Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tire prints in the sand

Yesterday as I read my morning devotional, the target verse that stuck in my mind was Philippians 4:4: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone." The song “You can tell we are Christians by our (talk, walk, smile, prayer, etc.)" came into my heart and head.  I prayed others would know I am a Christian by my actions and not (unkind) words.  I thought this really applied to Christians at large, and especially those presently involved in conflicting views about some things pertaining to this circuit.

God’s sense of humour is not funny sometimes.

Yesterday was one of the most frustrating, irritating days I have had since being in Swaziland.  Thoko and went to try and get some information from the Social Welfare Dept about a child who may be being abused or at the least probably has some emotional issues because of past abuse or possible inherited mental illness.  That was an exercise in futility.

Then we went up to Lomngeletjane to talk to the head teacher about the situation with a couple of kids and then take 6 or 8 kids home after school so we could see just how far away their homestead is from school.  First thing at Lomngeletjane I see the plumber has not been back to finish his work.  He was supposed to be finished by Monday.  He is holding up the finishing of the house.  Grrr   Then our talk about the child we are trying to find services for seemed to go now where.  It seemed like every time we were on a path to a conscientious, the path made a u-turn.  Finally it was time for school to end.  So we gathered up the kids, and put them in the back of my Honda CRV to drive them to their homesteads.  (Yes, I had 6 or 8 kids sitting on top of each other in the far back of my car.)

The story we had was that these kids walk two hours one way to get to school each day.  Most are in grade 1.  From what people have said (without ever seeing their homesteads) we thought they lived in an area where I knew there was a primary school and a Children’s Cup care point.  In my mind we were going to the homesteads to convince the guardians to send the kids to that school instead of Lomngeletjane.  The children didn’t live where I thought they lived and though there is a school which is a bit closer, the children would have to cross a river that floods when there is rain.  I realized I was just frustrated, emotionally and physically tired, and angry at “parents” who drop their kids off at their parent’s house and then never help take of them even financially.  In reality, I was just plain cranky.  I sat in my car as Thoko went to visit all of the homesteads.  I used the security of my car as my excuse, but in reality, I was just nursing my ugly feelings.  I knew I wasn’t the face of Christ.  I kept praying for Him to give me patience and change my attitude and thinking.  But I kept sitting there tired, cranky and hungry.

About 4:30 when Thoko was finally finished visiting all of the homesteads we headed back to St. Paul’s for our Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu meeting that should have started at 5:00.  It also started raining about that time.  I stopped by a local store so Thoko could get something to eat and drink.  About 3:00 I ate a Cliff bar hoping it would make me feel better.  It didn’t.  But Thoko hadn’t had anything all day.  We went to our meeting, and dumped everything on the two board members, which I must confess, helped me feel a bit better.  Our meeting ended about 8:00.  I always take Thoko home after evening meetings because she lives out in the rural area and has no way to get home after the last bus leaves to her area around 5:00.  I really didn’t want to drive her home because it was lightening, I was hungry, dog tired and hadn’t had a chance to go to the bathroom since about 10:00 in the morning.  But I really didn’t mind.  As always it was good for us to just talk about some things on the way to her house.   Because of the rain, we couldn’t cross the river where we usually do, but had to go up river about 1 km to cross it.  Even there the river was a bit higher than I like it to be, especially in the black darkness of night in the rural area without even light from the stars or the moon because of the clouds.  The worst part for me about crossing here is that I’m not real familiar with the road from the river to Thoko’s house.  I’ve only used this crossing 2 or 3 times and that was over a year ago.  There are very few homesteads along the way.

I dropped Thoko off and then started back, praying that the Lord would not allow me to get lost at night in the middle of the rural area.  I just kept asking him over and over to guide me and not let me get lost and not let me stall in the river.  All of a sudden on the dirt-sandy road/path I saw a single set of tire tracks on the dirt road/path.  I realized it was my tracks!  I followed those tracks back to the river.  Just before I got to where I knew I was by the river I started seeing several tracks on the road.  I crossed the river with my stomach in my throat but with the confidence that the Lord was going to bring me through it.  He wasn’t going to let anything happen to me.   The tire tracks in the sand made me think of the story and pictures of the footsteps in the sand:  when there was one, it was because Jesus was carrying me.  When there were many, He was by my side.
I am praising Him once again for not leaving me when I needed Him the most.  And I’ve already asked forgiveness many times for not being open to His presence earlier in the day when I was so cranky, irritable and quiet.  I am so humbled for thinking that the verse he put in my heart in the morning was more applicable to others than it was to me.   I can’t solve the problems in Swaziland or even do much to improve the lives or conditions of many of the children that are put before me.  But I can, with His help do what I can kancane, kancane….bit by bit.  And I can strive to have an attitude and voice such that others will know I’m a Christian by my actions and my gentleness.

1 comment:

Swaziland 2009 VIM said...

HI Chris,
Welcome back to this side of the pond. Finally had the opportunity to catch up on some of your entries. I continue to be amazed when I read what you've written. Through your humanness, being grouchy, hungry and all, the holy spirit finds you and you listen and hear God.
peace and love,