One of the realities of living here for me is the constant temptation toward discouragement. Wow. Just outside our gate, and sometimes within it, the difficulties here at times feel so pervasive, so systemic, so resistant to change, so complex, and at times, well, so downright irritating.
Slightly funny, minor, and yet true example: We are very blessed with two bathrooms in our home. (In my understanding, most Ugandans don't have running water in their homes.) We also have a shower and Asian-style toilet in the boys' quarters for use by people who work for us. In case that sounds a little too much like The Help, a couple of our kids find it entertaining to use the squatty-potty, and my husband usually showers in the quarters. (And BTW, I do think the guards like not having to bother us to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.) Reason being, that shower, which runs on city water, actually has water pressure: you know, enough to wash shampoo out of your hair, or make you feel like you will truly have less body odor when you get out than when you got in. Our showers in the house have access to our hot water heater (which, incidentally, has a switch so that we can save electricity), but because that tank is in our attic, have about enough pressure to kind of pitifully trickle in an I think I can! manner out of the handheld wand.
So. The Breitensteins hear, hey! Some coworkers had their tank and heater cleaned out, and they got heat and pressure in the same shower. Sweeeeet.
It seemed almost too good to be true after five months of four-minute showers leaving one breathless in the quarters from the uh, exhilarating temperatures.
Our good friend the plumber came. The tank was cleaned. The water was turned on. And...ta-da!
The old pipes burst from the pressure.
Bummer. The mess wasn't accessible through the opening, so tile must be broken--and BTW, no hot water for a few days.
That one wasn't that discouraging. Maybe more eye-rolling! But it is a lighter example of the two-steps-forward, one-step-back realities that hit us much harder when they involve ministry, the nationals we love here, the incessant cultural or developing-nation issues, or just missing family and friends.
Discipleship around the world is S-L-O-W. It is occasionally painful. And when someone signs up for it in a different culture, they're choosing to not only immerse in it, but also to love it, understand it, and root for it (see 1 Corinthians 13:4). I find here that I am constantly struggling, or maybe not struggling near as much as I should, to choose joy and gratitude.
But as I sat in church last Sunday, slumping a little more from weekly discouragement, I believe God brought a timeless reminder. Every toddler wandering around in a dirty shift and bare feet so close to the road, every report of governmental injustice and corruption, every hijab swathing a woman walking by, every report of a doctor giving incorrect and expensive treatment, is an opportunity. It's an opening for hope, for faith, for God's restoration and resurrection of all that's broken around here, or filtering back to me from the States. Jesus wept for the terrible realities around him. But biblically, I believe that He must have mourned with a clear perception of God's sovereignty, His redemption. In fact, He wept right before He raised Lazarus from the dead.
In many ways, it is good for me to be grieved by what is not "on Earth as it is in Heaven" here. But, God seems to be reminding, that needs to be from a heart daily hidden in God and His all-seeing timing and perfection.
I find comfort in the beauty in the parts of the Great Commission that get a little less airtime: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore...And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.