I have been trying to think of something to blog about lately. It has been well over a month since my last post, but I haven’t really had anything on my heart that I wanted to get out. I was thinking this morning about what I could update, and I decided instead of updating I am going to go back to the beginning. Since Eric and I decided to come to Uganda, the most common question asked is, “What made y’all decide to go to Uganda?” This question normally leads to many more questions that are all similar. Questions like “When did God call you to go?” “Have you always wanted to be a missionary?” “Have you always had a heart for Africa?” And honestly my answer is always pretty boring. “No, I haven’t always wanted to be a missionary. No, I have not always had a heart for Africa. I don’t know when we were called to Uganda, and I don’t really know what made us decide to go.” When people hear these answers they are usually surprised. I wish I had a more glamorous story, but no matter how we got our start, we are here and I want to take you back to how we made our decision.
When Eric and I met about three years ago we had both recently gone on our first overseas mission trips. I spent two weeks in Europe, and Eric had spent two months in Africa. I still remember the first time we hung out; we were sitting on the floor at Zach’s Gym talking about the trips we had been on. Neither of us said that we wanted to be missionaries because honestly, neither one of at the time had ever even thought about it. We both had fun on our short term trips, but never considered going long term. Eric wanted to go back to Africa, and I knew I wanted to go at some point. That was the extent of our conversation. Nine months from that point we were married, and never in those nine months had we mentioned leaving Texas to go work in a third world country. After we were married a few months, I started throwing around the idea of leaving Lubbock. It was not because I didn’t like Lubbock, but because I wanted to do something different. I had this urge for adventure. I didn’t know what that meant, but I knew it meant doing something outside of Lubbock and for other people. I remember nights crying to Eric that I didn’t want to just become a teacher and do the same thing in the same place until I was old. I wanted to make a difference! I wanted to be a part of something big! Eric understood what I wanted, but the idea of moving to another country for a while was not an option in Eric’s mind. He was fine going somewhere for the summer but that was about it. I was ok with that, at this point I never even considered that it was God who put that desire in my heart. I just thought it was me being bored and wanting something new, so a summer away sounded great. If I am being completely honest, anything longer than a summer actually scared me a bit. Although I had this sense of adventure, I also had a desire for security, which we had in Lubbock. I had a great job, and Eric had just purchased a great business that had strong potential for growth. Leaving would be crazy at this point. So, I started looking up short term things online. I found orphanages and schools in Africa that we could help out at for the summer. We were on our way to an exciting summer in Africa!
I don’t know what caused it. Eric was reading a book at the time called Radical by David Platt, and maybe that’s what sparked it, but our life changed within one conversation. We were having dinner at Ruby Tequila’s one night in October, and Eric said “Why don’t we just go to Africa for a year?” I didn’t argue because I was the one who had suggested leaving in the first place, but I was freaking out on the inside. I reminded Eric that we would both have to leave our good jobs. I knew the next words Eric spoke, though, were from God. “It’s just one year of our life, we can leave what we have for one year. You will have to quit your job, but you can get another teaching job when we get back.” I know it doesn’t sound like much, but if you know Eric, you know that he is a very practical person. He doesn’t say things like “It’s just a year of our lives” or “You will have to quit your job.” I am the one who says ridiculous things like that. It’s not that Eric was keeping us from going before, but now I knew that we were supposed to go. I had never really felt like it was a calling for us, but just something I wanted to do. Eric having the same desire was my writing on the wall; God was calling us to go to Africa. I didn’t realize that had been the moment we were called until we were in Africa, and everyone kept asking me that question. It’s not that I heard a huge confirmation from God when Eric said those things, but we both wanted the same thing. So, we went.
We didn’t know where we were going to go, but we knew God would take care of it. Eric and I didn’t sit around for a week praying for God to show us where to go, we just started contacting people. We were asking anyone if they could use us for a year. We quickly learned that working with an organization was not really an option for a year. Most organizations wanted us to commit to at least two years, and we didn’t feel like we could do that. After many doors were shut in our face, we finally found where God wanted us to be. Not with an organization but just us living in a community, on our own doing God’s work. It wasn’t easy; it took almost five months to find where we were going to go. We had already started raising money, and were set to leave in June. The problem was that we still had no clue where we were going. We made the decision in October, I gave notice to quit my job in January, found where we were going in March, and we left in June. I didn’t realize how crazy that was, but while raising money and support; we didn’t even know where we were going yet! I had quit my job before we even knew a definite place to go. Eric got friends to run his business while we are away, and God has taken care of everything for us. The business is going great, we have raised enough support to go help others beyond our needs, we have wonderful friends in Africa, and we know that we are in God’s will.
Sometimes being in God’s will doesn’t mean waiting to hear him speak, it means acting on the desires that God has placed in your heart. Some doors may be shut along the way, but every shut door is leading you to where He wants you to be. Sometimes God wants to see a little faith on our end before He opens all the right doors.