July marks fireworks. Cookouts. Sun. Watermelon. The full swing of summer. We think independence day and either; recognize or take for granted our freedoms. As this July marks five years in East Africa, I recognize that during my time here my independence has turned more into a dependence. A greater dependence on God, my faith, and my support systems of friends, family, and my husband.
July 2012 I left the states planning to serve for one year in Uganda. I networked, asked and secured the necessary funds and pledges to keep me sustainable for that year. During the next 12 months, I worked and laughed and loved and lived a different life of independence. I was free from materialistic bonds, even living without a mirror to get dressed with every day. I went without the pressure of ‘Keeping Up With The Jones’s’. Maybe in some way I’d become the Jones’s of my new community. I was the one who came from ‘The Great America,’ the super power developed world.
As time went on, I followed really without thought, what just seemed natural and right. That decision was to continue to stay another year and then another and another. The longer I stayed the more dependent I became on Christ. In the first year after I left the states, everyone thought “That’s really cool and brave. You left your job and comfort zone to go and serve.” “Of course we’ll support you in this once in a life time experience/adventure of sacrifice.”
As time went on, it still was cool but questions became more “When are you coming home? How will you survive? Will you be a begger forever? How are you ever going to have a retirement plan?”
The initial excitement about my bravery was encouraging, but the support of that bravery became less and less from people, which forced me to be more and more dependent on God. I have to be honest in saying it’s been a little hard at times. It can become frustrating when you see and hear of all the vacations, additional degrees, new homes, new high dollar jobs, and ‘progress’ that others are making; and it feels like you’ve reached a place of stagnation or being left behind. All the while, I have known that this is the place I’ve been called, and it’s my time to be fully dependent.
In the past five years I’ve grown in so many different ways. I’ve had to be at an uncomfortable place of vulnerability and dependency more times than I can count. There have been times, especially these last 18 months, when I feel all my years of work to build the strong, black, independent woman image has just completely fallen apart and brought me to an unrecognizable mess of tears and maybe even oversharing my sorrows (at least in my book). Through it all, I have grown and been able to turn a Fierce Five and who knows what I’ll look like at seven or even ten.
I will be dependent.
I will not throw away my confidence.
I AM A child of The King.
I AM righteous and the righteous are bold as lions.
I WILL NOT throw away my confidence.
I will walk in my boldness.
I will take courage, knowing that God keeps his promises and that He doesn’t see me as less or more deserving, but fulfills every promise in his time.
I will remember that a short term mission trip in December of 2011 was a time that opened a season through which God changed my life forever.
- Ibra’s successful climb to Kilimanjaro and safe return. Although he’s experiencing some numbness in his fingers and toes he did not freeze to death nor get swept off the mountain when facing his fear of heights.
- Safe return to Kampala, sunshine, friendly familiar faces and a housing upgrade. Now I have realized that I need the Lord to quickly fulfill his promise of giving me a car.
- Returning to church in Kampala at a time of great change and encouragement.
- The opportunity to continue to learn new things about the culture in Uganda, especially as I was asked to be a sister which means giving a speech at a wedding introduction, mixing my limited knowledge of Luganda, Swahili and English. As well as learning more about other cultures that make up my social circles.
- That people see me as a value to their organizations.
- Finally gaining Kenyan Alien status and being able to go to a national park on the discounted rate; $10 versus $25.
- Housing upgrades.
- My Eritrean and Ethiopian friends who are now like family and the reason I was fully dressed to represent Independence Day.