Thursday, January 31, 2013

Heart Stretched

I'm restless.

After returning from a whirlwind trip to Ethiopia with Compassion International  (see my blogs at my wjtl blog) I am now in that strange place where it feels like my heart is stretched between continents.

With this being my second trip to Ethiopia,  it was no longer the shock and awe feeling of visiting Africa for the first time like it was in 2010.  I was not nervous.  I had a certain understanding of what to expect.  There was a level of familiarity,  friends to reconnect with and a job to do.  I was there to report about the ministry of Compassion International and to encourage our radio listeners to get involved, sponsor a child, pray, and come on a future trip.  I found myself very focused on my purpose... with a heightened level of responsibility to do an excellent and comprehensive job of reporting,  while also also trying to soak in the time with the kids and my friends there.  I felt so alive and in my element.   From what friends and family are saying to me, that is evident in photo's and live reports, too.  I agree with them.  I had trouble sleeping at night... I think beyond the jet lag it was also a subconscious attempt at not wasting any of my time there.  (though sleep really would have been helpful).

Once we got to the last day or so of the trip I felt the dread of the end coming too soon.   "What!  No, I'm not ready to board that plane!!!"   Thankfully we had very busy days, so I had little time to focus on those feelings, but they were present and became increasingly more painful as Friday progressed.   Since I do have a return trip planned for August this year... I tried not to dwell too much...and I tried to avoid an over dramatic goodbye as I loaded my luggage onto the cart and wheeled up the ramp to the airport with the rest of the team.  But, ouch.

Now here I am back home.  I'm trying to share my experiences with others... trying to communicate the beauty of this culture alongside expressing the great need and opportunity for people to be a help and an encouragement.  I'm preparing for our on air campaign in February, anxiously hoping to reach our goals of getting these kids sponsored ...  and counting the days to August.
I'll soon begin to slide back into my life and schedule here ... but I'm also feeling a tugging in my heart... a wondering about what else God has in store for me and for these connections I am forming with this place, these people, this culture.   There is more to this story.

I'm also trying to take the core values of child advocacy and live them out now... loving kids, telling them about Jesus, being an encouragement to families, praying!

God help me to make the most of these experiences.   God help me to lay all of this at your feet and say thy will be done.  God help me to remain open-hearted and open handed... and to never take for granted these experiences or these people that are holding my heart on the other side of the world.