What if I’ve missed something?

I imagine myself getting off the plane in Detroit in June. After a long flight from Uganda to Amsterdam and an even longer flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, I’ll finally arrive in America. While Detroit won’t be my final stop, it will be my first steps on American soil in almost a year.

In July when I left America for my new life in Uganda.
In July when I left America for my new life in Uganda.

I imagine myself crying.

I imagine myself falling to the ground and kissing it. Yes, even the dirty floor of the Detroit airport.

I imagine myself running in slow motion with the Chariots of Fire theme song playing in my head, towards the airport Starbucks.

It will be a grand return to my home country, and the thought of it makes my stomach feel like it does when I ride down the huge hill of a rollercoaster at Cedar Point. It’s scary, but it’s also wonderful.

There are 52 days left on my journey in Uganda.

Although I’m as excited as ever about going home, I have to admit: I’m horrified. As my time here comes to a close, the same question keeps popping up in my mind: What if I’ve missed something? It sparks a long list of questions like: If God called me here, what if I haven’t learned everything I was supposed to learn? I’ve grown, but what if I haven’t grown enough? What if I haven’t given enough?

I came to Africa to help. I came here to make a difference, to follow God’s calling, be it for a year or for the rest of my life. But after a few months, I began to think that maybe God brought me here more so for me. He wanted me to grow, wanted me to experience things that would forever change the way I viewed the world.

Now, though, as time dwindles away and my departure date moves closer, I am realizing that’s not entirely the case. I am here for other people as well. They just aren’t the people I imagined they would be.

Maybe I’ve held some babies who were HIV positive. Maybe I cleaned their bathrooms and bedrooms. Maybe I washed the feet of people who had jiggers. But those aren’t the primary people God brought me here for. He brought me here for my students.

And as I worry, “What if I’ve missed something?” I realize that God wouldn’t let that happen.

“For this God is our God forever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death.” Psalm 48:14

In October we took the students on a spiritual retreat.
In October we took the students on a spiritual retreat.

He’s been my guide this entire time. It’s because of Him that I have the desire to hang out in my classroom with teenagers long after the final bell has rung. It’s because of His guidance that I have the right words to say to my struggling students who come to me for someone to listen.

I shouldn’t worry about what I’ve missed. God won’t let my time here be wasted. Even though the bulk of my time here was spent with students from places other than Uganda, that doesn’t mean my time was in vain. Even if I was here to show God’s love to just one student, even that was worth my time here.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

I haven’t missed anything in my time here in Uganda. Because I trust in the Lord and lean on Him and not my own understanding, I can’t go wrong. I’ll continue to live the same for the next 52 days, as well as the rest of my life.

Eight verses for 2013…

As I sit here on December 30, 2013, I am on my bed and under my mosquito net. It is hot out, but we have no air conditioning. I am drinking a Stoney and getting excited about our daytrip to Jinja tomorrow. Life right now is nothing like I ever imagined it would be. 2013 was nothing like I imagined it would be.

2013 was the year I finally answered God’s call and moved to Uganda. But that wasn’t it. So much more happened in 2013 that I never, ever want to forget.

I wasn’t sure what to write in my final blog post of 2013. I thought maybe I could reflect on each month. I debated posting my favorite photos from 2013. Instead, I decided to use some of my favorite verses to reflect on 2013. I have a poster I made nearly a year ago with eight Bible verses on it, and I keep it in a spot where I can read them daily.

Here are those verses, and how they’ve helped me live a no-regrets 2013. I’ve also included some of my favorite nature photos I took this year:

Huntington, Indiana
Huntington, Indiana

“If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.” Habakkuk 2:3
Patience. It’s something I have always struggled with. I want a boyfriend. I want a husband. I want a family. I want a good job. I have had no other choice than to be patient, and being in Africa has really taught me patience. The things I have wanted most in life are not going to happen here in Africa. I have to be patient. God is showing me how to do that.

Warsaw, Indiana
Warsaw, Indiana

“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” Psalm 25:5
Like everyone, I needed saving. Not only did God save me by sending His Son to die on a cross for my sins, but He also saves me on a daily basis. His grace and mercy are why I continuously put my hope in Him.

Victoria Falls, Zambia
Victoria Falls, Zambia

“The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
I’ll be honest, there have been a few times here in Africa where I’ve wondered if this is true. Between spitting up blood, countless sinus infections, skin infections, and terrorist threats, I’ve seen my fair share of frustrations in Africa, not to mention how much I insanely miss home. However, I’m always brought back to the truth of this verse. God really is with me, wherever I go. There’s no place so far away that He can’t reach.

Kampala, Uganda
Kampala, Uganda

“Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful.” Psalm 69:16
I have prayed this prayer so often. I can’t even count the number of times I have asked God to take care of me since I got to Uganda. Not only have there been physical ailments to deal with, but mentally I feel like I’ve been beaten to a pulp. God’s love is unfailing, though. It is perfect, and any mental breakdown I have, I know His mercy covers it.

Entebbe, Uganda
Entebbe, Uganda

Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you.” Job 22:21
Oh how true this is. I did not truly know peace until I fully surrendered to God in 2013 and followed His call to serve in Africa. I know that when I start to feel restless, it’s because I’m not submitting to God. I know so many people who are restless right now. If only they submitted to Him, they would have the peace that He promises.

Botswana
Botswana

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:31
God knows what we need. And as long as we seek Him and His Kingdom, we will be set for life (and the afterlife as well!). The more I seek Him, the more I see that He does give me everything I need.

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“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23
I can honestly say that 2013 was the year I finally did this. That’s not to say there aren’t a few guys who still had pieces of my heart, but I was insanely careful with my heart this year, and it’s a wonderful feeling to know that for the first time in my life, God was the number one holder of my heart. That’s why 2013 was so peaceful and spectacular. I guarded my heart, and it paid off.

Kampala, Uganda
Kampala, Uganda

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.” Hebrews 10:36
This is the verse that will get me through the next five months before I go back to the United States. I believe that by continuing to do God’s will, whether here in Africa or back the US, I will eventually receive the great things He has planned for my life.

Happy New Year to everyone who reads Summit City Single! I pray your 2014 is blessed with the many gifts God wants to give you.

Much love,
Natalie
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