Today was the first day that in the midst of being entertained by my son and taking my daughter to dance class that my mind kept having fleeting thoughts about my impending trip. The first trip I will be taking is to Raleigh with Beth, a SH (Sole Hope) board member and the women who helped design the SH shoe. And, we love our kiddos so she will be bringing two of her kids and I'll be taking Quinn and Asa. We also will have with us a teen who has a beautiful demeanor. She will travel as our child care help and help loading and unloading SH supplies. We will be going to Raleigh, NC to teach a large group of women how to make the SH shoes, and teach them about Sole Hope. It will be a 3 day experience. Then, I come home-have one day to repack and then leave for Africa. Oh the things I need to prepare before BOTH trips! Just the thought of it gives me anxiety. (If you are in the Raleigh, NC area and want to join us for this event please send me an email through the Sole Hope contact page!)
What I have really started to let soak in today though is the "process" of going to Africa. It really is, a process. I don't mean what to pack, making sure we have tickets, reservations, supplies, a plan....but I am talking about what your heart goes through. I am mourning leaving my children for two weeks. I HATE being away from them. Especially while I am on the other side of the world. I miss their kisses, their funny stories and just watching them grow daily. (Because I swear, if you still you can WATCH them grow they are growing so fast!) And, I am preparing my heart for travel. For lost baggage, costs you didn't expect to incur, safety you have little to no control over-and...flying. To risk further scaring anyone who might already be afraid of flying I will just say...when I was 16 there was a plan incident I was in...it was the scariest time in my life and I get anxiety STILL to this day just thinking about it. So the daily process from here until I return home of letting go, relaxing and relying on God in that area of my life started-today.
The other part of the process is the culture shock I am about to face. I am so excited for our trip right now. Then you get to a third world country and its hard because for me I feel at home...but I feel sort of weird that I feel at home because I feel like everyone is looking at me because I'm white, and they certainly know that that is not my home. BUT, not everyone is thinking that! And there are SO SO many that are excited that we will be there. They radiate a love and adoration that is like nothing I've ever felt before...and it is so humbling because I am just like them, only born on the other side of the world. Africa sucks you in and gets in your blood! The people are amazing. The culture is shocking in some ways, but just absolutely beautiful in others!
Then you come home. So glad to see the ones you love. So grateful to be born to such privilege. But wait, am *I* the one that's missing something!? And I personally look at everything I have, knowing that I am so...so....so....well, I was going to say, blessed. But is THIS blessed? Well, yes it is. But they had nothing and THEY are so blessed! Do you see where I'm going? You start to look deeper than the surface in EVERYTHING. It is hard to be around other people who did not experience what you just did. On my last trip someone said to me, "Don't worry, I felt that way when I came back from a third-world country. Things will go back to normal, don't worry." That statement rattled me! Do I WANT things to go back to normal?! "Normal" didn't fill me up. "Normal" is where complacency lives. "Normal" is just so NORMAL and I am not normal. I am called to do great things! I know for certain I was not created to live like most people. I've always felt like the outcast in that way. God is calling our family to something great. And you can tell me that the greatness is Sole Hope...and yep, I'd believe that's part of it. But I just don't think he is going to stop there! I truly experience the JOY of the Lord in Africa.
It is as if you see Jesus everywhere and it is just so beautiful.
It opens my eyes and my heart. Maybe just ignore my monocle story. You get the point-hopefully.
PS- Happy birthday mom. Your spiritual guidance and faithfulness have taught me measures in life. I am so blessed to call you my mom and my friend!