My Suitcase? ……. Clothes, some food, and fourteen Diet Mountain Dew.
Terry Blythe’s Suitcase? ………… His clothes, some food, and two more of my Diet Mountain Dew.
At the airport the check in agent was gracious enough to give me a two pound overage on my suitcase. It weighed 54 pounds and she told me if I could get it down to 52 then she would let it be acceptable according to their policy concerning weight limits. She let my suitcase pass being 2 pounds over weight, I just needed to get rid of a few pounds of something and that ended up being Diet Mountain Dew.
Terry Blythe was standing right beside me and so graciously volunteered to carry a few of my Diet Mountain Dew here to Uganda. What I didn’t realize standing in the Charlotte Douglas Airport was that the one who had so much extra space in his suitcase would be the one who actually taught me what it meant to be full.
Several hours ago Terry walked to my door holding his Bible with tons of paper folded in the back. He pulled out a single sheet….. He said last night when you asked me to do this; I thought you were crazy because there is no way that I would be able to put all my thoughts on one piece of paper. I filled up 20 pieces of paper trying to write this over and over again, but here’s my best shot. It is really more than one piece of paper can hold……. and then Terry placed his words in my hand. His words are far more powerful than anything I could write.
In Terry’s words…
“My perspective has changed on this trip and I’m so grateful. When I met these kids and prayed for them and all they asked me to pray for was school fees, shelter, and to live a long healthy life, it really put my own life in perspective. I now pray more often. I don’t pray as much for myself, but I pray more for others who are in need of everyday things that we take for granted.”
We make room in our lives for lots of things….. But sometimes it’s easy to fill the space of our lives with things that makes us comfortable rather than that which draws us closer in our walk with God.
Last night I asked the team to do a little homework. I asked them to be intentional writing down how they had seen God at work and how this week has been made in and thru God. And that’s the difference in this, from the time Pastor Geoffrey envisioned changing the lives of hundreds of children in a village in Nebbi, Uganda. The final hours tonight, the mission team of Williamson’s Chapel sat in the hotel preparing for home, knowing that everything here has been based by God.
Now a year later, here we are. Tonight we struggle (also shed tears) around how this mission could be overwhelming, but then I am reminded by reading the words of the team that’s God’s Power, Mercy, Grace, and Love are far bigger than anything that we can imagine. That applies to all of us…… whether we’re in Nebbi, Uganda or back home.
In the words of one of the other team members when they shared their reflections, they wrote about how God had instituted change in their lives.
“The other thing that has changed in me is the realization of how relationships matter, especially relationships that are built to last. When a child remembers an interaction from a year ago on a mission trip and smile or when they quietly slip their hand inside of yours, or their eyes light up when you pray with them, that connection is where God is. The connection with the children and the people of Uganda and those formed on the team and those with our church family back home too, those are relationships that are where God is and stays.”
God uses people to show us where we need empty space in our lives. It’s just up to us to listen. Tonight I’ve discovered in a new and powerful way… It’s time for me to listen. May we be about building the work of the kingdom, not just in Uganda but everywhere.
It is an honor to be a part of such a mission hearted church.
Grace and Peace