I don't really know why I entitled this blog with "cheers love", expect that I couldn't find a better phrase to signify that I am now safely (semi-)home in the UK with my parents, dog and four chickens!
The flights were long as usual, but I met an interesting lady sitting next to me (about my age), who was Gabonese, but lived in Washington DC for the past several years. She was well dressed and had lots of designer bags with her. She goes home to Gabon every year to visit her parents in Libreville, where they work for the local government.
I was pretty amazed by how little she told me that she interacted with the Gabonese outside her home/sports club (country club). When I told her about the work I was doing with the church-- things like venturing into villages, mixing cement, pouring church floors, working with abandoned kids...etc, as well as things like taking taxi buses or visiting newly planted church and communities in villages-- she was shocked. She said that she has NEVER visited a village outside of Libreville, nor has she ever ridden in a taxi bus, ventured into neighbourhoods, urban markets... etc. BUT! The reason I tell you about this interaction is not intended to make you all think down upon her- not at all. I just so often find myself VERY critical of the Western world-- and the western church-- for taking things for granted, and here I was talking to a Gabonese woman who was probably more sheltered than most Americans I knew.
This does bring up a good point: About a month ago, I heard Kevin DeYoung speak at a conference in San Diego, and he said that one of the saddest things that we as Americans do is hate our local church, and revere churches in other countries- especially if they are facing terrible hardships in some way. The point, however, is that God created the Church as ONE body- it's not "us" vs "them", but instead it's "all of us". Why would I ever disparage Christ's church the way do when it comes to (especially) the American church? He took the whole church as His bride and I would never sound off on someone's wife right in front of her husband's face. What I need to do is pray for the church and even more so for my attitude about the church. If there is something going on that is not right in a church, I should talk to the person about it or meet with a pastor- not just talk behind people's backs and whine (and I have been very guilty of this in the past).
I hope that as I come across more things that often frustrate me in the Western world- things like $500 pots and pans, new iphones, fancy cars-- that I will remember how God loves each person equally, and that it does me no good to hold up all my frustrations so that I become bitter and resentful about those who "have" as opposed to those who "have not". Instead, remember that God loves his WHOLE church and He has blessed me with experiences that may help me change things in my life based on what I learned in Gabon, and that He will ultimately use these things to His glory.
Monday, August 2, 2010
So I leave on saturday night. I'm having a hard time processing things right now, so please forgive what may appear to be a really "surface-y" update... I'm trying to be as real with you as possible :)
Today, after spending the most of the day out in a village about 1.5 hrs from Libreville, we returned to our house to find my Gabonese friend Tania, waiting for me on the front porch.
A note about Tania: (she's also the one I mentioned who has a Bible that's totally falling apart)
-She's 22 and her dad had a stroke a few yrs back- she takes care of him because her mom is on a plantation somewhere in the jungle
- She also takes care of 6 other siblings
-She has a middle school education, and needs to complete one more year to get her diploma that will allow her to start becoming an apprentice for a beautician school
- Every time I see her, she's either coming or going to something at her church- she's really active with an intercession ministry and the youth ministries
- On Saturday, I convinced her to come to the beach with us. She's lived no more than 10 miles from the beach for her whole life, but had never gone into the water until now (I just hung onto her the whole time because the waves were pretty big and she's really tiny and she can't swim at all. We had such a blast and I think she swallowed a bucketful of salt water out there!)
Anyways, she is a real light here in Gabon. I rarely see someone so joyful and full of love of the Lord as she is. I'm telling you- she never stops smiling! So today we pull up after spending the morning playing with kids in a village, and she's standing there, waiting for me. I wasn't expecting her, but that's not uncommon to just drop in. She told me that she came over (she had to take a few different taxibuses to get here) just so that she could give me a present and say goodbye before I left. I opened the present and she had given me a piece of cloth that was from a city in the south (port gentil) and a little gabonese flag. I was so thankful for her gift, especially because I knew that she had to go all the way into the center of the city to get these things, which is not easy to do because we live in the outskirts.
The best part was that when I as walking her down to the taxibus stop, we were saying our goodbyes and I asked her if we could pray before she left. I took her hands, but she just threw her arms around me in a massive hug and started praying. Taxibuses were honking at us and I know that most people there never see "blanches" (white girls) walking around with "noires" (black girls), let alone stand on a street corner praying together. That moment was a real testament to God's goodness and His desire for all believers to come together as one church. I have danced at church alongside other believers here in Gabon in a way that would not be considered "normal" at my church back in AZ, but I am learning how this is something to be embraced and not regarded as a "cute" or "entertaining" way of worshipping. The people here regard our bodies as having been created for dancing and singing to God, and them dancing could be viewed just as a person in a pew kneeling down before the Lord in silent praise of His work. My desire is for the Lord to continue opening my five senses to more ways of honoring Him.