a body that quits & a God who doesn’t

I had a nice long post written under this same title, talking about how the enemy has a tendency to attack right before big things happen for the Kingdom: one of our sponsor children, a little boy we’ve met and invested in, has left our care pointe, and we won’t be seeing him again; I broke my tailbone the week before our wedding, and the 16-hour flight and dirt roads will not be kind to that injury; one team member’s father broke his back just a week before our departure; a missionary friend miscarried today; another team member lost a close friend today. A young boy was dragged into a lagoon by an alligator. More than 100 people were injured or killed in Orlando this weekend.

It was a beautiful post, and I spent a lot of time working on it. And while it’s the least of our problems, the post has simply vanished. I saved the draft multiple times, but there is no record of it anywhere on my computer. (the irony is not lost on me.) I’m choosing to look the other way–maybe Jesus is trying to humble me, or maybe what I was trying to say isn’t what needs to be heard. Instead of sharing my words with you, I will share someone else’s.

Today on the radio, the DJ shared a statement from Ann Voskamp:

The world needs prayer warriors who don’t see prayer as the least we can do, but as the most we can do.

I will sit here with a busted tailbone and eat my words and my humble pie as I ask for prayer for H and I, and really for our whole team. There are teenagers leaving home for the first time, and parents leaving small children behind. There is a young woman who recently got engaged. A newlywed couple, and a brand new husband who is getting ready to leave for boot camp. I am in the midst of a fibromyalgia flare up that meds can’t keep under control. And, with just 3 days until we depart for Swaziland, we still have a need to raise $1300. Our God is good, even when our circumstances are not, and we know that God will be glorified regardless of what is required of us. We kneel here and pray confidently and expectantly that God’s will be done by the time we get on a plane Saturday afternoon.

My body might want to quit, but my God never will.

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2 Days // I didn’t ask for this.

My trip has been 100% covered in your contributions, and for that I am so, so grateful.

In the interest of transparency: I didn’t ask for this.

Just like the human body, 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 tells us that each part of the body of Christ has its own unique purpose, different gifts and talents and abilities in order to complete the mission for which it has been appointed to do. One body part cannot function without those around it, and without one part, the whole body cannot complete its mission.

There are some days where I look at this earthly body of mine and think to myself, wow. I am uniquely qualified for the assignment I have been given. More often than not, however, I look at this body of mine and think to myself, I did not ask for this body of mine.

I did not ask for a mind that keeps me awake at night, trying to think of ways to logistically house and feed every orphan in Swaziland. (I mean, come on, the military can house and feed hundreds of thousands, why can’t I?)

I did not ask for eyes that are drawn to the outcasts, the lonely, the ones most in need of attention and affection.

I did not ask for eyelids, the inside of which are indelibly inked with the images of painfully beautiful moments with my babies.

I did not ask for ears to which the sound of children is like the most beautiful of songs, ears that hear the cry of one child over the laughs and cheers of others.

I did not ask to find my heart walking around outside my body (click here) so, so far away.; a heart that is broken over watching these sweet babies fend for themselves, and grow up feeling unloved by parents, siblings, their Creator.

I did not ask for an immune system that might kill me in the US, but save me in a third world country.

I did not ask for a voice that does not shake when asked to speak in front of large crowds.

I did not ask for arms that can rock colicky infants to sleep.

I did not ask for hands large enough to hold that of three or four children at once, because there is a shortage of such.

I did not ask for fingers that could pluck guitar strings and teach children to sing of the Happy Day when Christ came alive.

I did not ask for a stomach strong enough to withstand the smell of un-bathed children, urine-soaked clothing, burning trash and feces.

I did not ask for long legs that can play soccer as easily as they can provide seats to two or three children at once.

I did not ask for feet that feel at home wrapped in canvas TOMS, stained red with Swazi soil, impervious to rocks, thorns and sticker plants. Feet that knew I was home the moment they touched Swazi soil.

I am clumsy and uncoordinated with these things that I have been given. Sometimes I get too wrapped up in what’s happening in front of me to see the ones most in need, or enjoy too much the sound of laughter to hear the cry of a child. Sometimes my heart aches more for my own circumstances, those that keep me up at night. Sometimes my immune system knocks me flat on my back (pun intended), and sometimes I can’t use my voice to speak up for my babies. Sometimes, my arms and legs and hands shake so much that I can’t hold a glass of water, let alone hold babies or play guitar. Sometimes, my feet get tired, and the Swazi soil washes away. Sometimes I forget the beauty of the sights, the strength of the smells, the depth of the feels.

It is on days like today that it is the very hardest to cling to the Cross, when I feel weak and powerless, undeserving of the gifts and talents I have been given in order to complete my mission as a part of the body of Christ. As a missionary, I have been warned that the enemy attacks when we are closest to Christ, when there is the most at stake, when we have the most to lose. It is in those moments that the enemy finds us the most vulnerable, because we never see it coming. Today is one of those days. I know the enemy is attacking, but knowing doesn’t make it easier to face. It is days like today that I think that this body of mine is more a burden than a blessing.

And then I remember: this body of mine is not mine.

I may not have asked for these things, but God did. Not only did he ask, he commanded them. He commanded ME. To go, to do, to love. To use this little ol’ speck of his great and mighty body to be a light in the darkness, so that his children might rejoin the Kingdom of Heaven.

On days like today, straight out of Ephesians, this is my prayer: that I might live a life worthy of this calling I have so graciously been given, even when—especially when—I fall short of the glory of God. So here I am. Lord, send me.

2 days, 14 hours, 21 minutes until I go.

Here I am, Lord. Send me.

9 Days // Like No Tomorrow

I leave for Swaziland in 9 days, 6 hours, 59 minutes.

Quiet time with Jesus is always an interesting thing for me because this is what tends to happen:

  1. I start reading a passage of scripture.
  2. Jesus verbally punches me in the face.
  3. I sit there in shock for a few minutes.
  4. I keep reading.
  5. Jesus shows back up and empowers me.

I wrote the other day about how James 4:3 hit me hard and called me out in sin. Today, as I flipped to the bookmarked page in my bible, I returned to continue reading James 4 when I stumbled upon verses 13-17:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and so this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

In my crazy semester at school, I was working in a sushi restaurant. There was one Saturday I worked a painfully long shift—10:30 am to about 12:30 the next morning. Fourteen hours on my feet on the busiest day of the restaurant week, and I was ready to go home. My last table of the night was a group of four gentlemen dressed like serious hoodlums—baggy jeans, South Pole and Baby Phat sweatshirts, flatbills, grills in their teeth—and my programs of study came up in conversation. I was able to explain how much I love Swaziland and my upcoming trips and the overwhelming need that exists. The following conversation went a lot like this:

Guy: Aren’t you scared you’re going to get killed or raped?

Me: No. I could just as easily get killed or raped here in the US, and I wouldn’t be impacting people in the same way on Christ’s behalf.

Guy: What happens if somebody walks in and holds a gun to your head and asks if you’re a Christian?

Me: I’d say yes.

Guy: What if it were right there in front of your thirty kids?

Me: You better believe I’d say yes.

The guys erupt into laughter of shock. “You’re crazy,” says one of them. “You can’t protect your kids or save babies if you’re dead. Why would you do that?”

Me: The best way I can protect anyone, especially my kids, is to shield them with Christ. Philippians 1:20-21 says, ‘I eagerly hope and expect that I will in no way be ashamed, but that Christ would be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death (NIV). Alive, I am Christ’s messenger. Dead, I am his bounty. Life versus more life? I can’t lose (MSG)!’

Guy: But why would you put your kids through watching their mom get shot?

Me: Because there is no greater example to set for my children. My job is to model the best example of Christ that I can for my kids, and really, for anyone I come in contact with. “There is no greater love than he who lays down his life for his friend.” I hope and pray that I was a good enough mother and leader to those kids that they understood that Christ-like love, and that those kids would follow suit and claim their faith in the face of danger.

I heard this somewhere, not sure where, awhile back and it changed my outlook on things:

The Jesus I know wants us to go dangerous places and love dangerous people and live our lives so dangerously for the Kingdom that we become a hazard to everyone around us who is trying to play it safe.

God has called people to dangerous places to do dangerous things almost exclusively throughout history. You have Abraham, who left behind everything and everyone he knew, simply because God asked him to. He was even willing to kill his own son to follow God’s command. There’s Jochebed, a Hebrew woman living in Egypt, who hid her newborn son from guards with orders to kill baby boys before floating him down the Nile in a basket—without her, we wouldn’t have had Moses, who liberated the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. There’s Noah, who built a gigantic ark while being mocked and threatened by his community. There’s Mary, who bore the shame of pregnancy before marriage so that she might bear the Messiah. Paul, who spoke out on behalf of his encounter with God, knowing that he might lose his life. The disciples, who followed Jesus despite his reputation and seemingly heretical teachings. Rahab, who risked her life to harbor Israelite spies. Jonah, who [eventually] went to Ninevah to preach a warning over the people. Lot, who left behind everything he knew, and never looked back. Peter, who built the church despite persecution. There is Jesus, who came to earth knowing he would be mocked, ridiculed, abused, and killed, simply for proclaiming his title of King of king, Lord of lords, the Son of God.

Millions of people all over the world who hide their faith on a daily basis from family, friends, coworkers, neighbors…but would claim Christ, even in the face of danger. Especially in the face of danger.

Some of those millions of people are my brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. About a month ago, 30 of those brothers and sisters were taken from this world at the hands of ISIS, because they refused to deny Christ. They understood that tomorrow is never promised, and so they lived dangerously, by harboring a forbidden faith, a salvation relationship with Jesus so they might live their lives for their Creator in the way they are called.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

I have not been given long on this earth. None of us has. None of us has even been granted a tomorrow…so why do we waste our today trying to play it safe?

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and so this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

People ask me why I would go to a closed nation like Ethiopia, where my faith could sign my death sentence. The reason I am going is that I am not promised a tomorrow. I refuse to waste any more time by not doing exactly what God has called me to do. The reason I am going is that Matthew 28:19 calls us to make disciples of ALL nations…not just the easy ones. The reason I am going is the very fact that my faith in the Creator of the universe could sign my death sentence, and that is not okay.

It is the Lord’s will that I go; if I know that I should go to Ethiopia and then I don’t go, it is like telling God my safety is more important than His plan. His divine and perfect plan to save all of mankind—if I have any saving faith at all, how could I refuse to be part of that plan? If it is God’s plan for my life that I die for my faith, I will die for my faith at the appointed time, whether I am in Ethiopia or Swaziland or the US. If I know this to be true, how could I possibly turn God down?

Day 1: Before I Go…

It’s today. So many feelings this morning. So many instances of nearly crying in the middle of church or driving home or talking to people, asking me how many hours until I leave, because they know I am keeping track.

I have eagerly been counting down the days since I last found myself in the Indianapolis airport. My mom came to pick me up, and she asked how my trip was and I broke down crying. The only words I could fathom were, I have to go back. I have to go back I have to go back I have to go backI am going back. It’s right now. This is happening. I am sitting in the Indianapolis airport waiting to board the first plane and it is taking everything in me to not jump up and down and yell “It’s today it’s today it’s today!”

Just this morning someone asked me if I was ever afraid to go. I have heard a lot of variations of this question: Isn’t it dangerous? Isn’t there disease? Isn’t it weird to have strange children crawling on you? Doesn’t it make you uncomfortable to be stared at because you’re white? Do they have real toilets or are you going to use squatty potties? What if they don’t like you?

Doesn’t it scare you?

The answer is yes. Yes, it scares me very much. It is terrifying to be so incredibly in love with something that I can’t get it off my mind and to know I am risking my life. It is terrifying to be so scared of this passion so deeply rooted in my heart because I don’t get scared of things. But I know that God’s power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is one of the most elemental truths of my entire life, and I am so, so grateful for this.

However: the people I am leaving behind don’t feel this. They can’t understand how fulfilling it is to rock a colicky baby to sleep while her mother cooks, or the overwhelming feeling of having kids fight over who gets to hold your hand while walking from place to place. They haven’t experienced this raw, unadulterated joy; they see only the risks. I have several friends and family members that adamantly oppose this trip and the plan to go back long term, and I can appreciate their opposition. It is out of genuine concern, and lack of understanding. It is for them I have these words:

“And I will be to her a wall of fire all around,” declares the Lord, “And I will be the glory in her midst.” Zechariah 2:5

“God is within her, she will not fail.” Psalm 46:5

I’m a little nervous to step on this plane, but I’m not afraid for myself. I know that I will be taken care of, that I will be safe, that everything that happens on this trip will be nothing short of God’s glory and his plan for my life.

Goodbye, America. See you later.

6 Days // The Week Of

I leave in 6 days. 1 hour. 3 minutes.

Yesterday was wonderful; I spent the whole day with my loving church family. Our team was invited onstage as part of the service to be prayed over. The small group of girls I lead threw a baby shower for a coleader’s first child…but before I even had a chance to go home, I found myself kneeling before a toilet bowl. Sick to my stomach. This can’t be happening.

6 days from this very moment, I will be sitting at the gate in the Indianapolis airport waiting to board an Atlanta bound airplane. I should be preparing for my trip. I should be doing laundry or packing, but instead, I have spent the better part of the last twenty-four hours passed out in bed because I am sick.

This is the struggle and frustration of immunodeficiency. I got sick two weeks ago too, and I finished a round of antibiotics two days ago. And boom. Nausea hits, headaches return, and I spend twenty two solid hours asleep.

I don’t know how this happens; I haven’t had an infusion in six weeks, so my immune system should be at its highest point right now. It’s frustrating to not be in control of my own health–I mean, I wash my hands. I carry hand sanitizer in my purse, cough into my elbow, avoid public restrooms, keep my distance from sick coworkers and friends and take vitamins and drink orange juice for crying out loud…

And yet, during the two hours in the middle of the night when I woke up hungry and nauseous and unable to sleep, I picked up our pre-mission trip devotional book and opened to Day 33: a whole message on spiritual warfare. I know my last post was about spiritual warfare, but I think the point of this is to drive home the fact that spiritual warfare is real and effective.

Spiritual warfare goes further than just illness. In two weeks, my trip account has not budged. I’m still only one-third of the way funded, and my prayer team has yet to materialize.

This is the last week before I leave. My last Monday before Swaziland. I should not be worrying about where the money will come from, who will be praying, or if I will pass sickness along to my sweet babies. I should be enjoying the anticipation. I will be spending this week eagerly doing some last minute shopping, packing my suitcases, praying endlessly because I know my God is bigger, greater, stronger than an empty bank account or stupid virus. And I know this because he tells me so:

“‘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.'” Jeremiah 29:11

“Do not worry or be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to the Lord. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

And most importantly: “The gifts and calling of the Lord are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29

Listen up, spiritual adversaries: I’m a little bit too sassy and a lot too untamable and far too loved for this to keep me from doing the work God has laid out before me. Get on my level.

6 days. 20 minutes.

 

Update: I posted this 11 minutes ago…and I just received an email from our trip coordinator saying our accounts had been updated. You have helped me reach $1,675, which is just past the halfway mark. God is so good. Keep it coming.

10 Days // Prayer

In Honor of Maya Angelou:

If you have been anywhere near the internet or radio today, you have probably heard about the passing of the acclaimed author Maya Angelou. I first encountered her work as a sophomore in high school, after stumbling upon her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was a difficult book read, due merely to the content, but I love the outlook Ms. Angelou has maintained throughout her life, despite the struggle, pain and, if we’re going to be honest, unfairness found in her life.

She is on the list of people, living or dead, I would invite to a dinner party. I wish I could have met her; she has so much wisdom to pass on. I’d like to start tonight’s post with some of her words: 

“I know that when I pray, something wonderful happens. Not just to the person or persons for whom I’m praying, but also something wonderful happens to me. I’m grateful that I’m heard.”

Prayer is a vital aspect of mission trips—both in the preparation and in the going and doing and in the coming back and choosing beauty over heartbreak. It’s important for our team to be in prayer, but it is also important for us to have a team of prayer warriors Stateside as well. I have loved hearing the kind words of readers, words of encouragement and love and understanding. You have all been such a blessing, but I need to ask one more favor of you:

I need your support. 

I am a broke college kid, and I totally understand if you are unable to support me financially. [but if you can that would be awesome too and there’s a link to your right] Either way, I’d like to ask you to pray for me and for my team. We are just 10 days away from getting on a plane to the other side of the world, and we need prayer now more than ever. As a group, we have been struggling to raise the necessary funds for the trip. We have each encountered road blocks—sickness, nerves, fear of the unknown, difficulty in preparation—and it is crunch time. I hate using words like spiritual warfare because it makes me sound like one of those crazy Bible-thumping Christians that don’t like dancing or necklines that fall below the larynx and I couldn’t be farther from one of those if I tried…but spiritual warfare is a real and actual thing. I have seen it happen, and I have heard stories. The issue is addressed in scripture. The best example I can give is in Matthew 4 (verses 1-11), where Satan appears before Jesus in the desert. It’s very literal compared to the spiritual warfare of today; today, it can be difficult to see the difference between blessings from God and intentional harm. For example: I had to go to a doctor’s appointment and pick up a prescription last semester, and it took far longer than I anticipated. The line at the pharmacy was forever and a half long (read: 4 people in front of me, with only one worker). It maybe took ten minutes longer than normal, but when you are late to Dr. Sharp’s Intro to Student Ministry class every second counts. By the time I left and hit every red light between the pharmacy and the high way, I was extremely salty and extremely late. I was on my way to a freaking MINISTRY class. Surely, this is what spiritual warfare is, yes?

No. As I approached the ramp and sat at the red light (because of course), I watched a first responder team rip a person out of a car crash just before it rolled off the hill of the ramp. Someone had run a red light and hit the car turning left onto the I-26 on ramp, roughly ten minutes before I needed to make the same turn. It could have very easily been me, rolling down that embankment. But instead, I was only 5 minutes late to class.

This is just one example that blows my mind a little bit and is seriously humbling. Getting sick on a mission trip, cancelled flights, insufficient funds, broken down buses…any number of things can happen, and this is why we need you. Pray for safety, pray for peace, for health, for provision, for clear and distinct guidance.

Each day in Swaziland, I will try to provide a specific topic of prayer. I am not the best pray-er, and sometimes I don’t always know what to say. If you are the same way, do not fear! God accepts all kinds of prayers, no matter how unskilled or plain or short. Please keep us in you prayers in the next three weeks, until we are safely on the ground in the US. Thank you, thank you thank you.

10 days. 16 hours. 38 minutes. 

Debunked: Loving Yourself First

We have all heard the saying, “You can’t love until you love yourself.” I had someone tell me that when I started volunteering.

I hate that saying. For several reasons.

The first is that I’m sassy and I don’t like being told what I cannot do. The second and primary reason is that it couldn’t be further from the truth.

I am not the type of person that grew up with the ability to love myself. In fact, it took until long after my first mission trip to learn what it means to love myself, and even longer to actually begin loving myself.

Why? Because it took loving other people to be loved in return to learn to love me.

My very first mission trip turned my life around. I had not been living a Christian life; I was not very loving and I was not very lovable. As an 13 year old contemplating the idea of ending my own life, I went on an urban mission trip as a last-ditch effort to find some sort of purpose for my life–any reason to go on living.

And I did.

It was on that very first trip that I made several discoveries:

  1. I serve a great and powerful God who made me and loves me, who will never leave me.
  2. I was doing life wrong, and that I needed to do better.
  3. The mission field is where I belong.

For one week, it was my sole purpose to love inner city kids and teach them about the love of Jesus. At first, all I saw was a huge socioeconomic gap–by the end of that first trip, I felt more loved and needed than ever before in my life. Having the unconditional love of kids defined by poverty, abuse, trust issues–it is crazy. It made me want to do more, give more, love more. I went back to those kids once a week, as part of a tutoring program, and once a year as part of an annual summer camp for the duration of my high school career. It took a long time to learn to love myself, but the fact of the matter is that I needed to love others first. It’s just how I work. 1 John 4:19 states “We love because he first loved us.” Christ came to earth, lived a sinless life and died a sinner’s death to demonstrate his love for us before we loved him.

Loving others before yourself is the most selfless kind of love. It is honest and real and raw, with no agenda. If that isn’t the greatest earthly love, I don’t know what is.

11 days. 17 hours. 42 minutes.

20 Days // Confirming the Call

Twenty. The big 2-0. The number of miles between my driveway and my parking spot at work; the number of hours I will spend in transit between the Indianapolis airport and Johannesburg. The number of sticky fingers and toes each of my sweet babies possesses; the number of days until I will be holding those sticky fingers. It is a number I can understand and wrap my brain around.  It’s beautiful and frightening, because this is really happening. I am really going back and soon and it’s making me nervous…which, to me, is the best and greatest indicator that this is what God wants me to do. Which leads me to something people ask me a lot: how do I know this is where I am called and what I am called to do? There is the obvious answer–the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19 where Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” He’s pretty cut and dry–but why me, why Swaziland, why now, why kids, why Njojane? In all total, complete honesty, I have no idea why and I’m not going to pretend I know. All I know is that I am and this is how I know: The fact of the matter is that I am slightly crazy. The plan is to forfeit a life of comfort and luxury in the US to live in the bush country of Swaziland, where the most reliable variable in life is that nothing is reliable; to give up Dr. Pepper and weekly sushi runs with my best friend for Tang, pap and sour porridge; to trade everything and everyone I know for that which only God knows. Well before Africa was on my radar, someone told me “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” It has been proven over and over and over in the Bible–God continually calls people to leave behind what they know to follow him: Abraham and Sarah to venture into Canaan, Moses to liberate the Israelites, Peter to walk on the water, Paul to spread the Gospel all over the Roman Empire. But I don’t get scared about things. I don’t get test anxiety, I’m not afraid of needles or climbing tall ladders to change display case lightbulbs. I excel at killing bugs and speaking and singing in front of large groups of people. I’m not afraid of flying, nor do I get homesick, or really even miss the conveniences or luxuries the US has to offer; and yet, going to Africa a second time makes me nervous. I am anxious because I am well behind the mark on fundraising; I am nervous because I woke up two days ago with a horrendous sore throat, which means my immune system is bottoming out a mere three weeks before departure. I am fearful about the sermon I will be delivering to the older students and community members because what if it doesn’t reach them. I am terrified that I will fall even more in love, and that leaving Swaziland for the second time will be even more painful than the last. There is some beauty in this fear. I serve a great and mighty God who can (and does) make amazing things happen. I know financial provision will make itself evident, and my immune system will rebound–because I watched God make it happen last year right about this time. The little bit of nervousness that has burrowed itself deep in my heart is nothing short of confirmation that this is what I am called to do and nothing can stop me.

Little Infinities

So fun fact: John Green lives within a half hour drive of my house. If, like me, you are a proud member of the Nerdfighter fandom, you will know that The Fault in Our Stars movie comes out in just 28 days, which is super awesome because it means that I get to see it before I leave for Swaziland, and cry my eyes out two days before returning to Swaziland.

I was in a job interview today, and the interviewer asked what I’ms studying in school and what I want to do with my life. After I told him, he asked me a question I don’t get very often: why?

Why do I want to I want to spend ten days in Africa over the summer, instead of going on vacation or hanging out with friends? Why do I want to spend every day of the rest of my life dealing with teenagers, instead of making lots of money elsewhere? Why would I voluntarily give up the conveniences and luxuries of life in the United States for the primitive lifestyle Africa endures?

If you have read the tFiOS book, you’ll remember this little excerpt:

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

I like this because I’m kind of a nerd and I like thinking about things my brain can’t actually comprehend, but also because of how true it is. Some infinities are far greater than other infinities. In the United States, we (myself included) get far too wrapped up in our lives to pay any attention to living. We don’t live in the moment, because our ideology says that if we want to be successful, we have to be constantly thinking, planning, looking ahead. We look to the best interests of ourselves, and we will fight for it. It’s in our nature; we create these lives for ourselves that are great while we’re alive, and do very little once we’re gone (but who cares? we’re not here to enjoy it!). We have the little infinities that are our lives.

But the Swazis….they know how limited their time is here on earth. They are categorically terrible timekeepers, never rushing from one place to another because they are too busy living in the moment to pay attention to the time. They don’t plan for the future; the future is usually too uncertain to plan for, not to mention the lack of resources with which to plan. They are all about living in the moment in every aspect of their lives. Each moment to be lived in becomes an infinity of its own–one to replay over and over and over in your mind and it is because of this Swazi infinities are so much greater than American infinities. Each life is made up of an abundance of infinities.

Some of my favorite Swazi infinities:

  • The time between the moment Benele, our translator, told sweet Kheto that I was her sponsor and the moment it clicked in her mind that 1. she had a sponsor, and 2. I was sitting right in front of her. It was a little infinity, but a beautiful one. We started sponsoring Kheto only a few days before we met, and a lapse in communication meant I was lucky enough to experience her emotional response.
  • The first time Kheto said, “Thank you for loving me.” My heart is trembles to think about it.
  • The time one of my babies spent her morning washing my hands.
  • The time I played catch with a group of schoolgirls and tried to learn their names…and they thought my petty attempts at speaking Siswati were worth laughing at (secretly, they loved the attention).
  • The time I could bless one of the bomake (boh-mah-gay, the women who cook and take care of kids at the care pointes) my holding her three-month-old daughter while she prepared lunch. Her sweet baby fell fast asleep on my chest while I sang.

My words do not do justice to the fullness of my heart in each of these moments. It is the little things that made me fall in love with the Swazi people. These little things are my little infinity, and my biggest why.

 

(Nerdfighters: Don’t Forget to Be Awesome)