Fear is tricky.
It starts as a little twitch. Just fleeting. A small what if pops into my mind and I quickly push it aside. “Stop,” I tell my brain, not wanting to deal with the nuisance of being afraid.
In July I was thrilled, humbled, and thankful to learn that I’d been accepted onto a medical team with 10 other people to travel to and deliver care to the Ugandan people in Africa. We’ll travel to the region of Iganga, Uganda where we’ll come along side the African people and work with the clinic there to deliver medical care to those in need.
After the twitch comes the longer thoughts. The ones that aren’t so quick to go away. Maybe a few days after the initial fleeting thought. The moments when I’m alone and let fear creep into my mind for longer than a few seconds. When I actually catch my brain having a conversation with itself, flooding my thoughts and allowing fear to stick around for a bit longer than I’d like.
Excitement was my first emotion when I heard the news. After three previous applications to serve abroad in Africa that were turned down– I finally had a successful interview and was asked to join the team.
We had our first team meeting one day after I got the news I’d been accepted, and my excitement lasted through the meeting and for another week or two. I was able to meet the other medical professionals that will be traveling to Africa, learn more about Musana (the non-profit we’ll be partnering with) and learn a little bit more about a medical mission trip that is Christ centered.
Guilt was my second emotion. Why am I not serving in America, instead? Why am I paying x amount of money to travel to Africa to serve? Can I afford it? Am I doing this because I want to serve the African people, or am I doing this to travel? What about the dogs? What about my job? What about Ben? What if something happens to Copper while I’m away across the world?
Doubt was my third emotion. Am I even qualified to go on a medical mission trip? Am I a “good enough” Christian? Do I know Jesus enough to do something like this? Will the other people on my team like me? Will I be able to handle the long flight to and from Africa? I’ll never be able to raise enough money to go.
Fear is tricky. It wants to plant these little seeds of doubt in my mind and grow them into massive weeds, clouding my focus, my excitement, my goals, my judgement.
I know I’m not a perfect Christian, and I know I’ll never be. I know it’s not possible, and I know it’s not necessary to try to be. I know God placed Africa on my heart several years ago — and that he’s been encouraging me to travel to Africa to serve for years. I know I can serve here in America also– and maybe I’ll work on that more when I get home in November. I know that if people only served in areas that were local, then nobody would serve abroad.
I also know I’m not just serving to travel, because it would be a heck of a lot cheaper for me to just go and travel. I know that the trip will be expensive, but I remind myself that I’m already almost halfway paid — thanks to some incredibly generous donations I’ve received.
I know that Ben takes excellent care of my dogs while I’m away for work, so why would that be any different while I’m away in Africa? It won’t. I know that my manager gave me a work extension so I can work right up until I leave– and I pray that I’ll have a job waiting for me when I return, whether at my current facility for another extension, or at a new facility.
I know I am not the most qualified, but I know I am qualified. I know that my team will like me– because they already do like me and we’re already praying for each other’s success on this trip. Cheryl, one of our trip leaders, has been praying for me since before she even met me. How humbling, and incredible, is that?
One of my favorite parts of the bible reads like this:
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. … (Matthew 6:25-34)
I know this fear that is manifesting itself is evil, and it’s working to breed new anxieties all the time about my trip. But that’s where prayer comes into place, and self reassurance, and the ability to squash the anxiety, even if it’s a daily task. Sure, I am nervous. But I am working to only let it be one kind of nervous — the kind of nervous that comes when you know that despite the trials— something good is going to happen and you don’t know what exactly to expect– but that it’s going to change your life. God placed Africa on my heart, he called me to serve, and he’ll provide a calmer heart, clearer mind, and safe journey.
If you’d like to learn more about my medical mission trip to Africa, visit my personal Musana medical mission trip website: Jenn’s Medical Trip Page (Pops up in a new window)
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