Africa, that is... Ethiopia more specifically.
I miss it every day. Ever since we returned "home" from Ethiopia I have longed to go back. After our first trip I just assumed it was because our son was there... and yes, that was a large part of it. I ached for him and just wanted to be there with him. Then the glorious day came that we landed in Addia Ababa for the second time - this time to be reunited with our son forever. I remember waking up the next morning in Ethiopia feeling like I was back home. It was wonderful. We brought our son home and worked through our culture shock for the second time in one month. Andrea describes it so well in her post here. Gradually the culture shock of being back in the land of excess wore off. But the longing remained.
I miss Africa every day. I look at pictures on my friends blog who have just returned with their children. I ache. I wish I had been there again too. I browse through the photos of friends who have recently returned from a week long mission trip. I see faces of children and people I have grown to love deeply. I see beautiful landscapes and heartbreaking scenes... and I cry. I cry because I want to be there so badly. I cry because I see the need and the utter poverty in situations and then the unexplainable joy and light in the faces staring back through the screen. I miss it so much! Joy where it seems so unlikely. Gracious generosity when there really isn't much to give. And love. So much love.
I haven't posted about the famine/food crisis/drought in East Africa here yet. Not because I don't care, but because I care so much. My heart is screaming but I can't seem to find the words. I have so much going through my mind and my heart. God is showing me new things every day, igniting new passions, and opening my eyes. He's showing me one thing in particular. That no matter how much I (we) claim to understand the greatest commandment... we have no idea. Do I really know how to love others as I love myself? Do I really know how to do that? And if I do understand what that should look like... do I actually do it? Do we? NO.
Because loving others as I love myself does NOT look like me sitting down to three square meals a day, snacks and desserts to boot, while precious children starve to death by the thousands.
Loving others as I love myself does NOT look like me choosing to buy water bottles over tap water because I like the taste better while women and young children walk for miles in search of just a bit of water for their families to survive.
Loving others as I love myself does NOT look like me opening my closet and complaining that I have nothing to wear while children on the other side of the world literally do not have clothing at all... or if they do they are rags that are hanging off of their bodies.
Loving others as I love myself does NOT look like me buying yet another new vase or lamp or pillow or throw or can of paint to decorate my home that is already overflowing with unnecessary stuff while millions live in metal shacks, mud huts, in trash dumps, or under a bridge with only a tarp to protect them from the rain.
Loving others as I love myself does NOT look like me sitting in three wonderful church services a week, participating in Bible Studies and prayer groups, reading books about His Word, and soaking up everything while wanting to be spiritually fed even more while millions around the world have never even heard HIS NAME! I have numerous Bibles at my immediate disposal and they have none. I have living water and they have no one to tell them that living water even exists! THIS is not love! Yet, this is how I live. This is how most of us live.
God is breaking me and I wish I had more to say right now. I wish I could put into words what is going on in my heart. For now all I can say is that I miss Africa. I am here in America but my heart is aching to be there. To be loving and feeding and clothing and giving of myself. For now I am asking God for guidance... how do I love from here?
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself."
Read the last several posts on this blog to see what loving other can look like THERE.