Note: I have just loved hearing from my siblings this summer! Each one has a unique pespective and wisdom to share. Up next, my sister Emily who just got back from spending 2 months in Africa. She is here to share some of the things God taught her through her experiences! If you want to learn about some of her other adventures, you can read back through her blog: http://missionzimzam.blogspot.com.
By Emily Hilkemann
By Emily Hilkemann
Two months ago I stepped off a plane and took my first steps on African soil. This was my first trip to Africa, my first trip out of the U.S. and really, my first time to be so far from home for such a long period of time. I had no idea what to expect. My first bit of culture shock came when we started driving on the left side of the road. The second came when I started noticing all the trash littering the sides of the road. The third came when our host explained how to take a bucket shower. But none of those are a big deal right? I didn’t have to drive, no smell accompanied the trash and I got to take a shower every single day. Merely twinges of discomfort.
As we continued on our trip and ventured further and further away from the city and into the bush these moments of discomfort became a little more common. We were served whole fish of varying sizes as well as goat intestines, liver and kidneys; toilets became simply a hole in the ground; fewer and fewer people could actually speak English. These took a bit more to get used to. But I did. Granted I avoided the fish and goat guts as much as possible, but I started to cherish the walk to the pit latrine while gazing at the moon and the stars and one doesn’t need to speak the same language to play with kids.
To be perfectly honest, during the whole trip I had it pretty easy. No one on our team got all that sick, food was prepared for us at each meal, we often had chocolate, biscuits or even pizza to eat, and we always had a place to sleep at night, even if it was just a mattress on the floor.
One week about halfway through the trip I was really struggling. I was tired and I was having trouble being thankful for anything. But that day during church our team leader said something that I will never forget. He was talking about Romans 12:2 which says not to conform to this world. He said that to conform means to be comfortable. But Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow Him, giving our whole lives as a sacrifice, which doesn’t mean we are going to be living in the lap of luxury. In fact Matthew 5:10-12 (The Message) says, “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that – count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens-give a cheer, even! – forthrough they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” Now we weren’t being persecuted, rather we were welcomed with open arms wherever we went. No, I was just struggling with being away from the familiar, the comfort of my bed at home and being able to understand the language.
Some times it’s hard to be thankful. But that’s okay. One morning I woke up with this song from my childhood in my heart “Thank you! Oh thank you, my God for what you’ve done. You gave the greatest gift of all. Thank you for your only Son!” If we have nothing else in this world, we at least have the love of Jesus and that is enough. So on this trip I learned to be content in the uncomfortable. After all, as long as I am where God wants me to be, why would I want to be anywhere else?