Tuesday, May 17, 2011

thoughts at 30,000 feet

This was my journal entry from May 13, 2011 as I was on route from Uganda to Nebraska. I'm still adjusting to life back here and I still have a lot to process, but I figured I would go ahead a share a little bit of it now. 

Somewhere over northern Canada.

Surprise. I guess Africa time saved the best for last. My itinerary was completely wrong and instead of having a 27 hour layover in Amsterdam, I only had a 3 hour layover. So I will arrive home a whole day earlier then we all thought. In Uganda it was the day Musevini got sworn in for another term so my taxi and I were pulled over on the side of the road and searched and I had to get out and go through a metal detector that was set up on the African roadside. I almost missed my flight out of Entebbe since my itinerary had the flight time listed a whole hour later then it actually was.

B and Jules came down to Entebbe to see me off. We finished this journey (at least my part of it) they way we had started, together. Saying good-bye to B and Jules was terrible. I couldn’t get a single word out because I knew if I tried to talk I would just completely lose it. I couldn’t tell them how much I loved them, how much their friendship has meant to me these past few months. I didn’t get to tell them how incredible I think they are, or how much they made this experience so much more then it would have been. I couldn’t say that they are always in my prayers or that the thought of not seeing them every weekend was just the most surreal idea in the world. I like to think it was one of those really epic moments in life when you don’t have to say it aloud. A moment so perfect in its silence because I knew and they knew. A moment where no words are necessary because you didn’t live for that last moment, you had told them all along through all your words and actions how valuable they were too you. You didn’t save it up for the last moment-so when the end of all things comes there is a trust and understanding that moves beyond words.

Maybe this is a great metaphor for how we are all supposed to live, now, not storing everything up for the endings that always come to soon.  Maybe that is what I learned in Africa. That the pulse of life is now; that we should celebrate and be thankful that we “survived where we were” ( a Luganda way of saying welcome back). We should celebrate that God breathed life into our lungs to exhale His glory. Perhaps I learned how rare and special unconditional love between fallen humans is and how kindness really does transcend all cultural barriers. At the end of the day, despite our native tongues and different shades of skin we are all longing to be reconciled with our creator. We all ache for more Jesus-even if we don’t recognize it. We all struggle to make sense of a really big God and a world with suffering and injustice. Our hearts all swell when we make a true friend or experience the holiness of the sunrise bringing new mercies every morning over the hills of Kampala or the Nebraska prairie.

I learned that community is imperfect people enjoying being imperfect together. There is no power struggle-just a mutual abandon to love and serve one another because we have all been there, we’ve all had bad days, and we are all in this thing called life and humanity together.

I learned that in spite of the fact that I’ve traveled almost half-way around the world today, that the earth is really small and we are really not that different from each other after all. America isn’t number one (whatever that means). There isn’t even a ranking system because we all have so much to learn from one another. It is not about good, better, or best; but instead it is about using whatever gifts God has given us, wherever He has put us to glorify Him and show the world a glimpse of His love.

I’m learning what true faith is. It is not that you have it and life is always great after that. It’s the peace and assurance that at the end of a really long, hard day that a new day is coming. It is remembering that God was right next to you during the bad day, He’ll renew you while you sleep, and when you wake up to do it all again He is still there, constant, always faithfully with us.

I’m learning it is not about me. It’s about Jesus. God was at work in Africa long before I got there, and now that I’m stateside His work there will continue. He never asked me to feed thousands by myself. He just asked me to be willing to lay down my loaves and fish at His feet and trust that He can do a mighty work through that. God is God and He’ll do what he wants with what I gave to further His kingdom. It is not about a tangible result of my time in Uganda, but rather about the obedience and trust of laying it all down and letting God be in charge.

I’m learning just how loved I am and just how the gifts and talents that God gave to me can be used for the kingdom

I learned that I’m a lot braver then I thought and that even when my courage faltered that I was never alone and that God would provide strength and courage for me.

I learned that it is in giving we receive. I received so much more then I ever gave here-I never knew my heart could contain such joy, such love, so many amazing memories and people.

I’m learning that is ok to still have questions for God. We’ll never get to the end of Him, we will never comprehend Him and that infinitness is a good thing, it is a gift that draws us to a place of deeper longing, deeper trust, and deeper intimacy.

Overall, when I look back this was an epic experience of Love, in everyway and between all parties involved. Pure love flowing down from God and saturating me, Uganda, the entire earth. The God who is love flowing from me and also into me from the people of Uganda, from the other AIMers, from back home. I am humbled and honored to have been able to stand in service to my King alongside such incredible warriors. To Him be the glory forever and ever.



  1. Welcome back, Lauren. Great post. God is good. Looking forward to how He continues to use you after what He has shown you.

  2. you are such a beautiful writer! Thank you for challenging me and encouraging me (as always!). Love you! Love your heart! So so blessed to walk alongside you in this crazy thing called life:)