I'm home!!!!!! And there is no place quite like home. I got a great greeting from my family and it was so good to see their faces and hug their bodies. Hope told me she muscled up just so she could give me the tightest hug ever. And she did.
And, I just have to say, while I was gone, there weren't any more well cared for kids on the planet. They had a great time with their daddy and told me all the fun things they did together. I prayed a lot that this time together would be a blessing for them. And it was! Then, Grandma and Grandpa came, and totally spoiled them. And, our friends stepped in and took turns having them over, making them dinner, and loving on them. We are totally blessed.
Now...for Africa. The last part of our adventures in Africa were the stuff of movies. We went to Zanzibar which is this beautiful little island just off the coast of Tanzania. It's a big touristy place for a lot of reasons, but one of them is the East African Slave Trade Museum. It was kind of unbelievable to walk through that museum and hear details about the slave trade in East Africa.
The next morning we got up and flew to Arusha in Northern Tanzania, where we had reservations at a safari lodge there. It was a beautiful place, very cool (which was such a nice change of pace) and very tropical. There were tea times mid afternoon, slippers to jump into at the door, a shower inside (and one outside if you choose!), etc. You get the idea. Not your everyday kind of place. It was a great place to hang out and process a little of what we had experienced.
And, of course, then we went on safari! We went to Ngorogoro Crater, which is a lovely, very green, conservation area where there are literally thousands of wildlife. I had to keep telling myself that these animals were not brought in, like at the zoo, that they LIVE here for real! Giraffs, elephants, hundreds of zebras, lions (and cubs, too), wildebeest, impala, rhinoceros, hippos, storks....and on and on. We spent all day in the crater and saw so many animals. It was amazing and I so wished my family could have seen it, too. They would've loved it!
And then, it was time to go home. And I was ready to be home.
What an amazing opportunity it is to experience another part of the world and to see how God expands your heart for people. I told Dyan before we left that, before this trip, I almost didn't have a category in my brain for Africa. It was filed somewhere under miscellaneous, along side investment banking and topography. And part of what this trip did, was make it real to me. Seeing the landscape, learning about the culture, and hearing the stories about how God is moving gave me a connection. And it'll change how I think and pray and live out my calling.
I was struck by something over there. As Americans we do a lot of work in Africa. There are thousands of missions trips, lots of world relief-type things, lots of ministering that goes on. And those are usually good things. There is great need and we are called, as believers, to help. The words that have followed me home, though, are this: As believers in America, we need believers in Africa. We need their freedom and joy in worship (how is it that we can worship without smiling?). We need their boldness and their willingness to give all they have to share the gospel. We need their deep understanding of need. They have so much to teach us. And I'm glad I get the opportunity to learn.
I really am gonna put some pictures up, but I'm trying to put them in a slide show....we'll see how that goes. :)