Home Is Whenever I’m With You

Somehow I find myself several days into my birthday month and I’m continually amazed by how quickly time is flying by. The fourteenth marks two months exactly in Kansansa and also my 22nd year on earth. I feel like I’m still 12 most of the time, but then I look at the size of my galoshes I got (mostly to look like the Sukuma) and realize I’m far to large to be pre-adolescent.

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I accomplished my goal of getting photos of my favorite tribe a thousand times over this week with the unexpected arrival of a Sukuma warrior one morning during my Earl Grey. I thought he was a witch doctor when I saw him coming up the way, with all his skins and bangles and bells, but as it turns out he was a warrior, come to sing and dance for us. It was unbelievable. I filmed the entire thing and have replayed it many times for the kids, much to their delight.

I was also very excited to meet Dawinza, a Sukuma man who joined Tori and I in the small restaurant as we were finishing lunch. Traditional Sukuma to the max.

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This week we spent Friday through Sunday in Ziwasungu to jump-start the church/small group there. My favorite part was going to the Primary school and giving out 297 New Testaments to the students there.

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Additionally, I held my biggest “story time” ever, telling the story of Creation and how God made it all and made it all good to all 297 children. 

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We were supposed to begin a small group, but the word spread and just over 70 adults (and scores of children) arrived from the neighboring villages for our service on Sunday morning.

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Church in Africa is a very large to-do, with choirs and announcements and prayer for the sick and dancing and preaching; a normal service can run three hours. This particular day was over four. I’m still waiting to get used to that, but everyone was so pleased and excited to have a group of believers together so close that I was ashamed of feeling tired and sweaty, sitting in the sun.

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Missionary Yoketon, the Evangelist Michael and their wives, Mama Winnie and the entire choir from the Kansansa church came as well, and thank goodness, because they completely ran the service. I was really thankful to see local leaders taking charge, because we need them to continue when we’re gone. The biggest mistake often made during mission trips, made by so many well meaning people, is coming in and doing everything for the people—without utilizing the local body that’s already there and willing to serve.

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I was so proud of our little church family coming in and watching them pray and sing and dance with a fervency I haven’t seen in myself for a time. Shouts of “Amen-a” and “Bwana Yesu Asefiwe” nearly ever five minutes rang out with true sincerity as babies chewed on mehindi and the Sukuma lingered in the back…close enough to hear, but not too close to look overly interested. I could see their faces though. They were listening.

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God will do as He’ll do. All we can do is follow His lead, preach and love. It’s too simple for me to really like sometimes, because I feel so uninvolved or irrelevant; I cannot say I made anything happen, all I can say is I spoke the truth to them and I tried to love them like Jesus does. As far as Ziwasungu, Tori and I will be back every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and I’ll continue to keep the updates coming.

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Whenever I go to Ziwasungu, I have to laugh at how antsy I get to go home and be with my babies. I feel drained and unspiritual and like I’m the worst missionary ever at the end of our visit and reprimand myself severely on the hour-long piki piki ride about how I must learn to have more energy for the three minute long greeting exchanges with every single person I pass and think wistfully how I wish I knew more KiSukuma (the language of the Sukuma people). I’m all but ready to give up as ever being useful for the kingdom by the time we reach our driveway, and then, bless the living Lord…my babies come. Flying out of the corn fields, running out of the clinic, appearing from behind our houses, they come and the second I dismount, I see Arbati (who I learned is actually ALBERTI, but Ls and Rs are all the same here, so he’s called Ar-ba-tee) flying up the driveway, shouting. The moment I dismount, I’m surrounded, and as I run into the house with my backpack only to run back out again, I feel all my energy returning. I’m suddenly able to run and tickle and roar like a lion all over our property at the sight of my little dark faces and the feeling of tiny hands pulling at my skirt. 

Sometimes I get asked if I miss home, and I do. I haven’t been this long without my family in my entire life and I’m honestly an all American girl who loves American things. But I’m learning that there are many different times of home.

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I am home when Gilay braids my hair and is too shy for a photo.

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I am home as I watch Arbati and Eddis pretend to read to each other, even though they’re still learning.

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I am home as I give Lakison his first hard boiled egg ever.

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I am home as I watch Cassian open up to me, little by little and start to love me giving him kisses and tickling his swollen tummy.

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I am home when Osikia proudly joins me for a photo with his littlest goat.

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I am home as I see MaSue look up at me the same way every day as she clings to my side.  

I journaled this week about how grateful and amazed I am that this is my life right now and how wonderful it is that welcoming the little ones in Jesus’ name is what He wants (Mark 9:37) and that it’s all I want to do. I’ve literally waited my entire life to be doing this and I’m stunned by it when I finally catch my breath and see it happening, like my life is a strangers’ life that I’m watching from afar.

There are many different types of home, and I’m so thankful that God can and does give me home wherever I am in the world.

“Just know you’re not alone, cause I’m gonna make this place you’re home.”

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