“Africa has a thousand ways to get under your skin.” The Poisonwood Bible‘s Leah, the white MK girl, says this after she’s lived in Africa for over 20 years with her native husband, being herself a survivor of malaria, political oppression, and the equally oppressive “white man’s burden.”
I can’t help but echo her sentiments entirely. I haven’t lived in Africa since the ripe young age of 14 as the offspring of an overly patriarchal, Bible-thumping zealot, I haven’t married a native (at least not yet), and I haven’t suffered from an almost lethal experience with malaria (knock on wood). But Africa HAS gotten under my skin.
Since I traveled to Rwanda in the summer of 2008, and again in 2009, my heart has felt a deep longing for that place. So far, that place has taken shape and color in the names and places of people who I have come to love from Rwanda, the beautiful Land of A Thousand Hills. But now, as I prepare to land in another part of Eastern Africa in less than 3 days, I am excited for yet another piece of the “Dark Continent” to leave it’s indelible mark on my heart.
So far, Africa has come to encompass so much more than simply a piece of my postcolonial Master’s Thesis (although thanks to The Poisonwood Bible, that has become a large part of my academic studies this past year), or a piece of the tattoo I will be getting when I come home from Africa this summer. Africa has also been more than just a place I have served for what will now be three summers in a row. It has become a place that I yearn for, a place that even on the most random of days, I wish I could just hop on a plane and get to, a place that recently God has been asking me, “Would you go? I mean really, really truly go?”
That question actually has consumed much of my thoughts since about two months ago when I finally said, “Yes, Lord, if Africa is where you want me to teach, Rwanda specifically, I want to go. Help me know how and when to be obedient to that.” I could easily continue teaching my kids in America, who I love dearly and consider one of the greatest blessings in my life. But… comfort might not be all that is in store for me as a teacher. Rwanda wouldn’t always be comfortable, but it would be beautiful in so many ways I’m sure I can’t even imagine right now. And it would be obedience, which is always beautiful, even if covered by a fiery trial and a crucible.
And so… now onto another Eastern African country. And a new team. And a new set of people to meet and field workers to bless. I couldn’t be more excited. Right now I can’t think of a place in Africa I could possibly love more than the Rwanda that has captured so much of my heart, but I’m sure there is room enough for this other place.
And so, if you think of it my faithful readers, while I am gone this June 17th through July 7th, you could pray for my team and I in these areas:
1.) Safe travel (for us AND our luggage ), obviously!
2.) Intentionality with the people we meet in EVERY opportunity!
3.) The boldness to share His Story
4.) Learner’s hearts as we sit at the feet of people who serve in this place every day. I specifically would like to spend time with the Missus, just really grappling with what it means to be a “girly-girl” and a wife and a mom while serving overseas.
5.) Servant’s hearts to really just bless the people we are working with – our field workers and the locals.
6.) For the hearts of the people we are reaching to be soft to the Gospel.
7.) Team unity, patience, and love for each other.
8.) Growth, lots, and lots, and lots of it as we come home Green!
And secretly, of course, I want Africa to get under the skin of all my teammates, like it has mine. It’s not easily washed off, thank God!