Yes, yes I am. I am going to Africa in a few short days and I’m not sure it will ever feel real. As I sit on my flight back to Indiana, relishing the first few moments I have had to process and dream about this trip, I gracefully recall all the reasons I don’t want to go. Reason #1: the actual “going” on the trip…as in on an airplane. My international experience consists of a family trip to Canada. My longest flight clocks in at a mere six hours, Chicago to Anchorage, where my only means of survival was pretending I could sleep. When discussing our upcoming flight to Zambia I ask my teammates to kindly not speak of the hours I will spend on a plane but rather drag me on and hold my hand when I go stir crazy. Sounds like a reasonable concern. Reason #2: my team [how awful does that sound?]. I grew up in a family with seven children so while I feel somewhat prepared to live with fifteen other students for three months in a country I’ve never lived in before likeeeee I’d rather not. I am sure at least one of them will annoy me with their chewing when we eat [I just know my family is rolling their eyes]. So here are the solutions I have thought hard and long about. Solution to concern #1: I HAVE NONE. Except maybe the hand holding. Or you could lure me on the plane by baiting me with cake donuts. Either option will probably work….but I would obviously prefer the donuts–no frosting or sprinkles please. Solution #2: [I am actually going to be serious now so just prepare your heart and mind] As I am sitting on my plane, typing out these words, expressing my ridiculous concerns with my Father I realize he cares. He has already seen it all and he is going before. Then he spoke the most precious words and said, “Your native kin.” Then [to no surprise of anyone who knows me] I cried. On the freaking plane wedged between a man rotating between reading and sleeping every five minutes and a woman who, without vocalization, insists on chewing her gum louder than a jack hammer in my ear. My native kin. He spoke it over my team of students, teachers and resident directors. He spoke it over my native kinsmen I have yet to meet in a country I know so little of but know will capture parts of my heart I didn’t know existed. He even spoke it over this man who can’t decide if he can sleep and this incessant gum chewer. And then I say, “I am going to Africa.” And I am made aware that I am deep in darkness about what lies ahead. I am, however, expectant. I am expectant of what the future holds for me and my newly found native kin.
So now what? Now it’s your turn because you too are a part of this kinship and probably I need you. My team needs you. Today sixteen students move back on to a campus that won’t know us for three months. Tomorrow we continue our classwork [which I may or may not have done between flights in lieu of the due date being my day of travel] as well as our training and prep for this unnatural experience. In my previous oh-so-long-ago post about this trip I mentioned one of my favorite hymns, Little Is Much When God Is In It. One of my favorite verses says, “Are you laid a side from service? Body worn from toil and care. You can still be in the battle in the sacred places of prayer.” [I literally can’t write those words without singing them — in my head of course…I am on an airplane.] While I am sure many of you are able-bodied, you are not going to suffer through this exceedingly long flight I am called to endure [yes I recognize that statement is dripping in drama…just call me The Queen]. I would ask that you, even now, pray for us and for our excited, nervous, and [yes, even my] dramatic hearts. You are so valued. Thank you for being a part of my native kin.
P to the S: if you’re praying for us, let me know that you are in the comments. It’s encouraging when we can actually see evidence of our kinsmen fighting for us in the sacred place.