Our first week in South Africa
I find it healing and healthy for me to write about it, I don't often have a chance to share and verbally words fail me. Writing clears my head, hopefully I can write in a way that paints a clear and accurate picture.
It has been exactly a week since the children and I arrived in South Africa. The week has been more intense than I had imagined or hoped for.
Nothing really to do with the ministry we've done or the people we've met upon our arrival. In fact, that has been the fun part and seeing our kids fit in and get involved is SO inspiring. The difficulty for me has been I've been transported from my full schedule and existence in San Jose to South Africa... where the bulk of my worries, that I can control, involve keeping kids on track with their homework and not stalling the car I drive to ferry the team around town.
I think sometimes it is easy to envision how good things can go on a trip and this exercise can provide some motivation and encouragement to get there. However, sometimes I find our expectations can lead to great disappointment and hijack the true purpose of a trip that is submitted to Jesus.
No matter what, once you arrive, it is what it is. For us it has been eye-opening as we walk our children through a different culture. There is so much beauty and pain here. As parents and leaders within YWAM, it has always been a delicate balance (one that I haven't felt like we've done very well at times) of leading our family well amongst the pressures of running a fledgling ministry. So this takes me back to leaving the bulk of my worries behind or so I should have...
There have been so many times this week that I have wanted to give up. Ok, that sounds a little dramatic, but... its true, problems have gotten really big in my mind and I've felt very small and really inadequate (in all honesty). Over time, I've let the pressures pile up without handing them to Jesus.
I've let concern about finances, vision, people, decisions get the best of me and steal my joy. I've taken on many burdens, most weren't even my own, and I've worn them like a heavy cloak - even to the point that I've felt crushed and drained under its weight.
How frustrating! All this work to get here but unfortunately, through it all, I have felt disappointed because I have been trying so hard on my own to pull it together... but it just hasn't clicked.
This has been a predictable cycle for me - a self-sabotaging gust of pride and fear getting the best of me before the finish line.
Sometimes I weigh up thoughts of choosing an easier or more predictable route in life. I think at times this can be healthy, particularly if you have sensed a nudge or leading from the Lord to explore new opportunities or options, for me though, these are merely exercises of escapism, of trying to ignore the pain or lack that I feel and paper over it.
So, the first section is a lot about me sharing my struggle, my very real feelings and emotions that I have gone through in the midst of much growth, new lessons, new ministries, new responsibilities...
What I am starting to identify as the purpose of ME being here is that I need to BE HERE.
It is a gift for me, in this season, to not have it be so clear what the next thing for me to do is. God has me... ALONE. He has me in a place where I need to be quiet. To engage. To fully enter in.
I have been concerned, feeling like I'm a bad parent/leader by coming with my family when we don't have all what we financially need to be here. Its kinda silly really, as this is how God has led us so far in our journey of Ember Ink. Our vulnerability and simple faith in trusting God to supply all our needs has been the flavor of our journey even though sometimes (ok, most of the time) I wish it wasn't!
I needed confirmation that we were on the right track. I have been so close to packing the kids up and heading home early as the financial provision hasn't arrived yet. As in, it hasn't arrived in the timing I've wanted, projected or hoped. But, the truth is, we've had food to eat, we have a place to stay, we have NOTHING to complain or worry about. Yes, we have things that are looming over us but I think/know what God is doing is he is dealing with my heart. You see, it just hasn't been on my terms. I hate feeling vulnerable or in need (I'm sure we all do). Because of this, our situation has made me squirm and try to figure it out myself. It hadn't made me run to Jesus and let Him into my areas of unbelief and doubt.
A few days ago we were sitting in an All Nation's (a beautiful church planting ministry) staff meeting where we heard Floyd McClung, their founder, speak on generosity. He spoke of how when Jesus and His disciples went out to minister the Gospel, they didn't take much with them, people they ministered to provided for them, it was messy, it was chaotic, but it was Kingdom. I feel kinda like that. As I listened, God did a deep work within me as I released the shame I often feel when we are in need. It was a beautiful moment, just me and God, my family, our DTS and a bunch of Xhosa and afrikaan speaking Christians. Sometimes God has to remove you from your situation to get your attention ;)
Today, as if to make a point, we were invited in to one of our friends houses in Masi, a girl that we had met a few years ago. We laughed, prayed with each other, she bought us some of the best tasting chicken wings I've ever had, no lie. I felt like God was speaking big time to me. Being in need is hard but its beautiful. It is transformative. Enjoy it while you're in it.
So, today, I decide to engage in today. To be fully here. To let tomorrow go. To trust in His leading and guidance and to let go of my expectations. We KNOW that our lives need to be built on faith and obedience. There are no shortcuts or easy roads. There is so much blessing in a life built on faith. So much assurance.
I spent time in prayer last night. It was good. It had been such a long time since I had stopped and let Jesus minister to my heart. The thing is, I need more of that.
So, please pray for me. Pray that I would lead my family with integrity. Pray for our family that we would unashamedly pursue Jesus in our new context. Pray for our friends over here that we are working with who have been in the midst of a terribly confusing and difficult season. Pray for health, more workers, finances, good strategy as they bring hope to the people of Masi.
Love you all.
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