The Surprising Blessing of Inconvenience
For 13 years, I was a busy pastor's wife living a normal and active life of ministry in Illinois. Then God called my husband and me to minister in Zambia.
We have now moved halfway across the world, and everything has changed for us. I'm still busy with ministry, but through the process of adjusting to life in a radically different culture, I've learned some valuable lessons about the pace of life.
To be honest, it hasn't been easy adjusting to this new, slower pace. It feels as though I've flown back in time to the 1800s American West. Instead of living a life filled with modern conveniences, now I often cook in the dark by the light of a kerosene lantern because of low power—or no power at all. Simply living a "normal" life here takes more time and effort.
There's no one-stop shopping here: I have to go to three or four different stores to get what I need. Doing laundry also takes longer. I fill up the washer with a hose running from the kitchen sink, set a timer to make sure it doesn't overflow (which has happened on several occasions), and then line dry our clothes. I cook our meals from scratch, and do dishes by hand.
Emotionally and physically, basic life is harder. But it's also been rewarding as I've learned to turn washing dishes, hanging clothes, and handling other daily chores into meaningful times of thinking, praying, and meditating.
Along with a slower pace, I've been immersed in a more relaxed and open way of spending time with others. Here in Zambia, I'm learning what I call "social rest." In American culture, we cut to the chase in our interactions with others, especially when we have a task to accomplish or a purpose in meeting with someone. But in Zambian culture, people really spend time with one another. They love visiting and are hospitable. They linger in conversations, and invest time in learning how you're doing, what you've been up to, how your family is, and so on. Here, I'm learning the value of community—of being present with others and willing to linger a while.
Adjusting to life in a different culture has been challenging, and the most difficult part for me has been facing some of my own sin. Life in Africa is difficult, and these hardships have a way of causing sin in my heart—like anger, frustration, and pride—to bubble to the surface. Living here has been a refining process as I've been learning to die to self, face my sin, and turn to the Cross. In Isaiah 30:15, God says: "Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength."