Tuesday, March 31, 2009

African Driving School.

I recently had the rare “privilege” of finding myself surviving the “Botswana Driving School-Baptism by Fire,” (aka pray lots, drive quickly, and watch for everything on the road), and I am happy to report that I am officially an African driver. Throughout the week of passing the various, unexpected driving tests, I found myself compiling a little list of do's and don't's that I feel obligated to pass onto you non-African drivers. Considering the fact that the real Botswana driving schools consist of 10 cones on the side of a dirt shoulder, I think it would be helpful for any sensible person driving in Africa (HA, that's an oxymoron!) to take note of the few words of wisdom I have now compiled. Check it.

African Driving Rules: (The section they forgot to write)

1.Driving on the “OTHER” side of the Road and Car: Do not be alarmed, you aren't seeing things. People ARE driving on the left side of the road and right-hand side of the car. You'll get used to it. Shifting with your left hand (yea for lefties), turning right into the far, left lane and proceeding clockwise around the traffic circles. My secret is focus your attention on the car in front of you, it's like follow the leader. I love a challenge.

2.Traffic Circles: Yielding at a traffic circle (roundabout) is necessary but you must prepare yourself to go from 0 to 80 if you have any hopes of carrying on towards you destination. I suggest pausing and then flooring it. Traffic circles=survival of the fittest.

3.Yellow Lights: Before even thinking about stopping or slowing down for a yellow light look in your rear view mirror to make sure that there is NO car behind you. If there is any form of a vehicle or transport within vision, floor it. You stop, you die.

4.Animals: You will see a myriad of wildlife obstructing your ability to drive at any given moment. Keep your eyes peeled and your hand near the button for the hazards (signal for animals). If you are lucky, like me, you TOO may see chickens, donkeys, goats, mating sheep and drunk men standing in the middle of the road while going on a 10 minute errand. (While drunk men may not appear to fit in this category of “animals” I assure, they are.) Feel free to honk to your heart's content!

5.Taxis: Avoid them at all costs. Taxi driver's are under the impression that there are no rules to the road and if they stick their arm out of the window while driving 80 directly at your car to “signal”, they are following strict lines of “etiquette.” When you see a taxi or sense one creeping up from behind...BE AGGRESSIVE, B-E AGGRESSIVE!

6.Donkey carts: Yes, although we are living in 2009 you will encounter carts being pulled by donkeys alongside somebodies new Audi A4. They are quaint, charming, and vital in reminding you that, yes, this is Mama Africa. Take a picture if you like but prepared for lots of swerving, donkeys are like that AND hand on that hazard button, remember.

7.Driving at night:
This is easy, DON'T.

8.Driving in any parking lot on a Saturday (i.e. Builder's World):
If you choose to foolishly venture out on any sort of errand on a Saturday be prepared to perform a plethora of driving maneuvers only attempted by the experts. Just know, you WILL be parked in more than once and be forced to back your vehicle in and around other vehicles while being stared at by a large audience of men doubting your ability to avoid the roofing materials, lumber and the million other cars that just pulled in behind you. (FYI: I passed this test with flying colors. I channeled my Father's backing-up abilities and gave the audience of men something to talk about...”Who is that white girl who is reversing like it's nobody's business?” Oh, don't worry, it was me.)

9.Getting Lost:
Don't panic. Don't attempt to convince yourself that you do or don't recognize that bush on the side of the road. Believe me, they all look the same. PRAY. Truly, only God knows where you are. He'll get you home.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


The thunder is grumbling and stirring in the sky,
deep rumbles and pounding until it builds to its climax.

Crash after crash it hollers so loudly it rattles the windows,
not to mention my bones.

The lightning is flashing like a magnificent burst of visual energy igniting the sky.
Then the lights go out.

I find myself admiring the brilliance of this thunderstorm.
It makes me think of Elijah hiding in a cave waiting for God to speak. Like in the thunder, God expressed His power and might amidst the wonders of nature. Earthquakes, mighty destructive wind, and a raging fire. Even now as I hear the thunder roar, I feel so very small. I sense a sliver of the immense power of the God behind this storm. He is the Almighty.

Yet, just as Elijah cowering in a cave experienced the power of our God.
The truth is God chose not to speak with an earth shattering display of nature.

God chose to whisper. Mmmmm. I love that.
The Almighty God whose very Words created the fierce powers behind nature, who is Sovereign above all, commanding the wind and seas to obey His very Words, He likes to whisper.

I savor this paradox.
The Almighty expressing His power in the tenderness and intimacy of a whisper.
As I sit here in the dark watching the show, you better believe I'll be craning my ear for that whisper.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mochudi, Botswana
According to the Five Senses

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, a captivating memory that instantly flashes a vivid picture of a time or a place that you once knew is often triggered by a sound, a smell, a delectable taste. I have found the myriad of memories stored in my mind like frames on a reel are captured as I experience life through the five senses God gave me. And so it is that I hope to take you on an adventure of my senses to my life living in the quaint little town (realistically a village) of Mochudi, Botswana where God has called my home. I want to share with you the things I have seen, smelled, heard, tasted, and felt over the past month and half. So here it is (in list form)...take a gander.

A Word from my Senses:

Sights of:
Kilometres and kilometres of green pastures, winding, pot hole-covered dirt roads, friendly faces of Mmas (Ma's) and Rra (Ra's) waving hello, tiny concrete homes, children flailing to wave frantically at the white people, birds flying and nesting in the roof nooks, cockroaches scurrying away from the spray of Doom, donkeys charging the vehicle, babies being carried on their Mama's backs, everything being carried on peoples' heads, children waiting impatiently for the gate to open for church, a small group of faithful church members gathering under the carport joyfully worshiping God, my cottage taking shape, breathtaking sunsets, God on the move in the bush of Botswana.

Smells of:
Burning rubbish and brush, cow manure, curry cooking, Joshua's dirty diapers, wet concrete smelling fresh and metallic, children smelling of sweet dirt and half eaten sweets, the stench of malfunctioning septic tanks, baby shampoo, sugary sugary Sunday school juice, toddlers relieving themselves in the yard, body odor (not my own FYI), hair relaxant, and fragrant roses from the garden.

Sounds of:
Roosters incessantly crowing from 4am on, birds screeching loudly, prolonged echoes of donkeys hee-hawing, persistent cow bells warning of meandering cow families, Joshua crying, cooing, laughing with delight, neighbor children singing praise songs from church outside the gate, hammering, pounding, scrapping cement, skill saws cutting with precision, shovels flinging sand, rocks, soil, and cement, Tyler playing the guitar, squeaking doors, neighbors shouting greetings in Setswana, taxi drivers racing down the dirt road blaring techno music, soccer fans cheering, rain pounding vertically and horizontally, thunder shaking the house, and every bug known to man buzzing in my ear.

Tastes of:
Chocolate chip cookies, tacos, pizza, lasagna, boervoers (African sausage), Pita sandwiches, banana bread, fried chicken, rice, beef stew, pudding cake, boiled bread (African style), curry chicken, fat cooks filled with mince meat (fried bread with ground beef), guavas (glory, guavas!), African fusion sauce, brownies, chapati (fat tortillas), and dry, tasteless Sunday School biscuits.
(Ok, that is totally just yummy Jorgensen food for the most part!
Needless to say, I am eating quite well!)

Feelings of:
Soft baby skin oiled with lotion, rough heads covered with braids and coarse curls, tiny hands grasping mine, guitar strings digging grooves in my poor fingers, hand shakes of kind, sincere new friends, sand and dirt between my toes, clothes pins clamping on sopping wet clothing, rough concrete-covered walls soon to be my cottage, plastic church chairs lovingly arranged, wrinkled, peeling hands from dish washing, refreshing air con wind bringing relief in the heat, humidity to transform my hair into an afro, thorns jabbing into the soles of my feet, damp air in the stillness after the rain, joy and a bubbling brook of hope. Such great hope.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Who am I? Who am I becoming? After living for 27 years on the planet, I thought I would have more things figured out. I may not have the answers to these questions, but I know the One who does. I may not be certain of my identity, but I know who is forming and creating it. It is not common for me to be one whose identity gets caught up in a passing trend or shifts like the wind when insecurity comes. However, I find myself wondering if the way that I see myself today is the same way that God sees me.

Through the years, I have found myself wearing a variety of hats with names to apply. As a child, I was “Little Javens,” a not-so beloved title that identified me as the baby sister to my older and much cooler big brothers. I have been a “Babysitter” to the masses, “Nanny” to the rest, “Teacher” or “Miss” to children all over the globe. I have been “Sweet Pea” to my Mum, and “Jen” to my Dad. I have been a “Missionary” to gracious friends who have learned to love Africa, and most recently become a “Pastor.” Each name tells a different story of a season of my life. Some names better reflect who I really am while others I have left behind to move forward into something bigger that God had. At the end of the day, however, when I lay my head on the pillow, who am I?

Don't fear, I have not found myself in the middle of an identity crisis of any kind. In fact, it has been in recent years that I have become quite comfortable being in my own skin. The truth that I know I belong to God has allowed the wrestling with these questions to subside. I suppose the better question is, who do I want to be? If the world must apply a label, what do I want to be know for?

As I sit here and ponder these questions, my spirit percolates and simmers on two main ideas:

The first truth I know is that I must be known as the Beloved of God. I find this name has such power to restore me. While I wouldn't mind others calling me this, in actuality there is only One who can whisper this name in such a way as to settle me. When I forget who I am, or insecurity threatens my certain steps, it is that powerful whisper of, “Beloved,” that transforms me. I remember who I am in God, who I was created to be, and the pressure of this world to be something great fades away. For as His Beloved, I receive the privilege of reciprocating the name. God is and always will be my Beloved as well.
The second truth is found in Psalm 34:5, it says,

“Those who look to Him are Radiant.”

That's it. I want to be known as Radiant. Not because I am pretty, or extremely gifted, not because my friends think I am wonderful or I give my life for God. I want to be radiant because I am consistently found looking to Him. The One who formed me and called me by name. Just like Moses' face radiated because he had met with God, I ache for my life to so radiate the presence of God that it sweetly draws people to Him. Seasons of life may come and go. My name and title may shift here and there. Whether I am 27 or 94, I will be found looking to Him, my Beloved, and soaking up the truth that whoever I am, I am His.