Well, that’s not entirely true… I can generally make a sloppy twist out of my hair, that started out with the best intentions of being a beautifully symmetrical french braid, but ended in a sad tangled mess. This must be remedied. I cannot possibly hope to be a thriving missionary in Africa if I can’t even braid my own hair, right?!
Ha. The things that whiz through my ever active mind these days. It gets a bit ridiculous sometimes. But there is something down there, at the root (follicle?) of it all. It is my need to feel well prepared. My desperation, rather, not to be found wanting. Especially in a new place.
This is my first big move away from the home I have known for 23 years. Sure, I moved away for college… 20 minutes away to be exact. But, by the end of this year I will be more than 20 hours away! Go big or go home, right?! Speaking of home… I am going to miss this place so much, my roots run ever so deeply here. This is looking out over our back pasture of my childhood home.
I know myself here. I know my place, and what is expected of me. I know how to speak, eat, travel, interact, work, and behave here. I am well equipped for life here… I am prepared.
Soon I will be failing the Boy Scouts’ mantra, and find my self un-prepared. My life will be roughly ten time zones, one hop over the equator, several languages and many cultures away from everything I have ever known. How do you prepare for Africa?
There are the practical ways… vaccinations, visas, international drivers license, head lamp, and a sturdy pair of shoes.
But what about my mind, my heart, my soul? How do I prepare them?
1. I am taking my armor with me… even if it sets off the metal detector in the airport. Without it, I am like a Boy Scout without his pocket knife, a Girl Scout with out her cookies, uh, er, her crafty nature and knowledge of the 52 uses of pipe cleaners. Ok, so I was only in Girl Scouts for a few months… but the POINT is, I would vulnerable to all sorts of crap without my holy armor.
14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
2. I am anticipating hard times. I am expecting to be challenged, misunderstood, annoyed, home sick, and painfully stretched beyond myself. But through that, God has promised me that I will grow. I cling to that.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Not lacking in ANYTHING. I like the sound of that. I have the feeling that I am going to like the reality of that even better. I am coming to Africa with four bags, bright eyes, and a heart that is ringing with a call… come. Follow the sound of my voice, come forward, come deeper, bring everything that I have been equipping you with all along, I have more for you, I have a life that you could never have dreamed up on your own… come.
My friend Kate told me, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” Take the disciples. One day, their hands touched damp nets, the smooth scales of fish, and the rough wood of boats… but then Jesus came.
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
He called, they answered. He walked beside them, taught them, and grew them up into the men they were meant to be. Then their hands touched people… Jesus changed everything.
I’m coming Lord, I know you have what I need.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
Engrave your word upon my heart, refine me through fire, even though it will burn. Give me grace as I venture out, and perseverance that I may endure. Continue this work you have started in me.
And if it’s not too much trouble, send me a friend who knows how to french braid 🙂