I have reservations everytime I get ready to push out on mission. I dont want to go. Im in a wierd place. Everytime, every mission. There is a fear inside me that that tells me to stay home and I question why I am doing this. I dont want to go. The travel is hard on me. The airplane. The time change. The heat. I fear most for my family. For those I leave behind… that I wont be there to protect them. All these fears consume me. I can not sleep. I lay curled in the fetal position trying to sleep.
Why do I go?
I go because someone has to go. I go because I am called.
Day 2. Johannesburg 0450 local time (gmt+2)
The airport was nice and clean,but hot and stuffy. We are staying the night here, the rest of the team arrived late last night and we fly out to Malawi at 9am.
I feel refreshed and not anxious. Thank you for all the prayers. There is another missionary here who arrived with us. I have worked with him many times before. He is a mountain of a man who bears my same name. He to is a builder for the Lord and a man who seeks after God. It is always great to work along side him.
My morning coffee and quiet time is valuable today, for once it is finished I will be tossed into the fray. A day filled with stress and chaos. Busy people struggling to get here and there, and forginers traveling to a land they do not fully understand. First the Airport then a long dusty drive to the Zomba where we will be staying. I havent been this far north in Africa before so I am not sure what to expect. But whatever is coming, the Lord has prepared me for and he prepared my way.
Day 3 Zomba, Malawi 1123 local time (gmt+2)
Sleep was light but restful. I was up by 0400, had coffee and bible study. I was in the book of James, big surprise right.
This morning I find myself in James again. I can’t seem to get out of this book. The Lord has much to teach me here it seems.
2. You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and can not obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you donot ask.
3. You ask and donot recieve because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
James draws a picture of our human nature. He shows how we sin in order to satisfy our fleshly desires. And when we can not satisfy our flesh our sin increases.
He then goes on to say that we do not have because we donot ask. Our true joy comes from the Lord and walking in His purpose for our lives. Joy, peace, happiness, meaning, hope and fulfillment all come from God thru our obedience.
The 3rd point here is that when we ask and do not receive it is because our motives are amiss, or not inline with Gods desires, but our own.
When we pray are our prayers God centered? Or self centered?
Are we asking God to rescue us from a calamity we created? Or are we asking God to help us from creating the calamity in the first place?
How do we pray?
When do we pray?
Why do we pray?
How do we pray for others?
Consider these questions carefully and search your own hearts.
I will leave you with this. It is one of the oldest prayers in the bible. It comes from Numbers 6:22-27. God teaches Moses & Aaron how to bless the people of Israel.
So if you pray for me, pray for me in this way:
24. “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25. The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you.
26. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
We had our briefing today. What to expect, culture do’s and don’ts and a history of the ministry we are serving.
How do you change a culture?
We learn that we will be working in the villages. They have very primitive lifestyle. A subsistence way of life with farming and water gathering consuming most of their day. They build with a clay brick and thached or tin roof. The floors are dirt or concrete and the windows mostly dont have glass but metal bars. They are simple one or two room homes with hand made furniture. There is no electricity so there are no appliances. They cook outside on an open fire. They wash clothes and line dry. They do not have the modern conveniences we do. But they are happy. There is joy in their hearts.
We will be building a community center for them. A gathering place for bible study and worship.
The work on the site is going well. The first 4 feet of the 4 walls went up quickly. Now that we are using scaffolding. things have slowed quite a bit. We have moved on to other projects. Painting school buildings. The setting of this village is beautiful.
The backdrop is a beautiful mountain and blue sky stretching as far as the eye can see. It is amazing. The light breeze and large shade tree make the heat bearable. I played with the kids and they asked about my tattoos. I shared the story of each one. Everywhere I go the kids seemed to be fascinated with my ink. My tats have become a doorway into their world. A bridge that joins our two worlds. They always want to see them, touch them, ask questions about them. It is a unique way the Lord uses my past to build a bridge into my future.
The people here are hard workers. The women carry water in buckets to the jobsite. It is close to 1000 yards they walk to bring water for the job. They also spend the day stacking bricks so we can build. Some of the women are old well into their golden years but they still work right along side us. Others have small babies slung across their backs as they go about the day hauling bricks and water.
Most are wearing only sandles or no shoes at all. The heat beats down on us all day and by noon we are spent, but the locals keep working. They have become accustomed to the harsh environment and hard work. We Americans, we are soft. Our lilly white skin melts and cries under the suns rays. It turns our pale skin a bright red and we continually cover ourselves with sunblock to prevent the burn. Our bodies crumble under the stress of the hard labor coupled with the heat.
We Americans, we are soft.
We leave the site with the building 80% complete. The workers we have hiried will finish the project in the next couple of weeks. The team feels it is important to use local workers in the village for 3 reasons. It helps instill a sense of pride in the building because they helped create it. It also gives a boost to the economy by paying them to help us with construction. And lastly it sends a message to the greater community that Americans come to partner with them and not just give them things. All 3 are valuable in their own way.
I conclude this trip with several lessons on how I want to structure Operation Restore Hope and build my teams in the future. It has been a hard 2 weeks of refining my vision. New partnerships were made and old ones strengthened. I walk away from Malawi today, but the people shall forever remain in my heart.