So, here I am. Today marks exactly three months since I arrived in Cape Verde. It is incredible to think back as I sit here and realize that it has been just three months. I have done so many things, and I have learned so much. Even in my first two weeks here I could feel the immense growth in my understanding of what it means to live abroad and to be immersed in another culture.
But, I have not done a great job of sharing these things during the journey thus far. It’s so easy for me to say yes to what seems like a few things and quickly find my self overwhelmed with commitments. I take advantage of everything I can here, and I do so because I want to discover as I can about how I can be used in missions in the future. With this I often find myself pushing aside things that keep me linked to the States.
In my three months here I have been involving myself in a great number things and I have met countless individuals. Also, I have not just stayed in Praia (the capital city of Cape Verde in which I live). I have traveled to Cidade Velha, Ribon Egua, Tarrafal, Pedra Badejo, and São Martinho Pequeno just to name a few cities and zones. Some places I’ve seen as a tourist, studying the way Portugal has left a powerfully placed footprint on the history of this island or seeing how God himself has left his artistry in the crystalline water of white sand beaches. Most places have not been what people might consider postcard-worthy, but they are immensely more beautiful because of the relationships and ministries that God is forming. Take for Ribon Egua for example. It is a small zone in the rural interior of the island where I go with my church to evangelize and teach every Sunday evening. Ribon Egua is not just ruled by the rain (or lack thereof), but also human trafficking and other things that wreck havoc everywhere from the city to the most remote village shack. Still, every time I go to Ribon Egua I am amazed at the beauty of the countryside that lies behind the houses and the gentle, kind people who live inside them. I have seen this place at times through the eyes of a tourist, but I do not just want to settle for that. I want to see this place through the eyes of someone whose heart truly breaks for the people here. I want to invest all I can in this, not so that I can leave here just having had a great experience of an amazing learning opportunity, but so that God can be exalted. I would say that the main thing I have been learning here on mission is that everything I do has to be to honor God. I have to give my best because he gave his life for me so that I would have hope. I will share that hope, but I want to do that without my pride or my personal interests impeding his vision to reach every language, every nation, and every person.
That is why I have been so busy, because I feel urgency beginning to tighten its grip on me as I am approaching the end of the year. Here in Cape Verde the end of the year is such an intense time because people drink, party, and do things they normally would not dare during the other parts of the year. For me, the phrase “end of the year” stops in my throat and sticks as soon as I say the word “end.” Only five months left. Five months until the end. But, it’s not the end, it will just be a transition from one step upwards into another step upwards. I say this with hope that I take advantage of all that I can to here to help me when I go back to the States, and then when I go on to Guinea- Bissau, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Mozambique, or wherever God could lead me.
One of the things I am doing now is still asking questions nonstop trying to learn more Portuguese. Also, today at 4:30 pm I will finish my Creole course. Learning Portuguese and Creole have gone so well. Ridiculously well. So well that I can only give the credit to God. I praise him not only for the gift he gave me, but for the passion that he has given me to learn two of the most helpful things I can use to communicate with the hearts of people here and share the Gospel. I will have to tell you more in future posts about Portuguese and Creole and how infatuated I am with language.
My schedule the whole time have been here has been organized around a kindergarten program my team works with here that is called Pepe. Pepe has went from seeming like one of the hardest, most testing things I have ever done to being one of the most rewarding. I love all of the children, and I look forward to dedicated a post primarily to Pepe to let you all know how great it is. Other things I have been joining include ministries and service opportunities such as Cru at the Universidade de Cabo Verde, which is just like Campus Crusaders in the States. Almost every weekend I teach English at my church’s seminary in a zone called Sao Felipe. I also go to a house in one of my favorite zones called São Martinho Pequeno and I give Bible lessons with Ashlyn and our pastor to our friend Lucidio to disciple him and grow his house church. There are so many things here that I do both with my group and independently. Pepe, Cru, teaching English, planting house-churches, teaching Sunday school, and translating are just a few of the things that I want to dedicate future posts to so that I can explain more of the ins and outs of my experience with Cape Verde and Global Year.
But, my journey here is not all things to do and appointments to be on time for (which is lucky for me because I am rarely on time). I often just grab my bag and go the café nearby to study Portuguese, some bible lessons I might give later in the week, or simply to talk about highs and lows with my friends on the team and the friends I have made here in Cape Verde. God has continued to bless me here moment by moment, in every conversation I have. It is a great privilege because when I was in America that was how I felt God used me the most. Through simply forming relationships and investing in people.
God is maturing me in my faith and my relationships. He is showing me how I can alter my behavior to be a better influence and disciple others. The last 24 hours have been great for me because two of my friends here from Cape Verde, Emerson and Chris, got to come stay at my apartment with two of my friends here in Cape Verde, Isaac and Matthias. We played cards until 1 am and after breakfast this morning we went to the beach to swim in the cold, tranquil water. On the way to the beach, I saw a few people I have briefly met here and was able to chat with them like friends. I crave those kind of relationships and I pray that that way God uses me will continue.
That is also why my prayer is to keep this up. To focus on the relationships I have and invest in them, just as much the ones here as the ones I have in America.
(Photo credits – Matthias Sarrell)