I have different music for different places, times and occasions. I'm assuming that's normal and it's what you do too. Gulu means Mat Kearney, on repeat. For some reason, every time we went to Gulu, I would play him non-stop. I was able to see him in concert last year and as I swayed, danced and sang along, nostalgia took over and I closed my eyes and was brought back to Gulu. The sweat. The dirt. The smells. The people. It causes his music to touch something so deep in my soul. So, here I sit in Gulu, listening to Mat and writing. It’s perfect. So, put on “All I Need”, sway, dance, sing along and read…
A couple friends from my WorldVenture appointee class have written blogs about what happened one year ago. Why? Because it has been exactly one year since we were all appointed to be long term WorldVenture missionaries. Crazy. It’s incredible to look back at that group: such dreams and ambition all together in one room. Our group was headed to all corners of the world, looking towards going out to where God had called each of us. Every one had their own journey.
One year ago. Can I tell you where I was? I WAS A MESS. I didn’t even know how much of a mess I was. Looking back? What. A. Mess. I mean, seriously, all you really have to do is read my blogs from this past year to know that it was a rough time.
One year ago…
…I was experiencing reverse culture shock in ways that took months to identify. I was scared to drive at night, had to adjust driving faster than 50mph and thought all plans were cancelled if it was raining outside. I had panic attacks in grocery stores and in large crowds. I struggled to remember how to talk like an American much less act like one. I had more socially awkward moments than I’d like to remember. I was desperately trying to feel at home in a place that was no longer my cultural home. I was just beginning to realize the weight of cultural homelessness.
…I was an emotional wreck. I hadn’t understood that my goodbyes in Uganda were actual goodbyes and that I wouldn’t see my loved ones for a long time. One year ago, I broke down in sobs in front of an interview committee that would determine if I would return to Uganda. I still can't believe they said yes after that. And, after that, I couldn't stop crying about Uganda.
…I had more questions than answers. Mainly, how the heck will I raise all of this support and when will I get to return to Uganda? There are thousands of more questions beneath those two. There was a helplessness. A loss of control. Living a life of complete unknowns.
Here I sit, back in Gulu with Mat Kearney in the background, and just amazed. Amazed that God can use a mess like me. Amazed that when I was an even bigger mess than normal, He was still there. Amazed at how He orchestrated this past year. I lost control but He gained it. I felt helpless but I was in His arms. I looked towards a sea of unknowns while He steered the boat.
One year later and now I’m back but in the same boat with Him. I have no control. I have no idea what the future will look like. Sure, I have dreams, plans and goals but can God mold and shape them differently than I expect? Oh heck yes He can. And He probably will. It's kind of been His M.O. in my life. I have no idea the details that will get laid out. That’s actually a good thing. I hope that I never leave this boat. I pray that my life is always steered by Him and not by me trying to grab the wheel. Although, why do I have the feeling that He's going to call me to step out of the boat at times?
Oh Jesus, you can understand my struggles more than anyone. I wonder what it was like for You to experience life on earth. Was it ever awkward for You? You probably made it through culture shock seamlessly. I could learn a thing or two (or a million) from You.