Sunday, May 13, 2012

Inside the Wheelbarrow

The circus was in town and one of the attractions was a world-renowned tight ropewalker.  His posters and flyers boasted of his talent, saying he was the “Best from East to West”.  When the time came and the people gathered around, the walker very gracefully and with little effort walked back and forth across the rope carrying several different objects in increasing weight and size. The people were amazed, he followed this by riding a short unicycle across the rope for all of the people to see, and the children in the crowd oohed and aahed to see such a spectacle.
Then, he took a wheel barrow filled with 100 pounds of heavy sand, before he tempted the rope, he called down to the crowd, “I have shown you that I can carry my weight across the rope, do you believe I can carry this very heavy wheel barrow across as well as myself?” and the people all shouted up to him, “We Believe”, once he knew he had the confidence of the crowd he began across the rope adeptly he maneuvered the wheel barrow to the other side and back again.  There was another wheelbarrow on the platform filled to the brim with water.  He set down the sand and took hold of the other, he asked the people, “do you believe that I can cross this rope without spilling a drop of this water?” the people responded in unison, “We Believe” and they did.  He had proven his talent and shown his ability, the people watched with bated breath as the walker expertly crossed the line without spilling one drop. 

When he had returned to his starting position there was a third wheelbarrow sitting on the platform.  The World renowned and very talented tight ropewalker again called down to the people, I have easily walked and ridden, across this rope for you, I have carried a heavy load and carefully pushed the gentle water across for your viewing pleasure, thank you for seeing my talent and believing in me.  Now, to give you a real sense of my greatness, who will volunteer to sit in this last empty wheelbarrow for our big finale?” the crowd fell silent.

The person who would volunteer was placing his entire life in the hands of the tight ropewalker.  One slight misstep and any number of painful or even fatal accidents might occur.  However, great, and talented the man was, no matter the acts of grandeur that he displayed, no matter how many times he safely delivered the performance, and how ever thunderous the people cheered, no one volunteered.

It’s easy to say you believe when you are not in the wheelbarrow.

10 days, 10 days, 10 short days I cant believe that it is almost over. Living in temporary places, sleeping in temporary beds, having to be sure that my personal belongings don’t weight more than 100 pounds at all times.  Learning new ways of greeting, new languages, seeing amazing places both unpleasant and beautiful. Meeting and being inspired by so many people who have moved their whole lives to another country to “make disciples”. 

The one thing about my trip that I guess was always lingering but never became apparent to me (the elephant in the room as it were) is that at some point it would come to an end. I knew that some day I wouldn’t have 10 roommates anymore, that I would finish finals, that I would leave “hello” behind, abandon “ciao” and even forget “Wasuze Otya”.  I have been expecting to lighten my load along the way, giving away everything that I know is so readily available in the U.S.  I have dreaded every single flight all the way here.  I have missed the states and my family and my many close friends (who have been so good to remind me that I am missed and loved, thank you).  I have looked forward to the next step, excited for what is to come, probably getting caught up and at times forgetting to just be where I am.  Now I sit here thinking, about how in a few short days, I will be home, no plane trips to dread, no new places to visit, no plans to plan because I need to be there for a while.  The thought is overwhelmingly comforting and at the same time I feel like I’m suffocating. 

The idea of getting back in the swing of things, working a real job, finishing school, paying for gas, are not necessarily appealing things about my return.  Also, the idea of not having a “next trip”, a plane ticket to save for, and especially staying put, feels weird.  The things I am excited about, a cell phone, I can’t wait to have what will feel like full access to all of my loved ones.  This means a lot after being in such a remote place for months and months having to cut phone calls short and desperately see the frozen images and synthesized conversations on Skype.  Easy access to necessities, at stores, consistent electricity, running water and Starbucks coffee, just a few of my new found appreciations.   

This trip has been full of uncertainties, things like funds, flights, and shelter.  I had decided a while ago that the questions that I had, would never be “just answered” for me.  That I would have to have faith and not simply belief, (because there is a huge difference) but for the last 9 months I have been in a place where I have had no other choice than to walk that faith, to “get in the wheel barrow” by doing so I would have to give up my own fears, STOP laying in bed at night wondering; who, how, and when. 

Just trust, through that trust I have learned so many things about myself and about the character of God.   For example I learned that the things that I consider important are not necessarily important to God.  The things that are important to him are of little consequence to me (well not all of them) but how offended I could become when the importance of my needs was undermined. And how patiently God had waited while I ignored his concerns.  A big one was to let people do things for me, something that I have a really hard time with.  I don’t like letting others serve me.  I prefer to be the “hostess” or the “helper”, but in a place like Italy a visitor is expected to be available for conversation, no matter how much they would like to be doing the dishes or collecting the trash.  Because I have always felt like I needed to prove my worth by being valuable (a helper, a hostess, a fulfiller of needs).  I had to learn that my presence was valuable, and the invite warranted that, not the amount of work I put in.  Just for example.

This experience has been hard because it was very easy to say that I believed before I got in the wheelbarrow.  I left America for a trip that was not paid for, I had bought a one-way ticket to Italy, I prayed that I would somehow make the 4000 tuition.  God was faithful to me and gave me lots of extra work this summer.  I had made just enough to pay the tuition, I wrote a fat check that emptied my bank account.  The next step was the total expenses for my time in Africa, the plane ticket was 1400 dollars and the cost of my stay here has been 2000.  So my total living expenses for 5 months has been 3400 American dollars (less than my entire tuition for three months in Italy).  Through a few very generous one time and consistent monthly donors, I have collected about 2000 of the dollars I need to finish paying off my living expenses here, leaving me with a 1400 dollar payment still to make.

One of the common misconceptions about my trip has been that I am receiving some sort of payment.  This is just not true, the fact is that just like any missionary my time in Africa has been funded solely by donors, this is why I have been writing a blog to keep my donors up to date and to hopefully show that I am fulfilling a need that others cannot by giving my time.  I have had a very hard time saying that thus far, but as my time here comes to a close, I have a sincere need to fulfill financial obligations that have been overlooked. 

So thank you for following me on this journey and thank you for all of the positive feedback on my blog and thoroughly enjoying my stories.  And if you would like to be a part of that and my continuing journey please click the donate button and give.  ANY amount will help.  Please don’t feel obligated to give more than once and don’t think that your contribution will be unhelpful or overlooked. The pay pal is simple and the donation is tax deductible so you will receive a tax credit at the end of the year.

So this is my need, I place it before you, from my heart, from Uganda, from inside the wheelbarrow.



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