tomato soup

I am incredibly unworthy.

We made it to Zambia. Almost a week ago, in fact. Life has just been so crazy that I haven’t had time to blog and tell the world about what’s going on. So grab your cup of coffee and an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie or two and sit in your most comfortable chair for a while.

I have never been on a plane that long in my entire life. We traveled for three days straight, got on four airplanes, the best bus ride of my life, saw the mist of Victoria Falls from the airplane and slept whenever and wherever we could. The most amazing blessing was sitting in the 69th row, which was also the last, on the airplane from Amsterdam to Johannesburg. Four seats for me and another student so I got to LAY DOWN and sleep and it was so wonderful.

It felt so good to land in Zambia, see Chief Jeff Johnson (Community Health something for World Hope) and Maureen (an amazing World Hope International Zambia employee) waiting for us and load up to drive three hours from Livingstone to Choma. We stopped in Zimba (about half-way) to visit a missionary at the local Wesleyan mission and give us a little break.

We reached Choma around 6 at night and finally got to see where we will be living, for a little while at least. The building we were supposed to be staying at is not done, so we are currently in temporary housing. This “temporary housing” involves Dr. Garner and his wife staying with Jeff in a house near the WHIZ offices and the other 14 of us crammed together in a little house with three bedrooms and only one shower! The students, though, have been more than incredible at being flexible and willing to go and do whatever. And really, for the most part, they have gotten along extremely well.

Sunday was our first full day in Choma and we all went to the Mochipapa church, where I will be staying with four other students for the rest of the semester. The people were incredible and it was another reminder to me that worship in another country is always better to me than a normal Sunday in America. We heard some of the Sunday school service, danced during worship and attempted to sing in Tonga. It was wonderful and all of the students loved the experience.

It got me emotional again, big surprise. And I was reminded of something that someone told me during Christmas break. In America, the motto is, “I think, therefore I am.” And that’s what I was living. But as I prepared to come on this trip and now being here for a few days, I’ve come to see that this man was right when he said that Africa’s motto is, “I feel, therefore I am.” I realized that it’s time for me to feel, really feel, again. I’ve been broken before, but I have this feeling that Africa, in all of its glory and suffering, is going to break me again.

Monday was spent allowing the World Hope staff to train us and explain the different departments that they work in. It was long, but I was blown away by their organization and their passion for the people of this country. Chief Jeff claims that these people are his heroes, and I totally see it now.

Thanks to Mr. Tolley, the book of James always comes back to haunt me, and it did again on Monday as one of the committees shared their theme verse with us.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 1:27

On Tuesday we were trained as to how to go out into the community and assess the 75 trusts that WHIZ is in charge of. The afternoon gave us some time to relax and play with some kids here at the compound who are incredibly beautiful.

God had been pressing on my heart to be completely open with these students. For relationships to be built, openness is key. So Tuesday night I was thinking about what I was going to share with the students later in the week when Jeff asked who wanted to share with the whole WHIZ staff the next morning. I kept my mouth shut, but when I do that God always uses someone to call me out. So Ethan (this team’s James Davenport), volunteered me to lead devotions for everyone the next morning, and I knew that God wanted me to talk to everyone, not just the IWU team.

So Wednesday morning, I did the devotions for everyone, and I have to admit I was a little nervous. I simply shared what God had placed on my heart, how no matter where we live, we all experience suffering. Despite all of the suffering we may endure, God is still ALWAYS faithful. Since then, several people have told me that what I said made an impact. It’s a humbling thing, being used by God. Many days, I feel so unworthy.

Thursday was EARLY. I’ve been doing really well at giving myself time in the morning to read and gather my thoughts for the day, but we were on the bus a little before 7 on Thursday morning. We went back to Zimba for the day to help the WHIZ staff with some of their trust assessments. So we loaded on the bus and drove along this amazingly bumpy road (my personal favorites if I’m not driving) and my team stopped at a small church in Dunka village to meet with the workers there.

These people were incredible. They have next to nothing, but they use all of their resources to help each other. The trust has started a piggery and will use the funds from that to start a garden, help send kids to school, and gather resources so that they can make home visits more often. It’s amazing the commitment you see in the villages from the people. They care so much for everyone around them. They are the true pictures of community.

We had some time to kill because of the rain and so they got out the drums and we sang and danced with them for a long time. It was also the right time for two of the pigs to mate, so we saw some real-life discovery channel action. As I danced there in the church with them, I had another one of those, “I’m never going to forget this” moments. God is so good.

Today we finally got around to doing some classwork. Nothing real strenuous, some relaxation and time to process and wind down after a crazy first week.

It became extremely clear last night as I sat on our Tonga stool and was prayed for how incredibly blessed I am. God has taken me through a whirlwind journey in the past four years to bring me to this point, with these insanely wonderful people, to serve him. It is amazing to look back and see his hand guiding my steps, both hard and joyful.

He is faithful.

When it rains, the ground looks like tomato soup.


Sarah said...

Glad to know you're alive and well--very well, judging by your entry :)

Praying for you, and love you.

Matt said...

We love tomato soup - and everyone is asking about the box.... any word yet?

WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH AND ARE SO PROUD OF YOU. Enjoy and relish every moment. Can't wait to hear all of your tales!

Bonzo said...

I didn't realize Matt had entered his info on my computer - duh!

Anyway, it is great to see how God is using you. We are thrilled that you're having a great experience.


Elizabeth said...

i spent my thursday evening catching up on your blog. had no idea you'd been writing this past semester, so there was lots of good stuff to read :-)

anyways...sounds like you're in for some good times and good "getting out of the boat" moments. can't wait for the next update!

Nicole Barnett said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. You all are doing some amazing work for God. Keep the blog coming (when you can).


Christi said...

Marge.. I love you.. I'm so excited that you are having an amazing time. some thing to think about WE choose how close we want to be to God, our community and our friends. Its time that our christian community chooses to follow God and his mission for our lives. I'm so proud of you marge.. Love you and miss you so much

emma said...

whew, it sounds amazing already! it was so great to read your blog. wed would be great for me to skype! i love and miss you

oh and Margie,i'm sorry about the pig experience... :)

mom weigel said...

"Pants" (had to put that cuz thats how I will always remember you from Hannah) It was fun reading your entry...Leah wrote us about some of those same things and I smiled again :) I do appreciate your willingness to be there for our kids. Give Leah a hug from us...Thanks again Margie!
PS I loved your visual about the tomato soup!
Mom Weigel

Steve & Theresa said...

Tomato soup for the soul...

Each day must bring incredible experiences -- cultural, emotional, physical, and spiritual. The U.S. must seem not only miles but worlds away. The most important "news" you will see/hear each day is what God places before you. Embrace it, even when it's hard (as you've always done).


Steve M