Looking BackA few things I've learned this year:
- It's really not about me. AT ALL.
- It's a messy, messy world out there.
- It's more about BEING rather than DOING. As I was preparing to leave for Chicago several people said "Just be the best Jesus you can be" and "You'll do great things". Both comments are certainly appropriate and somewhat encouraging- but also put a lot of pressure on me. Am I really the hands of feet and Jesus? Because Jesus would not have lost his temper and snapped at kids as I did (more times than I would like to admit). Jesus has an unending capacity to give love, and I do not. Yet, I do believe that I was representing Christ. I was called by Him to do this and call myself a Christian, so I am seen as His Child. It can make you feel pretty inadequate when you can represent something or someone so inaccurately.
I turned to the Fruits of the Spirit for comfort. I didn't have to DO a lot to be effective. My jobs obviously included tasks like supervising, writing, weeding, etc but I also like to think that my real duties in Chicago were more about BEING a light rather than DOING a lot. It's a little difficult to put this into words, so hopefully you kind of catch my drift. If not, email me and I'll be happy to talk more about it.
- I don't have to have the answers.
A year ago, I was hoping that this journey would provide me with answers. Why is the world this way? What's my place in God's plan? Does God even have a plan? Is buying organic really the answer? And on and on....
Yeah, I didn't find any of those answers. Not even close. I did find little teeny pieces along the way, but not as much as I hoped for. Rather, this journey is all about finding new questions! No one is ever going to have a PhD in life (except maybe in heaven? Maybe God will give you a big book that explains everything...wouldn't that be nice.) Anyway, I read something in O (Oprah) magazine that I thought fit this idea pretty well:
"I'm discovering that life isn't something I'm supposed to master, but an adventure I'm meant to experience."
The author continues, "I'm worrying less about what I should be doing and becoming more aware of what I am doing. I'm starting-one foot at a time- to put my whole self in." (article written by Sue Fliess. O Magazine, Volume 15, Number 8, Breakthroughs! August 2014)
Moving AheadIn case you missed my last post, I leave for Ethiopia on Thursday. Dad, Aaron and I are going for 3 weeks to work with some missionaries, learn about the church there, build a house, and who knows what else!
Yes, I have all my shots. Yes, I am taking malaria pills. No, not the kind that make you hallucinate and have crazy dreams. Yes, I know about ebola but we'll be on the other side of the continent so we should be in the clear. However, even with all of these precautions, it is still possible that one of us could get sick. Please pray!
Now, some of you may be skeptical about this, thinking of it as a form of "voluntourism". For those of you that don't know, this term refers to how some Americans go on these international trips for personal glory and may do more harm than good. Here's an example of an article that talks about this, Instagramming Africa.
Articles such as this one make very valid points and caused me to examine my motives for going. However, I feel that some of these articles paint international efforts with very broad strokes and use generalizations. We go to Ethiopia for multiple reasons:
- Cultural Experience- You can read all the books and articles you want, but nothing is as informative and enriching and life-changing as experiencing it yourself.
- Learning about church and community- We'll see what a thriving church in this village looks like, worship with the people there, and also see things like a police force and health center, and whatever else is there.
- Evangelism- Spreading the love and Word of Christ.
- Encouragement- It is our hope that both the locals in this village, and our communities back in the US can be encouraged by our work.
Other things we'll do may include working with cattle (which all of us have experience with), helping with medical care (which Aaron is trained in), and helping with the church. We also may simply BE with some of the people there- playing soccer, etc.
Hopefully this description answers most of your questions and accurately conveys the purpose of our trip. I've told you everything I know at this point. That being said, we'll be in a rural area and likely won't have any communication with the US. Also, please pray for us. Health is a concern as I mentioned, but I also ask prayers for safe travels and open hearts as we go out into the unknown.
Thanks a bunch, see you in September!