The cats are curled up like lazy commas all around the house and I’m tempted to join them except it would totally ruin my “recovery from jet lag” plan!
Instead, I find myself sitting here scanning through the nearly three weeks of pictures and the very real memory of it all hits me right between my breastbone and eyeballs: the places I’ve been, the things I’ve seen, the lives that were touched along the way.
The way my life was touched by theirs.
The naked joy of uniformed school children in all degrees of dress, running, laughing and waving along roadsides strewn with trash.
The constant underlying tension of poverty and despair pulling hard against the unmistakeable beauty of life being lived more simply.
And how that strange medley of sight, sound and smell still gathers around the edges of each photo taken in that land seemingly fueled by diesel, dust and dung.
It gets on you. It gets in you.
It changes you.
It really has to and you sorta want it to even though you know… it won’t be temporary.
I’ve done enough trips like this so that by now I expect and welcome the changes that must come in me as a result.
I’ve also learned not to exploit the situation by getting ridiculously sappy and over emotional (you can thank me later) while expressing what I know God did there– as if He doesn’t do amazing things right here or anywhere else if we only have the eyes to see that it’s not about the location.
I’m not here to say I’m moving to Africa (unless God calls us to) but I confess that I am being moved and I hope to never stop moving.
Honestly….I’ve found this article exceptionally difficult to write and I’m not totally sure why.
Blame it on the jet lag and the fact that somehow I left the ENTIRE month of July behind me in Africa. No doubt about it: 3 weeks, 5 families, 6 airports, multiple locations , countless faces and 16 hours in an airplane over open water will do something to a girl! But that’s not totally it either.
It’s different this time.
My mind is heavier. My footsteps and breathing… my thinking is just…. heavier.
My heart holds a new and permanent weight–not sadness but more like an added mass, depth or dimension.
It’s more like the welcome weight of a new joy and responsibility.
I’m free to feel and acknowledge it now. I’m allowed to inspect it from every angle and feel it’s heft upon my shoulders and in my hands and heart.
Because now, I’m not standing in the room as one of the few strangers ever to cross their threshold. Not slipping into the scene, half-apologetic with my camera in hand and my heart wholly conscious of the sanctity of this moment… of how this sudden, unbidden care may be breaking through to the moment of decision and eternal hope.
Now, I can also acknowledge how that high and low blend of those deeply soulful, harmonic choruses winging through those rooms, out the open windows and across the fields of Africa, have found me here again, winding their way around my heart and giving me a measure of new hope as well.
Even though it was terrible at times.
Terribly ugly, awfully beautiful and totally, earnestly, painfully…. real.
Not perfect, but real and moving. Then it was Africa. Today it’s America. Tomorrow?
Who knows where, when or how God will move this discussion but that’s not the point of being moved. The point is to keep moving and being moved by Him right where I am.
Most understand even in the physical world, everything is constantly in motion. So while my table and chairs aren’t moving around the room on their own accord, the atoms inside are, even as gravity is pulling them downward and holding it all in place. (There’s your homeschool science lesson for the day!)
This is what I sense taking place in my soul as well. God has me anchored in Him here and now and yet in constant internal and spiritual motion ready to move in any direction He wills for my life .
Realizing, I didn’t just go on a mission but rather, I am on a mission at all times.
And that weight… that added depth, dimension and responsibility… is to continue to be the vehicle of His story, my story, YOUR story… and theirs.
Standing there thanking each person we met , I promised to tell their story so that others could be helped by this project as well.
It gave them peace to know they were remembered and prayed for, not dying forgotten and alone.
It gave them purpose to know that their story could be shared and possibly help another know this peace too.
It gave them hope to know their pain would not be wasted and for some, that their eternity was now secured.
Because that’s the point: stories carry hope and can help to heal the hurts. Jesus knows about the power of story too… He told plenty of them.
So the joy of this trip goes on today.
I’ll be telling some of the stories here as time goes on and others will be produced and shared as videos. In the meantime, I want you to consider this project and perhaps find a way to get involved because I’ve witnessed first-hand how this simple act of love is making a difference in the lives of the dying and their caregivers.
The hospice bucket program is a project similar to the Sole Hope project in that “many hands make light work”. Any group of any size can collect the items needed to pack a bucket. Or raise funds to send to BGR partners who are already packing and shipping buckets today.
So many of you prayed for us along the way and we are grateful beyond our ability to express. Those prayers were most definitely needed, felt and shared with everyone we met. Thank you!
And now, let’s strive to be one of those “little people” … being moved to do whatever we can to transform the world, on mission, right where we are.
P.S… no, we never came in contact with Ebola but we are praying for those who have.