Upon arriving in Iraq, each family member had assigned jobs. Mine included all things pertaining to the kitchen and to laundry and to cleaning. Sounds easy enough, right?

I clearly remember the day we arrived and unpacked our suitcases. Naturally, I found my way to my job—the kitchen. I began to make endless lists of what my family needed and the tasks I would accomplish right away. Making lists of tasks is one of the things I LOVE!

And then it happened—something that would characterize our stay in Iraq—the electricity suddenly went off. And it was dusk, and things were dark in that foreign kitchen. There is something very unsettling for a person in an unknown kitchen—fumbling through the cupboards and drawers, just where ARE the cups, do we even have cups?!! I finally found a few candles and spread them around the house—the dark, large, cold house. Things seem darker in winter, don’t they?

There was a large white board in the kitchen that listed all my tasks. I can laugh about that list now, how controlling it was, and how I thought my hours would be spent during my time in Iraq. As I read through the list by candlelight, I realized that not a single task could be performed without electricity. And my first thought was how am I going to survive in this “dark” country? After all, the country was going through major electrical grid issues, so we could never really predict when full power would grace our home.

But God took away those Martha thoughts that first night in Iraq, and Mary thoughts came instead. By candlelight, I manually lit a kerosene heater, found my Bible, and began a new routine there on the small kitchen table, at dusk, in my new home. A life that would slow down to a snail’s pace compared to western standards. A life filled with rich visits over tea, reading, and celebrating the gifts of water and electricity when they were given.

When you move half way around the world you expect changes in your lifestyle. But it was really my heart that was changed.