When we first started seriously thinking about moving to Africa I thought in my North American mentality that we would be making a huge viagra canada difference almost immediately. How could we not? We had a great organization behind us who supported us not only administratively but also prayerfully and made us feel a part of a family. We had wonderful churches sending us out, who were just as excited as we were. We had wonderful family and friends who never gave us a hard time for deciding to go, and as a bonus I left employment where the people were so supportive, encouraging and excited and who gave me a wonderful send off which made it hard to leave, but also another prompting from God saying ‘go’. Nathan too had a wonderful and Godly boss who allowed flexibility in his time schedule to go to training and all the blessings he gave us before we left. How could I not feel we were going to do wonderful work and accomplish so much, we had a huge support!
Have any of the above factors changed? No, not at all, they have only increased. Have I changed my mentality? Absolutely! Do I still think this was the right decision to move to Africa? I without a doubt believe it was the right decision.
Upon being here for 6 months, looking at it from a North American perspective I might feel we haven’t done anything, at least compared to the elaborate designs I made up in my own mind. We lived with a wonderful family for a month, we went to South Africa and met up with our wonderful team members and met more wonderful people, we got to work on a house that was in rough shape but now feels like home, we got a wonderful visit from our parents and executive director, we got to spend Easter camping on the edge of the Kalahari with thousands of other people and we are now living in a constant state of not knowing what the next day will bring.
Now if I look at it from the way I saw it: I lived with a family who I had never met before, who laughed at me while I tried to learn Tswana. Who I thought were making fun of me constantly. I tried food I never thought I would eat and went to funeral prayers and wedding preparations with customs I never knew. While trying to understand a language that I couldn’t distinguish where one word ended and the other began but I was hearing sounds I was fairly confident my mouth would never make. I had a few break down moments when I didn’t think I could live there any longer or to be in Africa at all.
We then moved back home just in time to pack up and leave to go to South Africa to experience a whole new set of new (I have a hard time with change, I say I like change, but in the moment I don’t; I like change only when it becomes normal and I look back on it and say, “hey, that was a big change, eh” and then I chuckle all the while thinking never again). We are there with a lot of new people with a whole new set of names to remember and they all seem to know exactly what is going on. They all know the songs and are singing without words on a sheet or book, I’m trying to fake it the best I can and secretly hoping no one looks at me and figures me out. Everyone seems excited about a competition that comes at the end and a talent show, I am dreading both because I have no idea what they involve and I don’t want to look silly, plus talent? I don’t have a talent, no one wants to watch me read silently for 10 minutes.
Then we come home to see a house in a constant state of mess. With an office that has exploded over everything and spare bedrooms uninhabitable, with visitors coming in a bit less than a month. We are fixing, hanging, cleaning, scrubbing and shopping for the visit. We then get to see familiar faces of Nathan’s parents as they come off the plane and tears start coming (I compose myself before they clear customs). Then our Executive Director comes but don’t let the impressive and imposing title fool you, we call him Tim and it was another friendly and familiar face.
The craziness started the week mom and dad came and increased the week Tim came. Non-stop visits and meetings and the talk of potential possibilities of great work to be done. I am exhausted! I was married into the Dirks family I did not inherit the Dirks out-going inexhaustible gene they all process and wonderful people skills with energy that seems to build off itself when used at high rates. More names and faces to remember and more possibilities to sort through, my brain was ready to explode.
Easter came and we were off to go camping. Easter is my favourite holiday but needless to say I was not completely excited to go and experience something completely new with thousands of people from all around Botswana. We went to Spiritual Healing Easter celebration in Matsiloje on the edge of the Kalahari. There were all night prayers and late night choir concerts, soccer games, and lots of baths in a little tent room. Once again lots of names and faces to remember, with plenty of new customs to sort out.
The excitement of not knowing what the next day will hold comes from the fact we are illegally in the country of Botswana. Check that one off the life to do list. The government of Botswana has rejected our Resident Permits and we are now trying to navigate our way through the process of appealing. There is a very real possibility of being kicked out at any time.
Through the last 6 months I experienced some very low lows but I experienced a lot of highs as well. I have been able to see the landscape of Botswana and meet a lot of wonderful people. I was adopted into a family that I love very much, and were able to have our sister of the same family live with us for the month mom and dad Dirks were here and Tim. I was able to see the beautiful landscape of South Africa and beautiful beaches with great people at the retreat (I also can pretend to know all the songs off by heart easier now). Also, Nathan won the competition at the end of the retreat and won the Goulet Award (I am very proud). We got to see are parents and receive guidance from their time of living here in Botswana. We are blessed with the relationships they built and grew here and who are now here to support and grow us. We were able to talk and discuss our role here on Botswana with Tim our Executive Director that helped us sift through all the possibilities.
We got to spend Easter to focus in on Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us, so we can be here in Africa trying to do His will, and to further God’s Kingdom. Through all the headache of the resident permits we have received great blessings from family and friends back home, as well as the churches and Mennonite Church Canada, but beyond that we have grown into a closer relationship with the AIC (African Independent Churches) here, who have rallied around us and provide prayer support and relationship support in brain storming ideas of how to help us to stay. The youth in Spiritual Healing and St. Michael’s Churches have welcomed us in so openly that we couldn’t imagine not staying.
So, the business of waiting. The business of waiting is Gods business. It feels like we have had the worry and stress for the residents permits for too long, and we are constantly in the state of waiting to be able to plan anything long term without knowing if we will actually be here or not. We are waiting to accomplish the great things we thought of doing. We are waiting for the language to become familiar to us. We are waiting for people to be familiar to us. We are waiting basically not to be the “new” people anymore. We are waiting for the customs to be familiar. With all this waiting, we have be able to experience wonderful things, landscapes, people, teachings and we have grown in our relationship with God. We have always known that God is in all things but we have been forced to live in Faith that he can make all things right and that His plan is always better than ours. That we are called not to understand His plan but we have been called to simply have faith and believe in His plan. No matter how our time in Botswana ends we know He had a purpose for us being here and have been blessed much because of it.
The business of waiting has helped me focus on the only thing that is important. That God is faithful to those who are faithful and to trust in Him.