Raindrops on everything cuz' it's rainy season,
Ants and Mosquitos and Maggots for no reason (it's the weirdest, GROSSEST story!),
Peeing outside and compost toilets NOT fit for a king,
These are a few of my UN-favorite things 😣
However, feeling isolated and alone during my two weeks in Malawi was harder to swallow. It was especially difficult to discern my place and purpose there as I didn't feel welcomed or comfortable. I felt like this was my mountain AFTER the mountain. Not another one! I'm not strong enough. I read this excerpt from Jesus Calling while I was there volunteering.
"Be willing to go out on a limb with Me. If that is where I'm leading you, it is the safest place to be. Your desire to live a risk-free life is a form of unbelief. Your longing to live close to Me is at odds with your attempts to minimize risk. You are approaching a crossroads in your journey. In order to follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your tendency to play it safe."
That hit it right on the head. I asked for this limb by name. I begged God to send me to this picturesque haven that seemed perfect on the computer. He listened and sent. I followed. I was willing. And as soon as I got there, that limb felt very flimsy and unsettling. You realize just how uncomfortable climbing trees are in the first place and the risks involved. You could fall and break a leg. You could scratch your elbow. You could poke your eye out with a pointy branch. It could happen 😜 Immediately I wanted to be in the comfy, carpeted treehouse. I wanted to drink my warm tea with the contentment of being on solid ground. But on the limb I had to stay for at least those few weeks. On the limb that was flimsy enough to test my trust but had ALWAYS been sturdy enough to support me. And not to mention offer me incredible views and the platform to jump and fly.
This goes without saying, but, it's HARD to be uncomfortable! However, at the same time, it very much draws you to growth. Being uncomfortable helps you see things in new ways and be forever grateful for things not usually even on your radar, like flushing toilets, hand soap and the feeling of being clean. While my experience in Malawi wasn't quite what I expected, one thing remained constant: God provided. He sent me an angel named Evelyn on the bus to help me at a time of need. He sent me prayer partners back home to continually encourage me day after day. He sent me gorgeous scenery.
Moreover, He sent me to the prison, of all places, to find Him in the most powerful way. I never would have expected that. Those guys I met in the prison had the most reverence and wisdom of anyone I met in my two weeks there. The scripture reading today says, "When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’"
I saw God there. I felt Him. I talked about Him there, but more than that, I talked with Him. I sang with Him. I couldn't help tearing up each time I went there as I realized in humbleness that we are ALL sinners. We are all on the same page and we are all in need of mercy. My experiences in the prison were worth my moments of mild discomfort in my time in Malawi. He filled my heart full and sustained me throughout my time. It was worth it.
So I owe Africa a thank you. Thank you for your gorgeous skies. Thank you for entertaining me with views of playing monkeys while using the toilet outside. Thank you for the opportunity to see my first moon rise and increasing my appreciation and interest in stargazing. Thank you for quenching my thirst with your Carlsberg beer and demonstrating what a relaxed attitude and pace really look like. Thank you for your golden, delicious mangos and your super-sweet pineapples. Thank you for turning me more vegetarian after riding in a boat with a live chicken that was supposed to be my lunch (I refused to eat my new friend and ate rice and veggies instead.) Thank you for showing me that less is truly more and how joyful and content people can be who have almost nothing. Thank you for helping me perfect my peeing-outside technique and saving me from ever seeing a snake while doing so.) Last but certainly not least, thank you for increasing my tolerance level far beyond my expectations and helping me to remember how brave and strong I am.
Now when I think about that flimsy tree limb God was calling me on, I'm thankful I never got my comfortable treehouse. God desired my trust. I followed, hesitant at times. What happened in the end surprised me. He didn't strengthen the flimsy branch, but instead he strengthened me so I could hold on for the wild ride.