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.
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…