Friday, February 20, 2015

A Love that Changes

Everyday I go to teach in the afternoon. Each day as my car comes close to the school, children start dashing for the fence, pressing their faces close and shouting my name… Teecha Melan! Teecha Melan!

I drive through the gate, carefully navigating the lumpy ground, running children, construction workers, and materials for the new building. 

It’s a bit nerve wracking. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children’s enthusiasm, but I do wish it was a bit further away from my tires :) As soon as I park, a multitude of faces and hands and feet gather around eagerly anticipating the moment I get out of the car and they can finally greet, touch, and hug me. It’s beautifully overwhelming each time. I very selfishly hope and pray it doesn’t get old for them, because it’ll never get old for me! 

Each one is hungry for my attention and eager for my affection. And I’m amazed how much I love each of them. And how much that love has changed me these past years. 

Before coming to Africa (and really even still!) I’ve had a great aversion to dirtiness. Not necessarily clutter, but filth. In fact, I remember not being very old before going to the park wasn’t quite worth the smell and feel of dirt on my hands and legs afterwards. I’d beg Mom for a handiwipe just as soon as I got in the car, desperate to get clean. So God put me in Africa. HA! There’s a certain level of peace you have to make with the dirt in general, and the realization that everything can be washed helps. But in general you still won’t find me getting dirty intentionally. Unless…. it’s  with my kids. 

Yesterday as we were acting out the story in Leviticus of Aaron bringing a sheep for Moses to slaughter as a sacrifice, my P1 students begged me to be the sheep. So down on my knees I went, choosing not to mind the sand grinding into my skin or the clinging of the bit of posho that was spilled at lunch. How they laughed! “You see Teecha Melan!” “You see the way she is making like a sheep!” 

And as that class was my first of the day, I proceed from class to class the rest of the afternoon with the vestiges of dirt and posho that refused to be brushed away with just my hand. And I didn’t mind. Because let me tell you, those kids remembered which animal Aaron brought to be sacrificed. And they aren’t likely to forget anytime soon! :) 

For them, I would choose to get dirty. For them, I would choose to use the outhouse. For them, I’m happy to have my hair (head and arm!) pulled, my legs bruised, my glasses scratched, and my body weary each evening. They are so worth it!!! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Just Being Kids

My kids were in rare form the other day....

But then again, they tell me I was too.....

Monday, February 9, 2015


I don’t remember the last time I went in detail through Leviticus (or as they pronounce it, Le-vee-tee-cas), but I’m guessing it was probably in college. But I can tell you for sure the last time my teachers and students at Genesis were taught through Leviticus: never. Until now. And let me tell you, it’s a daunting task. My mind is constantly searching for a new story, a new illustration, a new truth that will bring the light of understanding to their eyes. 

During our first Bible study with the teachers, we were mostly discussing whether there was any value in studying Leviticus at all. If we no longer keep all the rules and regulations of the law, what is the point in studying it at all? Their initial answer? Because maybe we should be keeping the law and doing things like the Israelites did. But a quick perusal of the laws on skin infections in Leviticus 13 had all of them reconsidering that idea. :) Leading them into the understanding that as we study Leviticus, we gain a better understanding of who God is, what He values, and a fuller picture of His perfect salvation plan for the nations was truly incredible. Watching at least bits of understanding start to surface is always one of my most precious joys here. 

The following week as we talked about the 5 sacrifices detailed in Leviticus 1-7, we discussed mercy and justice, and how it would have been impossible for God to be both just and merciful without transferring the shame, guilt, and punishment onto the sacrificial animal. The truth is that the death of Jesus hardly makes any sense at all without understanding the system of atonement put in place in the Old Testament. These teachers and children have not ever really been exposed to these principles before, and my heart yearns for them to have a more complete understanding of the God they claim to know. 

At the same time, my own faith is being strengthen and stretched. It’s truly incredible how detailed our God is. Not even the most minute detail escapes His attention. I so easily get caught up in struggling through life and ministry here, that I forget how enormous my God is, and how intricate His attention. My third water outage this week hasn’t escaped His notice. Or my mispronunciation of “Aaron” (which the kids failed to understand at first). He knows when I worry about the funny noises coming from the back of my car, and listens as I scold the irresponsible boda drivers. He watches as I copy coloring pages, and smiles as I make funny faces at my kids. It is not only the things I consider significant that He also pays heed to. It’s every.single.detail. Leviticus showed the Israelites how to live and worship down to the tiniest aspect of their lives. And now it reminds me that I too can be worshipping in the everyday. the trivial. the mundane. Whether feeding my puppy, lesson planning, scrubbing the dirt off my feet, preparing learning aids, or lighting candles, I can rejoice that my God and Friend is present and involved. He cares so much. He has done everything just to be with me. 

So I’m thrilled to be studying and teaching Leviticus right now. Definitely also terrified in some moments, but so excited to see how Jesus will work in me and each of my 11 teachers and 85 students!