The joyful singing of birds outside of our room in Palm Springs, California, made me think about the wonder of adaptation and the diversity of animals and the question of giving glory to God. How on earth (you may ask) does bird singing trigger these thoughts to be thought in one breath?
Well, it was 2h00 in the morning, that is birds singing in the middle of the night AND I heard them! I usually sleep at 2... (Perhaps I must say that it was the 2nd night in a row that I heard the birds). So I thought of these birds and how we don't have birds like that in Namibia. That made me think of all the other different than in Namibia animals we have seen so far. That made me think of how animals, by just being and doing what they were created for, glorify God. That made me think of how the whole of nature glorifies God and how mankind is the only creation who does NOT naturally glorify God! Why not? Because God gave us freedom of choice, choice on how we live, whether we live out our purpose, choice on whether we follow His guidance, choice on whether we love Him... With that I made the shocking realization that, should I call myself a child of God and I do not obey Him and live His purpose for my life, then I not only NOT glorify Him, but actually pull His Name through the mud!!! Oh Lord, please help me to live for your Glory!
So many thoughts, and that at 2h00 in the morning. That triggered the thinking on adaptation. I made a few calculations and found that my body and mind are still on New Zealand time, and this 5 days after being on American soil! For the first time in the 4 months of travelling around the world, my body's clock is slow to adapt. Most probably because this time we did not "loose" hours like before, but "gained" hours. In fact, we departed from New Zealand at 21h30 on 22 April and arrived in Los Angeles at 14h30 on 22 April!! How's that for receiving back that which we have lost! (and for getting a 2nd chance to live the same day)
Thinking back on where we've been and how many adaptations we had to go through, I once again agreed with Ps 139: Man was indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. A human can indeed adapt to many different circumstances. And also that, whether and how we adapt, must give glory to God.
So, how did we adapt? (and on every occation the time frame of adaptation was a matter of hours) Our bodies had to adapt from a very hot (above 30 degrees) Namibia, to below freezing temperatures in Europe. Then right back to steaming hot, this time with high humidity, in the East ( just about 150km north of the equator). The next day, sitting foot on Australian shore, we had cool temperatures and in New Zealand it was already winter, a wet one may I add. LA on the other side of the earth greeted us with freezing winds, and now in Palm Springs, we are almost back in Namibian temperatures. Our bodies are still well and healthy, wonderfully adapting every time – FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE.
Another thing that kept on changing, was altitudes: from the high heights in the Alps to sea level in Phuket. Strange enough though, no matter what our height above sea level, we always had a few hills/mountains to climb. (that's because we walk so much). Luckily every uphill is followed by a downhill. Some times it just feel as if the difficult upward road never ends, but they all do. These hills are obviously physical and emotional. The test of glorifying God is especially written during those times.
Continuously adapting to different languages and cultures are all part of the excitement of travelling. Even the ways of transport (train, bus, car) , which side of the road to travel and the speed limits keep on changing. I quite often end up at the wrong side of the car... Another challenge is the food and the currencies. Luckily I have Dawie and Tinus to tell me "multiply the price with 12 or 6 or 7 or 10, etc to know what it is in Namibian $(thank you for Phuket where we could divide by 3). I know people say that the first secret of enjoying your travels is to never work the cost back to Nam$, but if you travel for 9 months, and you have a Namibian budget, believe me, that is something you need to do to make sure your money last for 9 months.
So back to the consistent change of food and prices. There is a few secrets for adapting:
- Buying food in a new country is not "work",it's an exciting challenge ,almost a mini treasure hunt.
- Secondly you always ask where you will find the best prices. The locals will tell you which supermarket has the best prices.
- Then you keep an eye on the locals (while you hunt down the specials.) If many of them within a few minutes, take the same item from the shelve, you know: this is a bargain.
- Because you are not stocking up your cupboards, and you may leave again in 5 days time, you must have an idea of your menu for the next few days ,before buying. Buy just enough for that time.
- Menus also need to be adapted. In some places, like Singapore, you learn to get along without cheese, and if the stay is shorter than 10 days, no tomato sauce are bought. You don't buy according to what you want, but according to the specials on the day.
- The children get an OK to buy 1 packet of biscuits or ice cream, which must be value for money. This keeps them part of the experience and assure that they will not get "no,it does not fit in the budget" all the time.
- To work with such a tight budget and very high prices, is a challenge ( and a reminder to appreciate the low living cost in Namibia).
- To have company in the shop and not have to run to be in on schedule as mom's taxi, is a big bonus for me. Remember, I have 4 men in my house : I ALWAYS shop alone and always on the run.
One adaptation we only had to make once,(when we left Windhoek) is: we always eat very little meat, and then usually it is chicken...
Thinking about changes, adapting, growing and learning every 2-3 weeks now for the past 4 months, I've discovered an amazing number of different things:
- To start with, no Ouma next door to help feed the boys and to be a "safetynet"
- Then 2 whole months without Charlie (and then there were 4...) Praise God that he is coming back!!!
- Changing of routine (actually, the only constant thing on this trip, is the fact that the routine ALWAYS changes) This can be big fun for a "high I" and quite a challenge for a "high C"
- No one to help with household chores. We always have to do the cleaning, vacuuming, clothes washing, dish washing etc ourselves, also when we leave one place to go to the next. (Good opportunity to practice teamwork)
- Making all our decisions (or 90% of them) together
- A different bed and pillow
- A different Bathroom (shower or bath , good or weak water flow, enough hot water or not)
- A different house size (sometimes 2 bedrooms, sometimes we all sleep in 1 room)
- A different kitchen and equipment (sometimes only stove top and microwave, or only roaster and rice steamer, or oven and stovetop – quite a challenge for a previously disabled cook, sometimes a sharp knife, sometimes not, sometimes a big pot, sometimes not, sometimes a coffee perculator, sometimes not, etc, etc, etc – you get the drift)
- Different electrical plugs
- Television and internet (sometimes you have, sometimes not)
- Office space (sometimes we have separate work areas, sometimes we all use the one table, the same one we will eat on later)
- Constantly changing churches (praise God that we all are one family, although we are only visiting)
I said initially that man was made to adapt, and all of the above are only a few practice fields. The main thing I found to assure successful adaptation, adaptation that can glorify God, is attitude. With the right attitude, adaptation is easy and fun!
As I go back on memory lane of where we've been and how we had to adapt, I realize, yet again, how blessed we are. Thank you God for this world trip, for this privilege to experience so much diversity in such a short time. Thank you that we have this opportunity to adapt. May our attitude always be that of wanting to adapt , wanting to have the best for the other and being thankful. May we never be selfish or negative or moaning, but with a joyful heart give thanks in everything. Thank you Lord that all of this is actually so easy if I just stay close to your heart.
May my choices, what I think and say and do give glory to you. May I give so much glory to you as the bird doing what a bird should do , even if it means singing in the middle of the night.
The good news is that my body has adapted to this new time zone and so we will keep on adapting on this wonderful journey...