I’ve been in Africa for almost a month now. And I’m sure everyone here is tired of hearing me say “I have GOT to blog.” (lol) I have been meaning to, but oh my goodness at the struggle of where to even begin.
I know I will find frustration in typing these words because they just will not do it justice. Words fail when the heart is the one dying to talk.
Life is different here. Very different. Life is hard here. Very hard. But life here is also beautiful. In the most unexplainable way.
In preparing for missions, you kinda think that God is sending you somewhere so that He can speak through you to encourage others. (Let me make it clear that going on missions is nothing of me….it’s all of Him). But oh my, oh my heart has been strengthened incredibly more by these people. I feel as though I have done nothing for them, and they are the ones pouring into me. I needed them.
Like I said, there are a million and one things that have happened that I would love to tell you. And please, let’s get coffee (AND SOME MCDONALDS) when I get back and I will tell you EVERYTHING. I just hope you have a full day to sit with me and hear of all the amazing things. But my heart just has to tell you of one lady. One lady who has come into my life so gently, but turned it upside down. Upside down in the best way possible.
Evalyn is a 39 year old woman who helps keep our house clean. That’s what her “job” is. But what…who…she really is…is my Evalyn. She is a warrior for God. A woman who prays like I have never seen anyone pray before. A woman of faith. A woman that God constanly smiles down on and is proud of because of her complete trust in Him. This I know to be true.
Since about last Thanksgiving, right around the time I got sick, God started convicting me of my prayer life. Yes, I prayed, but to say it plainly…my prayer life sucked. Honestly I didn’ t really get it. I didn’t see the power in it. I didn’t find the joy and the strength in it. Yes, I prayed….but not with faith. The next words I am about to say are hard. Because they are embarrassing but….I didn’ t really know how to pray. *INSERT GASP* Here I am, a girl raised in the church saying I didn’t truly know how to pray. My words were lifeless. Because I didn’t have the faith in them. What’s even crazier is that despite my brokenness, God heard them. But really, I prayed because I knew it was what I was suppose to do….not because it was something I desperatley needed…not because it was my dependency…not because it gave me life.
So again, God started convicting me last Thanksgiving….here I am in June finally surrendering and learning how to pray with faith. So….in walks Evalyn.
The first days Evalyn came she was sick. She had malaria. I was both way out of my comfort zone and overwhelmed by the vast difference of the African world I now lived in. Still, even on those first couple days, God kept laying Evalyn on my heart. I was drawn to her. And I now know that God was pressing us together “for such a time as this”.
Evalyn is new to Abaana’s Hope. She just began working not too long ago and so she was very shy when she started. For some reason, a reason I am so thankful for, God continued to lay her on my heart.
On June 6, just 9 days after landing in Africa, I have this written in my journal…
“I found one of God’s places He wants me to serve. That’s ministering to Evalyn.” (Little did I know that she would be the one ministering so much to me.) That journal entry ends with “Father, allow a relationship to blosssom. Father, please open doors. Please create relationships. Please, Please, Please.” AND OH MY HOW HE DID.
On June 8, eleven days after landing in Africa, God broke down a wall that created the most beautiful friendship.
At lunch, I was making a sandwich and Evalyn was cleaning. God was pressing on me to ask her what her favorite scripture was. I fought it for probably thirty minutes. It seemed like such a random question to ask her. *Let me pause right here and tell you that Evalyn understands and can speak English fairly decent. It’s just the south Alabama slang that sometimes gets her :)* FINALLY, I realized that God was not going to let this go. So I asked…..and oh how thankful I am that God pressed so hard to get me to. She told me about how she loved all the Psalm. I asked her why and she told me they are a battle cry. They got her through some difficult times. Times when she lost both her parents and her brother to the war. Times of loneliness and fear. She told me that the words of the Psalm, of the whole Bible, are active. They are alive and she can hold onto them. That Satan can’t get her when she speaks Jesus’ name.
I had never seen someone talk about the scripture, cling to and cherish the scripture like I did when I saw Evalyn talk about it. & this was only the beginning.
Evalyn and I began to talk every day. Sometimes deep and long conversations and sometimes just short convos. Until last Thursday. Last Thursday is a day I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Evalyn was in our room doing some cleaning and I went in to talk to her. We just began talking and when Evalyn talks about God…it’s as if the whole world stops. She speaks with such faith and realness. With such boldness. I love hearing her words. I told her about Bailey and asked her to pray for her surgery. She told me she would…and when she tells me, I know she will. In fact, she not only prayed that day…she fasted that day and the next so she could pray for Bailey and her family…for a girl she has never met. She told me, “I want God to heal your friend in America so that she can tell everyone about how good our God is.”
Our conversation went through many things. About how life is hard and painful sometimes. I asked her if she ever got angry at God for taking her parents and brother. For allowing her husband to mistreat her. It covered many topics. Than I began telling her about how I ended up coming to Africa. And I told her I know God led me here to meet her. About how he ordained us meeting. That’s when things changed. When tears filled both of our eyes as we realized how soverign our God is. We just both knew it was all because of him. And then Evalyn said words that I will never forget. She looked me in the eyes and told me she use to fear the white people. She was scared of all of us. She liked it when the house was lonely. And then she held our her arms and said “I couldn’t figure out why a young white girl like you would talk to an old black person like me” She rubbed her dark arms continuing and saying “A person who can’t speak much English and who doesn’t have much schooling.” And then she said with tears running down her face…”but you love me. You love me.”
And I do. More than I ever thought possible. I love her more than words can say. And I know I love her because Christ loves me. A love that can only be possible because of Christ. Because Christ’s love conquers all things. All cultural differences, all age differences, and all language differences. And so we hugged and we wept tears of overwhelming joy and I told her that God brought me hundreds of kilometers from my home because I needed her. And as I held her and she held me, my warrior praised Jesus. She gave Jesus all the glory.
And all the glory He deserves. Psalm 8 says “What is man that you are mindful of them?”…I’ve said it over and over. Father, who am I that you care so much to have me on the other side of the world to meet my Evalyn. To learn and grow from my Evalyn.
In these past days, I have learned how to pray with faith by Evalyn’s example. Evalyn approaches his throne and lays her requests down at the King’s feet and then KNOWS that they will be answered. She walks away with full trust that Jesus has them. She doesn’t wonder when or if they will be answered. She KNOWS they will. She presents her requests to the Father and leaves them there. She doesn’t try to pick them back up. She lays it down to the only one who can make it all work out. She tells me all the time that God has created a path and a way for us…we just have to walk in it. He hears us. I’ve never met a woman who has faith in her praying like Evalyn. In Matthew, it says people all brought the sick, the hurting, the lame, and the blind to the feet of Jesus KNOWING that Jesus would heal them. That is what my Evalyn does. She lays it down and KNOWS. “Be still and KNOW that I am God.” I have missed that for so long. I have presented my request to God but still carried them with me. I have carried them instead of fully releasing and trusting that He will come through. I read in a book earlier this week that we should have so much faith and be so real in our prayers that we would be in such trouble if God didn’t come through. That’s the faith Evalyn has in the one whose feet she lays her requests at. She lays them knowing they aren’t for her to pick back up. They are his to work through.
Oh my Father, how thankful I am for my Evalyn. Thankful for her example and sweet, yet strong spirit and faith. Thank you for a friendship so divine and beautiful that can only be because of you. Be with my sweet Evalyn. Keep her safe. Keep her kids safe. And hold her…hold her like you have for all these years.
Please join me in praying that one day God will allow Evalyn to purchase land so she can build a house and have her children all together again!