Since moving to the South Coast of Africa 6-weeks-ago, there has been a giant void in our lives, but we've not been able to put our fingers on it, until today. As a church family we learned about practical Christianity, and what it means to actually, "live-out," caring for the hurting people around us. It was a hard message to hear, as I sat next to my 16-year-old boy, who knows exactly what it means to be hungry. Truly hungry. However, as hard as it was to hear, it was so refreshing to FINALLY hear a pastor come out and shed light on the world's little known secret.
After teaching the congregation about the gravity of the starvation situation around the world and just outside our doors, here in Africa, our pastor put us into action. Members of our congregation filled 200 bags with African staples; the sustenance of life among the African people. As a family, we immediately recognized these items. Memories of seeing them as part of our beloved Basotho family's daily existence, brought what was an already close to home issue, even closer.
Our boys were energized, all five of them. They worked to collect just the right items, and together they filled two bags with food and necessities. It was beautiful to see each boy spring into action in his own way. In the end, the church was asked to buy a bag, and then to donate it to somebody in the church, or community in need. So, Abe took 100R, the equivalent of $10 USD, which will feed a small family here for a week, and slipped it into the box. Aron, meanwhile, was busy searching for the specific bag HE had filled among the sea of bags placed at the alter. HE FOUND IT, and with great delight, donated it to those in need. It was precious to behold.
As our family was leaving church, we could not help but notice a group of kids standing in the parking lot. They were the recipients of our bags!!! The boys and myself walked up to them, asked to take their pictures, and offered them a ride home. As our family made room for these children, I had to choke back the tears. You see, each one of my boys was finally...... NOW.... HOME! Something in the very core of each of our beings awakened, as we loaded those five little boys into our family vehicle. Our boys chattered away! A light came on in them, which had gone out. We drove the boys back into their village, just as we have driven our Basotho boys thousands of times. We realized they are not all that different from the boys we had to leave behind. The excitement and energy in our car was palatable. Our worlds were right once again.
As soon as the last child was dropped off, Nkopane said in a breathy voice, "Ntate, M'me, (dad and mom), thank you so much for picking them up. Thank you so, so much." The rest of our boys went on to talk about how each child reminded them of Spinnar, Quena, Tsepo, Thabiso, or Kabelo. Alex sighed and said what we were all thinking, "NOW, this feels like home."
It defies all logic, but our family is most alive when we are deep in an African village talking to, giving hugs, and connecting with people. It is not intended to be self righteous. It is our testimony. It is a story of how God took a family from a comfortable life in NC, asked them to leave all they had ever known, with nothing more than the promise that His Grace would be sufficient. God grew that family in painful ways, in miraculous ways, and in just the right ways. Today, that same family, which was terrified to move to Africa, is only at peace when it is immersed in African culture.
Loving Africa is a given, but loving her people is a calling. Today, I realized not only have my husband and myself been blessed with this very specific calling, but so have our sons. Nobody could ever come close to filling the void left in our hearts when we drove away from Maseru, and our Basotho sons. But today...we were reminded of the unrelenting peace we receive when we simply.... Do what God commands, and love HIS people. Therein lies the key to finding, and maintaining, ones' self.
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink."