A little over six weeks stand between me and Africa. Six weeks. Until Africa. I've been to Haiti and South America, Mexico and Europe. But Africa just seems so….foreign. So far away. I confessed to Matt over the weekend that I'm scared. I'm excited, sure. And humbled beyond belief to have been given this opportunity. But I'm scared. I'm scared to get on a plane with 11 other people that I've never met in real life. No going back then! I'm scared to fly for almost a day straight, because I'm terrified, terrified of flying. I'm scared to spend a week in Africa, in a place that many people write off as way too dangerous to visit. I'm scared that I'll get sick from the food or that I'll get bitten by some weird bug. I'm scared that I might see things that are really hard for me to see. I might come off as this super adventurous, fearless traveler, who hops on a plane to Peru to go volunteer with no real plan, who out of nowhere announces that she's going to Uganda. But these trips scare me, like they would anyone. They shake my foundation a little bit. I've paused many a time during the preparation for the various missions, wondering, "is this safe? Is this smart? What the heck am I doing?" But ultimately, I'm more scared of not going. I'm more scared of hiding my gifts, my light, under a bushel basket, too nervous to step out of my comfort zone, too scared to leave my safe little box. When you launch into the complete unknown, you have no choice but to lean on God. When you're someplace new, where you don't speak the language and you don't know the people, your usual tools and skills aren't very helpful. It's a really vulnerable and awesome place to be in. I feel so close to God on these trips, far away from home. You get so comfortable in your own world, you know? You find yourself thinking that you don't really need God because you can figure it all out on your own. But the reality is, you can't.
My aunt asked me last night, "when you go to these places, how do you not just cry about the situations? How does it not break your heart?" And the answer is that it does break your heart. You do cry. But you also see the hope, and the joy. I know that spending a week at this orphanage in Uganda will wreck me. It will break my heart. But it will also fill my heart with so much joy to meet and get to know the beautiful people on the other side of the world, God's sons and daughters just like us, kids who play and laugh and dream and sing, just like kids do here. There's sadness, and there's hope. That doesn't really change, no matter where you go. And no matter where you go, people's stories are worth telling. Worth sharing.
I hope you follow along as I prepare for this trip and especially while my team is in Uganda. I hope you look at the pictures we will be sharing, and see the joy and hope and humanity in them. You can follow The Archibald's project Facebook page here, their Instagram here, and their blog here. I'll also be sharing lots of my own Facebook page here, and my Instagram account here.