Its impossible for me to put my full experience in Pemba here on this blog because its simply unexplainable, but im going to attempt to give you at least a peak into what happened to me while I was there. Before I begin I must say that the tone of my blog has to change because I have changed so much. I need to write from a more genuine and raw place without fear of judgment or having to wonder what is “appropriate” or not. This blog is my way of documenting my journey into His heart and as you read it and when I read it I want it to be the real story, not a censored one. So here we go!”
Hmmm… what do I even say? Ok, so I spent 3 months in the rurals. I lived a very basic simple life. I lived on a missions base and attended a missions school with 299 other fiery lovers of Jesus. From all outside appearances life was very basic. I lived in a tiny room with 7 other girls. If we all were standing in our room at the same time we were very crowded. There was barely enough room for all of our beds to fit. We had to walk out side to get to our bathroom and kitchen. Our bathroom had 4 toilets and 3 working showers. We shared these between 32 girls. However, there was almost never an issue with the showers or toilets being full when someone wanted to use them because we barely ever had running water so showers were a rare luxury and many times it was better to just go poop in a latrine (hole in the ground) than in the toilets because the toilets were full of numerous peoples poop piled on top of each other. The only way to flush when there was no running water was to go haul water from the well which was hard and no one ever wanted to do that so they just left their poop sitting in the toilet waiting for someone else to do the dirty work. Since we barely ever had running water for showers when I got really dirty and just had to clean myself I took bucket showers. However, we were even careful about how many bucket showers we took because if we ran out of showering water (we filled empty water bottles when the running water was on to save for showering when the water was off) again we had to go all the way to the well to haul it. So, I know you all are expecting me to say that the most spiritually enlightening part of my experience was seeing the deaf hear or food multiply or hundreds of people coming to Jesus, but it wasn’t. All of those things were wonderful. But the most spiritual things I did in Pemba was be dirty and smelly and sweaty for days at a time and then haul water from the well to take a “shower” in a bucket with one and a half bottles of cold water. That came second only to the even more spiritual experience of flushing others peoples poop with buckets of water that splashed everywhere as I tried to pour it down with enough force to push all the poop down so that I can use the toilet, or pooping in a whole in a smelly latrine as cockroaches crawled passed my toes and I tried to hold my breath because the stench was almost unbearable.
Why were these seemingly horrendous experiences the so called “most spiritual ones”? Well, because I hated them. I absolutely hated them. And because I hated them so much they made me cling on to Jesus for dear life. I know this sounds dramatic, but im being serious. Being dirty is not something that im accustomed to growing up in the States. In America, where I am from, we cover up dirtiness. We cover up anything unpleasant or messy or smelly. This applies to the inside and the outside of ourselves. We take showers daily and use nice smelly lotions and perfumes. Our bathrooms, yes BATHROOMS are spotless and smell like flowers, literally. We chew nice smelling chewing gum. We have vacuum cleaners to clean our floors, dishwashers to wash our dishes, even car washes to wash our cars. Where I grew up it was totally possible to just avoid or cover up anything that is messy or smelly or dirty. Because of this external behavior I had adapted the same principle to the inside of me, and I think most (not all) people that grew up in similar ways have done the same thing. We learn to be “polite” and “pleasant” and present ourselves well. We dare not let others see how much of a mess we really are inside. That would just be awkward and inappropriate. So we cover it up and spray on some perfume and continue trying to be perfect. Well at least that’s what I always did.
However, being in such exposed and raw situations such as the ones I explained above with the shower and toilets opened my eyes to see that without Jesus im actually just a stinky smelly mess. I have no patience without Him. I have no love without Him. I have no grace without Him. Actually, without Him I would probably find the girls who left their poop in the toilets and say some really horrible things to them that would make them feel like maggots. Honestly, without Him that’s what im like. I had to face that. I had to face the fact that without Him I think im too good to have to fetch my own water for a shower. Cant I just pay someone to do that?
There were many times where I would look down at myself and see how brown and white my feet were (brown from all the dirt and white from being so dry), how tattered and ugly my clothes were… I’d look at all the sweat spots in my shirt and the stains from dirt and food spills and kids urine and other things that just wouldn’t come out from my hand washing and I would just want to cry… ok sometimes I did I cry. Because I realized that I looked just like the people around me. The poor people. I never realized this, but all my life I thought I was better than them. I thought I was too good to wear a shirt with stains and holes in it. I liked to wear outfits that matched and looked cute to me. I thought I was too good to be one of those people who you walk by and think “eeeeewwwww”. Somewhere along the way I learned that I am better than others and I have the perfume, body lotion, and outfit that matches to prove it! How wrong I was. Not being able to shower properly or use a clean bathroom taught me what love looks like. Im not saying that love looks like being poor and dirty (although sometimes for a season it does). Im saying that loves look like seeing and feeling. I learned to see the poor and to feel compassion for them in Mozambique. I know many of you are probably thinking “Brittanie, you already did that!” But no. I didn’t. I didn’t see them. I saw their situations and threw some dollars or a hot meal at it. I never really put aside my position to get low and see each one. Before I always felt sympathy for the situation of the poor, but at Iris I learned to feel love for the individual person.
As am writing about the poor id like to point out that im not just talking about the physically poor. Even though we were living surrounded by the poorest of the poor and doing everyday life with them there were also 299 other students that I lived on the same compound with that obviously weren’t too “poor” because they made it from their nation to Mozambique and was able to pay tuition etc. In fact, by my standard some of these people were physically rich. But living among the poor and getting low and becoming like little children and seeing them and feeling genuine love and compassion actually revealed the spiritual poverty in each of us. It revealed how lacking we really are without Jesus. It revealed that we only can love because of Him. We can only hold a baby sick with scabies and not catch it because of Him. We can only visit an old lonely granny in her mud hut because of Him. We can only forgive a child who stole our camera or purse or flip flops and then turned around and asked for money for food because of Him. Without Him we have no love or compassion or patience or desire for good. All good comes from Jesus. This is what I understand spiritual poverty to be, total dependence on Jesus. Because our poverty and the poverty of our classmates and the poverty of the local people were revealed to us and we finally saw, excepted and embraced it we saw the kingdom of heaven break out just like Math 5:3 promises. (Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven). Again I want to reiterate that when I use the word poverty I am speaking of a spiritual poverty which recognizes that without Jesus you can do nothing. I’m not saying that we all need to be poor. Physical poverty is not our inheritance.
What did the kingdom of heaven breaking out look like? RICHES! Our true inheritance! It looked liked supernatural grace for all of us to get along and love each other even when it was hard. It looked like victory over anger and offense. It looked like amazing miracles such as the deaf people receiving their hearing, blind people receiving their sight, food multiplication, money falling from heaven, people sick and stuck in bed suddenly getting up and walking, crossed eyes becoming straight, a swollen lip shrinking, witchdoctors being set free, thousand coming to the love of Jesus, and many many more. The most obvious thing it looked like was JOY. I mean, we were so insanely happy haha. I laughed more in those 3 months than I have laughed in my entire life. We were full of joy when we were full and when we were hungry, when we were sick and when we were well. The physically rich were full of joy. The physically poor were full of joy. The adults were full of joy. The kids were full of joy. People with parents were full of joy. Children who were orphaned were full of joy. I cant even explain it. We would spend hours per day LAUGHING! The kingdom looked like fullness of joy, and that is true riches! We were so satisfied in His presence. We lived a very simple life so all the things that I usually do when im bored or want a thrill I couldn’t do. God is what we did all the time lol. It was so fun. When were bored we worshiped God. When we wanted a thrill or to throw a wild party, we did! In God! We didn’t have all the other stuff. Like, at any time of the day I would just stop what I was doing and sit and take a drink of the Holy Spirit and get totally wasted and that was totally okay. In fact it was normal. We had a 3 month long joy filled, crazy, drunken, Holy Spirit love party! It was like heaven.