Finding God in Africa.
A Slowed Down Life
by Angela Donadio
I have another life. It's a life I love, but not a life I own. It's a borrowed life; borrowed from the African soil.
A rooster unapologetically announces the morning; every waking moment tugging at my arm to take notice. My pace slows with the invitation to linger over home cooked breakfasts and uneven steps warn me to walk cautiously. My eyes absorb markets strewn with yellow bananas, hanging meat, and local wares. Brightly dressed clothes lines embellish the landscape and smoke from cook fires fills the air with the aroma of someone's next meal. The drone of convenience and comfort that normally dulls my senses is replaced by jarring doses of inconvenience and uncertainty, drawing from my dormant reserves of ingenuity and patience.
Patience -- a slowed, different life. Patience when water isn't flowing and a shower becomes an event; when each meal is painstakingly prepared from scratch...freshly cut mango, stewed okra, seasoned rice, cabbage, potatoes with rosemary...selected and served from market to table. Patience when the tilapia served whole must be carefully cut from the bone into succulent pieces of fish. Patience to sip daily homemade masala tea, rich with warm milk and spices. Patience when worship is savored and honored rather than dictated by a clock. Patience when wifi is scarce and conversations about matters of the heart across a dinner table eclipse the addiction to the Internet. Patience when riding in a car driven by someone who is - thankfully - uniquely capable of navigating dirt roads deeply rutted by the African rains.
Patience comes in the tan grass to see if the stealth cheetah will attempt a run at the gazelle. Patience on the Mara River bank to witness thousands of wildebeests and zebras who choose their moment to cross during their migration. "Timing and patience matter." Wise words appropriately spoken by my game drive guide. In a phrase, he summed up the lesson God is teaching me from this trip to Africa.
Patience for someone’s story -- stories that steal my heart. Every corner tells a new story; people whose bravery exceeds any courage I have ever known, and whose prayers reveal a depth of relationship with Jesus I honestly covet.
Livingston, faithfully serving his church, and in turn me, by providing transportation, while believing God to heal his wife from infertility. Each morning drive includes a smile, a kind word, and a gentle nudge to expand my Swahili.
Jane, fighting a difficult battle with heart problems yet designing breathtaking jewelry for God's glory, all at the tender age of eighteen. I'm humbled by her maturity.
Terry, surviving a brutal rape on her wedding day only to tragically lose her husband 29 days after she eventually married. I'm undone by her radiant spirit in the face of such adversity.
I stand in their shadow – in this borrowed life. I borrow their strength, their dignity, their resolve, their tenacity, their wisdom, their beauty. I marvel at the grace God has appointed to them and the anointing that has come at such a price.
This borrowed life pulls me toward patience, mostly with myself. It reminds me to live the life I am given with reckless abandon and ridiculous gratitude; to worship with wholehearted devotion that can only flow from a fully surrendered heart. These borrowed moments press themselves so intensely into my heart I feel as if I cannot breathe. This captivating call has ruined me for a life with any hint of complacency. I can only hope I step into these shoes I have borrowed and walk worthy of all God has allowed me to see.