My four-year-old keeps asking about “normal life”. She comments on the way things used to be, on what she misses. She speaks as though the time now is not regular or even right, but some fantasy life where every meal has bread and butter and nothing is as she remembers. At times her head spins and she grasps tightly to what she once knew. Commenting with excitement when we are able to have oatmeal for breakfast or attaching ourselves to a lingering routine from home. She makes a list of things to do when we return to this intangible normal life. And I understand her association with and desire to recreate what once was versus what is now. Because everything is different. Everything has changed.
We have been in Africa for two weeks. Only five days in our home in Maxixe as it took almost ten days from when we arrived for our house to be ready and available. We stayed at a guest house in Maputo and I am glad we had that opportunity as it was a good adjustment period to life in Africa. This place we call home now is not without its issues and misunderstandings, but overall it is a place of beauty and love. And it is GOOD.
During our layover in Istanbul, Turkey on the trip here, I can remember a feeling of anxiety and almost fear as we stepped out on faith to spend the next few years in Africa. Away from family, away from convenience as we know it, away from the security we have taken for granted and been accustomed to in the United States. As we boarded the plane at 1:30am for our 10-hour flight to South Africa, I trudged up the stairs to enter our plane and plopped myself down in our row, the middle row of four seats. Here I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and reminded myself of the Call upon our lives and the great foundational support from home. I said a quick prayer for safety and understanding as the plane took off and we settled into our flight.
My prayers were answered in the overwhelming feeling of peace and excitement as our plane touched down in Africa, in our new home continent! I looked at Elizabeth and made the comment of how “It feels good to be here and really start this new journey with my family.” It was the feeling of being home. We left Louisiana on Tuesday, August 16th. On Friday, August 19th, we landed in Mozambique. After three days of travel time, we burst into our new country, a little smelly from the confines of planes, a little tired from jet lag, but full of gratitude to God and excitement. And each morning as I awake and go outside, I am reminded of two things: the amazing presence of God in this place and that nothing is normal.
There has been a settling-in period, and we are by no means settled. Our home although nice and close to town it is completely unfurnished. No stove, no beds, no tables, no dressers, no toilet paper, nothing. We were aware of this prior to getting here, but it still did not soften the shock of being in a place were we didn’t speak the language, we didn’t know where we were, and we were alone in an empty house. Bit by bit we are taking this house and making it our home.
But this is Good. This shows it will not be of us, but of God, we must rely on God to provide, to comfort, to establish a new normal. God will be at the root of our time in Mozambique and to God will be the glory. That normal life my daughter hints at is no more. Even in this small amount of time here we see the personal changes occurring. Soon, this time and this place, will be her new “normal life” it will be our normal life too.
The morning after a hard night, Elizabeth and I were sitting, in the empty dinning room, sharing our devotional when the song “It is Well” was suggested. We began to sing, and as our voices reverberated around the empty room we looked at each other, both with tears in our eyes and a calm in our heart. For it is well with my soul in this place. It is well with my family in this place. It well with God’s work in this place. It is well, it is well, it is well!