I am in the beginning of my sixth month of living in Africa. It seems like I have lived here forever. But at the same time, I could swear it was just yesterday that I was packing up my remaining belongings, carefully weighing each bag to make sure it was 50lbs on the nose, and hugging family and friends good-bye for a while.
Six months. That’s crazy.
It has been a roller coaster. There have been countless ups and downs. Days when I wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else. And days when I am sure I would have taken the first ticket out of here. But this place is home. And I love it.
I have gotten used to the ebb and flow of everyday life here. The crazy has become the normal. And it is exhausting. Language study has become monotonous, and there are days when I think that I will never be able to communicate with my people. Running any sort of errand in town turns into an all day affair. And driving anywhere is enough to fry even the most down-to-earth person’s nerves! The culture stress is setting in. I’ve hit “the wall”.
The wall creeps up on you…at least it did on me. All the little things add up. You find yourself saying “I’m so stinkin’ tired. And for no reason at all!” But there is a reason. There are numerous little reasons.
Just the other day I was texting a dear friend, telling her my frustrations. There was a list. One of the big ones was church. Going to church is work. It isn’t a refreshing time (yet). I spend three hours sitting and listening to two languages I barely understand. Needless to say, my attitude stunk this past Sunday. I did not want to go. My roommate was sick, so I had to go alone. I cannot tell you how tempted I was to stay in bed. But, I went.
I should have known before I walked out the door that the Father was up to something. When I arrived, I took my seat with all the women. After a few moments, I noticed we would be sharing in the Lord’s Supper. As they began to pass the bread and the cup, my heart began to change. In that moment, I stood with my Burkinabé brothers and sisters…celebrating what Jesus Christ had done for us. As we sang a familiar hymn (they in French/Jula, me in English/Spanish), the frustrations melted away. There was unity at the Table. The Body of Christ had gathered and in spite of language barriers, we worshiped. And I was reminded (once again), that it isn’t about me and my preferences.
I might not have been able to understand the sermon. And I’m not even 100% sure I knew what passage he was preaching from. But it didn’t matter. I walked back to my truck encouraged and thankful. He is faithful.
Have I conquered the wall? I’m getting there. Will life here still wear me out? I have no doubt. But my God is faithful. And he has promised me rest.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”