Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lessons From an Almost 2 Year Old

Tomorrow is the day that I will board a plane bound for Uganda. These last several days have been very difficult for me as I say good-bye to friends and family. In fact, this may be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

On Sunday, I went to say goodbye to my little buddy Wesley. He's almost 2 years old and can always manage to bring a smile to my face.

That evening while we were playing and giving lots of hugs, Wesley taught me something very important about what I've been going through these past several days.
First, here's a little background. Wesley had been staying at his Grammie's house because his Mommy had a new baby. Not really understanding what's going on, Wesley has been a little clingy to Grammie so Grammie was exhausted and happy to see me come to give him some attention. I offered to give him a bath. When I asked him, "Wesley, do you want to take a bath?" At first he said no. But when I asked him again, he looked at me and smiled. He said, "Yeah!" He ran into the bathroom, saw the bath, and went running back out of the room wimpering. He needed a hug from Grammie again. After some tears and running away, I eventually got him into the tub. When he's finally in the warm water, splashing away, he remembers how much fun it is. He laughs and laughs and enjoys a good time. When it's time to get out, now the bath he cried about getting into at first is the same bath he cries about getting out of. He doesn't want to leave, and he surely doesn't want to get dressed. I wrestle his clothes onto him (which is a very accurate description of what it takes to dress this little boy), and we play and have a great time now that he's out of the tub.
Life is so much about adapting. Our lives are constantly changing, and sometimes those changes are difficult. Right now I'm feeling so much like Wesley and his bath. God has called me to go to Uganda and I said with a smile, "Yeah!" But now that it comes down to leaving and saying good-byes, I'm feeling the tears coming. The crazy thing is I know that once I get there, I'll be fine. I'll be happy and at peace because I'm where God wants me to be. And once I'm there for 2 years, it'll be so hard to leave.
With every change in life comes a time to adapt, a chance for faith to grow, and an opportunity to be less dependent on ourselves and more dependent on God. So while I may be facing the tears and heartbreak that come from so many good-byes, I'm learning my lesson from my little buddy Wesley (actually 2: the first was never wear socks when giving a 2 year old a bath) that just around the corner is something even better than I'd imagined. And just like I was with Wesley that entire evening, God will be with me through it all.
- Aly

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stuff Gets in the Way

I have a bit of a confession to make. Last Saturday, I was issued my very first speeding ticket. I'm not proud of it. In fact, I was pretty mortified at the whole thing. It didn't help that a man drove past me in a black Jeep smirking. The very first thought that went through my mind as the red and blue lights flashed in my rearview mirror was, "Seriously, Aly?! 11 Days! That's all you needed to get through was 11 more days!"

When the officer issued my ticket, he told me my court date. September 25 at 6 pm. The exact time I should be catching one of my connecting flights. It was not a good day people. I couldn't decide if I wanted to laugh, cry, or scream at the top of my lungs. I was so upset, and to add that onto an already stressful time of trying to get packed and tie up all loose ends before I leave, I was a bit of a mess.

It was one of those things that consumed my mind that day. I kept replaying it in my head, which only made me more upset, which only made me think of it more, and so the cycle continued. But here's the thing: Saturday was a special day for me. A day that I typically take time to remember all that God has done in my life.

Saturday marked 4 years since I came home from Uganda and fell sick with an illness that knocked me down for almost a year. For months I battled with terrible headaches, crushing body aches, fever, chills, and severe joint pain. I was initially treated for malaria, and when that medication didn't stop the symptoms it sent me on a long journey to various specialists who performed various tests all to no avail. I was completely bed-ridden for 3 months, only getting out of bed or the couch to shower and eat. I had no energy. For another 6 months I was only able to make it out of the house for church, doctor appointments, and a visit to a local indoor pool twice a week to get me moving again and remind my body that staying still was not ok.

My best friend would drive me to the pool. I'd always bring bottles of water for us to drink along the way, but after months of inactivity I couldn't even open the bottles myself. My brain felt clouded, and I had a very hard time focusing. I could sleep away most of the day and then be awake half the night. My joints felt like someone was constantly squeezing me.
With encouragement from my doctor, I found a homeopathic specialist. They concluded that my problems were likely a result of parasites. Healing was a slow and painful process, because it consisted of detoxing. My diet was changed so that I was no longer feeding the parasites, and as they slowly met their end I was in misery.

But I made it. And today, I can say with confidence that I am healthier and stronger than I ever was, even before the illness.

Saturday marked 4 years since that trial started. And I almost allowed a speeding ticket get in the way of celebrating all God has done in my life. It's so easy for us to allow the little things in life to cloud our view of what really matters. It's easy for us to lose focus when life gets in the way. But if we can take a moment to step back we realize that God uses these moments in our lives in one way or another, and often times we don't realize to what extent until years later.

Is there something in your life today that's clouding your view of the bigger picture of what God's working out. Take a minute. Step back from it all. And try to from His perspective. You might just find that in light of how huge God is, you problem doesn't seem so big after all.

- Aly

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Shot in the Arm

Being a missionary isn't all fun and games. Today I had to go get shots for Polio and Meningitis. I went to the health department this morning, not very excited about getting them. I was in with the nurse when my Pastor walked around the corner. He moonlights at the Health Department when he's not at church or doing other pastorly things (though he'll be retiring soon and can tell you the exact amount of days he has left). I was happy to see a friendly face, and he happily kept me talking while the nurse shot me full of vaccines (and also snapped this photo for me).

I still have the bandaids on, not so much because I need them, but because they're pretty stuck to the tiny little hairs on my arm. I'm a bandaid peeler. I have to slowly and gently remove a bandaid. It usually involves some painful (pitiful?) sound effects.
What about you? Are you a bandaid peeler or do you just rip it off in one swift move? I think all I need is for a ripper to come and tear it right off my arm without telling me. Although I should warn you I've been learning self-defense tactics and I'd be happy to show off what I've learned.
- Aly