Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

November 29, 2011

Deadlines slowly kill me……

I was never one who did well with a deadline!  Not that I am not finished on time, not at all - quite the reverse!  My problem with a deadline is that I start immediately and finish way ahead of time and believe it or not, this is quite a problem out here in deep, dark and timeless Africa!

Let me paint a picture…..
The New Homeschool materials are all packed out and ready to go, but it is the first week of school holidays, which, by the way is 6 weeks long!!  I would like to start now and finish off all the new work, but I am the Teacher not the Student, although I do wonder about that sometimes!!  :)   I need to slow down and Wait….

I bake bread every day, yes, every day!  And for a bread to really turn out great you have to…..Wait!  If you don’t, well, then you will have Rock instead of nice fluffy white bread on your plate!  And I guess the same goes for growing children, hurry it up and try and get things done quickly and you have Rocks for brains and not nice and spongy grey matter!  :)

Living in Africa takes Time….yes, Time!  And not the watch kind either!  We grow stuff, we wait for the rains, we sit with the people!  Here, if you go and visit someone, you greet every single one present – no “Hi, you all!”  :)  If sick persons comes to my door, we first greet politely, then we wait politely and then wait a bit more and then out comes the problem.  Sometimes I walk back to the house (or run by that time, just because I need to Move!) and when I come back they tell me the next complaint!  Patience!! 

I always thought I was quite a people person, but living immersed in People-people, I found out I am not.  I may have been born and bred in Africa, but my European blood runs thicker than is comfortable! 

I realised yesterday, while packing out the new books, that I really need to Relax and Be.  Easier said than done!  I need to take a deep breath and enjoy the journey….but in writing that I actually don’t think clich├ęs will help me at all!!  I need much more practical advice for myself!  Something like, sit with the women with no agenda and no hurry!  Don’t try and save time by baking cookies while explaining math to your son!  Don’t hurry through the great parts of the day – teaching and being with my boys!  Sigh……my (very early) New Year’s wish (typical of me to be early, is it not?) is that I would enjoy life to the fullest and not rush it to get things done!

Bella, and I don’t even own a watch!

November 27, 2011

Even if......

The last few posts were far from positive, but I’m not aiming for making everything look glamorous and fine.   I am aiming for what is real.  I have this thing about missionaries making everything seem so perfect – nothing ever a struggle (although we try to get there, we are not there yet!) – the macho missionary type.  In any case, this is beside the point.  My posts were very…..well, low.  I kept thinking about what I wrote, about all the jumble of stuff going on in my head and I kept on asking the Lord what I should be learning here…..contentment?  No, it didn’t seem that was it – although I definitely need work in that department too.  What was I missing?

The answer came quite unexpectedly while we were driving along a particular beautiful stretch of green mountains, indigenous forests and newly sprouted grassy plains. Also at a stretch where I was not really appreciating life… the answer came with a question…..”Will you still praise Me?”

Habakkuk 3.  Will I still praise God, rejoice in Him when I am feeling very isolated and lonely, cut off from friends and family for years at a time?  Will I still praise Him when I know that i will always be the outsider – even when going back to my own culture?  Will I still praise God when things break or when I am everything to everyone, when I am feeling totally overwhelmed on a daily basis?  Will I still praise God?  Will I praise Him in the dark times, the times that I think I’ll never make it out here? 

Daniel’s 3 friends said just before being thrown in to a fiery furnace “Our God can save us from your hand o king, but even if He doesn’t, we will still not bow before you.”  What faith!  Even if!!  Will you praise Me, even if….?

I want to!!  Because You make my feet like that of a mountain goat – steadfast in dangerous areas!  You are the One who keeps me safe and makes me strong, who gives me courage to go on.  I will Praise You.

Bella, so much to learn still.

November 19, 2011

Life in a small village......

We were watching Tangled with our kids the other night…..a new version of Rapunzel and quite cute (although the boys didn’t appreciate the falling in love part!)  In any case, here she was, locked up in her tower trying to stay busy…..

And I guess that scene kind of left an impression on me, about me…..not that I am a beautiful princess, but that I have the same problem of keeping myself busy here where there are no real friends or shops or other things to keep me entertained or busy – it’s up to I, me and myself!  Especially over the “wonderful” and often very long weeks before a break is in sight!

A typical weekday…….i wash the dishes, I wash the clothes,  I start school, I watch the clock, I bake the bread, I make lunch, I watch the clock, I rest (??), I stuff my head with language, I help the sick, I watch the clock, I make supper and tomorrow is another Big day!  Repeat 5 times and complete it with….
A typical Saturday………I bake cookies, I wash the dishes, I pack them away, I wash the clothes, I paint a bit, I watch the clock, I bake a bread, I read a little, I watch the clock, i look for new emails or facebook or blog comments (none), I watch the clock, I read, I paint, I stare……  :)  All I need is a tower and long hair to complete the picture!  :)

Sigh!  I think i was probably “born under a wandering star”!  (Taken from the movie, Paint your wagon)  How do I keep myself sane where routine and boredom (yes, even if you think my life in the African bush can only be exciting!) are slowly killing me? 

Well, I guess, in theory I remind myself daily (oh, man this word is killing me!) that God placed me here.  Secondly, I try to believe with all my heart, that even if my tasks seem very mundane to me, there MUST be eternal value in them!  Thirdly, I try to see with God’s eyes (very difficult, I know) what God has given me to do for Him here on earth and then it try to do them as unto Him (also quite a task at times!)  Fourthly, I break my routine with very funny things – I hang the washing from left to right and then form right to left!  I cook spaghetti in the place of a sandwich lunch, I go to town (wheeee, very exciting!), and I visit the lake and drink in the beauty!  I dance with my arms before falling asleep…..I write to a friend to pray for me!!!!! 

I realize that my challenges are quite unique, but If you have any insights – please share them with me!  How, I do not know, but I need to think of new ways to break the monotomy…….

Bella, all I need is a tower…..

What do youThink?

Mixing banana with some custard powder......very effective for an upset stomach!
On Thursday we received our mail!  First time in a year!  Not that that in itself was great or that we got some nice long letters….actually just a few old church newspapers, some junk mail, one old Christmas card and so on, but what really was great, was a stack of 8 National Geographics!!

As I opened the 1st one I saw the add of one bank who claims to be very culturally appropriate – you know the one where they have the same image, like a moon, and they explain in one culture it means something good and in another quite the opposite and that they cater to both!  It made me think…….

The trend in the west is to seek alternative medicine – sometimes looking for a more natural approach to health.  People like taking medicine that was made like it was made a hundred years ago…..normal lab made meds are sometimes frowned upon….people want natural!

Here in the village I am the alternative option, only my medicines are the lab made ones!  I do also and actually mostly use tea, salt water, custard powder and bananas as my treatment.  But to the people here I am a symbol of the west and my medicine looks much better than their bush medicines…….not that they are all bad, some work quite good, but mostly it’s a scam.  Probably like some cool new “essential” vitamin in a modern pharmacy!

In any case, it was just a funny thought – perspective is almost everything!  What you think is really, really important!  A good reminder to examine my thoughts!!
And in Thinking that, i have to be careful what i think about God - there are some serious misbeliefs going around my head - especially in times of trouble, hardships or generally when i am feeling things are not going my way.....God is always Loving, Caring and He will Never leave me and He has a perfect plan for my life - i just have to line up my thoughts with the truth!  

Bella, the Thinkerbelle :)