What I Needed to Learn

I’ve been back in the US for a week now. A lot of people have been asking me what the best part about going to Zambia was. That one’s easy: The kids. Their joy, their unselfconscious enjoyment of life, their humor, and their genuine thankfulness  made them instantly endearing. The way they so trustingly opened their lives to me, a complete stranger, made it impossible for me not to love them.

A few people have asked me what I’ve learned by traveling half-way across the world to a developing country that most people know next to nothing about. That, in truth, I knew nothing about a year ago.

That question is harder to answer.

I’ve learned to be more content. Being with kids who could fit all their worldly belongings into a suitcase puts things into perspective. Not being able to go shopping for three months also helped.

I’ve learned that I am capable of much more than I allow myself to believe.

I’ve learned that in so many ways, I’m absurdly wealthy.

I’ve learned that I really can trust God to care for even the inconsequential details. And for the big things too. From “I really would like some non-Lipton tea” to “please don’t let me get abducted in this bus station”- God heard and He answered.

But most of all, what I learned was that I don’t know very much. I’ve never been one to admit my ignorance if I can help it. I like having answers. I like spouting facts and being right. The amount of times I have had to say “I don’t know” in the past few months has been humbling to say the least. I still blush to think of the number of times I was asked a question in Lunda, only to smile and shake my head. When I was unable to even exchange pleasantries with the local people because of my complete incompetence in their language, it didn’t mean so much that I have a bachelors degree in communication.

“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20)

Traveling so far beyond my comfort zone made me feel very small and very young. And when all my wisdom, all my experiences, all the books I’ve read failed me, I ran to the One I should have gone to first. I suppose that was what I needed to learn.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

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