This 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:
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.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern