have no idea how this post is going to end up.

I’ve made two resolutions to guide me for this post though:

  • This post is dedicated to sharing what God has taught me the past 8 months.
  • I am not leaving this bench on our veranda (unless it’s to refill my tea glass) until I’ve finished writing this post. I’m going to finish this time!

So here goes…

My past 8 months can be perfectly summarized by the poetic Charles Dickens in his opening lines to A Tale of Two Cities where he writes, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,…”*

This season has been one of high highs and low lows; sometimes the next step can be seen clearly and other times, I feel in the midst of thick fog. It’s been a time of humbling discoveries yet encouraging growth.

Through all of this, God has taught me a great deal and that’s what I want to share with all of you.

Slow down, be patient, and wait– I hate waiting. No matter the reason I have to wait (whether legitimate or illegitimate), no matter the length of time (whether 15 minutes in a check-out line or months for God to reveal the next step for my life), I just really despise waiting!
I do everything quickly.
I’m a fast eater.
I’m a fast walker.
I’m a fast driver.
I’m a fast talker.
The list could go on…
Oftentimes, I don’t slow down enough. I don’t just stop, wait, be patient, and enjoy the moment.
However, God has been showing me there is a lot of value to waiting.
Seasons of waiting are actually seasons of opportunity; especially for growth.
I could use those 15 minutes in the grocery line to share the gospel with someone around me or spend time in prayer.
I can use those months I’m waiting to move forward with things in life to grow more spiritually and devote more time to God and His Word.
I can use the time I’m waiting for God’s plan to come to fruition to further my potential in the areas He’s called me.
Without these seasons of waiting in my life, without learning how to be patient, without taking the time to slow down, I would make (and have made) a lot of foolish and immature mistakes.
Whereas, if I utilize these seasons of waiting to grow in the Lord, be teachable, and learn, I’ll be much better off and have fewer missed opportunities than if I am impulsive.
Waiting is beautiful. It’s hard, incredibly hard, but beautiful.

I am not called to please people. I am a huge people-pleaser. I prefer to keep everyone happy and for people to have a positive opinion of me.
Not only does my attempt to please people reveal a deep root of pride in my life; it’s also an impossible goal to strive after.
Scripture has a lot to say about the pit of people pleasing (see Col. 3:23, Prov. 29:25, 1 Thess. 2:4b, Psalm 118:8, Eph. 6:7, and Acts 5:28-29).
Galatians 1:10 even goes so far as to say if we are attempting to please men, we are no longer servants of Christ…ouch.
Not to say we shouldn’t strive to live at peace with those around us. Scripture clearly says we should (see Rom. 12:18); but ultimately, God should direct our steps. It’s important we be sure of God’s will and calling before acting. Then, if we are sure of God’s leading in our lives, what people might think should never hinder us from doing His will.
At this phase in my life, when life decisions start becoming my own, is when my personal loyalty to the Lord is really put to the test. Am I going to willingly, loyally, faithfully, and wholeheartedly serve and commit my life to the Lord? Or am I going to surrender my life to the empty, hopeless goal of pleasing men and ultimately end up empty and lost?
I choose to serve the Lord; wholly and completely. It will have a cost at times; but as the chorus goes “I have counted up the cost, and You are worth it!”.
This is one reason why my next point is so important…

My relationship with God must ALWAYS come first! I know this is cliché and every Christian knows this; but do we really know it?! When times are easy and going great, when life is smooth-sailing, do we still put God first always? Do we only come to Him when we feel like we need Him; or do we recognize we always need Him?
What I have recently observed in myself is that I can sometimes only come to God when I need answers. “God, I have a really tough decision to make here! Can you help me make that decision? What’s the right path?” “God, please give me the words to say right now as I’m helping this person!” “Lord, Your Word is living and active! I’m so confused and broken right now. Please let the Scriptures encourage and help me!”
All those prayers are wonderful and good. Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT discrediting our need to seek God when we’re struggling!
My point is, how often do I wake up, even when I don’t have a “need” or unanswered question, and pray, “Lord, guide me through each moment of this day. Show me Your plan for my life today. I know these are my plans for the day; but help me to be led by You and be walking in Your spirit through each moment.”
Sadly, I don’t do this very often…
Our walk with God should be a day-by-day, moment-by-moment walk. It’s not an “Uh oh, I’m no longer able to do this by myself…let me run to God for help” relationship. It’s an “I can never do this on my own…God guide me through each moment” relationship.
My personal experience has been that even when life is going great, the road and directions are clear, the minute I make my relationship with the Lord secondary, the road becomes rocky and difficult, and I’m unprepared for the situation.
However, if I’m steadfast in my dedication to God, when obstacles arise and the path becomes rocky (which will happen!), I’ll always be ready.

I’m not as mature as I thought– When I was 14, I was at a cookout and a woman in her mid-20’s asked how old I was. I told her and she looked shocked and said, “Only 14!? Oh my gosh you act like you’re 22!”
However, now that I’m actually entering this scary realm of life called “adulthood”, I’m realizing I’m not nearly as mature as that well-meaning girl (or I) thought.
It’s easy to think I’ve totally got this “life thing” figured out; but I really don’t.
These last few months, with all the newness, decisions, changes, possibilities, opportunities, and uncertainties, I’m learning there is a lot I have left to learn and a whole lot I don’t know. And sometimes even when I “do know”, I fall captive to snares of impatience, people-pleasing, and thinking I can handle things on my own.
I have a long…Long…LONG way to go; which means I need to be teachable and a good listener (areas I could certainly improve). I need to seek wisdom from those around me through observation and inquiry and take to heart what I observe and hear; seeking God ultimately for His will.

As I reflect on the past 8 months, the highs and lows, the best times and worst times, the wisdom and foolishness, the hope and despair, I look back with gratefulness.

Have these months been easy? Not at all. At times they have; but for the most part, they’ve been crazy hard! But without all the struggles, without all the waiting, without all the humbling lessons, I never would’ve grown like I have.

As James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (NASB)**

Thank you all for reading! I hope to write more posts soon.

God Bless,

~Megan

*http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/29595.html
** “endurance” in this passage is translated as “patience” in the KJV.

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Update: Burning power lines, Rats, Ants, Goodbyes, and Other Events

I can’t believe it has been over a month since my last post!

My life has been a rollercoaster this past month, accounting for my absence.

I’m in the process of finishing my final year of high-school (finally!!) which is definitely taking up a majority of my time. Obviously it needs to be done, but it’s hard to be home so much when my heart would much prefer being at Wiphan.

I also had my 18th birthday at the beginning of the month which we celebrated low-key as a family. That is, until I was surprised a few days later with a “babysitting job” that was actually a party for me with many of the ladies from our church! It was such a lovely evening with my mom and all those sweet, thoughtful ladies.

Recently I did spend a great deal of time at Wiphan enjoying last days with the most recent hospitality class, class 12, (click HERE and see mid-section of the page if you’re unsure what this means) before they left for their 3 months of attachments (internships).

Click HERE for a video of singing in class

It’s always hard for me to say goodbye to these students. I spend months bonding relationships with them only to see them leave. Yet what an exciting thing it is too! These men and women have gone through extensive training in catering and hotel and their passion for the Lord by the end is so intense. Their pure joy and excitement for beginning their work is so evident!

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My sweet best friends from hospitality class 12; all dressed up to celebrate their last day of class! Miss them so much.

Their last days are always filled with lovely music (you can see a clip above), dancing, laughter, and joyful fellowship as we prepare to part ways…

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My first sleepover with Emily!

It’s certainly a bittersweet time for everyone. =)  As of right now, they’ve been gone for a couple weeks. Prayers for them and their time interning would be appreciated!

I had the joy of hosting my first sleepover since being in Zambia a few weeks ago with one of my dear friends, Emily. She’s actually a member of the hospitality class 12. I would certainly describe her as a kindred spirit!

Other recent Wiphan events include a leadership trip to a nearby game park. I wasn’t able to attend this, but my parents said all the leaders had a relaxed and fun-filled time with a great deal of laughter!

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Wiphan Nkwazi vs. Wiphan Westbourne football (soccer) match! Photo Creds: Mom

There was also recently a “sports day” held at Wiphan. Wiphan schools have recently developed sports teams and set aside a day for the teams from all three schools to gather together and interact with each other while participating in tournament style sports events. The girls’ teams played netball (somewhat similar to basketball) and the boys played football (aka soccer). I also wasn’t able to attend this event, but mom informed me it was another lovely day!

Lastly, four of the Wiphan leaders, along with my dad, recently attended a leadership conference in the capital city of Lusaka. When they returned, everyone seemed in agreement that their time was productive and one of great growth.

Among our family and life at home, we have recently been dealing with a rat issue in our house which all began in MY closet! UGH! For multiple nights in a row, I could hear the rats scurrying in an overhead cabinet above my main closet. My wonderful dad and brothers took great care of me through this. lol They even used paracord to tie the doors shut.

After a few nights, the rats were no longer in my closet, but one evening my brothers managed to kill one in our homeschool/sitting room!! My dad and I were each gone at the time and I heard quite the story when I came home! The room itself looked as if a tornado had swept through it and the boys shared how the rat jumped off the curtains five feet in the air and how, in the end, Cameron (8) had killed it with a badminton racket.
A few days later, my dad killed a second one in the pantry. Yuck. Yuck. YUCK!
Thankfully since then we haven’t had any more issues with them inside the house.

In the last few days, we’ve acquired an issue with red, killer ants. I’m honestly not sure of their official name, but they travel in large groups killing anything in their path. I read a comment from a friend recently who shared how they took down a full size pig and devoured the whole thing! Needless to say, these ants are not to be trifled with.
A couple mornings ago, before 6am, my brother walked into our kitchen only to discover piles of ants as well as trails of ants all over the floor attacking different roaches and other bugs they’d found. They were even in our sink and had covered the entire drain so that we couldn’t even see it! When the ants were cleared away, a half-dead lizard crawled out of the drain.
I hadn’t slept well at all that night and so didn’t get up in time for all of the action. However, later in the afternoon another trail had found their way into the kitchen and pantry. There were only around 100 that time as opposed to the thousands in the morning.
Since taking care of those two incidents, we haven’t had any more invasions. I hope it stays that way! While it’s nice that they eat all the bugs, I rather not be afraid to step on the floor….haha

We’ve also been having quite an ordeal with electricity lately. We’ve been dealing with the extreme annoyance of inconsistency, but recently when had a scary incident with power.
The electricity had come on two hours earlier than scheduled which isn’t a common occurrence. My parents were gone at the time and most of us were working on our schoolwork when Alex (14) comes to inform me that the power was at low voltage. I didn’t think he was correct considering the washing machine was running fine (which isn’t normal when voltage is low), but he proved right when we heard my dad’s battery backup beeping at an odd frequency and inconsistency- indicating fluctuating voltage.
Fluctuating voltage is dangerous considering it could mean a power surge in which case every appliance hooked to an outlet could blow up!
Alex and I were in the middle of discussing whether or not to turn off power to the house when we suddenly heard a powerful “!KABOOM!” from outside accompanied by seconds of loud firework-like noises: sparkling, crackling, sizzling, etc.
As soon as the KABOOM hit, chaos erupted in our house for the next seconds. It’s quite humorous now, but at the time, it was anything but funny! Alex’s eyes became wide in concern and he ran off to my dad’s office. I instantly ran to the breaker box and started switching everything off shouting at Alex asking if everything was okay. My younger brothers were screaming wondering what was happening and Ba Zenia (she works at our house) was screaming fearfully in Bemba as she ran out the front door. Ba Steve was outside shouting and staring behind the house.
As soon as I switched off all the breakers, everyone congregated outside to ask Ba Steve what had happened. He informed us a spark had ignited on the power pole to the right of our wall and sent a flaming, sizzling, spark down the entire power line all the way to the next pole on our neighbors property. As we were looking at the electric lines, the spark reignited where it had ended and started spewing sparks for a few more seconds.
I called my dad at this point to inform him of the situation and he arrived home just a few minutes later only to casually inform us the grass was on fire…literally he said it like it happened all the time.
Ba Zenia and I were shocked for a moment until he explained that Ba Steve was already taking care of it. haha!
Anyway, praise the Lord we’d switched the breakers in time because who knows what could have blown up! Power came on at normal voltage after only an hour or so (which was surprisingly soon!). We’ve thankfully had no such issues since.

It has been quite an adventurous and eventful month for us here. Between all the different programs with Wiphan, conferences, rodent issues, ant infestations, and electricity surges, I’d say this month has been quite memorable!
I pray some of these recent issues are behind us, but then again, they do make life interesting. 😉
I hope to be more consistent with writing from now on instead of having to play “catch up” on a whole month’s worth of activities in one post. Haha!

Thank you all for reading.
God bless!

A Weekend in the Bush {Part 3}

{continued from Sept. 1st & 2nd . Click HERE for Part2 and HERE for Part 1}

Day 3

Saturday: our final day at the conference…I had such mixed emotions.

We were only there half the day. The morning began with music as it always does. An impromptu group of six young men led a few songs before Bishop and Pastor Aaron took over. After that, we had a short universal session on the basics of leadership.

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Time to sing!

To conclude my parents’ time, the church leaders remained behind for a more in depth discussion and the rest of us remained outside. I visited with different friends for a while and helped Rejoice more on the guitar. However, he hardly needed my help as within two days he’d already learned how to pick out a song fairly efficiently. I have never been more impressed with a beginning guitarist!

After a bit, my friend Blessing motioned for me to join him and others who were standing in a circle beneath a tree singing. Blessing was playing the guitar and Deborah, Sibo, and 3 other young men were there as well.

I’ve said this time and again on my blog, but I’ll say it again: I ADORE music in Zambia!! Not to mention, in this particular instance, everyone I was singing with possessed impeccable voices.

We sang multiple songs as a group encouraging each other in our vocal abilities and trading around who sang what harmony. We also took turns soloing and then vocalizing as a group. Sibo and Blessing taught us a song they had written together. It was call and echo and Sibo was so into it as he led he seemed to be in his own little world with his passionate singing!

Singing with this group for a couple hours was certainly one of the highlights of my time. I would’ve happily skipped lunch to continue singing with them. Haha!

Very shortly after eating, we said our goodbyes (which take about as long as greetings) and began our two hour drive back to Ndola.

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Snapshot of a prayer group

It was a bittersweet departure for me. I will admit I was excited to get back to a shower, indoor toilet, and to rub aloe vera on my stinging sunburn; but at the same time I was sad to leave life in the bush.

Until recently, I’ve never been someone who anticipated change well; but when something new comes my way I adapt incredibly fast. At the conference, I’d basically blocked out life and jumped full-force into the life at hand.

I’m far, far, FAR from fully understanding or fully living life out in the bush, yet even in two days I learned a great deal. I recognized wrong mindsets and priorities I possessed. I was also prompted to compare my life in the U.S., my life in Ndola, and life in the bush. I’m an analytical person and sometimes it takes time for me to fully process my thoughts.

I honestly can’t say I have all my thoughts together regarding the weekend yet. However, what I do know is God is truly and literally AWE-some! He did a wonderful work in my life and I felt so close to Him during the conference. All the people around me were feeding me spiritually and encouraging me to be in tune with the Lord.

The Holy Spirit worked in many ways and the faith of the people I was with was touchingly admirable.

I’m unsure if I’ll ever return to that beloved place in Kapiri, but if I never do, I can honestly say this past weekend will live on forever in my memory.

Thank you all for reading. ❤

A Weekend in the Bush {Part 2}

{continuing from yesterday click HERE for Part 1}

Day 2

This day was my favorite…

Friday morning came all too quickly to our tired selves as we languidly rolled out of bed; excited for the day ahead, but sincerely wishing we could sleep longer.
We were soon at the conference where we greeted friends and gathered around the breakfast table. During breakfast, Madam Chisupa (the bishop’s wife) asked me to play and sing a song to begin the morning sessions.

As we all gathered in the conference area, Pastor Aaron opened with beautiful Zambian music. Then, feeling a bit nervous, I grabbed my guitar and played “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher. Mom held the microphone for me and sang along with a high harmony. I glanced over at my dad once and he was crying. I didn’t look at him anymore to keep from tearing up myself… Lol. Blessing and Sibo (two of the Mwamba brothers) told me later they could tell I was a bit nervous and unprepared. Haha! But at least God isn’t interested in my voice being flawless. 😉

After I finished singing, I quickly went to join the Sunday school class to teach them. I soon learned that rather than walking to the nearby area they had yesterday, the entire Sunday school team had walked 2 miles away to a football (soccer) field!

A group consisting of my brothers, my friend Victoria, myself, and little Grace (who held my hand the whole way) set off in the general direction of the field, but with little confidence on how to get there.  We traipsed through the Zambian bush for quite some time, taking a wrong turn once and going a good bit in the wrong direction, but we finally found the field where we met up with the Sunday school.

This session, Alex and I together shared about the fruit of the Spirit with Victoria acting as translator. After we finished, Victoria led in a few different sing-song/dance games with the kids before we walked back to the main area.

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Dad teaching with Pastor Aaron translating

I managed (with Gloria and Grace next to me) to catch the end of Dad’s talk on idolatry which happened to be a great pathway into what I would be speaking on in the afternoon.

After dad finished and everyone was released, we ate lunch and I headed to the kitchen to greet the people there. Being in the kitchen always makes me smile. =)

As I left the kitchen, I was intercepted in my walk by a sweet little boy, perhaps 2 years old, named Timothy who I sat and held for a while as I read through my notes for the afternoon.

After a bit, I joined Deborah and Victoria who were sitting under a shade tree. They were in the middle of a discussion, but I was hoping to have a chance to ask them how I could be praying for them.

However, God’s plans are higher than mine and He knew it wasn’t the time to ask those two that question; but rather a different friend…

Rejoice (the other Mwamba brother) approached me after a few minutes and asked if I could assist him on the guitar. As I stood observing him play, I began visiting with another friend standing there. Out of respect, I’ll refrain from sharing his name.

I’m unsure what prompted me to ask as I wasn’t intending to ask him, but the words, “So, how can I be praying for you?” came out of my mouth.

This friend is rather shy and up to that point, I wouldn’t claim to have known him well. He stuttered a little at my question and struggled saying, “I’m just so shy…I want to tell you…but I’m just failing because I am shy.”

I said, “Well if it’s something too personal or private I understand and I’ll just know to be praying for a personal issue. Just know I’m happy to hear anything you have to say though! My greatest love and passion is to listen to people when they are hurting and help them however I can.”

My friend still seemed utterly conflicted. We were standing where there were many people so I asked, “Are you afraid someone is listening?” He said yes, so I suggested we walk over to a nearby log where no one was at the time (still in the main area; but away from crowds).

As we sat down, he verbally argued with himself for a time before finally sharing a deeply personal struggle. He insightfully even shared why he struggles with the issue and what he knows would help him improve. I then asked if I could pray for him right then. He looked around to see how many people were watching and finally, but hesitantly, said yes. We prayed together and then he said something that absolutely amazed me…

He said, “You know, after your dad was sharing with us yesterday I told myself I would confess this struggle to someone today, but I was failing because I am shy…and then you came and asked how you could pray for me!”

ISN’T GOD INCREDIBLE!?!?!?! I had NO idea he’d made that commitment to himself and I truthfully wasn’t intending to ask him how I could be praying for him! Yet God, in His omniscient nature, knew this friend needed the encouragement and I needed the faith builder.

After we finished our discussion, I quickly found my parents and told them what God had done. Following this, I went back to the main area and noticed my friend Deborah sitting on the log where my other friend and I had just been.

I went and sat next to her and asked how I could be praying for her as well. She shared 3 different things to pray for, one of which I could strongly relate to, and we spent a few minutes in prayer together.

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Me teaching

It wasn’t long before the afternoon sessions began. The plan was for the “youth” (ages 15-30) to remain in the main area where my parents and I would be speaking. Everyone else was separated in other groups with different speakers.

I spoke first following my dad’s introduction and had Pastor Aaron as my translator.

I began with the topic of putting God first in our lives (which is what tied in nicely with my dad’s prior discussion on idolatry). Then I shared about Spiritual gifts and talents, the difference between the two, how everyone possesses both, and how we should seek God to show us our gifts and talents. Then, I came back to the topic of putting God first and explained how we should put God first in our talents and gifts and use them to serve and glorify Him; consequently, strengthening the body of Christ (this tied in nicely with what my mom would be sharing next!). I concluded by saying that I was happy to talk to or pray with anyone who would like me to do so later on.

When I finished, a pastor (who had remained with us) stood and expounded on what I shared. He stressed the importance of seeking the Lord at this stage in our lives as youth. He then said that anyone who would like for me to pray for them, asking God to reveal their gifts and talents, could stand in front and I would pray over them.

This was entirely unexpected. I asked my parents if they’d like to pray as well; but they told me it was what God had laid on my heart and so I should pray.

Fifteen to twenty young people came and stood in front. My heart instantly broke because I wished I could know each name. I said so out loud and Mom quietly reminded me, “God knows Megan”. So I closed my eyes, comforted by what my mom said, and prayed.

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Sibo and Pastor Aaron leading music

After I finished, I sat down and listened to my parents speak. I was greatly encouraged by what both of them had to say. Mom shared about youth in the Bible; focusing specifically on Miriam and David. Then dad shared some encouraging passages of Scripture and spent a great deal of time praying over us all.

When they finished, everyone came together for a short evening session. Pastor Aaron and Sibongile led music to begin. Sibo led a beautiful South African song and did so with such joy and passion it made the song, already a beautiful one, even more beautiful!

When the evening session was complete, everyone dispersed except for a select group to have a session on marriage.

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Victoria (and Gloria)

Outside, I took a walk with Victoria and another friend named Rebecca. We enjoyed some fun time of chatting and laughing.

Upon returning, I stood and chatted with Deborah and Sibo. Sibo left after a time and Deborah and I enjoyed a wonderful conversation. She asked me for advice and we had a very open discussion. For privacy’s sake, I won’t disclose the content; but it was incredible how our discussion tied in beautifully to my conversation prior with the anonymous friend.

Later on, as it was becoming dark, I joined a very interesting and fun Biblical discussion. The participants included two girls, Mulenga and Jane, myself, and the anonymous friend prayed wither earlier.

When I joined the conversation, two of the questions we discussed were: “Is it wrong to judge others?”  and “How do we as Christians balance sharing the gospel with others, yet not associating too much in the wrong crowd so as to fall in ourselves?”

The subject then turned to discussing spiritual gifts and talents and we each went around sharing what ours were. During all our discussion, God began to show me my anonymous friend possesses the spiritual gift of discernment. When it was his turn to share, he said something to confirm my thoughts and I said, “You know what? I think I know your spiritual gift!” When I said “discernment” it’s as if a light clicked and he realized it was true. He started thinking out loud telling how he processes things and how he determines the character of a person. It was extremely neat to watch him!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay and enjoy more conversation as I was soon informed we were leaving for the night.

The next day, our last, would be a day one of passionate joys and fun, sad goodbyes, and deep reflection…

{to be concluded tomorrow, September 3rd}

A Weekend in the Bush {Part 1}

My family spent this past weekend, Thursday through Saturday, at a conference in a place called Kapiri. This was our second year to attend this conference. Pastor Aaron, one of Wiphan’s pastors, is a part of the church congregation hosting the conference which is how we became associated. My parents were asked to speak for 2 days last year and they were asked to do this same this year as well.

Last year was incredibly exciting and fun, but personally I found this year to be far more memorable. I intently tried to focus on the Lord, His leading in my life, and how He was working rather than simply the social aspect of being there. However, I was looking forward to reuniting with some very dear friends.

Besides crashing in bed at a lodge each evening, we spent our entire time out in the bush.

What exactly do I mean by “bush”? Let me put it this way: no running water (wells were located about 500 yards away), no electricity (apart from a mini generator which powered a keyboard and microphone), no plumbing, no roofed structure except for a partially tarp-covered conference area.  Most living areas were enclosed with rough 6-foot tall thatch “walls” to separate rooms.

We’re also in the middle of the dry season meaning there is an immense amount of dust everywhere. August is also considered the windiest month so you can imagine the severe amount of dust in the air.

Maybe these pictures will help give a bit of a visual (put your cursor over the photos for the captions)

Now, here is Day 1 of three about how our unfathomable God worked in beautiful ways at the bush conference in Kapiri…

Day 1

We arrived at the conference mid-morning on Thursday and spent the first hour or so greeting everyone.

Greetings are a very important part of the culture here. There is a lot of hand shaking, hugging, and multiple thoughtful questions involved in a greeting. It’s such a beautiful thing!

As I said above, I was greatly excited to be reunited with old friends; specifically my dear friend Victoria and also the entire Mwamba family. Sadly, my friend Joy Mwamba wasn’t at the conference this year.

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Sunday School

After we finished greeting everyone, my brothers and I went off with the “Sunday school” children (ages 14 and below) to teach them. There were three adults (one being Pastor Aaron) helping to handle about 70 children.

The boys and I began by acting out the story of The Good Samaritan and discussing how everyone is our neighbor.

 

Then we taught the kids the song “I May Never March in the Infantry”. If you don’t know the song, it contains many hand motions and actions making it fun to teach children.

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Jackson praying over the Sunday School (Photo creds: Alex)

Pastor Aaron kindly acted as our interpreter and guitar player.

After we finished Sunday school, we returned to the main area where we ate a very cultural lunch.  We ate with the head of their church organization (they call him the “bishop”) and his lovely wife who have become dear friends of ours. They are so kind to answer all our questions about culture and are extremely understanding of our many naïve mistakes. They are an extremely hospitable couple!

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Fetching water at the well.

After lunch, I went to fetch water from the well with my friend Lista. The journey to the well is downhill, but the journey back from the well is all uphill. Haha! But together it wasn’t hard to carry the large bucket. I imagine if I hadn’t been there she would’ve just carried it on her head.

My friend Rejoice (Mwamba) had asked me if I’d be willing to teach him guitar, so I spent some time teaching him four basic chords (G, Em, D, and C). It didn’t take him but a few minutes to have them all memorized and transition between them surprisingly fast for a beginner!

 

Sessions started up again mid-afternoon and I was able to listen to my mom’s engaging talk with the ladies on forgiveness. I held sweet Grace Mwamba in my lap with little Gloria on my left the entire time. I daresay there was not ever more than 30 minutes that passed the entire weekend where Gloria and Grace were not by my side. ❤

As it became dark, we again sat down to a lovely Zambian meal. Following the meal, I found my friend Blessing (Mwamba) at the keyboard. Another young man, whose name I never caught, was playing the bass guitar…and quite well considering the guitar was missing a string!

My favorite memories with Blessing always involve us and our mutual friend Victoria singing together. This particular evening, my friends Sibongile (also Mwamba) and Deborah joined us to sing. All three of them, Blessing, Sibo, and Deborah, have astoundingly flawless voices. Deborah is a smooth and strong alto, Blessing a powerful bass, and Sibo a passionate tenor. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to enjoy their company long as our family soon left for the lodge, but I’d ultimately spend a great deal of time with these three friends (and others) over next two days…


After the busy day we’d had, it didn’t take any time or effort for us all to fall fast soundly asleep. My mind was rolling with exciting thoughts about the days ahead, but my thoughts didn’t come close to the beautiful reality of what the next days would hold…
{to be continued tomorrow, September 2nd}

Journey to the Foreign Mission Field: MY story…(Part 1)

Most of my blog posts up to this point have been sharing about my day-to-day life in Zambia with a few “thoughts” and “lessons learned” thrown in. But I’ve been thinking lately about perhaps writing out my journey coming to the mission field; the easy and the hard, the good and the bad.

Well, I’ve decided to go for it…and here’s the end result.

My goal in sharing this is to hopefully encourage others who may be going through the same things I’ve been through… Foreign missionary or not, I hope this post encourages you.

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It was early 2011. My family and I were sitting in our living room in small-town Missouri. My dad had just returned from a short trip to Zambia and the news that wasn’t altogether unexpected was told us by my parents: We’re moving to Zambia.

I remember feeling a rush of emotions. As I said, the news wasn’t entirely unexpected. Zambia had been a big point on conversation in our home for about a year at this point and I knew my parents had a heart for Africa.

Even still, my emotions were everywhere. I didn’t want to go…but I did want to go….I didn’t want to leave my friends…but I wanted to live in Zambia. I’d always DREAMED of jumping back in time and living when things like electricity, running water, and technology weren’t so readily available; and I knew Zambia would likely fulfill that dream to some degree…but I didn’t want to give up the luxury and comforts of the U.S..

Nearly every thought I had was contradictory to another. I wanted something, but I didn’t want it…My feelings didn’t make sense; and quite frankly, neither did this decision.

Even though 2011 was when we were told this news and when my emotions first went crazy, the emotions quickly subsided and life went on as normal. Zambia was something in the distant future…so distant, in my mind, it would never really happen.

It was nearly four years from when my parents first knew God was calling us to Zambia to when we stepped foot on Zambian soil as an entire family for the first time.

During these four years, my parents prayed diligently. They asked God for the right timing for us to move. They asked God for the resources. They made strides toward making us getting to Zambia possible.

During these four years, I was telling people I was moving to Zambia when it became appropriate in conversation; but I still didn’t really believe it.

It all became real sometime in 2014. My parents began talking about purchasing tickets. We started going through and selling things in our house. Our shop building began to fill up with items to either sell or store.

It began to feel like we were moving. Somehow, Zambia didn’t seem so distant anymore…it didn’t seem so unlikely. It was actually happening…

I turned 16 in October of 2014; just 6 months before we left for Zambia. As my birthday approached and the the freedom I’d have with a driver’s license became more exciting, my excitement for Zambia steadily decreased.

Just before my 16th birthday, I started falling into serious resentment regarding Zambia. I was placing my identity in friendships and people. I also dealt with anxiety and some mild depression. I cried myself to sleep multiple times with bitter thoughts about Zambia, already missing relationships, and being afraid of the future. I didn’t want to go. No matter what, I just wanted to stay in Missouri.

I had (in my mind) controlled my life just fine for the past couple years. I felt like I was right where God wanted me! I was mentoring a friend, my two best friends and I had a relationship anyone would dream of. My church held me accountable and I was fed every week by God’s word. I would soon have the freedom to drive and go places alone. Life in Missouri was fantastic!! This move didn’t make any sense!! …I was comfortable….So WHY WAS I LEAVING!?!?!?

Have you noticed a pattern at all here?? I’ve hardly mentioned me calling on God for strength at all…I was living in my own strength during this time. I was trying SO hard to control my life even though I knew it was out of my control…. I was brokenhearted and an emotional wreck because I was seeking answers and placing my identity in all the wrong places….I thought I knew the right answers; but God is the only one who truly possessed those.

At this same time, I lost some valuable relationships; relationships I’d been idolizing and putting before God. When God removed these relationships, my eyes were opened to see how much I’d neglected Him.

I cried and cried telling my parents how much I knew I’d failed and how much I knew I needed to change.  Instead of judging me or being upset, they only encouraged me. They simply told me how proud they were of me for recognizing my failure and doing something to fix it.

I began really seeing my need for the Lord more as these last 6 months in the U.S. progressed. I began praying more, reading my Bible more, and even thinking about God more. While I was still sad, I found I wasn’t trying to live in my own strength in as many areas anymore. Zambia seemed a little less of a grim fate and my excitement was increasing…but I was still conflicted.

However, there was one area of my life I still didn’t give over fully to the Lord:

I was broken one the inside. My life was out of my control and I KNEW I needed to surrender everything to the Lord; but I still didn’t surrender my friendships. I was still placing a huge portion of my identity in them and used them as an escape mechanism from reality.

I was finally at a place where I could say, “Okay God, I’ll go…” but it was still hard. Instead of calling on the Lord first in my time of difficulty, then my family second, my first “go to” was my friends.

I spent SO MUCH time with my friends the last few months in the U.S.. There’s not anything wrong with this per-se. I mean, everyone wanted their last minute time with friends; but for me I was using it as an escape.

I was escaping from my house which felt FILLED with Zambia: bags laying here, piles of papers to organize there, no furniture in this room, all our clothes in that room…everything just SCREAMED Zambia and some days it was more than I could bear.

I was escaping from thoughts of leaving my friends. I thought spending more time with them would somehow take away the reality of leaving them. It didn’t…

Then, I went through a time where I believed the lie if I’m sad at ALL about moving to Zambia it meant I was not submitted to the Lord. I beat myself up over being sad. I told myself I couldn’t struggle since it was what God was calling me to do. Therefore, I tried to suppress and hide my emotions.

This didn’t go very well for me. Thankfully God showed me the truth quickly. I read the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane where He cried out to the Father and God used that story to show me the truth. It’s okay for what God is calling me to do to be hard. It’s okay for me to cry! It’s okay to be sad! However, “not my will but Thine” should be my resounding heartbeat even in the midst of difficulty. As long as I am willing despite the pain, that’s what matters.
God calls us to do hard things. God doesn’t promise us an easy life. In fact, the Bible talks a lot about suffering, rejoicing in suffering, and glorifying God in suffering. It’s not a sin to suffer…it’s how we deal with that suffering that can be sinful if we’re not careful.

In fact, I’ll never forget: I shared what I had just learned regarding suffering with my church family one Sunday through tears. One of the men spoke up, laughing a little, and said, “Well quite honestly, if you weren’t at least a little sad I might think there was something wrong with you!” HAHA!

I learned it was okay to cry.
It was okay to miss my friends.
It was okay to spend time with friends.
It was okay to ask God “why?”.
It was okay to be confused and not understand…

What wasn’t okay was placing my identity in other people…giving into fear and anxiety about the future …thinking it was right to look to myself for strength…thinking it was WRONG to be sad. Those things were wrong.

I’d learned a LOT of lessons. I’d taken a lot of hard knocks emotionally. But now, two months before I moved, God brought me to a place of full acceptance and revealing Himself and His truths to me…

So the last two months must’ve been easy right?? WRONG! Remember what I said about suffering?? Those two months weren’t easy at all. In fact, the intense conflict of emotions progressed to an even greater degree.

THIS time, however, I was prepared: I had the Lord on my side. I called on Him and He helped me combat the lies and not give into depression or fear. In dealing with stronger emotions than before, I can only imagine how hard those last weeks would’ve been if I hadn’t been seeking the Lord.

I’m not saying I was perfect those last couple months. There were days I failed miserably and gave into the lies. The area where I failed most was continuing to seek answers in friends.

I most certainly had days where I struggled.

I even remember crying in a parking lot and venting to my best friend’s mom just days before I left. I repeated much of what I said above about not understanding why God would take me away and feeling like it was all wrong and this wasn’t for the best. I definitely had hard days!!

Generally speaking though, the last couple months were far better because I was more actively seeking the Lord. I didn’t wallow in self-pity as much or give into depression as long. I started looking to God and my parents first instead of friends first.

I had many late-night conversations with my parents in my room where I shared my struggles. They were so good to listen and comfort me!

As the time came closer and closer, my emotions, as I said, became even more conflicted. One day, I was giddy with excitement and chatting with a missionary girl in Zambia about how I couldn’t wait to be there. Then the next day, I cried all day and couldn’t stand being at my house….

Everything about my life was changing.

It was anything but easy.

As the weeks dwindled down to days, our house became abuzz with people coming to help us clean, pack, haul things to storage, say their goodbyes, etc.

Those final days all run together in my mind and are a humungous blur. I remember waking up in the middle of our living room floor one morning to the sound of my friend and her mom’s voices. I guess I’d fallen asleep sometime in the middle of the night. HAHA! My friend looked quite shocked to see me lying in the middle of the floor.

I also remember getting very little sleep. I know my parents slept even less than I did. I don’t know how they functioned!
I spent many nights at my grandma’s, but it was always well after midnight when I drove there and long before 9am when I was back at our house helping pack, go through items, or clean. There were a few nights in there when I didn’t even sleep until 3-4am. The morning my friend found me on the floor was probably after one of those nights. 😉

I also remember, very vividly, the amazing amount of help and support we had from our church and other friends and family. People came and spent full days working with us. My friend’s mom honestly knew where things were in our house better than we did the last few days and I actually had to ask her where anything I needed was! The amount of love everyone poured out to us was absolutely astounding! I will never be able to thank them enough.

I also know for a fact every one of my close friends saw me cry during those few days. Many literally let me cry on their shoulders. I even had a two hour conversation with one of my friends where I called her, said “talk about anything but Zambia”, and she kept me laughing and smiling for the next two hours. My friends are so wonderful! The things they’ve put up with from me show what true, genuine friends they are. I don’t know what I would’ve done without them then or what I’d do without them now or in the future.

We were spending a great amount of last-minute time with family members during these final days as well.
As I said goodbye to my great-grandparents, it began to sink in I may never see them again, and would likely never have the same experiences on their grand farm I had in the past: I said “goodbye” to my great-grandfather for the last time on this earth just 2 days before we left for Zambia…
I spent many of our last nights at my other grandparents’ house (since ours was void of any beds) and it began to resonate that I wouldn’t have this opportunity again for a very long time…My grandma would no longer be minutes away to call for a SONIC happy hour run…I wouldn’t be able to ask my grandpa the answer to a difficult crossword puzzle clue and then hear his long explanations that followed….

Saying goodbye to everyone was the hardest thing I’d ever done.

Because so many people were coming day in and day out to help us, in some cases I ended up saying goodbye to the same person multiple times which was excruciating!

Saying all the goodbyes made everything official…I don’t know how many people I watched walk out our front door as I cried wishing beyond anything I could stay in MO with them…

Our last Sunday with our church was not an easy day either. Many people had written something for us or stood up and spoke about our family. Oh the tears that day!!

We were leaving…it was actually happening!

Our final night in Missouri, I don’t think anyone besides my youngest brothers slept. Packing all our family’s livelihood in bags is far more time-consuming than we expected! My mom diligently worked ALL night packing as my dad, 2 oldest boys, and I helped where we could.

At this point, I didn’t really have any emotions. I was so tired I was literally on zombie mode and nothing seemed real…

(to be continued…)

We’re Back in Zambia!

Our family has been back in Zambia for 2 weeks now. I apologize for not posting an update quicker. Life and jet-lag have gotten in the way. 😉

Jet-lag hit us pretty hard this time around. It took us all a full week or more to get to where we weren’t lying awake in bed until 3am and then sleeping through alarms until very late in the morning.

Thankfully we are over that horrible side-effect of traveling and have been able to been able to be at Wiphan and interact with the team currently here from the U.S..

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Wiphan Mapalo students

It’s been wonderful to be back at Wiphan and reunite with all the people we hold so dear there. ❤

Seeing Mike and Cornelius (the two young boys I’ve bonded so closely with) was such a special moment for me!! Cornelius came around a corner and was so surprised to see me he actually stopped in his tracks and just stared at me with a big smile for a few seconds before running to give me the biggest, longest hug ever and telling me he missed me multiple times…

I missed you too Cornelius..!!

Cornelius then ran off hollering, “MIKE! MIKE! Megan alaisa!! Megan alaisa” (Megan has come! Megan has com) 

Mike showed up moments later, jumped in my arms, and didn’t part from me the rest of the day. Ohmyheart!! ❤ Can I just adopt these two sweet boys??

I’ve also been able to reunite with hospitality students as well as meet a new class. It’s been so exciting to see old friends and meet new friends!

Along with being back at Wiphan, there is a team here from the U.S. including 4 people ages 15-19. I’ve had a blast hanging out with them since they’ve been here; playing cards, watching them perform skits, and hearing their testimonies. They’re definitely a fun team!

We did have a rather sad moment as some of our dearest missionary friends moved back to the U.S. this week. Seeing them off at the airport was definitely a negative highlight of our week. But we know God has a plan for their lives! We just miss them terribly here…

The last few weeks in Zambia have been exciting and full of becoming re-acclimated to the culture…and to speaking Bemba again.

Look forward to more adventures to share soon!!