Over the past few years, we have somewhat reoriented our life to include travelling to and from Africa. While we have tried to figure out the best way to live out this calling on our lives from this side of the globe, we have definitely run into obstacles and objections. There are days that go by where we lose sight of the relationship and we allow ourselves to drift back into Canadian culture and find ourselves in the rat race again. While we are in no way even capable of keeping up with the Jones' (whoever they may be...), we often find ourselves having regrets about not being able to take family vacations or a bit of embarassment about the decline of our old couches and slightly shabby shoes. Yet, when you find something you're passionate about, isn't it the truth that for a while, all other things fade and it takes precedence? I mean, who hasn't been in the room with new parents or at the watercooler with someone who is in a new relationship...is there anything else they speak of? Don't they always find a way to bring the conversation back around to it?
And, so, it is with me. I wonder at times if people get tired of hearing about the work that is going on across Africa with Hands at Work? If so, no one is saying but perhaps there are a few people who slide out of the conversation when it comes up, but I'm okay with that. It's been years since I first set foot in Zambia and my desire to remain connected and continue to advocate for the friends we have there hasn't waned. It's not a passing phase, and if anything, as time goes on, they are dearer and dearer in my heart and encompass more of my time and energy and conversation.
This summer, Jason and Aidan are heading to Cambodia to volunteer with Place of Rescue in Cambodia. In October, Easton and I are heading to Zimbabwe with a team to work in the community where we stayed in 2012 as a family. All of this means a huge financial output and some serious reorientation of our finances as a family with two guys in high school, hockey and every other kind of sport and activity. It means that this year, in lieu of hockey, the guys are travelling and serving. It means that there will be another year of sagging couches and patching seams. And it means that our family will once again be energized by the things that we learn and take away from those whose lives are vastly different than our own, and that the "sacrifices" we make are really not that at all.
The hardest part for me is the constant internal voice asking me how much is enough? How many times can we go before we tap out our friends and families and neighbours interest in supporting this work? How many extra jobs can we take on without sacrificing too much precious time with our boys who are growing up so fast? How much can we take on financially and not be completely irresponsible?
The answer is always the same. Just step into it. The money will come. The time will be there. The work will remain. And it does. I tell people who are often intimidated by the work that the 2 biggest things that stand in the way of people living out their calling are fear and finances. And often, those two things are intrinsically tied together. Safety and security in our culture mean very different things than in other cultures. It's part of our culture to want more, more security, more money in the bank, more freedom to do what we want. Yet, if our calling is to serve others and to spend ourselves and our finances on others, it's counter cultural. And so, we find ourselves swimming against the current of culture yet again.
And the money will come. It comes hand delivered stealthily into our mailbox and it comes in cards mailed and it comes online and it comes in anonymous white envelopes stuck under the windshield wipers of my car in the driveway. And it never, never fails to amaze me. It comes either before, during or after the trip and it comes at exactly the right time, even if I do lose sleep in the meantime. I'm not immune to the worry or the stress of trying to live this way, but I have the past as a reminder that people really do care about the lives of children across the globe and that they love our family and believe in the work that is ongoing. And then I lose sleep because of gratitude and humility and tears at the thought of being in the communities we love and walking alongside the care workers who give of themselves so selflessly day after day with none of the assurances of security that I seem to be so consumed with at times.
A friend of ours told me once, "You're the 'Go'er' and I'm the 'Sender'" and she has supported us in numerous ways over the years whether it's donating prizes for a silent auction or putting together a bucket of change that she's saved up over the year to donate to the work. In many ways, she has been on every trip to Africa I've ever taken. Like you, she may never physically walk the streets of Mulenga or sit at the bedside of an exhausted granny caring for her children's children, but she has been in Africa. She's been around in the heat of the day when the care workers walk for miles to the home of children they've heard are fending for themselves in their community. She's been on the lips of children who pray for those in Canada who provide them with visitors to encourage and support their care workers. She's been squeezed into the taxi vans with far too many others and travelled back and forth into the community to play with the children and tend to their wounds while the care workers prepare their only meal for the day.
You may never have been to Africa but I promise you, we've never gone without you.