Like so many great journeys, this story begins on a boat across the sea. (Ok, really it was Lake Victoria, but it’s giant, so I’m calling it a sea for proper dramatic effect.)
Ted and I were halfway through a week serving GGCC on Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria. We were on a ferry back to the mainland for a day of VBS and we were also building a new home for a widow.
As we moved through the waves, my stomach and head started spinning in unpleasant directions. I’ve always had great sea legs, so I started getting a little worried that I may be slightly ill. Not that I would say anything… I had a job to do.
Off the boat and onto a bus for a long ride over African dirt “roads”. My stomach and head continued to be very unpleasant. So I try to distract myself by asking for the love story of a sweet team member on the trip who has been married almost 50 years. Unfortunately, this team member was a man so he told his love story in about 2 minutes. Totally should have sat next to a girl.
Finally, we reach the school for VBS. Ted and I held back from the group and I knew I needed to tell him how I felt.
Lydia: “I think I’m gonna throw up.”
Ted: “Not on me, please.”
Good call… we did not bring enough hand sanitizer for that!
Then we were told that the widow’s house is on top of the mountain next to the school.
“Yeeeeeeeeah, this is gonna be bad,” I say to myself.
“Cool, let’s go,” I say to everyone else.
We reach the widow’s house, which did have a spectacular mountain view. We see the African construction crew has already started. I lift my camera to film, then burst into tears…. and simultaneously freak out a ton of Africans.
Without exaggeration this was one of the worst moments of my life. My head felt like it was literally on fire like that baby in The Incredibles movie. I was pretty sure my stomach had exploded. And my blood felt like it had turned into molten lava… which kinda sounds cool, but unfortunately it wasn’t.
But, honestly, what hurt the most was my sense of failure.
The team kept asking me if I was okay or telling me to sit down and I kept insisting that I’m fine, which was clearly a lie, considering I was crying. Yet, if I sat down or admitted that I can’t go on, what would the team think of me? How much would they regret having me on this trip? And if I fail these people, what will my identity become… the disappointment?
Too often I am quick to not just believe the the worst in myself, but also the worst in others. I assume they are looking for ways to judge me and their hearts will easily turn against me. I think the good days of laughs and meals shared and service together will be overshadowed by my imperfections.
Thankfully, I am often wrong in these assumptions.
After many “Lydia, you should rest” – “No, I’m fine” insistences, our team leader Chuck (and official dad of the trip) commanded me to sit. So I sat.
After some rest, I felt well enough to get some footage and make it down the mountain and back to Mfangano Island.
A few days later as this trip was concluding, Chuck pulls me aside to tell me how thankful he was to have me on the trip. He said a bunch of nice stuff that almost got me crying again, though I held back this time.
I’m thankful to be wrong again. It’s completely and absolutely possible for people to look on you in love.
God made us to have our ultimate identity secured in Him, but He also blessed us with people who can carry His care and compassion to us.
Seeing the blessings,