There are approximately a million things going through my mind right now. I've been struggling to put my thoughts together well enough for a blog post that would clearly convey what I’m learning. My life in the last 2 weeks has changed completely, it has been turned utterly upside down. I’m thousands and thousands of miles away from everything I know. And yet, somehow I’m making a new normal here. It’s been by far the hardest experience of my life, but I’m learning not to confuse hard with bad. That’s something we do, we assume that hard and bad are synonymous and they’re not. In the last 2 weeks, I've been stretched to my limits physically and emotionally and it’s been an amazing journey. I've learned more about myself and The Lord in two weeks than many months combined.
One of the biggest things I've learned so far is that life is all about perspective. It’s entirely about the lens that you look through. I work 11 hour shifts, I can see them as long and draining or I can see them as spending as much time with these precious babies as I can before I return to America. I get spit up on multiple times a day and last week I was vomited on three days in a row. I can see that as gross and inconvenient or I can have a heart filled with compassion and see a sick little girl who desperately needs me to hold her and love her even after the fourth time she throws up on me. I can see being far away from all the things I know, love and miss as lonely and sink into self-pity or I can use this time to focus and to grow as a person and as a Christian with no distractions. I can become frustrated because communicating seems so much harder than I anticipated or I can humble myself and be patient with myself and with others. I can invest in them and listen slowly and carefully to hear their stories. Basically, I can choose to make this about me or about others. God has been teaching me a LOT about my pride and this has most certainly been a humbling experience. I was reminded today of something Clayton King preached this year. “God wants to do a work in you, before he will ever do a work through you”. I trust that there will be plenty of stories to tell about the awesome things that I get to watch God accomplish through this trip, but right now I’m in the what God is accomplishing in me phase. I have a feeling that when that phase comes first, the end result is better! I've learned that while I’m here improving the quality of these babies’ lives, they are in return doing just as much to improve the quality of mine.
One of my favorite stories of the trip thus far is what I experienced on Sunday. I just finished reading a book about the persecuted church called The Insanity of God and I had been feeling incredibly grateful for the freedom to worship with other believers. At the same time, I hadn't had that experience in two weeks. I was super excited to attend church Sunday, but I wasn't sure what to expect. While people here speak English and are great, communicating has still been really difficult and I have certainly experienced culture shock. As Marcelle would say, they speak English here and I speak “American”. Therefore, I wondered what church would be like. The persecuted believers I read about in the book talked about the importance of a heart language. Sunday, at church, I discovered that South African believers and I share a heart language. Our heart language is worship. I literally got chills as I worshiped the same God with South African believers that I do back home with fellow American believers. We sang the same songs and, suddenly, accents and confusion about language disappeared. All those things were unimportant, because together we shared a common bond. We were unified in worship and that, I believe, is a small glimpse of heaven. Sunday was an enormous encouragement and I was so grateful for that experience!
Read a verse this morning that I am absolutely claiming and dwelling on throughout this trip.
The Lord will prove Himself strong to those whose hearts are completely committed to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9
So, in summary, this has been one of the hardest and best experiences all at the same time because hard and bad are so not synonymous. I’m so blessed to share this journey with each of you and I’m so grateful for your prayers, love, and support. I can’t wait to return and tell you all tons of stories and show you all of the beautiful babies I’m blessed to work with!
P.S. After writing this post, I discovered that I would really need that verse I memorized. We are needing God to show Himself strong tonight at Door of Hope and in Joburg because we had 4 babies rushed to the ER this week, one of them was one of my babies I worked with today. We need your prayers big time! God is going to prove Himself strong!