Bare Feet & Butterflies
We are past due for an update and this one will be interesting. Chris here, being painfully transparent for the remainder of this letter. As I write this, the weather is transitioning. The green we enjoyed for a short time is fleeing and the grass has grown brittle under our feet. Our village seems to have gained some type of magnetism for the cloud cover and we are all beginning to add layers.
The loneliness of winter is eminent.
As many of you know, our family was so excited to receive a visit from Eddie and Maggi Passmore. For those of you who don’t know, the Passmores are friends and fellow “field workers” from CEBC, our home church in San Diego. Their field of harvest is in Mexico. We had a wonderful time with them and we are confident that even though their visit in the village was short, they got a good picture of what life here is like and the difficulties we face as we traverse these mountains and valleys. For those of you in the Southern California region, Eddie and Maggi will be representing G8 at CEBC’s Missions Update on Sunday April 29th at 6pm. They took lots of pictures and video (including the kids and me driving on our “driveway”).
The additional purpose of their visit was to speak words of encouragement to our Lesotho team at our yearly retreat. God prepared Eddie so well for what he presented. Many of the team members have commented after that it was just what they needed. Thank you, Passmore’s for the blessing you have been! Thank you, to those folks who helped with the financing of their travels.
You too are a blessing to us!
That brings me to the moment of transparency and what God has spoken to my heart. On the second day of our team retreat, Eddie had a form of sorts that he asked us to take to a solitary place and have a directed quiet time with God. Two and a half hours were set aside for this time. He encouraged complete silence – no singing or praying out loud – just quiet listening. For the majority of the group, it was a rough start settling in to solitude but in the end it was rewarding. For some the allotted time proved too short. This was much needed time for people who are bombarded with needs and wants and visits and everything else that comes with living in another context.
One part of the quiet time was to find an object – a rock, stick, flower or anything and hold it in my hand. This found object was to represent something that I need to say “no” to. I found an interesting rock, part stone on one side and sparkly crystal on the other. It glistened in the sunshine as I pondered what I need to say no to. I prayed. I considered the last 7 months and my struggles here in Lesotho.
I asked God. “What is it? What do I need to say “no” to?”
Quietly, He said, “Control.”
“I know- huh. Control. Ugh. Control of anything in particular?” I pondered.
“Oh. Everything. Whew! Don’t know how this will work, but I know that You are right.”
As I contemplated and prayed, I walked far down a rocky dirt road. On this day, I looked nice – very put together – aqua and gray striped v-necked “t” shirt with matching gray shorts in my new slimmer size. “Very sharp!” they say here. I walked further and the next step was to get rid of the object. I prayed and asked God, “What do you want me to do with this little shimmering creation?” If I throw it, I am controlling it. If I bury it I am controlling it. What? Now, this went on for some time. How do I give my control to Him?
“Build an altar.” He said.
“What?! I’ll get dirty! I look so nice – OK, OK.”
So, I stopped and started gathering rocks of various sizes, tossing them to the side of the road. When I had several, I kneeled into the dirt and started stacking the rocks into a mound. Thinking, all the while, “If anybody sees me they will think I am nuts.” I continued shifting them so they fit nicely together. When they were stacked, they rose to about 15” above the ground. I was now dirty. I prayed over my little rock and placed it onto the top of the altar.
It sparkled proudly – just like control does.
I turned and began my walk up the rocky road.
“Take off your sandals.” He said.
“What? But my feet are clean and I’m already dirty enough.” I protested.
“Take them off.”
“UGH. I can’t do this. It will hurt. This road is too hard and rocky. I’ve gone too far. Please no.”
“Take off your sandals and walk.”
I took off my sandals. I walked and it hurt. I never walk barefooted even inside. My sandals wait for me at my bedside and at the shower edge. My feet don’t get dirty. I hobbled up the road and then He said, “This road is Molumong, Lesotho. It will hurt. It will be lonely. It is dirty business and you will get hurt, be lonely and get dirty.”
“But, I look like an idiot. I can’t even walk right. UNDIGNIFIED! I cried.” Then, I cried because it hurt. It hurt in more ways than you know.
“Be undignified – for ME.”, He said.
As I continued limping up the road, there in front of me lay a beautiful, but dead butterfly – His creation. I picked it up and held it in my palm. Beautiful yes, but dead.
HE whispered, “The Basotho are my beautiful creation. They are dying. Be hurt. Be undignified for them and for me.”
Ok, everybody take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. The story continues.
As we ate our last breakfast with the Passmores before their flights home, Eddie asked, “What do you want the family at home to know?” We want you to know that we are doing well but that doing well is still hard and it hurts sometimes. We miss. We hope. We remember. We look forward. That afternoon, we said, “See you later!” at the airport. Now, they are back with you.
When we returned to Molumong, there was trouble. Someone had stolen items from our home. Nothing big, they seemed to be somewhat selective in their theft and adding to the bad situation, it appears to have been an “inside job. “ But the most painful thing taken was trust. I have stewed with sadness, anger and hurt these last few days. Stewing is not pretty.
Today, I went for my morning run – it’s my time to process with God. As I reviewed the last few days, I considered all of the things I could do to control the situation. I have already changed the locks and added additional security but it doesn’t feel right. I have reviewed all of the times when people told us this place is safe and that we can leave our doors unlocked, that the Basotho are trustworthy. I have supposed all of the ways I can put folks in their place or bring them to their knees in guilty repentance.
Then, as I ran back towards home, a butterfly flew across my path…
Chris & Michelle Gennaro
Serving with Africa Inland Mission