Spring Arbor University gives their students the amazing opportunity to experience another culture for 3 weeks before they are able to graduate. We could choose from a whole variety of countries. My sophomore year at SAU I was reading the school's announcements on my email when I saw there was still an opening on the Uganda cross cultural trip. My heart started beating fast and for a moment I was taken back to that room full of sweaty teenagers listening to Jill speak. I immediately jumped up and walked as quickly as I could over to the cross cultural office. They gave me all of the paperwork and told me to bring it back as soon as I could. I went back to my dorm room and furiously filled out the paper work then called my Dad. I told him about the opportunity and also mentioned the tiny detail that the trip cost almost $4,000 and that I was going to apply for a loan. I was determined and, after all of the failed attempts to get myself to my dream, I wasn't going to let anything stop me. I turned in my paperwork the next day, but was told I needed confirmation of loan approval before they could officially put me on the list for the trip. I was anxious and checking my mail constantly for the next week. Finally on a Monday I received the notification that I had been approved! So, before our 10 am chapel I hurried over to the office to hand in my approval. When I got there they told me that unfortunately someone had left the office just before me and took the last spot on the trip. Devastated, I walked to chapel nearly in tears. Adding to my heartache, Invisible Children volunteers were speaking in chapel that day. I endured an hour of IC reps practically begging for students to get involved in helping Ugandan children. By the end I could not help but let the tears stream down my face. I was so hurt and confused. Two of my friends noticed how upset I was and offered to talk with me. I proceeded to sob uncontrollably and question out loud why this was all happening. I had prayed for 4 years to go to the place my heart longed for. I hadn't placed this desire in my heart, I truly felt that the Lord did, so why was He denying me this opportunity? My heart was breaking. (It may seem silly to you to be so upset, but 4 years is a long time for an impatient, crazy passionate red-head.)
I spoke with the leader of the trip, Deb Varland about how disappointed I was to not be going on the trip. We had spoken several times before my loan was approved and we both shared a great passion for African culture and missions. She is a firey woman and decided to take matters into her own hands. She convinced the cross cultural office to expand the trip for me. She called all of the places we'd be going in Uganda and told them there would be one more person with the group. So one week after my denial and emotional melt down, Mama Deb gave me the news that my dreams were coming true. Cue insane excitement. The trip was roughly 6 months away. I spent majority of my time thinking about, talking about, and day dreaming about the trip I had been waiting for since my sophomore year of high school. I was so proud of myself for seeking out an opportunity and making it happen all by myself. My independence was in an ongoing love affair with pride. Little did I know that God would break up that relationship.
|Mama Deb :)|
Over the next two days I didn't feel too much different, but decided I was going to go on the trip anyways. I was simply hoping to not make it to Uganda only to become more ill. I boarded the plane to Amsterdam and slept most of the way (7 hours). On the next flight into Rwanda (8 hours), I prayed that I would sit next to someone who needed to hear about God. I ended up sitting next to Dave, a scientist going to Kampala to study the correlation between TB and Aids. He immediately asked me about my school and recognized it was a faith based institution. For the next few hours, from his prompting, we talked about God, Jesus, and what it all means for us. He asked me a lot of questions and I couldn't believe God had answered my prayer. By the end of the flight I was feeling more excited about the days to come because I felt God more closely than ever before.
So what about my illness? When I arrived in Uganda, I was no longer sick. Seriously. True story. No lies. I was healed. I was so much better that I didn't even notice. I was distracted by all of the new sights and sounds that I didn't even know God healed me. Is that even possible? It sure is. Want to know where I was when I did notice? I was playing soccer at the base of a mountain that sported two amazing waterfalls. I was running around with a bunch of Ugandan children when all the sudden it hit me. I was running. Before my trip I couldn't climb a single flight of stairs without getting short of breath because I was so sick. And here I was, in Uganda, running! I stopped moving, looked around at where I was and what I was doing and cried a few simple tears of joy and gratitude. I breathed out a slow "thank you, Jesus." My God is so faithful.
Where do you need to stop fighting the pain in your life & recognize that it is actually God's goodness?
Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Proverbs 16:3 "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans."
Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."
Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."
::By His Grace & For His Glory::