Friday, August 17, 2012

Fear and Giraffes

Hey Team!

So, as you can see by the pics, Twiga finally came home! It was great to be back among my "people" again. Seriously though, that was def one of the craziest things I have ever experienced. I knew that giraffes were incredible, but it doesn't really hit home till you are standing 10 feet from one looking 25 feet into the air looking into it's eyes. Speaking of which...story time:

So, we were leaving the area where all the giraffes were (20 or so of all ages and sizes), and I was lagging a bit behind the group because I saw that one of the giraffes that we had scared off was coming back, and earlier one had come pretty close to check me out, so I thought maybe this one was doing the same. I wandered in a circuitous fashion back to the car, hoping to leave the giraffe time to catch up to me if he wanted to. As I was wandering, I saw some others nearby and was watching them as I was walking. I neared a tree/shrub and was in the process of walking around it when, from the other side of the tree came a 50 foot (ok, probably more like 20 foot) tall giraffe. We saw each other at about the same time, at which point we were 5 feet apart (ok, more like 10-15 felt pretty close, though). Pause. Sidenote: giraffes are NOT aggressive creatures. In fact, they run away at the slightest hint of trouble. Earlier in the morning I stepped on a twig and one of the 20 foot one's jumped and started running away. So, deep breaths....and back to the story. So, I was looking straight up at this giraffe, who was looking straight down at me. Neither of us was moving. I was awestruck. It felt like a minute before I realized that he wasn't going anywhere. Unfortunately, he was directly between me and my ride. So, I took a very cautious step to the side. Then another. He just kept looking. I took some more steps, and he just kept looking. I eventually got to the point where I could walk around him in about a 15 foot radius. This whole time, he didn't even really flinch. He just kept watching like, "that's right...walk away." And I did. The crazy thing about this story (other than the fact that it's true) is that the whole day we had been trying to get close to these amazing creatures and they kept running away, and here I was face to face (ok, face to thigh) with one of the larger ones, and he (I assume it was a he...who knows) wasn't going anywhere. I tell that story for a very real reason. I had a rough night last night. I woke up at 1 am filled with doubts and fears. After lying in bed for about 45 min thinking and stressing, I got up and got my Bible out. I opened up and started reading 2 Corinthians. Nothing particular stuck out to me, it was just the gradual peace that spread over me as I read God's Word and realized the largeness of the Savior I am here to serve. I was overcome with His peace. He didn't answer any of my doubts or fears specifically. He was just there. And like that giraffe, I knew He wasn't going anywhere.

Giraffe Pictures

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thoughts from an Airport Terminal (and Plane...and Restaurant)

So, I feel like I need to state some things from the outset. First, I am by no means a “writer”, so don’t come here expecting great works of art. Unless you consider a four-year-old’s finger painting a “work of art”. Second, I tend write in short sentence fragments, especially when I am excited. Prepare yourself. Third, I have intention to be as honest as I possibly can here. Henceforth, I will refer to this as “real church” in honor of Matt Chandler. Example: I know as a man, I should probably say that I am not at all scared right now. But, if we can have real church, I am mildly terrified. I have never been away from my friends and family for nine months straight before. I am going to places that consistently have reports of civil war. These things are scary. I am not above admitting that.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the fun stuff (Oh, by the way, I LOVE lists, so expect to see a lot of those over the next nine months). Today’s post will be for those of you who have ever wondered what thoughts/feelings/emotions go through someone who is about to board a plane to fly to a foreign country for nine months. In no particular order:
1.       1. Excitement. I am going to do what I love for nine straight months. I am going to meet people who have very similar goals and convictions to mine. We are going to cut people open in order to heal them. We are going to tell them about Jesus, the only One who can really heal them. All of these things excite me more than I can express.
2.       2. Fear. See above.
3.       Anxiety. My flight is leaving a good hour late. What if I miss my connection in Paris. What if none of my bags make it to Niger (a very real possibility). What if…you get the picture. Anxiety is tempting. It lets me feel like I have some control. Luckily, I know the One who is actually in control. Also, I’m kinda secretly hoping I do end up in Paris overnight. I can imagine worse fates.
4.       3. Curiosity. I have never been to most of the places I am going this year. Therefore, I have absolutely no clue what to expect. See number 1.
5.       4. Sadness. This year I will miss graduating with my best friends in medical school (Ben and Dan) as well as being in one of my best friend’s (Chris) weddings. Frankly, both of those things kinda stink. I will also miss Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc with the family. Not pumped about that.
6.       5. Peace. This one I have trouble explaining. Have you ever just felt like everything was going to work out, even though you have no objective reason for feeling that way, and especially when you have great objective evidence to the contrary? I have felt that about this trip, probably since day one. That can only be the work of the Holy Spirit.
7.        6. Humor. I forgot my stethoscope in Wilmington. We had to do a drive-by stethoscope purchase in Cary. The stewardess (I’m on the plane now, FYI) just handed me a 16 pack of those airplane cookies for “the kids at the mission” who apparently “love those.” Not kidding. That just happened. And she has an awesome European accent that I can’t place, which makes every conversation with her that much more challenging to follow/awesome. You really can’t make this stuff up. I think I’m going to enjoy this trip.

That’s probably all you can handle for now. That is certainly all I intend to type. Thank you all again for your love, support, and prayers. They mean more than you know.

In Him,

Update: I am safely in Niger. We are hanging out at a restaurant in Niamey waiting to fly out to Galmi hospital.
One more fun story from the plane. I boarded in NYC for Paris on Air France. I had no idea that the vast majority of those on the plane spoke minimal English. I arrived at my seat, and a gentleman approached me and asked “are you lonely?” Many responses ran through my mind, but the one that came out was “excuse me?” And, of course, he simply repeated himself. It was around this time I realize (let’s be honest: hoped he was asking) and said “do you mean ‘traveling alone?’” He confirmed my hopes, and we subsequently traded seats so he could sit with his wife. Needless to say, I laughed about this to myself for the next few minutes. Oh, and neither of my checked bags made it…luckily I packed a change of clothes. Such is life…that being said, I am sooooo happy to be back in Africa. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was riding in the taxi to the guesthouse from the airport. More on that in another post…

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Oh, by the way....I got baptized

Quick Update

I am back in Greenville and officially done with Step 2/all my academic requirements before I leave for Africa in five days (that number kinda scares me, if I can be honest)! Thank you all for your prayers and support! I think it went well. We will see.

Fun fact from the trip: that was the first time I was referred to as "Dr. Meyer" by someone other than my patients. What's funny is that each time someone referred to me that way, I felt the urge to correct them. That being said, I didn't. I kinda liked the way it sounded.

My plan for the next five days (in case you were wondering) is to get all the details from the trip taken care of and all of the loose ends tied up. We'll see how that goes. I have my doubts...details aren't really my thing.

I will probably be back in Wilmington on Friday, and will likely stay there until I leave for Raleigh on Tuesday.

If you think to pray for me, please pray that I would be truly self-forgetful...and that I would take care of all the details that need to be taken care of.