Today, as I peer out the window at the snow-covered trees and fresh tracks through the yard, I’m longing for Africa. Not because of the cold or the wind or the snow. It’s because a part of my heart is there. How can a part of my heart be in a place I’ve never been? Let me explain.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an enormous desire to live and teach in another culture. Whenever missionaries would speak at church when I was little, I listened intently to their stories and watched their slide shows with great interest. When I was in fifth grade, a couple guys from my church traveled to China to smuggle Bibles to its citizens. When they returned, one of them gave me a piece of Chinese paper money and told me I could keep it as long as I became a missionary myself someday. I still have that paper money tucked away in my Spanish Bible from my year and a half in Honduras during college. They are my reminders of what God has called me to.
Amazingly, when I met Pete, he shared a very similar dream. One night shortly after we started dating, he told me that he wanted to move abroad to teach medicine. Seriously, I felt like God was handing me a very special gift through an incredible guy who also had dreams of other cultures. I know plenty of people who have wanted to go abroad but had to put it behind them when their husband or wife didn’t share the same desire. Clearly, God was letting me continue down the path to being able to teach abroad long-term.
In the years since we got married, God has been giving us clear signs that we need to consider East Africa for our long-term plans. We often meet people who have either lived in Kenya or Tanzania or who have family or close friends there. Doors have opened to lead us closer to actually going abroad. My heart has been preparing for the culture and the people and the land as we make plans for the future. I can’t make my heart do that. I really believe it’s God preparing me for what is to come.
So that is why I feel a longing for Africa. I love this city and the people, but I’m not quite complete here. My heart was made to travel and to teach and to love people who don’t speak my language. I cannot wait to get there. But I must. God is still working in me, and in Ella, and in Pete, and in the little baby we’ll meet in a few months. I get so excited about it that I nearly cry (which could partially be hormones, but not entirely).
In the meantime, I’m thankful for dreams.