Monday, August 6, 2012

I must boast...

A few months ago at the age of 16, my oldest, missionary hearted (is that a real word?), daughter, wrote an essay.  It was written for a chance to win a full ride scholarship to our local community college.  I had full confidence in her (and God) that she would win.  ( I have homeschooled her since she was born and KNEW of her abilities!)  She was not quite as sure!  Welllll....we found out last week she WON!

She had pretty much decided she would wait and see what God was going to do in her life in the coming year, and search out some possible mission opportunities in South America for the time being.  She wants to go to medical school for missionary work so it was a dream of hers to at some point to go to college and with one phone call, the situation took that turn! 

We are THRILLED with the opportunity that she has and the doors this may open for her ministry now and in the future.  I thought you all might like to read the essay she wrote!  I had to boost a little bit because we are SOOOOOOOO very, very proud!  Her trip that she took a year ago August 10th, is being used by God in SO may ways!  It is fun to watch what He is doing in her life!

The topic was: Tell us of a time you woke up in a funk, feeling down. How did you react and what did you do to work yourself out of it?
 My daughter's submission-
This morning I woke up feeling a little down. Last night I fell asleep with only a grass mat between me and the floor of this mud hut.  Secluded and alone are words that help me describe how it feels to be in a Malawi village, hundreds of miles away from any First World luxuries such as electricity and running water. It is well beyond 100 degrees outside, and the hot African sun is not yet at its strongest. I pull my mosquito net away from me. It has been covering me all night to keep the insects away, decreasing my chances of getting malaria or another illness while I sleep.

I remember the visitors I had last night; a dog, rat, and hen laying an egg in the corner of the hut. Too tired to get up and shoo them away, I sigh and begin to relax and ponder the events of these past few weeks. In the background is the steady, resounding, rhythmic beat of bass drums complimented by the low murmur of tribal chanting. As the music echoes in my ears I start to miss my home, family, and everything familiar about my life back in Iowa. I remember the feelings of anticipation and excitement when I boarded that first plane, thus beginning over three days and ten thousand miles worth of airports, flight time, and layovers. Followed by exhaustion, jet lag, unfamiliar languages, peculiar food, and strange customs. Before I drift off to sleep, I think about the time when I found out that there are currently more than 40.5 million orphans in Africa. It was simply a statistic to me, until… I met one. Witnessing child after child with no choice but to drink filthy, bacteria-ridden water made this issue become real for me. When I was first told the percentage of Malawians affected by HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases it was staggering. And then I met them, one at a time. I heard their stories, and witnessed the desperation.
Now, I no longer see a number. I see faces in my mind. Finally I fall sleep.  Several hours later I am the last to awake.  Still not used to such early hours and waking up as the sun rises.  My stomach grumbles, and I don’t have to wonder what I’ll be eating for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I will be eating nsema, just like every other day for the past month. Nsema is simply ground maize flour added to boiled water and eaten raw while still steaming hot which, to this foreigner, tastes only a little worse than raw pizza dough. After breakfast the curious village children crowd around me. They are filthy, covered in red dirt. Patiently and eagerly waiting for the strange “azungu” to come play games with them and spend another day together. I see their tattered clothes. Observing the lack of possessions makes it so easy to feel sorry for them. Yet in countless ways I notice all the reasons that I should envy instead of pity them. I envy their young, humble maturity. Their quiet resilience and indomitable spirits, their understanding of value and importance; they emphasize people, family, perseverance, gratitude and hard work rather than success, fame, or greed. They teach me, even though I came to teach them.
The translator comes to talk to me about the schedule. He informs me that today there are long and exhausting mountain trails to be hiked, several secluded villages to visit, and so much work to be done.  I am already tired, sore, and feeling down. Even as I list these things you may think that I am complaining, but I am not. Because each time I am tempted to complain or have a pity party, all it takes to work myself out of this funk, is to silently take a moment to remember why I am here. I am here because after a brutally long day, I so look forward to that inviting grass mat in that mud hut, followed by all those animal visitors. The African sun can be hot, oppressive, and even miserable at times but the sunsets are amazing, the contrasting colors are spectacular and never fail to take my breath away. I don’t need electricity, air conditioning, a comfortable mattress, internet access, or even a hot shower and running water after all. These things are nice, but no longer vital.
The nsema is not like the American food I have grown accustomed to, but I watch as it is lovingly prepared and served, I realize the privilege I have been given to join these people for a meal at their home. For them it is a sign of respect and a generous display of honor and hospitality. The dirt covered children may be impoverished by most standards, yet they possess such wealth of character, integrity, and joy. They teach me so much, as they brighten each day with their abundance of smiles and unreserved affection. Those mountains are tiring and difficult to climb, leaving me not just with aching muscles, but also a sense of pride and accomplishment. The villages are beautiful, inspiring and diverse. It is hard work yet unquestionably fulfilling.  As I am excitedly greeted by the remote village near the top of the mountain, I shake countless hands and talk and greet them for as long as my limited Chichewa vocabulary allows. I realize that words are no longer quite as important. I reach out for another hand, and look into the gentle, grateful eyes of an old woman. Several children come up to touch my arm, curious to see if the “white” will rub off if they touch it. Teenagers cautiously observe. I can’t help but smile. Universal and understood in every language, today my smile testifies that good days and bad days are often quite simply a matter of perspective.


Melody said...

I have to say I am not the least bit surprised that she would win the scholarship! I really enjoyed reading her essay. It was very real written and full of feeling! Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

kenton said...

Thanks so much for sharing!! I love to hear about mission trips that young people take. I love reading your blogs! Your family is always in my prayers.

blueschoolmomma said...

What a blessed mother you are, Heather! :-)


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