each shaved curl is hard work

14 06 2015

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The Story of the Boat may one day become a book. 

Deon has been working on the boat for about six weeks.  He has long since dreamed of building a boat from wood.  And Leif, our late landlord, wanted to build a boat.  So Deon and Leif set out building together. 


This itself was miraculous:  there were a few very rough planning sketches, neither Leif nor Deon understood each other’s language, they indicated width and length with gestures… but the process was on its way! 

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It would be Leif’s boat, as he had built houses, shelves, furniture, knives and birdhouses, but never a boat.  Leif’s health was fading fast, and often he would just sit on a chair passing tools along to Deon, but they had an amazing kind of contact in this process and each was helping the other to see dreams carried out.

If you have read this blog over the last month you would know that our dear Friend Leif left this world on Ascension day.  We pray that in the last stretch of time in the hospital, he was there for about ten days, that He was drawn to Jesus.  We had tried to speak to him, we had loved Leif but he brushed off every attempt Deon made to speak with him directly. 

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But one cannot leave a boat half built.  And Deon has continued to build.

It was special that at Leif’s funeral Deon and the boat were mentioned as a special kind of final journey that Leif made.  He never got too see this dream finished, but when we eventually get the boat into water we will have Leif very dearly in mind.

This week I have been reflecting much on the process of building, forming and shaping. 

It was the last week of school with the students for the year.  It is totally crazy to think that this year is over! 

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There were so many plans before:  I had missed being in a classroom for 5 years, and so looked forward to getting into relationship with these kids.  I knew there would be a few culture challenges and a few language difficulties, but I was so certain that I would face those challenges without too much hassle.  The last few years before our departure to Sweden had been so demanding, that we were certain that living in a first world country would be fairly easy by comparison. 

This week, and the last few, have been so tough for me to evaluate myself and us and fitting in and being part of this new world. 

The struggles have been more challenging than I imagined. 

Language that I thought I would manage in 3 to 6 months… ha ha!  I understand a fair amount, but totally misunderstand several important discussions and trip over my tongue by the second sentence in a conversation with any person! 

Teaching:  I had been considered a master teacher in my previous job.  Just as I was starting out in Sweden a book was written  in South Africa in which my supposed virtues were written of for a whole chapter.  I could handle this, right?  HA HA!! 

   The situation in Sweden is so very different, the way of thinking is so divergent that I often felt completely inadequate for the tasks of the day.  There is no feeling like a permanent champion in teaching! Ever!   Almost being reduced to slobbering blob-like amoebic matter by a six year old acting like a 2 year old-  For goodness sake- will do that to any teacher!  On some days I could not find big-girl panties big enough to “just put on my big-girl panties and deal with it!”  I felt like I was always playing some kind of catch up.  I felt like I let several of the kids down badly, just because we could not understand each other.  I felt like running away and crawling into a little ball under a tree to weep.  NO!  That would have been too cold and miserable because…

WEATHER… this African girl and this African boy have absolutely no idea why God has brought us from sunny African sands to this sun-shy land!  For goodness sake… it is the middle of June.  We have not seen the thermometer move above 14degrees C.  The Swedes themselves have been complaining at the overcast rainy weather (see previous blogs).  We are still living in winter clothes.  There have been a few hours of sunlight but not for 2 consecutive days since August last year.  This girl (and her man) have thought of running away to some sunny island several times! 

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We know we are in this place for God’s Kingdom.  We know that as only a sovereign God can do, He has taken Africans from their world to this funny little town in Swedish Lappland for His work to be done.  We had intended to make a difference for Him and to see amazing things happen. 

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But when we think we will be working for Him, He is working on us.

We went out to look at the progress on the boat again this week.  Deon is working alone now, has worked some particularly difficult planks into place along the bottom of the boat, and continues to do an amazing job of working away at the wood. 

Deon commented that each curl of a wood shaving was a sign of his efforts, his planing away part of the wood that is not meant to be there.

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As I am not as informed about woodwork as I should be, I had to google it to make sure.  The purpose of planing wood is to SMOOTH and LEVEL it.  each little curl is evidence of Deon having moved his hands, his energy carefully over each part of the boat.  There is not a single part of the boat that will not have been covered by his hands over and over again by the time he is done with making the boat. 

Right now, I feel a lot like the pieces of wood being clamped, messily glued, hammered, nailed and formed into  a shape that does not come very naturally to me.  Those long pieces of wood offloaded from a trailer a few months back had no resemblance to a boat!  But under the hands of those with skill the shape has been formed, the extra messy bits cut off and the final roughness and unevenness are being planed to the exact shape and surface that will be able to serve its purpose effectively. 

A boat that is not smooth and level is of no value at all.  It will never get anywhere.

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And, in any case, it is not the boat who makes itself, and it is not the boat who achieves anything. 

God reminds us again and again, He is the Master Builder and we are simply the works of His hands.  All our works can never be good enough.  And thinking we can do anything alone will simply make us feel totally incompetent.

But it is not by might, nor power but by His Holy Spirit that His Kingdom is built.  (Zech 4:6)  He holds the plane so carefully, constantly rubbing, feeling and testing.  There will not be a single part of our lives that His loving hands have not carefully covered again and again as he smoothes, levels and refines every part of us. 

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Each curl, each shaving away of self, is making for Him a vessel. 

We pray it will be a vessel to see Him moving forward and His kingdom advancing, where there would be so much joy even in the offering. 

We long to see Christ coming and totally reworking Vilhelmina.  Despite our weaknesses, our failings, that God would work.  that He would remove each curl of self, pride and deception and make of this town a place where He is completely glorified. 




One response

17 06 2015
Nuwe Wyn - Christo Nel

Wow! Wat ‘n getuienis! Dankie, dat julle dit met ons gedeel het. Ons bly bid vir julle.

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