I recently found myself on an adventure within an adventure. I was nearing the end of a three-month stint in Rwanda and had been dropped off to spend a few days alone to process and recuperate from my experience in the country so far. The lakeside Swiss Family Robinson-esque cabin where I was staying had an amazing view and one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in.
While my time in Rwanda up to that point had been better than I could have dreamed, it was still lacking in one area: I had yet to find the perfect spot to hang my hammock. It seemed like this place was going to be it.
From my balcony, I could see that the peninsula across the lake had a cluster of trees near the water’s edge. I believed it was the answer to my hammocking woes. The problem was figuring out how to get over there. A friend told me there was one good hiking trail in this area, so I loaded my pack and headed in the direction I assumed would get me to the trail and my eventual destination.
As it turned out, the trek to the perfect spot ended up being the real adventure. I met kind locals who played charades with me just so I could understand they wanted to give me some avocados. I ran across a small herd of goats who had dropped bombs all over the trail in such a way that my passing through un-goat-poop-scathed was impossible. I took and then gave Polaroid pictures to people I met along the way. I accidentally squatted near a thorn bush, which may or may not have caused me to fall over and pee on my own foot, then immediately rounded a corner to discover that a local man had seen the whole debacle take place, my bare butt included.
I trekked down and then back up a steep, narrow trail, praying that I could physically make it and not be left passed out alone in the middle of nowhere. And then I finally reached my destination—a bit more tired, a lot more dirty, and with some really interesting stories to tell.
That spot I could only see from far away, ended up being even more perfect when viewed up close and in person. I spent three glorious hours hanging in my hammock just over the edge of the lake, napping, praying, and processing.
As I sat back on my balcony later that evening, looking back across the lake at the peninsula that I now knew so well, I realized the adventure I’d had that day was a perfect analogy for my bigger, months-long adventure of getting to and living in Rwanda.
I was spending time there, working with Peace House Ministries, an organization that helps street kids reconcile with their families and connect with the Lord. My job was teaching vulnerable young women how to sew and make jewelry and other handcrafts, in hopes of their eventually making a sustainable income.
I knew very clearly that working with the young women of Peace House was my destination, albeit one I could only see from far away when I agreed to do it. But I also knew the whole process of getting there and doing the work would be the biggest adventure I’d lived to date. Teaching those particular skills fit exactly within my own skill set, and the goals of Peace House resonated deeply with me. If I could just hold on, it would be worth every bump or challenge along the way.
And let me tell you, it was.
I saw God do God-sized things at every turn. I put my job, my relationships, and my comfort level on hold for three months and crossed my fingers that He would provide a way for all of that to be okay.
I met women who spent years living in prostitution, hating themselves and all of life, but who are now powerhouses for the Lord. I went with great visions of what I would teach, realized my plans weren’t going to work, and then stumbled upon even better ideas that the women themselves made up.
There’s something to be said for taking an adventure. It changes you, surprises you, pushes you. It can be risky and often far-fetched but it also may reveal you’re able to do more than you thought possible while having a blast along the way. It builds experiences with the Lord that remind you He does come through and His plans are good even if they appear not to make sense. Adventures sometime even redefines who you are and the lens through which you’ll look the rest of your life.
In Rwanda, I created bonds with women who are opposite me in every way, yet we now share a deep love for one another. God pushed me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And when it was all said and done, I really had lived the greatest adventure of my life.
Not because of much strength or determination on my part, but more because God pointed out a destination and I agreed to take the adventure with Him.
What adventures have you been on with God lately? Or do you struggle with agreeing to go?
[Photo credit: Libby Gifford]