Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Original post from Oct. 16, 2013> Where do you go after a trip like this? How do you return to “normal life”? How does everything you once knew not turn into a meaningless humdrum life?

Processing. That’s how. At least for me, it’s what I needed. I had to take the time to contemplate and think about this trip. There was a purpose in me being called over there….a purpose bigger than my mind could see while I was in Uganda, being washed in the daily presence of those precious little children. Justin and I spent last weekend camping and hiking 18 miles through the Foothills Trail. We decided we would go on this trip, despite all of our recent travels, because we wanted to process our trip to Uganda and we couldn’t think of a better place than in nature, with no cell service and no distractions (aren’t those one in the same?). : )

The trip was perfect. A time for my mind to clear out the clutter. I realized that when you come back from a trip that takes you into another world, especially a world of poverty, that in some ways, your life back home does seem meaningless. And in some ways, you might never fully return home. You leave a piece of you behind and bring home a new one. But it’s a choice you have. You can choose to take it all in, live it, breathe it and let in change your heart forever….or you can choose to let it slip away, like a distant memory (and back in the comfort of our big American homes, fancy cars, nice restaurants and super malls- that’s a easy thing to do). And while I am guilty of enjoying the comforts of my American life, I am choosing to let this trip change me. Forever. As I discover the changes my heart has made, I’ll keep you posted. But for now, through processing, I realized I learned one big lesson….
Before leaving for Africa, I made a commitment to myself (because I felt like God called me to) to live in the moment. A friend of mine, Charisse, sent me a good devotional which led me to this calling of “living in the moment”. As we all know, it is quite a feat to do. We live in America, even worse in a city, where there is a constant hustle and bustle, where people (myself included) feel the need to be someone, climb up the ladder, be socially accepted, and all of us in some way feel like we have to keep up with the Joneses to survive…how, please tell me, can we ever feel or be in the moment if we’re constantly doing all of the above? If we’re all, in some way, striving for more, then how are we ever in the moment, appreciating fully what is right in front of us? I can tell you that I, honestly, was not succeeding at this…my heart, my mind and my wallet too often searched for “more”.

THEN Africa happened. I went with this once seemingly big task to change, and I did. So easily. And that’s because I had no pressures there, I had nothing more to search for, and no expectations to meet. In Africa, I was a pharmacist, a foreigner, a full-time servant of God, and a mom. And every time my sweet boys looked up at me with their big hopeful eyes, I was in the moment. I didn’t have to think to myself, “Allie, concentrate on what’s right in front of you.” It came effortlessly. I want to give you one example here, we were riding on a bus to Namadhi (the campus that is more rural, where two of my boys live). The children were so excited to see us, and it didn’t feel right… who are we to deserve this? But I reminded myself, that for many of these children, we are a big bundle of love coming to adore them and serve them. For them, it might be like God sending them a piece of his love made visible. A special present, just for them. How could you not be fully present in this moment?

These 60 seconds are seconds I will never forget. How my heart felt…seeing the signs they made, their loud wel-e-come cheers, the branches they turned into waving flags, the flowers the picked to decorate for us, their little bobbing heads as they jumped for joy, the bouquets they gave us made of twigs and fresh blooms. This is one of the moments that helped me to learn to always be present. I don’t want to miss the big moments or the tiny, little moments in my life. It’s been incredibly hard for me to maintain back home…but I take one day at a time and I don’t beat myself up when I get off track. I’ve learned to not over-commit myself, to enjoy each place I go, to find peace in my days at the house when work is slow, to show my husband he is loved even when I’m busy, to not be perpetually rushed, to be ok with being late or early, to sit on the porch and read when I think I should be cleaning. I’ve learned to pass up things I want at the store, to not stress about planning out my life and just let it happen, to love myself with messy hair and no makeup, to cherish time with my family even when work is knocking at the door. I’ve learned that everything in my life has a place, but I can’t be in all those places at once. So I choose to be in whatever place my life has called me to at any given moment. I am there, present. I set aside the other things. And I don’t let my mind think about them. They are not going anywhere, they are merely waiting in line. And when my life takes me to those other things, they will appreciate me being fully present. Living in the moment, truly.
Lessons from Uganda...

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