If you’ve been following our journey for awhile now – you may pick up on a continuing theme of our lives…very little goes as we plan it.
This week proves the rule. Matt left early Saturday morning (his birthday) for a 9 hour drive that quickly turned into 11 hours of driving/ferry to get to his destination. When he left, I was on the upswing from being sick the week before and grateful to be getting my energy back for these days entirely on my own with the kids. Sunday, while at church, I started to feel worse again, drove us home and proceeded to spend the entirety of the next 48 hours in bed with a mind-splitting headache and body aches. I am still under the weather and forcing myself to rest.
In those times I really start to question why – why did we move so far away from the family and dear friends who have always been there to support us in moments like this? Why did I take my children out of school to homeschool? How will they ever get a good education with me laid up in bed for so many days? Why does Matt have to be gone? Why is this SO hard? Why is sickness a part of life? (Just keeping it real – as to the reels that play in my mind.)
And yes a bit of me is prone to despair…what will I ever do….
I’m glad the story does not end there.
Today. I am thankful…
thankful for all the ways God has provided in these hard, I’m-at-the-end-of-myself moments. Saturday one of the fellows from IJM came and watched the kids while I ran errands (while I was still up to it). Sunday I called to cancel dinner with another of the fellows, she offered to instead bring dinner for her and the kids and hang out with them while I rested. Yesterday, a friend agreed to take my kids to their swim lessons and then offered to bring them to her house to play and eat dinner. (Some of these women I have only known for 6 weeks!) Each of these gifts and offers felt so extravagant to me, I was honestly brought to tears in a moment where 5 minutes before I had felt so alone in this foreign country so far from “home”.
I am still in bed and a friend is coming in an hour to pick up Hannah for a birthday party. His provision never ends. Even when I keep forgetting and feel prone to despair.
Now to get better.
A few pictures to share:
First day of school
July 30th – this year we have shoes on (thanks to the mighty, biting ants in our yard) and you’ll notice the girls are holding our new baby bunnies, which are rapidly growing!
the teacher and her students on a non-sick day
I’m not the only who has been sick. One of our rabbits got deathly ill with a parasite & infection two weeks ago. Thankful for the university vet hospital that gave her plenty of medicine and saved her!
She’s all better now!
I usually celebrate my birthday with my family, but this year was different. Instead I was in a truck for 11 hours with these dear friends.
They made me feel very loved though as they sang to me last night, adding kind affirming encouragements and saying that I am in fact with family.
Today I preached in this church. Lots and lots of dancing!
The church surprised me with a birthday celebration!
Osofo Kwame is what many people call me here in Ghana. I was amazed to see this cake paraded down the aisle!
I am amazed at all the birthday love I have received so far from my family.
The church service had it all: music, dancing, birthday cake, lots more music and dancing, a sermon, and TWO WEDDINGS!!!
I AM VERY TIRED. Please pray for energy and strength for me as I now need to help lead a conference and workshop for pastors along the shores of Lake Volta.
Today and most every day I am thankful for Dominique. He is our gardener, gate man, caretaker of our chickens, turner on of the generator when the lights go out (as they did tonight) and creative play extraordinaire. He is always up for a challenge to try something new or build something from random drawings on scraps of paper.
Today at recess it was raining – first time in two months! (And it’s rainy season – crazy!). The kids made him a poncho out of plastic bags (he fashioned the hat) and he playfully pulled the kids back up the zip line so they could go racing back through the rain.
Two weeks ago I looked out of my kitchen window to find him fashioning bows and arrows with the kids – made from sticks and rubber bands. The arrows actually shoot! SO many hours were spent outside working on these things and then practicing their aim. He also worked with the kids to create quivers out of paper bags and duct tape and string.
He evenly patiently helped Abby remove the braids from her hair after Hannah and I tired out!
It warms my heart to see the kids so well cared for by another.
This time to be creative and explore is what I deeply hoped for when we made the decision to come to Ghana. There were many losses when we came – of friends, bike paths, parks, schools, even precious cousin time. And the grief over those things has been overwhelming at times. We loved them and feel the loss. But this – this has been a gain. This creativity. This opportunity to know Dominique and have him be a good influence on my kids. I am thanking God for his good provision for our family in Dominique.
My daughter asked me last night through sobbing tears, “Daddy, everything was better before we moved. Why did we have to move to Ghana?”
I answered, “To rescue children from slavery.”
“Why couldn’t someone else do it?” she asked me.
This is an interaction that would have deeply troubled me a few years ago. I would have grieved my child’s unhappiness and questioned my own sense of calling in the work I do. I would have felt that I was wronging my child by seeking to help other children. These precious young tears would have ripped me apart.
But last night they didn’t bother me a bit! I could hold her and give her comfort and love and compassion, without any inkling of doubt, despair, or regret. How is that? The truth is that my daughter is thriving in a hundred ways, even in her temporary unhappiness.
I want my kids to be happy, but that is not my deepest yearning for them. I want them to be brave, so I let them experience fear. I want them to be compassionate, so I let them see suffering. I want them to be strong, so I let them struggle with burdens. I want them to be grounded, so I accept that they will have moments of disorientation in their lives. I want them be creative, so I let them be bored.
Building these qualities into them requires hardship and discomfort which feels in the moment like unhappiness. So be it. Her tears do not disturb me like they used to because my goal is not to give her a tear-free childhood. My goal is to help her grow into a magnificent wonderful incredible woman full of strength, courage, compassion, faith, and creativity who can stand fast in the storms of life. These tears don’t threaten that goal. They are a path to the goal’s achievement.
So I held her tight and rocked her and listened long and carefully to her struggles. I answered her questions gently and tenderly, but with unwavering conviction in our mission and full assurance that neither she nor I are the center of the universe. Also, I simply do not believe that a life of self-focus, ease, and comfort will ultimately make either of us happy in the long run.
I read a quote this morning from Tim Keller, “I can think of nothing great that is also easy.”
Daughter, you will be great.
Here is a song I like. It gets me.