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Friday, June 24, 2011


We as Christians are always asking God to reveal more of himself to us and give us a greater understanding of who he is.  We ask basically the same thing through prayer and the songs we sing, and we are taught about knowing more of God from people who "know more" than we do.  Well, during morning worship the other day, I asked God to give me a better understanding of who he is and what that means for our relationship.  The next day he gave me an answer.  Here is that answer.

It was 8:30am and people were finishing breakfast and gathering for morning worship as usual.  It was still a bit chilly so we were outside the main entrance of the main center and I stood near my usual spot on the edge of the main circle of people in a patch of warm sunlight. I had had a couple simple thoughts rolling around my head for the last few minutes but now that I was taking time to be quiet and focus on God, these thoughts were amplified until they took up my entire focus and I didn't want to break my train of thought by singing with everyone else. I had simply been reminded somehow about how a Christ follower is called a friend of God (Isaiah 41:8, John 15:15) and I couldn't stop meditating on that thought.  It wasn't a new thought to me, but I'm pretty sure that God wanted to unpack it and make me look at it again more closely.

I thought about what my friends and I did when we were kids.  We would go fishing, explore in the woods, ride our bikes, build tree forts, play football, build things with Legos and destroy them, and a multitude of other insanely fun activities. What if my friendship with Jesus was like that? What if every morning, as soon as I woke up, I would run over to his house as fast as I could and bang on his door to ask, "Can Jesus come out to play?"  Of course he would smile real big and say, "I was hoping you would come over today." Then we would go out and have more fun than I could possibly imagine. Every day would be a new exciting adventure. Jesus would always know where we should go for the best fishing, where to find the coolest new discoveries as we explored, and he would always know how to make every new day the best day of my life.

As I thought about all of this, I couldn't control myself.  All I could do under this enormously simple and intimate thought was just stand there, perfectly still in the morning sun, in my red Carhartt sweatshirt with the hood up and my head down and let my tears make mud of the Zambian dust as they rolled off my face.  I couldn't sing, I couldn't dance, all I could do for the next 30 minutes was just be there and joyfully weep as I thought over and over again of how much fun it would be to just go play.

Be encouraged, dear reader, by your friendship with Christ. If you have chosen to give your life to Jesus and be his disciple, then you are his friend and he lives with you and in you. He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and he likes you and enjoys your presence. So, knock on the door to your heart and ask Jesus to come out and play. You'll have so much fun.  It'll be the best day of your life.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Natural Causes

After scratching our heads and doing a thorough check over the truck that had brake problems last week, Ciaran and I found the cause.  There is a fitting in the air lines for the rear brakes that is supposed to vent pressurized air when the brake pedal is released, therefore allowing the brakes to stop stopping the truck.  Turns out that this vent had been completely blocked by the nest of a mud wasp.  All it took was a screwdriver and some WD40 to clear the mud nest and allow the air to escape and the brakes worked perfectly.

A 15,000 pound truck had literally been brought to a screeching halt by an insect about thirty-five million times smaller than it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grocery shopping gone wrong

There's a lot of people on the base these days and the pantry gets emptied pretty quickly as a result.  Groceries are fairly expensive here in Zambia so we try to send a truck to Namibia every month or so to buy groceries in bulk in order to save money.  Even though it's about 100 miles to Katima Mulilo, Namibia, from Livingstone it's well worth it to send a truck to buy 1,500 pounds of groceries since it's so much cheaper.  So, even though it's a routine event to buy groceries in another country, this time it turned out to be very different.

I and 8 other people got up before 5AM last Friday the 10th to cross the border early and make it back before it closed at 6PM so we wouldn't be forced to spend the night in Namibia.  We made it to the border just fine but as we were getting our passports stamped we realized that we were missing a vital piece of paperwork for the truck.  The paperwork that we had with us had expired and the current papers had been accidentally left at the office back at the base, much to far away to turn back to pick up.  Our driver eventually ended up working it out with the border officers to let us across on the expired paperwork since we were only going for the day but we still lost about 2 hours in the process.
Waiting at the border crossing

We arrived in Katima around noon, much later than we had planned, and we only had until about 4 to get all of our shopping done before we had to head back to the border crossing.  We all had different things to get so we split up and met again for lunch.  I ended up going to 4 hardware stores, 2 auto parts stores, and a supermarket and still didn't find everything I needed while the others split up between 3 grocery stores and a couple other locations.

We finished our shopping and made it back to the border crossing around 5:30.  The sun had just gone down and it was starting to cool off so we had to bundle up for the long ride home.  There were 6 of us in the back of the canvas-topped truck all huddled together under blankets and in sleeping bags just waiting out the drive.  Things were going really well until the brakes failed.  It was the kind of brake failure where the rear brakes stuck and never released, kind of like when someone forgets to take off the parking brake and then drives around all day.  Anyway, the smell of the hot brakes made us pull over and assess the situation.  So there we were, tired from getting up early and shopping all day, cold from the ride in the back of the truck, it's dark since the sun had long since gone down, and we're on the side of the road with seized brakes about 25 miles from anything and about 2 hours away from the base.  Luckily, everyone was in a kind of goofy mood at this point and we weren't going to starve since we had just bought $5,000 worth of groceries.

I poked around under the truck inspecting the brakes and Jack, our driver, made some phone calls to the guys at the base as we tried to work out a solution.  Things got worse when we tried to re-start the truck and realized that the batteries had died.  After flagging down about 10 vehicles that didn't have jumper cables an 18-wheeler stopped for us and loaned us two batteries to get us going again.  While we were hooking up the batteries, we fixed the brakes by doing some adjustments to the rear brake mechanism.  The borrowed batteries got us started right up so we thanked the truckers by offering them a case of peanut butter and we were on our way again.

We eventually got back to the base around 2AM after dealing with the continually dropping temperature, towing a broken down mini-bus, and having to roll-start the truck down a hill in downtown Livingstone.  The day just would not end, and our "routine" grocery run had turned into a 22-hour marathon of crazy African events.