This is what happens when you live in the desert. You can just barely see the sun at the top. Definitely not pretty to look at.
One of the things I admire most is courage. And I don’t just mean saving someone from a burning building kind of courage. I mean anything outside of what’s comfortable. Trying something new. Being willing to fail. Not worried about what others will think. Why? Because it’s what I fear. I want to be successful right away. I want to have it all together (or at least appear that way until I do). And I only want to try something new if I know it won’t hurt. I realize that sounds really dumb considering I quit my job and moved across the world, but for whatever reason that didn’t feel like a big deal.
Now, I’m not looking for a long list of compliments on how brave I am for A, B or C. I’ve just been mulling this topic over in my head all night and felt I needed to write about it. God has certainly grown me a lot in this area over the years, but I still really struggle with stepping out into the unknown.
My latest struggle? Language.
There are so many reasons why I should be excited for it.
But those are all excuses. Honestly? I’m terrified.
I know that failure is guaranteed in language learning. No one gets it right away...especially a language like this. There are people who have been living here for 25+ years and they still don’t have it. It’s so scary to start knowing that progress will be that slow.
I don’t want to be laughed at for my mistakes. I know I’ll say stupid things and misuse words, which I don’t mind being laughed at for...I laugh when people use English incorrectly. But I’m scared of being laughed at for trying. Even today, a friend was trying to help me learn phrases in the moment (yeah, not the best way to learn) and when I’d try to say something, I’d get laughed at. Not a big motivator!
And as dumb as this sounds, I’m scared of succeeding. What if I learn faster than expected? What if I am able to use it well? What does that mean for my future? Will I be here long-term? Will I be called to something else that uses language? Will it be time well spent if I end up back in the states at some point?
I realize all of that probably sounds like a “really, Sarah? You made a leap from learning a language to your entire future?” And I realize that’s a huge jump, but that’s what fear does. It makes ridiculous leaps.
But then I hear the still, small voice of God. The One who says,
“Be still, and know that I am God.”
- Psalm 46:10
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
- Joshua 1:9
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
- Isaiah 40:28-31
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
- Matthew 6:34
So the question is...why do I worry? I have a God who loves me so much and promises to walk with me every step of the way. Why do I allow my fears to speak louder than the Lord’s voice? It’s because I take my eyes off of the cross of my Jesus and start to focus on everything and everyone around me.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
- Hebrews 12:1-2
Yesterday ended my airport visa, requiring me to go back and request one to get me through to July. Having been through the process previously (see my post about that adventure here), I was fairly confident that I could make all the necessary stops in a reasonable amount of time.
Trip #1: Since I already had my mug shots pictures, I walked right up to the long line of windows and started the fun. Application filled out. Fees paid. Stamps received. Now just to drop it off at the window with my passport. And then I realized I had to have two copies of various pages in my passport. FAIL! I headed back downstairs to the (inefficient) copy booth, which thanks to a 2 LE tip (about 40 cents), got us to the front of the line and I had my copies in a couple minutes. I headed back upstairs and handed the woman all of my materials - copies, application, stamps, photo, and passport. She made all of her notes and handed my passport back to me. I’m sure I looked confused. Last time they took my passport and said, “come back in 2 hours.” This time, she returned it to me and said, “come back to window 38 tomorrow at 10 AM.”
Trip #2: I headed back this morning, arriving around 11 AM. (In this country, 10 AM doesn’t mean 10 AM.) I went to window 38 and had no line. (MIRACLE!!!) I handed the woman my passport, she found my application in her stack, and she put them both in a new stack and said, “come back in 2 hours.” Really? You couldn’t have taken my passport yesterday and saved me another trip? I have a hard time believing anything actually happened between yesterday and today other than the form got passed down 22 windows. Oh governmental processes. You are ridiculous!
Trip #3: At my appointed time of 1:00, I went back (again) to the government building. Praise the Lord it’s only 2 blocks away from work. I went back to window 38 and was non-American in my line forming habits. (Thanks Dad for teaching me to weave in and out of crowds in an attempt to get the best seats in the Dome!) Within 3 minutes, I was at the front of the line. The woman looked at me (staring at her until she looks up works, I promise!) and said “nationality?” I told her I was an American and after a quick look through her stack, she told me I had to wait. It hadn’t come from the assembly line (AKA people sitting at a big table with mounds of paperwork & passports) yet. The next stack of papers had mine on the top. After a quick signature, I had my visa and 3 months to enjoy this country.
Now this was the end point last time, but because I will be traveling out of the country during these three months, I need to get re-entries attached to my visa. I went to the re-entry window. There was a sign that said “1 re-entry --> 51 LE, 2+ re-entry --> 61 LE.” I decided to play stupid because it usually gets me more information. I found out I needed to fill out a form, pay 51 LE, and I’d get 1 re-entry, which would be valid for 2 months...and something about “Saturday.” I made a quick call to find out if I should get 1 or 2 re-entries. (There’s a chance I’ll need 2, but don’t want to get it if I don’t need to.) I was told to get 2, so I went back to the window and asked for more information about 2 re-entries. According to the guy at the window, they only give out one now. (Um...change your sign?!) I explained my circumstances and he said, “Talk to the manager on Saturday.” Wait...so I have to come back again? Yes...yes I do. I guess people here take random days off and work on the weekends. ‘Cause that makes sense. So, I get to go back again.
Trip #4: Coming soon...
I moved into a new place yesterday. Wow, is it nice! I couldn’t help but stand back in awe at how God provided...far beyond anything I could have imagined. I felt myself completely relax the moment I walked in. A very welcomed feeling.
I did have to laugh this morning as I turned on the shower, though. I seriously thought, “Has Tim, the Toolman, Taylor been here?” I have NEVER been in a shower so powerful. OH MY GOODNESS!! It was like showering with a fire hose! I guess I can stop saving my money for a massage! Haha.
A region of 6-7 million people. Three gas stations. A gas shortage. To say the line was long would be an understatement. Upon arriving to the region earlier in the week, our driver spent the entire night in line to refill on gas. Thankfully, he was able to get a full tank to drive us from village to village throughout the week. But to avoid pulling another all-nighter in order to get home, an arrangement had been made ahead of time to have gas waiting in gas cans so he could quickly stop in and fill up before heading out.
Not many minutes into our drive, I fell asleep. I figured the 2.5 hour drive home would go by much quicker if I slept through part of it...plus I was exhausted. I was surprised, however, to find our driver pulling over to the side of the road in the middle of the desert. (The road is called the “Desert Road” for a reason. They literally paved a road straight through.) I was told her wanted to see if he could make the car go faster. From what we understood, there was a governor (I think that’s what it’s called?!) that regulates how fast he can drive and he was trying to see if he could change it at all. We had been hovering around 100 km/h and he clearly wanted to go faster.
What I soon realized, however, is that it wasn’t due to a governor that we were going slower than desired. It was due to bad gas. Note: Water and gasoline don’t mix! What started as us driving 120 km/h gradually dropped to 35-40 km/h and us praying that we’d make it up a hill. A 2.5 hour drive turned into 5. And avoiding driving at night turned into a few hours of night driving and trusting the Lord for safety and protection.
In God’s beautiful way, he made all the pieces fit together. We were able to get a 2nd vehicle to meet us part way and that spot we met is just about where the 1st car died. it drove a little farther, but it wasn’t going much faster than 30 km/h. We were kept safe and made it back home with no other issues. And we were still able to enjoy a great dinner, get the team to a few stores for shopping, and get them to the airport for their flight out.
God is good!
“We are not bringing Christ to poor communities. He has been active in these communities since the creation of the world, sustaining them ‘by his powerful word’ (Heb. 1:3). Hence, a significant part of working in poor communities involves discovering and appreciating what God has been doing there for a long time! This should give us a sense of humility and awe as we enter poor communities, for part of what we see there reflects the very hand of God.” - When Helping Hurts
a simple girl on a