Tuesday, July 7, 2015

packing: from summer camp to africa

it's been a week of packing --- lunches and backpacks and suitcases and sunscreen.

one off for a week at summer camp in the north georgia mountains.
two more teens heading to goldrush -- a youth, mission's conference at our church.
even the littlest one out the door every morning for day camp.

our middle girl came home on sunday from a week spent at a friend's lake house. we dumped her suitcase in the laundry room, slammed her clothes into the washing machine, dried them, and then threw them right back into that same suitcase for this next week away at goldrush. 100% unfolded, but clean.

in the midst of the camp-chaos, rick packed his bag for work in minneosta ... and though he's gotta wear a suit and tie, he's outta here, too!

that's how we are rolling right now. this week. 

emily, as a camp counselor, packs her backpack and lunchbox every morning. a few days ago she told me that this backpack is literally her lifeline. she wears it all day as she moves her campers from one activity to the next. her life in a bag on her back. everything the girl needs to survive from the pool to the ropes course to bible time up on her shoulders.

everyone somewhere, doing something.

even me.

tomorrow morning i'll begin packing my bags for africa.

gosh that's a lot. right. i mean the packing lists alone ... good grief.

did we remember everything?
do we have everything?

that gnawing little question: what. have. we. forgotten?

and as the mama, i can hardly wrap my mind around it all.

i printed the packing lists and the sheets of instructions and handed them out. marching orders to my troops, "here, child, read this. do it. go." 


and now tomorrow, it's my turn. to fill a suitcase for travel to another continent. a place where it would probably be good to remember the important stuff, because there's not gonna be a target (or starbucks--uugh) on every corner. actually, on no corner.

pull it together, jody.
get your ducks in a row.
you'll be flying across the world in less than 48 hours.

there's nothing quite like waiting to the last minute.

but that's just how it's been.
(my whole life).

still rather empty ...
passport expedited.
body vaccinated.
malaria pills begin tonight.
empty suitcase staring at me ...

this trip.
in fact, it's no surprise i'm packing in the 11th hour of leaving. i didn't even know i WAS leaving until less than a month ago. who plans a trip to africa in 3 weeks? hmm ...

but that's how this has gone.

and regardless of what i choose to throw in my suitcase in the next day or two, i'll be getting on a plane with my awesome friend april thursday night and we'll be flying 16 hours across the world.
ready or not, here we come.

but here's the deal: though i might be a spontaneous africa-goer and not the best, most organized, packer and planner ... i'm ready.

seriously, i am ready to go do this africa thing.

i realize that most people plan trips of this magnitude 6 months in advance or even years out. and that's good. i really admire foresight like that. i know there's a lot to be said for that sort of thinking ...

this past weekend, my friend, diana, asked me, "so, what's the time change between atlanta and zambia?" and i had to admit, i didn't know. i hadn't even thought of it ... hadn't gotten that far.
(i researched it last night, however, and zambia is basically 6 hours ahead).

just to be clear, i'm not going on a safari.
this trip isn't to photograph elephants or gaze at gazelles.

i was asked to go as a storyteller for wiphan {widows + orphans}. the idea came up rather suddenly (no kidding) this summer and the call went out to a list of women. short notice. no set plan. no absolute agenda. i suppose a lot of reasons to say no, but a few of us said yes and we are going.

it is sometimes flat out awesome to say yes when there are a lot of reasons to say no. i know that's a weird personality thing and it's not always good ... it can be just plain old stubborn and strong-willed. and i don't mean it in any way to sound reckless or flippant. but in cases like this, you can't argue with me, a little of that gritty attitude can help.

we are going to ndola zambia to spend time with women and children and to write their stories.
so friends, be prepared: we are going to share them with y'all! there are 750 children attending the schools of wiphan over in africa. only 200 of them are currently sponsored. maybe we can come back with some stuff: photos, stories, moments ... and we can do something about that. maybe we can offer a little bit of change for these children.
i know we, who go, will be changed. that's never in question on trips like these.
we might go to bless a little, but it is we who receive a lot.

this video explains more about where we are going. click on: https://vimeo.com/132734621 (please click on the link and watch)! and here's a second video!

i'd love you to follow along. you don't have to pack a thing, but come. i'll be sharing, probably daily, as internet allows. i'll use instagram (jmcnatt), facebook and my blog.  if your are led, feel free to share what i'm sharing. we aren't going to build a house or paint a school or dig a ditch, we are going to love on some women and children, to learn their stories, to laugh and cry with them and maybe through all of that relationship to raise awareness of how we can all do something more to help.
so, please, do share.

i'd also love your prayers. what to pray for? well, you know ... everything ...  haha.
pray as the Spirit leads. that's how this trip is going ... as the Spirit leads. we are open to whatever it is God wants to bring. that's my main prayer: "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters (or the grasslands) wherever You would call me. take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior." (hill song ~ oceans)

summer camp ... here we come!
so our family is traveling a bit. as close as the church on the corner and as far away as africa. it's a little crazy. yep. i know. but a little crazy is sometimes so good.

the places where my kids have landed this week, i couldn't ask for anything more. every one of them getting or giving something of God's grace.

i sat through the opening evening of the goldrush conference last night and was just wrecked by the presence of God pouring out from those high school kids worshipping. to know my teens are in that place. tyler serving on the prayer team and sarah leading in missions ... it leaves me humbled.  how can i NOT go to africa? we have an opportunity -- a responsibility -- to love others here and there. my kids inspire me and God will lead me.

but, heck ya, i'm a little anxious. as my oldest daughter so kindly reminded me, "mom, it's a big deal for a mother of five to go to africa." and ... she's right. it is. but this mother of five knows that she's got a Father in heaven who has it all in His hands. the seven of us and the seven thousand + miles between us. God's got this. it may be "big," but God is bigger.

and wherever we are --- church camp, minnesota or africa! He goes before us, with us and behind us.

"religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: 
to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." james 1:27 

emily and some of her cute campers!
so excited to head to camp - day two!

opening night of goldrush -- monday. amazing worship!

connor and some of the guys from his cabin ready to head out onto the ropes course. don't you love technology. i really am not stalking my boy with a camera while he's at summer camp. someone else does that and posts pictures which we desperate parents can pour over ... download and post! camp highland ... you guys rock!

sarah on her mission's project today (a picture which i shamelessly stole right off her instagram)!

1 comment:

DiJo said...

Love it.. ALL of it!!! You know I would be right there with you behind my camera lens if i was in on this awesome trip!!!! And, like I texted you last night.. Packing early IS completely overrated!!!! That's why God made us friends!!!!!!! Now, go and love on those precious children and women waiting to be served by you!!!! I'll be praying for you from the hamster wheel I feel like I'm running on right now! To God be the Glory my friend. Love your heart, and the feet that will be living in those chacos!!! xoxo Di