This last Sunday, I was sitting with a few friends talking about the world. At one point we got on the topic of Africa and Lauren’s response was “There must be something in the water there, because everyone always wants to go back!” I thought on that for a few minutes, because when I think about my trip to Africa, I was sent through every sort of emotion, yet I never put myself down (which I often do) nor did I want to leave the Samfya community that I became a part of(which again, I have that tendency to do). I had times of weakness, but God was able as he always is, and gave me strength. Quite often, I have thoughts about my trip, sometimes negative, where I ask myself “Where is that loving girl who just wanted to hear the stories of others and make kids laugh?” “Am I even that same person?” “Does that girl even exist?” So I responded to Lauren by saying, “It’s like I left the best version of myself there.”
I’m not sure that is entirely true, but I’m an introvert when it comes to my thoughts and I believe me when I say I had thought about this independently for a long time before allowing myself to be vulnerable and share that with others. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my experiences in Samfya and I’m okay with that. The reason I’m not sure it’s an entirely true statement is because I do feel as though I am able to be the best version of myself here, it just takes more work and less distractions.
When I have meaningful conversation with people I love(or even don’t love for that matter-because this makes me love them), listen to the stories of others, and tutor at Martin Luther King CLC I do feel like I am the best version of myself; the version of myself that God has intended to use for His glory. I am suffocated by worldly distractions and a culture that tells me (one) that I’m supposed to look and act a specific way and (two) that I’m supposed to be on this journey searching for who I am. I have been shaped to be unshaped.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1, we learn that for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. I’m confident God used this small fraction of a season, this mission trip, as a gateway for me to learn about myself. It was a way for God to reveal to me the best parts of myself and how they were able to serve and glorify His name.
To the girl who yelled ‘chau-nau-lei!’ at the top of her lungs while digging the well, who danced and laughed with the children of Samfya even though she was exhausted, who spoke as much french she knew with a refugee from the Congo, who giggled and shared stories of boys with the young women at Samfya High School, who didn’t let the inability to communicate well get in the way of her ability to communicate, who spoke to an entire village, who’s heart broke for the lost and poor in spirit in the township in South Africa, who loved there and continues to love: God isn’t done revealing Himself to you.
Our God is a sovereign, loving God.