I can’t remember the last time Craig and I were able to sneak out the back door for a dinner rendezvous. I suppose this missing detail comes with the temporary status of separated living. He arrives for dinner on Friday night and leaves during the dark with a mug of coffee on Monday morning. In between we do our best to catch up, have family time, share the work load of moving, setting up a nonprofit, adoption, parenting teens, planning a mission trip, and bonding with a new baby. There seems to be an eternal stack of forms for us to evaluate and sign. Either it is adoption, nonprofit, moving or school papers, we are buried in stacks that need our critical eye. If we aren’t careful this whole marriage thing can become a business partnership. That’s why we have always had a date night once a week, until he moved to San Antonio.
Saturday, I was desperate to have a conversation with my husband without a single child with fuzz on either the chin or scalp to summon or interrupt. I love the word ‘mama’ to bounce off the walls of my home, but I need to just hear ‘honey’ for brief intervals now and then. We left a toddling girl on the verge of hunger in the capable hands of three teenagers and one bossy nine year old, dinner ideas on the counter, and a warning not to call unless it was an emergency.
Indian appealed to our appetites so we went to Mantra where they know us not by name but by what we eat. We brought our calendars and notepads but never opened them once. We just talked from the heart about our lives. The spilling of summaries, ponderings and exploration of new ideas was nourishment for us. Somewhere in all our ramblings Craig asked me, “what does a successful mission trip look like to you?”
That is an excellent question and one reason why I love being alone with my man, he’s the best listener, a good thinker in a conversation, and no one knows me or loves me like he does, which includes his interest in my thoughts, however numerous and eccentric they may be.
To answer his question my first and immediate response was that I hope every member of the team and each person we encounter in Uganda will have a deep and meaningful God encounter, maybe even one that rattles priorities and causes extreme shifts in loyalties, practices and choices.We arrive vulnerable to what God has planned for us each in every moment he has pre-arranged, and if we are receptive and sensitive to His whisperings, we will be touched by God himself, and know more of His will for our individual lives. For me, that would be a successful trip. My reflex is to grow closer to God, and through that I’ve developed a passion to be useful to Him as He draws others closer to Himself. What more is there?
I purposely have not arranged a detailed and time measured plan for our visit with the orphanage. I’ve delegated responsibilities to team leaders, and the team is a group of willing servants. We have listed many activities, more than we could possibly accomplish, and as we have opportunity we will plan as we go because we know in Uganda time is different. We’ll make the best use of every minute, but flow with it, rather than drive it. However much we accomplish will be exactly right. The important detail is developing relationships, communicating, sharing love, and lending a helping hand. We can’t fail because we are simply showing up with the love of God in each of us and we are prepared to let it flow to every person we meet. God is in control of the faucet! I believe he’ll turn it up so there’s a lot of pressure in the flow.
My greatest honor is to know both groups who will soon become one. I know the people and places where we go to serve, and there couldn’t be a more gracious, welcoming group than these. And I know our team and I am amazed at how God has arranged for them all to come together on this mission. We have every age group represented! I love that. And each member has heard from the Holy Spirit that this is the mission they have been called to do. That’s what I was looking for as we assembled our team. Who heard from God first, before hearing from me? Many of them wrote me long letters about how God touched their heart for this cause and how they had no doubt it was where God was telling them to go with their time, money and energy. Some dripped tears for permission. Other’s doubled the work they do to be able to afford to join us. (and this was a very expensive trip for individuals thanks to the airfares and on ground travel expenses)
We have enjoyed a few gatherings at our home prior to this trip of team members and their families. It’s been fun getting to know everyone, and important that now we can pray for each other. We will embark on this trip as friends and the relationships will solidify as we serve in ways that will last a life time. I thank God for the honor to introduce my Ugandan friends to this team, and for the ability to lead this team to serve the Ugandans I love so much. We serve a God without borders, he made us all the same. I am humbled to be useful to Him.