Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chapter 16: The Honeymoon Period

Those first two weeks in Africa were surreal.  I was on cloud nine as the missionaries drove me around the city and out into the villages.  So much about the country surprised me.  Due to the fact that I jumped into this adventure without doing a lot of research, I didn’t realize that I was going to sub-Sahara Africa.  I had imagined the jungle, but it was desert as far as the eye could see.  I’d pictured giraffes, elephants, and lions running wild.  Instead, the only animals that ran wild were snakes, spiders, and really big lizards.  Not at all what I was expecting.  The people, though, far exceeded my expectations.  They were more beautiful, inside and out, than I’d ever imagined.  They were also far more closed off from the Gospel.  I quickly came to the realization that Islam is like a huge brick wall between people and the truth about Jesus, and I immediately began to pray for the Lord to break down that wall brick by brick.  By the end of the first two weeks, I was tired; emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  The task at hand seemed impossible.  It took so much work just to live there from day to day.   I felt like I didn’t have the strength to tackle a new language and reach the hearts of the people.  I remember one day, the missionary wives took me to lunch.  They could tell that what they call the “honeymoon” period was over.  During lunch they shared with me their own stories about pushing through rough patches and creating a life for themselves and their families in Africa.  They told me a joke that day that I’ll never forget.  It goes like this…
     “Three missionaries go out for coffee.  The first missionary, just heading to the field, sees a fly in his coffee.  “Waiter,” he calls, “there’s a fly in my coffee!  Can I have a new cup?”  The second missionary, back from his first furlough, also has a fly in his coffee.  He scoops it out with his spoon and continues to drink.  The third missionary, a veteran on the field, gets a cup of coffee without a fly.  He yells to the waiter, “Hey!  Where’s my fly?”
We laughed.  The ladies said, “Michelle, before you know it you’ll be asking for a fly in your coffee.”  I loved how that was their way to give me hope.  I could do this.  Many had gone before me and done more than this.  I went home after lunch, still tired and very homesick, but with renewed hope.  “I can do anything through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13

1 comment:

  1. Michelle, what a treat to read this series! It's wonderful to get to know you better and see how God has worked in your life. And fun now to be reading about your feelings and impressions upon arriving in that country we both love so much. Your descriptions bring back many memories!