Did I just say that out loud??? Did I even just think it? What a horrible missionary I am! And now I'm admitting it to the whole world - what's wrong with me?
"Sometimes I hate this place!" I said it three times in a row on Monday of this week. Did I say it because of seeing another small child pick through the garbage for something to eat? No. Because of hearing about yet another young girl used for a man's pleasure? No. Because another person I know has died from lack of proper medical care? No. All good reasons, those, to "hate" a place. (perhaps) To feel such frustration that a place drives you crazy.
No, it was none of those good reasons that caused me to say three times, out loud, "sometimes I hate this place."
It was because I was inconvenienced.
Because things didn't go my way.
Because I didn't get what I wanted.
Because, if you must know, the shop owner wouldn't take my card to pay for phone credit and the ATM machine wouldn't give me any money. That's it. That was enough to cause me to not only lose my joy but disparage a whole nation!
As I walked to my car, repeating this over and over, I felt God stop me in my tracks with conviction over my selfishness. I had recently read yet again that we are to take every thought captive to Christ. Well, this presented a great opportunity to live out this Scripture. So I sat in my car and repented of this ridiculous behavior. Then I asked God, "what's really going on here? why am I so upset?"
I think it was because what I was overwhelmed by, as I have been time and time again here in Mozambique, is a loss of control. I couldn't control these situations and it left me feeling vulnerable and therefore angry.
I was irritated that the shop owner wouldn't take a card for a semi expensive purchase. Nothing I could say would sway him. In my true capitalist nature I thought, "well, I won't give you any of my business in the future and we'll see how you like that!" But I was powerless to change his mind and accomplish my goal.
I did give in and try the ATM but twice, it took my card, my PIN, asked if I wanted a receipt, then spit back out my card and said my transaction was being processed but no money ever came out. I did this twice. That would be about $240!!! This happens to people so often here, they don't get their money yet they are charged for it and there is no recourse. The bank here says "deal with your bank in the US" and the US bank says "it's nothing to do with us, deal with the bank of the ATM." So THAT left me feeling REALLY out of control!
This whole "no recourse" thing is what I often find the hardest. I'm usually able to take things into my own hands and try and resolve something. Not here in Mozambique, that rarely works here!
What was I left with? Relying on God. Sound familiar? Praying. Ring a bell? I had to simply pray and trust God that the money wouldn't be gone from my account and that if it was, he would somehow cover it. I had to pray that I would find another way to buy the phone credit I needed.
I had to yield to God once again that he would take care of my needs when I couldn't take care of them myself. This is one of my greatest lessons from living in Mozambique. I'm pretty sure there will be a few more tests of this nature ahead!
This may sound a bit absurd to the reader, that I would make such a big deal out of not being able to get money or phone credit. I agree - it IS absurd!! Shouldn't I be mature enough that these little things don't send me over the edge? Yet, it's often the little things that do. The little things are where I need the most refining. I'm not about to go murder anyone but I would slander a whole nation in my mind with my words and thoughts.
I thank God that I CAN trust him, with every need! I thank God that he is faithful to convict and refine me. I am thankful that my tantrum lasted only five minutes instead of five hours and that I listened to his voice calling me deeper.
I am thankful that when I am not in control, HE IS!
And I am praying that in his kindness and grace, he will make me more like him so I don't freak out every time something doesn't go my way!