I'm reading about all of the families in Tennessee without power. Numerous posts on Facebook let me know to pray for power to be restored. And, I am praying. Especially for elderly people and families with little ones. Living without electricity is challenging.
So many things going on in my heart right now, do I dare share? Am I willing to be vulnerable?
Struggling with the answer....
Yes, I will write it. (I hope you encountered the emotional tension I am feeling.)
In America, when our family lost power due to storms, we always tried to make it fun. The boys would play games. After a terrible storm in High Point, we had friends come live with us for a week while their home was without power. When I was little, I remember sleeping by the fireplace for a few nights while the snow kept the power off. I remember being creative in my cooking in order to feed our family when electricity was not an option. For some reason, there was never panic because I knew it would come back on. I knew the electric company had people out in their trucks working nonstop in order to restore power. Losing power was kind of an adventure until it unexpectedly came back on.
It's not like that here.
Right now, for me, every experience is compared to America. Over time, I hope this will subside, but now, I think of how things would occur in the states, then how things happen in Ghana. Everything is radically different. Nearly always, I like the way things happen in America better.
Losing power in America is a rare occurance usually due to a storm or accident. Here, the electricity is rationed as well as the water.
Yesterday we were without electricity and water. Thankfully, today we have electricity (and I do mean THANKFULLY!) but our water tank is empty and not to be refilled until Monday most likely. Dishes pile in the sink until we have water to wash them. The boys have walked to a nearby house and carried buckets of water for us to flush toilets. We lose power about every three days for some period of time. The timing is unpredictable. For Franklin's birthday, we sat in our living room with guests in the darkness having our only light stream out from a flashlight on the floor. There are evenings we go to bed in complete darkness without fans to swirl the hot, humid air. Our clothing sticks to our bodies.
As time progresses, I realize we are not on a short term mission trip. We live here. Things that seem exciting to experience for a short period of time on a foreign mission trip are now part of our daily life. Water, electricity, transportation are not givens. I struggle to figure it all out for our family and our home.
I don't write any of this for pity. And, I am not trying to say, "Life is so hard here."
No, not at all.
God is using all of this for His glory in my life. My compassion for the people here has grown because we are tasting their difficulties. How would I know what life is like without water if I'd never experienced it? How would I appreciate fans if I'd never gone without? How would we appreciate the work that goes into washing clothing by hand if we had never done it? Yes, God is helping us to grow in our understanding of life here. These challenges are tools from His tool belt.
I think that God is revealing to me all the things that I have never treated as a gift from His hand. Now, I am learning that when we have electricity - it is a gift. The fan blowing over my head - is a gift. Writing on my computer - is a gift. Internet access - is a gift. A toilet that flushes - is a gift. Clean dishes - are a gift. The ability to bathe - even from a bucket - is a gift. Water - is a gift. Knowing there is someone out there working to restore power - is a gift.
A healthy family - is a gift. (Reid is down with malaria today. He's in bed now. Mason is battling a staff infection.)
Last night, Franklin was taping pictures to the wall beside his bed. He was pulling out pictures of his cousins, his friends, and our family. (Until last night, his only wall decor was his favorite candy wrappers he had taped on the wall. Big League Chew and Air Heads wrappers are still by his bed to remind him of home.) Anyway, as I watched Franklin meticulously examine each picture, my heart hurt inside. It hit me how much our boys are sacrificing to be here. They, as children, have been asked to leave all they have known to enter a culture where they look, speak, and act differently than everyone around them. Braden has told me daily how much he misses his cousins and friends back home. Many nights, Braden is in tears struggling with the fact that he is so far away from those he loves. How can I meet him in his grief?
How do I live this out? How do I point to Jesus when things around me are so hard? How can I sing in the storm? What does my worship of my Savior look like when I'm struggling to adjust knowing my children need me to be stable for them? How can I reflect Jesus?
I am so weak.
I'm not sure, but I think I'm going to have to learn to trust one moment at a time.
(As I am typing, our fan just quit. No power. Second time today. Sigh... Oh Lord, let me praise you right NOW for you are my Refuge and Strength!)
In this moment, let me trust. Teach me. Let me learn. Let me grow.
Lord, I confess I am such a weak vessel. Forgive me for, even now, wishing the comfort of the fan would return. Oh, I see my spoiled heart that desires comfort. Lord, I'm unworthy of your love and mercy but you tenderly pour it upon me. Thank you. Help me, Lord. I need your help.
Last night, while Reid was in bed with a fever, I led devotions for the boys. We read Psalm 62, and today it continues to be my prayer.
"My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My STRONGHOLD, I shall not be greatly shaken."
HE is my only security.
Our dear friends, the O'Learys, called last night and prayed with us. We were grateful for friends who point us back to the cross.
Anything done here is in vain if we are not walking in praise and adoration of the One who gave everything up for us. My praise must flow by adoring HIM, and not complaining about challenging circumstances. Standing in the mud, hanging clothes on the line, I must be reminded that dirty feet are beautiful feet. (Right, Mickey?) Listening to my boys walk through the house singing praise songs from their heart is a more beautiful sound than songs flowing from speakers. HE is pouring out blessings upon us - right now, there is a breeze flowing through the window. Oh, HE is good!
Finally, since this post has gone all over the place, I will share one more thing.
People have said for months, "Oh, you are such an amazing family to do what you are doing."
I need to set the record straight. VERY STRAIGHT!
The truth is we are broken, empty, sinful creatures that HAVE AN AMAZING SAVIOR!
We are the same people here that we were in the States. It's just us.
We are not amazing people. We are not even out-of-the-ordinary people. We are simply servants trying to follow Jesus. He's the only AMAZING one!
We are doing some serious faith-stretching as we acclaimate here. Pray for us. I've written from my heart today because many times, I do not feel capable of the task at hand. I can do nothing without Him.
Pray healing for Reid too. We would be grateful. I need to go because my computer is almost out of battery and we have no power to charge it. Today, I wrote from all over the place because my heart is bouncing everywhere these days. My apologies for so many random thoughts. Blessings to you all!
"From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint;
Lead me to a rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy."
4 weeks ago