Last fall, Abigail approached us about going on a month long mission trip this summer with Adventures in Missions. There was a lot of researching, packing , fundraising and logistics questions involved, but in the end, we agreed it would be a good thing for her to do the summer before her senior year of high school.
She set out to fund raise, wrote and mailed out her own letters, gathered documents and was able to raise the money she needed for the trip. She had decided that Swaziland Africa was the trip she wanted to take.
Honestly, I kinda put the reality of it all off in the back of my mind. I helped her with documents and we discussed her gear and clothes, but the fact that she would be SOOO far away for a whole month..... yeah, I didn't give that a whole lot of thought.
As time got near for her to actually leave, we all began feeling the anxiety of it. She waffled between excitement and panic. Not normal for my very steady 17 year old. Greg and I tried to be calm for her, but in truth, we were both having some big regrets about allowing her to go so far a way for so long.
There would be 14 girls and 2 leaders on this trip. She would spend 4 days in Georgia at a training camp and then fly the 15 hours to Johannesburg, then take a bus 5 hours to Manzini Swaziland. She had no idea exactly what her lodging conditions would be or what tasks she would be doing.
The morning she flew from Greensboro to Atlanta, we stood in a circle in the kitchen, prayed over her and all cried. I think she cried from the sheer emotions of it all. I cried because I knew she would not come back the same girl she was at that very moment.
When she landed in Atlanta she was happy and excited ( thumbs up) She also found out that she would be sleeping on the ground in a tent for the next few days, her phone would be taken away, she would have bucket showers and portapotties as her facilities. And it was raining. ( thumbs down)
She called that night in panic mode right before they took her phone. Honestly, I wasn't sure when she called us back Sunday night if she would be begging her daddy to drive to Georgia and get her or if she would be focused and ready for the ministry she was about to take on. She called and was thankfully the latter. The next day, she (tearfully and excitedly) board that internationally flight.
Can I just tell you having your child over the ocean for the majority of 15 hours is NOT an easy thing??
One of the discussions Greg and I have had multiple times over the past 3 weeks is that you cannot teach your children to Be SALT and Be LIGHT in this world and then not allow them to actually GO and do it.
You cannot teach your kids that Jesus loves the children of the world and then deny them the opportunity to be HIS hands and feet and minister to these little ones.
But, man is it hard to let go.
She was able to let us know when she had landed and she was able to FaceTime us in South Africa (where she stayed with strangers from a church there.) BUT she had a real bed, real shower and that sweet lady who hosted her washed all her moldy clothes from the Atlanta rain/camp.
Communication has been super sketchy since then. She called the following Saturday crying and throwing up, but assured us that things were good and she was loving Africa. We were just getting the calls when things were not so good. Thankfully, AIM has been able to let us know she was beginning to feel better the next day. We then went 8 days without communication and she finally texted this past Monday with a photo that melted my heart!
She also was able to blog on the AIM website. You can read it here.
I can not begin to tell you how much I have missed her. I am pretty sure our college visits the next year are going to be in a 30 -45 min radius to our house! :) The boys have also decided life without Abigail is boring and she should not ever leave for this long again! Sarah Faith thinks she has been on an airplane the whole time and so she waves and screams, " Have a good trip , Deesie" everytime we see one.
She flys home a week from today! YAY!!! I know that she will need a re- entry period. We did that when we came home from Ethiopia. It is hard to go from the simplicity of life in Africa to the busyness of the US.
I sure do appreciate your prayers for her (and for us) this past month. Thank you to those who gave for her to be able to go.