Africa. The Untold Stories.

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“…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  –Psalm 139:16

I’ve already published 10 posts about my trip to Africa. Technically, the series is complete. But my heart knows you haven’t heard the whole story.

I’ve been holding a lot inside, handling memories tenderly, delicately and dear. I’ve been debating and waiting to discern what to share and what to guard close – for me, for my heart, for God, for always.

Africa. So many untold stories.

Africa. So much of my heart.

Africa. So NOT a passing phase or craze.

Africa. The place I found peace that passes understanding.

May I be so bold to say…

Africa. A homeland for my heart.

I was called so long ago, I don’t recall when or why I ever wanted to go to Africa in the first place. He knew. He ordained those days, these days, with wildfire in His belly, with a passion and love so beautiful. He waited this long, then brought me to and through this fast, then wrestled me to the ground this deep, then expanded my heart so big it wanted to jump out and flood all over the place.

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My heart, it cries long and deep and wide, WHY?

Why this great love, this great peace, this great purpose and place?

Why Africa?

Why so far?

Why must they be there, and I be here?

Why attach me, God, then pull me away?

Why the love?

Why the loss?

Why now?

Why split my heart between here and there?

And HOW…

How God?

How are you going to take this heart, so full of love for Africa, and reconcile it with a heart so full of love for family and my grounding place in America?

How will you reconcile this, God?

How in the world are you going to do this, and where in the world are you going to take this next, God?

I’m not angry, God.

I’m rejoicing and mourning simultaneously.

How God, can this be?

Thank you, God.

Thank you for this, this Africa place.

Thank you for William. And Juma. My boys. My heart. What to do, God? What to do? For red shirts and orange flip flops, for long walks holding hands down the dirt road, for a head on my heart and a prayer request I can’t answer, for a hug so long and so big my heart wants to pop open, God. Oh why, God? The love so deep. The mourning so deep. When, God? When will I see them again?

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Thank you for the mid-night revelation. For things only you needed me to see, only you needed me to hear. You are so loving, God. Thank you. For only a God who knows me most intimately would wake me mid-night in tears, in Africa, to resolve this pain, this unknown matter of the heart there’s only one answer to. Thank you for the words I needed to hear, the words I needed to write, the words I needed to remember, the words I needed now, the words I needed a long time coming. I understand WHY you brought me to Africa. My heart knows. My heart has peace. Thank you for a beautiful heart revelation.

Thank you for the day I felt more loved and beautiful than I had in a very long time. Thank you again for the mid-night revelation that allowed me to feel so.

Thank you for rain, pouring rain. Thank you for a preacher who preached it when I needed it. Thank you for letting me stand out there, soaking wet and not caring for a second. Thank you for forcing my guard down. Thank you for a hand to hold. Thank you for making me weak. Thank you for sitting me among orphans. Oh God, that was so good.

Thank you for sending prayers over me. Prayers I didn’t know I needed. Prayers I knew I needed but never knew how to ask for. Prayers so powerful I could feel your presence and release right there, right then, right now. Prayers I didn’t think I deserved. Prayers.

Thank you for that worship, that tender place where I was invited in, yet again, with the orphans. Thank you for frailty, for breaking me, for bringing me to a place of nothingness and absolutely everything all at once. Thank you for stripping my pride. Thank you for drawing me in and reminding me who I am. Thank you for singing over me in song I understand.

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Thank you for a woman who showed me friendship, for going deep in seconds, for jumping the gun with wild abandon. “I like you,” she said, just minutes into our conversation. You saw, God. You saw. You know what I like. You know what I need. Thank you for showing me what my heart has been longing for. Thank you for putting it out there so there was never a doubt. Thank you for held hands and “smart” shoes. Thank you for verifying and double verifying your plans for me. Thank you for revealing your heart for me and women around the globe.

Thank you for fireflies in the field.

Thank you for prompting me to bring that coral dress, that coral sweatshirt, and that white wrap right before closing that last bag at home. Thank you for prompting me to pray over those clothes that last night at the orphanage. Thank you for sending the girl whose clothing it’d be, the random girl on the long dirt road between sides of the orphanage. She wasn’t from the orphanage, I’d never seen her, but I knew, YOU knew, God, she was the one. You saved that dress, those clothes all week for HER. She skipped with joy and I’ll never see her again. But you, God. Oh you. You saw. You knew her heart would leap. Thank you, God. This gift, it’s too good, so good.

Thank you, God, for drawing my attention to the hut between the two sides of the orphanage. Thank you for drawing that little girl with Down syndrome to me. Thank you for confirming, yet again, that my intuition, my gut can be trusted. Someone important was there, someone important is there, someone extra special’s there. Bring me back, God. Bring me back so I can talk to her, so I can see her again. Bring me back so I enter in, see what she loves, see what she does, see who loves her much.

Thank you, God, for Karen and Helen, for John who loves Jesus, and Godwill’s example of faith and trust.

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Thank you for shoes. Thank you for providing funds before the need became apparent and pressed, pressed, pressed on my heart. Thank you for Jodi’s donation of shoes, shoes and more shoes. Thank you for another walk down that long dirt road with those old orange shoes. Thank you for showing me you’d had enough of those old shoes, God. He couldn’t walk a second longer. He had to take that one off, God. He couldn’t. You couldn’t do it anymore. Not one more step in those shoes. Thank you, God, for showing me with 100% certainty that your heart was my heart. Thank you, God, for socks and underwear, for dignity for girls in poverty, for revealing your heart to me TIME and TIME and TIME and TIME again. “I needed clothes and you clothed me…” God, thank you for making yourself oh so clear. You press and you press, and you press and press again. The gentleness and beauty with which you reveal your plans has not gone unnoticed, God. May I be your hands and feet.

Thank you for the ride back to the airport, for the silence, the music, the warmth, peace and love, the tender last grip of Shangilia, Kenya, Africa. Thank you for the song that’s on replay, the song that reminds me of the peace I felt, the place I found.

Thank you, God, for baby wipes in the airport. Thank you for tears unhinged, unbridled, unmanaged. Thank you for words whispered softly to my heart as I wiped the week’s dirt away….”I’ll never remove the Africa stain from your heart.” Never. You said never. I trust you, God. I believe you. I know it’s true.

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Thank you for answering prayers for peace. Thank you for peace that passed all understanding. Thank you for bringing me to a place where I felt more comfortable and centered in my own skin than I’d ever before. Thank you for that, God. I needed to know what that felt like. It was so good, God. Thank you. Thank you for helping me acknowledge my peace out loud to three at the table. Thank you for helping me recognize peace when I felt it. Thank you and please bring a piece of that peace here, would you God?

Thank you, God, for the stories left untold. Thank you for the nearest and the dearest. Thank you for piecing things together, for revealing your truth in subtle, beautiful and bold ways. Thank you for showing me your heart. Thank you for opening my heart. Thank you for reaching across the divide. Thank you for standing with me, knowing me, understanding me, being still with me, serving me and protecting me. Thank you, God, for answered prayers. Thank you, God, for Africa.

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Kenya_smallbuttonThis blog post is part of a series I’m writing about my journey to Kenya, Africa, with the nonprofit organization, Love for Kenya, in the fall of 2015. Click here and you’ll be directed to the landing page where you can read ALL the posts from the series. If you haven’t already, read the post I wrote when I announced the trip. Otherwise, scroll to the bottom and you’ll find ALL the Kenya posts listed and linked for your reading enjoyment. Thanks for joining the journey, friends.

  1. Tricia Wells Olson says:

    No words, amy! Just eyes filled with tears as I read your words, your heart and Gods love for Africa! This is by far my favorite post from you…feeling like I’m there with you and I love each one of these special gifts from God that you have touched, that God has loved from the beginning…even though I have not met even one of them! Thank you, Amy, for being Gods hands, His feet, His heart!!! And most of all…THANK YOU GOD!!!

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