Hurry up and wait!

How many times have you heard that? I always cringe when I do.  It’s like when someone says to me, “Are you workin’ hard or hardly workin’?” Urg.

Waiting is something us Westerners are just not good at.  If we see four people in line at the bank we decide to come back later.  Or if we do decide to stay and endure the 6 minute wait we whip our our phones and post an update about having to wait for the elderly lady at the counter who wants to pay her bills in cash and is carefully counting it all out.  Then we check our Instagram account, email, messages and if time allows, the news.  To me that isn’t waiting.  Waiting is standing there, watching the people around me, actively exercising my patience muscles.

In Africa you have to learn to patiently wait or you’ll go nuts.  There are queues for everything.  And when you watch the people waiting for whatever it is, they don’t seem to mind.  They are talking to the ones they are with or whoever is next to them.  Sure, some will pull out phones, even out in the boonies of Doma, but mostly people will spend their time talking or just sitting watching life around them.  I admire that.

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We have learned to be patient during our time in Zimbabwe, or at least we’ve learned that we need to be more patient.  We’ve been given plenty of opportunities to practice.  From the moment we touched down on the runway and waited for the mad scramble to subside so we could retrieve our overhead luggage and get out of the big aluminum tube with it’s stuffy recycled air, we were going to be stretching our patience again and again.

What is the longest that you’ve ever had to wait in an office? Or at the hospital emergency room? Hours, I’m sure.  For us, the immigration office is the penultimate in patience purgatory.  We had to go get our visitor visas renewed every 30 days and it meant waiting. I remember the first time we had to wait all day long.  We arrived at 8:30am thinking we’d be in and out in no time.  Nope, we were told to sit down and wait while they found our file.  At 1pm I left to go find some lunch and brought back burgers and fries for the girls.  At 3:30pm we were called up to the counter and by 4pm we were finished.  We were all dumbfounded, having never experienced anything like that before.  Let me tell you, the next month we brought a picnic lunch, books, tablets, snacks and drinks.

We had many more opportunities to wait and be patient during our time in Zimbabwe.  Now we are back in Canada and again find ourselves waiting.  What we thought was going to be a two or three month stay has stretched out to six months.  There are many hoops to jump through to get our business visa and just when we were ready to submit the application last week we were told we had two more steps to do before we could.  Nuts.

How many times have we all heard that God’s timing is perfect and we just need to be patient? It’s hard not to get frustrated with cliches.  Perhaps the frustrating part is that often cliches are true and accepting that truth is the difficult part.  I totally believe that God’s timing is perfect.  Our journey to this point is evidence of the fact.  I believe that He has it all in control.  My part is to live out that belief.  I’m a do-er.  I’m not a great be-er.  Verses like, “Be still and know that I am God” are not my favorite.  I can appreciate what it’s saying, but my personality is such that I’d rather be busy working and knowing that He is God.

People have remarked about the difficulties we must face in Africa, and honestly, it really didn’t feel that hard.  We didn’t have electricity or hot water for three months in the house we were living in and we just dealt with it, no big deal really. Watch where you walk, there are plenty of snakes around.  No problem.  Find a tool to fix the tool that you need to fix the tool that you need to use, just another day.  Waiting for paperwork to get cleared, brutal.

The wait will be worth it.  I believe it.  We have had lots of great times while back in Canada.  We have experienced the love of friends and family and made some cool new memories and connected with people.  Our waiting has felt like an active sort of waiting much of the time and we are continuing to grow closer as a family.  God is in the waiting, I just need to suck it up, be still and know.  It will be worth it.

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