So many daily activities in Africa take longer and require more effort than I want to put into them. I could discuss the difficulties of cooking 3 meals a day from scratch–especially since items that I am used to having readily available are nonexistent here. If a recipe calls for a can of cream of mushroom soup, I have to make the cream of mushroom soup. Wait, you can’t get mushrooms. Time for Plan B. Yesterday I considered making my own cottage cheese, until I read that you have to let spoiled milk set on top of your refrigerator for 2 days. I don’t think the kids want to wait 2 days for dinner. Our oven is also a thing of beauty. It does not heat evenly. Half of the food is burned and the other half is still raw. Would you rather have the “well-blackened chicken” or the “sure-to-give-you-salmonella-chicken?” At least I think it is chicken…
I could ramble on about how I have to go to 7 different places to get all my groceries for the week and still not find everything on my list. Or how the electricity goes off randomly. Or how we can only use our dryer for 10 minutes at a time because the power in our house goes off (the power company will only give you so many watts of power at a time). I could tell of the ant colony that is large enough to carry off a small child, which has taken up residence in our living room.
The daily annoyances make life in Africa hard, but the hardest part about living in here for me is the overwhelming physical need of the people. It’s the mothers with small children strapped to their backs, ringing our doorbell asking for a cup of rice. It’s the people with handicaps sitting by the side of the road in broken down wheelchairs. It’s the families living in houses made of sheets strung together with clothes line. It’s the abused women and the parentless children. How does one look into the face of a young child, wearing clothes so worn and dirty we wouldn’t use them as rags in America, and not help? How to help is the question. If I give them money, it all goes to further the spread of Islam, and not to fill their hungry bellies. I tried giving food one day and I still cringe when I think of it. Those boys dove for the food and several got hurt in the scuffle. I’m embarrassed and horrified to write of my blunder.
As I look around at the obvious need, it is easy to want to do something to make a difference. There are starving people! The housing is inadequate! The water is not fit for drinking! Someone do SOMETHING! And then I read John 4: “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” As I wrestle with how to help those around me, I am reminded that the real treasure I offer is a relationship with the One who can give them living water and He loves them enough to die for them.
“Lord, please give me the wisdom to know how to give to these people so that they will see Your love through me.”
Editor’s Note: Pray for our missionaries to not become overwhelmed by the needs around them. Show them what to do in the circumstances they face each day. Pray that the people they live among would see You in them and would drink from the living water.
(names, locations and blog links omitted due to security issues; stock photos)