Life lessons 101

I have been learning so many things since arriving in Lusaka, Zambia. I don’t think I’m anywhere near feeling like an expert, or like I know it all. AT ALL. I don’t even feel like I’ve scratched the surface yet. Just when I think I’ve figured something out, it changes. Isn’t that always the way!

Some things I have learned so far:

  • Never rush yourself. Don’t think that if you get to the office at 9, that you’re going to start your work at 9. I’ve learned how important it is to slow down, and be intentional with the people that I work with. It’s just been the past couple of weeks that I’ve realized how important it is to do that. When I would drive up to the gate, the security guard would open it and I would wave as I drove past. One day I thought to myself – I need to stop and actually say hello. Something as simple as that has started such a nice little relationship where we are now able to talk every day. I have now become the person that takes half hour washroom breaks because I am greeting everyone along the way, ha!
  • Welcome interruptions. I have been praying that the Lord would help me develop better relationships with the girls in the Bible study, and just the kids in general. So, all week as I have been working, there would be little knocks at the door. Kids checking in and asking me about work, kids asking me to take pictures of them to send to their sponsors, kids wanting to just sit and talk…and I’m like: Ok, are you ready to leave? And in those moments this week, God reminded me that this is what I have prayed for.
  • Now, just now, now now. Did you know that there are three variations of the word now?
    • I’m coming now. Translation: I have not left yet.
    • I’m coming just now. Translation: I have just left.
    • I’m coming now now. Translation: I will be there in a minute – I am super close.
  • Never forget to wear deodorant. Man alive, summer in Zambia is no joke.
  • Driving. If you EVER want to make a turn, or get into a lane, you basically have to PUSH your way in. And when you do, everyone just smiles and waves at you.
  • Always have more than enough fuel in your vehicle. Sometimes, the fuel stations run out of diesel and as you drive in the employees laugh at you and wave you off. Today I meant to fill up the truck right when I left Chongwe. There are two stations right near the village, and then nothing for about 30km’s until you are entering Lusaka. Those two stations had such big line ups so I just kept driving. About 5 minutes in my gas light turned on, but I figured I was ok because you can drive with that light on for a while, right? Anyways, I got closer to Lusaka and was convinced that I was going to run out of fuel. I finally got to the station and they had run out. I even pleaded with the workers like a fool asking if they had any stored away that I could buy – crazy muzungu! Thankfully I made it to the next station, and they even had fuel. I have learned my lesson and will not leave it to the last drop again…I hope.

And last but not least, don’t ask too many questions. Sometimes it’s better to be oblivious, and go with the flow then trying to figure things out.

Noisy Malawi nights

I woke up because there were a million dogs barking outside. There’s always that one that starts, and then before you know it every dog in the area is howling. I was trying so hard to fall back asleep, and was thinking about how I was ready to kill those dogs if I could. But then I also remembered that I had 4 cups of coffee today and that was probably the main reason why I was still wide awake. So I take back my comment about wanting to kill the dogs.

I’m in Malawi, and have been here for a couple of days now. I’ve been here with my directors, working alongside the VOH Malawi directors. The days have been long and busy, hence the 4 cups of coffee. It’s turning into a nasty cycle because I can’t sleep at night, and then I need coffee (I hate saying that I need coffee but it’s what it is this week) to function, but then I drink too much and the cycle continues. There has been so much on my mind this week in terms of work – there are tons of great things happening with Villages of Hope, and the days have been busy, but they have been so great! Working for the VOH has brought be so much joy. I’m convinced that my director’s think I’m a little bit nuts because I get excited over the littlest of things. Things such as being organized. The thought of being organized and having charts makes me so excited. I even said to my director today “wow, I love how you organized your folders” when I saw the way her computer was set up. Hello, am I going crazy?

Lately, I have been thinking about how God calls and equips His people. I’ve been thinking about how He has created us all with our little quirks and niches that make us unique. Never in a million years would I have ever imagined myself doing work that involves audits, finances, initiatives, and using Excel everyday – that’s just so not me. However, God has been stretching me this year. He has been stretching me to think outside that “teacher” box where often I would think that that was all I was capable of doing: teaching little kids, doing arts and crafts, and reading stories. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with that, and I think teaching is a noble profession, but in the back of my mind I always thought that teaching little kids was all that I could do – that I had kind of reached my limit. Since graduating from teachers college I never felt totally content teaching. I loved education and working with kids, but the thought of standing up in front of a class of 20 kids and teaching them geometry didn’t sit well with me. I wanted to be involved with an organization that had many facets to it – I wanted to be a teacher, but not in the typical ‘working in an elementary school’ sense. There was always this part of me that hoped that God was preparing me for something a little more, and now that I am here with VOH I know that this has been what He’s been preparing me for. I was thinking about how even though this position looks and sounds different then teaching at a school, there have been many things that are closely linked, or many things that I’ve learned while being a teacher that have helped me with this position: the type of people I have had the pleasure (err…frustration) to work with over the years, the way I have learned to organize and manage my time, the different types of schools and centers that I’ve worked for (from inner city centers to private schools) and the list can keep going. All this to say that since landing in Africa I am reminded almost daily that God has called and equipped me to fill this position, and it was in the works long ago – long before Villages of Hope was a thought in my mind. I mess up a lot, and He helps me a lot, and I’m learning a ton. I’ve been so stretched these past 3 months – honestly more that I have been in a very long time – and I’m loving it and so thankful that He has brought me here at this time.

Be ready for God to use you wherever He has called you to. To you, it may look mundane and maybe even a little boring – but you have been placed there for a purpose. Don’t be discouraged because you can only see this moment, be encouraged that God knows how this current moment works together with the big picture. Make the most of it, commit to it, work hard, keep your eyes on Him and He will never disappoint.

That’s so…interesting!

That’s so…interesting!

This has become my response for almost everything lately. I just realized the other day that I say this phrase all the time now. I usually say it when I just don’t know what to say about the situation – does that give you a glimpse of what my time here has been like?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I really do enjoy my time here in Lusaka, and Zambia as a whole. Zambians are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Always smiling and asking how you’re doing. I love where I live, the friends that I work with, the kids that I get to see and I love working as the VOH administrator. I’m learning new things everyday – really. I think it’s the first time in a while where I am really being stretched, work wise and just everyday life wise!

About a week ago I spent 4 days in Mongu, the western province of Zambia. The day we arrived we went to fill up the truck with fuel right away, because outside of Mongu the closest gas station is 110km away. We went to all 4 gas stations that Mongu has and everywhere was out of diesel. That’s so interesting! Then, we thought we would go grab some groceries at the one grocery store to kill time while the VOH director was figuring out the fuel situation for us. We got to the grocery store and there was a crowd of people outside because the power was out – and they had no diesel to fuel their generator, go figure! This isn’t too shocking to see, and we just laughed as we drove past. Eventually things worked out like they almost always do in the craziest of ways, and we got our fuel and groceries. Nancy and I talked a lot about how you just need to laugh or else you’ll make yourself crazy…so we laughed a lot during those 4 days.

Back in Lusaka. I was innocently hanging my laundry to dry when a cat ran past me. Now, I have been told by my little neighbour friends that the orange cat that roams around is very mean – and this was the first time I saw it. On the outside of my house, there is a square hole that opens to under the bathtub, where pipes from outside run through. The cat ran past me and went into that hole. Are you kidding me? But, in that moment it all made sense. For weeks now when I was in my bathroom I would randomly hear a squeal or cry. For the life of me I couldn’t figure it out – but it all made sense now. That stinkin’ cat had been living in that hole under my bathtub. Gross. The security guard came and got the cat out, and as it ran away my little neighbour friends came running to tell me that they always see the cat run in that hole! The next day they patched up the hole – looking good 😉

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I was at a printing place today making some booklets for a VOH meeting we’ll be having with all of the villages soon. I waited my turn, worked with the guy to print my stuff, and had a group of men complaining that I was taking too long – haha sorry sirs! While I was putting the booklets together, I met a lady from church and we were just talking about life. We were laughing about how every day is like a sensory overload – so many people and things going on. It’s not like you can every really put your finger on it. It’s not like there’s something wrong or bad, it’s just a typical Zambian day she said. I couldn’t agree more!

All in all, being here in Zambia has kept me on my toes. Every day is a new adventure. Adventures that mostly make me laugh, usually make me pray for patience and sometimes, just sometimes make me want to cry.

Bible study has begun!

On Tuesday we started our first official Bible study.

I’m learning more and more to ‘just go with the flow’ since being here in Zambia. I can be a little too much at times. Like if Bible study starts at 12, we’re starting at 12…and if you were put in the Tuesday group, you’re not switching to Wednesday. BUT, I drove into the village on Tuesday just praying that God would help me to chill, and just go with the flow of what would happen.

We didn’t have enough chairs, and I had girls running up to me all morning saying “Auntie, can I come today instead of tomorrow? Auntie, I now want to join”, and guys, I was feeling so chilled and relaxed and just kept saying “Ok, no problem”…I’m telling you, when my year is over I’m going to be so relaxed you won’t even recognize me ;). Anyways, we figured out the chair situation and the girls were even early! We’re going to be studying the book of Esther for the next couple of weeks. We learned about Esther chapter 1 and 2, and my focus for the girls was that we may not always know what God is up to, but He has a great purpose for our lives (just like Esther). We talked about how the King’s first Queen was sent away because she refused to come out and let the men admire her beauty. Some of the girls agreed with her and said they wouldn’t go out because they’d be embarrassed, the other girls said they would gladly go out to show their beauty. They giggled when we read that young Esther was chosen to be married to an older man. Some expressed how there is no way they would ever want to be a Queen, and some said they would want to be Queen so they can wear fancy clothes and makeup. I love how diverse the thinking is in this group already.

What I found fascinating was how the girls pointed out that Esther was an orphan. I read the story of Esther many times before and never really thought of that as a point to remember. Then, as I was preparing for the study It stuck out to me a bit more, and I wondered if I should even mention that she was an orphan – would that be offensive? I didn’t know, so I just left it. When we started I asked the girls “tell me what you know about Esther – it can be anything” and the very first thing one of the girls said was “Esther was an orphan”.

I thought that it was so cool that she pointed that out. I was sitting in a room filled with girls that were either double or single orphans, raised by family members such as their uncles or grandmothers…just like Esther. I could see that they were able to connect with Esther. We focused on how Esther was young like them, she was an orphan, she didn’t have any money or costly material possessions – yet, God chose her to be the Queen in a great kingdom. I asked them questions like “Why do you think you were born in Zambia and I was born in Canada? Why do you think that she is good at math and you are good at playing soccer? Are God’s plans more exciting for one person then the other?”

“No auntie, everything that happens to us is God’s will”.

She said it with such confidence. I love that they know that whatever their life may bring is all part of God’s will for them. Something that I think we all know to a certain extent, but can struggle with really believing at different points in our lives.

On Wednesday, four of the girls from the Tuesday group asked to come again. I tried explaining to them that the lesson would be the exact same, but one of the girls tried to assure me by saying “I didn’t understand what you said yesterday, so I think we should come again today” Ha, ya right! I should add that during the Wednesday lesson I had to ask her a couple times to let the other girls answer the questions, not just her 😉

When you remember, please pray for these girls – and please pray for me, that I would lead them well. I’m excited to learn, laugh, and build relationships with them throughout this year.

Here are some pictures of the Tuesday group – we forgot to take pictures on Wednesday, oops!

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Grace, Grace, God’s Grace.

Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sins.

I have sung this song, and read all about God’s grace. However, it wasn’t until about 6 months ago that I actually started to really understand God’s grace. That’s weird though, right? For someone who has been a Christian for years, grown up in church – did the whole youth group, Bible study, church every Sunday thing, sang songs about God’s grace, read stories about God’s grace, I should have had a better understanding of it, but I really had no clue. He was ready to humble me.

At His perfect timing, about 6 months ago, God stopped me in my tracks and revealed to me that I didn’t understand what His grace was. Yes, I knew that grace was getting something that I didn’t deserve, but I never really thought I was ‘that bad’ that I really needed His grace as much as the songs we would sing in church would portray. I wasn’t like this person or that person. I didn’t do what he did, or she did. Little did I realize that it didn’t matter what others saw, God saw straight into my heart and thoughts, and let me just tell you, I was no different than anyone I had labelled as ‘bad’.

God very quickly started to show me the state of my heart. Something that can sting so bad, but you know is needed if you want to grow in your walk with the Lord. In my heart, I would look at people and quietly judge them.

Wow, he did that?

Did you hear what she said?

Can you believe they did that?

I would hear about people turning their lives around for God. Walking away from their old ways, and turning to Him – and as much as I wanted to be happy for them, again in my heart, I was often skeptical of this change they had gone through.

Well, God had enough of that – and I’m so glad He did.

I started to learn very quickly, through devotionals, sermons and friendships that God sees us as we are – the filth, our mistakes, our thought life, our actions, our motives. For some people it’s obvious and outwards, for others it’s something that we can hide so well, that only we can see. He sees all of those things – He knew we would betray Him, betray others, make ourselves the focus and yet He chose to die for us. Why? We don’t even deserve it. Six months ago He showed me that He transforms lives. He forgives the worst of sinners and gives them a second chance, third chance – and doesn’t stop. I started to realize that not only did I want to receive God’s grace, but I wanted to (and needed to) extend that same grace to others.

When I first got to Africa, I started off in Tanzania at a VOH leadership conference. The pastor read us two passages. And you know when you’ve read a passage so many times, but then you read it again and God speaks to you so clearly – more than before? That’s what happened.

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves or greedy people or drunkards, the abusive, or cheat people – none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.

And then the best part…

Some of you (hello! all of us..) were once like that, BUT you were cleansed, made holy, made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something NEW, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19

MAN, those verses hit me! Is grace really that simple? God convicts our hearts, we see how sinful we are, we repent and ask God to forgive and cleanse us, He does that and then makes all things new.

It doesn’t matter that I can see that person’s particular sin, and no one can really see mine. We’re all the same. Sinners. Sinners that live lives that should cause God to turn His back on us, but instead He runs to us and forgives us over and over again with a love and compassion that we will never truly understand. I love that we, the worst of sinners, can call on His name and He will make us right with Him. I love that He turns our messes into victories, and I love that He makes all things NEW.

A time to reflect.

During my undergrad of university, I struggled with anxiety. I struggled with it so bad at times, and for years nobody knew – or at least I don’t think they did. The simplest of tasks seemed so overwhelming at times. Things like going to class – some days I would love it, other days my stomach would be in knots. Same with going to campus Bible study, church, hanging out with friends…anything. I was so afraid to tell anyone because at that point it felt like I was the only one I knew who didn’t have it altogether, and everyone else seemed to be doing very well. I felt weird, and so different and would daily wonder what was wrong with me.

I remember reading about a missionary, Amy Carmichael, in my last year of university. She was a missionary in India and I wanted to be her. To hear the call of God, be obedient and go and serve in India (or wherever He wanted me to go). I remember thinking that she was so courageous. I wanted to be like her, I wanted to do great things for God and see Him work in amazing ways, but how? I could hardly make it to class some days without wanting to throw up. The thought of getting on a plane and moving across the world seemed completely impossible.

Then there was this one day. For the most part it wasn’t very different than what I would normally find myself doing during my quiet time. Praying that God would help me with my anxiety, and memorizing Philippians 4:6-7. But I remember pleading with God that day. Pleading with Him to take away this anxiety that was hindering me, and if He did I told Him that I would do anything He wanted. I would go overseas, I would serve Him, but I couldn’t do it with the way I was. There was no way.

It’s cool to stop and reflect on your life and see God’s guidance along the way.

This week at VOH Chongwe there have been a group of visitors. I ended up driving two of them back to their hotel and while we were driving home, the lady asked me: “So Melissa, what was sparked in your heart for you to make the decision to move to Zambia alone for a year?” Immediately I thought about how I read about the life of Amy Carmichael, and about that time I had pleaded with God in my bedroom. It was weird that I thought about that right away – I hadn’t thought about that time in my life for so long. And it really wasn’t that long ago, but in the car tonight it felt like forever ago. I shared with her briefly about those two things. Then she asked me if Zambia was the first place I had traveled to. I started telling her about Thailand, India, and that this was my third time in Zambia, and all I could say to her was that I am here only because of God. The state and condition I was in made it difficult some days to leave the house, but meanwhile in the 7 years since that day I pleaded with Him, He had led me to some of the most amazing places where I saw Him do some crazy stuff.

I was reminded that He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds while seeing people mutilate their bodies in Thailand.

I was reminded that He is the light in the darkest brothel lane ways in India.

And I’ve been reminded here in Zambia that in His presence there is fullness of joy. Joy that has the power to liberate the impoverished, where they cry out to Him to meet their needs daily.

I know that God does amazing things in Canada, and it’s not like you MUST go overseas to see Him work. He works everywhere. But I knew, those 7 years ago, that He was calling me to get up and go and follow Him while my comfort zones were destroyed in the process.

And you know what, He never did take my anxiety fully away. I am not the person I was 7 years ago, not at all. But it wasn’t like God took my anxiety away like it was a quick fix. When I look back, I’m actually thankful (now) for what I went through. By spending time with Him, seeking Him, He taught me that it is only His peace that is so perfect that it surpasses all understanding. He taught me to look at things in a different perspective, and He taught me that during those difficult, anxious times (times that I still face on occasion) He is the only one I can go to that understands fully, and will be my very present help.

Psalm 46

Tissues stuffed up my nose and tears rolling down my face. That was my Friday night.

The past couple of days have been tough. It’s not like something really bad happened…but many small things. And those things all happened one after another. Sometimes, that feels worse than one big thing.

I hate complaining – I really do. I hate that feeling that you get when you complain. When you feel all bummed and negative. I try to look at the positive and focus on that, but man oh man, some days that is very hard to do. Yesterday, I had just had it. The past couple of days had too many things going on and they were just adding up. Clogged sinks, being woken up because my mosquito net unattached and fell on me, plans that fell through after hours of waiting, visits to immigration offices, last minute road closures leaving me to park on a random street and walk home with bags of groceries, my bedroom curtains unattaching and falling on the floor (3 stinkin’ times!), coming home to realize that I had my friends keys in my bag after dropping him off at the bus stop, having to meet him later to give him his keys, power outages, and dirt and dust all over the house after cleaning it because of these crazy wind storms lately.

So all of those things happened, and again – on their own they’re really not that big a deal, but together – let’s face it, they suck. I even tried to stay positive. At one point I wrote out a list of all of the good things that had happened lately, and there had been many things. I was feeling good! I was trying really hard not to let these things get to me – Ha! Then out of nowhere my nose started to bleed. I don’t mean bleed, I mean gush. I have never had a nose bleed before, and I know that they’re not a big deal, but my bathroom looked like a murder scene. There was blood everywhere because it was pouring out so fast – what on earth! I had it. I just started crying and crying and shoved tissues up my nose to try to get it to stop. The power was out, it was 10:30 at night, and I sat on my bed with a lantern and my Bible. With tissues up my nose and tears rolling down my face I opened up to Psalm 46.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.

God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved.

God will help her when morning dawns.

Be still and know that I am God.

All of Psalm 46 is amazing, but these 4 verses stood out. They pierced my heart, and as I meditated on them and re-read them over and over, God began to fill me with His peace. More and more of it. Reminding me that He is not only present in times of trouble but VERY present. He sees it all. The curtains falling, the sink clogging. He is in my midst and nothing will take me down. Not even messed up plans and driving all over town trying to make it in time before the immigration office closes on the day your visa expires. He will help me. His mercies are new every morning. And thankfully, all I have to do is be still. Still. And know that He is God. Things are going to happen the way He determines – what is freaking out going to do?

My nose eventually stopped bleeding, and I fell asleep being reminded that God is good, and everything is going to be totally ok.

Guess what? My curtains just fell again.

A lot can happen in a week…

Since my last post, a lot has changed. Thanks for those of you who emailed me, laughing at my standard driving experience! It sounded like I provided some entertainment for most of you, and it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone – that everything that happened to me was pretty normal for a first time standard driver.

Well, if you had told me a week ago that in a weeks time I would be driving to the village, and driving throughout Lusaka running errands I would never have believed you. But guys, it’s happening! The staff at the Village of Hope have been so accommodating. Someone usually meets me at my house in the morning, and sits in the passenger seat while I drive to the village. At first, that person was coming to my house and driving the truck for me. They would usually stop closer to the village and I would drive the rest of the way. One night, heading back to Lusaka, my friend told me to drive the first little bit home and then he would take over. So halfway home I said to him “ok, it’s your turn” and he just kept saying “no no, you keep going”. I ended up driving all the way home! That’s a 45 minute drive, and 3 round abouts, and my friend continually saying “you must lose that fear!”.

I got home and felt so LIBERATED! As if I just drove all the way home! That’s all it took…from that point on he always makes me drive. I guess when you are forced to do something, that’s when you learn best – well, in my case anyway. Now I have been able to drive to get groceries all alone, and will be driving to check out a new church on Sunday.

This morning as I drove to the village I was filled with so much thanks to our God. I’m not able to drive that truck because I’M really good at it (sometimes the truck jerks like you wouldn’t believe when I shift gears), but only because God has equipped me. I was reminded again this morning that because He has called me to this place, this position, this life, He will (and has) equip me with everything I need. The skills I need to do the job well, and the confidence I need to drive that car free of fear (still working on that a bit). All I can do is thank God for all that He has done, and how He has helped me so much. And all I can do is continue to lean on him every single day – because without Him I am nothing.

I’m not telling you this story for you to pat me on the back for learning how to drive that truck. I’m sharing this story with you to remind you all of how GREAT our God is. I love that He is acquainted with our every little thought, fear and worry we have. And I love that we can go to Him for what might seem like the silliest of requests, and He promises to listen. Honestly, at first when I asked God to help me drive that truck, I felt kind of dumb asking Him. Almost thinking that the request wasn’t that important. But leaning on Him day by day, asking Him to put His confidence in me, asking Him to equip me and asking Him to strengthen me has reminded me that He is big and I am small.

Be reminded of that today, ok? Whatever you are facing that is hindering you – give it to God. Ask Him to help you. Ask Him to fill you with His peace. Ask Him to strengthen you when you are feeling weak. He’s right there, and He’s listening.

Settling in

The girls have gone back to Canada, and I am now living in my apartment in the city. When I dropped Erin and Emily off at the airport yesterday, I kept thinking – Ok, this is it now, time to get settled for real. It’s one thing to feel like you’re getting settled when your friends are around. But once they go, that’s the real deal. It gets a lot quieter. I’m so thankful that God worked it out that they would be here once I arrived – It did make the transition much smoother, and made my first couple of weeks back to Zambia so memorable!

After dropping the girls off at the airport, Nelson (my friend, and the VOH driver) dropped me off at home and started walking to the bus. “Wait! Aren’t you taking the truck back?” Nope – he told me that it was all mine now. He had taken me out to practice on the dirt roads in Chongwe twice. Did I mention that it’s standard? I’ll get back to that later.

Today I woke up and was excited that it was a new day. My plan was to get out and walk around my area to see what was around. I love exploring. It’s my favourite thing to do in a new place. Just walk and see what you find. First of all, this community is beautiful. Lusaka is a busy city, but I live off one of the main round-abouts and it’s a lot quieter. People were so friendly, and I only got a couple “Muzungu!” (foreigner). I walked down the street, found a little grocery store and a place to buy minutes for my phone – and I thought that it was all so perfect, I’m close enough to all the essentials. I never have to drive!

But then I got the bright idea to walk back home, get in the truck and practice on my own. I figured I would do so much better on my own with no one telling me where to turn, or that I was releasing the clutch too fast – sheesh.

So I got in the truck and started to drive. It wasn’t even that bad! Especially since I purposely went on a road that had no cars or people. Then I got to the main street and had to turn. I stalled – oops. So I started the truck and then stalled again. Let me just paint a picture for you. A guy across the street stopped what he was doing and stood there staring. Then a construction truck came up behind me with a line up of vehicles behind him. I stalled again. Now there were cars honking, and that guy still staring at me. The guy in the truck came out of his vehicle and said to me, “what is the matter with your vehicle?” “I’m so sorry – I’m just getting used to driving here.” He was so sweet, said it was ok, and got back in his truck and waved as he drove past. I thought it would be nice to let everyone behind me pass me while I just waited ;). And guess what, that guy was still standing there staring – I’m so glad I provided some entertainment for him this afternoon, ugh!

Once there was not a vehicle in sight, I made the turn and went straight home. I got in the house and was shaking like crazy, and started to laugh. You have to, right? If not, I would have just cried. That was enough practice for one day, and tomorrow is a new day (where someone is picking me up to take me to the village – thankfully!)

I’m learning (slowly) that this year is going to be filled with many new things – that are going to stretch me beyond my comfort zone. One thing in particular is letting go of wanting to be so independent. I love the idea of getting in my car, doing my thing and never having to rely on anyone for help. I love to go go go and feel guilty when I take time to rest. This will be a year filled with many new lessons to learn. For instance, there’s nothing like stalling on a busy street, with people watching and honking at you, to makes you realize that it’s ok to take it slow at the beginning, get familiar with my surroundings and for goodness sake ask for help when I need it.

I should mention that Nelson has been a great driving teacher. He was so nice and took me to a place where not only did I have to watch out for cars and people, but cows too! “You must always be prepared” he tells me. And he’ll take me out practicing until I’m comfortable – definitely thankful for that 🙂

11 days

I woke up today the most exhausted I’ve been so far since being here. Big bags under my eyes and all. I have been on this continent for only 11 days – it feels like a month. In those 11 days I have travelled to Tanzania, Kenya and now Zambia. I have started into work full swing, furnished my apartment, and have been spending time at the VOH Chongwe re-connecting with my little friends. My head kind of feels like its spinning, but in a good way. It’s been amazing to travel and see different countries, meet the VOH staff from all of the villages and re-connect with people that I’ve known for the past 2 years. Returning to Zambia, Chongwe specifically, feels like I’m returning home. It’s a wonderful feeling to settle into a familiar place.

My sister Erin, and two friends Emily and Jen have been serving at the VOH Chongwe running a VBS. My apartment is in the city of Lusaka, but I’ve been staying with them at their guesthouse in Chongwe. There seems to be a new adventure every day, whether it’s killing a cockroach, or being startled by some animal (or rodent?) walking on the tin roof.

Like I mentioned previously, I’ve started work right away as the VOH administrator. I won’t bore you with too many details, but my role includes working with all 8 villages throughout Africa. I do audits, wire transfers, help organize conferences and the list goes on and on. For those of you who really know me, this is so out of my comfort zone! Going from teaching primary grades to auditing income reports is like going from one extreme to the other. Thank goodness for my calculator.

Already in these 11 days I have struggled with feeling inadequate and wondering why I was chosen to fill this position. Don’t they need someone to teach, or paint a mural or something? 😉 Besides being really organized, this role doesn’t come naturally to me. In our leadership meetings, Sergio talked about how being a missionary is the one job where most roles are filled by people who are technically unqualified to fill that position. Hello – that’s me! Already in these 11 days I’ve been pushed to rely on God like never before. Reminding myself that if He’s called me to this, He will equip me. Pushing myself to ask questions when things don’t make sense, and being ok with knowing that I will make mistakes. All in all, being reminded that pride has no place in serving our Lord. If I want to serve Him well, I need to be humbled, looking to Him to equip me, and reminding myself that my purpose is to serve Him – not myself. These 11 days have been amazing, and I’m so thankful to be here.

Now all I need is a nap.

“He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it” 1 Thessalonians 5:24