devozine

Spiritual Practice

Summer Spontaneity

Anna Harris, 24

Change—How can those six letters cause so much stress? I love what is old and familiar. I have a hard time adapting to change, whether the change is moving to a new house or getting used to a cell-phone upgrade.

When God called me to spend a summer with a mission program in Mozambique, Africa, my immediate reaction was excitement. Then I panicked. I was about to face a host of challenges and changes that weren’t in my plans. I was scared, but God and my journal were loyal companions whenever I needed to vent.

 

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Making It Happen

First, I told my roommates that I would be moving out, informed my employers that I would be leaving, and started some intense fundraising. My initial preparations were well-planned and went smoothly. Then an extra job, one I’d been counting on, fell through; and my car broke down three times in three months. I started to sweat.

JOURNAL 1/11/2011
What a mess! God, my plans are in shambles.
I need to hand my worries over to you
and trust that you will get me to Africa.
Though changes challenge and scare me,
let them bring me closer to you.

Since God had called me to Mozambique, I trusted God to provide. And God did provide: money from an anonymous donor, yard sales that brought in more than I had expected, and my plane ticket going down in price. God’s plans always seem to work better than mine.

 

Home Sweet Tent

After arriving in Mozambique, I stumbled upon some unexpected rough patches. I roomed with twelve other girls in a house the size of a toolshed, went without running water for days at a time, and ate food that was gritty with sand. During the first weekend, we went to a nearby village, trading our bunk beds for a tent and our toilet for a hole in the ground—definitely not in my plans!

devozine SDC15219What happened during those three days made up for the sacrifices. I watched many people accept Jesus as their Savior after hearing the gospel, and I saw people healed of a variety of illnesses after receiving prayer.

JOURNAL 6/16/2011
I love outreach in the villages. I love the kids.
I love hearing worship in another language,
especially when the songs include as much
dancing, jumping, and joy as they do here.

 

Homesick for Africa

Anna & child FTRHow quickly those three months passed! I was by no means ready to say goodbye to all my new Mozambican friends.

In many ways, returning to the States was harder than going overseas. I relished the hot shower I took the night I came home, and eating something other than rice and beans was pretty nice; but returning to a culture of excess, in which people throw away food and children own several pairs of shoes, was not easy. Feeling homesick for Africa definitely was not part of the plan; and yet for several weeks, waves of homesickness hit me spontaneously at least once a day.

JOURNAL 9/5/2011
God, I miss Mozambique so much.
I miss my housemates, the sunrises and sunsets,
the children. I miss everything.

As always, God listened to the cry of my heart and assured me that while my surroundings were different, God was the same. My willingness to change my plans, to step out into the unknown, and to be spontaneous resulted in the most rewarding summer I’ve ever had.

 

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DIG DEEPER

Read and meditate on Romans 1:17b (NRSV): “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” Spontaneity is a requirement for the life of faith.

Write in your journal a letter to God. Tell God you’re ready to ditch your plans for whatever adventure God has in store for you.

Anna Harris, 24 , lives in middle Tennessee and often daydreams about visiting all seven continents. So far she has four down, three to go!

—from devozine (September/October 2012). Copyright © 2012 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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