The closer it gets to our departure date for Africa (which is tomorrow), the more conflicted I feel.
For one thing, I am still sick. And if you read my last blog, you know that I do not like to suffer. Being sick is bad enough in your own home--but having to travel across the planet with a hacking cough and inflamed sinuses does not sound like a good time to me.
Or for the person next to me on the plane, for that matter . . .
I'm sure I will survive, however, and will arrive in Kampala restored to health and ready to help my youngest daughter plan the third--and final--of the Strannigan girls' weddings.
Which I am conflicted about as well.
Not the fact that she's getting married--we love Stephen and think he's the perfect match for Candyce. I just struggle with the fact that we don't know when--or if--she'll ever come back to Oregon. They are working on getting Stephen a visa, but only God knows when that will be granted. Chances are that Candyce will miss the birth of the first baby in our family. And I can't even think about her children being born and raised half a world away from me!
And while Candyce puts on a brave front, I know she is conflicted as well. Maybe that's not the right word, because she decided a long time ago to obey God, no matter what sacrifice that required. For the sake of the call (and marriage to Stephen is part of His call on her life), she's left family, friends, security and comfort. I know she struggles with that loss at times, and that selfishly makes me glad. At least then, we can share the pain of being apart. How I thank God for skype and the internet!
Africa itself is the final matter I'm conflicted about. Maybe I know too much, but it's hard for me to go as a tourist. I know the trip is mainly about Candyce and Stephen's wedding, and I am excited for that. But we will also be doing touristy things--seeing the sights, haggling at the markets, and going on safari. It feels strange not to be going for ministry purposes.
Just last night, I was reading a Uganda travel guide about Murcheson Falls National Park, one of the spots we hope to visit. Two entire pages in this section were devoted to Joseph Kony, the founder of the Lord's Resistance Army (people were gunned down in the park by the LRA in recent years).
The author describes how Kony's rebels killed 48 people in Northern Uganda in 2002: (WARNING, this is quite graphic!)
"The adults were hacked apart with machetes and knives, the young children beaten against a tree until their skulls smashed open--before they abducted an estimated 100teenagers. Later that year, the LRA executed 28 villagers, chopped off their heads and limbs, boiled them in a pot, and had been about to force the surviving villagers to eat the human stew when the government army arrived."
Not your typical travel guide commentary! Suddenly I wasn't so interested in visiting the park. Not because I was scared; but how could I go merrily sight-seeing as a naive tourist when I know that such violence still happens daily in Africa? I'd rather be working alongside Candyce and Stephen, taking the love of Christ to those broken ones who have survived such atrocities. (Did I mention that Candyce will have a choir of former child soldiers singing in her wedding?)
One thing I'm not conflicted about--I am planning to go back to Africa this summer! Lord willing, I will return with one purpose--to be the heart and hands of Jesus to all I encounter, be they orphans or widows or former LRA soldiers.
And how blessed I will be to have Stephen and Candyce Mogga Wani as my teachers and guides!