Except when I’m not….

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This week I was reflecting on the Dr. Zeus book “Oh the places you’ll go” . Particularly the page that says:

“Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best,

Whenever you go you will top all the rest,

EXCEPT WHEN YOU DON’T,

BECAUSE, SOMETIMES YOU WONT”

I realised that its easy to write only about the times where I think I am the ‘best of the best’. I want to write of my victories and successes and so that you think I am strong, in everything I do. And there is a space for this, for I am sometimes blessed with victories, successes and sometimes these things make me feel strong.

But, my life is also filled with what I would name ‘except-when-I-don’t’ moments. Moments when I didn’t feel strong, when I am not victorious and when I am not successful. Moments when I am not social, energetic or excited. Moments when I am not calm, independent or coping with responsibility. Moments when I am not confident, adventurous and capable.

My Mum’s hypothesis is that the anxiety epidemic sweeping this generation is connected the us being very achievement oriented. I wonder if she is right and I think we see this in our presentation of ourselves, particularly in media. We post our successes that make us strong like when we get promotions at work, go on daring adventures, climb mountains, reach significant life-milestones, make new friends and master new hobbies.

Except sometimes we wont….. and how do we tell these stories?

I think our social media representation has an impact on how we view and tell our stories to each other. But I also wonder about what we tell ourselves. Do we tell ourselves when we wake everyday:

“Wherever I go I WILL be the best of the best?”

“Wherever I go, I WILL top the rest?”

Do we tell ourselves:

“I WILL always be strong and successful?”

Do we have space to accept that maybe today we wont, because maybe sometimes we don’t.

When I read the bible I see it full of the ‘except when we don’t’ moments. When followers of Jesus WEREN’T rich, WEREN’T loyal, WEREN’T right, WEREN’T popular, WEREN’T strong and WEREN’T successful in their mission.

In the book of Corinthians, Paul says that he has much he could boast about. In the words of Dr Zeus, Paul basically says ‘wherever I’ve flown, I’ve been the best of the best, wherever I’ve gone, I’ve been top of the rest’.

But then he says ‘except when I don’t, because, sometimes I wont’ and then he says ‘these are the only times I will talk of, for these times are when God HAS. He says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power in made perfect in your weakness’.

Not only does the bible call us to not focus on the moments of success and strength. It tells us that our ‘except when we don’t’ moments are the ones in which God reveals his extravagant strength.

My hope is that we might accept and relish our ‘except when we don’t’ stories, as the moments that God reveals His strength.

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Why I don’t hate Malawi. 

I love Malawi. I really do. But like any place made up of broken people, it is flawed and has parts that are very unlovable.

It can be very easy to hate Malawi. By hate, I mean let frustration and challenging experience breed bitterness and hardness in our hearts that leaves us harbouring hurt and blame on a country.
I know people of all nationalities (including Malawian) who have hatred for Malawi. I had hatred for Malawi, until I realised, I don’t hate Malawi. I hate how Malawi reflects and highlights my own brokenness. I hate my sin, which is the same sin as the one that makes Malawi broken. That makes the world broken.

 
The first thing that happed last week that made me realise that I don’t hate Malawi was that Roger Federer came to town, for 1 day. I am a HUGE Roger fan. But it irritated me that we would give him such press and reward for the donation of what is in reality a very small portion of his income and time. I hated Malawi for its inclination to give such attention to someone not because of their service, but because of their position.

Then I realised, this irritates me because for some reason in my arrogant heart, I was jealous. Jealous for myself who invests my life here. And jealous for the servant-hearted teachers and workers who will invest their lives, at very high cost into children towards the future of this country. I feel that I have the power to prescribe the reward that is deserved from generosity.

Jesus said ‘store treasure in heaven’ suggesting that we will probably not know the rewards of generosity until we meet that heaven. Whether we’re giving a multi-million donation to a personally named aid fund, or MKW500 ($1). God will prescribe and determine the reward deserved by such generosity.
I found further reason from Roger’s visit to hate Malawi- when it saddened me that he contributed millions of dollars towards building children’s centres, and still the staff of those centres are advocating for reasonable wages. For all his fame, fortune and power, he cannot fix this issue that is poverty, sin and inequality. This poverty will persist, not because of lack of resource, but because of greedy hearts that will hoard, steal and control this resource in ways that do not promote generous distribution.

I realised that for some reason in my arrogant heart, I still think that we will fix this alone. That is we have enough resource and fame and privilege we will be able to lift this terrible burden. This is an issue that starts in our own hearts.
Poverty will not be history until Jesus makes it so. In his book ‘Blue like Jazz’ Don Miller summed this up.

“ I think that every living person, ever person who is awake to the functioning principles within his reality has a moment where he stops blaming the problems in the world on group thinking, on humanity and authority, and starts to face himself. I hate this more than anything. This is the hardest principle within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there, the problem is the needy beast of a thing, living in my chest” Don Miller.

I was provoked again towards hating Malawi when I found myself in a situation with an associate, who reaps reward, despite evidencing very poor work ethic. I became frustrated and wanted to declare ‘who are you to receive reward’. In some Malawian work contexts it can become a dominant cultural norm for work ethic to be poor, though I know this not to be true for all Malawian people.

For some reason in my arrogant heart, I feel that I have right to determine what others deserve based on their works. The thing is that some days my work ethic is not honouring of God either. Whilst I would love to say that my careers, opportunities and privileges are exclusively because of the hard work I have put in. It would be a lie. I have amazing had gifts bestowed upon me including my birthplace, my high-quality education, my interest-free University-loan and my access to technology and information to name a few.

My salvation is not based on my works, but on the gift of faith, which God has freely given and I have freely received. I do not believe poor-work ethic is excusable and I believe we must challenge each other and speak truth into each other’s lives to ‘spur each other on’.

Simultaneously, as a heart that stands on the foundation of free-grace, it is hypocritical of me to point at colleagues and suppose I can determine what others deserve based on their works.

Then, after this week of warring between the revelation of Gods-grace and my inclination to be bitter and hateful towards Malawi, my experience peaked when
   

 
I went to the Department for Road traffic to get my Australian licence converted to a Malawian licence. After some hours of waiting, I was informed that the application I submitted 6 months ago was wrongly processed and I would have to start over again. Additionally, the cost of an International conversation has gone up 4 times since that previous application and I would have to pay that.
In Malawi sometimes the complexity and brokenness of the systems make it easier and cheaper to do the wrong thing. For example, for the cost of converting my licence I could get fined 9 times for not converting my licence. Alternately I could just lie to police men and declare that I am always newly arrived. I am sad to say that my arrogant and broken-heart is inclined towards this option. Which made me realise that it is easy to hate Malawi for making this option blantant and obvious. But isn’t this just a reflection of the state of our hearts?

It is not only Malawi that makes the wrong thing the easier option. In my experience, it is always easier to lie than to face truth. It is always easier to steal than to earn. It is easier to ignore painful truth than face it. It is my nature.
It is not Malawi that I hate. It is sin that I hate. It is my own sin that is reflected in and provoked by my surroundings. The arrogance, pride, self-righteousness and greed that I show in how I respond to and treat others, especially when I am in a cultural-context I may not understand.

In Matthew 5 Jesus said

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”

When he said ‘mourn’, He meant ‘to mourn sin’. I want to challenge anyone who has ever hated their country, or the system they work or live within, to stop and consider why you hate that country or system. I suspect what you will also find is that you do not hate that country. You hate how that country reflects and provokes your worst nature.

I find that if you get to the root of it, you will find that you don’t hate that country. You mourn your sin.

You. Will. Be. Comforted.

I’m Travelling to see God’s Image

Travelling has changed for me. I no longer so much desire to tour places, see building or landscapes. And I think the book of Genesis suggests why when after 6 days of creating earth, God created man.
“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, ….” (‭Genesis‬ ‭1‬:‭26‬ NIV)
And this is what I would say about my travels over the last few months:

the new stadium lilongwe

God made Lilongwe and it was dusty and alive and it was good.
 

view from zomba plateau

 
God made Zomba and it was a little magical and elevated and it was good 
 

cardiff tulip garden

 
And then God made Cardiff and it was cultured and energetic and it was good.

 

a field in the cotswolds

 
And then God made the Cotswolds and they were open and quaint and they were good.
  

trafalgar square london

And then God made London and it was old and new and it was good.
God made people and they were VERY good. These cities, countries and places were made by God. But these people were made in His image.
These people welcomed me into their houses and showed Gods character of hospitality.
They shared their resources with me and showed Gods generosity 
We talked late into the night and told stories of Gods salvation in our lives, revealing His faithful nature. 
They laughed with me and showed Gods humour.
Thanks to the people who have welcomed and loved me in such a way that they have revealed the image of the creator.

 

 

 
 
 

Kate Loveday is coming back to Malawi

coming back

I’m excited to be *officially* announcing that I will be coming back to live and work in Malawi from July 2015!

Some of the amazing things I’ve seen God do in the last 18 months of life in Malawi are:
*Build deep and authentic relationships with colleagues and friends through ministry and work
*Allow me to be part of the progress with the OT Association of Malawi towards the goal of starting a Course in Occupational Therapy at the College of Medicine in 2020
*Gain skills and knowledge as we’ve serviced children with all types of disabilities at Sandi Rehabilitation
*See Gods Kingdom come in intimate and real ways in different peoples lives in my bible study group and leadership at Flood Church

I’m thankful for your prayers and investment in my work in Malawi so far.

Travel Plans?

⇒ I will be in the UK between May 12th and 24th.

⇒ Then in Australia between May 25th and June 30th.

⇒ I will return to Malawi in July.

⇒I hope to get the opportunity to present at a Regional Occupational Therapy Conference in Uganda in September.

work AND ministry? (You can click on the highlighted words above to learn more about what I do in each of these!)

I will be working 4.5 days a week as a Centre Manager and Occupational Therapist for Sandi Rehabilitation.

I will continue to act as the Secretary of the OT Association of Malawi

I will be committing my other 0.5 day of the working week to my leadership role at Flood Church, where I oversee the ‘Relationships’ ministry, share in the teaching team and offer oversight to the Growth Group (bible study) ministry.

 

FINANCIAL SUPPORT:

I am seeking financial support and prayer support as I come back. I will be working for a local salary and seeking supplementary financial support towards my ongoing church ministry and work in the health field.

The financial support I gain will be towards my:

  • Return flights
  • International Health and Travel Insurance
  • Visa costs

If you are interested in financially supporting my work you can do so through PayPal by clicking on this link.

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Or if you’re not familiar with PayPal or for a breakdown of where the finances I’m raising are going you can email Kate.loveday@gmail.com.

PRAYER SUPPORT:

If you would like to receive regular updates to be offering ongoing prayer support you can click on the ‘follow this blog’ button above or email me for monthly updates.

Oscar-Zebron Appreciation Day

A while ago I posted about people who inspire and encourage me in my life in Malawi. There are many people.

An absolute stand-out from these people and someone I did not include in that post is Oscar Zebron. I did not include him, because even a post of his own cannot suffice for my appreciation and admiration of this man.

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Since meeting Oscar a little over a year ago we have led our bible study together, traveled together, shared the organization of his Chinkhoswe together, watched football together, been to many wedding and Chinkhoswe’s and had many deep chats.

Oscar is a truth-speaking person and makes those around him better people for it. His motto is ‘mostly truth with a little grace’. Oscar has encouraged me with his perseverance, commitment and passion for his work helping youth. He inspires me in his love for Ally; his fiancé and their example of Godly love. He has encouraged me in his commitment to his faith and his love for God’s word. He challenges me to be intentional and Godly in the places where Im sloppy. He tries valiantly, but unsuccessfully to keep my car clean.

My life in Malawi would have been very different indeed, if it weren’t for this man (and his beautiful fiancé)

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Happy Birthday Oscar!

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When Christmas Spirit is messy painting on the wall.

I read a blog this morning that profoundly changed my perspective on Christmas Spirit. (http://www.flowerpatchfarmgirl.com/2014/12/when-youre-not-merry-yet.html?m=1)

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Over the last 5 years Christmas looks different for me every year and ‘Christmas Spirit’ has felt very different. One year it was a White Christmas with a loving family in Canada. It was brilliant. Then there was a quiet Christmas with my immediate family in the small South Australian town my Grandmother lives in, where we ate cold meat and chocolate and watched movies most the day. It was brilliant. Last Christmas was at Lake Malawi, with my newly obtained Australian Volunteers Family. It was brilliant.

The Christmas build up is very different in every country, every year for me. In Malawi there is minimal marketing of the holiday, so whilst Game and Shoprite have their shelves of tinsel and bon-bons, the streets are not lined with Christmas lights (given the electricity situation I’m not mourning this), the Christmas pageant didn’t close the city down over a month ago, there are no Santa’s I can go visit and I’m yet to see even a single piece of fake snow, bringing Christmas cheer amongst the 35degree weather.

In all honesty, so far this year my Christmas build up has been a daily grind of getting to work on time, attempting to achieve more tasks than is physically possible each day. Dealing with real issues, brokenness and challenge that any workplace with people brings. My Christmas build up thus far has been working through cultural difference, at a deep and real level. Discerning what it means to live in a world where so many have so little. Wrestling to be quick for forgive and always gracious when values clash and differ. My Christmas build up has been informed by the severe resource shortage in my world and the impact this has on quality of life and opportunity to flourish as individuals, and collectively (in business or aid).

But, “I know there’s room in my heart for the extra shot of joy Christmas brings. Ill get there, I always do. But right now advent is jacking with my heart and Jesus is begging me to do hard things- now- when it feels like the exact wrong time.”

So instead of trying to create a Christmas joy that I’ve previously known, that was, in all honesty often informed by presents, holidays and food. I’ve decided to sit and try to redefine what is Christmas Spirit is, that I might feel a joy deeper than that which fake snow sprayed on the window brings me. (Mum, I hope you’re still using the fake snow spray at home)

Christmas is about how God came, incarnate to earth to live amidst broken men, as a perfect one. He came to weep at the loss of friends, mourn the betrayal of others and share the overwhelming burden of sin, sickness and death in world. But much more so Christmas is about how he came to free us from these things.

 “Emmanuel is coming for us, just as much as the rest of them. He’s coming to our pain. He’s coming in to our captivity. He’s coming as our ransom. He’s all the good news and the great joy we’ll ever need. “

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This picture of the messy painting, sticky-taped to the wall at work sum up my lead up to Christmas Spirit this year. But this years Christmas Spirit is NOT absent of joy and celebration. It is the remarkable and seemingly miraculous presence of joy in my life and the world around me, amidst the brokenness, loneliness, poverty, cultural challenge and chaos. It has struck me that to find my Christmas Spirit I don’t need to sing carols in a peaceful setting, or escape the chaos that is everyday life. I need to as Sarah Bessey says “lean into the pain”, that I might further discover the joy that Jesus brings amidst the chaos.

So, if you like me are feeling a different sort of Christmas Spirit this year. I implore you, read again the story of the God of the world who was born in a manger, as a helpless baby. And be reminded that salvation, joy and celebration have for a long time been amidst struggle. The glorious end point of the Christmas story is that they wont always be.