Mike and I returned from Uganda a little over a week ago. This was my first trip back since my battle with malaria. I wasn't sure how I would do while there, but it was an amazing time of overcoming fear and doubt as well as believing for even more God dreams.
I remember the first week after I was released from the hospital back in August. I was laying in bed (which was pretty much all I could do) pondering the amazing Awaken to Love trip in July and all that had transpired. First, I was grateful to still be alive and even able to ponder and think. (The malaria had traveled into my brain and began cutting off the oxygen flow. It's a wonder I can still function without any side effects. I could be funny here, but I won't). I wasn't sure what total recovery meant for me. I began to wonder if I would even be able to travel anymore. I wondered if I would see my precious kids in Uganda again. In those moments, the way I felt, so drained and weak, I wasn't sure it would ever be possible.
I also remember sitting on my back patio (about a month after I had been home) watching the beautiful Oregon sunset. I had a quick thought go through my mind - You will be living in Uganda for a season. I didn't really take it to heart, because I've had that thought so many times. The timing of it was interesting looking back. Funny how God knows what's up and coming. Wonder when I'll get a clue!
It did take a complete two months for my internal organs to heal and for the knife piercing headaches to leave. (I didn't realize it at time, but my heart still had some healing to do.) As I got stronger and stronger, I could see and believe that Uganda would see me again!
As we prepared for our team trip in February as well as our move over in June, I began to hear many people say, "Are you going to take preventative medicine? Are you scared you will get it again? What about your children? Moving to Uganda is a risk for them." I know the answers with my head, but my heart is still figuring it out. Funny how you don't know that until you meet the reality face to face.
It was definitely a battle this time in Uganda. I found myself thinking things I don't normally think. Malaria was trying it's best to remind me of it's vicious bite and scare me into doubting our upcoming Ugandan adventures with God.
One morning while spending my quiet time with the Lord, my eyes were opened to the scripture found in Genesis 32:1. It says, "So Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him." If you know the story of Jacob, you know he took what was rightfully his brothers (even though his brother pretty much gave it up - birthright and inheritance) and his brother Esau hated him for it. (read Gen. 27) Jacob lived his life for a season, married and had children. Then one day it was time for him to go back home. As he headed out with his family and possessions, he had to face a fear...his brother Esau.
Right then, it was like God was saying to me, as you began this journey again...as you set out to face the shadows and fears of malaria...you didn't quit because it's been tough...you've stayed the course even when doubt or fear have tried to stop you...you are going back into the seemingly unknown...don't worry, I've sent my angels to meet you!
He definitely did that too! I didn't see the angelic hosts of heaven with my natural eyes (although I know they are there). I met some of the most amazing children on this trip. I saw innocence and purity which the enemy has tried to steal be awakened again in some little hearts. Looking lifeless and lethargic one day and full of smiles and shyness the next. I found hope and life in the little giggles of children ambushed with the fear of aids and malaria. I noticed the intricate details of the eyes of the children like never before. Sitting under a tree while taking notes about total orphans for sponsorship, I admired the curled eyelashes and could see my own reflection in the beautiful chocolate eyes of 4 year olds. I was reminded again why I said yes. I was once orphaned, but now I belong to HIM! The reflection we can all see in the eyes of a child, is the Christ in us, the hope of glory. We need each other. We are family!
As my heart was renewed and strengthened on this trip, Ive again pondered the answers to the "famous" questions from above. The what are you going to do and the what ifs! The answers...well, I'm not sure about taking preventative stuff. I think I might be a little scared of getting malaria again. I have thought about my children and can't bear the thought of anything happening to them. I do realize there is a risk in moving to a foreign land.
BUT, as I've thought of all of this, there is a fire in my bones for my Lord and Savior that won't go out. His love for me is so overwhelming, I can't say no to his call. The wonderful things he shares with me melt my heart continually. His love for the people of Uganda is so overwhelming to every part of me that has feelings. I just can't say no to his plans. I will not and can not allow fear to dictate my life. He has been there for me, even through the battle for my life (many times). I will not love Jesus with mere words. He gave his life for me. He is one of my best friends for sure.
Jesus is alive. I want to know him more and more. He has given us an opportunity to discover life more abundantly and we are honored to join him in it. I am choosing to trust him completely. I will trust him with my life, with my husband, with my kids, with my ministry, with my stuff, with my dog...and the list goes on and on. This is something I want to do. It's not a sacrifice, it's a joy.
I look forward to hearing the little giggles when I again arrive in Uganda this June. I can't wait to see the smiles of thank you on the people's faces. They know how to express love in Uganda. You see it everyday. Love is holding hands, it's a smile, it's spending time with those you meet, it's stopping to help a total stranger, it's sending someone miles and miles to get a warm bottle of coke for a visitor, it's putting a mat down on the dirt, so a friend doesn't get dirty when he/she sits down. The list goes on and on.
Love, it's the new fashion for the 21st century! God is Love and He looks good on you.