Thoughts about feelings of entitlement

This morning as I was praying and thinking about things, I had a profound revelation come to me (well, profound to me anyways):

As I was praying and asking God to provide a job for me I suddenly started to think about how privileged I was. I began to remember the destitute situations that I had seen many of the Malawians living in. I don’t understand why I am so fortunate. I have been given a good family, I am rich in comparison to the overall economy of the world, I have almost endless resources at my fingertips, I live in a country of opportunity, I am not oppressed, and the list goes on and on!

I think of those suffering or barely getting by from day to day in Malawi, and I think “Why not me?”. It could just as easily be me living in a dirt shack with one or two rooms that I have to share with my aunt and uncle and cousins who have adopted me because my parents died of HIV/AIDS. I could be an innocent young boy who struggles with having to work like a grown man, who has no one to give him the guidance and comfort that he needs from his parents. I could be the boy in this home who is not shown love by his adopted family because 1. they don’t know how to love, 2. they don’t have time to show me love because they can barely take care of their primary family, and 3. because they actually hold an unspoken resentment that they have to take care of me. I am just a burden on their family. I could be this boy who has little hope of making it through primary school, let alone going to high school or to college.

Then I think of how silly it seems for me to be concerned about not finding the perfect job that I love. A typical African would be ecstatic to even have a job. Dreams about a job that suits their desires and skills is often not part of the possibilities. They would work hard for long hours, without being able to see much of their family, just so that they could make enough money to support them. And this would be seen as a blessing, a gift from God. If I got a job like this, I would be annoyed at God and I would feel like I was not being treated fairly by my creator!

My worldview has been expanded, and needs to continue to expand so that I can see things for what they really are. It’s so easy to live in apathy regarding the rest of the world. It’s so easy to live in ignorance to what is happening beyond what we are used to or what we see in front of us.

I need to be less concerned about finding the perfect job and more concerned about God’s people who are perishing because of the ignorant and unintentional, but nevertheless real oppression from me and you.

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Difference between doubting faith and God

“My faith isn’t perfect, and it isn’t static. It is guaranteed by my finitude to be incomplete, inaccurate in many places, out of proportion, in need of continuing midcourse corrections. Therefore it deserves to be doubted at times – doubted so it can be corrected. If I didn’t doubt my faith, I would protect it, not correct it; defend it, not amend it
-Brian D McLaren, Finding Faith: A Search For What Is Real

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Entering A New Stage Of Life

Well…it’s New Year’s eve and about time that I update our blog. Some of you may be wondering what happened to us after we left Malawi and what we have been up to.

Alisa and i are back in Brantford now, and my parents have graciously invited us to live with them for now until we get settled. We have been here for almost a month now and the time just keeps flying by at an accelerated pace. It seems like we just got back a few days ago.

We are now in a period of “re-entry”, I would say, because we have re-entered Canada after being a part of a life changing experience. Alisa and I are still unsure of what the future has in store for us. We are trying to figure out God’s will, trying to live in-step with him, but it seems like God does not want to reveal too much to us of what is to come in the near future. (I think He’s got this weird idea that if He doesn’t reveal too much to us, then we will have to learn to trust and rely on Him!?) So we are just taking each day as it comes and we are trying our best to follow as he gradually reveals things to us.

Alisa is now working at TD Bank here in Brantford. She was able to get a leave of absence while we were away in Malawi, so now she is blessed to have a job to make us some dollars. This way we can be that much closer to getting a place of our own and get out of my parents hair (haha). Alisa is feeling led to go back to school in the fall, so we will need to save up for her tuition. She is not sure exactly what she wants to go to school for, but she is thinking about maybe getting a Masters in Occupational Therapy or some sort of social work. That will be 3 more years for her is she decides to get a Masters degree.

As for me, my immediate plan is to find a job. I have been applying for jobs since before we got back to Canada. I was working as a youth pastor before we went to Malawi, and I would love to do that kind of work again, but I’m also applying for various other jobs that peek my interest. I am trying not to be too picky, but I also don’t want to settle for a job I will not like, so I’m trying to find the right balance between the two.

We are both praying for God to lead us as we step out and try to plan for the future.

On another note, our Christmas time was great. It’s definitely nice to be back home for Christmas. It’s been really nice to see family and friends during this holiday time. Christmas always feels more special when you are home. We’ve been cold because we’re so used to the warm Malawian weather, but at least the cold is another feeling that helps create the perfect Christmas aura!

This stage of our life is very open and full of possibilities for us. It’s intimidating at times because the possibilities are so numerous, it’s just hard to know where to start. We don’t have any commitments or any solid plans, we don’t have any debts or a house holding us in one spot, we are unsure of which church congregation to be a part of, etc.. With all of these loose ends we feel free and overwhelmed all at the same time. We ask ourselves questions like “Are we going to stay in the Brantford area or is God going to move us to a new city, province, country?”!

Please pray for us as we prepare for the next stage in our lives.

Lastly, I want to say “Thank you” for who YOU are! Whether you are a family member, friend, friend of a friend, someone who has prayed for us or supported us financially, whoever you are we just want to thank you for being a part of our journey and reading along.

Happy New Year! I know that God has amazing plans for each one of us in this coming year. Let’s all strive for a life of obedience to what God wants us to do!

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Leaving Birmingham

Alisa and I were able to spend a week in Birmingham England with her Parents. Their church, Stechford Baptist Church, has supported Alisa and i through our volunteering efforts in Malawi, so we thanked the church, spoke about what we did, and showed some pictures. They have a great group of people in their little church. It was also great to spend some time with Alisa’s parents.
We are now leaving very early tomorrow morning to go back to Canada. See you soon Canada!!

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Going Away Dinner

This past Saturday, Alisa and I had a going away dinner with a bunch of our friends at a local restaurant. It was great to see everyone at one place before we leave for Canada. We will miss Malawi and all of the people we have met here!
Here are some photos from the night…

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Bitter Envy

I get daily devotions in my email. Today’s was really good so I want to share it.

It talks about “bitter envy”, which at first, I think we all say “I don’t struggle with that!”. But the examples that are given in how bitter envy can come out of us is very challenging and much easier to relate to than to the words “bitter envy” themselves!

James 3:14
(14) But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
New King James Version

The second trait James mentions is “bitter envy.” If “envy” is desire for what another has, “bitter envy” must mean a person wants something so much that he is angry and hateful over it. Bitterness is a child of anger and resentment. Satan takes great delight in burdening our hearts with these harmful emotions. Unprovoked or quick-tempered anger is a hallmark of our modern cities, which resound in the night with the bark of gunfire and the howl of sirens.

Bitter envy takes jealousy to the next step by adding resentment and anger, and from it emerges words that stab, cut, tear down, refute, and diminish. We use these to reduce the stature of another so we may seem to stand taller. A talebearer or gossip only wants his listener to think less of another so that he might think more of him.

We can be envious because another sinned and “got away with it.” We can envy those who have more, whom we feel do not deserve it. Envy often springs up when we receive unwarranted correction and someone else, who deserves it, does not. We can feel envy when one receives attention we desire for ourselves or when we fail to receive hard-earned recognition.

Envious words are bitter words: They are pointed and sharp, but their target is subtle. On the surface, they may even sound righteous, but in reality, they manipulate thinking in the speaker’s favor.

Test: Do our words build or burn? If we build our stature by burning another’s, we are standing on a platform of ashes that will crumble and topple us anytime. Only after I was gossiped about repeatedly did I began to see my own words of envy expressed. How foolish it had made me look, trying to stand taller on a pile of ashes!

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Coming to an end…

We only have about 2 1/2 weeks left in Malawi and I (Alisa) can’t believe that the time has come to an end! We spent so much time thinking about volunteering, wondering where we would go, praying about where to go.. I spent a lot of time actually stressing about coming to Malawi, wondering if it was the right choice and and stressing about how long we should come for.. now it all seems so silly! 🙂 I think about all the time spent fundraising, preparing, training… and I can’t believe it is all coming to an end. To tell the truth, I am really sad that it is. This year has been one of the best of my life and I am so grateful for the chance we’ve had to be in this country. There is something special about Malawi.. Something that pulls you in! Not sure what it is, but something has drawn me in and I’ve heard similar thoughts from others who live here!

I am going to miss the people so much! The Somebody Cares staff that we have grown to love as family and dear friends, the people of the communities that Somebody Cares work in, my book club of 10 amazing women who intimately share about their hurts, their past, their current struggles, our church Flood and the communities we are involved in there through worship team and growth group… We’ll also miss the people we’ve met through ultimate frisbee and volleyball, and the randoms of Lilongwe that you see everywhere you go! Our social life has consisted of people from all over the world, which I have absolutely loved! Our closest friends have been from South Africa, the UK, the US, Canada, Sweden, and Malawi of course!

I have also grown to love African music so much- and the life and the heart that is behind it! Dancing is such a huge part of Malawian culture and I love it- I’ve even been told that I am a really good dancer for an azungu (white person)! haha!

I thank God so much for the life we have had here and for the opportunity we’ve had to support Somebody Cares with the amazing work they are doing. Although life here has not always been easy, Malawi has blessed us amazingly. I feel that now I am personally grieving, leaving my 2nd home of Malawi. I only hope that we can return some day!

One thing I’ve loved doing for Somebody Cares since we’ve been back is taking photos. I have LOVED being able to capture life with Somebody Cares in this way and am definitely inspired to learn more about photography and hopefully one day get a better camera! Since we’ve been here, I’ve also been getting stories through interviewing people in the community and getting stories from staff members which has been really cool. I’ve also been doing other communication projects like putting together newsletters, setting up a Somebody Cares blog (called “Village Voices”, and keeping facebook and the website up to date with pictures and more. I feel like my time in Malawi has been a huge time of learning- being able to take pictures and write and use my creative skills, but also in teaching English and heading up a library project (that finally was finished last month!).

Thank you so much for being part of our journey of coming to Malawi for a year. I feel very grateful to you for allowing me personally to have this experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Here are a few of my favourite pictures I’ve taken in the last few months. Hope you enjoy!

Malawian beauty

Elephant at Liwonde National Park


Deep in thought

Brotherly love

Nose clean!

The love of the Agogo

Dancing it up at Girl Empowerment Day

Pure Joy!

I love baobab trees!

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Teaching Chiefs in Chikudzulire

I am teaching a group of village chiefs here. They are ranked by their titles: Village Headman, Grand Village Headman, and Tribal Authority. I was teaching them about being obedient to God and passing the tests that he gives us in life!

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A Day Of Leadership Discussions With Bill Hybels

Yesterday Alisa and I were given the opportunity to lead worship with the band from our church. We were asked to lead the music at a day-long leadership session. The speaker at the leadership day was Bill Hybels.

So, we led the people in worship, then we got to participate in the day-long teachings and discussions from Bill Hybels. It was a treat to be there and learn from Bill. He is a great teacher and I learned a lot. It was also a refreshing day of listening to some of the problems and solutions that leaders encounter.

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Recent Malawi Pictures

Man Dressed up in Gule Wamkulu traditional outfit. This is a traditional religion that influences many people and their villages.

A common sight in Malawi: pack as many people in a vehicle as possible.

Alisa hanging out with the girls she used to teach english to. They are now very involved in volunteering with Somebody Cares.

Alisa helping paint a new tea room in Chikudzulire.

The community celebrating at the newly painted tearoom that will generate income for the community

An example of some of the meds and care products that we supply for those who need it

A drawing on the wall in one of the classrooms in Area 18. A visual teaching aid.

A boy "playing" with a knife! No one seemed to think it was a big deal...

Scary looking bridge!

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