I just finished reading the blog post of someone who is struggling with being in Niger right now. How many of us absolutely love it here, have fell in love with the landscape, and all aspects of the culture? I think most of us have struggled with Niger. I could cite all the reasons this person gave and say, me too! I loathe the mounds of garbage and the fact that there is little concern seen for the environment. About two years ago I was really, really struggling. None of the doors to ministry (where I thought I could be useful) were opening up to me. In fact several were slammed in my face! I was ready to quit, give up, ride south, say adios! Au Revoir! or maybe even Adieu! But I didn't! I was sure that the Lord was at work here and my husband's ministry was thriving (if not there wouldn't have been so many battles!?) For several months we would get up every Saturday morning early. I'd make coffee and breakfast for us. We would drive down by the river just past Les Roniers and park. We would walk and talk and drink our coffee together. We prayed together and shared our frustrations! I shared my tiredness! I was exhausted! I could not think straight and was extremely forgetful! I decided to take 10 days and go home! It was to do some Spiritual Retreat training with SIL although I wasn't doing it for them. Every day, I ran around the lake, and headed to the cross! I spent time on my knees before the cross crying out to the Lord. I was at a turning point in my ministry. I was on the verge of burnout from 5 years of working with SIL and dealing with conflicts among teams and dealing with issues beyond my capabilities (plus land mines, and a coup). I was tired and could have lashed out in my anger but I chose not to do that. I had this stone of remembrance.
September 5, 1985,Sheldon, Iowa
I had fallen at my Savior's feet and told him I would no longer struggle against him. I was tired of trying to do the right thing, tired of trying to be good, tired....I gave all of it to him. I told Him that if he wanted to change me he would have to do the work. I could not do it myself. I had tried and I had failed, time and time again,relationship after relationship had gone down the drain. I was tired of fighting.
At last I didn't have to try to measure up. I gave it all up. It was as if I held out my hand with my life in it and said, "Here it is. You take it and you make me what you want me to be. I can't do this any more."
I was changed,transformed from the inside out and my desires changed. I wanted to please my Savior and not just pretend. I began to read my Bible and to study it and I couldn't get enough. It came alive for me and it spoke to me.
That was the stone of remembrance I went back to. In May 2010 I gave up what I had known for 5 years and ventured out. I didn't just up and quit but I put in my notice that I would be leaving. Three months later at the beginning of the fiscal year I left. For months and months all I did was take care of my family and helped Pastor Dave at Sahel. I met with students and helped with their career plans. I did pretty much whatever Dave asked me to do. I also finished up two home studies I had been working on.
But what did that stone of remembrance from 1985 mean? I had made a commitment to Christ to let him work things out in my life and he had. So here I was again--I didn't want to give up my commitment--I love the Lord and most of the time I love his creation! However, I was very tired. I needed rest. I was in burnout, I needed to take care of myself--no one else was going to look out for me except for my husband. I needed to spend time with the Lord. I did and he spoke to me. I began to look at what I was grateful for. I had to get my head out of the pit somehow!
If you were to go back to my posts back then you would see that I began to look at God's creation differently. There was beauty all around me. I just had to see and ignore the garbage dumps! The river side is gorgeous and quite often I would drive down by the gardens just to see green. I missed the green from the hills of Oklahoma and the corn fields of Iowa. But I didn't miss the smelly pig farms of NW Iowa!
My life is still not all that I would like for it to be, but I am pretty content where I am now. I read an article by Henri Nouwen back in 2010 and he talked about serving being an antidote for burn out! He burned out as a professor in an Ivy League school and went and worked with handicapped adults in Toronto! I drive the PE van for Sahel, I filled water thermoses for the high school, I washed smelly chairs after the flood and desks,and book shelves and made cookies for teachers and bought sodas for them when it was hot. I help out at an orphanage holding babies and playing with toddlers. I continue to care for my family and support each of them with their struggles. That's what God has for me. Yes I would love to have a home in the States and be anchored their so my kids will have a base to call home. For now that is not in the picture, but I am ok with that b/c I know that in 1985 I gave the control of my life to Christ. I want to be transformed in his image not mine. The road is not easy and humility does not come easy,but it is easier when you stop struggling!