I have meant to catch up with some exciting stuff happening around these parts but we have been crazy busy. So I guess living life rather than blogging about it is a good thing, right? But I so crave the reflection and (semi) quiet time this blog allows me. And there is something in me that needs to share here to feel connected. It is how this extrovert copes with living in Africa away from so many amazing friends and dear family.
A few weeks back I had the first of 2 dreams that profoundly impacted me. I know this is not the “norm” of how God speaks (mostly through His word and other people) but for me God has in the past spoken VERY clearly to me thru dreams. I tend to think this is NOT because I am super tuned to the Spirit but because the only time I stop moving long enough to listen is when I am sleep. I am always working on spending time just reading His Word and listening but the fact that I even had dreams was a big thing since my sleep has been so interrupted as of late (as an aside Evy did not get the memo that she is NOT 4 weeks old anymore and does NOT need to nurse every 3 hours at night…Pole sana for me!) I awoke and remembered the dream and right away and felt like it was meant to encourage me in what sometimes feels like an abyss of need here.
In short this dream was of a boy who lives in my neighborhood and years from now, he was about 25 in the dream, he came up to me in Chicago (weird I know). He ran up and said “Mama Annikah do you remember me?” I recognized his face and said “yes!” although I did not know his name. He then told me that years ago our family was loving towards him and he saw Jesus in our lives when he lived next to us on that small island many years ago. It sounds maybe not that big of a deal but it was very encouraging for me since most days I feel a longing to do more, to be “better” at loving people and meeting their needs. I so often feel like there is just so many people that need to be loved, cared for, and listened to. So many days as I go about my day I sense this quiet nudge to be His hands and feet more but most days I tune that or instead do the stuff that seems immediate. I have often thought how many opportunities I miss and am trying more and more to live in the now, in the eternal, in the vital not just the important. Since we moved into this home I have always sensed there is a need among the what sometimes seems like billions of watoto that run around the neighborhood. After some recent conversations with our neighbors Jason and I both felt like we wanted to do something to help them in practical ways especially since so many of them have welcomed us so much and helped us learn the language and adjust to life here. One fisherman we know has two wives and 11 kids between them and no ability to pay the small fees required to attend school. We could pay the fees (for at least some of them) but we felt this would not be a long term solution and it would also bring money into a relationship that at this point is just friendship. Money changes relationships, everywhere but especially here and because we are Wazungu. We started thinking and praying about it but the busyness of life pushed it to the back of my mind again.
About a week later I had a second dream. When I awoke I was deeply impacted. I don’t remember much about it but I just know I was sort of thinking about teaching kids here and said out loud in my dream “It is just too much work right now” “I have 2 small kids” “I will soon be teaching at our vocational school”, etc. My reasoning sounded great to me and then I heard a voice say “you have a mat and a Kid’s Story Bible. That is all you need for now.” When I awoke I was afraid to share this right away but after a women’s meeting we were asked what was on our hearts and I started sharing about the first dream and started crying. Sometimes you are not sure of how something has impacted you until you speak it out. But starting something right now is just not me. I like to plan, to have everything figured out before I take anything on but I so clearly felt I had to do this. Like if I didn’t I would be unable to sleep, function, or have peace. I had no heaviness about it like it was something forced but rather it was actually a sort of freedom from perfectionism. I felt like God said just do it and I will take care of the details for now. Many days I feel like the father in Mark
that says “I do believe but help my unbelief.” Slowly God is showing me I can pray this and that He will meet me in my weakness, my doubts, my fears, and He will show me the Way.
So, Jason and I went to our neighbors and told them about my dream and told them that although I do not have experience teaching watoto here I would like to help them by trying to teach the kids letters, numbers, stories from the Old Testament, songs, and beginning English. We said we would try 2 days a week and so far most of the same kids have shown up each time with new teens and adults each time checking out what is going down at the Wazungus house.
There are some issues emerging (like older kids coming and answering too many questions or laughing at the little ones) so I am in need of wisdom to help deal with that but overall I think it has been going pretty well. It has just been a couple weeks now (with one cancellation due to crazy rain) and school is taking shape. I am learning what they know and do not know (most kids can recite the numbers but have no conception that each number has a value assigned to it). They seem to love the stories and songs the most so I am hunting around for easy songs and stories to share (holla if you have ideas!). And mostly I am fumbling through and trying to find my way. As I was walking to the duka around the corner last week I heard some kids singing to each other “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” which sounded more like “heed, shuulers, knees, and tows.” It made my heart smile. I felt like this small thing is something I can do with God’s help. The intersection between your gifts and the need in the world can be the sweet spot God can use you, even this crazy Mzungu.
hey who are those wazungus?
So there is now a little shule outside our house amidst our hanging laundry and my prayer is that it blesses the kids and families in our neighborhood. And that I learn more about listening to God before I get everything figured out. For sure I am in over my head but I have a sense that is where God wants me to be right now.