Saturday, May 12, I became independent. To frame this story, I’ll give a little background information. I am volunteering through World Gospel Mission’s Volunteers in Action program for the next month in Kampala, Uganda. Josh and Kelly Hallahan are my gracious hosts during this time. This is my first time out of the country, thus beginning by story of coming to be independent.
I humbly admit that I am not a traveler. I have only been on a plane for two occasions: a wedding in Minnesota and senior trip to Florida. I have never flown by myself. With that in mind, you can understand my anxiety at the thought of three flights totaling seventeen and a half hours. I knew that I would survive because God calls you to do things He knows you are capable of. So as I was preparing for this trip, I was steadily praying about this anxiety. God answered my prayers! A couple, George and Joyce Rogers, would be flying with me as they are serving for a year in Uganda. I was so relieved to not be flying internationally alone!
Saturday morning at 6:30 AM, six of the VIA left orientation at WGM headquarters for the airport in Indianapolis. Three of us left for the field, while the other three have a few weeks before leaving. It was so comforting to be able to share in the excitement as well as the stress over our trips. Over the last week, we had all connected and bonded through our fellowship. It was very sad to see each one go but also encouraging to see people following the call. I had the latest flight, giving me time to relax in prayer while waiting. My first flight was fine! It is hard for an hour long flight to be difficult. In Chicago, my independence began. I managed to navigate through the airport to get to check-in and security and find my gate. At this point, I was hoping to meet up with the Rogers, but our messages got lost in translation and I was on my own. That eight hour flight went fine as well. I was thoroughly entertained by the movies and tracking our flight progress. Never having flown internationally, the in-flight entertainment was extremely exciting. When we landed in London, the real transformation began.
I was completely overwhelmed with the size of the O’Hare Airport. I had a thirteen hour layover, so I was reserved a dayroom in a local hotel. On my itinerary, the hotel’s address was the O’Hare Airport. I thought it was actually connected to the airport! It was not. I found my way to customs so that I could leave the airport. An hour and twenty minutes later, I was approved to leave. Now came the tricky part! Where is my hotel? How do I get there? How will I get back? I attempted to Google its location on my laptop but was disappointed to find that there was no free wireless internet. I eventually found the address and bought a round-trip ticket for the shuttle from the airport. Once I checked into my room, I was incredibly relieved. There I was in London, and there was no way I was leaving the security of my room!
Getting on my third flight was much better because I met the Rogers, who were very experienced travelers. It was amazing how much comfort they brought me. Thinking now about how anxious I was, I felt silly. There was a moment, right before I left for my first flight, that I felt utterly alone. All the other VIAs had left. I had said goodbye to my parents and my friends. I just finished what I thought would be my last call with Stephen for a month. I was overwhelmed with insecurities and worries. Now, all I can think of is Psalm 139:7 “Where can I go from you Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Through all of my journeys, God was protecting me. I know that now as I am in Uganda, God will be over my work and my rest. I’m really trying to focus on the fact that even though this is out of my comfort zone, I am never doing this alone. None of us are ever alone! Praise God!