Coffee along the way

Coffee along the way
Coffee along the way

September 23, 2015

It took a bee sting to open my eyes...




It took one more crisis to open my eyes.

Yip, it was just one more day in an unending string of disasters and crises.  These past few weeks were quite rough!  And sadly when the going got tough, this tough did not get going.
We were tired and needed a break but then we had a disastrous break, topped with my husband getting malaria (see previous post for the more humorous side). We came back even more tired and discouraged.   

Unfortunately it didn’t stop there. It just went from bad to worse as the days wore on.
Just to give a bit of context of where we are at – sharing about the life and ministry of Jesus in our weekly Bible teachings in this small rural village.  Most hearing this for the very first time!  So the battle is on. 

My malaria hosting husband decided to go on with the lesson.  So we put a bed in the study and he and his language helper worked hard on the lesson.  In between lying down and sitting up he did it!  The lesson itself was on the Birth of Jesus!  The real Christmas story – with the shepherds, Herod the bad, the killing of all the little boys and all.  The coming of the Deliverer was not a quite event as we depict it on our Christmas cards!  It was a battle ground!  

On the day of the lesson while playing with a kitten just before school, our one very allergic-to-bees-son was stung by …yip, you guessed it a red bee.  Now in the past when he was stung he had quite the reaction.  So much so that we carry an Epipen with us at all times.  At first I was not sure it was a bee but as I went to fetch some vinegar to take out the sting I took some anti-histamine with me as well just in case.  In my mind thinking that I won’t need to walk back to the house for it later if he needs it. (I was thinking it might have been a stinging fly) While taking it out I heard the Lord clearly say Give it to him now. 

Back in the school room I now see it was a bee so I gave him the meds as well as the vinegar and some ice.  All the things I would normally do and he would still swell up in any case….we prayed, I even posted it on fb.  It was just one more thing and I was totally stressing out (inside of me) by this time, trying hard not to freak everyone else out.  Kind of just going through the motions.

But nothing happened.  Well, apart from the fact that my son was a bit in shock from the whole A bee Actually stung me.  He did not swell up at all.  He barely has a mark today.  No itching, nothing.  And I can assure you we have been through this once before and it was BAD.  Especially living where we live it is quite dangerous.

The weird thing was I just kind of took it in my stride.  Only this morning I saw it for what it was.  A dear praying  friend had written that when she saw my post she immediately began praying.  She distinctly saw an army of angels around us! 

The reason I am writing all this down is that over the past couple of weeks circumstances were really getting me down.  It  felt like God was far away.  Not strong enough.  Not helping.  In fact the more things happened the more I thought that there is no-one for us.  Even yesterday after the lesson when one guy got up and shared at first some truths but then went on a tangent of total nonsense saying Jesus was wrong to not take off his shoes when he prayed and blah, blah, blah.  I was so cross that he kind of stole the show of the real story!  That he, so to speak, cut Jesus down.  I wondered why God allowed this!  Where was He?   (I will definitely NOT win the prize for the best missionary ever!!  Haha!!)  In any case, I was going downhill and fast.  Feeling so defeated and dejected, downcast and discouraged.  It took a bee sting for me to “see”.

I was looking down at all the things that went wrong or didn’t work out how I thought they should have.  Like the disciples in the boat when a huge storm was raging and these experienced fishermen were afraid while Jesus was sleeping!  They looked at the huge waves and not at peaceful, sleeping and not worried Jesus!  So I was too.  The waves scared me by this time.  But with a word Jesus quieted the wind and sea.  And with an email msg He made me see that He was here, right beside me!

An army was surrounding me and my family.  God’s Army!!  God was trying to get through to me but I missed them all.  Yesterday just before the lesson Chris Tomlin’s song “God of angel armies – Whom shall I fear?” was playing over and over in my mind.  It took a bee sting to open my eyes.  To gain balance again.  To know God has us in the palm of His hand and He will not let go.  Even if it feels like it in a million or more ways.  He is faithful, trustworthy and He never lies.  He said that He will never, ever leave us or forsake us.  He said He will be with us to the end of the earth.  And so He is.  With us.  Emmanuel.  God with us.  I am not afraid anymore.

Rom 8:28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Hallelujah!!!

Bella, clinging to the Rock of all ages.

September 12, 2015

Holiday??





We had 5 days to take a break.  Only 5 as we have Bible teaching on Tuesdays and this Monday we would have 4 afternoons filled with our online school. So 5 days only!

We happily packed the car and off we went!  Visibility low because of all the veld fires but Morale high.

We live in the middle of nowhere, with a road going nowhere and no-one really traveling on it.  The irony is when we go on “holiday” we also go to a place far from anything or anybody.  A cottage in the mountains with the only close shops 60km away, granted there is a hotel where you could eat something but it comes with quite the Price tag.

In any case, here we are!  We unpack and then the caretaker nonchalant informs us the fridge is not working.  ??  While I am contemplating if I should just cook all the meat we brought now, the power went off.  Okayyyy.  But not a problem, we all keep ourselves busy – one with a binoculars, I went off to sleep as I was still fighting a bad case of the flu, some on the iPhones, etc. Morale still high.

The power comes back on and my dear husband fixes the fridge!!  Hurrah!! We all settle down to enjoy ourselves. The sun sets over a nice view even though it is very hazy with all the smoke. We light a cosy fire and when it got too dark tried to put on the light.  Nothing. But not a problem, morale is still high and husband and boys fix the light!

The rest of the evening is quite uneventful until shower time. Shower head needs unplugging, shower outlet need unplugging. And to top it off a howling wind rages through the small bathroom.  After the first boy is through the showers and I see how bad he is shivering we stuff an old pillow in the “window” to make it less of a wind tunnel and more of a hot shower area. We have a good laugh. 

Phew, all in bed now!  Of course the mattresses are about 5mm thick!  But not a problem - we stuff old blankets in the worst of the hollows and try and sleep.

Next day the caretaker was supposed to wash the dishes but he doesn’t show, so dear husband washes them all.  When we were about to hit the showers again – no surprise there – this time no hot water!  A pipe had burst.  Not a problem, we all just get into bed.  But now dear husband is quite sick and gets no sleep….the plot thickens!

Next morning he fixes the pipe and voila! we have hot water again.  By now everyone is a bit on edge but we manage to sort through it and morale is still there somewhere above the ground. 

The day continues quite on track except that my dear husband has now taken two naps and it is only 3pm – not him at all and Very Worrying….but not a problem – I get out my medical kit and test him for malaria.  Positive – which, in this case, is very negative. Not a problem - I get out the malaria meds and start him right on it. 
As he tries to get himself more comfortable in the stuffed-with-blankets-bed and leans back on the so-called “head-rest” – the whole thing with attached bedside tables flip back as if it was a Lazy-boy (but without the comfort of course.)  Not a problem - he gets a few old books (probably that have not been read in about 50 years) and stuff them between the wall and the “head-rest”, all comfy now with very limited flipping.  Although by this time I feel like flipping a bit!

But morale is still hanging in there and I cook supper – but first I pray that the power will stay on!!  And then we all pile onto the bed and some chairs and watch a movie and eat our food – every now and then flipping the bed side tables and all on them a bit!  Hey, at least the bed is kind of level on the floor unlike the chair in the room with only 3 legs of same length, so that is something to be thankful for!

I guess the moral of the story is that God gives ideas and plans and helps us cope with laughter but also lets us cry and comforts us – we need to make the best of life in keeping our eyes on Him. We can choose to throw a tantrum, to demand service (but seriously, demanding anything in Africa??  A waste of time and energy!!) From our perspective this was a total disaster of a break, but if we have learned to keep our eyes on Him in all of this then it was worth it.  And in any case a bad holiday really feels like forever!!  Haha so our break felt like a 10 day one and not the 5 pathetic days that it was.

So one day left before we head back in our (un)airconditioned car.  We should do more of this holidaying – it builds character. 

Bella, ready to go home.

September 02, 2015

trying to be a Joseph when i am more of a Jonah?





This morning my husband and I were speaking about a few difficult things and he said that we must remember how Joseph handled his difficulties in life – he was sold as a slave, jailed for many years and suffered greatly but always did his best and never doubted God.  Mr. Positive, I guess.  And then it hit me – this is where we differ so much, my husband and I …we may be called to live a Joseph life but my personality is definitely more of a Jonah…sigh.

Just say it right out – No.  Try to run away from God!!  (How stupid is THAT?) and yet I do it, over and over.  Say No, or Why a million times? Me.  Or run and hide.  Me.  Never accepting things easily, always questioning, always either up or down. Me.  No middle ground for me and not a Joseph, for sure.

Yet, mostly I am in his shoes or was it sandals?  He had one life goal which he didn’t really comprehend until the end, he didn’t even know how it would all pan out since he was first a slave and then a forgotten prisoner – but he did all he did without complaining or arguing with God.  I too struggle with my goal in life, I too am never quite sure how things will pan out here and very often feel very forgotten, but I unfortunately complain a lot and argue a lot too!  More of a Jonah!!

In some ways I really like Jonah’s guts.  He actually sailed in the opposite direction of where God asked him to go.  Just think how much courage that would take!  And then, he was willing to die to save the others because he realized he put their lives in danger by his stupid actions.  I think he must have been surprised when God sent the fish to swallow him.  Something like “I am ready to go to heaven now and I did not see that coming!” and then with a sense of humour God had the fish spit him out where He wanted Him in the first place!  After Jonah repented, that is!

So I guess what I am seeing here is that I can save myself a lot of pain if I just trusted God and not argue or complain in difficult times, because God will not stop bothering me (in a loving way!) – He loves me and He wants me to grow closer to Him.

Jonah must have had a good relationship with God in my eyes that he could be so free about the things he did and said.  Did he know God would save him in the sea?  Did he rely on the fact that God was watching his every move?  Kind of like a toddler throwing a tantrum and then stops to see if anyone is actually watching?

I don’t know for sure but I what I do know, is that God knows me Very Well!

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.  You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"  even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

I really would like to be more like Joseph – accepting, living quietly out my days, trusting God that it would all work out, but I guess I need to be who God made me and leave room for that too.  Yes, I need to grow in these areas but I can also rest in the fact that God made me, me and that I am ok in His eyes.  For me, today I think I realized that all kinds of characters were put in the Bible for a reason.  God loved them all.   

Some I admire and try and imitate and others I see myself in (the bad parts of me).  God didn’t make everyone a Joseph or a David, He also made a Jonah and a Peter and a trillion others!  I say this very respectively and not in an anything-goes attitude - God allows me to relate to Him in my way.  (Relate are in Relationship and not how to be saved!!  There is only one way and that is God’s way!!)  Sure, I can improve in many areas but the core of who I am is not from a pre-decided-how to –relate-to-God-mold,  I can come to Him and boldly approach His throne of Grace, because that is what it is –God’s Grace. 

  O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.

Bella, known by God.