I am currently in the midst of my second trip to Zimbabwe which does not make me an expert on the people of this country. However, I have consistently noticed two things.

First, these people have suffered more than I can fully comprehend. Every person has a horrific story of personal struggle, hardship and loss. Many lost loved ones during the war. Many have struggled with prejudice. Many lost status, businesses, homes, and other worldly possessions during hyperinflation. My host’s husband was murdered while being robbed. Her friend’s parents were murdered because they had the wrong political views. Listening to the personal stories of these people causes me to realize my life has been sheltered. I find myself struggling to understand how each person can endure so much. How does a nation rise out of so much pain?

The second thing that I notice is that the Christians are filled with joy. They love freely, they are working for reconciliation and justice, and their teasing makes me laugh. I don’t remember laughing as much in a few days as I have during the time that I have been in this country. Their pain is real, but they express joy. They pick on me because of my American idiosyncrasies in the most humorous ways. Their kidding increased greatly last evening after I got lost during a run through a large farm. I was still lost after darkness fell and had to borrow a phone from some local people to call for help. Immediately after my friends learned I was safe, they started hilariously re-crafting my adventure.

Sometimes I feel that my life is difficult. However, compared to almost every Zimbabwean, my life has been easy, protected from much of the trauma they have endured. I wonder about my joy? Am I as free as my friends here are? Do I lift people’s spirits the way these people lift mine? I hope so. I pray that people see Jesus in me in the same way I see him in my Zim friends.