Posts by brookejeries

Leaving Home and Coming Home

August 28th, 2015 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2015 0 comments on “Leaving Home and Coming Home”

There’s a funny thing that happens when you desire to leave the situation you’re in, but you’re stuck there for a long time. That place becomes home without you really realizing that it’s happening. Your heart is becoming molded to that place and those people and that culture whether you choose to recognize it or not. I wanted to go home the first day I entered Zambia. Home to the USA. Sure, I wanted and often prayed that that feeling would go away and that I would start enjoying my time abroad, but that never really happened to the extent that I wanted it to. In the middle of my doubt and homesickness, I was met with the beauty of our perfect Father. What a generous God who would not dismiss our frustrations, but also not allow them to affect the good work He planned to do in us through the fire. He’s so good!!
I tried for a long time to figure out how to sum up all that God did in me in this time abroad so that I can share it with everyone. There were so many things and so much has changed that I’ve come to the understanding that there is no way to do that. This frustrated me at first, and it’s why this post has taken me about two weeks to write, but I have peace now that the ability to share each of the things I learned will eventually come. For now, you get the snippets and to see the changes and truth being lived out.
So while I surely have a home in Zambia now, and more than likely I will be back someday, I’m back at my other home in Holland, MI. And the first couple days back were some of the most beautiful in my entire life. I can’t explain to you the love that is here, I really can’t. There’s nothing like sweet reunions happening in the midst of the exchanging of wedding vows and Sunday morning worship gatherings. Call me a sap, but there’s just something about being surrounded by that much deep love. Not to mention all the hugs and dancing and laughs that came along with all of it. Homecomings are beautiful. And I was reminded of just how dear and wonderful that final homecoming is going to be… with seeing sweet Jesus and knowing I never have to leave again.
I think one of the greatest parts of this homecoming was the worship. Feeling so loved by this family and knowing the love each of us has doesn’t even compare to the love we all have for the Father. Because HE’s what it’s all about. And when I think about this fact I also realize that one of the biggest things that happened to me on this trip was falling even more in love with my God. I’ve become irrevocable (at least that’s what I’d call it). So deeply stuck on the gospel–so deeply stuck on Him that nothing really phases me as much as it did before. I know who I am and who He is in a way I’ve never quite so boldly known it before. A lot of people keep telling me that I look different, and I’d hope so, because I spent so long looking into the face of Jesus that I’d expect not to look the same. It was beautiful and it was painful and it was 100% worth it. One of the songs the Lord spoke to me through this summer says this: “Your love tears me up and when it’s done puts me together.”
There’s a part in The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader where a fearful and self-seeking boy named Eustace is turned into a dragon. It was only once he saw this ugliness on the outside that he started to realize the ugliness that was always there on the inside. It was also only after trying to get it off himself that he realized there was only One who was going to change him back into a boy again. This is how Eustace explains what happens when He allows the lion, Aslan, to begin the process of changing him back into a boy.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.”
This is Eustace. I’ve always disliked him as a character. To me, he didn’t seem to have much point. He starts out so disgusting on the inside and, sure he changes, but I was always stuck on how awful he was at the start. And yet, I now realize that I am Eustace. And after all the beautiful work of allowing me to turn into a “dragon” and then the hard, painful work of making me new again, He took it one step further. Jesus turned to me and asked, “Now, who do you say that I am?”. Okay, maybe He didn’t use those exact words at first, and I know there’s a lot of deep, theological truth in that question when Jesus asks it in the gospel, but there was something uniquely rich about when and how He asked it of me. It started in the middle of Him ripping the dragon skin off of me and, though I’ve answered Him, He hasn’t stopped asking me yet. He’s forced me to think deeply about who I actually proclaim Him to be… who I say He is. What do I say and then what do I really, truly believe about the man, Jesus, and have I allowed what I believe to affect every part of me and the core of who I am? Or have I let it be something that has changed me once, but doesn’t continue to change me every single day? It’s in daily situations now that He keeps asking me, “Brooke, who do you say that I am? Do you believe it? Is it affecting how you’re acting and how you’re thinking?” And when I answer, now, I’m pushed closer to Him than every before. Fear and doubt don’t have the same room in my heart as they did before, either. I’m tempted, but there’s simply not enough room for them to stay.
Holy Moses.
I watched the movie Interstellar for the first time on the long flight home. I loved every second of it and the small part of my brain that caused me to double major with Physics had an absolute field day. Since then, my overactive and overdramatic brain has decided to equate the epic of the movie with my own life. (Ya…. that happens sometimes. Give me a few more days, it’ll cool down.) And while maybe what’s happening in my life isn’t quite as ‘stellar’ as Interstellar, I’ve found myself in fearful moments repeating the chilling snippet of the famous poem recited in the movie:
“do not go gentle into that good night,
old age should burn and rave at close of day;
rage, rage against the dying of the light.
though wise men at their end know dark is right,
because their words had forked no lightning they
do not go gentle into that good night,
rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Let me be completely honest… I’m scared to start this next season. I was all ready to leave the last one, but moving forward is a much different story when you’re living it. I felt validated in my fear when reciting this poem to myself to muster up courage. And as long as I did move forward, I could build up the darkness into as looming of a state as I needed for that fear to be validated, but when Jesus keeps asking me, “Brooke, who do you say that I am?”, He’s been making me realize something very important. Living in fear, even over the littlest things, will always lead to capital F Fear, and capital F Fear is a deep pit that you can’t climb out of on your own. While I do have a savior that’s willing to get down in the pit with me and boost me on out, I don’t want to keep falling into those pits because it hurts and even once I’m out there’s bruises from the fall. I need to keep my eyes on my savior when I’m up on solid ground. He promises to guide us around those pits, although we can’t forget: That doesn’t mean it’s not a scary route. It just means I shouldn’t start guiding myself, because as a human I tend to lean into fear and fall into Fear as if it’s my job. My courage comes from never looking away from my savior. Your focus is what makes all the difference. So, I leave you for now with our EXP video and with the poem from above, rewritten with the mindset only a daughter of heaven can have.
do not go gentle into that new dawn,
courage should grow and thrive at early morn;
rise, rise and see the shining of the light.
though wise men with set minds think dark is right,
because their world had forsaken light… we
do not go gentle into that new dawn,
rise, rise and see the shining of the light.

BrookeJeries ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern

Weeks Ten and Eleven

August 14th, 2015 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2015 0 comments on “Weeks Ten and Eleven”

img_5741
While the first week had a lot of things other than just the solitude outing (like an adventure day with hiking, crossing rivers on ropes, and things like that, plus the long drive back to Livingstone), my time in solitude is all I’m going to talk about in this update because it was so refreshing and so full of absolute life!

We spent two days in time with the Lord to reflect on our time in Zambia and it was wonderful. God gave me a list of things He wanted to cover with me in this time and the first thing was to go back and write down every word, picture, and prayer given to me for this trip. I went back and listened to send-off prayers I had recorded and went through old journals and ended up finding 76 different prayers. My next task? To go through each one and write out in detail how He answered it in this time, and if I couldn’t come up with the answer, then I was not to give up and say “He just hasn’t answered this one”, but I was to wait on Him until He showed me how He answered every single one. So, 76 prayers later, sure enough He was right. Seeing what He was up to really helped me to make sense of my time here. I will give you a couple of the highlights:

  1. Refined vision and narrowed gaze to my call
  2. (See later in blog how this answer is described!)
  3. Supernatural ability to trust and confidence in His name
  4. Basically the whole thing I was learning for the entire trip! I grew in this in enormous ways.
  5. Image: me as a giraffe with a really long neck and a head way above that can reach fruit and trees that other animals can’t. Also can see above problems and set backs, with greater vision, and can reach up for more of Him and taste and see more of Him.
  6. This has felt completely accurate this whole trip. I often was on a completely different plane as the rest of my group, even the leaders. When everyone else would be learning something or growing in something, I was basically off in the corner just connecting with the Lord. I had a hard time connecting with what they were all doing because the Lord was doing entirely different things in me, which was making me see things within the group and within what we were learning that weren’t as much in line with His heart. A lot of times it was a remarkably frustrating thing for me, but I should’ve seen it for what it was—a gift!
  7. flip of perspective where the enemy has twisted different areas and things in my life, God’s going to continue just to flip that perspective and teach me how to do that, even just mentally.
  8. Yes! Perspectives, especially of my community and family and friends at home have completely changed. Even characteristics of myself have had a flip of perspective. I think my view of myself has changed tremendously on this trip for the good, even through difficulties and trials. Even in seeing my sin and how I can grow rather than shying away and keeping a victim attitude about everything. I’m so excited to see this flip of perspective play out when I’m back home!
  9. Teach Brooke, like You taught Paul, the secret of being content…
  10. You’ve seen in the other blogs, contentment has been a HUGE theme of this trip. I’m learned and grown in this area so much. I don’t know if I can claim, yet, knowing the secret like Paul did, but I can claim that I have it in ways I never have before, and that alone is a huge answer to this prayer!
  11. That trials and challenges wouldn’t hinder my relationship with the Lord and that there would be open communication
  12. This was a big one! Previously in my walk with God, if there were a LOT of trials/challenges, I’d get mad to the point of almost not wanting anything to do with Him anymore. This trip was filled with the most trials and challenges in a small stretch of time yet and I never got to this point. I was frustrated for sure, but it was still centered on a love and devotion to Him that made it all worth it (even if you would never hear me saying that). There was open communication between Him and I the entire time as soon as I asked Him for it and it was the only way I was able to even get through the challenges.
  13. More courage and more saying yes to adventures with You
  14. Also the story of this trip…
  15. Grow in dependency, lean on You for every ounce of strength, energy, joy, word, and realize her utter dependence on You.
  16. This became my prayer every day, almost every hour, for the trip. I had to ask for all of these things continuously and they were continuously given to me.
  17. He shows her how mighty He is to protect her heart, to be the one standing when she cannot, and that He’s a mighty warrior for her and with her.
  18. Once again, this was something that was daily revealed to me and something I learned to cling to.
  19. You are called to be royalty so go explore your Daddy’s kingdom and share the call to royalty with others.
  20. Yes! This was also a centering thing for me as I explored my Father’s kingdom. It was incredible to see so many new things and I’m not sure what it’s going to be like to go back to things I am used to. It was also so exciting that the “call to royalty” was something I did end up sharing with a lot of people, specifically!
  21. Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned.”
  22. Does this one need explaining? Amen and Amen.

Oh, and something I realized after praying through these things… the exact number of days I will have been away from home? 76.

After this time, He also reassured me of all of the confidence and direction He gave me for my life over this time. It was amazing to look back and see how much I have grown in just three months in understanding who I am and who He has called me to be. It makes the future so much more exciting! I feel confident that what I am walking into is exactly what He wants me to be doing in this time: living in Holland and working as an Robotics Controls Engineer, still eventually pursuing Entertainment Engineering (Seriously, what a fun mission field!!!!) and in the meantime, living in our creative community house where together we pursue the Lord and grow deeper together in creativity and inviting others into the fun. I feel confident that I am supposed to continue growing in the spiritual gift of prophecy and that that is something He wants to use mightily in me. As I’m learning, I’m also supposed to share, because my heart that all His sons and daughters would know who they are and would know that they can hear is voice is a passion that He put inside of me for a reason. I’m so expectant of this time and so positive the Lord has great things for it. All of this confidence in three months? I’ll take it!

Finally, the last big highlight of the solitude outing came with dreaming with God about our creative community house and then coming to this realization about life back at home:

“Here in Zambia, I’ve been brought to a place of understanding that I can’t do anything alone. This was often my heart’s cry, even more than daily (Abba, Help me! I CAN’T do it without You). I’ve been so excited and ready to be back home, but I think it’s important for me to realize, first, that I can’t do it on my own any better at home than I could here. It’s just a heck of a lot easier to pretend that I can. I still need to count on Him for everything… for provision, protection, guidance, affirmation, direction, intervention, strength, joy, peace, etc. Even in Holland, MI, surrounded by a beautiful community that loves You and even while pursuing my deepest passions, I can’t do it alone. I’ve pretended that I could and no wonder, so often have fallen short. I don’t want to try to do that anymore. Abba, Father, I’m in it with you. If I would be doing it alone, then I would rather stay here (as hard as those words are coming out of my mouth) where it’s obvious how desperate I am for you every minute of the day. But right now, I commit to doing it with you. Remind me often of who you are and of what you wish to do in my life, the role you wish to have, and help me to surrender my life daily at your feet. It is not I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. Let’s do this together, Poppa. I’m so excited for this life with you. I know you have good and difficult and beautiful things in store and I’m ready for it all. Teach me to always walk in your ways. I’m not going to pretend that walking in my own is a good idea, anymore. I want to stay desperate for you.”

Week Eleven was a beautiful a refreshing one. We returned back to our base in Livingstone and, as if we all didn’t already know, we realized even more how much that place had become a home. We then packed up again to spend two nights in a hotel—a little bit of Zambian luxury while we debriefed together on our summer. In this time we also got to go on a game drive (safari) and spend lots of time celebrating together. Finally, when we returned to base we had our graduation ceremony, filled with lots of goodbyes for Lillian and I because we left for the U.S. the next morning. A lot of what I learned in week eleven is going to come up in every post I write after this, so I didn’t feel the need to expand on it now. 😉

BrookeJeries ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern

Weeks Eight and Nine – The Intervener

August 3rd, 2015 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2015 0 comments on “Weeks Eight and Nine – The Intervener”

20150803-223116-81076984
Let me warn you right now… to try to sum up all that happened these past few weeks would be impossible so you are going to get quite a random review of the events, but if you’ve read any of my updates so far, this one is worth the read!

Week Eight started out very rough with food poisoning/other sickness hitting me really hard. This was definitely my lowest point so far because I was basically bed-ridden struggling to figure out how I was going to make it to the outreach. I decided to push myself and after a 32-hour bus ride, we finally made it to the FCE base in the village of Kalungu, near Isoka (border village to Tanzania and Malawi).

So you can imagine how I was doing in this, lots of walking and hard work and sickness all blended together with the typical struggle for contentment. Then, finally, Jesus intervened. He started by giving me some clarity on some of the deeper things He was working on in my heart for the duration of my time in Africa. I had been reading a book called “From Fear to Freedom” and felt like God was trying to tell me something big in it, but I wasn’t able to figure it out amidst all of my overwhelmed emotions. After waking up one night, I felt like I had been given in a dream the exact words for what was going on. Here is my journal entry from when I woke up:

“I am very critical of others because I am, in essence, not able to extend grace to them. This is because I have not fully received grace from the Father myself. How can I receive grace for faults I do not admit? I tend to be overly critical of myself for things that shouldn’t actually be condemned, but in terms of sin, I hardly ever admit fault. I’m a blame-shifter with an orphan victim’s heart. In addition, this orphan heart causes me to be overprotective of myself—filled with such fear of everything (especially that which might expose my imperfections/how I’m different/or anything where I am uncomfortable) with no hope of any sort of intervener or protector. Who is it that I serve? Is it not the very intervener of all mankind and the protector of His children? Even more, as this is the heart and mindset that I am so passionate to see breakthrough in for other people, I have been too blinded and ashamed to notice/admit it in myself.

Father, I trust you for every step from this point forward. To intervene. To protect. To guard my heart for what needs to be protected and to allow sin to be revealed only to the amount that I will receive grace (aka fully). Teach me to be honest with You and with others and with myself, seeing my own depravity and receiving the fullness of your grace—that I may pour it out on others instead of the judgment and bitterness and expectations I have poured out before (since that’s all I have allowed myself to receive, it’s all I’ve had to give). Take this victim mindset and orphaned heart and give me my adopted one. Do it, Lord, in full. I’m ready to better understand your grace, your love, and everything that you are, and then everything that I am.”

Yep. Bold move, God, dumping all of that on me at once. So, after that, I could see my mood start to change. It wasn’t perfect, yet, but there was something I was fighting for and someone who was fighting for me. It was so challenging for me to deny my previous mindsets, going into daily challenges that my flesh thought was impossible, but my willing spirit trusted that they were in the hands of my intervener, and intervene He did. My consistent prayer (with the sickness, especially) was, “Lord, either give me the strength to do this, or change the task to something I have the strength for.” Over and over again it was answered, with unexplained strength and with unexplained changes to schedules. I started genuinely trusting my Father for more than just the “normal things” but for every big and little thing in my entire day, as a daughter should.

In this time, I also found myself craving the Word (for possibly the first time ever, and it hasn’t gone away!), being led to different passages and wanting to spend time diving into them and even more.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor (Trouble) a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came our of the land of Egypt And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.” (Hosea 2:14-15, 19-20)

So this time basically continued like this for a couple days until the biggest challenge of our 3 months came: a 3-night stay with families in the village. I was paired with my teammate Olivia and together, we stayed with the family of Mr. Derek Skolonga. Our whole team spent a lot of time praying beforehand, including myself, for God to show up with little things like food that we could eat, electricity, a mattress to sleep on, a working toilet, English speakers in the family, things like that. None of these prayers were answered for me. (It was funny afterwards to hear that almost the entire team did have these prayers answered and how encouraged they were to see that God answered them and saw Him faithful, even in the little things. I’ve realized that for me, it was more important that He got to my heart than proving Himself faithful in the little things. He’s still faithful, but He saw it more fit to change my prayers rather than answering them in this time.). I found myself the first night, having just attempted to be polite by trying to force down a meal of cassava nshima and partially raw scrambled eggs mixed with green beans, sleeping on a mat on the floor with two other girls, surrounded by walls with cockroaches and large wall spiders crawling up and down them. The toilet was a hole in the ground behind the house with the same story of creepy-crawlies, so you couldn’t use it at night because they would just crawl all over you. The water we had to fetch was pretty far away, so the family didn’t always choose clean water sources. The family spoke no English except for Derek (slightly) and he was usually gone all the time, so our conversations had to come through Olivia who partially spoke a tribal language that the rest of the family partially understood. I was furious with God and also begging for the strength to last or that by some miracle it would be cut short. And yet, I woke up in even more pain than before. Some of our leaders had come around for visits the next morning with each group and I found myself upset with them on all accounts for not having a solution other than “sticking it out”. After they left, I found time to pray and I raised up one of my most helpless prayers ever.

“Father, you HAVE to intervene! I can’t do this, but YOU can. Don’t just fix my attitude, BE my attitude. Don’t just heal my body, come and fill my body. Make me like you and filled with you in every way possible.”

And intervene He did, once again. It all started with my attitude. I can’t explain it, but within an hour, I was ready for any challenge that came my way. I was still in a lot of pain, but for some reason, I didn’t really care. I felt like all of a sudden I had some sort of superpower called “contentment”.

Finally my heart was in a place where God could remold it and He took full advantage of it, because within just another hour, I met a very special boy. His name is Zechariah, and he is changing my life.

“We were walking through the village and up ahead walked this boy who was maybe in his late teens or early twenties. He smelled, even from far away, and was walking strangely and making funny noises. I braced myself for our passing because I could tell he had some sort of mental disability.

Some back story here for you, I have always been one to hate standing out, and to me, even reaching out and loving someone different than the majority was too much. Before today, I’d be ashamed to admit even associating with someone different was a task I was usually not willing to do, because I felt like it would highlight and exaggerate my own differences, and I didn’t want that to happen at all costs. This always showed when I was around my mom’s students. She worked with special education students and sometimes had them in our home, too. My mom and I were very close in some ways, so when she worked in my high school, I would usually visit her in the day. She loved welcoming me into her students’ lives, but I always shied away from it, scared of highlighting my own differences. I, of course, admired her ability to selflessly love in this way, I just couldn’t get myself to do it, wondering why God skimped out on giving me those genes. (Remember how I prayed that God would reveal sin in my life and then correct it? It’s happennnning. Praise the Lord for His grace I’m receiving in FULL measure!)

Fast forward back to Kalungu. As we approached him, he was in the middle of our path and the members of the family we were with gave him a big shove out of the way without saying a word accompanied with a disgusted look on their faces. My first emotional response to this interaction? Relief.

My heart sank. ‘Who am I right now?!? Who am I at all? What is wrong with me???’ I thought. I found myself going through the quickest heart change probably in the history of forever. I turned around and looked at him as he stared at us passing by. ‘This is what the community thinks of you, huh? You must be lonely and so hurt inside, but I can’t help you, or I would stand out… especially here, by the looks of it, but I want to. How can I love you without standing out?’

Then the voice of Jesus, simple and clear per usual: “Brooke, love stands out.”

I turned around again and smiled really big and waved. He followed us all the way to the church where we were headed for a choir rehearsal and everyone around seemed incredibly annoyed. I was excited. I asked if anyone knew the boy’s name and one woman said that it was Zechariah. I greeted him by name and watched perhaps the biggest smile in the world appear on his face. I came and sat by him and when the choir started singing, joyfully dancing with him around the room. I looked like a goofball, many eyes on me, and for once, I didn’t care. Because Zechariah might be different, but he’s a person first, and there are things like joy and laughter that Zechariah has more of than any person I’ve ever met.

I think there’s way more to life than not standing out, especially if you follow Jesus. I don’t know when or where I started living under the delusion, but one thing is for sure, I refuse to anymore. Love stands out. Jesus stood out on the cross in both the greatest stand apart event and the greatest act of love of all time. Why do I curse God for the things that make me stand out? Whether or not those things are from or of Him, the understanding and permission it gives me to stand out in love is worth it all and more.”

He knows what He’s doing, that’s for sure. Because in the middle of my hardest struggles there, He was teaching me deep down lessons of the kingdom that will never be moved. (Which aligns with a word I received a few weeks back that said before bringing the kingdom through me, He wanted to build it in me, first.)

Still at the church, while I was journaling the above story about Zechariah, two leaders from FCE (Sulene and Martha) found me so we could talk and pray. They had heard about how miserable I was and wanted to give me someone else to talk to. I explained to them the massive heart changes that were going on and how physically, I still didn’t feel great, but how emotionally and spiritually I had never been better. They were excited for me and proceeded to pray for physical healing. That’s when things got even crazier.

I’ve always been terrified and ashamed to be open about the fact that I have a disease called PCOS. Just a couple months before this trip to Zambia, I started being a little more open about it with a few friends. It has come up a lot on this trip in a lot of ways, and some of my friends here and I have wondered if God wanted to heal me of it while here. This made things very interesting when Sulene was praying for physical healing for me and started using exact words and phrases in her prayer that aligned exactly with words in the diagnosis of the disease. She had no idea that she was saying was awakening a great hope and faith, but as she was praying, my heart asked my Father, “Are you really doing it?”

I let Sulene and Martha go back to base without telling them in that moment how crazy their prayer was hitting more than they realized because I was hesitant to see if the results would meet my hopes. Starting in a matter of hours though, not only did my body physically start to feel better, but I also watched symptoms of PCOS slowly start to disappear. It was very gradual and nothing completely went away. I was still in pain throughout the entire stay, but it definitely improved and I was able to finish my village stay with great joy. (I should mention, the symptoms I saw disappear came back a couple days after my village stay. “Old Brooke” would have lost faith in that moment, but “New Brooke” completely believes that she is still being healed, even when the symptoms are still there. Makes no sense? Well that’s faith, and for once I have a heck of a lot of it.)

After being back at base, I finally did get to share with Martha, Sulene, and the rest of my team the crazy things that God had been up to in me. One of the leaders then asked me to share my experience with the entire FCE Kalungu base as well as the FCE leaders from the other training centers around Southern Africa. I realized when reciting my experience that we may have spent most of every day cracking open ground nuts (peanuts) and I may have swallowed a lot of food that I never hope to again. I may have been referred to as “Muzungu” for four days while the family learned my African partners name and story and I may have been in extreme pain sleeping on hard packed dirt/concrete every night, but I’m so thankful for all of it. This is how the Skolonga family lives. This is how a whole lot of families live. What looked unhealthy was probably the most healthy way I could live in my whole life: getting out of my comfort zone and my way of life and into somebody else’s. I can tell you thankfulness takes on a new meaning when all of a sudden you have a mattress again (and it feels like a freaking cloud from heaven) and a shower and a toilet and clean water and friends who speak your language, etc. etc. etc. I’m also thankful for my experience in the village, because it allowed God to reach a whole new part of me that I think He’s been waiting to get to for a long time.

 

BrookeJeries ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern

Rest and Little Victories – Week Seven

August 1st, 2015 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2015 0 comments on “Rest and Little Victories – Week Seven”

This week started off strong and, believe it or not, good (read: good. Do not read: perfect, flawless, with lack of times where I still plead with the Lord for time to fly by and for me to be home). After Beat the Drum, our staff finally gave us not just a full-day break, but 3 and 1/2 days! It was so joyous not only to have our base back to our EXP selves (Quietness is a thing again!), but also to have time to actually do what we wanted to do. For the Americans, that meant lots of time in cafes connecting with home. Our time was also filled with movies and rest, time in the word, exploring more of town, and shopping at the market. I think that was one thing I’ve been missing a lot without realizing it: doing what I want to do. The first fully free day when I woke up, I had no idea what to do my entire day and it was actually a truly strange feeling that I was going to get to choose. I know that sounds a little ridiculous… I agree! In some ways, I really connected it with the first tastes of freedom in anything else, too.

On Monday evening (still in our holiday), I had the absolute pleasure of “teaching” a session on Prophecy/Hearing the Voice of God to most of my team and staff here. I loved sharing my heart, again, and most of all watching people step into things they never realized they could. I only shared a little bit about what I’ve learned, and then spent most of the time guiding games/practice time. The response was incredible! Everyone was open with what and how they were hearing/seeing from God and some said it was the first time they felt like they heard from God so clearly. There was even time to prophecy over each other (though you wouldn’t know who you are prophesying over to begin with) with a specific prompt (we were to ask the Lord for a picture of an animal, the meaning behind why this animal represented this person, and a word for the name of the person here that they are supposed to start mentoring). I think most people in the room were picture people rather than word people, because many of the names didn’t match up (though a couple did!). What was really incredible was that every single person got a picture of a different animal and pretty detailed explanations as well, and when each person revealed their number after hearing their prophecy, they ALL felt that theirs was extremely accurate. This week, their job is to keep trusting it and practicing it. I’m excited to see where this goes! I’m also praising God for being SUCH a good Father that He speaks to His kids. Thank you God that your heart is for that and for us!

On Tuesday afternoon, our holiday ended and we spent our first ministry time each focusing in on our own particular student who we meant at Beat the Drum who we are supposed to start mentoring. On Wednesday we went to the school again for Reach for Life (a club started based on the lessons of Reach for Life) and on Thursday we did our usual community outreach home visits.

Friday consisted of “The Luke 10” challenge, which consisted of us going out into the community two by two and meeting strangers, which was out of a lot of people’s comfort zone, but actually it has been my favorite ministry time yet! It reminded me of what we do back home, just genuinely trying to get to know strangers you’d never meet otherwise. We also had the task of learning at least one person’s story and retelling it to 12 people. Some of you received that email already, but for everyone else, I’d like you to meet Edgar.

Edgar Sampa is 26 years old and has lived in Livingstone for his entire life. My friend Limpo and I met Edgar while walking down a street near the base that we live at. He is the owner of a small shop that sells treats and small groceries. After speaking to him a little bit, he invited us back in the yard behind and we got the chance to hear more about his life.

Edgar was an only child and his parents passed away when he was only 10 years old. He did not know any of his other relatives and he became a street kid until he went into the care of Ebenezer, an organization taking care of orphans in Livingstone. He was there until he reached grade 10, because the organization has an age limit. After this time, Edgar was referred to another organization called Care and they took responsibility over him until he completed his schooling. One thing that was evident of Edgar while speaking with him was that he was very intelligent. He shared with us the name of the school that he went to and we recognized it as one of the very best schools in Livingstone. Clearly, Edgar has a smart brain and a whole lot of potential. After graduating from school in 2009 and always being interested in business, Edgar opened up the shop where we met him (He has been running it for six years now and enjoys his work very much).

We spoke to Edgar for a long time and were even able to be let in to some of his struggles. He shared with us that he lives alone and, though he attends a local church, he described his walk with God as an unstable one: always going forward and backward, never feeling as close to God as he wanted. One problem that he continuously faces is having lots of thoughts swirling around in his head. In an effort to silence those thoughts, he often turns to alcohol. He shared with us that when he does that, he feels as if he disappoints God in many ways and also does not feel worthy to stand before Him. We were able to encourage him with the truth about his situation, using pictures and words that the Holy Spirit was putting in our head and heart to reassure him of his unchanging worth in the eyes of the Father. We were also able to take the time to remind him of who he was, as an adopted son of the Most High God, and it was so beautiful to see in his eyes that those truths were hitting his heart. We spoke to him, too, about other options to relieve all of his “swirling thoughts” (and that he didn’t have to turn to drinking to solve these problems). He was encouraged by this and is planning to try reading the Word whenever the thoughts come. He also invited us back to visit him whenever we wanted, and we are excited to continue our friendship with him. We believe the Lord is going to do great things in Edgar’s life and we are excited to keep up with him for these last 4 weeks of the program here and beyond.

Other than that, our week has been pretty normal. We are still making preparations for our trip to Isoka. I hit a “low moment” again in the middle of the week pleading with the Lord to send me home. It’s very frustrating to be somewhere you don’t want to be and to 1) know you need to stay 2) know you won’t get as much good out of it as you can without having a better attitude and 3) you’re not able to fix that attitude no matter how hard you’ve been trying. One thing that has been slightly helpful is reminding myself that the Lord knew what He was getting me into and He even know how much I’d be miserable in it, but still He had a purpose. I can’t wait to be able to look back and see what that purpose was, but until then, I’m going to celebrate the little victories this week, and submit to Him the difficulties. Only 4 weeks left to go!

 

BrookeJeries ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern

Weeks Five and Six

July 6th, 2015 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2015 0 comments on “Weeks Five and Six”

img_3985These past two weeks have been some of the busiest, craziest weeks of my entire life. We were joined on base with a team from LXP (a leadership program in South Africa) and a Poetice team from the U.S. (Hamburg, New York) for a program called Beat the Drum. This meant our little base was all of a sudden crammed with ~50 people all living, sleeping, eating together, all the time. Altogether, we represented 7 different nations (Zambia, USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, & Ghana).

Beat the Drum is a biblically based HIV/AIDS awareness program that teaches abstinence and other biblical values in high schools around Southern Africa. Week Five (the first week of Beat the Drum) was training week for all of us on base, so our days were packed full with learning the curriculum and practicing what the next week would look like. Week Six was the implementation. Every morning, we would wake up very early and walk to David Livingstone High School (about 15 minutes away) and teach the curriculum in groups of two for an hour in every classroom. We would then wait outside until the break and connect with the morning students. After we would walk home for lunch and return shortly after to repeat the process for the afternoon students.

The stories we heard from these kids were some of the most heart-breaking, eye-opening, and blood-boiling things I’ve ever heard. Many students had great courage and opened up one-on-one with lots of us, even more students opened up through a confidential letter system that allowed them to ask us anything they wanted. Friends, pray for the students we met this week and the ones that we didn’t. I don’t know if I ever even imagined the possibility of so much heartache, corruption, abuse, and the like in one place.

One of the other things that became unavoidably evident this week was a deeper realization of “Christianity” in this nation. It is, by all means, not the case with every Zambian who calls themself a Christian, and not only an issue in Zambia (in fact, it reminded me of West Michigan in some ways). Basically, “Christian” here means you attend a church on Sundays. You probably even know a lot of scripture by heart and you might even speak in tongues. What it doesn’t necessarily mean is that you have a relationship with God (or even know what that is). It was exciting, but also difficult, calling so many children of God into the Kingdom, ones who called themselves Christians but didn’t realize God cared for them and wanted relationship with them, ones who found that following the Lord is a walk of love and discipleship and not of a short checklist of cultural obligations.

As for me, the main thing the Lord has been teaching me these past two weeks is the secret of contentment. I’ve been hesitant to write about it because I can’t say I understand in the slightest, yet, but it’s what He’s been teaching me in the chaos and the silence (silence being a relative term in this case because with 50 people living together, there is no such thing as real silence). Expect more on the topic of contentment because I’ve just been scratching the surface, but here are some things I’ve been recognizing as I’ve been searching the word for everything related to being content:

Contentment should only be based on God. Therefore, the only things that should make you discontent are sin, injustice, and things that bring separation from God. Everything else is “fair game”. It is connected to trust and dying to self. It is the opposite of fear and the opposite of anxiety. We can be content because He provides, He cares, He loves, He intervenes, He is mighty and all powerful, He is creative, He is God. Contentment can only come with an understanding of the greatness and prominence of the kingdom of Heaven and the smallness and, in some ways, insignificance of the world. Contentment shines brighter in the midst of waves and points to the work of Jesus without even trying. And perhaps, the most evident thing I’ve learned yet: True Godly contentment takes bold faith, a thankful heart, and abundant courage.

Things I miss:
My People
Lemonjellos
Communion
Moran Park Church
House Churches
Michigan Summers
Lake Michigan
American Food
Showers and Hot Water
Ice Cubes
Infrequent Power Outages
Wifi

Things I’m thankful for:
My People
Sunsets
EXP family
My heavenly Father’s voice
Kobu Café
Fourth of July – A Taste of Home: So, the Americans have been planning our Independence Day celebrations since Week Two. It didn’t all go as planned (we wanted S’mores, but there weren’t marshmallows or graham crackers…. Soooo….), but it was still wonderful and reminded me so much of home, even though I’ve never particularly loved the 4th of July. We started the morning in outfits of red white and blue with wifi at a coffee shop (A first time having real coffee in the morning) and time downtown. The afternoon included making guacamole with some strange flavors of Doritos (Plain tortilla chips don’t exist here.), which was probably the most at home we’ve felt yet (food-wise). Finally, we ended the night with the Africans joining us with red, white, and blue beads and flag napkins at an Italian food restaurant in town for pizza and gelato and a rousing rendition of The Star Spangled Banner that of course made the entire restaurant stare at us.

I’m officially over the half-way point and I’m so ready to come home (I have been since the moment I arrived), but I’m also ready to finish strong here. There’s a lot that the Lord is doing in me, and while I’d love to come home now, I know He’s doing a work that’s worth finishing.

BrookeJeries ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern

Majesty – Week Four

June 21st, 2015 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2015 0 comments on “Majesty – Week Four”

img_2783This week started out quite similar to last. Yes, I’m still walking through the difficulties of building altars, but incredibly enough, I’m already starting to see the ways that the Father is making me look more like His son. This week our class time has been spent learning about Attitudes of the Heart and Spiritual Disciplines. I’m learning way more, though, in the lessons that come from simply living life here. God is continuing to prune me, especially calling out pride in what feels like every possible way one can have pride. But each time He allows me to see it, He invites me to take another step into holiness. Admittedly, I’ve declined some of those invitations, but I’ve said, “yes” to even more of them and, though it’s hard, it’s been worth it every time.

In the middle of the difficulties, the Lord spoke this to me: “Brooke, I told you that you’d be going to war. It was never meant to be easy, but I promised to be with you. This is Narnia. It’s a big world. There’s danger and good and way more than you ever could have even imagined before stepping into it, but I am with you. I’m with you. I’m with you. I’m with you…”

Our ministry time on Tuesday was spent interviewing some local women on the issues of premarital sex and teen pregnancy in their communities. We are putting together a video to use in a women’s conference later this winter (July). I was the videographer for this project so it was really interesting to get to hear so many different points of view and also to be able to start seeing more of the particular brokenness in the culture I’m living in (Every culture has its own brokenness). This was a really big topic because HIV/Aids is such a huge issue here and it’s heartbreaking to hear things like “Nobody wants to change” and “It’s never going to change” come from people’s mouths, as they offer surface-level solutions that don’t get anywhere near the heart of the issue. This doesn’t mean that this is everyone’s view, but it’s sad knowing that it even is one at all.

Another consistent thing I am seeing in this culture is prosperity gospel. It’s everywhere and blatant, as with many places where there is extreme poverty. While there are definitely believers here that don’t preach this, it’s pretty hard (if not, impossible) to find a church that doesn’t preach it to some extent. That has been difficult to realize as I come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to church here to ‘be filled up’. It’s more of a cultural experience where I learn about the people that surround me and what they believe. While this is hard, it’s honestly also really beautiful because it drives me to the secret place much more than it does back home.

On Wednesday, our ministry time was spent at a high school where we go every week to hang out, play games, get to know each other, and study the word together. On Thursday, we walked to a compound and a few of us helped out at a small “community living” space we’ve been to before. We continued building relationships and also helping out with chores around the houses. A beautiful woman named Irene taught me how to braid her daughter Anita’s hair. This included braiding in extensions. Neither of them could speak very much English, but between my tiny amount of Nyanja and Bemba (Yes, I’ve been learning some different tribal languages. Eeeeeek, it’s rough.) and their tiny amount of English, we were able to have loads of fun laughing at my attempt at African hairstyling. On Friday, we spent the morning going back and forth to Immigration, finally getting our temporary work permits. We are officially residents of Zambia! And can legally stay until the end of our program.

So, for the most part, that was the week. Some ups, some downs, and a whole lot of battles, but that’s what you can expect from war. The past couple days, though, have really come at the perfect time and have also reminded me of a lot of truth. It’s like God planned it that way or something and these eyes of mine have benefited much:

img_2704

img_2612

img_2793

img_2840

img_2885

I think “living” and “breathing” have too often been used as synonyms when, in reality, they mean entirely different things. One speaks of simply having a heartbeat. The other speaks of a richness that even in the best circumstances can’t be manufactured—it can only be discovered.

The splendor of His majesty. That’s the phrase that keeps echoing in my ears. Getting glimpses of God in different venues can be the most faith-boosting activity you can do, sometimes. He’s God and He’s everywhere, but there’s some things where at the mere sight of them, doubts and worries are washed away. Walking with two large undomesticated lions might not be your cup of tea, just like a long hike up a giant cliff isn’t mine, but whatever it is that makes your heart full, your soul wild, and your mind wonder—go do that. Because this earth and all that is within it, no matter how broken and fallen it now is, was once created to be enjoyed…. and after the limited time I have on it I don’t want to meet the creator unfamiliar with the splendor of His creation.

BrookeJeries ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern

Building Altars – Week Three (in Luanshya)

June 14th, 2015 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2015 0 comments on “Building Altars – Week Three (in Luanshya)”

img_2128“Brooke, I’m giving you the option to build an altar and, if you choose, you can put your ‘self’ upon it.”

This, my friends, was the beautiful and painful invitation that The Lord gave me at the beginning of this week. I know that laying your self down is exactly what the life of a follower of Jesus should be like, but I have never so tangibly been faced with the agony that comes with making that choice moment-by-moment. I wanted the prize of what can come from this trip instantly and in my comfort. I didn’t want to plant the tree and nurture it and wait for it to mature enough to start bearing fruit. And so thus far my time in Zambia has been a major struggle. Comfort zones were left behind the moment that first plane hit the air and I’ve been desperately searching to get them back, with no luck, ever since. You can imagine, then, the difficulty in making the choice to build that altar and say, “Jesus, this discomfort is okay and I’m even giving you the permission and the welcome for it to continue.”

With a lot of tears and my flesh still fighting back, I’ve been building that altar, and I’m going to continue building it every day that I’m here. I must admit He has encouraged me much with glimpses of the potential of the outcome, but it’s the present moments and living in the mess that has me still singing. (Read: singing, not happy. The pruning that I went through in preparation for this trip was like child’s play compared to this, but I can feel myself changing, and for that reason alone, I can still sing.)

That’s the thing: transformation is much less about what you become than it is about the becoming. The final product is valuable but the road to get there is long and winding and is all that we experience until we finally do get to where we are going. We call it life, but really it’s a series of occasions and moments where we are repeatedly called higher and given the option to take His hand or not.

It’s easy to see your destination in the distance and fool yourself into thinking that it’s only 100 meters ahead, but it’s what you don’t see that means a whole lot more. Because what you don’t see is that in 10 meters, the path veers left and you have to go through mountains before it ever veers right again. It’s often better to just look up and make the decision that the path you’re on really does lead where you want to go. It’s by His grace, alone, that I’m writing this all as if I understand it. I’ve fought it and fought it, but all of a sudden the storm has ceased. I can’t quite explain it but theses words were the best I know how. I’m still in the middle of the ocean and there are more storms on the horizon but I don’t’ feel the urgency to fight the tide anymore. I think I’ve learned that there’s less value in me trying to steer around unavoidable rough waters than simply trusting my captain.

So, that’s what’s been going on inside, but outside, week three has been packed as well.

Day one in Luanshya involved making bricks at a school in a small nearby village. They have been finding that something like 70-80% of people being convicted in the nearby cities grew up in this village. This school was established for the many children that live there, but aren’t able to pay for it or attend somewhere far away. The community decided that to help pay for the cost of running the school and for the cost of books, they would pitch in together to make bricks and sell them for a (very small) profit.

Day two we went to the Luanshya Mine Hospital. We spent the morning doing yard work. I, believe it or not, was responsible for cleaning out sewer drains with machetes. Fun times. We also stumbled across the biggest spider I’ve seen yet in my team here. (And I didn’t die.) We are guessing from our googling that it was a “Black and Yellow Garden Spider” and it was about the size of half my hand. I will admit it was kind of cool looking. But I’d be very happy to never see it again, that’s for sure.

Since Luanshya is in the copper belt, we also got to drive around town after lunch and see some of the copper mine shafts and the communities that surround them. It was really interesting to see knowing that a lot of people’s lives are centered around them. We then drove back to the hospital and prayed over all of the patients. My group was assigned to the women’s ward and the maternity ward. It was so encouraging to talk with lots of women and hear little bits about their lives, even though some of the conversations had to take place mostly through our teammate Limpo for translations. It was also really exciting to watch her translating in a language she didn’t know very well (the Spirit was definitely at work!). One woman that we prayed for, we all kept getting different words for her that all confirmed each other and as we continued to share, she ended up sharing that her son was in prison back in Livingstone (where we stay) and was suspect for a murder that he didn’t commit. There was a chance that he was going to be released the next day if someone didn’t show up to the court, so we were able to pray for her, but also with her for her son. It was crazy how much she was closed off, but how much she opened up as the Lord moved.

Day three we went to a “home for the aged” in the village. There was, once again, a language barrier here, but we were able to help clean and then pray for some people, even one man who had been having nightmares. We then had an AMAZING opportunity to join some local house church leaders for their bi-weekly gathering. Some walk many kilometers to come to share testimony and encouragement with other house church leaders. It was incredible talking to some of them and hearing how they ‘do house church’, mostly because as they described their experiences, it sounded more and more how house church at home is! Based off of the church in acts, everyone comes with “something to bring”. They worship together, take offering, share communion, pray for each other, have times of confession and practice the gifts. In the gathering there were babies and just like at home it was church in the midst of life, exactly how it should be. They described to us that since they started the house churches in the village, they’ve seen big changes. This community was once a neglected one, and in about 5 years of casting things out and praying and allowing God to choose leaders, they have seen witch doctors and criminals just leave, drinking and prostitution keep disappearing. Many used to talk about this village with fear and say, “You cannot enter this place. Even if the Lord tells you to. They will kill you.” And it has completely turned around.

That afternoon, I got to finish reading the first Narnia book and spending more time with the Lord. This is part of what I wrote after my time with Him:

“The Lord, I think, gave me a very unique gift the day I really met Him: a raw and deep understanding that this world is not all there is. Every childhood imagination, awe, and wonder in my head all of a sudden put to worthwhile use. It’s something, I’m learning, that all of this world doesn’t necessarily know and I’m so thankful that, for some reason, I do…”

It was so encouraging to spend that time with Him as it was very taxing to continue ‘building that altar’. It also got me into a really good place for day four, which came by a huge and beautiful surprise.

Day four, we traveled to the headquarters of FCE (Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education) at Koti ni Eden (which means “just like eden”). The campus was beautiful so that had to have been part of it, but I also, for some strong reason, felt like it was a little bit like ‘home’. After falling in love with the campus, we then had the pleasure of meeting with one of the founders and hearing about the mission, and I fell in love with that, too. Everything about their organization resonated with me and, even more, much of what he said confirmed words I have heard from the Lord. I wish I had remembered a notebook and pen because I would’ve wanted to quote basically everything that he said. One was this: “Missions is just the byproduct of people who have been truly discipled.” The organization is all about teaching skills and discipling people and training people to go out and be “missionaries” and use those skills in whatever they do. This included a lot of self-sustainable living and agricultural techniques, which were very interesting to learn about. They also talked about how ‘church’ in much of Africa (and I would argue the USA as well) doesn’t look like how God intended, that you should have a 1 day a week gathering and that’s your entire Christian life. We, as believers, are the church, and we’ve forgotten that, yet it is so important.

I’m very excited to see what the Lord has for me in the future of this program. It felt like a very defining moment and, if anything, I will be taking much of what I learned from them and applying it to the communities I live in from now on. I also will continue to ask if there is something with their organization in my future. (We will for sure be serving with FCE in the northern province of Zambia during our 2 week outreach towards the end of July).

That, for the most part, sums up my time in Luanshya and since we have been back in Livingstone, we have been mostly resting. Next week we will be on base and I hopefully will be able to communicate a little bit more as most of us are purchasing SIM cards for our phones so that we can have some contact with home when there’s no wifi. There’s also some BIG plans for this coming Saturday that my friend Emily and I are looking forward, too. I won’t ruin the surprise, but I will say it’s going to probably be my favorite part of the trip, if not life.

Thank you, as always, for your continued prayers and support.

 

BrookeJeries ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern

Week Two – Zambia

June 6th, 2015 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2015 0 comments on “Week Two – Zambia”

img_1781This week we have had a bit of a regular schedule on the base. Poetice International works with in-country partners, so here in Livingstone, we are all a part of an organization called Elijah Mission International: Zambia (EMIZ) and the program we are doing here is called The Elijah Experience.

While we are on the base, our schedules look like this (so you can know what I’m up to, what you can be praying for— and when):

6:00 devotion
7:00 breakfast
8:00 prayer and worship
9:00 session (workshops/lectures)
12:30 lunch
14:00-17:00 ministry
18:00 supper
19:00 evening session/debrief

On Mondays, everyone on the base fasts together. On Thursdays, we have an extra prayer and worship night. On Fridays, we have “expect the unexpected”… My personality doesn’t like those much.

There’s little things that are good and bad like 8 kwacha (~0.85 cent) gelato downtown and cold water bucket showers or the fact that I’ve eaten more nshima than I ever want to (I’m not a fan yet… praying that comes soon… there’s going to be a lot more of it) and the tea I’m currently sipping that was made from some grass and leaves found on the side of the road (it just so happens to be the best tea I’ve ever tasted).

There’s also big things that are good and bad. The fact that I’ve had so much time with the Lord is beautiful. I don’t remember ever having so much and it’s glorious. I know He’s doing a huge work in me. It’s also really hard here, though. In one way, not being able to communicate with all of you as much as I’d like is really starting to take a toll on me. I don’t think I’ve ever realized so much the value of the community I’m in. I always knew it was good, but I’m realizing now how essential it is. There are awesome people here with me in Zambia and that’s really good, but I love that the second I get to connect with “my people” at home, they push me closer to Jesus than I’ve felt yet in the middle of the trials this trip has presented. I look forward to this group I’m with getting to a place where they can do it, too, but for now I think it’s okay to miss “my people”.

This week we have been studying the story of God, becoming even more rooted in the gospel we all love so much and the different aspects of God’s story and how our stories fit into it. One of my favorite sessions was getting to hear from Micah Kephart, the founder of Poetice International. He shared, among other things, about our own “integral mission” with Poetice/EMIZ in the proclamation paired with demonstration of the gospel in our lives. I’ve loved recognizing and reminding myself of human kind’s shared responsibility to bring healing to the world on every dimension: spiritual, physical, emotional, psychological, relational, social, and environmental. After all, Jesus came to make ALL things new.

On Tuesday we had our first ministry day. One of the things that we did was visit a young adult who participates in some of the ministries that EMIZ runs who is currently in the hospital (prayers for her healing!!). She should have died from what had happened to her, and she is living, but in a lot of pain and has been in the hospital for a while. The hospital looked very different than anything I had seen in the States.  The only pain medication she could be on was Ibuprofen. It was devastating talking to her and her family and I could hardly keep from crying while trying to encourage them. We prayed with her and read scripture over her and I’m believing that the Lord will heal her! The women of the group also walked to a woman’s house and met with her and her friend and simply fellowshipped together. They are both hungry for the word and for the Lord so it was an enormous blessing to spend time with them and pour into their lives. I even got to lead worship! Pray that the Lord would continue to increase my worship-leading abilities! I’ve stepped out a lot vocally and am trusting that as I follow where He leads, there will be fruit.

Speaking of stepping out, I’ve also had the opportunity to share a little of what I’ve learned about identity and the father heart of God. It was truly beautiful to see the way the Lord moved in our community that day revealing more of Himself! And I’m excited to see the way He continues to move and use me. I’m so lucky that He doesn’t have to use me one bit, and there are a million people more qualified than I am, and yet He keeps looking into my eyes and choosing me and I never ever want that to feel un-extraordinary.

At the end of the week, one of our speakers shared with us an amazing message on how our work can’t be done out of our own strength. Anyone who wanted to lay themselves down and give room for the finished work of Jesus to be their ministry was invited to be anointed with oil by one of the leaders. I think it is a good thing for me to continue reminding myself of. There’s really so much going on here than myself. There’s a greater God at greater work in a greater nation (and world) than I can even comprehend—especially when I’m busy thinking of me me me all the time.

I’ve mentioned that God said “Narnia” was going to play a big role in what I’m doing here this summer and it’s been crazy how much that has already proved true. Sadly, I wouldn’t have the time to share even a quarter of the ways that has happened. I will share, though, one of the hardest things I’ve heard, because I think that means it’s going to eventually means it will be the most valuable.

Last night, a new friend and I were watching “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” (I happened to leave the disc in my computer, so it’s exciting to have a movie to watch here! Especially that one. Jesus…. Hah!) and we got to the part where Edmund first stumbles (literally) into Narnia. The very first thing he does when he enters is fall right into the White Witch’s path and then listens to her promises of sweets (comforts). I was watching this and heard God say, “Brooke, don’t be Edmund. Don’t make deals with the enemy for the sake of comfort.”

What you might not know is I’ve been considering lots of different things for the sake of comfort… including wondering if I’m supposed to be here, or if I should stay here at all. I need to remember it’s not about me. It’s not about comfort. It’s not about anything but Him and glorifying Him and giving Him the praise He’s due. Luckily, I was anointed to do just that.

This next week we will be on an outreach in the city of Luanshya (about 12 hours north of where we are now). Please be praying for me and for our team. I’m worried and excited all at once, but praying that most of all, He will be praised.

 

BrookeJeries ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern

Week One – Zambia

June 1st, 2015 Posted by Immersion Internship - 2015 0 comments on “Week One – Zambia”

img_1735To say that this week has been stretching would be the best word I can think of to describe it and yet it is still such an understatement. I’ve been stretched to my limits physically, mentally, and spiritually in the best possible ways.

I remember finding my gate in the Grand Rapids airport, jubilant and proud that I had taken “my first step” into this new adventure. This didn’t last too long, however, as my flight got delayed so much that I would be arriving in my next stop: Washington D.C., exactly one minute after the rest of my team would be taking off together on the next leg of the journey over the ocean. I realized that I would have to do the rest of the traveling through foreign countries on my own, and that this solo trip would have to be extended to a whopping 67 hours of traveling. Cue: anxiety.

When I landed in D.C., I was overwhelmed wandering around the airport, being sent to desk after desk with no one who could help me. I kept tearing up and realizing just how big of a deal this adventure was… not only for the kingdom of God, but also against the kingdom of darkness. The enemy was fighting back and was going to continue doing so if I was really in the will of God. // I’m choosing that it’s worth the fight.

I did finally get the help I needed and spent the night in D.C. waiting for my new flight. The next day, Jesus surprised me with a gift as my friend Kyla (who I haven’t seen in a year and now lives in DC) took an uber car to the airport just to hang out with me in the airport lobby for a few hours. It was so refreshing to my already worn-out soul. I’m so thankful that Jesus knew my heart so well and made that happen. I’m also thankful for friendships that time and distance can’t destroy.

Next came the 17-hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa (with a stop in Dakar, Senegal. Though we couldn’t get off the plane, it was still a really interesting city to see from the plane window. It was also crazy to think that 8 hours before, I had been in America and what a drastic difference I was seeing on the other side.). Spending the night by myself in a hotel in Johannesburg, I realized even more how crazy of a thing it was that I was doing. I don’t think I can quite explain to you how much anxiety I had… My current situation was so mind-boggling to the person I always thought I was that there was nothing but room for Jesus to speak. I realized 2 main things:

1) Sometimes being an adult sucks, and while we are definitely supposed to be like children when we approach the father, there’s also a time in the world when you have to realize you’ve done it… you’ve grown up. I wasn’t like those kids always wishing I was older. I was quite the opposite… but maybe I just watched Peter Pan too many times. It has been hitting me really hard this past year (and especially in this traveling experience) that there is a certain beauty in childhood that I can’t hang on to forever and that that’s okay. There’s also much importance, though, in intentionally fostering the heavenly aspects of childhood that should never go away. He’s teaching me the parts that need to stay and what needs to go. It’s painful and beautiful at the same time, as all the best things are.

2) He’s such a proud dad. I’ve never felt so much affirmation from The Father than I did on those plane rides. I kept blushing and laughing from the intensity of His beaming smile. I may not be “winning hundreds of souls” right now, but I’m being obedient, and there is nothing that I (or He) want(s) more than that.

On Tuesday, I finally arrived in Livingstone, Zambia at 1pm and was driven straight from the airport to the bush on the banks of the Zambezi River (pre-Victoria Falls) to join the rest of my team in their “challenge” day. I arrived just in time for our next task: catching 3 chickens. It was time to start making dinner. After catching them, we had to kill them, pluck the feathers out, clean them, and prepare them while others made a fire. We also prepared nshima. It was getting dark by the time we were ready to eat and I got my first peak at this side of the Earth’s night sky. Wow. You want to see stars? Go to the African bush. We talked and made a giant roaring fire and performed skits for each other before eventually retiring to our tents for the night. It was a difficult night of sleep for me anyway because I hadn’t really slept in about 4 days, but add the fact that I was sleeping on the ground in what felt like the middle of nowhere and that right outside the tent were crocodiles, snakes, and hippos (yes, all three. Especially the hippos… who splashed and made terrifying noises at us all night at us because we were sleeping in the spot where they usually ate. I remember being a kid and seeing the robotic hippo outside of Rainforest Café wondering why they made it look so scary. I get it now.). But, I survived J and somehow the adventure of it all gave me enough energy to keep going, even though I was now on day 5 with extremely minimal sleep, and the first thing we did in the morning was pack up the tents and the rest of camp and embark on the ~8 mile hike back to the main road.

That morning was when I learned another big lesson… this one on grace. I’ve been told that I can be too hard on myself sometimes (Yes, Staci, I do listen to you.) and this trip so far has been no exception. On that hike I found myself literally to the end of my strength. I don’t think I have ever been so sleep-deprived in my life and with each step I became more and more exhausted. I was even more frustrated because I began falling behind my group and two new friends walked beside me behind everyone else. I kept saying how bad I felt and they kept shooting my apologies down and reassuring me. I felt like I heard Jesus say: “Brooke, which voice sounds more like me in this situation? Yours or theirs?” It was obvious… theirs. They were extending grace that I desperately needed. I’ve been given the mind of Christ and so from now on // I’m choosing to give myself grace.

The rest of the week was extremely eventful but I won’t be going into as much detail. One of the best things that we did was share our stories. To give us time to reflect on it, we went to the ground of The Royal Livingstone Hotel (read: ‘bougie’ hotel). Once again we were on the shores of the Zambezi River, but closer to the Falls and we could see them from the deck we sat on. There were also Zebras and monkeys and antelopes all roaming around. It was such a cool place to spend time with the Lord discovering and rediscovering our stories.

Speaking of those, He has had me open up about things I have never had the courage to talk about, and over and over I keep finding myself meeting grace again. // It’s uncomfortable, but there are chains falling in those moments, I know it and I’m choosing to declare it.

So, how am I really doing after week one? A wise new friend recently told me that often times, the “worst of you” comes out on trips like these. I’m finding already that this is very true. Too much of the time, all I want to do is leave this place to go home or to simply go somewhere more comfortable. But when did the gospel ever mention comfort as a good thing to seek after? I should be rejoicing in my discomfort and the stretching that’s happening instead of wishing it away, but that is a hard mindset to have and I don’t think I can make myself have it either. And so that is my prayer right now: that even when it seems impossible, He would make me desire this place I’m at right now rather than what might be more comfortable. Here, I can’t talk to the people I love and I am left without things I usually use. I’m missing a lot of the things I love to do and I am so tired and weak. But I can talk with the One I love most and I have everything I truly need. In Him, I lack no good thing and the joy of the Lord is my strength.

I’m choosing that it’s worth the fight.

I’m choosing to give myself grace.

I’m choosing to declare that chains are falling.

I’m choosing to invest here.

And I’m choosing to trust my Father.

 

BrookeJeries ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern