Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Countdown to Uganda, Africa

We're less than a week away from our departure for Uganda, Africa. We leave on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 2:45 pm. I'm excited, nervous, anxious and any other emotion you can think to add. I've never been to Africa so I'm not sure what to expect. I've heard many different stories from people who have lived there or visited there. But I'm nervous about this new experience. I know I'm going to see things that will be disturbing and moving, but I've been told I will also see a great spirit of joy in a lot of the people we meet, even though on the surface, through my eyes, their situation may seem desperate.

I'm feeling anxious because it is a very long plane trip and I don't do planes very well. I'm not afraid to fly, but I get very restless after a few hours and this trip could be around 30 hours if you count our lay over time. People say, "get up and walk around." This is good advice. You can walk around the plane and talk to other team members, but after 30 hours I'm sure the walking around will become pretty boring. It's at this point I'm afraid I will be screaming at the top of my lungs, "let me off right now!" Another person said, "just spend time talking to God." This is another good suggestion, but I think even God will get rather bored with me after the first 5 hours or so. I've been talking to Him for about 40 years now and I'm not sure God wants to talk to me for 30 hours. But rest assure, I will be talking to Him from the beginning of this trip until the end. God and I have a running conversation throughout the day anyway. I'll just try not to get to the point where I'm begging Him to "get me off this plane!"

I'm excited because it's not every day you get an opportunity to travel to a place like Africa and meet people of such a completely different culture than your own. There will be different foods, different smells, different sights and different priorities. I want to try and leave my American ways behind me as much as possible and immerse myself in the African culture and ways. I mean, I don't want to be the ugly American screaming for an ice cold Coca Cola and demanding that people move faster than the speed of light. I hope to be an observer. I want to see through the eyes of God. I want to see the people as He sees them; to have compassion and grace. Of course, if I see a bug or a spider this will all fly right out the window and I will be reduced to a mumbling, screaming, maniac scrambling underneath my mosquito net. However, I do hope to be impacted and to impact others in between these bouts of panic.

I've decided to live an open and expansive life, like Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 - "Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively."

I'm giving my whole life to God. I want to enter this wide-open, spacious life and not settle for a small life. Letting God expand your life is exciting, but also a little scary because you don't know what to expect. That means I have to trust Him; lean on Him; believe that He has my best interest at heart. It's scary, but the benefits are more than amazing.

Don't let your feelings, or small thinking fence you into a small life. Break out of your routine and let God surprise you with what He can do with your everyday life. It doesn't mean you will go to Africa, or that you will even leave your city. But you can rest assure God will widen your scope and your vision if you only let Him.

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