Our team just finished week four at J.P. Brand Primary School. Our time in Africa has flown by! The days are long, but then you blink and a week has come and gone. It has really taught me what living in the moment looks like and treasuring the good, and even the tough times. Often, it feels as if our time and our work, or lack of it, is like emptying the ocean with an eye dropper. In that, I have to surrender my agenda and ideas, and die to myself on a daily basis. It’s so easy to desire to see results, and it’s such a lesson in humility in being content with planting seeds and trusting the Lord to grow them.
Romans 8:37-39 says, “Now, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height or depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This scripture is so beautiful because Paul is trying to relate how unconditional Christ’s love is. It’s His identity, and from that, it becomes our identity.
Unfortunately, many Namibians-students and teachers alike- lack pride in their country and self esteem. They are in a culture that is very actions based, and they think that what they do/don’t do determines the way God, or the spiritual realm, views and treats them. It is evident in conversations and even in the way they carry themselves. Being a low-resource school out in the desert also gives J.P Brand a negative stigma with other schools in town. We spent time at a few schools in a township, and they questioned us why we would “waste our time” at a school like J.P. This is exactly why we are here! Our goals do not include checking boxes to look like we are doing things, but rather to affirm and build up the students and teachers so that they know their worth to God and themselves. My prayer is that they can understand that the school they go to or work at, their income, or the way they view themselves does not make God love them any less. This is accomplished by building relationships. I may not be able to give you a list of things I’ve done, but I could tell you about the students and teachers impacting my life!
Being so relationally focused is challenging. With cultural and language barriers, digging beneath the surface in a conversation is rare. Although I wish I could just speak Afrikaans and tell them how worthy and beautiful they are to Christ, I have to shift my perspective to focusing on my actions. The team being here gives them a glimpse of a Christ filled life. A book we are reading nails it spot on, “We are not the reconcilers, Jesus is.” Ultimately, God can, and is, changing hearts, and it’s not by our doing. It has been my prayer that when they look and me, they see Christ. What I have to offer is Christ, and that is a different mindset for them as they usually see visitors as “gift givers”. With that, we are starting be accepted. In African culture, it takes longer to be accepted, but once you’re in, you’re in! The other night, we were all sitting in a room we share with the teachers. One of us made mention that we would get out of “their” room, and a teacher replied, “No, this is “our” room!” In that moment we all smiled as we realized that they consider us one of their own! This is what Immersion is all about, and seeing the relationships form and grow is so encouraging.
With that, here is a run down of what my day to day life looks like. The pace is much slower, and a common phrase we say is, “This is Africa,” meaning that things run on “Africa time”, rather than normal time.
My days start at 4:45am where a few of us work in the kitchen’s “Bread Corner”. Although they speak little English, we enjoy dancing to their traditional songs and mutually uttering, “dankie” (thank you) more times than needed.
The days have no set schedule, which mean some are very quiet, and on others, we have the opportunity to assist the teachers in their class. I often work in the office assisting Rachel, the secretary, with various odd jobs.
Classes end around 1pm, and our afternoons consist of tutoring and just spending time with the kids. They love playing games in the sand, soccer, secret handshakes, and asking about America.
The best part of the day is after dinner hanging out in the girls’ block. Saying goodnight is a long process. Every girl wants a hug, and then they sneak to the back and work their way in for several more! What joy it brings my heart to be surrounded by so much love.
J.P. Brand has etched itself a big spot in my heart. It has taught me so much more than I could ever give, and each day spent there adds so much to the whole experience. Keep praying for my team, and to God be the glory!