West Africa Bound

“For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

I am so glad that God knows, because you could not have told me last year this time that I would be about to take my first trip to Africa as an official representative of the ELCA, that I would be boarding a plane and flying out on January 16. This time last year, I was returning to my congregation after the holiday. Now, I am preparing to go to Africa.

I will be in West Africa a total of three months. Much of that time will be spent in Yaounde trying to learn French. The territory that I am responsible for consists of Senegal, Central African Republic (CAR) and Cameroon where much of official church business is conducted in that language. Some working knowledge of French will help as I serve. In these three months, I will also travel to Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and Senegal. Perhaps, I will get to Nigeria. I was hoping to visit CAR, but as you know there was recent rebellion. Things look better now. So who knows?

I have so much to do, so much to learn. Since I began this new call on November 15, 2012, I have been reading files, books and internet articles about Central and West African countries. I am learning from Global Mission staff members and trying to get my head around all that this new call to serve entails. It was helpful to meet Anne Langdji. Anne is one of the ELCA Regional Representatives. She serves with her husband Willie; they live in Yaounde, Cameroon with their son Micah. She traveled to Chicago in December and was able to tell me much about what she does and how the ELCA is accompanying companion churches in the region. All of this has been part of the preparation and I am extremely excited to participate in this work.

So far, I have gotten my immunizations including yellow fever which is a required vaccine to enter most countries in West Africa. I have also taken a round of oral typhoid and I have my malaria prophylactic. Collecting all the things that I need has been one of my main objectives. I have purchased sunscreen for the intense African sun, mosquito repellant with DEET as a layer of protection from mosquito bites; I have sent off for my Visa for entering the country and asked for an extra battery for my computer in case of power outages. I have set up Skype on every electronic device I have. I am even preparing my digestive track by eating probiotic yogurt. You laugh, but the preparations to travel and to fully serve in this capacity have been intense.

Besides all the physical preparations, I know that God has been preparing me for this call all of my life. I studied African and African-American history in undergrad. On my shelves are books that cover everything from African theology to African art. I have always been extremely curious about the slave trade and the West African region of the Continent. In my more recent past, I have found myself hanging out with friends from West Africa attending parties and listening to music. I have eaten the food, listened to the language and experienced the culture here in the US through my friends from Nigeria, Liberia and Togo. Thirteen years ago I had a West African symbol tattooed on my left shoulder. God has even prepared me through my two congregational calls. In one I learned to withstand hardship; in the other I learned to minister through a crisis, preach cross culturally, supervise staff, read a budget and accompany the people of God. Coincidence or preparation, I guess it depends on your point of view. I believe that in every experience, as Daryl Coley puts it, God prepares us for “the next matter in our lives”

I have always dreamed of visiting Africa and God has made the preparation. As God has planned, Africa will be a regular part of my life and work. Pray for me as I am westafricabound.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sylvia
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 21:42:08

    Miss you already and you just left! Didn’t get to say good-bye. Wishing you safe travels!!!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: