Eight Hours a Day

One year ago this month, my wife, Bridget, walked up to me in our hotel room in Kitwe, Zambia and said she believed the Lord really was calling us to serve in that country. One year later (August 24, 2015), after much prayer, counsel, and preparation, we landed in Lusaka with our seven youngest children in tow.

When we arrived, on Monday afternoon, the power had just come on… in the whole country! You see, Zambia is in the midst of an energy crisis. The result is eight hours per day with no power. On that day it was 8am to 4pm. Today, it was 2pm to 10pm. As I write, it is 10:17 and the power is still not on (actually, it kicked on as I wrote that line). As I lay here in the darkness, looking over at my wife as she sleeps, I can’t help but wonder what the Lord is up to. I also can’t help but thank him.

First, I thank the Lord for a wife who has been willing to leave a very comfortable life in the most prosperous country in the world to follow me to a place where we have to bathe our children by the light of an iPad as we hope we’ve got enough juice to make it. As her husband, I have worked hard to provide for her, and the Lord has been more than kind. However, in these last days and weeks as we’ve gotten closer to this new reality, I’ve been reminded of what a blessing it is to be married to who will follow me to the ends of the earth.

Second, I am grateful for my children and their incredible naiveté and consequent flexibility. They have no idea what’s going on. To them, we’ve been on an extended vacation since mid-June that culminated in a trip to Zambia where we get to do fun stuff with the lights off! They don’t have to worry about food preparation and storage, communications, or a whole other host of issues that go along with daily eight-hour blackouts on a rotating schedule. They just know we’re finally in Africa and it’s kinda cool.

Third, I praise God for the people he has placed around us both here in Zambia and around the world, who have loved on us these past few months, and continue to do so in ways we could never have anticipated or imagined. From the folks back at GfBC whose love and encouragement saw us through the tough decision and subsequent farewell, to the various individuals and churches who have contributed finances and prayer in support of our move, to the amazing brothers and sisters in England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland who blessed us coming and going, and the friends who showed up in Zambia to help us with our transition. That’s right, there are folks who arranged to be here this week so they could help us in any way they could. And on top of all that, there are the Zambian brethren who have welcomed us with open arms, managed logistics on this end, and embraced us as their own. God’s people have indeed been good to us.

Finally, I am humbled by the daily, eight-hour reminder that 1) I have lived all of my life with more than I needed. Even as a poor boy growing up in South Central Los Angeles, I enjoyed a level of prosperity for which many Zambians would give anything! 2) I am far too dependent on conveniences. Not that conveniences (like electricity) are bad… It’s just that living with them tends to make us a little presumptuous. 3) There are those who have lived and served here all their lives, and joining them doesn’t make me a hero; it makes me the help. 4) My faith is never more real than in those moments where I cannot access those things on which I have come to depend. 5) I am grateful for the prosperity of my country, and ashamed at how little I have done with it.

There are other things I have learned during this journey. Perhaps I’ll write about those some other time. For now, I’m going to bed, where I will rejoice in the amazing gift that is the fan that switched on at 10:17! Of course, I’ll have to enjoy it quickly so we can get up early enough to do as much as we can before the power goes off tomorrow… at 8am!!!