A sweet, dear friend just gave us a book to read about a young girl’s life mission in Africa. This girl felt called to Africa right out of High School, and has lived there with her 14 adopted children ever since. This book was a gift to cheer up my sweet girl after 3 days spent in the hospital; undergoing tests and procedures that were rather unpleasant.
In the past, when she hasn’t had the strength or energy to read a book on her own, we have taken turns reading the book aloud to each other. These books have become some of our favorites; whether or not they have been the best books ever written is a mystery, but they remain our favorites still, because of the way we read them. This will be one of those books. First, how we acquired the book, and then, reading it to each other. All of this to say, that we were having a special moment, reading a special book.
My son went on a mission trip to Uganda last year, so the descriptions in this book were all lining up with stories he had brought home to us. We could imagine the children’s faces in the book from his pictures he had taken on his mission trip. I kept thinking that my son had basically gone on the same trip as the girl in this book. How cool is that?
When my son had returned from his mission trip, he told me that one of the thoughts that hung heavy on his heart while he was in Africa, was about his sister. He wondered if she would ever be able to take a mission trip like he and all of their classmates do each year. Will her Primary Immunodeficiency keep her from going on the trips that her heart so desires? He has been to Guatemala and Africa, and this year he is going to Prague. He just prays about the trips offered and picks whatever trip he feels called toward. Since her body lacks the ability to build antibodies to infections, she gets sick from just about any bacteria, virus, and foreign pathogen. Going away on missions to a third world country, while being totally selfless, is a rite of passage in our school. Unfortunately, it won’t be like that for her…there will always be fear.
Will she ever be able to go on a mission trip, like me?
So as we are reading this book, with this girl’s amazing testimony, I bury my fears. As she speaks about a country riddled with disease, swarming with insects that carry disease, and covered in other possible dangers, I bury my fears. I picture my son there serving among these joyful people, and my heart swells with pride, and thankfulness that he came home unharmed. Then it happens…my daughter says she wants to do something to help. She wants to help these people, she wants to serve them too. I tell her that she can find an organization to give to, or she can start one of her own. Then I quickly start reading again; I start reading again about the young girl who risked it all to go and do something. I make it maybe another chapter…another chapter about kissing fungus covered heads, and open sores, HIV, and malaria. I read another chapter before she says that she wants to go to Africa. Doesn’t she realize? Doesn’t she know? She can’t kiss fungus covered heads, or doctor open infected wounds, or get stung by infected bugs…she can’t get cuts and scrapes in a dirty country. She can’t get cuts and scrapes in our country.
I can never say these things though. I can never let my own fears or understanding of her disease limit how she lives her life. If I did, she wouldn’t be living her life. So, I just gulp and try to keep breathing. I would find a way to make it safe for her, if that was what she really felt called to do. God would either pave the way, or slam the door. In the meantime, I will bury my fears, and tell her that she can go to Africa, someday, if that is what she needs to do. She faces limits every day because of her illness, I don’t need to be there to remind her of things that she might not be able to do in the future. The future isn’t here yet. Science is doing newer and better things all the time. I still pray for a cure to this disease; by the time she is old enough to go to Africa. If not, I won’t be the one telling her she can’t go. I will be the one helping her figure out how she can go safely… all the while choking on my own fears.
If she isn’t afraid, it isn’t my job to make her more afraid…maybe sometimes, it is her job to make me a little less afraid.