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two months in


Two months in.

Two months have flown by. And, yet, at the same time, it feels like we’ve been here forever.

Time is funny that way. Adjusting, transitioning, acclimating, and discovering all take so much effort and margin that time seems to slow down and speed up simultaneously.

We’ve been in Malawi for two months, and as I sit here this morning, my head swimming with Chichewa verbs, tenses and pronouns, I wonder where on earth has the time gone?

The first week was an absolute blur. I could barely spell my own name. The sweetness of Africa embraced each one of us, and while our heads were spinning, our hearts were exploding with joy.

As the first week began to slip into the second then third, we were suddenly hit with the realization that we had no idea what we were doing. Stunned, overwhelmed, exhausted, and confused, we woke up each day knowing it would be both stretching and full, but not quite certain what that would look or feel like. Would it come in the form of a busted pipe in the ceiling, which would require a complete overhaul of the plumping in the house? Would it be the apparent hole in the wall where ants, flies, and other interesting creatures were making their way into our humble abode? Would it be power outages and generator issues? Would it be another political demonstration that required us to lay low, unable to venture out? Unpredictable became a new normal in the effort to create something familiar. What actually became most familiar was the unpredictability.

In fact, unpredictable is the most predictable part of life in Africa.

And after two months, we are learning to embrace this.

Some of the unpredictable facets of life in Africa are funny, for sure.

Case in point: those ants that keep trying to set up house in my bathroom. They are gone one day (and I dance in victory!), and then, for no apparent reason, they are back with a vengeance the next (and I wallow, just a little bit, in self-pity).

Another example: we are becoming hoarders. It didn’t take long for us to discover that just because you can find something at the grocery store or market one day/week is no guarantee that you will find it again the next day/week. And so, if we really, really love something- or use it often- when we see it at the store we don’t just buy one…we buy as many as we can fit into our cart. We are crazy Americans.


Aside from the funny, there is another side of unpredictable that doesn’t leave us laughing. There are days when the harsh realities of the ripple effects that come from the challenges we face living in a foreign context can bear down so hard that we wonder if we will be crushed under the weight of it all.

Sometimes unpredictable is a shrug and a laugh.

Sometimes unpredictable drives us hard to our knees.

We’ve experienced such a wide range of unpredictability over the past two months, and God has been gently challenging me to change the trajectory of my gaze.

In Colossians Paul exhorts us to take our minds and our hearts off of earthly things, and to put them on eternal things.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3

I have been convicted over and over again these past several weeks – each and every time I get frustrated with circumstances beyond my control – that my mind and my heart are staring too intently upon earthly things.

The lack of this or lack of that, the power outages, the plumbing and the language, the challenges of transition, the pangs of homesickness, the longing for normality, the struggles of my kids, the unspoken needs that require divine intervention…the ants. These are all earthly things – some more intense and critical than others, but still…earthly things.

God is challenging me to take my eyes off of the issue at hand and change the focus of my gaze to him. This Scripture has been a sobering reminder to me that once I gave my life to Jesus the old part of me died, and something new was resurrected. I am hidden with Christ. There is such beauty in that.

And not one ounce of unpredictability.

Because of this resurrected life, the trajectory of my gaze, the affection of my heart, must remain steadfast on that which is eternal. These present challenges begin to fade into the background when my heart is settled on a heavenly perspective; they are but temporary frustrations in the journey to eternal joy and reward.

This morning, two months in, I am surrendering my thoughts – those messages and narratives that play in my head – to Jesus.  I am setting my mind on the things above

Furthermore, I am setting my heart – each affection, each longing, each emotion that swings in and out of the deepest part of me – on eternal things.

The treasure is Jesus. The reward is Jesus. These momentary struggles are just a blip along the way.

I hope to encourage you in the same way I have been encouraged. It can be so easy to allow earthly things to distract us and weigh us down. Whether you are swimming in unpredictability or dealing with circumstances that you can’t quite get a handle on, turn your gaze in an upward direction. Adjust your eyes, and look at your life through an eternal lens.

Your faithful God will meet you there.


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4 Responses to “two months in”

  1. Judy Hayburn says:

    Powerfully written and anointed by the Holy Spirit!!! God has truly blessed you with a gift whereby you can so eloquently put into words the trials and tribulations of this life and transform them into spiritual lessons and insights. I can’t wait for your first book.

  2. Carol Shaw says:

    I agree with your Mom, Amy. And this “breakthrough” is a real answer to prayer as I have been daily lifting you before the Lord. It is not the end of the adjustment struggle but what a great place to be as you continue. You are not alone-besides the King of Kings on your side, many on this continent are praying for you and the rest of the SlaterSix! Thank you for challenging my heart today.

  3. Tammy Slater says:

    Thank you for being REAL….eloquently written, from your heart! You have drawn us to the warm heart of Malawai….we are blessed to join with you as you bring Christ to each & every person you meet. Prayers for all & each and every need & detail!❤️

  4. Julie says:

    Beautifully, beautifully written!! By a person with an equally beautiful heart. I love you, friend. Want to kill some ants for you. ❤️

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