God is so good. Some Sabbaths ago we went to a church in town and the Pastor told us about the name of God and that He is I AM. The Pastor talked about how that name shows that God is enough, God is all things to all people. God is the healer. God is the provider. God is the miracle-worker. God is the Father. God is the friend. God is the Prince. God is love. God is so good.
This whole experience has changed me. It’s changed how I see the world. It’s changed how I see myself, not only in what I see myself doing career-wise, but what I see in the mirror. It’s changed the way I see God. I’m currently at Kuda Vana Children’s Home in Zimbabwe. I am a co-teacher Monday-Thursday and an Auntie every day. I play with our little babies in the nursery who are usually malnourished and always under-loved when they first get here, and I have funny and heartbreaking conversations with our pre-teens and teenagers. Our campus is set up with 5 homes: Nursery, House 1, House 2, House 3, and House 4. I eat supper at every house and listen to their family worships at night. We play soccer during playtime and I make sure the kids don’t fall off the see-saw. I’m asked how I’m doing every 5 minutes and the appropriate answer is, “I’m fine, and how are you?” I help plan church service and teach the kids new songs. I push them on the swings and let them teach me new games and new Shona words.
I am working with 2 other amazing student missionaries: Carrie and Kaylan. Before I came here I honestly wanted to do this trip on my own, but God has shown me that I couldn’t have. It has been incredible getting to be with these ladies, growing with them and experiencing this place and these kids with them. The 3 of us come from different backgrounds which has been crucial in showing God to these kids; which is truly the only thing worth doing.
Our kids have gone through hell. Some have been found in pit toilets, some have run from home, some have lived on the streets, some have been sexually assaulted, some have experienced death first hand, and most of them haven’t felt their birth parents’ love. But I see every one of them smile and hear every one of them laugh every day. God is so good. Yes, they have their bad days. Yes, our babies bite and throw temper-tantrums. Yes, our kids fight and go too far with their humor. Yes, there are days where I don’t like them all. But yes, every day I love them, and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world.
I felt that I was very prepared for this adventure, for it’s far more than just a trip. Pastor Rich’s class did a great job reminding us to stay safe and give our all to our kids while still having time to ourselves to re-charge. But, now that I am over half way done here and am looking back on things, I realized I was completely prepared for things that haven’t happened and completely unprepared for things that have. I don’t feel like I have been put in a dangerous situation (minus the government turn over but even then, I felt safe), and we really haven’t been rudely harassed in town (except once at the very beginning). I was prepared and knew ways to handle and avoid those situations. What I wasn’t prepared for was teaching, or being a child’s confidant about nightmares and his past when he hasn’t opened up to others about any of it. But being unprepared has made me see God work in miraculous ways.
This adventure has been life-changing in all the cliché ways plus more. For those who are looking to make a change, do it. You might be scared, you might think you’re not enough. But that’s the whole point. God is enough, and He wants to show that to you in ways you probably never dreamed of. Plus, these kids are the cutest things in the entire world, trust me.
I always thought God was constantly making us, adding and adding until we are who He wants us to be. I don’t not believe that, but I’m seeing… feeling that there’s more to it. It’s like when kids get dirty in the mud. Parents clean the kid at night and put them in clean pajamas, and then they put them in clean clothes in the morning. But the kid goes outside and runs in the dirt and puts mud everywhere because it’s fun and it doesn’t do any harm. But when the kid comes home the parent has to wash all the dirt and mud off and the kid usually doesn’t like that because they don’t see why they can’t always be dirty since it’s fun and it doesn’t hurt. But the parents know it’s not safe to always be dirty, and they usually don’t like their house to get all muddy because of the kid. WE are that kid… Scratch that, I am that kid. And God is my parent. He created me with His hands and made me perfect, but when I entered this world I slowly got dirty and muddy by telling lies and being mean and doing what I wanted even if it hurt someone else. Eventually I asked Him to cleanse my soul, and He did. And it hurt. But He cleansed my soul and forgave my sins and forgot all about it because that’s what He says He will do, and God is definitely not a liar. Well, as I got older, I got even more dirty and muddy. But it was a different kind of dirt and mud. I didn’t put this dirt and mud on because I thought it was fun. I did it because I thought I needed it. I turned to vanity and popularity and many other things because I thought that’s what I needed to be who I was supposed to be. Even some of the good things I did, taking care of kids, volunteering, I did because I thought I needed to in order to be who God made me to be. But all of that was mud and dirt and it wasn’t meant to be on me. I was dirty and the more I came home, the more I prayed to God, the more He cleaned me because He knew that stuff was bad for me and He didn’t want me to dirty His house. And that cleaning hurt. It wasn’t the nice warm bath water and fun soap bubbles that kids get. It was God chipping away all that I thought was me to reveal who He already made me to be.
‘Back to the Beginning’, the name of this whole blog, is exactly that. God is taking me back, He is chipping everything away that I put on me, and revealing the me He made when He first created me. I know that volunteering is still a part of me, but it’s not because I need it to be who He made me to. I get to do it because He gave me the desire to help people who can’t help themselves. I am learning that I do not need anything to be who He has made me to be; He gave me everything when He made me. I get to do things He gave me the desire to do because it pleases Him. I never thought the name of this blog would be used in this way, and I definitely never thought the tattoo I have on my wrist, ‘I lack nothing.’ (Psalm 23:1) would be used in this way, either. I absolutely feel God laughing at my plans like a grandpa laughs at a mischievous kid, because the grandpa knows what’s going to happen. God knows what’s going to happen and it’s almost never what I had planned.
So, to sum this all up and leave out the metaphor for my more literal friends: I tried putting all these things on me because I thought I needed them to be me and to be who God made me to be: vanity, popularity, volunteering, intelligence. But God is chipping all that away, like an artist chips away marble to make a statue, because He has already made me exactly who He wants me to be without all this junk/dirt/mud/stuff that I have put on myself.