I thought I was over jetlag, and I probably am since I have slept well for the first four nights after my trip to Uganda. However, I have been known to take a nap now and then, and perhaps I overdid it on Saturday, because Saturday night I couldn’t get to sleep. There was a lot of noise from a neighboring bar which didn’t help. After several attempts to sleep, I decided that if I ate a little something, it might help. A few days ago I had picked up a scone from our tea time and put it in a plastic bag with some Halloween candy that I’ve been giving out to the staff. I thought that would be the perfect solution.
I climbed out of my mosquito net and found the scone sort of wrapped in a napkin. I hadn’t turned on a light as there is some ambient light in the room anyway. I climbed back into my net and began playing a game on my iPad and munching my way through the scone. Very quickly, I felt crumbs falling on me, even though I was trying to be very careful. I brushed a few away, but then realized that they were not crumbs. Some insects seemed to be attacking me! Had I let a bunch of gnats into my net? Then it struck me, they weren’t gnats – they were ANTS!
The ants here, at least the ones I see most often are very tiny. They look rather like a fleck of dirt. Indeed, they had invaded my scone and millions of them were now trying to escape. How many I had already eaten, I didn’t want to think about, but decided it was just a bit more protein. I quickly put the rest of the scone in the napkin and got it out of my bed. Then I began frantically brushing crumbs and ants off the bed. This did not promote sleep, by the way. So, I began to reflect on this rather surprising lesson.
In most of the places I have lived in Africa and the US and Europe, ants have not been a big problem. I haven’t had to worry about whether they would invade my food when I wasn’t looking. But now I’m in a different environment, and I have to face that reality.
Our students are coming to Uganda, and most have never been outside their home countries before. There will be many “ants” that attack them in their beds: homesickness, unfamiliar languages, cultural differences, frustrations with assignments and many more. They may ask themselves, as I did last night, “Why did I come all this way to end up with “ants” in my bed? I didn’t have to face this at home!”
Being in a new place and learning new things come with pain. There isn’t much way around it. Growth stretches us from where we are to something bigger, and we have to break down some boundaries in order to move into the new things. That is a painful and frustrating process. However, we need to keep in mind the greater good. If God has called us to grow or change or live in a new and unfamiliar place, He will make sure we can bear it. We can’t hold on to those sweet, familiar things. We must let them go and brush the ants out of our beds and find peace and rest and comfort in our loving Father.