Friday, June 25, 2010

From The Pearl to The Pride

The sun has just risen over Lake Victoria as I sit waiting to board the next flight to Kenya. A Ugandan voice continues to make announcements I can’t interpret as it mixes with the feedback squealing through the overhead speakers. Our plane is late. A hot cup of African coffee and a Mountain Dew has yet to fulfill my desire of pulling me out of my exhausted state. On top of my Christmas Eve type of anticipation of seeing my friends and family that kept me from sleeping last night, African storms filled the skies and shook the house. These storms also brought friends. Giant flying ants with wings a few inches long fluttered throughout the house. They even accompanied me in the extra cold shower this morning. Julius explained that when it rains hard enough, these ants seek dry areas. I guess the closest dry area to their anthill home was inside our home. Julius also explained that these are the same ants they occasionally eat! Jay commented, “Great, the kids can catch their breakfast today and clean the house at the same time.”

We just boarded the plane and I now write from 27,000 feet in a small steel tube. Nairobi bound. Lake Victoria resembles more of an ocean than a lake. Our budget booking has now revealed the truth in the word economy. I can barely hear myself think over the roar of the engines coming through the thin walls. As we were squatting to not hit our head on the ceiling a friendly flight attendant welcomed us. “Is this first class?” we jokingly asked. She replied with the same tone, “It is all first class today.” Appreciating her sarcastic humor I smiled and raced Jay to the window seat. Does “Shotgun!” apply on aircrafts? I would argue it does. The flight attendant then proceeded to explain the safety regulations. The intercom binged and then came the same schpill as usual. The intercom was really unnecessary for the twelve passengers on the plane, but for production sake it was nice. Honestly, I am so thankful to be aboard this flight. Even on top of the excitement of reuniting with my mom and some of my best friends, I have the next hour in the air to think. Even if it is about nothing. It is uninterrupted, unplanned, unstressed time to think.

A reality just hit me in the airport. As I was starting to type this post I had this sense that eyes were on me. I felt the stare of someone just feet from me. I looked up to see Sam. Sam is the guy that I sat next to on the flight from London to Uganda. We had eight hours to make hopefully unforced conversation. Thankfully Sam was a great guy who had the same heart for the Lord and passion for missions. He was 18 years old, traveling to Uganda by himself, to do mission work. He was very easy to talk to even though sometimes I lost his words due to his strong British accent. I would kill for a British accent. Think about that! “Cheerio!” Anyways, I met Sam on the flight to Uganda, and on the next flight we both boarded out of Uganda, three months later, we meet again. What are the chances? We briefly caught up and exchanged quick stories of our stay. He had been working with churches and small villages. Our flight boarded so I didn’t get a chance to tell him the exciting news and what God has done in my life over the past three months, but it really got me thinking. Three months. Wow. The time has flown and crept at the same time. One moment, usually in high stress trials, I can hear the extremely slow tick of the clock. The next moment I feel like I just blinked and weeks of excitement passed. I am so amazed in what has been accomplished in the time here. Things I never thought would happen at speeds I didn’t think possible. That is just a small piece of this entire story that is so incredible. Another piece of evidence that shows this has not been put together with human hands. The only way this happened is the power and presence of our Creator. Jay and I are Two twenty-three year old guys that haven’t a clue how to speak the native tongue, adjust to this foreign country, or raise kids in a land and culture that neither of us know. I was going to retype that but I decided to leave it… We don’t know how to raise kids… at all. We are learning fast and experiencing something our future spouses will appreciate. It proves a truth I have learned while being here. God does not use us based on our abilities. It is not up to our abilities. It has nothing to do with our abilities. It is only the direction and willingness of the heart. That sounds like some deep thought that has some ambiguous meaning, but the meaning of that truth is something that has been so clearly revealed to me. God does not require us to have everything figured out before we go to him. God does not ask for us to change before we surrender to his will. God does not desire us to have an action plan, 3-step process, or business model before we decide to take steps of faith in his direction. It is the simple yet complex change of heart that I believe is desired from God. I am very comfortable with a business plan and organization, but sometimes God calls us out of our comfort in order to show us that HE is the one that is doing the work. Once we release control and let go of pride, God shapes our surroundings and us exactly how he needs it to be for his will to be done. This could have never happened by the strength of people. Yes, people were involved, many of them, all being very hard workers, but all glory goes to God. He takes the impossible and the unattainable and makes it possible and attainable. He makes the distant shore seem close enough to grasp with him being the rudder steering the direction of our life. That is the reason I think sometimes the least likely people in the most complicated situations are used to point to his greatness. It is the way that God shows these things can only be done through him.

Just as we reached our maximum altitude the flight began back towards the earth. Kenya looks different. Same dirt roads, but green fields now stretch to the horizon. Instead of the thick jungles throughout the hills of Uganda, Kenya has flat-topped trees scattered about flat plots of ground. The "Pearl of Africa" looks much different the "Pride of Africa", even though the flight was about as long as Birmingham to Atlanta. This is what I pictured when I first thought of Africa. Tall trees. Large grass fields. Zoo animals roaming the wild. This fits the cliche Lion King like Africa I have pictured since I was a child. The landing gear opened and the plane jolted in the sky. I thought the bottom dropped out of the plane. I looked down. Still there.

List o’ Life: Kenya:

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