When the idea of traveling to Swaziland, Africa to serve in a carepoint this summer first came about, my biggest concern was my health. I'd been struggling with bronchitis, mono, sinus infections, and ear infections all winter long. The medication I was on to treat my arthritis severely compromised my already overactive immune system and made my body a lot more susceptible to these infections. Not long after that, I came down with strep throat and battled a bladder + kidney infection. It was a long winter to say the least, and I began to worry that my health would simply not allow me to go on a trip I was so passionate about.
When I shared my plans of traveling to Africa, I struggled BIG TIME to convince my parents that it was truly something I needed to do. You see, I have this God-given, indomitable spirit that likes to travel the road less taken. My parents recognize this spirit and (unfortunately) have found ways to combat my insanity... Sometimes, anyway. This time, though, they knew they weren't getting away with it. Although it took time, prayer, and countless discussions that turned into arguments, I truly believe that they are my two biggest fans and supporters when it comes to going on this trip and fulfilling one of my biggest dreams. My sisters, my brother, my best friends, their families, and my blog readers have been equally encouraging. There is truly nothing greater than being surrounded by people who want nothing less than God's best for you.
As I have continued on with preparation and prayer for my trip, I have continually had to explain to others (family, doctors, friends, coworkers) WHY I would put my already weakened immune system at risk when I could "easily and safely" help people right here. After lots of thought, here's the best answer I can give them:
I don't want to just exist in life nor do I want to simply endure it; I want to LIVE a life worthy of the calling I have received in Christ.
I remember lying awake in bed this past Easter as I was attempting to rest and endure the pain of the bladder + kidney infections I was dealing with. I was in the most pain I had ever been in since my diagnosis. Our team was in the heart of fundraising for our trips and we were just about to begin t-shirt selling. The hugest part of me wanted to give up right then. Not on life, but on making my dreams for this trip to become a reality. I was crying, praying, and ultimately attempting to give God an ultimatum. I remember saying out loud, "God, if you do not heal me from this disease and its complications, I will not follow your call to go on this trip." Though (at the time) I fully expected Him to heal me right then... In hindsight, I can't say I'm surprised that He didn't. Instead, I heard the gentlest voice say, "Have faith child, I am taking you to Africa." That assurance and those nine words were what kept me holding on.
When I wake up in the morning all the way til the moment I close my eyes to sleep at night... I have no clue why God has put Africa on my heart. I just know that He has and I am positive that He protects those who listen to His call no matter what the cost. That is why I am not afraid of this trip. Of foreign disease. Of wearing a mask to prevent infection. Of holding, hugging, and kissing children from entirely different backgrounds. Rather, I am whole. Not because my earthly body has been healed, but because I have Him and He is all I need.
In 3 days, I will board a plane to a place and people that I love so radically, passionately, and recklessly though I have never been there or met them. In doing so, I am choosing to believe that the wounds I've so desperately pleaded with God to heal and the burdens I've begged Him to lift are the very things that make me fit for His service.
I can't wait to watch God fulfill the promise He gave me during one of the darkest times of my life. I can't wait to learn how to love the way He has loved me. I can't wait to have my heart broken for the things that break His. And I can't wait to share it all with you.