I flew to Africa over the weekend... I'm here for 5 weeks. I am spending a month in Maun, Botswana—the place that stole my heart for Southern Africa when I was only 15—to help Love Botswana Outreach Mission develop communications policies and strategies. Then I'm heading down to Cape Town for a week to work with Bridge for Hope on some project development possibilities.
That's what I'm doing now.
I consult with non-profits, assisting with communications and development—translating my 13 years of leading a ministry in Africa into ways I can strategically help other growing non-profits.
It feels like a natural fit and like I'm in way over my head all at the same time. But I am beyond grateful for the chance I have to do this, and the opportunities I have to still be involved with what God is doing through ministries around the world. Such a tremendous gift.
Bittersweet at times, but still a priceless gift...
I forced myself to find words for what's going on in my heart being back in Africa again. About the unbelievable timing of this trip. About healing in the heartache.
And I'm sharing them over at Deeper Story today.
... ... ...
Fourteen years to the day since I first moved to South Africa, I arrived there again. On Saturday. My first time to return since I had to close our ministry and move back to the States.
To. The. Day.
irony coincidence full-circle timing is unavoidable.
As if I didn't already have a kaleidoscope of emotions wrapped up in this first-trip-back, I go and do it on my Africaversary.
A big hot mess.
That's what I've been. For weeks now, leading up to the trip. On the entire (ungodly-long) flight over. And since my feet touched the ground.
The landscape of my life looks incomprehensibly different than it did 14 years ago. I'm no longer 19, chasing a dream, following a call... heart brimming with hope, expectation, and excitement.
Instead I'm exhausted inside and out... broken... still trying to locate and pick up the shattered fragments of my life... bearing what feels like a permanent scarlet letter... returning to a place that was home for so long, but doesn't feel like home any longer.
In fact—and I'm only realizing this now, as I'm typing it—it doesn't just feel like Africa is no longer home. It feels like she's betrayed me. Cheated on me. Hurt me.
But I know it wasn't her. I know I can't blame her for the heartache my ex-husband caused. And yet, there is heartache here nonetheless.
And there is nothing to do but face it and feel it, and trust the Healer to heal it.
To heal me. Through her.
Because while I don't feel drawn to live in Africa full-time again, I know I will be here often. And no matter what, at some point there needed to be a first-trip-back again, the hardest trip yet.
So these next 5 weeks in Southern Africa will be filled with old and new memories, heavy and light moments, grief and restoration. And then there won't ever be another first-trip-back.
The hardest will be behind me.
That's the joy that's set before me right now. Not sure if that's good, bad, or otherwise, but that's what's helping me keep breathing and keep going.
While she no longer feels like home, Africa still has my heart. She captured it when I was 15, and she will have it for always. Firsts, lasts, and everything in between...
trusting asking Him for the courage to do it afraid, to seek the healing in the heartache, to show me parts of myself I've lost, and to reveal parts of Himself I've never seen.