Comfort Zones

JULY 2017

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by Paige Wenta Paige was a member of the 6-Month Africa IMMERSION team in 2017. This is a story from her team's time in the kingdom of Lesotho.

Have you ever felt out of your comfort zone? Imagine suddenly you’re surrounded by people who don’t speak your language. Maybe people begin to exchange funny glances with you. This became my reality on April 13. My home stay in Ha-Beka, a true, remote African village began that day, and if I’m being honest, I felt like a fish out of water.

My teammate Melody and I were welcomed home by the slaughtering of a chicken, that we proceeded to eat in its entirety, intestines and all. Following this, we met the chief of the village, along with several other members of the community. Each tried to start a conversation with us in Sesotho, in which we quickly realized that our generic phrases of “Hello” and “How are you?” would only carry us so far. Our blank stares must have spoken to this as each politely smiled and stopped attempting to talk with us. By the end of the day, I was exhausted. Everything was unfamiliar, including even basic tasks such as going to the bathroom and washing our hands. I quickly became bogged down by it all and wondered what exactly what I had gotten myself into.

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When I went to bed that night in our new home, the rain water began to leak through the tin roof into my sleeping bag. By 3:00am, the roosters had begun to crow, and it was time to start another day. While lying there quietly, waiting for the rest of the room to wake up, I read part of Life Is ____________: Forty-Day Experience by Judah Smith. On this particular day, the devotional was speaking about troubled times in our lives. It mentioned how “Often we think that peace and tranquility will come when our troubles disappear.” But, a few lines later, he mentions “Our physical, literal situation doesn’t have to change in order for us to find rest and safety. We have a spiritual rock who is with us wherever we go.”

Instantly, I felt comforted. I was reminded of a verse I had so quickly forgotten, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you WHEREVER you go.” (Joshua 1:9).

Even in the mountain villages of Lesotho—a country I am certain more than half of the world has not even heard of—God was with me.

He cared about my anxious heart and concerns, however silly they may have seemed. Because these things mattered to me, they mattered to Him. This alone changed my whole perspective on our home stay.

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Now that’s not to say that everything instantly got better. There were still long, challenging days full of foreign conversations and unfamiliar activities. The language of Sesotho still didn’t make sense to me, and I spent many hours each day simply trying to have a human connection with someone. In all of this though, I experienced joy and happiness too. I got to be part of beautiful moments; moments where the Basotho people would carry my backpack for me, or offer to guide me down a trail by holding my hand, or purchase a snack for me with the last of their money. We were greeted by our host sister every afternoon saying, “they are so beautiful,” as Melody and I descended into the village. I got to share in many laughs as I, the white American girl, attempted to play the Basotho games with the village children. In these times, I saw a glimpse of God’s glory.

Regardless of the fact that the Basotho people and I came from what seemed like opposite ends of the Earth, God was with us both. He loved us both. I think He watched and smiled while looking down from up above, proud of His creation. While not every day in Ha-Beka was easy, every day had something good in it. God had met me where I was, and truly helped "lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). He alone was my refuge and strength during this time, and for that, I am eternally grateful. While my troubles did not disappear, God certainly did appear in a very real way.

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To finish, I am thankful for: the Basotho people and the hospitality they have shown me the past two weeks, the opportunity to stretch myself outside of my “comfort zone” and what God revealed to me through this time, and the modern-day amenities that I have become accustomed to (electricity, running water, etc.) but have learned that I can live without.

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