Friday, November 30, 2012

I am a Chapati

       Making Chapati is difficult. There are so many steps to go through just to make something that seems so simple (what we would call a tortilla). First you have to buy the flour, which can make or break the whole chapati, because if the flour is bad then the whole thing becomes a disaster. Then you must boil the water, and while it's boiling you mix in some salt and sugar to the flour. 20 minutes later the water is boiling, you pour that into the pan and begin mixing the dough. No, not with a mixer, but with your hands. First of all the water is really HOT, second of all the dough gets stuck all over your hands and it's hard to remove. By hand, mixing the dough takes an hour or more. 
      Once that is finished you can clean off your hands then cover them in flour. You grab a handful of dough and begin rolling them into little balls. Depending on how many you make, depends on how long this takes, because you have to stretch the dough out well so it doesn't get stiff and then wrap it around your fingers, making sure it does not get stuck to your hands, then make it into a ball and set in on the tray. This particular night we made 21, so this process took another 30 to 45 minutes. Especially because the girls I was cooking with had to keep fixing mine. 
      When this is completed you grab your rolling pin and your circular cutting board and one little ball of dough. You cover the cutting board in flour and then the dough and begin rolling it out. Now it HAS to be a perfect circle. Sounds simple enough right? NOT. No seriously no matter how many times I tried I could not get that dough to form a circle. I rolled out about 6 chapati's, which took 20 to 30 minutes each and then Mary, one of the girls I am living with, would cook them on the metal-circular pan over the coals. Cooking one took around 10 to 20 minutes because it's hard to keep the coals/fire even in the little stove. 
After just rolling out 6 I was exhausted so Flora, another one of the girls I'm living with here, took over and roles out the rest as I became the designated torch holder. We did this all in the dark, outside, in their "kitchen." Now what's the point of me giving you a lesson in making chapati, besides showing you how tough it actually is, and the fact that I have never been so covered in sweat and flour and exhaustion from cooking something that seems so simple. 
The point is: I am a Chapati. 
And God, He is this exhausted baker covered in sweat and flour.
He has taken so many steps to prepare me for this journey and He still is preparing me. But I am stubborn just like the dough and many time I refuse to form into the circle He wants me to. Even when I think I am a pretty good looking oval, He tells me "I made you to be a beautiful circle." He tells me that no matter how hard I try to make things works, to push things, to try to hold everything on my shoulders, never asking for help, to roll myself back up into a ball of dough. He knows exactly where I am and where I am suppose to be and He continues to mold me, continues to roll me out and shape me into a beautiful circle. And I know that is what He is doing now. 
Through the past month times have been hard for Miriam and I, no it's not that we are home sick, it's not that we have culture shock, it's that sometimes God places  us in situations where our job is to reveal the heart of man, through Christ, and it's tiring and tough and something we didn't think we would be doing here. There have been many trials, many angry moments, frustrated moments, many tears and many many many prayers. But we know that the trials and the hardship we are facing have grown us together and strengthen us as ministry partners and as friends. The things we are facing now are necessary. Because God is rolling us out, stretching our faith. 
When the Chapati's are finished they are delicious (there one of Miriam and I's favorite thing to eat here). It is worth all that work in the end because when I swallow that Chapati that I worked so hard, the feeling in my stomach of fullness and joy is perfect. And I know when this journey is finished all of the hard times will be worth. I know we will look back and think of these moments and wonder how we made it though. But we know that in the end we will have that feeling of fullness, that feeling of joy. We know, because we will be beautiful circles. 
Just as God intended.

Being rolled out,

   HIS and yours,


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Love like Christ. Live like Christ

There is a sign we pass on the way to Mwanza City that reads "A billion reasons to believe in Africa." Most days I agree, there are a billion reasons to believe in Africa. But then there are days like today. Day when I see a women get pulled from our DalaDala and beaten to the ground, because Miriam and I chose her DalaDala over his. When their screaming echoes through my ears, because I chose to ride this one over that. When all eyes are on us because we are the "Wazungu" the white people. Days like today I think maybe there aren't a billion reasons to believe in Africa. 

It's hard not to get discouraged. Katie Davis once wrote "I feel like working in a Third World country is like trying to empty the ocean with an eyedropper." And I would have to say I understand those words and the feeling. It seems that at one moment there can be so much hope and then a second later that hope is dashed by something painful or another problem or sickness. In the month that I have been away from home, I've had many moments like this. Moments of discouragement and moments of hope. This past weeks was made up of those moments.

   A moment of hope, when I spend time with the family that I am living with. The girls teach me to cook Chapati and teach me Swahili. I've learned how to cook charoko, rice, chapati and other things… Africa style (cooking over coal stoves). Dancing with them and laughing with them, just brings so much hope and joy to my heart. I also love sitting outside and seeing the stars and talking with Baba Joseph and Mama, talking about work and family. The love and the willingness they have to welcome us into their home is just astounding and brings me so much joy.

 A moment of discouragement, when we visit the village and see the conditions people are living in, and in asking them what they think can be done. They tell us nothing can help them, that they have no hope in themselves or anything to help them pull themselves out. It's hard for me to grasp, because I refuse to believe that the conditions one live in is based on where they are on the map. My heart aches for the children and the families, because I want to do so much, but I know I can do nothing, only God can restore their hope.

A moment of hope, Being with the children on Saturday was so, words cannot even describe how much my heart overflowed with love and joy for these kids. Their white smiles against their ebony faces and the laughter that echoed through the trees as they ran and played with us. The joy that flowed through those voices and in their eyes. God knows exactly where I needed to be and that is right where I am, with those families, with those kids. Loving.

And that is when I realized that my purpose here is simple and I can't believe it has taken me so long to see it. I am here to love. I am not here to change a situation, I'm not here to stop mother's from abandoning their children, or solve any world problems. I am just here to love deeply, love recklessly, Love like Christ. And even if I can love even just one child, one mother, one family, that they can see the hope I have in Christ and their hope may be restored, than I will have succeeded. I know Christ will work in and through me, I just have to continue giving everything to Him. 

God continues to bless me in immeasurable ways, somedays are difficult and somedays are easy, but all the days are HIS. I am just trying to love each person I meet as I attempt to speak to them in Swahili as well as understand what they are trying to say to me. But even through the miscommunication Christ is present. I just challenge each person reading this to love. Love beyond what you love already. Love that person that drives you crazy, love your family more, love your roommate, your friend, love the person who seems like they can't be loved. Love the unloveable, Just love, love like Christ. Live like Christ. Love is a hard thing and love is an easy thing. Sometimes we carelessly give it away when we shouldn't and sometimes we keep it when it's not ours to keep. 

  Look at people the way Christ does and love them. That is what I am trying to do each day. Just to Love.

    Loving like Christ,

   HIS and yours,