Ten. days. In just ten days, the interns have arrived, met each other, settled in, learned, grown, laughed, wrestled, bonded, re-packed, and traveled. In ten days, these twelve college-aged students went from first conversations and memorizing names to being a family – a family with so many personalities and so many roles. They have said it over and over: “I can’t believe we’ve only known each other for a week.” “I feel like we’ve done all of summer together already.” “How do we still have two months left together?” These quotes have been said by Journey 2016, 2015, 2014, and every year before that – and I can say in full confidence that if the past journeys were able to say one thing to them at this point in time, it would be this: “it only gets harder. It only gets better.”
This past week, the team experienced conquering fears, giving up comfort, practicing vulnerability, encouraging and fighting lies with truth, being fully present, serving and being served, and what it’s like to live in a Christ-seeking community. Having a front row seat to watching this happen gave me the chance to re-learn why God has called us to this lifestyle from a different perspective. Through tears and reluctancy and frustration and laughs and words and silence, these students are chasing after Jesus. Together.
And the Africa part of this journey just started today.
I am so excited for them. I’m so excited for their chacos to walk on that red dirt. I’m so excited for their hands to shake the hands of Johannas and Harun and Peter and Paul and Julia and Irene and Lucy and Baby Ann and Jane and Dorcas and Eunice and Naomi and Phillis and every single person that they get to talk to and walk with this summer. I’m so excited for their breath exhale Ni Wewe Bwana in the churches that have 4 walls, dirt floors, and a seat for the Holy Spirit every time. I’m so excited for taste buds to take in chai and chapatti at the homes of those names I just listed off. I’m so excited for their ears to hear “My Utmost for His Highest” in the morning around the same fire they hear worship at night. I’m so excited for them to struggle. For them to wrestle. For them to question. For them to dig. For them to be challenged every single day and for them to have to make the conscious personal choice to not coast through.
In the lands that seem so dry, their days will just get richer.
Being a part of their stories this summer and playing a part in a second journey is an un-deserved gift that I wouldn’t trade for all the American comfort. I am ready to hold their hands as they encounter Jesus in yells, whispers, silence, and circumstances. I am ready to do life with them in those orange tents and I am ready to disciple them during the hardest and best summer of their life – a role that demands none of me and all of Christ in me. He has reminded me this week that I am to seek Him first in everything I do, and that we live for an audience of one. He has also reminded me that each morning is to be dedicated to Him, for that is the time where He wants to re-root my identity, teach me more about Him, and fill me up – something He is designed to do, not people. Kristin Avery said it best one monday morning when talking to the summer staff: “We are not called or here to fill other’s cups up. We are here to take our cups of oil and pour it out onto them and the feet of Jesus.”
So with that, I will say this:
Maddie, Alex, Lakeland, Abby, Katie, Alison, Paxton, Kelley, Natalie, Kailee, Hannah, Emily – you deserve every ounce of that oil, and we can’t wait to pour it out onto you. May each of you in return pour out your oil onto the East Africans you encounter, each other, and the feet of Jesus.
Bwana Asifiwe & Amen.
Allie Bridges – Summer Staff