Less Productivity. More Connectivity. The Lesson I Had to Learn in Africa.

DSC_6271

The floodgates opened Tuesday morning during worship with the the orphans, and didn’t begin closing until Friday morning when our team prayed peace over me. Just ask any team member and they’ll verify, I was a bit of an unpredictable emotional roller coaster for a few days in Kenya.

God gifted me with highly sensitive spirit. When I visit developing countries, my sensitivities are piqued to the max. On my trip to Haiti in 2014 and the Dominican Republic in early 2015, I definitely had days and times where I was particularly emotionally vulnerable. But in Kenya, the floodgates were open far longer than any other trip. I’m not 100% sure why. My only guess is that I went deeper with a much smaller group of people on this Kenya trip vs. in Haiti and the Dominican, I engaged with a broader group of individuals.

So I woke up feeling particularly emotionally vulnerable on Wednesday, so much so that I barely spoke during our team gathering that morning. I told the group I was feeling particularly vulnerable, and surprised myself with a bit of anger about the great love and loss I know is inevitable (for me) on these mission trips.

I moved through the morning despite my emotions.

Our group visited the childrens’ school and church. We stopped at the medical clinic operated by Love for Kenya, had an opportunity to walk through the heart of the village, and chatted and prayed for a few Kenyan women along the way.

It ended up being a good morning, but after lunch, I was feeling an odd mixture of vulnerable and frustrated. For some reason, I wasn’t feeling as connected as I wanted to be. In my heart, all I wanted to do was hang long with Kenyans and take special time with them, but instead, I was feeling disconnected. On top of that, the internet was INCREDIBLY, painFULLY slow. I’d finished writing yesterday’s blog post late last night so I wouldn’t have to spend much time worrying about it today, but when I went to send it to America this morning, the internet was ridiculously slow, so much so I couldn’t get anything sent. I had 9 photos I wanted to send, and Randy had an additional 8, for a grand total of 17 photos we wanted/needed to email to the United States with painfully slow internet. I wanted to fulfill my promise to blog and photograph our way through the journey, but I was also incredibly frustrated with the internet speed. I did NOT want to spend all day in Africa on the internet.

So Wednesday afternoon, I found myself BY MYSELF on the steps of the new boys’ dorm with a laptop in hand, attempting to send Tuesday’s blog post and 17 photos to America. I’d decided to forego small group time so I could get this “internet business” done, so I could enjoy myself, be free the rest of the day, and not have to worry about being on the computer all day and all night long. In my mind, it was now or later…I chose to do the work NOW.

But you see, I wasn’t having an easy time. At all.

I was so frustrated.

Did I mention the internet was painfully slow?

Everyone around me was in their small groups having fun and connecting with children from the orphanage. I was on the steps…by myself…TRYING to send a blog post and photos to America with very little success.

(Before I go further, I would like to note that I have NO desire to be a martyr in this story. I do not wish to complain or make it seem like I was a victim in any way, shape or form. I was the official blogger for our mission team, so I had wholeheartedly agreed to the responsibility of writing, taking photographs and sending it all back to the United States while we were away. But there was ALSO a lesson God wanted me to learn in the midst of blogging from Africa, in the midst of fulfilling my responsibilities. A lesson for me, a lesson for us all.)

I was so frustrated with the internet that I broke out my notebook journal at 3:53 p.m. and began writing whatever came to my mind. I wrote my frustrations in prayer form, to God. It was the best way for me to process.

I kept trying to send the blog post and photos, but the internet was slower than turtle slow.

“Lord, please make this fast. I am frustrated, Lord. Frustrated.” 

Then this…

“Open the eyes of my heart. Give me peace. Help me connect today. I haven’t connected as much as I want, Lord. Help me. Soften my heart. Grow me in this, through this. Why? What do you want me to learn this day?”

I kept trying to send Tuesday’s blog post.

I kept trying to send the photos.

One by one.

Slow.

Painfully slow internet speed, to the point I desperately wanted to throw in the towel.

I was getting so irritated that I decided I had to do something else. I had to feel connected. I had to take action in some other way.

“Lord, I am worshiping you through photography. Help me see your joy, your answers to prayer.”

DSC_6308

DSC_6360

I watched Lacey and her small group.

I watched Maggie and her small group.

I observed their joy, their freedom, the connection I so long(ed) for.

I was frustrated. Yes. Incredibly frustrated. But I knew the way out was to WORK through it, to WORSHIP through my lifelines of photography and writing.

More than an hour later, I’d successfully sent SIX photos to America along with Tuesday’s blog post. No matter WHAT I did, I could NOT get the seventh photo to send. The computer literally SHUT down at number seven.

Seven. The day of rest.

Sabbath.

Rest.

Seven. Say it again. The day of rest.

Even God rested.

But me? I was forcing it, forcing the work, forcing the productivity, even when I was in Africa, even when it was CRYSTAL CLEAR it was NOT going to work.

As I was sitting in my fury of photo seven not loading or sending, my sweet Juma boy and his friend, Douglas, came out of nowhere, sat down next to me on the boys’ dorm porch, broke out the deck of Uno cards and said “Let’s play cards.”

Oh, sweet relief. Thank you, God. Thank you, Lord!!! I needed an intervention and God sent it just in time.

Juma and Douglas. Thank you for the invitation.

I pushed my laptop to the side and began playing Uno with the boys. Before long, other children gathered to play, for a total group of SEVEN children in the end.

DSC_6368

DSC_6380

Lacey joined shortly after and asked, “Is this your group?”

“No, it’s God’s group,” I replied. After all, I, quite literally, didn’t have a group. God created a group for me, just the way He liked it. I was SO grateful for the reprieve.

After I finished a few leisure rounds of Uno with seven children, I took time to write my learnings in my journal so I wouldn’t forget…

Decrease productivity.

Increase rest.

Increase relationship.

Increase prayer.

Increase listening for God’s voice and timing.

An hour and a half after I first sat down on the boys’ dorm steps to begin journaling my frustrations to God, it began to downpour the heaviest rain we’d seen on the trip…by a landslide. We were forced inside.

My small group of seven dispersed among the larger group of children.

I took a moment to try to send photo number SEVEN, and it actually SENT. Hallelujah.

After I sent photo number seven, I closed the laptop and gave it back to God for the day. No more internet. No more surrendering connection and relationship for productivity. No more.

At dinner, I handed the laptop to Pastor Randy, our group leader, and told him I’d sent Tuesday’s blog post and seven photos, but internet was too bad to send the other 10 photos. I just couldn’t. He’d have to give it a try.

I gave myself the evening to rest. I gave myself the evening to connect and be in relationship with others. I gave myself freedom to sit and be and process all the emotional vulnerability I’d been experiencing.

It was good.

I needed that so bad.

As I was getting ready to head out to worship the next morning, I found Randy outside our hut with the laptop. The internet was FASTER than it had been since we arrived in Africa! It was as fast as it is in America. He was sending ALL the photos we wanted to send and more!

I was amazed. In awe.

God provided. For me. For Randy. For our entire team and those following our journey back in America. We just needed to rest. And wait. On His timing. His perfect timing.

God’s in control. Our lives are in His hands, friends, whether we like it or know it or understand it at all.

It’s high time to rest, to leave it to Him, to surrender it ALL to Him. God most high.

He wants so much more than our productivity, friends.

He wants humility.

Rest. Relationship. Commitment to connection.

Faith.

Prayer.

And trust.

That’s all, friends.

That’s all.

Amy & Team

Kenya_smallbuttonThis blog post is part of a series I’m writing about my journey to Kenya, Africa, with the nonprofit organization, Love for Kenya, in the fall of 2015. Click here and you’ll be directed to the landing page where you can read ALL the posts from the series. If you haven’t already, read the post I wrote when I announced the trip. Otherwise, scroll to the bottom and you’ll find ALL the Kenya posts listed and linked for your reading enjoyment. Thanks for joining the journey, friends.

  1. Tom Baunsgard says:

    Hi Amy, Great post! There is Connectivity with God greater than the speed of light. He does hear our prayers faster than any internet connection… but sometimes he wants us to wait, to rest, to soak up His grace that surrounds us all the time. Glad that you were able to rest from the internet work and take the time to soak up some of his grace and enjoy the kids, the surroundings and see God’s love at work. Amazing how the next day that internet connection speeded up!
    Psalm 25:4-5 Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.