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 aside 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.