This week we were able to take bags of beans and rice and maize flour and cooking oil and sugar and soap and toilet paper to the Women’s Shelter. They were so happy to receive it. They are growing a bit of maize corn on their small plot of land and immediately went to pick us a bag full of ears of maize as a thank you to us. These people have so little and still they give. One of our watchmen has left his family in the camp to come and work for us. His wife is a preacher and she wants to remain there to encourage the people of the camp. I see this so many times, more often than not. These people have a chance to live just a bit more comfortably yet they choose to remain in the insecurity and hardness of the camps because they refuse to desert their people in their time of need.
Sometimes I get a bit frustrated because I see huge numbers of “missionary” students in many different schools yet when I see the numbers of those who really went and stayed, it is just a small drop in the bucket. So many just go from school to school, from one ministry to another, one country to another, never putting down solid roots. Obviously, some are called to do that, but not all are. I and many others whom I personally know have learned more from living on the mission field than going to many schools. One school at least is necessary because it opens our eyes. Then we go and Jesus keeps them open.
When I see the people living in the camps with nothing, having the opportunity to leave, and they want to stay, and those who have been where they are for ten years or more, they encourage me daily to never quit, to stay in this mission that God called me to, for the long haul, even when I am very tired, and I do get tired, a lot.
The question that always keeps me focused is, “Who am I here for?” The answer is Jesus. He is the only one who will keep us where we are called. He is the only one who will give us strength when we want to quit, when we get tired, when we look down the long years ahead of us and wonder if we can live this way that long, with no running water or electricity or shopping malls and nice clothes and microwaves and washers and dryers and no typhoid or malaria……. The Spirit of Longevity is in me and He helps me to take my eyes off of all that and I fix them on Jesus and on these little ones in front of me and the women at the shelter and our family in the camps, and I stay, and it is with joy and not a burden to carry.
I love the crazy man of the Gerasenes, the one who Jesus healed from an entire legion of demons, you know, the ones who went into the pigs? He was so happy to be healed that he just wanted to go where the glory was. Jesus said, “No you stay here and evangelize this town and you will see glory.” And the man stayed. He stayed. My heart swells when people say and do, “I will go and I will stay.” I have so much respect for these in the camps. When our watchman came back to us after just a three day visit, his wife sent him home to us with a live rooster. That is like sending us $500. She has so little yet she made sure he came with a gift for us. This is the Africa that I know and love. I see the Bible lived out every day before my eyes. I am the one who is forever changed by learning from these amazing people.
Since living in South Sudan we have been praying for a school bus. Our school bus came on Thursday night! All of the kids screamed and yelled and the mamas ululated and everyone ran to sit on the bus and dirt clouds were flying all around and we are just so darned happy! We have been driving it everyday and they all fight to sit in the front with the driver so they can watch our feet and hands and learn to drive this big blue beautiful bus. The small boys are enthralled. It really is so wonderful. Tomorrow will be their first day being taken to school in the new bus. I am moved to tears so much these days because God is just so faithful to us. My heart swells with thanksgiving and I am really overwhelmed by His loving care for us. He just never quits on us. Psalms 23 tells us that, “Surely His goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives.” It is so true.
Some years ago when things would go really good for me I would worry about them having to end at some point. It wasn’t until I started to see His goodness and mercy in everything that I stopped worrying. Even when we were stuck in South Sudan and every turn was a roadblock, I still knew that He is good and merciful and I don’t worry.
We are still laboring through the paperwork and red tape of our NGO application process, very slowly but surely. Its not that we need to do anything, it is that the offices we go to are constantly telling us to come back next week. There have been two major holidays so that means every office gets consumed with those holidays and nothing happens. And so we patiently wait and keep showing up at their doorsteps, patiently.
And that’s all the news of this week. Be blessed in your callings and doings in Jesus Name.