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20 Lessons I Learned in the Desert

JULY 2019

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by Michaela Bailey Michaela is a member of the 3-Month Namibia IMMERSION team that launched in May of 2019. This reflection was written during her time living with host families, partnering with local ministries, and learning to live the local way in the desert.

Today is the halfway mark of my time in Namibia. We just wrapped up our final week in the desert and are preparing to transition communities. I can’t believe how quickly time has passed! It still feels like yesterday that we arrived in Swokopmund.

Life in the desert is not for the faint of heart. It truly gives Colorado and Nebraska a run for their money in sporadic weather with all four seasons in one day. Days can be sunny, hot (like, super hot) with sandstorms or overcast and cold (like, super cold) with fog and mist. Nights can be mild or straight-up miserable. Wearing three layers of pajamas and a beanie to sleep was typically the norm. Needless to say, we were super fashionable.

In our month there, we ran out of water, were bitten by spiders, chased goats, shared food with mice (not willingly), and even got lost in the desert. What’s funny, though, is that all of these inconveniences and discomforts are actually the same things and memories that I cherish from our time in the desert. There is something blissful in the unexpected, and Africa sure has a lot of it. Each of these experiences, and so many others, created a number of opportunities to learn and grow.

I have been struggling to find words to sum up my experience in the desert, and I decided the best way to do that is to share a little bit about what it taught me. God used the desert to challenge me, refine me, teach me, and call me back to Him.

20 Lessons I Learned in the Desert:

1. Water is so so so valuable. And the containers to collect it in are heavy.

2. How to start a fire.

3. Layers. Are. So. Important.

4. How to set up a tent in record time.

5. A cup of hot tea is best served with a campfire.

6. Honey is way better than sugar.

7. Always take the time to look for shooting stars.

8. There is freedom found in being flexible.

9. 2kg is a lot of rice.

10. Homesickness is the biggest blessing because it means I have people who I love and who love me.

11. Baby wipes are precious goods.

12. Food tastes better when you have to spend hours collecting firewood in order to cook it.

13. Not all bees will leave you alone even if you’re still — some are just mean. Bring Benadryl. 

14. Mice can and will chew through almost anything.

15. Climbing Sand Dunes is quite the workout.

16. Donkeys and dogs do NOT get along.

17. Just because it’s not windy when you leave to take the goats out, doesn’t mean your gazebo won’t blow away while you’re gone.

18. Laughing is better than crying, so don’t take things too seriously.

19. White socks + wet sand = sorry, Mom, I’m gonna need new socks.

20. God always uses the uncomfortable moments for His purpose.

Tomorrow morning we are off to our next community—an agricultural resettlement in Northern Namibia—called Queen Sofia. We would love your continued prayers as we transition communities and get used to another new normal. God is moving here in Namibia and I am so very blessed to have the chance to live the local way and be fully immersed in so many new things. Thank you for all of the love and support so far, stay tuned to hear about our adventures up North!

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