To say the least, Beat the Drum wasn’t exactly what I expected. At this point, I’ve kind of tried to lose expectations because it’s always different from what I think it will be. I didn’t know very much about this program other than that it was about HIV/AIDS and prevention. But it was so much more than that. It was so stretching. From the very start, it was kind of overwhelming because there were over 30 extra people with us 24/7. Their arrival was long expected and I feel like all the prayer and preparation that went into the waiting period should have made it easier to meet everyone at once, but my introverted side won over and it was honestly pretty difficult to get used to. By the grace of God, we all got to know each other well and tell each other our stories and timelines and we all became close.
The first week of Beat the Drum was training, going through the curriculum that’s provided and getting prepped for the week in the schools. After the first day, learning what we would be doing, I expected the rest of the week to be learning material and figuring out how to teach. I was right to expect that, but I was not expecting how emotional it would be, or how convicting it would be, or how healing it would be. Hearing several people’s journeys and their story of being brought to redemption and the light of the Lord seriously got to my heart. God has gifted me with this heart that just wants to take away people’s pain and make it all better, and I think that not just in Beat the Drum but also during this whole trip, it’s been teaching me that no matter what I hear from someone else, even if I can fix it, I need to take it to Him. We weren’t meant to take on everyone else’s burdens for them. Of course we can help share the load, but we always should take it to the Lord first.
On the second or third day of the week of training, my sister Nikkie came up to me and said “Hey, Esther gave this word from God to me for you.” And I have literally never had a conversation with Esther past saying hello in the morning, so I’m thinking okay, that’s weird but I’ll just go with it. So I unfold this piece of paper and it says “Hannah, let me heal what you think I cannot. Give it all to me. Don’t hide it. I want it all. I see you, I notice you, I love you.” That first day I didn’t know exactly what it meant and I was kind of confused so I just kind of set it aside and kept on going with my business. As the week went on, the Lord revealed things that I hadn’t accepted His healing for from previous relationships, and He revealed this bitterness I was holding in my heart. I acknowledged that bitterness and un-forgiveness and pain I still had, but I didn’t actually let God heal what I had seen in myself. At one point during worship that week, Edify, the worship leader, mentioned something about our past not holding us from moving further with our relationship with God and about healing. It hit me hard, and all the sudden I wasn’t even thinking about taking pictures anymore like I was supposed to. I was overcome with a mixture of conviction and the healing grace of the Father, and I sank into my seat, letting his grace and love just wash over me. How good it is to know that He loves us the same despite our faults and flaws!
The next week of being in the schools went nothing like what I thought it should have and it definitely didn’t go how we planned. I was at Nalituwe secondary school for the program, and we were supposed to show the Beat the Drum movie on Monday afternoon. We ended up having to show the movie that morning, which I didn’t get to go to because of the ministry I was involved in for the day, and only about 40 kids showed up because it was a holy day. So we decided to show the movie again on Tuesday. Only one girl came to watch for round two. I was so discouraged, because we had so many teachers and so few students. When we got into our groups for teaching, my group only had 8 students, and as the week went on, the number steadily decreased until our number was four. We no longer had any girls to have girl talk with, so the guys took over and the girl leaders of my team ended up just sitting to the side for the last two and a half afternoons we were there. It was difficult for me to do nothing, but I learned that first, it’s not the number of kids that receive the message, it’s about their individual lives and how we can pour into them. Second, it’s important to trust that what happened was the will of the Lord and that those four boys needed what we had to share with them and that the girls’ role in the beginning was just as important as the guys’ role at the end.
As for outreach in Lesotho, it was cold and incredible. I knew that God is an artist, but climbing to the top of the mountain behind our house and being able to see 360* around you and look at the other mountains and the rest of the village. And the sunset! I mean, watching the sun set over Winona Lake at home and over the Zambezi River is incredible, but watching it set behind mountains definitely rivals that. I love seeing his creation in so many different ways.
Something I discovered while I was climbing the mountain was that God really has made me new. A year ago, I would have given up trying to climb that mountain. At one point it was really difficult and all I wanted to do was stay at the ¾ way spot and just enjoy what I could from there. But then I remembered that God changed me into a completely different person, and so I recognized that as I was struggling to climb so I made myself get up there and enjoy the sunset because I’m new creation, praise the Lord! This entire trip, really, he’s been reminding me of my identity in Him and that my worth comes from Him and not the people around me or what they think of me or say about me. It’s been an awesome experience to find myself in the Father.
Probably my favorite part of the whole week was that we had the opportunity to fix one of the roads in the village. There was a plot where a house used to be with a big mound of soil and cinderblocks and rocks. We used pickaxes and shovels to dig up the rocks and put them in wheelbarrows to deposit them into the potholes where we used sledgehammers to break them up into small pieces and then cover them with soil to smooth out the bumps. It’s been quite a while since I’ve used a pickaxe so it felt really good to get into the dirt and dig up rocks and smash them on the road. We also dug a trench on one side so that when the rain comes, the road won’t flood. As we worked, the mamas of the community immediately surrounding this road came and started to help us out. The second day, they brought us sorghum porridge for when we were done for the day, which was super thoughtful of them. It was awesome to see the community coming together with complete strangers because they saw us doing something beneficial for them. It was also really sweet to see my entire team working together in unity and developing a flow so we could make good progress.
There are several things that we did during our time in Lesotho that are just simply not me, or not who I thought I was. Like going out into the community and meeting people I don’t know that don’t speak my language or the language of my Zambian friends. Or like praying with authority over members of the Butha-Buthe community that have problems that have a serious influence on their lives. Praying for people in general has always been out of my comfort zone but this was way more intense than anything I’ve experienced. The first thing I learned from those experiences is that God has given us all the authority of the Holy Spirit and we can do anything through His power. The other thing I was reminded of several times is that His power is made perfect in my weakness. It’s not by my strength that I do anything, but by His.
We also had a really good lesson on the Discipline of Solitude while we were still on outreach. It made me want to spend so much time just sitting alone with God just listening to Him, and it got me fired up to set life goals for myself that I can work towards and invite God into with me, praying about how I can reach those goals and whether or not I should even be working towards them. Just a couple days ago, we put solitude into practice at a couple of the local resorts by the falls. I went into the day of solitude super excited, thinking that God and I are going to have this really good talk and He’s going to tell me all these things He wants me to do with my life and He’s going to give me all sorts of direction. So I’m sitting there looking at all of the hippos in the Zambezi River that’s in front of me, and my mind is just going crazy. There are so many distractions, and I have the Reindeer song from the movie Frozen stuck in my head. A couple hours passed and I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t quiet my heart and I wasn’t hearing anything from God. So I told God that I was going to open my Bible to a random page and that it would be awesome if he’d say something to me. I closed my eyes and turned to a random page, which ended up being in Job 13. I started reading and pretty much the first thing that page in my Bible said was “Keep silent and let me speak.” I was like “well okay then, God, I get the idea.” But how does one go about quieting themselves so that there’s just nothing? I struggled with this the whole morning and even when we went to the other hotel I wasn’t doing well with it. Part of that was the zebras trotting by and the crocodile that was staring at me, but really I just couldn’t shut my mind off. Eventually I just closed my eyes and forced myself to not think at all, and I entered this state of not even remembering where I was or what I was doing. When I sat up after a while, I just felt peace. I think God was telling me that I just need to rest in Him. He was saying “Hannah, don’t press me. I know you want to know all of these things, but my timing is perfect and as long as you seek me first, I’ll give you what you need. For now, just rest in me. Feel my presence and enjoy me.” So I sat and stared at his art for the rest of the time, and it was wonderful.
||ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hannah McCarty • 2016 International Immersion Intern