I never planned on moving to Africa. Five years ago when I looked toward my future I envisioned a normal life, a growing career, a cute little house, perhaps even a family. Fast forward to two years ago and most of those expectations had come to reality; but my hopes for the future had drastically changed. One trip to Haiti redirected the course of my life.
Fast forward again to the present day and I find myself in a crowded little town in eastern Uganda. Instead of the normal, stable, organized life I could have had; I’ve spent the past 9 months on bumpy dirt roads, in smelly village health centers, and at 4 hour multi-language church services. I’m a volunteer – with no salary. I live in one disorganized and outdated room in a house full of people I didn’t even know a year ago. I don’t have a husband and I’m terrified of giving birth to another human being.
God sure has a way of bursting our safe little comfortable bubbles, doesn’t He? The description of my life right now would make most people have pity on a 29, soon to be 30 year old-maid. The poor girl is alone on the dark continent with no family, no money, and no stability in her life. Somebody should rescue her, right?
The truth is, this girl couldn’t be more content and at peace. That lofty American dream that so many people spend their lives chasing will always be unattainable. The life I could have had back home would be all about keeping up with the pace, making more money, getting more stuff, and comparing my life to everyone else’s.
Over the past few years as I have given my life more fully to Jesus, the less interested I’ve become in that other way of life. No matter how settled and perfect the American dream might seem, there will always be that constant struggle of wanting to have more and never being satisfied Wanting to be more, but never being at peace with who you truly are. As many times as people try to deny it, all humans are created to live their lives for their Creator, and until they do it, they’ll never have true peace in their hearts.
That’s why I can say I have peace in my current situation. I don’t mind the dusty, bumpy roads, I’m not bothered by the dirty kids who pee wherever they feel like. I have a blast living with my new African friends; I am overwhelmed with love for the family that I’ve been blessed with here in Uganda. God’s provision has been abundant. I’ve never felt more a part of something worthwhile than I do in this place.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
I realize now that it wasn’t Haiti that changed me. It wasn’t the dose of reality I got from seeing absolute poverty. It wasn’t the new perspective I got from seeing the joy shining in the faces of people with nothing. It wasn’t even the spiritual re charge that I got from serving the poor and needy. What changed me was LOVE. Love isn’t about ourselves, it’s about who we are loving. I was tired of loving myself, my life, my comfort zone. Jesus helped me to finally do what I was created to do; love Him. God made us to live in community, help each other, and allow Jesus to love others through us. It’s nothing that I did other than open my heart and be willing. Jesus took my willing heart, changed it, and helped me find my purpose.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18
THE DUSTY ROADS OF UGANDA
There would never be any peace for me at this time in my life if I was living the “dream”. God gave me a new dream and it has to do with His mission. Many days I wonder how I got here, why I’m here, and what the heck I’m going to do over the next couple of years. I have to remind myself that the only thing I have to focus on is Jesus. If my purpose of coming here was just to love one malnourished orphan, one struggling pastor’s wife, or one lost and rejected teen, God has accomplished his work in me.
I’m far from perfect, but still I have peace. There are many unknowns, but I live without fear.
“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27 NLT