Writing this I am on my way home (as in South Africa) from Lesotho. The funny thing is these past weeks I have felt I have found another home. I have fallen in love with Lesotho. Fallen in love with the people. Fallen in love with God’s Creation. Fallen deeper in love with The Lord.
My time in Lesotho was spent partnered with a local organization, Growing Nations. While there we learned how to “Farm God’s Way” or Conservation Agriculture. The team got split up and paired with one of the resident students to go to their village around the country and begin working on their plot of land for farming for the spring.
From an African taxi ride and walk (with my huge backpack on) through the mountains, my sister and I arrived at our village, Ha Moletsane. My family consisted of Rethabile, my GN sister who is 26, a younger brother and sister, a brother that is my age and our father. The six of us lived in their one bedroom house and the girls and I slept or snuggled on the floor of the kitchen. We got very close, very fast.
The first day in the village I was taken around like my sister’s new puppy dog meeting my new neighbors. After a few greetings I was told that this was the first time a white person had ever lived in their village and they were so grateful I was there. Gogos (grandparents) gave me gifts of peaches in mayonnaise jars and bags of beans. My Sesotho name I was given was “Mpho” which means gift from God. Ironically, I have learned that I was not the gift to them, but they were a gift to me.
My home stay was quite challenging, despite the romance of the first day. Being in a village all alone, with no electricity or English speakers, daily life became hard. Because we hadn’t gotten rain yet, water was a problem. The only water available was from the spring which was a 30 minute walk to a little hole in the ground that has about five inches of water coming out from it. We would wake up at 5 in the morning to go fetch it with a little bowl and carry it in a bucket back on our heads (which was actually fun). If we weren’t cleaning the house or working on our plot for her farm, we would be sitting at the house. This is where I learned so much. My two words I came to Lesotho with were “dwell” and “humility”. Living in the village The Lord definitely taught me both. To completely dwell in The Lord. I thought I had already learned that throughout the trip, but this was to another level. I think God finds His sense of humor so funny sometimes. When I asked for Him to challenge and break me at the beginning of the trip, He gladly answered that prayer. When you’re alone in a village and all you really have to talk to is God and the two dogs the family asked you to name (which were Brook and Blaker) and they had no idea what or who that was, you learn and grow quite a bit. Hamalastang was my mpho.
Besides living in the village, we spent time at the Growing Nations Base. While there, I completely fell in love with God’s creation. From waking up at 4:45 every morning to watch the sunrise peak over the mountains, to walking through the mountains and valleys picking wild flowers, it was my paradise. We learned how farm life worked, and if we weren’t working in the shed or the fields, we would be swimming in the river, napping in hammocks, watching local soccer practice (with sheep on the field while they were playing), climbing Snake Mountain, which only happened once because Snake Mountain was one honker of a mountain, or messing around with the resident students. Life at the base was pure happiness. Life in Lesotho was blissful.
As I sit here and process everything I have leaned these past months, all that comes to mind is experiencing all of God’s overflowing love. Yes, I learned how to be a first grade teacher, paint a playground, teach dance classes, be a grade twelve math teacher, farm God’s way and live as a real Basotho, but those were just experiences The Lord gave me to see His love.
Going from graduating a week before I left, to now coming back and about to embark on my college education, I think what I have learned here will never amount to what any of my classes these next few years will expose me to. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been more excited about going to college in my life. But, the simplicity of going to the spring for four hours to do laundry and seeing my sister not quit or asking my students to define love, seeing people who live in shacks offer me gifts, taught me so much more. Not be able to rely on society, my family or friends to encourage and tell me what I am doing actually matters. Seeing a whole new picture of humility. Understanding poverty more, in all forms and how I could make a difference even if it involves trying to carry a huge bucket of laundry on my head, or learning (trying to learn) Afrikaans, Sepedi, SiZulu, Nama and Sesotho.
Going on this “mission trip” I didn’t go and build houses or handout shoes and clothing like you see on the commercials. I lived with people. I loved with people. I laughed with people (even if they were laughing at me). I cried with people. I sang with people. My view of serving The Lord and others my whole life has been a bit skewed. Rather than doing, I finally learned how to be.
“I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.”
The verbs “to dwell” and “take refuge” is what I have learned. To not go. To not do. But, to dwell in The Lord. To hide in His unconditional love. From Indiana, Navajo Reservation, Hein’s, Booyen’s, Morkal’s, Growing Nations, Moletsane’s, all the places that have been my physical home these past few months, oh and don’t forget the hospital, I truly have found my home. With many tears of excitement I am on my way to my other home. My fam, my Lucy. These past six months I have truly learned where my home is. And that is wherever I am with The Lord.