Some thoughts on Patience

IMG_2133

I am among the throngs of people who wake up to an immediate feeling of being late, tired, frustrated, knowing what I should do yet always doing what I do. Occasional Hulk-like blasts of self-efforted, exceptional efficiency dot my track record.  Our culture values such soul-numbing things.

I think about patience.  This is not such a value today.  Hustle, grind, being the boss, accomplishment, credit – these are obvious values of our culture now.  It’s in our conversations, in the kaleidoscope of “pump-you-up” articles we post and read and repost, in our role models, in our behavior.  But then there is patience.  Quiet.  Steady.  Not easily noticed, not anything anyone readily gets credit for.

I need more of this fruit of Holy Spirit in my life.  Patience with myself, as I am constantly aware of my “not being enough,” not pleasing enough, not getting it right, not doing what I ought do. Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” It is in spirit, from the inside out.  It is first feasting ourselves on that which Jesus offers to us, and then appropriating that patience outwardly.

Patience with my circumstances.  Some are unchangeable, out of our control completely.  Some we get into out of choices – obedience or disobedience – and even then we wait for, or must walk through, the natural fruit of our choices.  To be patient with my circumstances is to recognize God’s providence.  It is peace in knowing there is journey still ahead of me (“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope!”)  It is peace for the now. “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.” (James 5:7)  “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25)

To be patient towards others, because they, like me, may be feeling a lot less-than, listening to the devil’s lies about things.  It manifests in everyone differently.  To offer patience is to love.  It is to recognize humanness, to be on the same side together, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2)  It is to offer that which we ourselves need to be offered, over and over again.

Patience is active, not passive.  It is not merely not caring.  It is deciding to long-suffer.  It is not a change of immediate feelings towards the person or situation, but feeling that way and constantly handing over the reigns of our control, our need to change things or people to better suit ourselves, and to suffer long until God presses out the fine oil of His plans being worked out all around and inside of us.  “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Patience, though quiet and unseen, yields a truer treasure.

-Sam

The Real Unpacking: Of Irritation and Thankfulness

In November of 2010, I drove to the coast of North Carolina, a post-college student-of-life, living on the smallest amount of money possible.  I hopped in the car, turned on some Jon Foreman, and drove East towards the coming sun, all the while praying and contemplating.  My closest-friend-turned-love-of-my-life was in Mozambique, Africa loving Jesus and people.  We hadn’t started dating yet, but when he told me he was thinking of going, I urged him to go.  World travel is one of the most amazing and growing experiences, and I wanted him to have it, regardless of our uncertain and budding relationship.

This morning I sit in a coffee shop overlooking the saltwater of Taylor’s Creek, Jon Foreman in my ears, nearly 3 years married to this love, clumsily carrying the gigantic box with huge onion-layers of life change and travel across the globe we have done together over the past four months.  To Africa and back again, married.  Thank you Jesus.  There is much peeling back and unpacking of the heart to do.  I haven’t touched that box much yet.

On our way out of Pemba

We came home in the middle of the Christmas season.  It is near impossible to explain the whiplash of going from life in Africa, to 30 hypnotizing hours on various plane rides, to suddenly life back home.  It’s not just going from third-world to first-world, from the hottest African summer with no A/C and occasional running water, to winter and hot showers ad infinitum, from concrete and dirt to carpet and malls.  Those all play a part, but it’s not it.  They tried to prepare us for “re-entry” in Harvest School, that vague and ominous word with equally as vague and ominous explanations of what to expect.  What would it be like?  What would it feel like?  I listened, but didn’t really care then how it would take shape, so long as there was family, freshly cooked vegetables, clean clothes, and a bed in which covers were actually necessary.

Rice and Beans

Loving Pemba

Our room/bed in Pemba

Eating all our meals together

Honestly, re-entry for me has looked like a Rubik’s Cube of the following:  landing from a day in a plane and then hopping from house to house every few nights, unpacking only a little and re-packing to move to the next bed ready for us.  Realizing that John and I don’t have our little apartment home anymore, where we can be alone, have whatever conversations needed, buy our own groceries, know where things go, and just how we do the practicalities of home.  It has been people asking, “How was Africa?” and being simultaneously so thankful that they took the time to ask, and irritated that I can’t really explain in the minute or less we have in passing. And that they may not want to take more time than that to listen, and I may not want to give them the real answer.  It has been expectations and realities, both wrapped up in much-needed grace.  Or people asking both John and I, “How was Africa?” and knowing that John and I have completely different answers, so I just kind of sit back and let whatever answer John has at that moment come out.

On Weekend Outreach

Sunset in Johannesburg

Our Couples Family

It has been thankfulness one second for even having beds to sleep in, family who love us enough to let us crash indefinitely, and community in which to house our hearts, to irritation and insecurity the next second.  Meanwhile, John seems to be doing great, ever thankful, ever looking forward to what God has for us next, Mystery-Grab-Bag as it seems at the moment.  Ok, he’s sifting through more than the eye can see, but he has done this whole Harvest School and then “come back home” thing before, and is tenderly leading me.  Insert occasional marital friction here : )

That’s why we’re at the beach now.  Our first time in a house alone, non-communal living, in four months.  Enough space and silence to even really start to unpack.  And past the irritations, the noise, and the “why”s, there’s this huge thankfulness.  Deep breath.

John and Sam

Here’s the thing: Africa was amazing.  It was worth every penny, every sacrifice, every unknown.  We feasted from the Richest of Fare every day, all together, with the same hunger only satiable by experiencing God Himself, and we wouldn’t stop singing, praying, dancing until He showed Himself. And then when He did (He always did!) we’d just sing, pray, dance, lay on our faces, stand in amazement – admire our beautiful Jesus – some more.  This was day after day, each day of the week.  Time frames were loose to accompany His Presence.  Sure, we had things to do, speakers to listen to, people to minister to, but never at the expense of taking time for Jesus Himself, and obeying His timeframe.  People were eager to pray with and over each other, to sit and really listen to one another.  It was Jesus as the end, not as a means to another end (ministry, adventure, doing something cool or “extreme” with your life) – all the time!  What an amazing experience to live in such a community for a few months.

Worship Time

Foot Washing

Worship Night in Johannesburg

Worship Night in Nelspruit

And the difficult parts – food, lodging, comfort – were really just a beautiful part of the experience.  Eating weird food from the same two food groups in small portions and slightly different arrangements each time, but thankfulness for food to eat three times each day. Funny/uncomfortable/strange/communal sleeping arrangements, but thankfulness for a bed to sleep in and being able to share it with a loving husband.  Being so cold in one location that we don’t have enough layers to put on, and so hot in another location that we are cursing the very creator of leggings and the dress code which made them necessary under our skirts, but ultimately thankfulness for more than one set of clothes to wear from day to day.

Washing Clothes by Hand

Housing in Pemba

Rice and Beans

Flooding at House of Love

What it looks like to move 250 people

Tent City in Johannesburg

I love living so tangibly in the reality that Jesus is real, and really satisfying, and worth my whole life.  And that I can count it all joy.  I love being physically close to the majority of the world’s reality – food is precious, shelter is precious, a husband that doesn’t beat with words or fists is precious, and clothes to wear are precious.  Precious as in invaluable, beyond price, scarce, life-giving, of highest value.

Precious One

Pemba kids

little brothers in Pemba

outreach near Nelspruit

And the life of the journey, the pilgrimage, is an honor.  It comes with sacrifices, and I am clumsily fumbling over the practicalities of those sacrifices, learning how to live without the death-grip of control over my life, ever open-handed and thankful to my Jesus.  I am so thankful for His grace and love towards me, and allowing me to be a part of His grace and love towards others.

More to come on exactly what our time during the Mozambique leg of the journey was like, testimonies of His work, and what is to come (???) for John and I in our wayfaring life.

With love and thankfulness,

Sam

The Last Leg – Pemba Here We Come!

Hello sweet friends and family!

We are missing you all so much! We are sitting in a guest house in Johannesburg, right by the airport, listening to the rain and waiting for dinner. We have been migrating in groups from our last base in Nelspruit, spending a night in Joburg, then flying to Pemba, Mozambique! We are entering the land of 100-degree weather and 95% humidity, super busy days and nights (the best kind of busy), no wifi, fresh mangoes, amazing sunrises, rice and beans (and beans and rice), and beautiful Mozambicans.

We fly out tomorrow morning, and will have little to no connection phone/internet-wise. We got word that right now there is no running water and no electricity on the base, so you can be praying for that! We do have bottled water and well water.

Other ways you can be praying:
-Safe travels for all the groups going from South Africa to Mozambique
– Supernatural capacity to receive all of the saturated, powerful, back-to-back-to-back teachings and worship times
-Likewise, to have a supernatural infilling to be able to pour out to one another and to the community while we’re there – that we’d have supernatural energy physically and emotionally!
-Health over our whole group! Our biggest risks are tummy bugs and Malaria.
-Continued unity in our marriage and the whole group of couples
-To really savor each day without dwelling too much on the future. God will reveal things in the perfect time!

We are so looking forward to more teachings, more Jesus, out reaches in the village, worship, and our last 24 days together as HS21!

Please be praying and interceding for our team! We want to be so close to God that we can walk according to His voice and heart, so. He can be glorified and many to be added to His Kingdom!

See you all in December!
Love,
Sam and John

Life in the Bush!

Hello family and friends! We are sitting on the porch of our second tiny wooden cabin in Nelspruit, enjoying the cool of the afternoon at the base here. It is quiet and calm, since half of our school is on weekend outreach this weekend. John and I went last weekend, and it was incredible.

Our base is on the outskirts of Nelspruit in the “bush,” and it is gorgeous. We can see the mountains and the city from camp, and have seen zebra and wildebeast from our front porch! Just trotting by the electric fence marking the boundary of the base, which runs right by our cabin. Today we explored a bit outside the first gate, and rested on a huge rock cliff overlooking two lakes. We saw 2 more wildebeast, bush-bucks, a large bright-blue lizard, and a big monkey!

We wanted to share a little bit about our weekend outreach last weekend. Two color groups went together to a very small town about an hour away. We had 3 services throughout the weekend in a tent, and invited as many people as we could. The Iris Bible School pastors also attended – they are local men who are getting trained up in the Spirit and Truth to pastor churches here. We stayed in smaller groups in locals’ homes – on beds, on couches, and on floors. It was amazing to be invited in and welcomed so warmly, and to really see life in the town.

On Saturday afternoon, we went in groups of 4 with an interpreter to walk around the town and meet and pray with people. This was in incredible experience, and I am humbled and honored that I got to be a part. We just walked and prayed, greeted with Jesus’ love, met people, and asked if they would like prayer for anything. So simple, so intentional, and so powerful. God uses our yieldedness matched with our weakness and total dependence on Him. He loves it!!

The first home we approached was that of a single mother, two of her children, and her grandchild whom she takes care of as her own child. Her grandchild, Valencia, has a disability which affects her brain and has locked up/crippled her left arm and her legs from the knees down. She is about 7 or 8, only speaks in jibberish, walks on her knees, and is completely full of joy. Her mother warmly invited us in and was willing to have us pray over Valencia. I held that precious, wiggly one and we invited God into the home. We prayed blessings over the home, and each member of the family. When we asked the Holy Spirit for discernment of how to pray, we followed God’s instructions and cast out demonic strongholds over Valencia, and asked Jesus to fill those places. Though Valencia didn’t walk that day, we know there was victory. Her mother brought her to the service that evening, and let me dance with Valencia and allow her to have fun bouncing and dancing along the front of the tent. It was beautiful. Jesus, continue revealing yourself, your love, and your power to that family! We claim them for you!

We visited several other homes along the way. One particular home we passed by, as 3 men were yelling sarcastically at us in broken english, “Have you come to preach to us? Please come!” They were very clearly drunk. Four women sat close by, not talking, looking numb. Our interpreters said we should pass by as the men were drunk. As we asked God what to do, He told us to go to them, and our interpreter agreed. John ministered to the drunk men, while Karen (UK), myself, and one of the interpreters chatted with the women. Ministry is so simple – it’s loving people with Jesus’ love. Looking people in the eyes, asking them their name, smiling, and serving them in humility. As we chatting and laughed, we asked if we could pray for anything with them. Only one said yes. She said she needed “strong prayer.” When we asked what for, she said, “life.” We introduced her and 2 of the other women to Jesus, and our interpreter (who is maybe 16 or 17, and is a man after God’s heart!) got to lead them in a sweet prayer of salvation in their native tongue. We blessed them and prayed for further revelation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Yay God!!

There was so much more, and so much that God is doing in us. Teaching and worship has been wonderful, and we have been so thankful for a weekend of rest. One week and a couple days until we all migrate to Pemba for the last leg of our journey!

Praying for you all as we think of you. We are so thankful for your love and support!

Love,
Sam and John

A testimony of freedom!

Hi everyone! Sam here. God told me to share one of my testimonies from last week’s healing and deliverance time. It’s a bit lengthy, but it’s gold from Jesus and I have to give Him glory! I hope it encourages one of you!

Jesus is deliverer! That was such a normal part of His ministry, and He wants it to be a normal part of ours.

2 1/2 years ago, I had a traumatic event which affected my everyday life from that point on. I talked to some people about what I was dealing with, and we prayed, but I still dealt with the issue. It was choking out life, and I felt like I was losing my calling, that I was no longer equipped. It was so debilitating that I was embarrassed to talk about it, and no matter the conversation, no matter the well-meaning prayers, it was still oppressing my life.

On our way back from our honeymoon, John and I encountered a very surprising, severe bout of turbulence in the airplane. I have never been afraid of flying – in fact, I’ve always quite enjoyed it! It sounds so silly typed out, but what happened in those moments, when I was looking in the eyes of my new husband, thinking I was about to lose him and my own life, haunted me. I was upset at God that He let that happen on our honeymoon. I experienced post-traumatic stress, nightmares about airplane crashes and dying, uncontrollable imaginations about death scenarios while driving or just out and about or lying in my bed at night. It’s one of those issues that seemed so big and shameful that I didn’t want to tell anyone. I also had this extreme ungodly belief that if I exposed my issue, that I would risk for others to “catch” my fear or I would give it more power. Those few I did tell prayed and offered their best godly consult, but I still dealt with this traumatic fear and oppression. It was a cycle I couldn’t escape. I couldn’t “pray through it” or push through it or muster up enough spiritual mojo to combat it until it was gone.

The worst part is that I felt like my calling couldn’t be mine anymore. I convinced myself that maybe I could just stay where I was forever and get by in life so I could be safe and sound, even though I knew that’s not what John signed up for as my husband. Everything I thought I had heard God say about my life – loving different cultures, being a “border-crosser”, singing nations to their freedom – seemed childish and ludicrous to my mind. But in my heart, I knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied with my made-up “safe” life. God doesn’t want us to just get by in life! He doesn’t intend that we just “push through” our issues while He sits on the sidelines scoring our gameplays. Jesus died so we could have life abundantly!! And He wants to heal us intimately, not distantly!

As we prepared for Harvest School by reading and watching through the Restoring the Foundations material, I started to get excited that Jesus really did want me to be healed of my fear! And let me just say – He made it SO clear that we were supposed to attend HS this fall that I had to be obedient, even obedient to the point of taking 4 airplanes to get here. It was a battle, an exhausting battle in my mind every minute of every hour of those 19 hours of being up in the air, but He gave me such grace and assurance. He comforted me and assured me that my healing was coming. He cared about my fear and had grace for my struggling! Thank you Jesus! It’s easier to say no but it’s SAFER TO SAY YES when Jesus tells you to do something!

As the week of healing unfolded, Jesus and I recovered some important legal ground which the enemy had in my life. I had never heard of “legal ground” before, but the enemy CAN have it even in the life of a believer – not to
“possess” but to “oppress.” The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and he uses whatever open doors he can to oppress God’s people, to deflect them from their call and debilitate their lives.

Restoring the Foundations is a Biblical Healing & Deliverance ministry which uses an integrated approach to appropriate the blood of Jesus and receive freedom! They focus on 4 main problem areas: Sins of the Fathers and resulting curses, Ungodly Beliefs, Soul/Spirit hurts, and Demonic Oppression. We split it up between 2 days, 2 problem areas for each day. Here’s my brief story for each!

We closed ancestral doors of fear and idolatry and cut off those curses in Jesus’ name. This legal transaction was easy and so powerful, and took away legal ground from the enemy in my life. God and I replaced ancestral sins with new ancestral blessings – that my descendants would have a permanent place of belonging in the Kingdom of God, freedom, peace, joy, abundant life. Then, Jesus revealed some ungodly beliefs that I had been agreeing with in my head and heart. What we focus on before God is an idol, and it’s also what we have faith for. Yipes. My fear was an idol before God and agreeing with those fears was having faith for what I was fearing. I was so humbled and convicted, and God was faithful and just to forgive me, AND He gave me new Godly beliefs based on His perfect Word to agree with! I want to share them!

I am God’s child! He loves me and will never abandon me. I will always put my trust in God, and He will keep me safe and protect me because I am His beloved daughter!” (Jeremiah 29:11, Ps. 23, Ps. 4, Prov. 3:5-6, Ps. 139: 7-12, Ps. 16:8-11)

I am a jewel of great price to Jesus, precious and irreplaceable. I am not designed to be hidden away, but enjoyed by God and others. He designed me to have a unique purpose. I choose to unlock the box and no longer hide in fear, but come out and shine! (Prov. 3, Isaiah 61, Zechariah 9: 16-17, Ps. 139, Matt. 5:14, Col. 3, Matthew 13:44-46)

THEN – this was one of the sweetest parts to me – Jesus came into specific hurts in my life and healed those painful moments. There is a difference between forgiveness and healing. We asked the Holy Spirit to reveal a specific memory Jesus wanted to heal. We invited Jesus into the memory, and He redeemed them. It was SO POWERFUL! Jesus was active in those memories and revealed some awesome things. Like in my childhood home, Jesus was sitting at the piano playing a song. I asked him what the song was, and He said He made music before the foundations of the earth, and these songs were just for me. He was always there with me. In another memory, He was giving me blueprints and what I thought I was doing on my own, He had actually given me the blueprints for – I just didn’t know it. It was an extremely personal experience but I just wanted to share a bit about that to say – Jesus cares about hurts we think are insignificant, are justified, or maybe we think are already “dealt with.” He is thorough in His love 🙂

THEN – It came to deliverance day. And I was so aware that this struggle with fear was a real struggle with demonic oppression in my life. The enemy was trying to kill, steal, and destroy, and he came in all the ways he could to stand his ground. But since we had obliterated the only legal ground the oppressors could stand on, now I could clean house in Jesus’ name and with His authority and my authority as a believer. Can I just say how empowering this was?! So we cast out those demons of fear – fear of flying, fear of death, torment, dread – and they had to obey! It was a beautiful experience, so full of grace and peace and Jesus, and FREEDOM! I immediately felt a release of pressure in my mind and off my chest. Since then, Jesus has been redeeming the call He has purposed for my life. Like the steady rush of blood to a place that has been numbed, He has begun to bring heat and life and excitement into my identity and my calling. I look to the future and smile at the things to come!

THANK YOU JESUS for your finished work on the cross and for healing and delivering us so that we could be filled with more of you!

Week One is done (& we may be recovering for a while!)

We are sitting under the meal shelter at Iris Footprints in Johannesburg, the wind whipping us with the last bits of South African winter. Everyone is bundled and talking together into the night. New friends and new ground recovered after a week of significant, powerful healing and deliverance. Week 1 is done, and I think everyone is ready to have a Sabbath day tomorrow! We are emotionally spent in the best way!

John and I made our way to the base last Friday, with a few days of settling in and meeting new students as they came in shifts. The Footprints base here is an active Children’s home, and they have never before hosted a Harvest School. With very little notice, they have hosted 250 students for these first 2 weeks of school, which I’m sure was not at all easy – just think 3 meals a day for 14 days in an outdoor semi-kitchen, and the bathrooms to cater to us all!

Just to accurately paint the scene here – Imagine a large, sloping hill covered in mowed down brush and red/black dust and dirt, and then imagine about 150 tents scattered in bunches, a dozen or so portojohns, 2 horses roaming around freely, a few large worship tents to one side, a handful of tiny, new wooden cabins and a large tin shelter on the other side – that is our home for this leg of Harvest School! John and I are in one of the small cabins, which is segmented into 2 private rooms (one room per couple) just large enough for a bed and our bags. We are super thankful for a mattress and a tiny plot of space to call our second home!

There are 14 other married couples in our family, which is called “House of Love.” They are amazing. It is crazy to go from feeling a bit isolated in your life decisions (ie: we’re packing up our stuff and selling our car and quitting our jobs and moving to Africa and God’s gotta show us what to do!) to being surrounded by Godly couples who have just gone through the same process, the same emotions, the same thoughts. They have faced the same hard steps of faith, the same uprooting from homes, jobs, and families, and are here in confidence that God has something for them. There is a couple that has been married over 20 years, and a couple who got married just a few weeks ago! We are honored to be in such sweet company. We have especially made close friends & partners in the gospel from The Netherlands!

This first week has exceeded all of our expectations! It’s kind of funny the notion that, because it’s a missions training school, we must be doing lots of missions! Although we have several opportunities to serve the community around us and go on outreach, Iris has spent the entire first week leading us through our own inner healing and deliverance! They had minister/trainers come all the way from (drumroll please) North Carolina(!!!) from a ministry called Restoring the Foundations. They not only trained us up with the truth of and tools for Biblical healing and deliverance for others and ourselves, but actually took us through those steps for our own healing and deliverance all week!

I think that as believers, we can put such a stigma on needing any further healing and deliverance after salvation – if you do, you’ve got something “really wrong.” What a lie from the enemy to keep us in a place of shame, and ultimately deflecting us from our destiny and the life abundantly he really does have for us. It was completely from the Lord that he took time to take all of us through some needed healing from the many hurts of life and deliverance from real oppression – tending gingerly and powerfully to this group of ministers and missionaries as a necessary part of the process of training before going out.

There were many countless testimonies of freedom and healing just from this week – including our own. He gently and meticulously began unwinding places which had been stuffed or coiled deep in our hearts, minds, and spirits. Out of this freedom and healing, we are set up to give away the love of Jesus more freely and powerfully. He wants His sheep to be wholly well, not just “getting along fine.” Thank you Jesus!

It has been super cold here during the nights (40’s) so we’ve developed a routine of bundling as many layers of clothes as possible, then wrapping in blankets, then getting in our sleeping bags! Then it gets very hot during the day, so our clothes are getting a good workout!

Our hearts are full and free. He is awakening hunger. We have formed many great friendships already! We miss all our friends and family back home but feel so blessed to be here, now! He is restoring passions of our hearts and giving us new passions. We are so excited for the next 9 weeks!

Our ministry group for to visit a slum village close by yesterday afternoon, and the kids and men loved John, while I got to spend some sweet time with the mamas.

We have one more week at the Jburg base, then head to Nelspruit for 3 weeks. We are expectant for more!!

(This blogpost brought to you by a Saturday off and wifi in a coffee shop at a nearby mall!)

We are praying for our friends and families back home, that he is tending to you deeply in His love!

Love,
Sam & John

Go Through

I’m writing on a train on the way to Genova – quick stop of a few stops on our way to Portofino for the night. John just looked over to me and smiled, “Well, we are definitely living up to our name of wayfarers!”

To be honest, when I came up with that name, I was sitting on the couch looking at a TOMS magazine with some inspiring, trendy photos of a guy on a cliff with some great shoes, and the word “Vagabond” written across the page. I thought that was a fitting idea, an accurate representation of the feeling of this particular venture we would at that time be going on in a matter of days. So I looked at the thesaurus and Wayfarers it was.

I believe God works even in the most unceremious of events.

Right now we are curving and hugging the coastline of Italy, fresh out of France. There are cliffs scattered with pastel stone villas plunging headlong into the bright, blue-green water of the Mediterranean. This is my first time seeing the Mediterranean, and it is stunning. I can’t help but think of Jesus. We swam in it yesterday, a much-needed scramble to the nearest beach and a desperate, wild dive in. Clearest water, extra bouyant, stone bottom, sailboats and yachts and that familiar feeling of a tiny harbor town.

The days go by quickly and sleep has seemed like a blink between days full of extremes. Extreme stress and frustration, quickly followed by the realization that anger or full-on breakdown won’t do a thing for the situation, followed by complete admittance of weakness. My song has been, “I have nothing but weakness!” It turns from a frustrated angry cry to a yelp of victory!

A few quick reasons for the whole frustration/anger/weakness thing – public transportation in a foreign country, the heavy weight of bags and not ever really knowing where you are, the knowledge of the next day where there will be more trains and buses and walking and figuring out stopovers. This is the unglamorous side of travel. It is also the really real, good side. The side that makes seeing lots of the world possible. It’s the part of travel that makes you stronger, that makes you trust more, that makes you realize, again and again, that you are not in control.

Here is a quote @natclo (of the band Joseph) recently posted from her friend @juliejean – a very honest, fitting insight into the reality of travel that i took great comfort in and gave a resounding, fist-pumped “YES!” to:

“Here is the thing about traveling. No one is really good at it. It’s all a ruse. People look good at it, and maybe, with practice, they can become good at feeling like a freshman all the time. My belief is that everyone is scared to be in a new place, and the people who are good travelers are the ones who push through the fear and eventually learn to adapt and grow from the rush of figuring something out against the odds of foreign spaces and faces.”

“People come back different when they go to a new place, not because they saw cool buildings or ate good food, but because they were faced with the insecurity, terror, and unpredictability and they rose to the occasion. That’s why I’m drawn to traveling. It makes you brave. And anyone who isn’t a little scared is lying.”

And every day there are these extremes of happiness, joy, wonder, taking in magnitutde, history, beauty. We have seen quiet downs of the English countryside, where the land goes warm-gray and completely peaceful and quiet at 8pm and wakes up with a hot cup of tea and proper breakfast. We got a breathtaking aerial view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower standing its dignified, regal ground, causing the admiration of millions each year. We played light-up frisbee in front of it, while it sparkled in the dim, mild night. The weather has been incredible – 70’s, not a drop of rain. We have had our fill of fresh baguettes and cheese and chocolate croissants (these are the lands of bread and cheese!) We stood, mouth agape and laughing as we finally made it to a tiny provencial village in France where limestone mountain faces cradle in a stunning, clearest clear river which majestically surges up straight out of the bellies of the earth. Castles, towers, footpaths, ancient works of art, and God’s most desired treasure – the people of the earth.

(To Heather on the plane, if you are reading this, I think you are amazing. I know God put us on the plane together to be his voice of comfort to each other. Your life is the fragrant aroma of Jesus, and he is so pleased with you! He is overjoyed with your obedience.
To our Aussie friends, Glenn & Carolin from Fontaine, thank you for your warm smiles. John and I walked away feeling so comforted by your smiles and your conversation. So happy to have shared a few moments with you. We bless you in Jesus name!
To Giorgio on the train, thank you for looking out for us, for your thoughtful conversation, and hosting us to a quick and delicious focaccia pizza in Genova. We bless you and thank you. Please let us know next time you are in the states!!)

So each day has been filled, whiplashing from extreme to extreme, and we make our way closer to Africa, seeing lands along the way, resting our heads in lovely, strange places. For a girl like me – who loves taking a slow pace, a savorer, a romantic – these days are hard phsyically and emotionally. Draining, and then so filling. Drained and filled and drained and filled. I know He is preparing us for that empty-vessel life He longs for us all to have.

It all only makes me more hungry for Jesus, His love, His healing, his Heaven, which encompasses these most mysterious and awe-inspiring parts of this earth – sanctified, complete, whole – and then some.

We are trying to complete some of our pre-Harvest School reading and training along the way, which has been pretty challenging but not impossible. We may or may not have fallen asleep during a few videos but I know God’s truths are paving an important path to prepare us for life and school. We are both looking forward to sitting still in our little cabin home in Johannesburg with our schoolmates and teachers for a while, to making new friends and working alongside others.

In the words of our other Aussie friend who swam and chatted with us in Villefranche sur Mer yesterday (she looked like Olivia Newton-John), “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

At every crossroads where there has been fear and a temptation for a way out or way around, God has whispered, “Go through.”

At the end of every dark tunnel is blinding light.
At the end of every long, frightening night is the break of dawn.
Birthing pangs seem impossible except for the joy that is set before you – a new, breathing, pulsing life.

-Sam