June 2, 2005
Stuff …. It's stuff that surrounds me, fills my life, clutters my mind, distracts my days. Stuff. It's stuff which I'll leave in less than a week from today. It's stuff that'll be waiting for me when I return six weeks later.
Stuff. Some of it's good, some of it stinks, some of it is beautiful, some of it I'll miss, some of it I won't remember, some I'll wish I could forget, some of it I'll pack in my bag.
In a few days, I'll be sitting on a plane with some of my dearest friends, and we'll be headed towards South Africa.
It's a journey some of us have talked about for over two years. It's not a mission trip. We aren't being called, we're being sent. We aren't going to plant a church. We aren't going to save souls. We aren't going to make a difference. We aren't going to lend our “American know-how.” We're pilgrims. Each of us is going for a different purpose and reason. Each of us is going in mystery and darkness. Each of us is going with our own stuff, but each of us is being led by the same Lord and Saviour, the same Counselor Spirit, the same Creator Father.
None of us know what will be waiting for us. None of us know who we'll meet. None of us know what we'll do. None of us know. None of us… We're going in mystery, which simply means that we don't really know what we'll be doing. We have a general idea, but from this side of the veil, I can only tell you what might happen.
We might help restore a building. We might paint a wall. We might feed a dying infant. We might hold a lonely hand. We might tutor a child. We might kick a ball. We might draw a picture. We might install a door. We might build a partition. We might sing a song. We might lead a Bible Study. We might share a prayer. We might pass a basketball. We might… we might… we might do a lot of this stuff and more… I won't speculate and tell you more than this because I truly don't know much more than this. One thing I do know: God is crazy, and I'm so glad. (Why else would he put me on a plane for 16 hours to be gone for six weeks with 12 other friends in a place 7,000 miles away?)
Yet, there are a few other things which might happen: our noses might be filled with smells which will hit us hard and turn our stomachs. Our eyes might see things which will tear our hearts and make us cry. Our eyes might see things which will tear our hearts and make us smile. Our ears might hear songs sung to different melodies and harmonies. Our hands will touch the flesh of the dying, the sick, the healthy, the happy. Our arms might embrace the lost and the found. Our hearts might be filled with guilt and remorse when we realize the waste in our lives and mentalities. Our hearts might be filled with thanksgiving when we realize how little we truly need, but yet how richly we've been given an abundance of material…stuff.
We're leaving stuff here only to walk into stuff there -- the stuff of God, the stuff of mystery, the stuff of madness, the stuff of glory, the stuff of gore, the stuff of a broken world, the stuff of a different culture -- stuff I long to wade through. It's the stuff of a journey.
The small amount we do know is very basic and rudimentary and could change if a flight is canceled, a suitcase is lost, or a car breaks down: We're flying into Johannesburg, where we'll be met by Bryan Hill and Will Johnson. From there, we'll go into Kruger National Park for three days of game viewing. We'll leave Kruger on Fri., 10 and fly from J'burg into Cape Town. The following Monday (June 13-17) we'll drive into Kayamandi and work for the rest of the week with the people living there (young children, AIDS orphans, teenagers, adults, single moms, the sick, the well, the broken, the lost, the needy, the hungry, the cold, the tired, the abandoned, the widowed, the rejected, the loved, the adored, the pursued, the found). The following week, (June 20-24) we'll travel to Wortelgat Outreach Camp, where we'll welcome a group of high-school-aged friends from Kayamandi. The next week (June 27-July 1) we'll head up the first-ever day camp for the children who live in the various informal developments (squatter camps) around the village of Stanford.
Half of our group returns July 4, the rest of us return July 15. Those are the basics, so it's easy to give you the dates of our travel. That's the only thing I know for certain right now.
So, my friends. . . I am leaving. I don't look forward to the flight. I don't look forward to packing. I don't like leaving my home, my family, my friends, my dog, my “routine.” I don't like the thought of being gone so long. I don't like thinking about all I'll miss back here - nephews' ballgames, meals with friends, looking out at the back fields of the farm, riding a four-wheeler at full throttle, driving on familiar streets with the windows rolled down and music blaring. But I don't like the thought of what I'll miss if I don't go, who I won't meet if I stay here, what I would never learn of God's love, mercy, power, and provision if the plane left without me. . . I would miss so much more, so very much more…
Forgive me for making this letter longer than you can bear. Here's what I wrote just a couple of weeks ago. I hope it conveys some of the depth of the mystery I'm in:
[(5/18/05 7:24 AM)
Moses said, “If Your presence doesn't take the lead here, call this trip off right now. How else will it be known that You're with me in this, with me and Your people? Are You traveling with us or not? How else will we know that we're special, I and Your people, among all other people on this planet Earth?” God said to Moses, “All right. Just as you say, this also I will do, for I know you well and you are special to me. I know you by name.”(Ex. 33:15-17/The Message)
I will go where He leads.
I will breathe His breath.
I will soak in His presence.
I will devour His Word.
I will believe what He says.
I will listen for His whispers.
I will take His promises for my own.
I will let Him be God.
I will go in His Power.
I will rejoice in His mercy.
I will be thankful.
He is God.
Will I do this alone? Probably…
Will I be by myself? Not a chance…
Will I allow myself to be known? I can only hope…
Will I simply trust? Maybe… Maybe not…
Will I obey? Sadly, there's a good chance I won't…
Am I empty?
It'll depend on my, my willingness to bow, my desire to submit, my ability to humble myself, to abandon to Him, to allow Him to direct, to fall before and beneath Him, to believe that He is simply Who He says He is… He is God… How beautiful is that?
“Is there anyway I can go to avoid Your Spirit?
To be out of Your sight?
If I climb to the sky, You're there!
If I go underground, You're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
To the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute -
You're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!”
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to You;
Night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to You.”
(Ps. 139:7-12/The Message)
There's no place I can possibly go to avoid His Spirit… The Spirt who hovers (Gen. 1:2), the Spirit who comes with power (Acts 1:8), the Spirit of Truth (John 15:26)… There is no place I can go to avoid Truth, Power, and the mess which comes from The Spirit… No place, nowhere, no how, no matter what… He is here, now… perfectly present, perfectly powerful, perfectly truthful, perfectly messy, perfectly gory, perfectly glorious. Will I go on with Him? Will I go to Him? Will I call out to Him? Will I believe Him when He speaks Truth? Will I step out in the power which can only come from Him? Will I accept with gladness the mess His hovering will cause? Will I? (…I really want to…)
“Be brave. Be strong. Don't give up.
Expect God to get here soon.”
(Ps. 31:24/The Message)
...” we are here as men and women, not as half-fledged angels, to do the work of the world, and to do it with an infinitely greater power to stand the turmoil because we have been born from above.” (Oswald Chambers)]
I am His, and I'm going. I am His, and I'm leaving. I am His, and I'm taking these friends with me. Would you just pray for us? Simply pray. Pray Spirit-prayers over us, into us, through us. Please ask God to pour out His Spirit onto each of us. We cannot do this without His Spirit empowering us. We cannot. I am desperately begging for your prayers. I need them. I am thankful for them. I will thrive in them. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I am lovin' you - Adella
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to Him?' For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen!” (Romans 11:33-36/NKJV)
He alone... He alone... He alone…