In just 6 days, we will leave for Kenya with Marshall (my 7-year-old) and our dear friends to serve the sick, orphaned and poor. I wish I had a few hours to sit down with you over coffee to let you know why me going to AFRICA on a mission trip is shocking even to myself, but for now, here is the short version.
In high school, I never wanted to do service projects. I wasn’t interested in serving a buffet meal, watching the children of those in need, or anything that had me coming into contact with the poor. The special olympics that our school put on once a year, was a total stretch for me. I was afraid. For some reason, I had convinced myself that I would not be helpful to these people, and that they would not want my meager offering.
I thought I needed a skill or a certain amount of money to serve and I didn’t have those things.
A year after Jon and I were married, I was asked to join my first mission trip to Mexico “leading” (chaperoning) some high schoolers while I was on staff at our church. I have to be honest here and say my number one concern was where am I going to sleep? Is it a bed in a building with A/C or are we talking tents? I need some clarity here.
A few years later, Jon and I took our first mission trip together to Sevilla, Spain where I had spent a semester studying abroad in college. Again, I need to know where are we sleeping and what exactly are we doing? Both of these trips were stretching for me. I did some translating on both trips, which is way out of my comfort zone, “My Spanish is so rusty and not very good. In fact, I might not be helpful at all,” were the words coming out of my heart. I was still stuck on ‘I am not enough.’
A few years later, we went through the process of adoption. You can read here about our journey and how it turned my world upside down for the good. But, after experiencing how much love I had for this child who was not born into my family and realizing how The Lord views me through the lens of adoption, I became much more open. I realized that I had everything I needed to serve-Love. I cared about these people and what they were going through, whether they made the decisions that led them into their poverty or they were born there, God’s perspective of them didn’t change and neither should mine.
The poor and broken are so near to His heart and slowly but surely as I read and prayed and had many conversations with my husband and dear friend, I began to fall in love; with orphans and with Africans.
When Kylie and I decided to travel to Uganda last April, I didn’t care anymore where I slept or what we did or if there was A/C. Slowly but surely The Lord worked a MIRACLE in my heart and this girl who thought, “I’m just not one of those Africa people,” became an African loving woman.
Once I stepped foot onto the red Ugandan dirt, I was hooked. I loved these people even if I didn’t know them. My heart broke wide open when I looked into the eyes of the sick, poor and orphans in Uganda and the leaders that were struggling to care for their people. Their resources were few yet they had not lost hope. They would use their child’s school fees to feed a baby that would otherwise starve to death. Talk about sacrifice, it was being modeled for me right in front of my eyes day after day. They may not have much, but what they had whether it as an able back to carry a sibling, or a few sticks to build a fire, they worked and sacrificed for their family because that’s what you do when you love. You trust God for tomorrow’s bread and thank him for the bread he gave you today. If only I could have their faith who knows what The Lord could do? And, that’s why I go back because I need them more than they need me.
To say that I am excited to share this part of my heart with my husband and son would be an understatement. Despite the eighteen hours of air time and all the other hours in between that it will take to get to Nairobi, I may be bouncing off the plane! I can’t wait to hug and hold hands and kiss the faces of the kids who will swarm us when we go out into the town. I can’t wait to tell them that they are loved and not alone. That they were born for a reason and a great purpose, and I know that in the midst of pouring out, my cup will be filled up with the joy that I see in their eyes. Those who believe in my Heavenly Father will challenge my faith more in that week than I will likely be challenged for the rest of the year. I will come back to the conversations I have and wonder at how they have such faith and ask he Lord to give me the same faith because you see, although I will be giving to them, they will minister to me and I will leave knowing I received the greatest gift.