Sometimes, God sends you away from Africa

IMG_4864As I sit here in Indiana looking at photos on Instagram of the smiling children and missionaries who live in the village I’ll visit in Uganda in just a week, my heart hurts.

My heart hurts because I thought that would be me.

When I moved to Uganda in 2013, that was supposed to be it- be my calling. God was calling me to Uganda to be a missionary! I would teach at Heritage International School for a few years, and then God would move me to a village where I’d be a full-time missionary. The issue was, He didn’t.

Some people fear God will send them to Africa. (There’s even a book about it.) But for me, my fear was that He’d send me back home to the United States. And He did.

I don’t regret leaving after only one year. I know, for various reasons, that I couldn’t return for the second year I committed to. Still, I see other women my age serving the Lord in Uganda and other places in Africa and I wonder, “Why couldn’t that have been me?”

Even more so, I see these women living the best life ever (or so it appears) in Uganda, and I wonder why my experience wasn’t the same. Why, for me, wasn’t Uganda some ultra spiritual journey of helping others and following God? Why was my year in Uganda plagued with depression, anxiety, self-doubt, and lots and lots of tears?

1482753_10151871483561573_2088816754_nI look back at my photos from that year in Uganda. You’d never know I was in so much pain. You’d never know the battles I was fighting, both internally and externally. You’d never know that at one point I felt so worthless that I didn’t see a reason to live any longer.

Oddly enough, as much as I don’t regret coming back to the US after one year, I also don’t regret going over in the first place. And this journey I’m about to make back over, I am praying hard that it gives me some closure to the emotional and gripping time I spent there.

I’ve been uneasy for about a month now. My stomach is in knots. My heart is heavy. What if I go there and once again want to live there? What if I realize that I screwed up, and I should have stayed? My anxiety is through the roof.

“I needed to do this to see that it’s NOT what I’m meant to do for a lifetime. Had I not come to Uganda, I’d always wonder, “What if?””

 

I’ve been going back through Facebook private messages from when I was living in Uganda, as I work on my memoir. The statement above is what I must rely on as I make my trip back. “…it’s NOT what I’m meant to do for a lifetime.”

10334337_10202468687703087_3077441966965500961_nSometimes, God sends you to Africa. And sometimes, He sends you away from Africa.

He sent me away.

I trust His plan is what’s best. So as I return to the Pearl of Africa for two weeks, I will embrace everything I love about it- the welcoming people, the beautiful hills and trees, the melodious sounds of the many birds, the incredible food, and even that scorching equator sun.

I am thankful that God sent me to Uganda. I’m also grateful He sent me back home. But a part of my heart will always be in Africa, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the coming weeks.

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Could it happen to you? Of course. Tragedy knows no limits.

When the September 11 terrorist attacks happened, we all said, “Things like this don’t happen in America.”

But then things like that continued to happen, and not from foreign terrorists, but from our own people.

While tragedies like Sandy Hook and now the Boston Marathon break our hearts, if you stop and think about it, senseless killings happen in America every single day. It might be a drive-by shooting, a teen committing suicide, or a “doctor” killing a living, breathing baby after a botched abortion attempt.

Life is apparently just a worthless thing to so many people, whether they are taking lives in large numbers or just one person.

Growing up in America, I never really felt scared or nervous. Even as an adult I once had a student in my car (on our way to church) who pulled out a handgun, and I wasn’t scared. Lately, though, I’ve found myself a little nervous at a few particular spots.PhotoGrid_1365290616255

My friend and I went to see Jurassic Park a few weeks ago. I rarely go to the movies anymore because they are so expensive, so the shooting in Colorado last year didn’t even cross my mind. That is, until my friend said, “Make sure we know where the exits are.” She went on to tell me that a friend of hers said he always checks now, just in case he has to make a quick exit. I’ll be honest, until the movie started and I got engrossed in it, I had a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. Would someone bust in with a gun? It was the first time I ever felt unsafe in a theater.

Most of my trips to the bank are at the ATM or the drive-thru window, but last week I had a huge bag of coins to deposit, which meant I had to go inside the actual bank. I’ve never in my life thought twice about walking into a bank, but as soon as I walked in, I remembered all the news stories about bank robberies in town lately. It seems like every single day there is a hold up at a bank here in Fort Wayne. I got a little nervous. Would someone be here to rob this bank today?

I believe we shouldn’t live our lives in fear, we shouldn’t let the sick people in the world make us scared, but it’s getting to the point where it’s tough to not think, “Could what happened THERE, happen HERE?” And let’s be honest… it certainly could.

The only peace that can be found in this world today is Jesus Christ. I think more and more people are seeing this as they search for something to believe in, something pure and perfect to cling to, something they can put their faith in because there is NO hope in this world outside of Christ.

I don’t want to die anymore than the next person, but at least I know where I’m going when I do. And at least I have that to cling to as this world continues to fall apart and destroy itself.

“… I am the resurrection and the life. The person who believes in me, even though he dies, will live.”
John 11:25