Experience = Wisdom (and Confidence)
Now that we’ve been once, we
are feel like pros. We’ve already got our space bags for packing clothes to make room in suitcases. We know which converter/adapter plugs we need for Rwanda. We know to bring UNO and other little games to play during long hours in airports. We purchased a CHEAP but BIG suitcase from Wal-Mart because we learned that even our fancy (and expensive) Swiss Army brand suitcase still got hopelessly filthy and lost a wheel somewhere along the way. Also, we learned that dragging an 80 pound suitcase with broken wheels is bad for one’s shoulder. This new cheap one we bought will probably also lose a wheel somewhere in the red African soil, but hey… at least it’s not a big loss. And we’ll try to make it less than 80 pounds this time so that maybe we can come back with shoulders still in socket.
Because of all our new knowledge and sense of confidence, the preparation this year so far has been MUCH simpler than last year. For starters, last year I had to get 5 immunization shots (which took an astonishing 8 trips to the doctor due to a serious lack of competence on their part…) But this year I didn’t have to get any, and neither did Blake! We also know exactly what we need and don’t need, which makes packing MUCH easier.
One of the biggest changes from last year is the lack of fear. Believe me, I was SO EXCITED about our trip last year…but there was definitely an element of fear mixed in there as well. Fear of whether or not our team would get along, fear of how to communicate through a language barrier, fear of miserable living conditions, fear of sunburn. But God totally shattered all of those fears last year. Our team bonded INSTANTLY upon meeting. I mean, it was so instantaneous and so strong that it was immediately recognizable as a “God thing.” Those people are still some of the closest to my heart, and I’m so glad several of them are returning to Africa with us! The language barrier meant absolutely nothing, as we communicated through touch and expression. The Spirit was communicating for us in a language of Christlike love. Our living conditions were not what we enjoy here in America, but it was hardly miserable. As for the sunburn, I think sunscreen can count as a Godsend, as it definitely protected me last year.
This year, I’m frightful a little but only of the responsibility given to me by being a team leader. It’s a big deal being in charge of other lives in another country. I don’t just mean their safety (although that’s pretty important), but I mean their experience. I want each person on our team to fall in love with this country as I have. I want them to have fun and experience God. I want them to feel close to Him and learn about true servanthood through interacting with the children and workers we’ll meet. I want this experience to be a catalyst for deeper faith and even a change in lifestyle. I want them to feel safe and happy during our time in Africa. Part of my task as a leader is to try my best to ensure that all this happens. I hope that I am up to the task God has given me!
Please pray for all of us as we are making our final preparations to travel! Soon I will be posting our itinerary so that you can know what we will be doing each day and how you can specifically pray for us. Thanks for all your support!