There is this old saying in the church amongst the spoiled (ie-me) that goes like this, "Lord, I'll go anywhere you send me, just don't send me to Africa." Had I been the one designing my life, the Amazon would have ranked up there with places I never planned on going. Sure, it sounds interesting, but the bugs alone would have kept it off my list. I have to start this story at the end, tomorrow-I'll be sharing the details of my actual trip, and it's no surprise I had an amazing time that changed my life for the better, for the ever after, but....I just think it's important to say, I did not design this life I'm living. This is not the direction I would have taken myself. I never would have thought of it, much less seriously considered many of the roads I've traveled down. I could not have written such a wonderful story that smooths out the bumps and bruises after the lessons are learned, and each chapter closes to the beginning of a new day. God always has a lesson, and it's always better than mine, which is hard for me to wrap my mind around considering my love of planning. The theme right now in my development is to stop underestimating God's plan. Stop underestimating God's provision. Stop underestimating the role God plays in my life. God continues to provide abundantly despite all my imperfections.
To go way back, I actually felt called to the Amazon about 8 years ago. At the time I convinced myself I could not go because of work obligations, and money...or lack of money. Plus, the Amazon? Surely my prayer signals were crossed, right?!? Maybe it was true (the money and time part, at least), but I also can't say that I ever really delved deeply into that pull. I pushed it aside, and didn't think of it again until about 8 months ago. I had already planned out my summer. I had already booked a vacation, and I certainly wasn't looking for a mission trip. Had you asked me I would have said the same thing....I can't go because of work obligations and money...or lack of money. I'm all for others who travel for missions, but my mission field has been right around me and traveling has never been something I felt drawn to do. I didn't feel I needed to travel a thousand miles from home, much more to the other side of the equator, but still, I knew I was supposed to go. I...I...I...I...I....this is where plans go arry.
Once I realized my summer plans and God's plans for my summer differed, I then began the 'if this...than this...' game in which I was probably hoping for an out...isn't the Amazon, like, hot or something? Aren't there snakes? And bugs? I watch the Discovery Chanel! Not only did God clear the way, a way that should have been cluttered with obstacles, He also taught me about provision.
Once I could physically make the trip through work reshuffling and gracious permission to pursue this thing pursuing me...I began the arduous job of raising funds, and collecting goodies (clothes, glasses, flip flops, toys, hard candy, hats etc) to take to the people of the Amazon. I know there is a piece of pride stuck somewhere in this story. I want to be the one that gives, I never wanted to ask anyone for anything, but I kept getting the message from those that love and support me that said that giving can be a blessing for the giver as well. They believed in this mission as well. On the other end of this spectrum, I was certainly blessed, and I know those in the Amazon were also blessed by the financial and physical needs my friends provided.
I sat down and forced myself to select 10 friends to send support letters to, truly my greatest hope was just to ask my friends to support the trip through prayer Prayer is the most powerful force in my life. Not only did they pray, but they blessed me so much further than those hopes. I received support through checks, and letters, I had people asking and giving that I had not even considered asking merely because I thought too small, and was too
scared pride filled to ask.
At one point I had a garage sale. The biggest money I've ever made at a sale ranks in the single digits. I had two friends who just happened to be getting rid of a plethora of items, and I priced these items and set them out. Not only did people show up with money to buy those items, there was a line down my driveway from 7 until 3:30. I assure you it was not the candles and frames I had for sale, though the items were greatly appreciated, God was in control.
After money was raised, it was time to prepare physically through shots, and vaccines, and pills, and physicals, visas, and passports, team meetings, and prayer warriors. I asked every friend, baker, and candle stick maker I passed to pray.
Here's a picture of some of the team that joined me on this journey at one of our many stops along the way. All safely back home....thanks to those prayer warriors.
God brought me to it, prayer brought me through it, and I can't wait to share the memories tomorrow, and discover all the pieces to this puzzle over the next year or so once God unravels this tapestry of a journey He took me on with some of the most amazing, and funniest people I've had the pleasure of spending 10 days on a boat in the middle of the Amazon River with...and had I been on 15 prior trips, I'd still say the same thing....