So for any of you who have been following my journey to Africa with WorldVenture, I am now sitting outside of their headquarters in Littleton, Colorado (it’s so much nicer here than 100-degree Dallas!) preparing to leave for a 36-hour plane-hopping trek toward Côte d’Ivoire tomorrow morning.
These past few days have been crazy, hectic, and overwhelming. A gentleman who is familiar with missions informed me that this is a very normal reaction pre-departure, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult.
Tomorrow morning (September 2nd) I leave for West Africa – Côte d’Ivoire to be exact – at 11 in the morning Mountain Time. I will board a plane from Denver to Dulles. After an hour-and-a-half layover, I will board another plane for Brussels where I will have another 7 hour layover. Then finally, I will fly into Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, arriving there at about 9:40 pm GMT.
That will be the easy part, though. This weekend, my team and I have been in last-minute training that has given us a lot of information all at once about the issues and difficulties we may encounter while over in a completely different country with a completely different culture – even beginning with entering the country via the airport.
I won’t go into the details, but from the start, we are going to find ourselves running into uncomfortable situations that we are going to have to find a way to handle.
Some of the struggles I know I’m going to find myself in will involve the language and culture barriers. But one of the biggest problems I find myself encountering even now is the fact that I am one of only two guys in this group of 12 young adults from the USA and Germany. Having only one person to talk and vent to is going to be kind of difficult for me, especially when I have issues that I just really need to talk out.
Secondly, and most important to me honestly, is my fear of reliance on God (not that I’m afraid of relying on Him, but that I’m afraid of not relying on Him). Very recently, I have come to realize that I try to rely on my own strength far too often instead of putting faith in God and letting Him take over. This is something I’m confident will have to be confronted head-on in Africa, which is unfortunate, because releasing control is not something that comes easy to me at all.
Struggles that I have in the States and at home will be amplified in Africa, because the enemy will be attacking our team at each of our weakest points. And if I try to rely on my own strength to thwart these attacks, I will fail. Simple as that. So I need to learn to rely on God for my strength.
Finally, there are so many cultural differences there. The first couple of weeks (if not couple of months) will be incredibly stressful as I try my hardest to not be just another ignorant American. I will get emotionally and physically exhausted, and I will get discouraged, so I will need to be spiritually strong to carry me through these tougher times.
Suffice to say, I will be going through a lot in my first few months in Africa, and you may even hear a little bit of my frustrations leak out in email updates (if you are signed up for them) and blog posts. But today I am claiming comfort in the Scriptures.
“Have I not commanded you? Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
– Joshua 1:9
“Don’t be afraid of [your enemies]. Remember the Lord who is great and awesome.”
– Nehemiah 4:14b
“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
– Psalm 46:1-3
“But [the Lord] said to me, ‘ My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”
– 2 Corinthians 12:9a
I know in my heart that God is in control, and I really am excited about everything that He is going to do through our team in Africa over the next year or two. Now I need to convince my mind that it is okay to put myself completely in His hands. So please be in prayer for me that this will be an easier task for me than it has been recently.
Also, please be in prayer for my teammates – each one of them is going through their own struggles of varying degrees.
Now I know this isn’t my typical blog style, but I wanted to let everyone know what is happening with me before I leave. I don’t know what or when my next blog will be, but I promise it will tell you a lot about what I am learning and experiencing in a new country, so look forward to that.
I pray that God will bless you in some crazy, awesome way this week.