Last night we hosted our major Christmas outreach party that included Senegalese students, Congolese staff and us American STINTers. We had five female students show up and eight-plus male students. We sang Christmas carols, told the Christmas Candy Cane story, danced, played games, shared how God gave us the best gift of all over 2,000 years ago, and even did a gift exchange. It was a so much fun.
It’s crazy to know that at all of our Christmas outreaches, every single woman that has attended has never celebrated Christmas. Making ornaments, decorating cookies, White Elephant, hearing the story of Jesus’ birth from one of the gospels is all new to them. It’s so exciting watching these women be given a childhood again, even if only for a moment.
Here are some photos for you to enjoy:
On our less than leisurely stroll to campus this morning, my sweet roommate Whitney turned around and asked, “How long was I laughing last night?” Random question I suppose, but not too random because little miss Whitney laughs more than any other person I know. Nonetheless, I was slightly confused as to what she was talking about.
“Huh?,” I said. “Last night, when you were sleeping.”-Whitney. Okay. This conversation is getting weirder and weirder. “What are you talking about?!”-Me. Whit responded, “Last night, I was laughing in my sleep and it apparently woke you up. You sat up in your bed and told me to stop laughing, and that you were on an island of bugs.”
Ladies and gents, I knew I responded to people in my sleep, but I had no clue that I arise out of my REM to let the world know the ridiculous thoughts that are livestreaming across my mind. Nonetheless, I cracked up and tried really hard to remember doing that. I couldn’t remember anything except for hearing Whitney briefly laugh in her sleep. I thought I decided not to wake her up because that would be rude, but I guess subconsciously I just wanted her to know that I was living on an island of bugs.
This story holds no weight to the one I’m about to tell. My other little roommate, Rachel, yells in her sleep. This story takes place in Chicago at STINT briefing. Rachel, Whitney, Michelle and I shared a hotel room that week. Rachel and I shared a bed.
In the middle of the night on our third night there, Rachel quickly sits up and screams, “There’s a rat in here!” I shoot up, turn on the light and start searching for the rat. Out of the corner of my eye I see Rachel start slowly slipping back under the bedsheets and then her head calmly hits the pillow. What? “Rachel, where is it?” She responds, “Where’s what?” Me: “The rat. You just screamed about a rat.” And the sweetest most innocent chuckle and reply came, “Oh, I did? Sorry about that.”
So.. there’s no rat? I lost it. I uncontrollably, hysterically laughed for a good 10 minutes. I laughed so hard that I woke up Michelle, and couldn’t fall back asleep for another hour. I’d finally get control of my giggles, and then silently lose it not even four seconds later. Gosh. It was so funny.
So, ladies and gents I would just like to let you know, I talk in my sleep. Normally that kind of stuff would make me feel really insecure and crazy, but my one roommate laughs in her sleep and the other one screams. I guess I’m pretty normal.
Well, there are so many things to say that I can’t quite think rightly of any which thing to speak of first. That’s the kind of mood I’m in. Enjoy. I have been singing a little ditty in my head for a little over a week now. The song: There Will Be A Day, by Jeremy Camp and Mary Smith. Allow me to divulge…
Senegal is dirty. I don’t mean disgusting and filthy, I really do mean there is a lot of dirt. We’re located right around the same area as the Sahara belt and the ever present drought continues to worsen our crusty condition. Our apartment, no matter how many times a day I sweep, always has a wonderful film covering our white-tile floors (don’t even ask me why anyone would put white tile across an entire apartment here…). Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, my feet have become permanently stained, and no this is not from my meticulously scribed tattoo.
As a part of attempting to keep my bedsheets clean, I either wash my feet before bed (this doesn’t always work that well because the walk from the bathroom to bed re-dirties my feet) or use baby wipes to remove the numerous impurities from my delicate pieds. One night a few weeks ago, I decided to go the baby wipes route. After seven, I repeat SEVEN, baby wipes my feet were still dirty. And what’s worse was those seven wipes were my last.
I defeatedly swiveled into bed and longingly stared at my feet as if they would magically transform into professionally pampered and polished feet. It was then that the lyrics just came to me: “there will be a day with no more dirt, grody feet, dirty sheets, but until that dayyyyy…. la la la. etc.” I know, I know. How did I come up with such brilliant lyrics? Like I said, it just came to me.
So, this blog actually has no pupose except to inform you that for the past week and a half my sheets have been trampled upon by my very own contaminated feet, but there is hope that one day (this week?) I will have clean sheets. And that there will be a day when I will look back and actually miss sweeping our apartment multiple times a day (ha, trust me.. that day has not yet arrived). I’m going to miss looking down at my dirt lines on my feet and thinking, “Man I got so tan today,” only to be reminded that I’m still so white after a good scrubbing (you think I’d learn this one after 3 months…). I’m going to miss the constant reminder that beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news. I’m going to miss seeing the leftover journeys from the day on the roughened bottom of my feet.
I know we aren’t even half-way through with our internship here, but I really have come to love the little common inconveniences. Not that I delight in them or anything, but I love the feelings of uncomfortability they produce. I love knowing that this world cannot satisfy and that I am a sinner. I love seeing how easily common inconveniences can cause me to fall short because it automatically shows me the vastness of the grace and mercy of our holy and righteous God. I love the growth that comes from being frustrated, feeling defeated and unsure. Don’t get me wrong, I do not love my sin, sinful flesh, and sinful reactions. In fact, I hate those things. But, when I’m weak I am able to see that He is strong. When I’m defeated, I can rest in the truth that He is victorious and has made me victorious. These times of inconveniences are bitter sweet, but when I have an eternal perspective they are just sweet.
They are just sweet.
“I, the preacher of this hour, beg to bear my little witness that the worst days I have ever had have turned out to be my best days, and when God has seemed most cruel to me he has then been most kind. If there is anything in this world for which I would bless him more than for anything else it is for pain and affliction. I am sure that in these things the richest, tenderest love has been manifested towards me. I pray you, dear friends, if you are at this time very low, and greatly distressed, encourage yourselves in the abundant faithfulness of the God who hides himself. Our Father’s wagons rumble most heavily when they are bringing us the richest freight of the bullion of his grace. Love letters from heaven are often sent in black-edged envelopes. The cloud that is black with horror is big with mercy. We may not ask for trouble, but if we were wise we should look upon it as the shadow of an unusually great blessing.