Monday, June 27, 2011

Learning to Surrender

I took a small hiatus from bloggin about my Kenya trip. I guess I did for many reasons. My brother in law got married at the beginning of June and with all the festivities, I forgot about hopping on here. After coming home from Santa Rosa we had family visiting from the Philippines and than I went right into teaching VBS for a week. But let's face it, those really aren't reasons just excuses I have made up in my head. The real reason I was purposefully not making time to sit down and recap my trip was simply: I miss Kenya.

The other day my husband and I were watching, Invictus. Thinking back, since I have been home from either trip I have never watched a movie that took place in Africa. I spent the movie missing the little things. The run down buildings. The half painted walls. Children running around the street, barefoot with torn clothing. Random games being played along the side of the road. Women walking around with their possessions on their heads. The music. The language. Crowded streets. The people. I was homesick. I had that feeling in my gut that I used to get when I would go away for summer camp and missed being home. Why do I miss Kenya so much? Why can't I let this reverse culture shock go? Why do I wake up in the morning and wish there was a mosquito net over my bed? Why do the faces of the children run through my dreams? Why does my heart ache throughout the day to be back in the countryside?

The other night we were at the Fishfest and my sister in law asked me how my reverse culture shock is. I lied at first and said ok. (Actually, I never fully told her how rough it's been because I probably would have burst into tears in public.) Than, I opened up a little. She must have been reading my mind because she asked right at the time I was sitting there listening to the music thinking, "If only I could pick this concert up and drop it in the middle of Atemo." She is one of the few people I can say I think it's weird being in a place with so many white people and not think I am out of my mind. ;) 

You probably think I am crazy since I was only there two weeks. Maybe you are right. But it's something I can't totally describe. It's where I am supposed to be. I am without a doubt called to serve there. I am not saying pack up and move. However, I do know that somehow I will always return.

I think one of the hardest things is finding my purpose right now. Not having a job is rough. It makes me feel like my days aren't worthwhile. I need to snap out of that quickly. But these thoughts keep running through my head." I'm made for something more. I want to help the worst of the worst. I want to walk among people who are in a great need of love, healing, and you, Lord. I want to be challenged. I want to be taken out of my comfort zone. I want to be stripped of all things worldly. I want to be a trader." I wake up to these thoughts. They run through my dreams. They are there in the shower, in church, while I eat. It's constant. So, what does it mean, Lord? What am I supposed to be doing? What is my ministry right now, right here?

A good friend who we refer to each other as "africa sisters" gave me this soon after I came home...

Two weeks ago a missionary came to our church and said, “In college the Lord asked me if I would go anywhere for Him. And knowing my heart He then asked, even the United States?”

This spoke volumes to me. While I was in Uganda last January through March I fell in love with the people of Kampala. I saw our family living there, serving in the slums, the orphanages, and filling our home with kids off the streets. While I was there the Lord spoke to my husband and He asked Nathan if he would be willing to move our family to Uganda someday. He said yes.

For months my heart ached and I obsessed about going back. I asked the Lord, “Why aren’t we there Lord? Why are we here? We are willing to go. Why haven’t you called?”

Through prayer I have come to understand that just because He asked, it doesn’t mean go. He may have asked to see if we were willing. He may have asked because someday we will go. I don’t know why He asked, but I do know that He is perfect and His plan is perfect.

Several months ago in an evening church service the Lord pointed His loving finger at an area in my heart I needed to surrender…

my will.

So I wept to the alter and laid down my will.

And traded it in for His.

Right now His will is for us is to serve right here in this city.

And I have found victory.

Victory in picking up garbage off the sidewalks with my children.

Victory in holding hands with saints in the nursing home.

Victory in praying with aching, addicted, women who do desperately want Jesus.

Victory in watching my oldest daughter serve turkey to people in this city for her birthday.

Victory in playing board games with men and women who do not have a place to call home.

Because the people in Marion, Indiana and Kampala, Uganda are all His children.

This city, Marion IN, is the perfect place for me and my family right now.

He is perfect.

He is always perfect.

His will is perfect.

And He always, always knows what is best.

This is His best for me.

And I love where He has me.

So, I am ready to surrender. Ready to let Him show me what He has in store for me right here. To let His will be done. Please, lead me to where I can help, Lord. I am thankful that He does know what is best for my life and I am waiting with an open heart for whatever is next. 

Here is a song from the movie Invcitus that I love. Pretty sure I leave it on repeat multiple times a day.


  1. Beautifully written,Em! Your heart is so big--in fact--i'm sure its the size of Africa! I would love to be there for you as well to open your heart about it. :)

  2. So proud to be able to call you my sister... you seriously have a heart of gold. God is using you and Trav and I can't wait to watch as His will continues to unfold! Love you guys!

  3. Thanks for being so honest, Em. It gets better. It takes time and it sucks but the reverse culture shock with slowly fade and it will get better. I love that part about being willing to serve in America. I often feel that this is much harder than serving in a third world nation.

    Have you heard Sara Groves' song "Painting Picture of Egypt?" A friend introduced me to it when in the midst of my reverse culture shock and it speaks to a lot of what I was feeling and I'm sure a bit of what you are too- except the roads aren't closed off to you since you're going back.

  4. Also, I have a poster of Nelson Mandela in my class and I can't tell you how many students have asked me why I have a poster of Morgan Freeman.

  5. Katie, please tell me your students at least know who Nelson Mandela is?! Besides the fact that Morgan Freeman is his look a like. ;)