I have one week left before I board a plane in Johannesburg airport and set off for life back in America. As I begin to process and prepare for what awaits me I think about all of my experiences and how I will allow them to change me. I know many of you care, but don’t have five hours to sit down and hear the stories and see the pictures. So in bracing myself for the burning question: how was it, what was the best thing about your time in Africa? I won’t tell you: caring for orphans, living with a family in a rural community for a week, teaching God’s word in the public schools, visiting AIDS patients, washing an old gogo’s feet, living in community with volunteers that share my passion, forming eternal relationships with the Swazis, or being attacked by children desperately seeking my love. Although all of these experiences were life changing and ones I will cherish forever, my answer would simply be growing closer in my walk with God.
What a journey it has been. In Swaziland God convicted me of spending more time with Him in his word. Since being at Hands I have found joy in spending every evening with God. Searching his heart and will for my life, seeking wisdom from his Word, journaling my prayers, thoughts, struggles, and experiences to him, and being challenged to each day live in the spirit rather than the flesh.
I am in the process of renewal, of allowing God to form, mold, and change me through my experience in Africa and the time spent with Him. To some this conclusion and answer may seem less exciting than the others but it is one that is eternal and will truly affect how I live every moment for the rest of my life. God brought me five thousand miles away and four thousand dollars spent to teach and change me, and oh yeah to serve the African people while I’m at it! Why does it seem to take the most extreme situation to see how much we need God? I have been confronted with utter poverty, met individuals that have nothing but are truly joyful and happy, seen the effects of what a simple gift of used clothes mean to a young girl, and heard the rich passion and love in the singing voices of the African church. It would be ridiculous to walk away from these amazing experiences and go back to my comfortable life in America unaffected. Because I can’t deny that I have been more than affected. I have been moved by their simplicity and joy in life. When I return I know it will be rough living in a culture driven by time and materialism but I am excited to hold fast to the principles and habits I have learned from Africa.