It was a beautiful morning in Zambia. The thrum of life was so evident all around you that it felt as though it were synced to your pulse. Such mornings simply do not exist here at home. Africa has a vibrancy to it that is so distinctly well African. But there is also this sense of community. A dependency on life to continue life.
It was on that morning as I sat in this place,
when a hoard of ants came past right in front of me. Ants are bigger and scarier in Africa. I just sat there frozen as they seemed to just. keep. coming. That was the closest I came to death in Africa.
I am being dramatic because of course I didn’t come close to death at all. The ants barely even noticed me as I sat frozen in fear. Yet everyone keeps telling me how brave I am for going to Africa. For some reason America seems to have this picture of Africa being a land where death lurks around every corner. Which is completely an inaccurate depiction of a land filled with so much beauty and life.
In that moment, after my near death of killer ants, I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth am I doing here? I spent months preparing. I spent three days traveling, crammed into airplanes and stuck at airports. I had been ready to brave the huge spiders and the deadly snakes. I had put up with months of people telling me I was going to get Ebola, or malaria, or death by those water flies. Yet I came anyways. Then I discovered this idea of Africa that I had painted in my head was not even close to accurate. While in Zambia, I did not see a desolate or broken land. Zambia is very much alive and filled with hope. Life begetting life all around me. Zambia doesn’t need me. Not even a little bit.
So what on earth was I doing here?
God tends to find us the most useful once we realize how utterly useless we actually are.
So that morning in the prayer loppa, I asked God to help me understand why I was in Africa. Do you know what He gave me? A chicken. Other members on team did really amazing things that day, like heal people and make a dry well flow with water.
I got a chicken.
Not that I’m bitter.
We were talking with two ladies, Ceca and her mother Harriet. Somehow it was decided that they would show us some of their daily life, and somehow that ended up with us at a cage of chickens. They wanted us to feed their chickens. An awkward silence filled the air as they waited to see which crazy American they would get to trap in the pen with the chickens.
I volunteered, and instantly regretted it. I crawled through the tiny hole and prayed the chickens wouldn’t attack the first white person they have ever encountered. Don’t worry, I survived unscathed. Soon Ceca and her son her were crammed into the tiny cage with me. I am still not sure how we fit without squashing any chickens. Ceca picked up a chicken by the wings, looked at me, and said, “Here hold it.” Haha yeah no thanks. But Cesa just kept insisting, and I got the feeling she wouldn’t let me out until I held it.
I grew up on a farm, I am not scared of chickens. Much. But I have never picked up a chicken by the wings. That seemed akin to poking a bear and hoping it didn’t bite you. So of course I decided to pick up the stupid chicken. Ceca and Harriet had a pretty good laugh at the ridiculous white girl holding one of their chickens.
“God sometimes uses the completely inexplicable events in our lives to point us towards Him. We get to decide each time whether we will lean in toward what is unfolding and say yes or back away.” – Bob Goff
Sometimes the biggest miracle we will see in our lives is that we said yes when a normal sane person would have said no. I don’t think that God ever intended us to be spectators in life. I think he intended us to do foolish things like try to walk on water or feed chickens. I think he intended us to engage with the world around us. Life moves fast. If you don’t stop to catch a chicken every now and then you might miss it.