Christmas was very different for us this year. We had a small artificial tree covered in ornaments we’d brought with us and new ones that Lia and Naomi made. We hung our stockings on the fireplace mantle, but didn’t use them. We had gone to the market in Harare to shop for each other, but knowing that we were leaving the country on Boxing Day meant we only bought small gifts. We had to wake the girls up to come down to open presents around 8 a.m. and then that only took about 2 minutes. But you know what? It was cool. The gifts given had real thought behind them because we only gave one to each person.
Lia’s gift to me was a key chain wrapped in newspaper from the market. It’s a wooden carving of Africa with a buffalo. I don’t usually like key chains, they take up too much room in my pocket, so I was curious as to why she chose it. When I asked her why she gave me this particular key chain Lia said, “Because you’re stubborn.” Uh, okay. I asked her to explain more. She said, “It’s a bull and you can be stubborn. Like you’re stubborn about living here in Africa. It’s a good thing! I mean it in a good way! You are fighting so hard to do what God has asked you to do in Africa. I think it’s a good thing and the key chain made me think of you.” Lia doesn’t say much, sometimes I really have to spend time with her and work at getting her to talk about stuff, but when she does it is amazing and so worth it.
We are back in Canada again and I confess that sometimes it feels like we’re going backwards. I have to remind myself that it’s just another bend in the path. When we told one of our new friends in South Africa that we had to return to Canada she said that it made her think of Joseph and Mary after Jesus’ birth and how they were told to go to Egypt until it was safe to return to Israel. Pretty appropriate I thought. I also thought of Abram. God called him to pack up and go to a foreign land and he did. It wasn’t an easy trip, he made a few detours on his path, but he did it.
I could list off any number of examples of people who had to make detours or backtrack on their paths. The important thing for me to remember is that they learned along the way. They persevered. They grew in character. They were ‘stubborn.’ I want to be stubborn. I want to work my hardest to get back to where I’m called to serve. It may seem like foolishness to some and that’s okay. I’m doing it anyway.