Monday, March 1, 2010

Turning 50 -- 26 Days to Go -- Home from Africa

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."  That could define my recent trip to Africa.  The best was the return to daily proclamation of the Word of God.  I loved it, felt alive and free.  I love to worship, preach, and sing, and working with an interpreter only makes it that much more precious.  We saw over 3000 people come to Christ; 2500 were treated in medical clinics; about 1000 declared they will be Methodists, and 20 new Methodist churches were established in Ghana and Nigeria.  It was the best.

And for mission trips into 3rd world countries, well, it was the best in other ways, too.  The best transportation I've ever had, much better roads than on my trip to Africa in '93, much better hotels.  It was the best.

And it was the worst.  I was away from Christian (my seven year old son) for three weeks, the longest separation we have had since I adopted him six years ago -- incidentally, our "Gotcha Day" occurred during this trip, the anniversary of our adoption.  So, we postponed the celebration and are going to Disney World with good friends and fellow-adoptees, Ramzy and Lori Smith, in just 2 more weeks.  We are all pumped!

But it was the worst.  I was so homesick...I had taken a computer, hoping I could Skype them regularly, but we were able to connect via Skype only once, and otherwise, had to put up with cell phone and facebook communication.  Thankfully, international communication is much more affordable now than 20 years ago, so I was able to talk with them fairly frequently.  Next time I go to Africa, I will buy my own cell phone and be able to communicate daily...multiple times per day, if I choose.  That's a long time to be away from was the worst.

And it was the best of times.  In 1993, my experience in Africa was a daily challenge to exercise grace and forgiveness.  We were in a very abrasive, pushy, greedy, grabby culture back then.  But this time around, people were gracious, generous, patient, open-hearted, and oh, so friendly.  I wondered more than once if the change was in them, or if it was mostly in me.  Either way, it was a refreshing difference from that last experience.

And it was the worst of times.  I am nearly 20 years older and quite a bit heavier than the last trip.  Everywhere I went, people called me "Mommy," which is a wonderful term of respect in their cultures.  But it reinforced to me that I am officially middle-aged, in our culture, and downright elderly in some others!  Truthfully, I loved the term of endearment, and I think that in time I will be able to fully embrace the role of mother/grandmother to people around the world.  I have always enjoyed getting older, adding another year to my age, and I'm finally getting a bit of respect for it!  Might as well embrace it fully.

I'm back home now and mother to my 2nd grader.  He calls me "Mom," and it isn't always said with affection or respect.  But I'm back where I belong, the older mother to a precious boy.  I'm listening to his funny, hiccuppy laugh right now, and oh so grateful that on this journey, God saw fit to share this bit of His creation with me.

Good to be home.  Hope to post a bit more regularly now.  Blessings to you all!