I am so excited to be writing more regularly with you all at GLOW! God is doing such amazing things here in Zambia, and I find myself stumbling through it all in some really cool ways. I thought for starters, I would take you all on a little photo journey to update you on some of the adventures of living in Africa!
These are some precious little orphaned elephants that also live in Lusaka for a little while as their trainers teach them how to adapt to the environment with the hope of returning them to the wild.
This is obviously a view from our car window of some zebras just chilling on the side of the road at a local game reserve.
Here are some crocodile friends that live on a farm nearby…I may have also enjoyed one of their friends in my croc burger for lunch!
This is a breathtaking view of some waterfalls we hiked to on a trip to Zimbabwe. If you look closely you can see our friend who was crazy enough to swim out there to get a closer look!
This is the handsome man that I get to share all my adventures with, I am so thankful for him.
When we left, we had a lot of people praying that we would find community here in Zambia, and while Drew and I are so thankful to have each other, it has been amazing to see the other people God has brought into our lives to make our time here so rich. We have been attending an international church where Drew interns as a part of his program at Justo Mwale Theological University (http://www.justomwale.net/). Not only does he get to lead worship often, but also, we have just stepped in to help lead the youth group full of some really fun and awesome students. We have also been apart of an amazing small group full of people that we can do life with as we learn together and pray for one another. Drew is loving getting to know his classmates at school, and we have been so blessed by the families and professors here. I have been working at a local nonprofit, and I love all the people in my office and being a part of the awesome work they do to mobilize the Church to reach out to vulnerable populations in deep and powerful ways.
God has used this place and these people to fill our cup to the brim and we have been provided for in so many ways.
However, what has been most surprising to me in all of this is how difficult the adjustment has been. For some reason I thought I would be exempt from culture shock because I have always loved learning about different cultures and making international friends. However, it is one thing to appreciate a person and their culture and it is a whole different dilemma when you are trying to make your home in a foreign land.
I have started to resonate with the story of the Israelites in Deuteronomy Chapter 8:
“Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear our, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.” Deuteronomy 8: 2-5 (NLT)
This has definitely felt like a time of testing and discipline for me. I wish I could say I passed the test and have always trusted in God, but the truth is I often chose to complain just like the Israelites did, and God has had to remind me who He is. When we first got here I was so eager to find a job and learn where my place was supposed to be in this new country. I thought it was so easy for Drew because he had a task to step right into as he started school, and I was just left hungry. I was hungry to get my hands dirty doing something in the community. I wanted to get to know locals and figure out how I could use my skills to make an impact in their lives. I also needed to provide for our little family to make our life here sustainable for the next four years at least. I started getting discouraged and depressed as each day went by without a job, I felt like it was such a waste. Instead of trusting God, I began to feel desperate. I would plead with God to come through with a job quickly, but instead of trusting I just grew more and more impatient and frustrated that things weren’t working out in the way I wanted.
As a foreigner, I had to prove that whatever job I found was something only I could do, because it would be wrong to hire me if it was a job that could be done by a Zambian. This totally makes sense in a country where the majority of people are unemployed, but for me it felt like I was constantly being rejected and I just wasn’t good enough.
But then my manna came. A job literally felt like it dropped from the sky. I met my now boss while we were going out for pizza with some friends. My future boss’ son was friends with my friends’ son and randomly decided to join us all on a Sunday evening for dinner. As we began learning about his organization my ears perked up, and I was so excited to talk about development in Zambia and learn more about what the church was doing about it. The friend’s we were with started sensing my enthusiasm and began mentioning that I was looking for a job in that line of work. Before I knew it my future boss began talking about their need to bring on someone with international connections and interest to help raise money and advocate for them to donors in the US, Zambia, and beyond. He invited me to tour the office later that week, and afterwards he sat me down for an interview that same day. Everything that used to feel like it was moving so slow was suddenly happening! When my boss showed me the job description I almost started crying because it finally felt like someone was giving me a chance to make an impact.
Before I knew it we were negotiating contracts and arranging to get me a work permit to come on as their External Relations Coordinator. And to think, just the week before I was complaining and frustrated because I felt like God had forgotten me. I was so wrong; He was preparing something amazing for me.
Here is a beautiful group of women and their pastor that live in Chongwe, a nearby village, and I get to work with at my new job. They all want to make a difference in their community, too, and are planning to start a chicken-rearing project to increase household income and send some of their recent grade 12 graduates to college.
Sometimes I am amazed at my forgetfulness. I am humbled by God’s faithfulness. Why do I forget how much He loves us and wants to give us good gifts? He knows so much better than I do and that His timing is perfect, He is all we need.
The Psalmist recounts another angle of the Israelites journey like this:
“Then they remembered that God was their rock,
that the God Most High was their redeemer.
But all they gave him was lip service;
They lied to him with tier tongues.
Their hearts were not loyal to him.
They did not keep his covenant.
Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins
and did not destroy them all.
Many times he held back his anger
and did not unleash his fury!
For he remembered that they were merely mortal,
gone like a breath of wind that never returns.”
Psalm 78:35-39 (NLT)
Thank goodness we have a God who sees our wandering and forgetful hearts and chooses to make a way for us even when we don’t deserve it. He continues to pursue us and bless us, not because of who we are, but because of who He is. If you’re thinking about doing something challenging (like moving to Zambia has been for me), I would encourage you to remember how important it is to take time often just to breathe. Remember step out of your difficult circumstances as often as you need to remember who God is. We are but dust, but we have a God who sees us, knows us, and meets us where we are. He offers provision, strength, and faithfulness for whatever lies ahead.