I naturally tend to compare my holidays to what they were like during the year I was traveling abroad on The World Race. Thanksgiving was an especially meaningful holiday for us. Two teams of Racers pooled our resources and cooked a Thanksgiving feast for our Malawian friends who were hosting us for the month. They obviously were not familiar with the holiday but weren’t about to stop us from preparing a huge spread with most of the traditional dishes. (I say “most” because, despite our best efforts to find a turkey, we had to settle with six chickens.)
One of my favorite memories from that month in Malawi was all the mangoes we ate. You could get them right off the tree in the different villages we traveled to on various Gospel crusades. There was one village that seemed to be built around a single, massive mango tree. It was called Hamba-Hamba Village. If you’ve read my book, this was actually the same place where I had a late night close call with a pack of hyenas.
Even before we arrived to the village, I had been stressing out about what my return to the States would look like. I tore away from home to go on The World Race immediately after graduating college, and I had nothing set up for when I returned home. Malawi was month five of eleven for us, so the realization that we were now halfway through the trip had a way of making a planner like me want to find out what was next. But I had zero answers to comfort me. After all, I was in the middle of Africa (not a whole lot of connectivity going on there). I felt guilty for being so distracted because I didn’t want to waste the present, either. After all, I was in the middle of Africa!
I took myself out to sit under that massive mango tree and began to pray.
I prayed desperately for God to take my stress away, to help me trust Him and focus on the task at hand. My face was buried in my hands, so I was startled when I heard a sudden “THUD!” I looked up and saw a huge mango in the dirt a few feet away from me. Having just fallen from the tree, it was as perfectly ripe as it was ever going to be.
You might think I’m crazy for saying this, but I honestly felt like God wanted me to get up and eat that mango. So I did… peeling it with my teeth just like the locals did. It was delicious, but the thing about mangoes is that they are messy. So it wasn’t long before I had scarfed down my God-given mango and was sitting there looking like a surgeon prepped for surgery with my slimy, sticky fingers. That’s when I felt God telling me, “Go wash your hands and be done with this! You’re going to be okay… I’ve got you!”
I smiled and took myself over to get washed up. It wasn’t magic. No miracle was involved, per se. God simply gave me a quick reminder that He had always taken care of me… even in the tough and confusing times. I couldn’t argue that God had always provided for me in ways I hadn’t even thought to ask for. That mango was just a small example.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that God doesn’t always seem to be concerned with our physical safety or overall health. It’s ridiculously frustrating, but what kind of attention would we honestly give to God if our lives were always perfect?
It’s tough, but I’m going to choose to trust that God knows what He’s doing. Whether He’s controlling or just observing us, one thing is for sure: God is always there for us when we need Him. And He is always working in our lives in ways that we can trust… even when we don’t have all the answers or know what’s next.