It is the middle of January here in South Africa as it is in other parts of the world however, being the middle of January has a greater meaning here than elsewhere, at least the parts of the world that I am familiar with. Here, the “holidays” are beginning to reach its terminus and things are beginning, although very slowly, to be restored to “normal.” People once more answer their phone, attend their place of employment and, to some extent, stop using the excuse of nothing is happening because of the “holidays.” However, one cannot get overly optimistic, as the drummer here never seems to get in rhythm to the pace you feel you want to set. Angie keeps reminding me that one of the many things I have yet to develop in this mortality is patience. I really do not have a problem with developing patience, I just want it done now.
The bright light in this work is when you see someone rise up out of despair and stretch for that which seems to be beyond their reach. Joy and a sense of great satisfaction comes as one is able to be part of that motivational process that causes a person devoid of hope, to believe in themselves, exert that new found confidence and say, yes, I can do it. As I have mentioned before, we teach workshops that are designed to cause people to see, for perhaps the first time in their lives, the skills and talents that they have. They are then taught how they can utilize those talents and skills to climb out of their current state for that which they have felt was beyond their grasp.
Many times, we have found, the people just need to be able to see themselves in a new light, to know that they have value, to have a belief in themselves that they can succeed. As an example, last week we held a workshop in which a lady in her early fifties attended. In the course of the various tasks that we have them do, we found out that she used to be a manager of a plant nursery and had even achieved an award as an outstanding employee. However, a couple of years ago her husband divorced her and soon thereafter, one of her parents died and then her grandma died. She went into a depressive spiral. She could no longer function in her job and, in her state of sorrow and despair, she quit her job.
After hearing her story and learning of her skills that had become latent, we encouraged her to re-contact her previous employer and inquire about getting her job back. She practically broke out in a nervous sweat talking about it and expressed doubts about herself. We pressed her to make the call, she said she would but would not commit to when she would do it. We knew that was simply a stall and we had to convince her that she could do it, she had the skills necessary for the job, she was a good reliable person and would make anyone a good employee. So, after destroying a number of her excuses, we got her to commit to make the call.
Today we saw her at church and to our (and her) great joy she told us that she had a job. She attributed her success to the fact that, because of our help and persistence, she was able to see herself in a new light – one that was positive, erasing the negatives that had been holding her back. She was happy, almost giddy with excitement. She was so excited that she stood in church and told her story. She will start work next Monday.
Now, several things about this story are important to understand. The first thing is that the Lord expects us to act; we have to do something before he can, or will, help us. That is what self-reliance is all about, doing something to help ourselves. The second thing is trusting that the Lord will assist us in our efforts. We are not here on earth to fail but to succeed. However, He cannot - will not - rob us of our freedom to choose; we have to be willing to take a step into the unknown before our path begins to become illuminated.
Coming home from one of our assignments Saturday, we stopped at a “lion park” near here. The park was interesting, as they always are, but unfortunately, the lions and tigers were all in enclosures. I hope before we leave Africa that we get to see all these animals in their true environment. At one point in our tour, I was reminded of the scripture in the Bible that states that during the millennium, the calf will lie down with the lion. However, in this case there was a man lying down with the lions. The lions appeared to be snoozing and he was nonchalantly petting them.
The highlight of the tour had to be the giraffes; they are such magnificent animals. They exert an air of being in complete control – totally confident about themselves and what they are doing. It is as if they are saying, “I won’t be pushed around, but I also want to be your friend.” Their countenance is one of gentleness, friendliness and inviting. One stood not three feet from our car chewing his cud while gazing at us devoid of any concern.