Reflection on Summer in Zimbabwe 2015 - by Alice Hall
This year I had the incredible opportunity of spending the summer in Zimbabwe with Chris and Norma! I went for two weeks last summer, and all year I felt the Lord calling me back to invest for a longer time. At the beginning of the trip, I went thinking I would serve God for a specific amount of time in a specific place, and I returned realizing that I need to serve God all the time in all places. That was probably the biggest lesson I learned – my purpose of devoting time to Him can’t be limited to mission trips or summers or Africa… the blessing of being able to be used by Him should happen as much at home as it does on mission trips!
Another main takeaway from my time in Zimbabwe was how my expectations are consistently changed and exceeded by God’s plan. I thought I would be working with literacy programs in schools and collecting data on regional poverty, but I ended up spending the majority of my time sewing… not what you would expect from a trip to Africa! There is a group of ladies who asked Norma to teach them a sustainable skill that would allow them to provide income for themselves and their families, so Norma taught them to sew, and now they have a weekly business meeting together to create products that are sold in shops in town. The ladies actually taught me how to sew, and then I spent many weeks coming up with new ideas and products to help their business. I had never sewn before in my life and this wasn’t at all how I had pictured my summer, but the relationships with those ladies and the ability to help them with a business that would far outlast my individual time with them was one of the most meaningful things I have ever done.
Lastly, I learned about how much more valuable it is to focus your life outwardly rather than inwardly. At home, it’s so easy to center my days around what I want to do and what I think I need, but seeing the vastly different lifestyle in Zimbabwe challenged and revolutionized my perspective. While I have more than I need in virtually every area of my life, many of the people I met don’t even have what they need in any one area of their lives. When I live focused on myself, I don’t recognize how much I could be helping others that really need it. Rather than always thinking about more and more things that I want, I realized that I must see what ‘enough’ really is so that I can recognize my own excess and use it to help those who do not have enough. Most importantly, I learned that a lifestyle focused outwardly is absolutely pivotal to a heart focused on God. God chose for human beings to be made in His own image, and I believe that we see Him the most when we see Him in other people. Zimbabwe is a beautiful place where God can be seen so clearly, and it was one of the highlights of my life to both see Him there myself and help Him be seen by others!