But, all of that natural beauty serves a direct contrast to the poverty as well. The settlements almost seem to blend naturally into the hillside dotted by little houses made of cement blocks or trash bags and sticks. Often families share a house with just one/two small rooms. If you've ever been on the Mexico mission trip, it's pretty much the same situation only with a different people and place. There are several mission organizations in the area besides the ACTS clinic: Hands at Work, Footprints, Africa School of Missions, Africa Outreach, . . ..but it's sad to say that all of them still can't meet all of the need in the area.
I've been striving to strengthen my relationship with God. It hit me when I was at Cowen counseling for the week, a girl asked me to pray with her because she wanted a closer relationship with God. So, I took her aside, talked with her, and was reading through some scripture in Psalms with her. But when I went over 63:1, it was a revelation that everyone has at some point. . .or at many points. My relationship with God. . .what was the status of it? Was I seeking him wholeheartedly, putting him first? Here I was praying with someone else when I needed to evaluate my own relationship with God. Coupled with teaching a lesson about hot/cold the next day, and it was like God was just laying it out plainly for me again.
So, since then, I've been working on my relationship with God. I've been rediscovering things that I could recite, but never actually learned. For example, God has definitely been teaching me to trust him through this trip. If asked if I trusted God, I could give you the textbook response assuring you all of my trust is in him. However, for me, it's a huge struggle. It's something I really have to work at because I like to plan, I want to know what's going on, please tell me when, where, why . ..etc. Here, God has pretty much taken all of that away. From day to day, I have to be patient and just trust God.
That's a message that's been repeated so many times already during this trip by the other missionaries I'm with.
"So we tell the them, 'Man does not live on bread alone,' . . ..I don't know where the food will come from, but we have to trust God."
"Right now, we don't have the funds, but we have to trust in God. When Moses and the children of Israel wandered in the desert, God always provided just enough food for them to use for the day except on Sabbath. He'll provide for us, but we just have to trust him."
"The community was angry and there were people threatening to stone us, but we simply had to trust in God that he would protect us, and he brought us safely out of there."
I've heard countless testimonies from people who fled their countries and homes, people in poverty, and people who suffer from the disease that we see as a death sentence. Each one of them says that they trusted in God. Everyday I feel like I'm a student to the people who live and work here. Each one of them has something to share it seems. However, the conversation I learned the most from was with Benjamin when I was washing dishes one night after dinner during my first week here. Here's a quote from it: "God is the one I answer to. He is my judge.. .Things of this world won't last. Your soul is what counts and knowing God .. . And my soul is not HIV positive." Everytime I think of that conversation, it's another reminder to why I want to be here. Sadly another one is, "So many people here are dying. . .they go to their graves in the same numbers as blades of grass that fall when you cut the lawn." I'll have to tell you about the rest of the conversations when I get back.
Right now, I'm so happy to be here. I'm great. Thank you for all of your prayers and messages, they're very much appreciated. Please keep praying for me as well as the clinic and staff. I really feel like I'm serving God. . ..which doesn't always go along with my preconcieved notions.
But, that is another lesson I've learned, and another post. . ..
Love you all and God Bless,