We’ve had such a strange time since our return to Zimbabwe 5 weeks ago. It’s been the most uncomfortable few weeks since we first arrived. Our challenges have mounted due to visas, new children at school, finances, electricity (serious lack of), water shortages, the hot weather and other things. The thing is though God has richly supported us through these 5 weeks. We’re stronger because of it And I think that’s because we are uncomfortable.

When I think about it it is because God hasn’t wanted me to be comfortable. My relationship with Him is always stronger if I’m finding things difficult. For example back in the summer of 2008 I made a decision to go back to uni to complete my degree, I felt God tell me it would be hard and I would find it difficult but that he’d support me and I trusted in Him. Over that next 12 months I got my degree, my finances were in order and I had a stable girlfriend who I knew I wanted to be my wife one day. It would have been easier for me to stay in Oxfordshire and give up on the degree but God wanted me challenged, he believed I could do it and He rewarded me.

Another example of finding things difficult and succeeding has been found with this project. I won’t detail the things we’ve achieved by the grace of God in the last few months but they’ve exceeded our expectations. We exceed our expectations as well because I’m not sure if I really believed we’d have been the success we have been. God has blessed us even more when we’ve felt uncomfortable.

Below are 6 things about my life that I don’t find easy but find incredibly enjoyable about my life:

1) Living in Harare- London is full of culture, eateries, drinkeries, sports and cinemas and life in Zimbabwe is much slower and more mundane. I’m growing to love the slower pace of life.

2) Dealing with a different culture- Particularly with being on time or ‘saving face’ rather than saying what you mean, Shona culture can be a struggle. But like number one, I actually love the fact there is less pressure on timing here.

3) Being the bosses- In my last job I worried about my classroom and my kids and my work load and trust me that was enough but here we’re reliant on for everything. I vow now never to complain about a boss ever again.

4) Teaching pre school aged children- Everyone I worked with had a little chuckle to themselves when I said I was dropping down to teach reception and I know why. I’m a duck out of water but I’d feel confident that if Ofsted worked in Zimbabwe I’d be given a “good”

5) Constant hot weather- I’m not a sun worshipper or a tanner- I burn A LOT!! ….Enough said…

6) Being away from family and friends- I miss everyone a lot.

7) Being part of an African Pentecostal church – I wouldn’t say I have a denomination. I’m a christian. That’s it. I’ve loved every church I’ve been too for its own way of worshipping and experiencing God but our church has to be the craziest I’ve ever been to. It’s such a challenging environment to be in. Sunday services which last 5 hours, 3 mid week meetings and prayer retreats. Admittedly we don’t attend nearly everything but our church here certainly doesn’t always make me feel comfortable.

Without God I would probably have never chosen this path for my life. But I’m glad God told me what to do because He knows me better than I know myself. Because He chose a path for me where I can do good for other people whilst I grow closer to Him.

When I was a little boy my mum told me I’d stamp my feet and throw my cricket bat or kick the goalpost if something was hard. I’d just give up. I’m glad I’m not a giver-upper as an adult because the challenges of the past few weeks and years would have certainly floored me.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I believe i’ve had quite a few WOW moments in between the challenges that are there to encourage me. Firstly we’ve been able to do up our house a little and make it more like a home. Secondly we bought a generator to make our life easier so we can now have some tv and lights on. Finally, today my class showed some amazing progress in addition- they were little superstars and I couldn’t have been prouder. We have also received word of 3 visitors between now and christmas, so have much to look forward to.

What I’ve learnt from my challenges is that God just has high expectations of us. He believes we can do things that we don’t believe we can. The head teacher I used to work for challenged me to challenge myself as much as I challenged the children in my class. One day I told her I couldn’t do it and she simply said: “Greg, firstly I wouldn’t have employed you if I didn’t believe you could and secondly if you believe you are much more likely to succeed” I admire her today for what she said to me and I think that is how God feels with us. He gave us a mission to complete, when it’s hard he’ll help us to achieve it. Not merely change the goalposts and lower His expectations. I think God wants Mabelreign, Harare to have an outstanding pre-school and that is why we won’t be leaving here until we are done. The challenges I have mentioned will not stop us from achieving our goals, they will just make our achievements all the more rewarding.

To finish I’ll illustrate (as I often would) with a sport related question: If you’ve played a game in the past and won, is an easy victory from start to finish more enjoyable than one where you snatch a last minute victory from the jaws of defeat? For me the last minute winning goal in a 3-2 win when you were down 2-0 has always given better feelings than the easy 3-0 win.

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