Friday, November 16, 2012

And so it begins, a new normal

The dreaded time of being the last teammates in Libreville has arrived.  Hannah has flown away, Leanne has flown away, the Envision center is just a memory, and it is back down to just Steve and me as we live and breathe here in the sweltering capital city by the grey-green sea.  I skyped briefly with Hannah last night (before losing power) and we marveled that just over a week has passed since she left.  It seems much longer.  The last time we lost teammates here in Libreville marked the beginning of a very challenging and lonely time and I very much did not want to go back to that thorny place, thank you very much!  I felt we were fairly well recovered from that difficult time and on track for a new normal that involved being actively engaged with teammates and sharing in ministry together.  So I was sorely grieved to realize that new normal was to be tossed out and we were to be ushered into another period of adjustment.  One that did not include close teammates.  One that might take us back to that prickly land I thought we had left behind. Though that time did produce greater growth and dependance on God, like never before experienced, it came with the high, high price tag of pain and uncertainty.  But we are not the same people we were then.  God has strengthened us and given me a strong dose of thanksgiving in the months leading up to this moment.  I am being very proactive in my thought patterns and how I am choosing to order my day to day.  So far so good.

"In the Land of Blue Burkas" is the title of a book (recently downloaded into my kindle) written by a single Christian American woman sharing stories of living in Afghanistan while working for an NGO.  She brings to life the Muslim women living there through her candid conversational stories.  It has lead me into a stunningly fresh appreciation for my Savior Jesus Christ.  As the writer tells stories of the realities of the Muslim women there I am able to see afresh with startling clarity why Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  In the chapter entitled "Choosing Love" the author very honestly maps out the difficulties she faced daily living in that foreign place.  She shared the staggering weight of her responsibilities in directing the efforts of the NGO which included managing projects, writing proposals, maintaining financial records, attending government meetings, etc, the list goes on, all while leading both an Afghan and foreign staff.  During that time she worked with sketchy electricity, slow internet connection, oppressive heat in the summer and blindingly cold brutal winters.  She poignantly points out she was there ultimately to express love to her neighbors.  And those neighbors were made up of bearded men and blue burka-ed women living lives following hard after their Muslim teachings. She shares many conversations where she and whomever she was with would talk about life and faith.  They about theirs and she about hers.  It is amazing to see the contrast of the Muslim faith and the Christian faith.  Reading this book has been a gift of inspiration to me during this time.  I recommend it  highly. 

I am truly enjoying teaching my beginners English class.  I have about 11 students, mostly made up of the nurses and staff of the clinics at Avea II.  They are a joy to teach!  It is giving me a tangible way to contribute other than just running the guest house.  My favorite part of the days I teach (other than the actual teaching) are the glimpses I get of spectacular sunsets, each one uniquely and brilliantly coloring the sky and clouds, changing minute by minute in aching beauty with a spectrum of pink, yellow, orange, red, blue and purple hues reflected in the shining sea as I drive home by way of Bord de Mer amidst the crush of pedestrians and clotted traffic.  So far life in Libreville adjusting to a new normal has been a lesson of being strong and courageous, of not being discouraged.  I was led to Joshua 1:9 the very day after Hannah left.  I penned these words in my prayer journal, "The US has elected a president, Hannah has flown to Senegal and Steve is flying to Bongolo.  And I sit alone in a hot house, music playing and fans whirling, praying to you Holy God."  And so it has begun, a new normal.

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go."  Joshua 1:9

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cheering for you! Prayer this morning: That God would cause you to collide with and touch many in this new normalcy.