Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

October 31, 2013

Of caterpillars and butterflies

I am busy reading a book about Somalia.  That troubled little country on the African horn.  So many people just being wiped out.  Christians instantly killed.  Total anarchy.  Totally without God.  Or so it seems.

I also read a book about the Armenian genocide.  1,5 million people wiped out in the early 1900’s.  They were believers and were killed by another religion’s followers.  Men, women and children.  Nearly a whole people group wiped out.  Total anarchy and again it seems totally without God, not even any sign of intervention form God.

And so with these depressing, but true (some older and some more recent) historical human catastrophes in mind, I was troubled.  It was a bit too close to home with all the renewed violence and random attacks this country has lately seen. 

In all honesty, while reading, I kept hoping God will show up! This is how I pictured it – a thunder clap and all the bad people are stunned and if they are lucky – dead.  Or in another scene just before the soldiers lop of their helpless prisoner’s heads, they will all be struck blind together with a terrible disease which lets them slowly suffocate or something like that (I do have a good imagination!)  In any case, sorry for the graphics, but my point is that I wanted to see God somewhere in the picture and see Him BIG, because the ultimate enemy was so BIG all through the bad parts of history.  I guess, I didn’t want to see God in the whisper but in the Mighty Storm, the Sword from Heaven the Lion of Judah and not the Lamb.

In all this, of course, I was really actually afraid for myself and my family.  What would I have done in those circumstances?  Is God in Himself enough for me?  Or does He HAVE to do something for me in order that I keep following Him?  (Like rescue me from something terrible)  Especially in these times of uncertainly in this country and unfortunately even in my so called “home” country things are really bad and violent.   How am I handling all of this even right now?  Troubling thoughts for an early morning…..and then 2 things happened….

I looked out my window and saw a butterfly.  At first I thought it was dead (yes, I was a bit morbid by now!!) but when I looked carefully, I saw that it actually just came out of the cocoon and was drying its lovely wings!  It just sat there - very still and beautiful.  Getting ready for LIFE!

The next things that happened was that I remembered a quote I read yesterday.  William Danforth wrote “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly”.  (He is talking about kids and their potential here but somehow God used it to teach me something about His perspective on things)

Slowly the dots connected.  It might not make sense to you as I firmly believe God talks to each of His children in different ways, but this to me made perfect sense.  What I see (ie the caterpillar) might not to me be much, because I look at it with my NOW eyes.  Now it is only a caterpillar and there is nothing that shows me this will be something colourful, graceful or beautiful in a few days or weeks!  Absolutely nothing that gives any hint to this wonderful thing it will become!  And even more wondrous that it will be able to FLY!!!

And so also with life.  On those days that I feel my little green body with my many feet are killing me, or that I could not possibly eat one more green leaf, or even on those dark days in the cocoon, I needn’t loose hope, God has not forgotten me.  I need to trust my Maker and try and look through His eyes.  Not easy, I assure you, but it does give hope in utterly hopelessness.  He has a plan.  He is God, you know.

Bella, somewhere in the butterfly process.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

October 23, 2013

My Contingency gone a bit wrong... :)

Yesterday we heard this country is at war again – the peace accord is now seen by the one party as nullified…what this means is not certain …..  

AND as I am definitely NEVER without a Plan Of Action I tell my boys that even if I do not think anything wil happen, we need to pack a small bag each in preparation of a worst case scenario where we need to Go Away Quickly.  I ramble off all the things that need to be in the backpack, but when I come to shoes and socks they all laugh and say “Really mom!!  We don’t have shoes and are not sure where the socks are!”  haha!!  So much for my contingency!

So I am writing a new list for contingency in our family.  And it begins at very basic level!  

  • Shoes (reminder to buy this on blackboard)
  •  Socks (search the drawers for this item)
  •   Some clothes (make sure the boys don’t outgrow them in the mean time!
  •   Snacks (make and bake AND make sure they don’t eat this at night when they are overcome by a sudden urge to eat something!) 
  •   Some cards/games/etc (If they later are not able to find these cards/games/etc then remember they are in the GO bag)
  •  Place the bag in a safe place (I keep tripping over backpacks since My Contingency kicked in!)

I guess there is a funny side to everything – the trick is to find it.

On another note – this morning we all went jogging for the first time (just for fun nothing to do with a pending war) – all barefoot except me who went with flip-flops!!  Haha  Just think how fast we will run if we have running shoes one day and don’t have to hop, skip and jump over rocks and thorns!

Bella, flip-flop mom of 3 barefoot monkeys!

October 11, 2013

Village soccer.....

Today didn’t start very well, but at least it ended with a humorous event!  I’ll tell you about the funny part of my day and leave the depressing part out….not much sense in telling that in any case, who wants to listen to a depressing tale??
The tall white boy is mine!!

My eldest son wanted to go and play soccer in the upper part of the village, so I went with him to see where, who and so on….I was thinking that they might have a soccer field a little way out of town, but of course I was wrong!

Our village is built along a small road – houses one row deep, literally built on either side of the dirt road.  As we neared the top part of the village, the boys stopped, decided on teams and started playing!  The soccer field was right there.  This with acres and acres of field right around us!!
With the road forming ¼ of the one side, houses kind of at the other side (but still inside the perimeter) and people and babies all over the “field”.  What a weird place!  But this was not all.  Included in the soccer field (not counting the people and babies) were pots and pans, firewood, a tin cup (later quite flat!) bicycles, stones and little ditches for the rainy season where every now and again someone, not surprisingly, would trip over!

The weirdness continued as the young adults also formed a team and started playing – their “field” overlapping the younger boys’ field!!  So every now and again there was a small dust cloud and lots of confusion as the two teams entered the shaded area where the two shapes overlapped!!  Haha!!

The grandstand (as my one son put it) where I was sitting with a bunch of ladies with babies, was also inside the field perimeter, which made it quite dangerous at times!  I was showered with dust, grass and ground as the ball hit the grass roof directly over my head and twice running legs nearly tripped over my long white ones!  I also had quite a following - none of which watched the exciting games but stared shamelessly at me!

Then to top it all, fast driving motorcycles zipped through followed by some pick-up trucks, one taxi and bikes – all going at breakneck speed with their horns and bells peeling loudly!!  I was sitting ready in case someone was hit by one of these field-intruders!  (Always the medic!)
I think that if these players (some quite good) were ever to play on a real soft green and quiet field they will be totally awed and shocked – and might not even play well, but go and lie down on the green grass and take a nap!  I know I would!

So, that was my Friday afternoon, just a normal mom cheering on her son at the side (and the inside) of the soccer field.  ;)

Bella, always surprised by Africa.

July 10, 2013

Tough times...but good lessons!

The last couple of months have been especially tough out here…malaria, car accident and subsequent court case, bees moving into our veranda and water tank a few times, sicknesses, seeing really sick and severely burnt villagers, etc, etc…and I was losing focus and I mean big time!

Looking at lukewarm believers back home that seems to have every luxury, nice holidays, not doing anything for God but still going to heaven did not help my gloomy thoughts!  Why was God not helping more?  Was it worth continuing living like a human target for the enemy?  Feeling like the Life of Victory was really a very nice ideal but not very practical.  I mean, I know God helps us through everyday life, but I was thinking it is still my hands that need to do the work, it is still my husband’s hands (and feet!) who needs to dig up the “septic”, septic tank and muck it all out!  Not one good thought was coming from my heart!

And it is not only us – many of our friends and colleagues here on the battlefield are going through some serious stresses – one good friend had to have brain surgery, others’ cars broke down at very critical times, some continuously struggle with health issues, others with breaks of trust working alongside nationals, etc, etc!  What to think about all of this?

So, this morning when my dear husband asked me what I was thinking about Life and The Rest, it all came out…everything I was cropping up inside me –all the seemingly unfairness of giving up so much and not seeing much help, my longing of being exempt of all this stupid stuff happening, I finally realized that my perspective was all gone.  Totally gone.  I want to see more of God in daily life, translating that He needed to sort out everything for me.  He patiently listened and gave some much needed insight – Jesus Himself said that He is sending us like sheep in to a wolf world, that we should Greatly Rejoice if all kinds of trials come over our paths, that our faith needs to grow stronger and stronger – like gold purified by Fire.  We prayed together and then I really “saw” what he meant.

I saw Jesus on the Cross and I thought “What would be my response to Him right now when He says Go out to the whole world?”  Would I NOT go?  Of course not, I would RUN to the lost!  He gave so much, this little bit I am giving, is nothing!  I love Him and will do anything for Him!  It kind of reminded me of some friendships I have – I give so much to this relationship, but get very little in return, the friendship is very one-sided, if I didn’t give, then there would actually be nothing.  A selfish “What Can You Give Me” kind of friendship. 

And I guess, I have finally given up on this friendship – still friendly and helpful but not expecting anything anymore.  Was this how I was thinking about my relationship with God?  That I was giving everything and not getting anything in return?  And was I at the point of losing my grip on Him?  The roles reversed and I saw that I was the one holding back – I was waiting to get something without giving much myself!  I wanted God to swoop in and clean up all the mess without lifting a finger - just like a self-centered person who only takes from you without being there for you at all, not giving themselves at all.  Well, this changed everything.  I am so glad God didn’t give up on me. 

The helmet of Truth is really needed every second of the day.  As is, the rest of the body armour.  The battle is mainly fought in the mind, isn’t it?  In any case, I’m on track again.  And thankful.  And ready to face the day whatever happens knowing Jesus is right beside me.  And I love Him and He loves me.  And as the song says – “May I be singing when the evening comes”.

Bella, humbled and grateful.

“Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul,
Worship His Holy Name
Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul
Sing like never before, oh my soul
I’ll worship His holy Name!”  Matt Redman 10 000 Reasons

June 27, 2013

Alpha and Omega

Here I was, sitting in this tiny old Portuguese-style block-house, converted into a courtroom, thinking if it wasn’t so serious it would be hilarious…..
The robed judge with stern face, squeezed in between two community “aids”, coughing, sniffing, snorting and dictating the grave circumstances twice to the “court scribe” in two to three words, dragging the whole affair out to hours instead of minutes. (She was a real Scribe in the sense that she had to write out the whole thing by hand!!) It was hard to follow and really totally ridiculous, but the fact that we are foreigners in a foreign country, with foreign laws were very real.  And very scary.  How on earth did we get here?  Talk about losing all rights…

Late one night my husband came home from taking visitors to another area of work.  A drunken man has passed out in the middle of the narrow and very dark road and was further camouflaged by his dark and dirty clothes.  Although A swerved out, he drove over his outstretched arm.  He stopped and with help, picked up the guy – totally drunk – and took him to the hospital.  Broken arm only.  They had to transfer him to the bigger hospital to set the arm but on the way there, he passed away. From what, was never clear.  Definitely not from his arm, but what can you do out here in the bush.  A was charged with his death and had to go to court.  The law in this country, is that you as the driver, are guilty if someone dies after a road accident, no matter what they did.  The driver is always guilty.  They just decide how much guilt you have and fine you accordingly….

But this really is not what I want to talk about.  At the end of the “trial” of half-truths, misunderstandings, and blatant lies. the judge asked my husband what he had to say about all this and it broke my heart.  This is what he said:  “God called us here to teach the Y people His Word.  We have come to serve the Y.  We have learned Portuguese and now Y.  We have come to love the Y people.  I feel very sorry for the family of this man and very sorry that this had happened.”

And him standing so humbly in front of this man with “power” and he chose to start with God and obedience to Him.  Bless him for that.

The outcome was the minimum sentence, which was a miracle, because each court district benefits directly from the fines….so we thank God.  And may we start and end always with Him.