Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There Are No Words

This past weekend I had an experience I don't often have. 
I was visiting with a bunch of my friends, many of whom supported us on our trip.
And of course, as I'd expected they would, they were asking me about my trip to Uganda. 
And I had no words to say to them. 

I've been working hard to put all that I saw and learned and experienced into a few sentences, to think of a blanket answer to this question I'll be asked numerous times in the months to come. And as hard as I try, I just can't do it. I can't simplify it. I can't sum it up. I can't say it was hard because that implies that something bad happened or that we in some way regret going, and the truth is nothing could be farther from the truth. We in no way regret going, and nothing bad happened to us.

 But it was in fact hard. 
It's hard to see children with multiple medical problems. 
It's hard to watch children begging for food. 
It's hard to hear an orphan cry out for a mother that is never going to come.
 It's hard to sit in the Ugandan hospital with a child who is screaming out for Jesus to heal him and take away his pain.
 It's hard to know that I have a home and a bed and so many luxuries 
while these precious babies are in need of so much. 
It's hard to stand there politely as these beautiful people thank me for coming to serve them when really they've done more for me than I will ever be able to do for them.

The fact of the matter is, I'm still sorting through it all. I'm trying to figure out how to tell people about all that we experienced in a way that they will leave them not only with an understanding of what is going on there but with a desire to help. I'm still not quite sure how to do that, but I have learned a few things NOT to ask someone after they return from a mission trip. Things like, "How was your vacation?", "Did you have fun?", or "Have you gotten Africa out of your system yet?" should be avoided. We did in fact NOT go on a vacation. While we did have fun in our own way, we were not there to have fun. Some things are far more important than our worldly definition of 'fun'. And I love Africa because I love God, and I don't plan on getting that 'out of my system' any time soon. 

It's not that people are intentionally being rude or insensitive. In fact, I have no doubt whatsoever that I have at one time or another asked someone if she had 'fun' on her mission trip. But that was before I understood; that was before I'd experienced the hurt that exists across the world. That was before God had broken MY heart for what breaks HIS heart. 

Again, thank you for your patience. Thank you for checking in on us. Thank you for listening patiently as I fumble over my words and awkwardly smile when I can't quite get out what I want to say. And in case there was any question, I love Africa now more than ever before; that much I DO know. 

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post. :-) I wouldn't imagine there are words for some things, but I think you're doing a beautiful job articulating some seriously complicated feelings. I'm so glad you had the opportunity to travel to Africa and can now share your insights with us. I look forward to reading more as you start to make sense of this life-changing experience. I love you, and I'm honored to count you as a friend. :-)


Cool people leave comments. Comments make me happy. You do the math.