Lessons Learned in Africa: Lesson #6 & #7

GUESS WHAT!!!!! I am planning another 6 month mission trip, this time as a volunteer Elementary teacher in Honduras! Click here for details or to help support this venture.

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To read the previous “Lessons Learned in Africa” posts, click on the following links: Lesson 1 & 2, Lesson 3, Lesson 4, Lesson 5. Read on for lessons 6 & 7….

Lesson #6: What you are blessed with, share with others!

Going to Africa definitely made me appreciate what we have in America! The world over, there are so many people who live on so little! In the DRC, 88% of the people live on less than $1.25 per day, and 95% live on less than $2 per day.

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Just look at the homes that many live in, and picture the house you live in.

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And yet, they taught us a valuable lesson. What they have been blessed with, they willingly share! Families who already struggle to get enough to eat often have extended family members come and live in their already-crowded home. And, though it makes it more difficult to make ends meet, they still willingly open their doors to their relatives who have no home, because they know what a blessing it is to have a roof over their heads.

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WP_20170211_16_33_01_ProOne time when we hiking across some land that our host family owned near the Congo River (where they hope to build a hospital in the near future), we decided to drop by and visit one of the families living on the land, as they were friends of our host family. As it turns out, the family was not home, but some of their friends or relatives were there. Rather than turning us–complete strangers–away, they welcomed us warmly, and quickly hurried to bring fresh pineapples, mangos, and sugar cane to feed their unexpected guests. I was blown away by their hospitality and willingness to share what little they had with people they didn’t even know. (And that was some of the most delicious fruit I’ve ever eaten!!

When my mom and I left Congo to return to America, we were happy to be able to share some of the clothes we had brought with the Congolese friends we had made. It truly is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Lesson #7: There are many commodities that you CAN live without!

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

One of the most freeing discoveries I made in Africa was that there are many commodities–ones we so often mistakenly think we HAVE to have–that you can live without!

You can live without a stove! I’ve eaten some of the most delicious American food–including spaghetti–that’s been cooked on a charcoal burner!

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Mom and I learned to make pancakes, oatmeal, and hashbrowns on our charcoal burner!

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And one of the other student missionaries could make the most delicious biscuits in the Dutch oven!

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You can live without a washer/dryer! I actually quite enjoyed washing our clothes by hand! It was refreshing to put our arms in the cool water.

And, we learned the trick of doing it by foot rather than by hand if we had a large load to do. It’s amazing how much dirt we would get out the clothes this way–the water would be nearly black!!!

It gives a person such an accomplished feeling to see the colorful line of clean clothes hanging on the line (or over the bushes) and flapping in the breeze.

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We got so used to doing our laundry by hand that, on our way home when we stayed in our fancy hotel room, we strung up our clothesline, did our laundry in the bathtub, and hung it up to dry!

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You can live in a mud hut! Three of the student missionaries lived no where else. I and another girl lived up in one of the cement houses for most of the time. But, at the other girls’ insistence that “you haven’t fully experienced Africa unless you’ve lived in a mud hut!” I moved in. For two whole weeks! And discovered that it’s actually not all that bad. Yes, the walls and floor are made of dirt, and the termites eat the roof and drop the shavings down, leaving a layer of dust on everything every day, but really it was quite cozy and comfortable!

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It also made me very, VERY appreciative to move back to the cement “palace” Mom and I lived in when she arrived.

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You can live without hot running water! We learned to take cold showers–sometimes bucket showers even, when we weren’t at the cement house (which had a cold-water shower). For the most part, the cool water felt good on humid nights, but I remember many a night standing just outside the shower giving myself a pep talk before jumping in (I found that it’s easiest to get in when you put your hair in first, for some odd reason…). Again, we learned to really appreciate the fact that we actually had INDOOR, RUNNING water–who cares if it was cold!!–where my mom and I stayed! What a blessing to be able to do our dishes and our laundry in the sink each day, and to get a drink in the middle of the night without having to go outside!

No matter where you live, you will find that you have more than some people, and less than others…. more of something that you used to not have, and less of something else that you used to have…. By God’s grace, let’s be content, and share what we’re blessed with, with those around us!

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