Tag Archives: Learning

Learning to Roll With It

“I’ve learned a lot,” I thought to myself on Saturday while once again attempting to cook for 20 people and having no idea where to start. It’s funny before I came to Kenya I thought of myself as an accomplished cook who liked to experiment with generally successful results. Now I realize I still have a long way to go.

Not having a refrigerator and having a limited budget for food means that meat is a rare treat (as in a once or twice a month rare treat). I never realized that as Americans we have meat with almost every meal, and think that that this is normal. But here there is no more whipping out a frozen chicken breast to season and serve with rice and no more frying up sausages to go with eggs at breakfast. At home I love using bacon, bratwurst, and turkey to spice up a meal. Here there is rice and potatoes, more rice and potatoes, beans and maize, cabbage, spaghetti noodles, and eggs (thank goodness for eggs).

So I’m learning. I’m learning to cook without cheese (sad I know). I’m learning that being a forced vegetarian isn’t as bad as it sounds. I’m learning to experiment. Although it’s hard experimenting with food when you have 17 faces staring at you at the dinner table 17 faces that are quick to give disapproving looks when anything different is placed in front of them. (Early on after moving to the children’s home the kids informed Ruthann, who had made spaghetti for them, that they don’t eat red food). But, they are learning. Half the time after trying something new they end up liking it and come back for seconds. So while the kids are learning to try new things, I am learning to eat the same thing over and over.

I am also learning that life is unexpected and that days go by much better when, instead of fighting life’s sudden twists, you roll with them. Like this morning when on the way to town the car we were borrowing ended up with a flat tire. No big deal except for the fact that the car had no tool in it for getting the lug nuts off the tire so that we could change it. Fortunately, we broke down in walking distance of a new restaurant that has just opened. The manager very nicely called someone to bring a tool for us, and while we waited Jeremy and I enjoyed a lovely breakfast of omelets, toast, and chai.

An unexpected cup of tea

An unexpected cup of tea

Life loves to throw you the unexpected especially when working with kids. I’m learning that the little angels who are so sweet one minute can suddenly decide to turn the living room into a playground and before you know it you feel like you are living in a zoo.

I’m learning that it’s hard not to get upset when a child tells you that what you served them for lunch makes them feel like throwing up or when they ask for more soap because they left the soap you gave them last week disintegrating in a tub of water. I’m learning that just because a child grew up with practically nothing does not automatically mean that they will take care of what you give them. I’m learning that life is all about learning.

I’m also learning about faith. I’m learning that most days my faith is weak, but that God has put these kids in my life to teach me about childlike faith, a very beautiful thing. When they are sick they pray for each other and mean it, and when they pray things happen. I’m learning that God is so much bigger then what my mind can handle and that is also a beautiful thing. I’m learning that it’s ok (although scary) to have basically no money in your saving account because the king of kings is bigger than all of my needs, and He delights Himself with giving good gifts to His children.

I’m learning to work closely with a group of people that I just met to trust each other, build into each other, and let God use each of us as He sees fit. I’m learning to let go—let go of planning, let go of worrying, let go of feelings of inadequacy, and just let God take control. I’m learning that I still have a long way to go and a lot of things to learn, but every day I’m learning.

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Filed under Contemplations, Kenya

The Place Where I Learned too Much

The concrete was wet. No one was looking. Someone stooped down and scribbled nine words into the pavement, “This is the place where i learned too much.” My friend told me it has sparked some discussions around campus. I told her that I hoped they left it there.

I went to that Bible school for three years. I loved it, but there were days where I felt like I was drowning in knowledge I would never be able to retain. I heard it described as standing in front of a fire hydrant and trying to drink from it with a straw. There were days I felt pretty battered mentally and physically due to a lack of sleep. I learned so much and built strong friendships, but I think I would have remembered more if less had been asked of me.

Some undergraduate teachers gave out graduate level homework priding themselves in the fact that for their students graduate work would be so much easier because they would be overly prepared. I never planned on going to grad school. Those hours and hours in the library reading books that debated the difference in how the disciples were portrayed in the book of Matthew as opposed to the book of Mark were hours of my life that I wish I could have back.

Can you learn too much? Maybe. In a way, no, and it is good to learn, but sometimes “learning” gets in the way of life. Sometimes there is so much study that the actual point gets missed in the dissection of something that should have been meditated on.

I called my sister this week. She had two eight page papers due on top of a lot of reading, two article reviews, a class project, a proposal, and mandatory chapels. She survived the week, but barely. When it comes to study, study, study I think about the poem “I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman. In the poem, Whitman writes about attending a lecture on the stars. At this lecture he heard facts and figures and saw charts and measurements, but all the talk made his mind tired, and he left feeling sick. When he walked out of the building back out into the open night sky; he looked up at the stars, this time in perfect silence. Everything felt right again.

That is how I feel when it comes to studying God. Sometimes you need to close the books and just walk outside. God is too big to fit in a lecture or even a doctrinal statement. Yes, He can be studied, but more than anything He needs to be experienced. Israel’s king David, a former shepherd, was referred to as a man after God’s own heart. He didn’t just study God. He had a relationship with Him. He asked God hard questions. He wrestled with difficult truths. He poured out his heart and waited for an answer.

Bible school can become a place where you can learn too much because sometimes in the midst of “learning” the relationship gets lost. Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Maybe there should be a class period of just being still, but then what would you do when God meets you in that place and the class period runs over time.

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Filed under Contemplations