I booked my first plane ticket to Africa on a whim.
One of my favorite graduate school professors had sparked my interest in going there when I met her during my first visit to the school. Each year, she invited students to join her while she ministered to people with hearing loss in Mozambique. All I had to do was find my way to Johannesburg, South Africa and she would meet me there and take me the rest of the way. The first day I researched flights, I found what I thought was a “cheap” ticket (it wasn’t) on a “great” airline (again…not so much) and the plan to go was set into motion.
I had never left the country. I did not have a passport. (Did you know they’ll let you buy the ticket without it?!) I did not have the money. But I was getting on a plane on my own to go to a continent I knew next-to-nothing about. This was definitely not my usual, carefully-planned, need-to-know-all-the-details, self.
Even in this whim, the Lord was, of course, working. On that trip, a love for the people of Africa was born and I began to get a picture of the need that existed there. It was also the time when I started to see how the Lord might use my career for more than just a way to make a living.
Three years later, I went with a medical team to southern Sudan. I was in the middle testing four-year-old Abraham’s hearing when it hit me that his profound hearing loss would keep him from hearing the gospel. He lives in a place where there is not an opportunity for him to learn sign language and certainly no way for him to receive technology that might help him access spoken language (how can they believe in Him of whom they have never heard?). The weight of that reality crushed me.
Even under this crushing weight, the Lord was, of course, working. I left Sudan pleading with Him to send people to East Africa to invest their lives in the hearing impaired population there. Within a few months, I knew that He would probably use me to answer that prayer, but I still had no idea how.
About a year after I began praying, I
just happened to ended up at a Baylor football game with a friend from college who just happened to needed someone to build the audiology program for a non-profit organization she had started whose goal was to train people in Africa to provide rehabilitation services for children with special needs.
Ok,seriously…can we talk about how incredible it is when something comes to you gift-wrapped directly from Jesus? This conversation was the beginning of a year-and-a-half of events and circumstances that take my breath away when I look at the whole sequence of them. The most beautiful part of all of it for me is that I have done nothing to manipulate it or create a situation for myself. It was nothing less than a ridiculously generous gift from my Father. (You can read more about how my involvement in CLASP International has played a role in my decision to move in my first post here.)
So even in my decision to attend a Baylor football game (which we lost, by the way. badly.), the Lord, of course, was working. I can trace His hand directly from that day to where I find myself now. I cannot wait to tell the story of where He takes me from here.