Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Bedbugs Are the Least of Our Worries

This post is much delayed (camp was at the beginning of December), but this is one story I've got to tell.
Josh and I were blessed with the opportunity to share a tent at camp (the other option was to be in gender-separate cabins). We actually enjoy tent camping, so we were really excited. We had a few surprises, however.
First of all, we were located right next to the tabernacle, which was the main hall we met in. This meant that anytime people were in there meeting, talking, or doing sound checks, we heard it. There was very little quiet time. Additionally, we were between the tabernacle and the boys side of camp, and it seemed like every boy felt the need to touch or run into our tent at one time or another. Eventually, we were able to set up a perimeter of security tape. Then, there was the delightful little sewer backup that stopped about 18 inches from our temporary home.
One night, as we were falling asleep, we heard voices speaking Afrikaans, and realized there were a couple of flashlights pointed at our tent. We thought it was rather rude, but the moved on so we didn’t think anything of it.
The next morning I slept in a bit, in order to get rid of a migraine. Mid-morning conversation:

Josh: Oh, by the way, So-and-so told me there was a snake by our tent last night.
Me: Really? Where?
Josh: Right up next to the tent on the tabernacle side [where our heads had been].
Me: Wow, what kind was it?
Josh: A puff adder.
Me: A puff adder?! You’re kidding! That’s crazy! Why didn’t they come wake us up?

In case you don’t know, a puff adder is not exactly a by-the-way kind of snake. The only snake living around here that scares me more is the Black Mamba. When I see those, I see why satan took the form of a snake. Yuck. Anyhow, the guys talking were walking around the grounds for security purposes. After they saw the snake, they finished their rounds and came back, only to see him slithering off. I praised God for His protection in a new way when I heard that- He is good. Nonetheless, I spent the rest of the week sleeping with one eye open.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lives that Fill a Book

We are a little isolated here in Rehoboth, somewhat intentionally. Internet is expensive (unless you are willing to succumb to insanity- which I sometimes do), and we don’t have a TV. So, aside from the occasional newspaper, we don’t have many sources for news of the world.

When you are away from everything you know, it is so easy to become distracted, to focus on “there” instead of concentrating on what needs to be done “here.” We know God brought us here for a reason, and that we need to be fully present wherever it is that He puts us, and in whatever task He sets before us. For me, at least, avoiding distractions is key.

So imagine my SHOCK when I read a friend’s blog post that mentioned the earthquake in Haiti. I did a little research, and one of the first things that came up on my search was that as many as 100,000 people are presumed dead- can you imagine such a number?

Lately, God has been really convicting me about the importance of people and relationships, about the power of one. As a task-oriented person by nature, I often need this little reminder. While I have been mulling over how we will explain our time and work in Africa to our supporters and loved ones when we return, He has shown me more of Himself, of His ways. I am very detail oriented, and I love to keep track of facts and numbers and statistics, and no doubt these will play a role in our presentations and conversations. But God has shown me that, to Him, it’s not about the numbers, but about the lasting impact. If 37 people make a “decision for Jesus,” but are then never discipled and taught how to have a relationship with Him, where is the eternal value? If 432 kids come to a camp, but no one takes the time to pour into the lives of individuals, how does that bring them closer to Jesus? However, if even one life is truly changed, heaven celebrates. God loves each person THAT much. To know His opinion on the power of one individual, we only have to look at the life of His Son. Because all of this, the faith that is true and the ability to have a relationship with the Creator of the universe? It started with a baby boy.

I say all this to emphasize one point- it is not a mass of 100,000 people that may have died in Haiti. It is 100,000 individuals, real people with kids and struggles and anxieties and dreams. Give or take (depending on font, spacing, etc.) there are between 2,622 and 3,818 characters in one typed page (according to Wiki Answers). Even if we went with the high end of that estimation, it would take more than 26 pages to type just one character per person estimated dead as a result of the earthquake in Haiti. But honestly, shouldn’t each person get at least one word? There are around 500 words per page (single-spaced), so it would take 200 pages to right just one word for each person- that’s a book! I tell you these facts because I need quantification, to have a representation in terms I can just begin to understand. The magnitude is staggering. Every one of those words represents an entire biography.

While living in Africa, I have witnessed oppressive poverty and suffering. One of my most fervent prayers has been that God would not allow my heart to grow calloused to the pain around me. It is so easy to adapt, to think of it as normal. God has blessed me with the ability to hurt for others here, to feel compassion, to have the motivation to act and to love. At times my heart just feels raw from emotion, almost painful…but that’s what it takes to really care…The reality is that we need to care for the poor in all times, not just when there is a crisis that makes the 6:00 news. How many times have I turned a blind eye to the suffering of others???

And then to see yet more pain- I couldn’t help but just cry, and cry out to God- Why? I will never understand tragedy like this; I will never understand how it glorifies Him. I imagine many people are asking the same question, and wondering how a loving God can allow this kind of suffering. I don’t know. But, I am reminded that His thoughts are higher than mine, from a verse that I have very much come to rely on this year:

“ “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher that your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ”- Isaiah 55:8-9

It is such a comfort to me to know that I don’t have to understand it, that I don’t have to be able to explain it all. To believe Him, to trust Him- it’s enough.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jesus and Hoarfrost

When we first arrived in Namibia, people complained about the weather. All. The. Time. Just like people at home, people seemed to connect through shared challenges- one of those “Misery loves company” things, I suppose. In Minnesota, we get the best of both worlds to “connect” about- 100°F heat and 100% humidity in the summer, and -70°F wind chill in the winter; commiseration is only a conversation away. Of course, here we use Celsius, so the numbers are never quite so impressive. Interesting fact: Fahrenheit and Celsius match up at -40°, which means people can imagine how cold it might be (but only imagine- it has never gotten anywhere near there in Namibia).

Anyway, after about 2 days of hearing and participating in the negativity, I decided something had to change. If you live in a foreign country, you aren’t allowed to be negative- you will drive yourself crazy with all the little cultural differences that irritate you.

That being said, I want to detail the heat here for all you snow-covered folks at home. (BTW, we aren’t having a white Christmas. Maybe there will be a sandstorm, and it can look sort of like a blizzard). Personally, I know I’d want to know, so here is the reality:

I L-O-V-E sunshine, and in comparison to living here, we have basically been deprived of it our entire lives. But, the sun here is much hotter, and your skin feels like it’s on fire at times, even when you aren’t sunburned. Instead of getting great tans, we hide from the sun as much as possible. It’s so bright that, even when you wear strong sunglasses, you still get a headache.

Everyone sweats all the time. Constantly, and from every orifice of your body (except the eyes-I don’t think my eyes sweat). It doesn’t matter what you are doing- you wake up in a pool, sweat while you sit, stand, eat, talk, write, listen, anything. You sweat immediately after your shower (probably during, too), which makes it hard to find the motivation to even take one sometimes. Yes, I have gone for 3 days here without a shower- disgusting, but sadly it makes little difference. It is a workout just to move. We have started doing the majority of our work in the morning and evening, since we are completely ineffectual during the blistering afternoons.

Recently we were playing sand volleyball (which goes without saying- every sport here is played in the sand), when Josh’s shoe started to fall apart. The sand was so hot, it literally melted the glue that was holding the sole of his shoe together. Food, candles, crayons, thin plastic, and soap melt- and not just when they are sitting in the sun. We don’t have a thermometer, which is fine because we’ve been told that some of the temperatures we will reach won’t register properly.

Because yes, it’s only going to get hotter.

During our winter/ U.S. summer, we heard rumor that we should get rain in November. Still waiting. I guess the fact that we got a little rain in September messed everything up, and now the rains won’t come until January. When they arrive, temperatures start to cool down a bit- to 90 or 100 degree F.

Last year, God blessed me with the forthought to bring two pictures with us to remember the snow and be able to show it to people. The hoarfrost is beautiful, and it makes me colder just thinking about it.

When I feel like I’m melting, Jesus and hoarfrost are the only things keeping me going.

It has now, officially, rained!!! PRAISE GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Our Boys

Here are some of our boys from Block E. These guys come every Friday afternoon, and many times in between, and we LOVE our time with them. They all come from rough backgrounds, but they are fun, affectionate, and curious. They challenge us each time we meet with them. We eat snacks together, play soccer, read stories, and talk about life (which can be difficult, because of the language barrier).

This is on of the toy cars they make (yes, they MAKE these themselves) from wires and tin cans.

They are adorable kids! Please pray for their futures.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Africa's Crowning Glory


Namlish= Namibian English. Because let's face it: English is pretty much different in every country it's spoken. A little primer for those of you new to this phenomenon:

Torch= flashlight
Flat= apartment
University= college
College=high school
Primary school= elementary school
Hostel= boarding school
Robot= stoplight
Tekkies= tennis shoes
Pawpaw= papaya
Stay-awake= lock-in
Post= mail
[cell phone] text= sms
Spaghetti= pasta with tomato sauce BUT
Tomato sauce= ketchup
Chips= fries
Crisps= chips
Sweets= candy
Cool drink= cool-aid or pop
Petrol= gasoline/ fuel
Braai= barbeque
Toilet= bathroom
Take-away= take-out restaurant
Rocket= lettuce
Jersey= sweatshirt
Trousers= pants
Pants= underwear
Brother/ sister= make actually be a sibling, or a cousin, or anyone of similar age that lives in the same home
Mobile phone= cell phone
Combi= a sort of shuttle bus
Howzit= how are you?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I am tired. No, like really, super exhausted. I know I have neglected Called to Love Africa, so I want to get back into it. I have all the common excuses: holiday season, camp, 110 degree weather…you know. I will try to keep my eyes open as I write this post, but I am afraid I will wake up with drool on my keyboard and 179 j’s across my computer screen.

This all started with a “brilliant” idea…

Internet is really expensive here, and it is something of a necessity for us. I use it for researching curricula for some Hope’s Promise stuff, AIM keeps in contact with us via email, and it’s our primary mode of communication with loved ones at home. So, you can see the dilemma: one dollar per megabyte on the one hand, and missionary budget on the other.

However, we recently heard that internet from our provider is free between the hours of 1am and 5am, which is great, because we can save a lot of money. The only problem is that this is in the middle of the night (and the connection is really s-l-o-w). But, since it’s so hot in the afternoons that productivity is only slightly higher than zero, we thought we could sleep for 4 hours in the afternoon to cancel that out. We just forgot that the only reason we can sleep at night is that the temperature drops when the sun goes down.

So…”brilliant” was really code for “insane.” No matter, I just figure I am training myself for future motherhood.