Often, it is the weary and worn out veterans of African who always say that you wont change Africa, but it will in turn change you.

It wasn’t until today that I think this statement really hit home for me. Here I am drinking tea with a lumber contractor trying to figure out why more than half of our machinery is in the maintenance shop, everything is broken, guys wont work for any incentive and basically – we are just frustrated. But it wasn’t my weariness and frustration that struck a chord and brought Africa close – it was the biscuit in my hands.

As I went to dip my biscuit in my tea, I noticed that it was infested with ants – on the outside and surely on the inside. After 2 months of coping with bugs and insects everywhere, sure enough – I didn’t care enough to not eat it. I ate the whole thing without even caring. Imagine me sitting at starcbucks trying to pull that off.

What I love about Africa is that it will expose you to yourself like nothing I have experienced before. It surely is not for the weary of heart. I am tired, broken and feel like a failure in many ways. Everything is so difficult here. Even as I sit here and write, we battle for power as the village lights flicker on and off. The phones have been down for days and the rains are wreaking havoc on our village, transportation and businesses.

I am never going to make it without the grace, patience and love on such a level that only Christ can provide. I feel I have been broken by the very place which I came with so many ideals for.

In Africa I have learned – never look up. As I worked on the Community Development Plan often I would have to spot-check buildings for potential use. The rule of thumb is what you don’t know, wont hurt you. So when you walk in an abandoned building, don’t look up. You are better off not knowing the spiders above or the snakes resting. Such a common phrase for us now – “Just don’t look up”.

But the more I think about it, I realize it has a deeper meaning. As soon as we start feeling we are making a difference or that things are changing – it is not long before everything goes to hell again. Our project is imbedded with problems – our electricity is outdated and shaky, our sewage is dilapidated, and trying to start a business is more work than just about any other project I have been involved with. In a country with nearly 45% unemployment why on the 1st of each month, most workers just stay home because they just got paid.

My point though is that too often “us”, those who are “Agents of Valor” – we come to Africa on our high horse thinking we will save a life or impart new thinking into a “traditional culture”. Well that is not going to work and it will actually cause more damage to the point that we should just go home. I have seen it too often out here when teams come out for a few weeks – I have slowly developed a chip on my shoulder.

As I look at the last 5 years of my life, it is the same with my spiritual journey. I thought I had it all figured out and “the truth was made evident”. Was I ever wrong and still, 5 years later spending time deconstructing.

That is exactly what needs to happen. Spiritually many times our institutions have built these high ivory towers of knowledge that we will simply spend lifetimes deconstructing. Same with Africa, once you get out into the real war, all that academic jargon gets thrown out the door and it will deconstruct you.

Don’t look up and build your little knowledge tower, it has to come down sometime.

The Lord loves this continent and these people – only he can change that which happens here and that which deconstructs my life, mentally and spiritually.