1/15/14

preparing my heart for africa



I'm not really one of those people who really thinks about the future.

That's actually surprising, considering that I can be so type-A about other things. I guess I focus on controlling my surroundings in my present situation today, next week, maybe into the next month. A few months down the road, a year down the road? Not even on my radar.

So when I made the decision to go to Uganda with Sole Hope, it was like "whatever -- March 2014 is SO far away." And I put it out of my mind.

Until I went and got shots recently. Sitting in the travel clinic across from a doctor telling me all the risks with Africa (I think he was trying to scare me) and then the nurse giving me three shots in the arm, and handed over a prescription for typhoid and malaria pills -- it suddenly got real. Very real.

Walking out of the clinic, blinking into the weak January sunshine in downtown Seattle, I started to get nervous. Uganda felt like, feels like, another planet.

I was born in Washington and to be honest, I've had it easy. I have had access to everything I need, and even now, I live in a city where the best healthcare, jobs, technology, etc is within reach.

"It makes me feel guilty," I told a friend.

We met for coffee. He grew up in Ghana and now lives here in Seattle. I started asking him for advice.

"You cannot feel guilty for where you grew up, for where you live," he said.

He told me I couldn't help where I was from but what I could help was my attitude about where I lived, how I treated people, how I saw the world.

Unlike the doctor, he didn't warn me about Africa except to tell me that once I went, I would want to go back. He's had malaria a few times growing up. He never slept in a bed until he came to the U.S., but he loves his home continent and tells me I will too.

It's different from the U.S., he explains. But different doesn't mean bad. In some ways, it's very good to be different from America.

As I try to wrap my mind around going -- the money deposit and the bandaids on my arm tell me it's getting closer -- I'm trying to prepare my heart but at the same time, I don't want to go in with expectations. I know it will be different. I know it will be hard. But I think it will be so good, too.

xo, erika



6 comments

  1. My heart is so beyond full for you - you are about to experience so much, and you are just the vessel to receive it!
    xx
    Here&Now
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  2. Praying for you as you prepare for this trip! I'm so glad you could meet with your friend who grew up in Ghana.

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  3. excited for you, friend. will def be praying for you!

    and your friend is right. i remember processing through that every single time i came back from a mission trip. what we can control is our response and doing as much as we can to pray and help and GO! can't wait to hear about your journey!

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  4. I am so excited for you, I think this will be the experience of a lifetime.

    And I can see where your guilt comes from. I've never really been anywhere... even the few other countries I've been to have always been with Americanized resorts. It's hard not to feel guilty when you see how other countries have it.

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  5. Wow, this is so exciting! I've heard of Sole Hope before and their work and I think it's gotta be a great way to love on the people of Uganda. :) I'm super excited to hopefully(!?!) hear more about it. While I wish I had some sort of advice or encouragement, I really don't have any because I haven't been on a mission trip (stateside or outside the country) but I can say that it sounds amazing and it makes me want to go on one even more. :)

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  6. i can't wait to walk this road with you, and walk the red dirt roads of uganda too. god has you on this trip for a great purpose!

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oh that's so nice of you to say hi :)
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