It’s funny how blogs can become like relationships. I’ve had fights with this blog (why the $#%^ won’t it upload my photos!) and I’ve had moments of intimacy and connection reading the comments you’ve left and knowing that somewhere out there you care enough to read through a million paragraphs of our journey. It’s humbling, really.
Tuesday morning Clayton took Simprosa and her girls to a women’s empowerment organization that provides education, support and loan assistance. Due to funding shortfalls, this organization had decided not to give out any more loans for the remainder of the year. However, the director was moved by Simprosa’s story and agreed to make an exception. With the loan, Simprosa should be able to rent a better space to display her products and purchase more sewing machines, leading to the hire of more formerly abducted and vulnerable women. And to think, Megan and I almost didn’t bother talking to Simprosa as she stood outside our gate pleading with us to look at her products. I have seen God work in our experience with Simprosa SO much. We’re praying for her business to succeed beyond all we could ask, think, or imagine. Those women have hearts of gold.
Tuesday afternoon we went to the construction site (where we got to see the first completed hut!) for the new Child Voice center out in Lukodi and had a good ol’ fashioned goat and sheep roast. We said goodbye to a lot of the staff there and all of us bawled as they sang us a goodbye song.
Wednesday morning we packed up and had another tear fest as we prayed and said goodbye to “our girls” and Mama Cecelia. Driving out of Gulu I felt an overwhelming appreciation for this summer. This summer I will never, ever, EVER forget. Clayton and I have both learned so much, loved so hard, and lived so fully. There have been huge challenges. It wasn’t always what we expected. But as I write my final blog from Africa, I feel a sense of nostalgia.
“To thine own self be true.” Often I find I am more worried about being true to the ideas people have of me, or the lofty expectations of myself I fear people have of me, that I sidle up to the danger of losing my essence. This is me. This is the way I see the world. It has evolved and changed and matured and at the same time remained the same in many ways. What I came here to find—the vision, the calling. I’m not sure I found it. Or at least, it doesn’t look quite like I thought it would, but in a way I even expected that. You see, I have a tendency to dream big and come up with life plans and directions that God must get a kick out of, because more often than not He gently (and sometimes not so gently) changes the oh-so-glorifying plans I come up with for the next chapter of life.
The end of summer is always bittersweet. But this year it is not bittersweet because weekends at the lake, wedding season, a large consumption of froyo, and the increase in time with friends are dwindling. This year, the end of summer is bittersweet because I’m saying goodbye to creating art on dirt floors in mud huts and pineapple that tastes like candy; to the silence and solitude of 6 am and boda rides out to the village; to singing, dancing and laughing with our girls at the house and cooking over charcoal; to the little rascals that run to greet us every morning and the bunny who stole our hearts; and to worshiping God under a mango tree and hearing so many incredible stories of trials that turned into triumphs. The memories will be etched in my mind forever.
He calls us to live simply, not in excess. He calls us to live wisely, not foolishly conforming to society. He calls us to love Him with everything, so we can love our neighbors with everything. He calls us to be engaged in our community, not living in our own little world. He calls us to give generously to others, not to ourselves. He calls us to practice justice, mercy, and humility. Coming home, I want to be better at all these things.