Naturally, when I told people I was heading off to South Africa for my Fall semester, no one was surprised. This is kind of the natural rhythm of my life. I love traveling, getting to experience a different culture, serving a different culture, seeing God in a different light. I love it. But still people asked, “Why South Africa?”
So this is my answer…
I know, but I really don’t at the same time. Perfectly clear, huh?
Yeah, that’s what I thought too. I was all geared up to attend High Sierra in the Fall. I was all geared up to be Pocahontas in Northern California. I was bracing myself for the cold mountain air and backpacking in the wild.
I was stoked. So I went on a preview visit to check out what I hoped would be my new digs at the end of the sumer.
Somehow, it didn’t feel right. I knew something was wrong, because I don’t usually feel out of place in nature.
I was confused. Lord, wasn’t this what you were calling me to all of Freshman year? Wasn’t this one factor in why I quit softball? Wasn’t this where you were leading me?
Apparently not. God said, GO DEEPER. GET UNCOMFORTABLE.
I don’t think anyone wants to hear that. I don’t think anyone wants to hear God say the word UNCOMFORTABLE. It’s just so….unnerving.
So I started by praying. Okay, God, if not here, then where? Where is the most uncomfortable place I can go?
South Africa. Study Abroad in South Africa.
Never ask God WHY…He’ll just make you experience it to teach you a lesson.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that God was right. Africa was the place I always didn’t want to get called to. Not that I didn’t want to go there, but out of all three study abroad options I could partake in in my position as a lowly sophomore at APU, it was the most out of my comfort zone. Not only could I not speak the language (there are 11 official languages), but I didn’t look anything like the people there. Call me shallow, but I believe being the same skin color opens doors and builds trust. That’s why I love traveling to countries with people who have that same deep tan. Because its comfortable in its own way. I always get a nod of approval. So South Africa…not exactly the most comfortable choice.
Don’t get me wrong, I was so STOKED OUT OF MY MIND to go to South Africa. What an opportunity! When else am I going to have the chance to live in South Africa for 3 months and experience it?! When else am I going to get to step foot on a different continent?! It was an unreal opportunity.
So I said YES. I prepared for the change, the difference, the awkwardness of not feeling at home when I traveled.
So Why South Africa?
I came to South Africa to chase after uncomfortability (that’s not even a word). I came to South Africa to chase God’s heart. I came to South Africa to serve a different culture, to see God through a different perspective. I came to South Africa to see poverty and brokenness and injustice in a different light. I came to see God move. I came to see myself continue to be healed. I came to love and to learn to be loved. I came because God said so. And yet…there’s still a part of me that doesn’t know why I came.
But the best part of that is that God gets to teach me that lesson.
LORD, MAY I BE A LIFELONG LEARNER OF YOU.