January 09, 2014

US. {As in the three of us. Not the United States.}

As I lay on our not-quite-soft bed in our new-to-us home last night, trying to think of a blog to write, I came up short.  I know I haven't written in far too long, and I felt the need to come back with a…..

A post that was amazing and stirred the hearts of whoever out there reads it.  But. We haven't done much 'ministry' the past few weeks.  Our lives have been consumed with… us.  Who wants to read a blog from some missionaries that haven't done anything worthy enough to call ministry?

Then it came: the overwhelming feeling of guilt.  Thoughts flying through my brain like, "You aren't in Africa to have fun and relax, you're supposed to be a missionary," and "Why haven't you been to the village?  Ministry should be taking the front seat." and [possibly the worst of all], "No wonder you aren't at 100% support- what are people supporting?".
But then I felt it - the gentle hand of my Father resting on my shoulder.  I rolled over in bed, holding back a few tears and heard him say, "Your family is your first ministry, no matter where you are." I lay there listening to Him and my heart became lighter.  These past several weeks have been filled to the brim with us taking care to get the new house livable.
O loves to help clean! (he is his mother's child)
When we're not at the house working on it, we're shopping for the best deals for appliances and furniture to put in it, or brainstorming on how we can make things work if we skip on this or that.  When we're not doing that we're taking our two year old to the pool, even though he never swims.  One of his new favorite things to do is sit on the edge playing with his 'scooper' and funnel.  It's our happy place after a long day's hard, sweaty work to play together as a family, even if it's only for 10 minutes before rushing back to the house for dinner and bed time.  Heck, some days, those 10 minutes at the pool at the end of the day were our saving grace.  Our reminder that we're here.  In this together.  

I know that once this is all over - once we're finally settled into our new house, we will be all the better for it.  We are thankful beyond words for the opportunity we had to stay in a fully furnished, functioning house upon our immediate arrival to Tanzania, but there is just something about finally being in a home that's ours.  Well, as close to our's as it can be, since everything here is rented, but you know.
It has been so. much. work to get into this house.  And it's going to continue to be a mountain of work to maintain it (there are three big windows in our living room, each has 33 (thirty-three!) panes of glass the louvre open to let the fresh air (and dust) in to the house.  Have I even thought about cleaning them yet? Yes.  And then I passed out. That doesn't include the 12 other windows in the house that are the same style.) Despite all this though, I can see our family is growing closer.  Owen has been such a champ through all this.  I can see the wheels in his brain turning as he asks, "Can we take this to our new house?  It's mine?"  And now that we're [mostly] moved in and he's realized that all the toys here are his, and all the things here are ours, it's as if he settled in more.  That's what it's like for all of us I think.  Becoming a reality.  We. Live. In. Tanzania.  We bought a fridge, stove, washing machine, furniture… all our toiletries are stacked neatly in the closet, our Norwex towels are hanging neatly by random nails in the bathroom the were left by the previous tenants, our beds are made, with bedding we bought from the local market, sheets hang from our windows where curtains should be until we can get some made, our kitchen is stocked with the two pots and three pans we were able to fit into our luggage, plus tons of odds and ends that people have donated to us, or that we've found at a garage sale.
O serenading us on our first morning waking up in the new house. 
So we haven't been to the village in a while, and we haven't been to the farm in a while, but we're still doing ministry. We're taking care of us so that we can be all the better to take care of others.  And even as I write this God reminds me we've done ministry outside our family in all this - giving our fundis snacks and drinks as they work, providing them with LOTS of work (hey, this is Africa, there's lots to fix), having conversations with them about their family, God, life, their future.
This move will be over soon (hopefully really soon) and we will get back to life, to volunteering at the school, going to the village on the weekends and getting our feet even dirtier, but for right now, at least for the next few days, we're focusing on us.  I never thought I'd be okay with that, but I am now.  God's shown me the importance of it, and I trust his judgment.  ;)