It has been six months today since we arrived in Nairobi full of plans, hopes, expectations and fears. Not much has changed six months later. We are still filled with plans, hopes, expectations and fears (although each has been refined by time). I thought it would be interesting to document the best and hardest times.
The best of times have been those of connection. Sometimes these best of times took place in Nairobi eating a meal with one of our Nairobi teammates, laughing over a game night, standing in the parking lot of Kinderuma and learning of our neighbors struggles and joys or a hot cup of coffee and getting real with a friend. Sometimes it looked like a skype date with friends and family from the states or a late night conversation over the phone. It was that point of connection and love we felt receiving care packages or letters from those we dearly love. At times connections were forged through tears of grief or disappointment, along with others or privately in our home. It was moments of laughter as we made a big mistake, excitement as we encountered a new experience together or peals of laughter as a family. It was PJ helping me hang the clothes on the line, Flower-girl setting the table, W-man hauling water inside in his bucket. The best of times was baths in rubbermade bins with peals of laughter bouncing off the trees, bending over a charcoal stove trying to make coffee and struggling to understand the Arabic flying around and directed at me. It was listening to scripture being read in four different languages and memorizing John 1:1 in Arabic. It was falling exhausted into bed at night with my best friend beside me and the sound of spiders, geckos and rats on the roof. It was being with those in my community and a late night book to relax by. It was chatting in the market and trying to learn how to dance like a Dinka woman. It was early mornings sitting with tea by the river with my bible before the heat set in and watching the sun glisten off the water. It was reading stories to the kids at bedtime. The best of times were spent with being present where God had me and enjoying the moments as they happened. The best of times happened in my heart as moments occurred where I was able to see the beauty of God in the day to day.
I expected the hardest times to be adjusting to new foods, language, culture and just the difficulty of living in heat with limited resources but none of these things were the hardest. Sometimes I wished water ran into a sink instead of hauling buckets, or that there was somewhere to escape from the heat, at times I wished the I could push a button to make the clothes and diapers be dry and washed instead of scrubbing with my hands and hanging on a line or that there was a magic button that would bring me chocolate but none of these things really caused me more then a fleeting wish. The hardest thing about these last six months has been the refining process that has needed to happen in me. All of the things I thought would be the hardest, even the frightening moments of Flower-girl’s illness merely exposed and made raw the hardest thing about the past six months coming face to face with my sinfulness. I have seen levels of unbelief, selfishness, anger, frustration, and sin that I didn’t know existed over the past few months. Changing plans, heat, work have brought out in me things I’d rather believe never existed. I have fought hard to combat with scriptural truths, prayer and accountability but the fact is that this high stress environment has brought the battle to bring my soul into obedience into the light of the everyday and this battle has been the hardest part of life overseas thus far. The hardest of times happened in my heart as moments occurred where I became aware of my disobedience against my Savior.
I wouldn’t trade the hardest for the best or the struggles for more joy each has been good in its place. My prayer for the next six months is that the battle for obedience will continue to be waged in all the best ways that God will use scripture, prayer, awareness and His Spirit to continue to bring this wandering heart to Him. My prayer is that in six months I can look back and say that I have loved my God and my family like never before that the hardest times have been the best because I have grown in obedience and love.
Do you find the best and worst times are events or things that occur in your heart as events happen?