الله محبة. يحب لكم مع الحب الأبدي.
God is love. He loves you with an everlasting love!
I love the Arabic language. It looks so melodious and full of life. It is a happy written language with lot’s of “eyes” and “smiles” and “exclamation points”. That will be added to my long list of things I want to do, learn to write Arabic!
Well, the election results announcement has been put off so many times that we have been in a perpetual state of limbo just waiting. This is causing people to get upset and tensions to run even higher. Then we found out that two 7-Ton trucks carrying thousands of ballots from two districts were attacked by “unknown” bandits and set ablaze and every ballot burned up. The districts belong to what is known as the Unity State. Well the loser protested the outcome there because they didn’t like who won and so they launched a protest where some were killed. And so a “recount” was done and there was a so called miscount of 24,000 votes and so the loser ended up being announced the winner, pretty much the North’s choice. The longer the days drag on the more corruption in the voting process.
And so, it is a day by day waiting and trusting God, which we surely do. Being confined to our compound, ministry is at a literal standstill for us. I was asked to preach at the local church this morning and I can’t even go do that because of our policy of staying away from public gatherings during the announcement of the results, which gets put off every day. I am not able to go to the children’s hospital because I am fighting a chest cold. They are real careful about not letting sick people minister to their already sick people. Day by day I wait on the Lord. Day by day I trust the Lord. And day by day I feel your prayers and your peace and I have much peace, although I am still restless to be doing something.
I laid down to a peaceful sleep in my tent last night and fell asleep securely praying Psalm 91 over us, as many of you are doing. When we awake every morning to that same peace, although tensions are still high and we make contingency plans to evacuate, I know that my times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15). I stand firm in the knowledge that you are praying for us, the church here and there are praying for us, my pastor and pastora have covered us in prayer, and God never forsakes those who love Him. I am filled with such peace and joy this morning because of this knowledge. Thank you all for staying in the battle with me.
I am finding it easier every week how to recognize how God works in my life here. I know that when I am in a season of complete peace that there is still going to be a new storm on the horizon. And I know that when I am in a storm, peace is always on the horizon. The length and intensity of the storm lies mostly with me. I am always reminded of Hebrews 12 where God will shake everything that can be shaken and what remains will be of His Kingdom for it cannot be shaken.
In this life we will always have trials and tests that are allowed by God. When we learn to recognize and discern what is from the enemy and what is allowed by God, we always learn a huge lesson and get greater revelation and grow more and more to maturity in Him. If we allow the shaking, then we are left with more and more of His Kingdom reality in us, and not so much of the world’s reality, which is easily shaken.
This week began so perfect, I was so full of joy and all was right in my world. I was content with what little I have and was just in a good place spiritually. Well, then came the next storm. Because of perceived insults, discord came to a head on our compound between management and the workers, though we are all workers to a certain extent. We had a very long meeting about what had happened. We were all guilty of imposing our culture on theirs and setting our expectations too high too quickly and they felt overwhelmed and unworthy because they couldn’t meet our goals.
When I left that meeting and I sat and tried to eat my lunch alone in my office, I just cried because I felt so horrible and wondered if we had ruined the good that had been started here. I was so upset inside and I was so convicted in my spirit about my expectations of others and how unfair it is to put my western standards as the crossbar for this culture. I was so completely humbled in my soul. I had spent so much time focusing on culture and blending that I didn’t carry it over into what I expected from people here on this new compound. I had fallen back into my western mindset to “get the job done”.
There are also problems because we brought people from Equatorial State (Yei) up here to Dinka Territory. The local ladies especially did not take kindly to it and there has been discord there. My friend from Yei came with me up to Akuem as head cook. She has always come to me with problems in the kitchen and I have always listened and helped. The local ladies, unbeknownst to me, felt that I always took her side and they were feeling offense toward me.
It’s a very long story but it has just wrecked my heart and I have been so sad because I go out of my way to treat all equal and I have given all of them gifts and I visit equally with all. And so I walked around just so sad all that day when this storm came in. But I knew God was speaking to me and I recognized it quickly and spent most of the day listening for His voice in all of this.
We all came together the next morning for our normal devotion time and we spent an hour and a half talking things out and us apologizing to them. They were so receptive and we all agreed that being in a Christian organization gives us even more opportunity to practice mercy and grace toward one another. We at least recognize that we can do nothing good or sustainable without God in the midst of us and our work. We prayed for each other and forgave each other and loved each other through our differences. There was so much grace and mercy shown this day. Since then, we have worked so kindly together for the good of the work He has given us.
One of my friends made a comment on my Facebook that I make the best of everything. It is a daily effort on my part out here in this desert place. There are so many things that try and stop us in our tracks. Some things we can control and some we cannot. This week of being stuck on compound has been a huge test for me to not become irritable and impatient. It has been a daily work of making myself find something to do in order to keep my joy and peace.
In 1 Peter 3:11 Peter tells us to seek peace and pursue it. The amplified says to not merely desire peaceful relations with God and man but to go after them! Jesus is the Prince of Peace. If we are chasing after Him and seeking Him and pursuing Him, going after Him in all situations then we are pursuing peace. Every day situations will come to try and steal that peace. It cannot be stolen unless we hand it over to the thief.
This week boredom threatens to steal my peace. Yesterday I took all three of our balls outside, even though it was 120 plus degrees and I chased these balls around with a six year old and we had such joy and fun, laughing and running. Soon, four other men joined us and we were kicking balls around and getting sweaty and dirty and it was so worth it. I chased after peace and He found me there in the dirt.
Two weeks ago my iPod broke and I was shocked at my reaction. I just shrugged and said, what can I do about it? We tried everything we knew to fix it and nothing worked. I can do nothing until September when I go home. Why lose my peace? Three months ago that would not have been my reaction. I would have lost my peace for a while. Now I just drag my computer around, making sure it stays charged, so I can listen to worship music on my headphones.
The guys here accidentally broke my coffee plunger three days ago. It was all I had. How did I react truly (I love my coffee)? I didn’t bat an eye or miss a beat. There is a small strainer in the kitchen and so now I strain my coffee, one cup at a time or I drink a lot more Kenyan tea, which I really do love. What else can I do? I just make the best out of every situation and I DAILY count everything as loss compared to the knowledge of Christ Jesus. I really have grown to get this mindset of counting it ALL as loss. This country is so extremely third world that once a thing breaks, there is no replacing it. Sure I miss my iPod but I move on to the next best thing.
Being locked in for these elections, we are basically living on beans and rice and lentils and rice every single day. I am so tired of eating these things but I still eat them without complaining because I know there are so many outside our gates who don’t even have that. I thank God every day for my beans and rice and lentils and I eat them with a smile, really I do. And sometimes I just have butter and rice for a change of pace. And sometimes I just add a little ketchup. I make do.
I have one extra toothbrush that I keep so I can have it when mine wears out. Ngor, the boy who hangs out every day with us, well his teeth are in horrible shape and he was showing me how his gums were bleeding. The Sudanese use sticks from trees to form a brush and that is how they clean their teeth and it works great for them. Ngor hasn’t gotten that concept yet. He watched me brush mine the other day with curiosity. And so I went and got that brand new brush of mine, a beautiful blue and clear Oral B brush, and his own tube of paste and I taught him how to brush.
Now every single morning he literally runs in the gate right for my office where we keep his kit, and he puts his paste on his brush and grabs his cup of water and walks around the compound brushing for all to see, his tiny chest puffed out. His smile is so bright every single day when his eyes alight on that brush because it is his. His gums have quit bleeding. If anything happens to my brush I will count it as loss and just use a stick if I have to.
My friend in America asked me if there was a way to live this simply and contendedly in America, a place that has so much. I think it would be hard because I think that we have so much in America because we are trying to please others more than for ourselves sometimes. Here, I am happy wearing the same clothes every day. In America I would be thinking about what others would think about me for wearing the same dress to church every week. Here I don’t style my hair or even wear makeup. In America I would be wondering how that would cause others to see me. There is so much that is different from here and there. Don’t ever feel guilty for what you have. You are blessed to have it. Enjoy it. But don’t hold on to your stuff so tightly that you lose sight of what or who is really important. Keep the daily pursuit of Jesus as your focus, what He wants you to see and do for that day concerning others.
God is so amazing in His grace towards us. His grace is every day sufficient for us. His joy is every day sufficient for us. His peace is every day sufficient for us. We cannot simply desire these gifts from Him, we must pursue them. We have to see Him in all situations and ask, “Do we count this as loss compared to knowing You more Jesus?” He always gives us good things and when we let loose of what we are trying to hold on to so tightly, we can lift up empty hands and find that they are filled already with His next best thing.
Open your eyes and hearts today and look to see what gift He has placed in your hands to do or receive for yourself or to offer to another.