Thankful for Africa
“Thanksgiving is a time of quiet reflection upon the past and an annual reminder that God has, again, been ever so faithful. The solid and simple things of life are brought into clear focus.” ~Charles Swindoll
As I read this quote on my calendar this morning, I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about my next blog post. This is how I feel about my time here in Africa….the solid and simple things of life have been brought into clear focus, and I have been reminded of God’s continual faithfulness over and over again. Today, I would like to share some of the things that I am thankful for specifically regarding my time here in AFRICA.
A- African People Since I arrived here in Uganda in August 2013, I have been blessed to know many Africans and call them my friends. I have friends representing several countries in Africa, including Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Kenya, and Congo. I have loved getting to know these people. They have welcomed me to Uganda and many of them have been true friends to me. God has given me people here whom I can trust, and I’ve learned how important and precious that is. I’ve also had the unique privilege of working daily with African teachers. They have helped me, been patient with me, and supported me as I adjusted to teaching in our school. I have loved teaching my African students. I love their simple joys and warm smiles and hugs. I love the fact that they are excited to learn about the Word of God, and that they have a desire to do well in school. I have loved serving in the ministries of Gospel Light Baptist Church, alongside the Pridgens and our African brothers and sisters in Christ as we strive together to reach the African community.
F- Family and Friends The second blessing I am thankful for would be my family and friends back in America. My family has supported and encouraged me throughout my time here, and that means the world to me. I also love the fact that we communicate constantly. I am so thankful for my friends as well. When you move overseas and become “detached from the world”, it’s easy to be forgotten. But there are certain people who have made an effort to contact me often, whether it’s by text, Voxer message, email, or Facebook. To be remembered is so encouraging. To open my computer or phone and see a message from someone asking me about life or letting me know they are praying for me is such a gift. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is your time. And I’m so grateful for the family and friends who have given me their time. If you have a friend or family member living far away, don’t delay in contacting them. Reach out to them, and make their day.
R-Real Life Experience Another thing I am thankful is the “real life experience” that living abroad has given me. I realize there’s still so much more that I need to learn and grow in, but living in Uganda has opened my eyes up more to the real world. I am not trying to sound prideful about this, but when you leave the bubble of America, you get to see a whole other side to life. Most people in the world are not able to live like Americans; it’s just a fact. When you are thrust into a different culture, you realize how much America has and how little the rest of the world has. I am more thankful than ever to be an American, but I am also thankful for this opportunity to have lived “across the pond.” I have learned things that hopefully I will carry with me the rest of my life.
I-Interesting Stories to Tell This might sound funny, but I am thankful for the “interesting” moments I’ve had here. A missionary just this past week said to me, “There’s never a dull moment,” although to be honest, sometimes I just want less excitement and more dull. Just on Thursday this past week, I went outside at 6am to find two HUGE thorn vines fallen down (because of a massive storm) in front of my gate trapping my friends and I inside until we could get it somewhat cleared. Two men had to come and chop it up and then get a truck to come and pick it all up. I thought I had stepped into the scene of the Sleeping Beauty movie where the prince had to fight through the thorn vines to get to the castle and rescue the princess. After teaching that day (and riding a boda home in the rain because my car had been parked behind the thorn vines), I came home to find one of the dogs, the Rottweiler, sick. I had to hold her down and put a muzzle on her when the vet came that evening to give her some antibiotic shots. That’s not an easy task, and that was all just in one day. There are so many crazy things that happen almost on a daily basis here, but I guess that’s part of living in Africa. I tend to panic and get super stressed with all these things (still working on praying before panicking), but at the end of the day, I’m usually able to get a good laugh out of it.
C- Community of Missionaries I am so thankful for all of the missionaries I have been able to meet during these last 18 months. I have been able to host 13 different families in my home as well, many of them repeatedly. It has been incredibly encouraging to see the faithfulness and determination of these missionaries. I’ve talked (and sometimes) cried with them as we shared different burdens on our hearts, and I have been challenged by their faith. I have made life-long friends among these missionaries, and I am so thankful for their impact on my life. I especially want to thank the Pridgen and Hudson families, for welcoming me into their ministries and homes, and letting me co-labor with them here in Kampala.
A- A Faithful God As I’ve “saved the best for last,” I can honestly say that the biggest blessing I have experienced and am thankful for is the unending faithfulness of God. God is faithful…all the time. Living here in Africa has increased but also challenged my faith at times, and through it all, God has showed me over and over again that HE is real, that HE is near, and that HE is faithful. I have had mountaintop experiences and down in the valley experiences, but God has never changed. He’s always been right by my side, reminding me that I’m not alone. There is a song called “He’s Been Faithful” that I have loved ever since high school. I want to share the first verse and chorus with you. This song was true for me then, but it has even become more true and real for me now, 10 years later.
“In my moments of fear, Through every pain, every tear,
There’s a God Who’s been faithful to me.
When my strength was all gone, When my heart had no song,
Still in love He’s proved faithful to me.
Every word He’s promised Is true, What I thought was Impossible I’ve seen my God do.
He’s been faithful, faithful to me. Looking back His love and mercies I see.
Though In my heart I have questioned,
Even failed to believe, yet He’s been faithful, faithful to me.”
Thank you for letting me share my heart and my thanksgiving with you. Please pray for me as I finish up my time here in Africa in the next few weeks. Please pray for the end our school year, as my students take their exams this week, and for our End-of-Year Ceremony and Top Class Graduation on the 6th of December. Our students have been working hard on this ceremony for months. Please pray that many family members and friends will come and support the students, and especially hear the message of salvation. Please pray for me as I say goodbye to my students, friends, and church. I am most grateful for all your prayers and support!
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