If someone were to ask me, "What is the hardest part of living in Zambia? What is your greatest challenge?" I would definitely say that it is church. Ask anyone who has lived overseas for longer than, say, 6 months, and they just might agree.
New Day Church is in the process of building, so we are meeting on the corner of the property in a large shelter. The shelter has a dirt floor, and the wind blows and blows in August, so after about 5 minutes at church we are COVERED in dirt. I wish I had taken a picture of my kids today - dirt all over their faces - everywhere! I wanted to take a shower right when I got home! On top of that, we have new "seats" at church. These are logs cut from trees that are about 8 inches off the ground. Everyone looks around when they get to church to try to find the flattest log to sit on! When we get there, we sing a few songs (in Tonga), and then we open the Tonga hymnbook and sing. Then it's time for Sunday School, where we stay seated on the logs. After that, us Americans beg for a song we can sing standing up to give our bodies a break! We then have "testimonies", "special songs," and the offering. It's then back to the logs for another hour of preaching (it takes longer because of the use of interpreters).
I walked home (1/2 mile) today alone, because I stayed for a women's meeting after church. I admit I was struggling. The filth covering my body, my very sore bottom, and just walking away wondering, "Did I really worship?" Some days are hard. Suddenly, I heard a sound, and I knew EXACTLY what it was...it was the sound of a huge dust storm (dirt devil as we call them in Texas). My eyes widened, and I just KNEW God was sending this storm after me to punish me for my thoughts about church! I walked faster, trying to beat it home, frequently looking behind me to see where it was. It finally caught up to me and blew past, with me just catching the outskirts. I held my long skirt and squeezed my eyes shut, grateful it had "missed" me.
Just then, a scripture came to mind. I knew God was speaking to me. "Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper."
God was at church this morning at New Day. Dust was blowing, the logs were uncomfortable, the singing wasn't in my heart language, but He was there. He was waiting to meet with me, but I was too worried about my comfort. He was at your church this morning too, no matter where you worship or what it looks like. His whisper after the windstorm reminded me and convicted me that it is an absolute privilege to worship God every Sunday here at New Day in Zambia.