This week has officially marked my 2 years in Africa; however it’s not over yet!
When I made the commitment to come to serve in Africa, I gave myself a time frame that I at least wanted to commit to 2 years on the ground to be able to really dig in, invest and add value during my time in Africa.
Now I have wrestled to get this update out to you, not knowing how I best communicate what I am thinking and how I feel God is leading me, and I think I was looking to have some big revelation to share with you all. But really it is much simpler than that. I have a peace and certainty that my time in Africa is not finished just yet. I believe God still has more that he wants to do, not only in me, but also through me.
A song that has resonated with my heart in the past couple of months has the lyrics:
“And once again I look upon the cross where you died,
I’m humbled by your mercy and I’m broken inside,
Once again I thank you,
Once again I pour out my life”
(Matt Redman – Once Again)
If I truly reflect on what Christ did for me, even while I was still yet a sinner, I am incredibly humbled and broken, and one way I can express my gratitude is to pour out my own life. To spend my life in a way that serves others. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.
As much as there are challenges and days when things are tough and I miss friends and family and aspects of my previous life, I would not exchange anything for being able to wake up each day with such a sense of purpose knowing that the work I am involved with is literally changing the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in Africa, not only physically, but also seeing their lives and communities transformed spiritually. I am so thankful to God every day that I have the opportunity to be a part of this amazing work, and he has made a way for me to serve Him in this manner.
In terms of the year practically, this year I am stepping more and more into a leadership role, both on the side of the work, but also spiritually among the Hands community here in Zambia. On the work side, I serve alongside 2 of our incredible African leaders, and am increasingly involved in more high level decision making and in setting the strategic direction of our work across the region, supporting our 5 local service centres across Zambia, Malawi and DRC. In terms of growing in my role in discipling others and spiritually leading the community, this year I am co-leading one of our small groups, and also starting to share the word of God more frequently at our morning prayer meetings. It’s not a responsibility I take lightly, and in some ways I feel completely unqualified and inadequate (and terrified!) for the task at hand, but I trust that God has positioned me, and he will equip me with all I need to do what is being asked. I would appreciate your prayers in this.
Monday this past week marked the day 2 years ago I landed on African soil, and on that day 2 years ago as I landed I had the sense that I was indeed coming home. I was in Kabwe this Monday, 3 hours south of where we live, staying with a family who I work with, but who have on a personal side also become very dear friends. I really do feel at home and part of the family when I do stay with them, racing around the yard playing hide and seek with their 3 beautiful girls, sitting up late into the night chatting about all aspects of life, cooking the breakfast and helping get the girls out the door to school in the morning, and I found myself smiling and thinking just how much it is these small moments in life that count and are really significant. Just sitting across the breakfast table from these two beautiful girls and appreciating the way this family has embraced me into theirs. And that is just one example of the many families I have come to feel such a part of.
Later that same day, we travelled 1.5 hours on terribly flooded “roads” if they could even be called that. A keen four wheel driver’s dream road! But not so pleasant for passengers 😉 This remote community we work in is 42km from the nearest town. There is no clinic. For any medical assistance the community members must travel that 42km to town and transport options are very limited/basically non-existent aside from walking or riding a bicycle. There is only one community school, that has been there for about 9 years now, but before that children simply were unable to go to school. The soil in this community is very sandy and arid, difficult for growing successful crops. It’s a tough community to live in. And yet I sat among a group of our local volunteer care workers and heard them share their stories of past hurts and challenges and watched as they encouraged and ministered to one another. To have a safe place where they can come and share their burdens with others, and know that they will be cared for. It was beautiful to be a part of. We took time at the end to break into pairs and pray for one another – and the care worker I was with took the time to encourage me from the word of God, and completely blessed me personally during that time. And I thought I was there to bless and encourage him! I am so humbled to be a part of this work and these everyday moments.
So in summary, I am staying on in Africa. Zambia is home for now and God is not done with me yet.
Thank you so much for all of you who continue to support me, encourage me, and pray for me. I really couldn’t do this work without you all! And know that you are partnering in seeing the lives of these beautiful children that we serve truly transformed. Thank you, thank you, thank you!