You’re riding in a 25-seater bus, rattling along the winding, dirt roads of rural East Africa. The air here isn’t like the rest. It’s crisp and chilled when you take a breath. Evergreens line the horizon atop the mountains that frame the sky. This is not the Africa that many people envision.
Jane lives in these parts of Africa. A single mother, Jane owns her own home and maintains a shamba, a small farm, on the side of her other work. She’s a hardworking mother who, aside of her other responsibilities, takes time to volunteer in her community with The Rejoice Project. She’s an inspirational woman and an individual that many look up to.
One day, at Jane’s home, she walks us out into her shamba. Row by row, she introduces us to the crops that have taken up residence in the space behind her humble, three-room home. Arriving to a row that appeared to be little more than soil, Jane began digging. Less than a few inches into her work, Jane pulled out a handful of potatoes. Presenting them to us, she plainly says, “this is the Lord’s provision.” And she was right. This small handful of potatoes, her shamba, and her home were all testimonies of the Lord’s provision; the fact that Jane and her family had not been forgotten by God.
In many ways we reflect on our time with the same spirit as Jane with her potatoes. Tenderly holding up moments we will never forget, friendships that will last our lifetime, and our meager adventures as we simply say, “This is the Lord’s provision.” The most obvious of examples would be the fact that God knew we would be together. Yes – we’re that couple that met in Africa, but it’s not as tribal as it might sound. First dates quickly turned into dating which found it’s way to engagement. We’re equally better off, deeply grateful for, and will have greater Kingdom impact as a result of finding each other. But God had so much more, because if you really ask us, God provided in many other ways. For instance, he knew this was the place we would call home for the next two years. He knew there were people there that we needed just as much as they needed us. He knew that what we had to learn could only happen in a place thousands of miles from what we knew as familiar.
Immigrants, we began life in the new normal. Though we’d traveled there for many years, everything was somehow foreign. Relearning the the most simple of daily tasks, we did our best to embrace the new ways of doing things. While there are more things than we could explain here, there are a few that stand above the rest – those lessons that we will cherish in our hearts and will be foundational to the life we create together in the US.
The word friendship does little to describe those we love in East Africa, because we didn’t only find friends, we found brothers and sisters, and from them, we’ve learned that authentic relationships are built on a posture of come as you are. Friendships, whose only expectation is honesty.
Closely following friendship, we learned that each day should not go without simplicity. There’s a lie that prevails in western culture living that was quickly dispelled in East Africa: the expediency or efficiency to which you can orchestrate your day-to-day life does not equal a productive or worthy day. A steady-paced, purposefully aware life cannot be undervalued or you risk surrendering the value of the individual in front of you or, regrettably, the nuances of each day that can change a meager walk into a life-altering moment. Though this does not complete the list, we’ve found that when you fully abandon your life to Jesus, you will find yourself in the holiest of dependencies on your Heavenly Father who will never fail to lavish you with his love, give you his daily provision, or light your way.
For these lessons we have learned and others, we praise God for our time in East Africa with Choose to Invest and proclaim this word over our lives and pray it for the brothers and sisters we left in Africa –
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Cody & Mary London Goshert