Thursday, November 6th: 12 days before I travel to Nigeria with 14 Americans, 2 Canadians and 2 Texans.
Back when I first saw the images that would soon find their way into A Hope in the Dark, my heart was stirring for something bigger but was unsure of what direction to point itself in. As images of African orphans and desolate African communities filled my computer screen, my heart began to solidify a bearing. While part of it was gospel-centered, my original main motivation to be a missionary in Africa was merely to replicate those images that affected me so. I wanted to go to Africa to take pictures.
It has been years since I’ve first laid my eyes on those images and my heart for missions hasn’t run away from me. Thankfully, sanctification has brought me from a photographic selfishness to a true, gospel-driven desire to boldly proclaim Him and share His love tangibly with those in need. And while that heart could be led anywhere willingly, there is a special place in my heart for Africa.
Patience has now brought me to this place. I have been thinking about a short-term trip to the great continent for a little over a year and started pursuing such since spring. The intention was never to go with a group larger than three, but through a series of very clear, closed doors I found myself staring at a solo pilgrimage. Though my purpose in going alone was to get a complete grasp of life in West Africa, I still needed help planning. A mere five days after asking for help I found myself sitting with a tangible, I-need-shots-asap trip to Africa in my lap. With 18 other people.
To be honest, the mental and emotional transition from preparing a solo trip to allowing a trip for 19 people to built for me was hard. All of a sudden my “pet” trip, that I had been holding, feeding and taking care of, had turned into a zoo exhibition that I could just watch from the other side of a cage. I lost control of my pilgrimage and my emotions were unsure of what to make of themselves.
Through a series of conversations I had come to realize that my lack of excitement and borderline rebellion over the trip was merely a struggle for control. This was no longer my trip, ready for me to plan. Through the context’s of God’s amazing provision, I was face to face with a valuable lesson: the control was never mine to start with.
So I sit here this evening, still waiting for the emotional excitment of international travel to seep in, but cannot seem to muster it up just yet. Instead, I am in complete awe of God. He is good. He is faithful. He is worthy of my trust and worship. Maybe my lack of excitement isn’t there because a trip to Nigeria pales in comparison to the glory of God; it is His glory I am overwhelmed with right now.
Despite my desire to do things alone, He has given me the gift of community. Despite my desire to navigate the waters of Nigerian government, He has given me a first timer’s, folly-proof, bird’s-eye-view of the visa process. Despite my desire to excercise faith in finances, He has given me the opportunity to excercise it in new and unexpected areas.
And the coolest: Despite my heart’s desire to serve in whatever capacity needed, He has gifted our group with a need for a photographer.
My first African dream was to go and replicate images. 2 years later, my longing has moved on to more selfless, gospel-honoring things and the Lord has chosen to gift me with so much. He is knitting my first trip to Africa together so perfectly and it is all geared towards His glory. By His grace I intend on honoring that.
Lord, help me.
More actual detals to come soon…