Saturday, June 29, 2013

what I've learned // week 4

what I've learned this week . . . 

1. it's pretty much impossible to watch a two year old, clean, and listen to worship music.

2. instead of telling people in Chadian Arabic that I have three sisters, I've been telling them I have three daughters. whoops.

3. that you know you're in Chad when the first question at the airport you get asked is, "Are you married?" and when my reply is no, the second question is, "Well would you like to be married?"

4. do not push two little girls on the extremely crooked swings at the same time, once they get high enough they will crash into each other.

5. listening to Arabic and listening to mumford & sons at the same time just doesn't work.

6. God stays the same and His grace never runs out, ever, even when I mess up.

7. Chadian "nutella" on bread is actually not bad.

8. if you try to speak with someone with a German accent it will rubb off on you if you're not careful.

9. moping floors here is pointless. someone is bound to walk through the water (with sandy, dusty feet) and it will turn to mud.

10. special treats like pancakes, movies, "nutella", juice, and phone calls on weekends are just the best.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

rain, rain!

the sky rumbles and the heavens break loose
water gushes in mighty torrents
dashing from the clouds into thousands of raindrops
rain hits the ground, penetrating the dust 
soaking the dry, cracked soil 
the air smells sweet and all life is revived

There really is nothing that feels, smells, or even tastes quite as good as a Chadian rainstorm (except, maybe, a rainstorm in the Sahara desert). We run outside to take the clothes down off the clothesline, we rush to shut the windows, and perhaps the lights will flicker and go off, but it's all worth it. Thank you Lord, for blessings like this!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I wonder if I've had it wrong

I've read the story that I published in my last post several times in the past week. The last time I read it, I approached it differently, in a new light.

I wonder if I've been getting it wrong the whole time. I wonder if our perspective is mislead and wrong. We pray for missionaries, we pray for martyrs. We can't imagine what they go through, especially the martyrs. Think of Paul, think of the apostles, think of Christians all over the world who are being killed, burned and tortured for their faith. "Poor people," I think to myself, "Giving up everything to follow Jesus. Giving their children up and their lives and their comfort and being in pain to follow Jesus." They're being tortured everyday just for believing.

But what about the people ones who are torturing? What do the communists, what do the guerrillas, what do the secret police, what do the terrorists suffer? Ugh. I can't even imagine. As they beat people, as they throw them in prison, as they burn houses along with families down, as they plan to set off bombs and destroy lives. I wonder if guilt penetrates their hearts, driving into the deepest parts of their souls. Or maybe they've become so familiar with pain, with grief, with loss that they're numb to it. Maybe they think they're too far gone, too evil, too lost to ever turn around or do anything different. I bet they're filled with desolation.

And I wonder. Because yes, I see that our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering to share Jesus, and yes, I should pray for they would be courageous, that they would be fervent in the Lord. Yet they have joy that comes from Jesus. Oh, such joy! Sometimes I wonder if they have more joy than I do. They have hope. They have peace. They have Jesus.

What about the rest? My heart aches for them. What terror, what uncertainty, what emptiness they must feel! How horrible I am to before have felt hate and anger towards ones who persecute my brothers and sisters.

God loves them. He loves them as much as he loves me. I am not any better than them. I am, oh so blessed to know Jesus, to have this hope. Now it is my turn to share it with everyone -- everyone.

"And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness anymore than our own goodness that the world's healing hinges, but His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself." Corrie Ten Boom 

ps// sorry I haven't updated you all much the past several days. everything is going well! just busy learning and learning some more. 

pps// the picture of the little girls is from when we had a few ladies over, that we met in the market. we've been visiting and getting to know them the past few weeks. more on that later! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

more love to you

a story I read today from a daily devotional by voice of the martyrs...

The young, brown eyed girl looked up at her mother. What would her mom decide? Earlier that morning, the young girl's mother, their pastor, and twenty-six others in her North Korean village of GokSan were bound and taken before a screaming crowd of Communists.

One of the guards ordered Pastor Kim and the other Christians, "Deny Christ, or you will die." The words chilled her. How could they ask her to deny Jesus? She knew in her heart he was real. She knew what he had done for her. They all quietly refused.

Then the Communist guard shouted directly at the adult Christians, "Deny Christ, or we will hang your children." The young girl looked up at her mother. She gripped her hand knowing how much her mother loved her. Her mother then leaned down. With confidence and peace her mother whispered, "Today, my love, I will see you in heaven."

All of the children were hanged.

The remaining believers were then brought out onto the pavement and forced to lie down in front of a large steamroller. The Communists gave them one last chance. "Deny Christy, or you will be crushed." The Christians had already given their children; there was no turning back.

As the driver started the heavy piece of equipment, the singing from the villagers started softly. "More love, oh Christ, to you, more love to you."

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16

He has given us so much. Isn't the least I can do is love Him?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

the veggie guy

Everyday Ahmed, or more commonly known as "the veggie guy" bikes into the compound with veggies and fruits packed on the back of his bike. I've been in charge of ordering the food for me and the Brotens, at first I barely knew any of the names of the fruits (he didn't understand much of my Sudanese Arabic!) but today we actually got to have a decent conversation. I'm sure I made a complete botch of half of what I said, but I told him about my sisters and brothers and he told me about his kids and grandkids.

I've learned so much and still have so much to learn. About the language, the people, the money, the culture, myself, the weather (oh wait, I've already had plenty of learning about that: it's hot) and Jesus.

Most of you probably don't have a Chadian guy who bikes to your front yard everyday with fresh produce, but if you did, what would you buy? The mangos are my favorite.

Monday, June 17, 2013

so what's it like?

"What is it like being in Africa? how is it over there?" they ask.

And I really don't know what to say. What am I supposed to say? First off, I don't know exactly what they want to know about Africa. So I normally laugh it off and say, "Well, it's hot." Then I don't say much else. The funny thing is with my friends back in the States we never really talk about life overseas. So, in order to clear some things up, let me try to explain a little more of it.

Right now I don't have a complete idea of how life is, since we're still at the compound (and we've been here for less than three weeks). But I'm getting used to life here, I think. I'm getting used to taking things slower and not rush rushing like we do back in the States. I'm getting used to sleeping a lot more. I'm getting used to emailing my parents and friends all the time so we can keep up. I'm getting used to messing up when talking in Arabic. I'm getting used to feeling sweaty all the time, I'm getting used to the stares when I walk down the street (nobody stared at me back in the States and now everybody does, just because you're white!). I'm learning to live in the now, learning to enjoy this life where everything runs differently than it does back home.

I'm so thankful for friends and family back home who are praying for me. I know I've said this multiple times, but I am blessed. I'm blessed to have such a good family like the Brotens to stay with. Blessed to have food on the table. Blessed to have this experience. But oh am I thankful for Jesus! I realize more and more how selfish and disgusting I am, especially with these past few weeks being hard, I'm really noticing it. I need Jesus every moment. I need His compassion for the Chadian people, I need His compassion for people here on the compound, without it I'm nothing. Some people think I'm all great and good for going to Africa but I really am not. It's all Jesus. And for Him am I so thankful.

Friday, June 14, 2013

two weeks

Tomorrow we'll have been in Chad for fourteen days. Two weeks. Half of me feels like we've been here forever and the other half still feels like this is a dream. 

I've learned so much in the past two weeks. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I'm soso glad I listened to God and didn't plan things my own way, which would've been to go for one month at the most. If I would've done that, my time here would already be halfway through! I still have so much to learn and am not ready to go back home. 

That doesn't mean that my time here hasn't been hard. The first week was pretty easy, everything being new and exciting. Life here in general is simpler, so things like making dinner or taking a shower or washing dishes take much longer than they do in the States. Learning Arabic is a challenge. Just by stepping out of the compound, everything is extremely different. People will stare at you and everyone is speaking a language you can barely understand, if you understand any at all. There's a different currency for money and it's all foreign to me. I miss my family, last night is the first night I actually cried. Nothing is familiar. I guess that's what makes it hard. 

Don't get me wrong - life here isn't terrible. There's good and bad, and more good than bad, but sometimes it can seem the opposite. I need to get it into my head that life here in Africa is going to be hard, it's going to be a struggle. I'm going to mess up the language, I'm going to be hot and sweaty 24/7, I'm going to miss home, I'm going to get sick. But while those things might be hard, what I learn from this is going to be so worth it. 

There's so many opportunities to show Jesus here. I get to serve others, I get to talk to Africans, I get to make African food, I get to eat African food. I get to chase the Broten kids around in African dust and I get to smell African air. I have a family and friends back at home who are praying for me. I am blessed. 

Even if it's hard, even if I want to give up, I won't quit and I know I wouldn't trade these next few months for anything.

"'For My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am made weak, then, through Him, I am strong." 1st Corinthians 12:9-10 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

iPod pix from the past 2 weeks

the Broten kids at the airport in Washington, DC. We had to wait awhile (like you have to at any airport) but God was really gracious and all of our baggage got through. they didn't even weigh our bags (which were over the weight limit) even though they were weighing the bags before us. 

at the airport in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is much greener and is really a beautiful country, at least from what I saw of it. I got to sit next to a really sweet woman on the flight there. Turns out she was a Christian, and we got to talk some during the flight. We even prayed together before she landed.  God is so cool! 

one of the roads here in N'djemina, on the way to the market. I know the quality of these aren't very good, but like I said before, I don't want to carry my camera around and draw extra attention. I've been trying to pull out my ipod and take pictures really fast before anyone notices. 

there's always lots of trash piled up on the sides of the road and it smells. everything is so different here. 

chickens at the market. 

hope that gave you a little of what the world outside the compound looks like. please be praying that God would allow us to find vehicles to buy so we can go ahead and leave the capital. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

I'm thankful for...

  • the playground inside the compound, which gives all the kids hours of fun.
  • music. and the fact that the Brotens listen to about any kind of music there is. 
  • facebook. gotta love seeing what all my peoples back in the States are up to. 
  • tailless gecko lizards in the sink. 
  • being able to learn the names of veggies and fruits. 
  • waking up at six twenty five and having Jesus time. 
  • reading letters from my scrapbook from friends. 
  • playing volleyball with the other missionaries on Sundays here on the compound. 
  • taking walks to the ducan (like tiny little shops) to buy bread. 
  • reading at night with the Brotens. 
I have so much to be thankful for, even if life here is hard. I'm learning to accept that, now that I've pretty much lost the adrenaline I had the first week. Life is so different here. It's hard. I've just got to keep pushing, ask Jesus for help, and be grateful. After all, I'm here for a while. 

Hey, I'm in Africa! how many people get to experience this? Even if it's hard, the hard stuff in life is what's gonna be worth it. And I have lots to be thankful for. 

ps: pictures aren't showing up here on my computer, I'm guessing it's the internet. I tried to add pictures to this post but if they don't show up just let me know.