Friday, July 17, 2009

The fourth letter

Dear Naomi,

It was so good for me to hear that again ... God is faithful because he is, whether we get what we want or not, whether we feel it or not, whether we understand or not. He is faithful and he is loving. What a blessing to live this side of the cross where we see that faithfulness and love most clearly. What an encouragement to help me stand and say, yes I will trust him, whatever happens over the next few months, even through the tears.

My tears ran most in your story when you spoke of your feeling of survival with your new, tiny baby (especially that pile of dirty nappies!). Such a time came for me with our third child who was terribly unsettled in the evenings and throughout the night. In a culture where children are NEVER left to cry themselves to sleep, and being impossible to be anti-cultural at this point simply because it wakes too many people, this makes for one very tired mother! I really appreciated your assurance that it is OK, God’s understands. I have always taken comfort from these verses from that same chapter of Isaiah,

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
And carries them close to his heart;
He gently leads those that have young. (40:11)
Yet as this season became longer and longer for me, I saw how rarely I was being fed from His word and realised it was not good. This is when I discovered mp3 sermon downloads from the internet. I became a devotee. I would walk back and forth in our living room (eight steps diagonally), rocking my baby to sleep and listen. Frustration turned to joy and bitterness to perseverance.

Actually looking after babies here has been simultaneously the most difficult part of being here and the most liberating. It is difficult because expectations are so different. They must not be left to cry. Other women are always taking them I don’t know where they are or what they are being fed. Young children are not disciplined, requests are not refused and obedience is not demanded (at least that’s what it looks like to me, the outsider). There has been sickness, parasites, fever, diarrhoea (and cloth nappies) and no decent medical care. And yet, everyone has babies. The woman in the thatch hut with a mud floor who has never spoken to a white woman in her life and who has no front teeth sees me breast-feeding and I become her sister, her friend. My children built bridges for me I could never have built on my own, giving access to homes and hearts that otherwise would’ve remained closed.

Living in different culture has incredible challenges, but also incredible joys, and through each season God is there with us teaching and moulding us, directing us, even carrying us. He is trustworthy and good.

Praise him!


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