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.

From there to here. Not as easy as it looks…

IMG_20130801_093930I never once led people to believe I was moving to Africa to live in a hut and feed the poor. Anyone who had those ideas completely came up with them on their own.

My home here in Uganda is gorgeous. The school grounds are amazing. We have electricity (most days). I can Facebook and email on a daily basis.

The physical similarities end there.

I worked in my classroom all day without electricity. I was greeted by two lizards in my classroom- one behind a bookshelf and the other under my desk. I put up torn and faded posters around my room since I didn’t pack any, nor can I run to the store to buy any. Today I realized about a hundred things I still needed for my classroom and just had to accept the fact that I won’t be getting them until I’m back in the US next summer.

Transition. This morning at New Teacher Orientation we talked about transition. Anyone who thinks that because I have a nice house and a big classroom means I don’t have a transition to make is seriously misguided.

This is Africa. It might not be the Africa you pictured, but it is Africa. I don’t have a television. I don’t have unlimited internet. I don’t have texting. I cannot drink the water from the faucet. I have to take public transportation (a sweaty, crowded minivan or a boda) whenever I want to go somewhere not in my own neighborhood.

Transition. To say I’ve got a transition to go through is an understatement. This morning a teacher was telling us about holding his crying children the night before who just want to be back in America. Another teacher has left her husband in America until he can get his immigration papers cleared. Some of my co-workers are teaching for the very first time. Others, like me, have a huge adjustment to make going from a public school system to an international school.

But there are others going through transition as well… our students.

Heritage International School was originally just for missionary kids. It’s since opened up to locals. We have more than 25 nationalities represented in our student body. Let’s face it- not all of these kids are thrilled at the fact that their parents have moved them to Africa.

People seem to have this misconception that doing mission work overseas means only helping the poor. While I plan on taking trips to villages to do just that, the majority of my time will be working with teenagers. American teenagers, English teenagers, Ugandan teenagers, etc. etc. Do they need Christ any less because they are not poor and living in huts? Also, don’t they need someone to teach them while their parents ARE out in the villages helping the poor? IMG_20130806_120151_new

There are also a number of my students that are NOT Christian. The school, being openly Christian, gives us the opportunity to witness to kids who don’t know the Lord!

Transition. We’ve all got a transition to make. The teachers. The students. The parents. Me.

If you think this has been a walk in the park so far, it hasn’t been. I’m as happy as ever, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough. I’ve got a lot to learn and certainly a lot to adjust to.

As you pray for me, please also pray for my fellow teachers and my students, whom I will meet next Friday. Also pray for teachers and students back in the United States. Starting a new school year is a time of transition for everyone, but with God by our side, we know we can face it and be successful.

“And he said unto them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15