Can I Be Honest!?
I got scared.
I had NO idea what I was getting into!
I initially really liked the idea of being invited to join a team in Africa! Then quickly told myself that it was crazy, that I’d be too busy, it’d be way too expensive and turned it down in my mind. It was “the right thing to do”! I let reason win over faith.
I had decided that after 5-6 failed attempts at declining the invitation, today was the day; I would reply to Sandra! I owed it to her. I tried to type a polite response, but as I was thinking about declining, my heart was churning inside, I wasn’t at peace. (That’s usually when I KNOW I’m not doing the right thing!)
I prayed about it, talked to my boss, we both had conviction I should go, I applied for leave and next thing I knew I had booked my ticket! Point of no return! I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into!
Then reason kicked back in with a “to do list”:
-Check Centre of Disease Control… Is there still Ebola!? Yellow Fever? Which type of Malaria Prophylaxis should I get?
-Book appointment for travel Doctor. I don’t want Yellow Fever!
-Register travel with Canadian and Australian embassies.
-Look at safety recommendations for Senegal. Turns out some regions are known for civil unrest, armed robbery and unexploded land mines!
-Find out from Sandra WHERE we are going on outreach…
-Safe water, electricity, phone/Internet reception?
I knew nothing, and the only clear answers I received weren’t helping!
I’m not high maintenance… I love the village, don’t need electricity or clean water, I just want to know what to expect.
No answer: prepare for the worse! (I expect the best!)
Everything felt a bit surreal. It hadn’t quite hit yet…
It’s only in Dubai that I finally realised that this was really happening!
Good bye Internet, I was on a flight to Dakar.
As I walked down the aisle to find my seat, I could see that everyone on the plane was a black or an asian men. I was the only Caucasian and felt really white! The plane was massive, my seat was literally in the last row! A man behind me harshly & demeaningly told me to move faster. Reflex kicked in, I instantly turned around and gave him the stare anyone would recognise as: “Don’t you dare talk to me like this…! I’ll take as much time as I want!” I wasn’t being slow by any means, I had just dashed across the airport, making the 30 min walk in 15 to catch my flight! I was simply being polite and letting people settle in their seats and put their luggage in their overhead compartments… You know!?
When I sat down I thought “stinking African man! I bet Africa would be a better place with less of those hooligans around!”
It only took a minute for the statement to sink in and my heart to be broken. I realised that I wasn’t carrying God’s heart and I still held on to my biases towards Muslim men. (Even though I have tremendous Muslim friends!) Flashbacks from Morocco ran through my mind. I started worrying about what Senegal would be like. I had no idea..!
God reminded me that He would look after me. After all, He had called me to Africa for such a time as this! That He would guide my every action and words. To hold on to His truth despite all the facts. To trust in Him.
My flight was nearly over… One of the flight attendant started talking to me. “Why are you coming to Senegal? Do you know anyone here? You’re alone, and a white lady! Be careful out there! Don’t get killed, Africa is a dangerous place!”
Great! This is exactly what I needed to hear! Thanks buddy! “What did I get myself into!!!???”
I got myself into what turned out to be an amazing experience! I learnt so much about the work of Gorom a sister location of our mission in Townsville, I learnt about microscopy and malaria… I thought I knew plenty about Malaria, but I still had heaps to discover! I saw a new way of doing outreach with a disease specific target… I realized that lab work needs a lot more time than I would have ever imagined! And I deepened my sense of calling for PNG. Even though I loved the experience, learning about new cultures, and meeting these amazing people, everything reminded of PNG and made me wish I’d be in my home; the “land of the unexpected” where I can communicate in the local language and recognize where people are from by their physical features. It made me realize how much PNG was now part of me and forever in my heart.
I can be honest and admit I got scared but I can also say that all my needs were taken care of, I felt completely safe, ate amazing food and that the worst part of the trip was the incident on the plane..! My God is faithful!
Oh… and the African men were quite fine! I didn’t have any more issues after the plane… I actually have many good memories and made great friends :)