Sweet Grace

by - September 14, 2014

"The heart of man plans his way, but The Lord establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9

One of the best moments of these trips is when I finally buckle into my seat on the first flight out of town.  That's the moment I quit planning.  If it's not packed, I won't have it.  If I don't have a spreadsheet for it, a session plan for it, or an emergency plan for it...I will just have to rely on The Lord for it.  (insert winky face here).   When I buckle in, I truly understand I am at the end of any perceived strength or control I think I have.  I just get to go along for the ride.  Trusting that whatever plans I have made...He will establish my steps.  What sweet grace this is to me.  This life The Lord has led me to is not just about the work He is doing through me, but in his great love its also about the work he is doing in me. As my boss says "our greatest testimony is our own changed life.  I am humbled to dust, and so thankful He is changing me.  Coming to realize this God that I have thought just wanted my obedience, wants my heart.  Wants me to know His love, and then share his love, unconditionally, with others. No comparisons.  No guilt trips.  No hidden agendas waiting around the corner.  He loves us.  He makes a way for us.  He establishes our steps if we will just let him.  My steps to Oklahoma.  My steps to Zimbabwe, and whatever steps He has for me next.  All for Him. I like this life. Unscripted, but not unestablished.  Not unplanned.  Just unknown by me.    

I am definitely in one of my happy places when I have the opportunity to share the ministry resources and perspectives of Hope For The Heart.  To see understanding in the faces in front of me, to see some well up with tears, to have them afterward tell me what they are getting from God's word and especially how they realize how they have not been seeing themselves through God's eyes, but are so thankful for this teaching, and to know where the work needs to begin...first in themselves and then in those they disciple and counsel.  I would go all the way to Zimbabwe if I had to, to take this message to people...oh wait.  I didn't write the book.  God asked June to do that, and I am so thankful He did because I am a living testimony of the message of the book,  and through this ministry He gave her I get to carry His message here.  I want to be just as faithful to share this message at home.  The need is just as great.

We are doing 3 2-day conferences in Zimbabwe and one conference in Zambia.  Today is a complete day of rest.  The first since we arrived that is not a travel or training day.  I am so thankful to be still today.  We did walk down to a shopping area for lunch and to walk through a little craft market. I am not feeling completely well so lots of water and probably an early bedtime before meetings begin again in the morning.

Some notes and pictures:

Harare smells like Osage County during burn season.
The people here are very nice and welcoming.

After we arrived in the capital city of Harare we drove (4 hours wide open with no air conditioner and the windows down) to a smaller town for our first two day conference.  When we arrived our hotel did not have our reservations. They had rooms for us that first night, and then a cancellation for us to stay the second night.  We found an African snake on our porch one morning.  Did I mention the snake? The yard men killed it by throwing bricks at it. Then we had African snake blood on our porch. The conference went so well. The ladies are wonderful and so excited to have counseling help for their community. The Lord is growing their ministry there.  It is fun to witness it and get to join them in the work for even a short time. I loved getting to sing and dance with them. I'm afraid I've got rhythm and I may start busting it out more often.  Or maybe just when I'm in a land far far away. I love their music!

The hotel did not have a room for us the third night, so one of the people I'm traveling with spent a few hours trying to find us other accommodations for our final night there. A lot of places were booked, but there was an animal reserve right outside town that had opening....the catch was their opening were for tents down by the river. "I don't do tents." "I don't do Africa." "That is not who I am." My friend said..."I'm pretty sure this is who you are now...you are going to have to quit saying this is not who you are because here you are staying in this tent in Africa."  Ok. I wonder who else I am that I've been saying I'm not? I'm sure The Lord will show me.  The tents were nice and we had cots and a bathroom and monkeys all over the place. And a lot of strange animal noises all through the night. I was awake for a bit of it. Before we left the next day to drive to the next town we got to take an hour safari drive.  We had been pretty nervous (I say we because it makes me feel better) about where we were going to stay that third night. But it gave us a little overnight adventure we did not plan, but were blessed with. Until the elephant tried to kill me.

During the safari we drove into a little grove of trees where three elephants were hanging out. Two of them moseyed over to our truck and started acting a little riled up. Our driver began trying to calm them down when the third elephant headed straight for me in the open air truck we were in. I was in the first of three rows. Our driver started to tell me not to panic as the elephant's trunk came into my lap. One of my friends began pleading the blood of Jesus over me as two others were laughing so hard they could not be of any assistance as I in my calm yet panicked voice just kept repeating "I'm very uncomfortable. I'm very uncomfortable." Thankfully the elephant did not snap my neck with the brush of his trunk. But he did get trunk juice on me before he walked away. Puke. But now I have slept in a tent in Africa and tamed a wild elephant. Right?  That's how I am going to remember it.  It reminds me of a time I almost got eaten by crocodiles.

The next training began the next morning.  And again we were so blessed by both days and the way The Lord calls us and equips us. We left right after the conference to try and get back to Harare before dark because the roads here rarely have lines or road signs. So not only is everyone driving on the wrong side of the road, but there are no lane markings on the very busy highway between here and there. We only had about an hour to drive after dark and we made it safe and sound. Skipping dinner I went pretty much straight to bed.

Tomorrow we will meet with our in-country committee before starting the third round of trainings on Tuesday. The temperatures here are beautiful. Flowers are blooming and when you don't smell something burning you can smell gardenia and other flowers in the air.  I like it here.

 Walking to church.

On the road out of Harare.

Sweet ladies at our first training. 

 Part of our Zimbabwe Hope For The Heart Team.

Worship before the conference.

Our tent.

Killer elephants.

Killer elephants thinking they're hot stuff.

I love getting a bouquet of flowers.

Walking to our meeting.  She was the first one there that morning.

I wish everyone could see Gertrude smile.  She has begun counseling in the small village where she lives about 70 km away from where our training was held.  Then she began walking 6km and 7km to villages neighboring hers because people there are hurting too, and she wants to take God's word to them.  She meets with people under shade trees on the outskirts of their village.  Sometimes groups and sometimes with individuals.  She raises two children by herself.   If God had asked me to come here just for her I would have.  Just to encourage her heart.  Just to hug her.  And remind her as her sister in Christ that she is not unseen or forgotten.  That she is loved with an everlasting love.  To somehow maybe be part of sweet grace to her. She is beautiful. She would like to have a bicycle to make getting to people easier.  She didn't ask for it.  Our partner there mentioned the need.  If you are reading this would you pray for her?  

On the road back to Harare.

It's always difficult to put into words what my heart is beating out.  Especially tired, a little puny and thousands of miles from home.  I just want to always share the goodness, faithfulness and love of The Lord.  Its not about the harrowing account of my taming a wild African elephant, but I hope you see the reality that God IS. It's not follow Jesus and you will go to Africa, but follow Jesus and he will give you new life.  He will transform you, set you free, and establish your steps to be who He created you to be...His.  Loved. Transformed.  I lived a lot of years being someone I was not made to be.  Sharing the story of my own changed life through Jesus down this road filled with challenges and sweet grace is the only way I know to do that.  I hope it makes you want to seek him.  This blog is not part of my job, its just my personal story, but if you would like to know more about the ministry that has brought me here, or find the book Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes, you can go to the ministry website.  www.hopefortheheart.com. If you get the book let me know and let's have coffee and talk about it.  It's so great for small group or Sunday School study.

Ok. That's all for tonight from Zimbabwe.  

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