Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Africa & America: Days 0, 1, and 2

For me it began during Sunday morning's sermon, which Mike preached after two restless nights fighting cold symptoms with a vengeance in preparation to go to Kenya.  Decongestants wire Mike.  Me, on the other hand? I'm wired by fear, which enters during the sermon without fanfare, but not unnoticed either.  In his sermon, Mike says, "No one knows their future. I'm supposed to go to Kenya, but I may die before I get there."

And that was it. He moved back into his sermon notes, and left my heart dangling from an imagined cliff.  I am no stranger to considering life without Mike.  He has almost left me for heaven on more than one occasion. I try to ignore it. Who wants to magnify the enemy or his tactics? Fear is not a welcomed guest.

We race home to the smell of spaghetti sauce in the crock pot. It's already 2:00 pm, his plane departs at 4:15, and we still have to have birthday cake because Reagan turns twelve while he's gone. There was no time for candles, a small sacrifice for the Kingdom from an American kid with her eye on Africa.

Adrian stays home under a mountain of AP History homework, leaving the girls and me to rush Mike to the airport like an ambulance to a hospital. Door to door his trip is 21 hours. The faint headache I awoke with that morning is growing and I know it will intensify until bedtime. At least I will sleep tonight; Mike and his cold will spend a third sleepless night in a plane somewhere between Detroit and Amsterdam.

The next morning, I rush two girls off to school, and Adrian and I find ourselves in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles to take the driving test for his restricted driver's license.  He's nervous, and I'm in a hurry to get to my full day of work.  During my futile attempts to read in the lobby while he demonstrates his driving prowess with Mrs. Tough-As-Nails as an examiner, it hits me.  In our hurry yesterday, we didn't even pray.

We didn't pray before he left.

And the fear that walked in unannounced yesterday moved closer, wrapping its arm around my shoulders in a firm hug that made my spine crawl. Mike was somewhere between Amsterdam and Nairobi.

By 4 pm, I'm trying to shake fear's embrace nonchallantly because any other way would give fear its desired foothold, and because I still haven't heard from him. I want to know he's reached his destination and made contact with his party, because he traveled alone. I get home from work to a daughter that doesn't feel good and another daughter whose school schedule change has been botched.

I miss him already. I don't know how single moms do it. I dash off a prayer of gratitude for my own mom, among the single ones, who did this every day for my benefit.  Another flair prayer for friends who come to mind that mother single-handedly even now, and also a quick lifting of Mike for his safety, while I reach for the beeping thermometer in Reagan's mouth. How was I so together only 48 hours ago?

He calls and I hear his voice. The kids say hello, and I hear Wesley in the background, and I'm free from fear's grip. He'd finally arrived in need of a meal and a few hours of sleep before he teaches 800 pastors who have come for training. They had planned for 250. The feeding of the 5,000 comes to mind, and I smile knowing it will go just as well for a tired pastor with a heart after God and feet shod with the preparation of the gospel.

The next night, last night, finds me making several cold trips to the toilet with a sick stomach. Either nerves, sympathy traveler's diarrhea, or both, I'm too tired in the middle of the night to know or care. But I woke this morning feeling fine again, but challenged by my own words of fluttering faith. I think God just might be the reason life feels a little out of my control right now.

Who wants to keep scattered faith from germinating anyway? It can happen in America, too, while my family is separated by a hemisphere. I can't re-gather seeds that have been flung that far. It's okay if it's a little messy. The end result is still beautiful.

Linking this one with Imperfect Prose, because, boy, am I ever imperfect.

Related Posts:
How to Pack For Africa
Africa In My Kitchen
Scales and Coattails
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