You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call on you.
My third trimester has been an emotional tug-of-war between gratitude and spoiled rotten selfishness. Some days I adore my body and the belly that is safely carrying our lil’ kickboxer, and some days it’s a struggle to feel beautiful when I’m huffin’ and puffin’ after a short walk. There’s also the new flight schedule and learning how to live alone while John is gone in South Sudan. Basically, I’m a needy wife Monday through Wednesday who eats mac ‘n cheese by the bowl-ful and then by Thursday, after the three-day hump, I’m an independent queen of the house who’s stoked about Friday’s homecoming. Maybe it’s a mix of culture shock fueled by hormones.
I really try to applaud myself for the small victories, You did a great job. You made it to the grocery store alive and didn’t hit any bodas. Or, that same shoulder angel calmly instructs my next steps, Be patient. Try to communicate what you want to say. You’re learning. Or I lecture myself a reality check, Why are you freaking out? Your life is cush!* What’s five days? It’s really four and a half days. It could be worse; John could be gone much longer and you could be living without running water or electricity, or your home might be filled with curious bushmen. Not that there’s anything wrong with living with bushmen, but I definitely don’t feel like this brave, kind, open-hearted “missionary’s wife” diligently practicing Luganda and telling the people that Jesus loves them.
I want to participate somehow. I want to observe and give to whatever need that lacks a servant. I want to say, “God brought us here to Africa because _____” and then fill the blank space with miracles instead of naps. Again, the Holy Spirit tells me that God is in control and girl, you’re 8 months pregnant, can you really commit to anything when you’ll be homebound after delivery? Focus on the house and count your blessings.Unfortunately, there are too many moments that sweet, persevering voice loses and I sit on the couch as a weepy hippo.
Have you been there before? It’s a strange season of life where nothing in particular is wrong; nobody is dying, the family is well, and you know God is still good. Of course, there’s change—a change of job, home, relationship, etc—and it’s hard to remain centered and thankful. It’s taking longer for your can-do attitude to catch up…wherever it may be…because all your current thoughts are absolute garbage. Complaints and frustrations stack up at the forefront of your mind and you continually catch yourself wondering, is this really me? Do I always think like this? Why am I so bothered?
God answered my plea for comfort in the utmost boring place in Kampala, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It’s where all the foreigners gather to collect their visa stamps, dependent passes, work permits, and whatever else has called them to reside in Uganda. Smart people bring a book and snacks for the hours of waiting they’re about to endure while others, like myself, borrow a pen and draft a blog on the back of an old grocery list. There was a lot of opportunity to people watch and doodle…and then my eyes recognized someone, and then another, and another. It was a small family of three. My mind started buzzing, how do I recognize someone in Uganda? I sat there just staring at this woman in orange with her baby and bearded husband. Then it clicked…Is that really Katie Davis?
For those who aren’t familiar with Katie Davis (now Mrs. Majors) and need an inspirational book in your bag, try reading Kisses from Katie. It was my first introduction to Uganda’s red dirt roads and friendly ebony faces. Here’s the pitch: Katie graduated high school and then left America to help serve in Uganda as a school teacher for a year. That was the short-term plan until she fell in love with the country and the people and then slowly adopted 14 (yeah, fourteen) girls. She still lives in Jinja and even got married to the bearded Benjii guy I recognized from watching an online interview. All I know about him is he’s strong, outnumbered, and God specially crafted him for their large family.
So I’m sitting there, absolutely stunned, as if Brittney Spears had just strutted in with that balboa snake wrapped around her neck singing ‘and now I’m stronger than yesterday.’ I can’t look away. (Yep, Katie Davis is up there with Britt on my celebrity hyperventilation list along with JK Rowling, Sarah Addison Allen, and George Washington’s memorial.) The probability of meeting Katie Davis within the first months of moving to Uganda is extremely slim. Jinja is a three hour drive from Entebbe and Kampala might as well be a midpoint zoo. And what makes our crossed paths even better is that everyone else on the uncomfortable metal benches is hot and indifferent to their presence. I’m beaming. This moment is a big, fat smooch from God.
It takes me a full twenty minutes to summon the courage for words, shift to an empty seat behind the family, and eventually tap Katie on the shoulder, “Hi, are you the one that wrote Kisses from Katie?” I ask. It’s a five minute conversation but I was able to communicate my intent, “Thank you for writing your story.” She smiles and asks where we live in Uganda and if baby belly is my first. I comment on her one-year-old’s expressive eyebrows and listen to her husband enquire about the Christian book my friend is reading. Soon their names are called forward and we depart after taking a quick photo upon my googlie-eyed request.
The wait for our dependent passes and work permits hits three hours but I’m stunned and nearly forget how grossly hot it is. I just met Katie Davis. I’ve been a moody mess our entire time in country and God shows off his goodness to an undeserving child. The Lord is an amazing dad, even when his kids are bratty and fighting nothing but themselves.
*For those of you who have been living in Africa long-term, “cush” is short for “cushy,” referring to a very comfortable lifestyle.