The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121 v 7-8
How true it has been, that the Lord has been watching over my comings and goings over the past three months! Zambia already seems so far away, though I’ve only been home a week. I’ll miss so much about this amazing country: even things that baffled me when I first arrived, I grew used to and loved by the time I left.
It’s crazy how life in Zambia became so normal. For example, back in May I thought ‘I’ll never get used to eating nshima – and with my hands!’ but then it became the most natural thing ever. So then, it’s strange how everything at home becomes normal again: our excess of everything is astounding, yet it’s normal.
A few things back home took some getting used to, like being reminded that I can drink tap water without a problem, or that summer evenings in England stay light until late (the sun sets around 1800 in Zambia, so there was me thinking it was still the afternoon when in fact it was 2100. Time flies when you’re catching up with the fam!). Also, that British summer weather is neither predictable or reliable. After being caught in a downpour with only sunglasses, I’ve been reminded that carrying a brolly is usually a wise move (although it was a refreshing walk after 3 months of no rain!).
It’s true that Africa gets into your blood, though it took me longer than I thought it would. I wasn’t in love with Zambia from the word go by any means, but now I can say that I love it and I think there’s now a little part of me left in Africa. I don’t know how it happens or what changes – but maybe that’s it: Zambia didn’t change all that much when I was there, but I did by leaning on the Lord. And as I trusted Him with more and more, I loved his creation more too. God took me and moulded me to be more like Jesus. It’s Him that got me through this trip, and Him who changed my perspective so I could love Zambia and accept it rather than resent things that were out of my control. I’ve seen that I’m not in control one little bit. It’s been a hard lesson to learn, but the flip-side is the truth that the God of the universe is in control. He holds all things in His hands, He goes before me, and He goes after me and He is with me all the time.
I’ve also learned that God’s family knows no borders. During my time in Zambia I have met so many amazing people, and I’m so grateful that God put them in my life, even for a short time. It is so cool that you can go all the way to Zambia and meet awesome girls of God from Scotland and Northern Ireland!
I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Of course I knew that before, but being in Africa has given me a better perspective: I’ve experienced God’s provision and care in such real ways. Our God really is an awesome and incredible God, and it’s Him who deserves all the glory.
Constant One, endless is your love: like a river can’t be stopped, you’re faithful. Constant One, who is like you God? Your mercy’s like the sun: always rising over us.
– Steffany Gretzinger
This song reminds me of the verse in Lamentations 3 which says: ‘…his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ God really is the constant one: in the midst of all the changes, changes in culture and changing from place to place, He stayed the same, and he continues to stay the same too. God has been a real rock and refuge that I can run to when I don’t know what is going on, or how to cope with everything.
Zambia, I miss you already. This year has been one crazy venture, but God used even the difficult times to bring me closer to Him, so I can say now that I wouldn’t change a thing.
To everyone who has prayed, read and encouraged: Thank You! And thank you too, to all of you who have been a part of my First Serve journey. This year has been amazing so thank you for being a part of it!
‘We’re getting there: we’re determined to discover all that you have hidden for us along the way.’