Tuesday, July 3, 2012

our love story - part 4

It's been a year since I started the series "our love story".  If you have not already read the first 3 parts, they are here: part 1part 2, and part 3.

I spent the next few days in that fancy schmancy hotel taking long, hot showers in a bathroom the size of some homes I’d been in during the last 3 weeks. It just seemed so unfair. I pleaded with God to continue breaking my heart for the things that break His. I just wanted to go back home. My body was exhausted from the jet lag and George, bless his heart, wanted to talk to me so badly that he kept calling at times like 1am, 4am, 6am. I missed him so terribly that my heart would be more than excited to talk to him but my body was begging me to let the phone keep ringing and just sleep. He called one of the mornings at 3am and we talked for a little while and then I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was so broken and so confused. Why did I even have to leave? I knew I was going back, so why even leave? How was I supposed to adjust? How DO you adjust? 

I liked the room cold and dark. It matched what I was feeling inside. Numb. The sun had long risen but it wasn’t out, so I opened the layers of hotel curtains and sang the song “God of this City”, which is the song that I’d sang over and over in my head for the last 3 weeks when I saw something that threatened to break me and make me burst into tears. I went back and crawled up onto the tall, inviting bed and then I saw this. Look Who showed up! 

As much as I want to type the words “and immediately I felt at peace”, that wasn’t the case. I longed more for home. I reflected on my time with His children and I praised Him for sharing His heart with me on such an intimate level but I was not at peace. I was just desperately at His feet.  I was still off schedule so I would wake up at weird hours and break out my Ugandan Tea Bags and fix myself a cup of tea but there was no fresh milk so it never tasted the same.  I knew nothing about my life would ever be the same.

On the last full day in the hotel, I finally started to appreciate the rest I was getting. I knew that leaving and returning to my family after such an experience would leave me having to recall every detail and share every story and I am thankful to have that short time alone to try and process it as best I could. But I certainly didn’t do much processing. When I tell you that it is hard to re-enter the US, that is an understatement. I’ve read blog posts about it and seen status updates about it but I’d never experienced it. Those people soon went right back to the life they’d left and it was evident in their posts and updates as time went on. So I thought that would be the case for me. And selfishly, I wanted that. I wanted my “normal” back. Even though my “normal” was now living in my sister’s basement after selling everything I owned. But it wasn’t living day to day as if my heart was in one place and my body was in another. And if that wasn’t enough, I was falling in love with a man that was halfway across the world.

I forced a smile but only because he wanted me to post a picture of myself so he could see me.  Here I am in the necklace he bought me at the airport before I left.  I wore it all the time.  It made me feel close to him.

The next couple months were rough. The more red dirt that came off of my flip flops, the more my heart hurt. George was very supportive and his encouragement meant more to me than he knew. He said things to me like, “Just think. You’re not here by chance, but by God’s choosing. His hand formed you and made you the person you are. He compares you to no one else. You are one of a kind. You lack nothing that His grace can’t give you. He has allowed you to be here at this time in history to fulfill His special purpose for this generation.” Each time I read a message from him, it filled my heart and rocked my face off. It was too much so I started to pull away from him. If I’m honest, I resented him. He didn’t understand what it was like to be in a place like America after having been in a place like Uganda. It was hard to see that people had an abundance of “stuff” and they still weren’t happy. The more He was shaping my heart, the more annoyed I was. I missed things like real pineapple.  Silly, right?  It hurt though.  So when Melinda gave me her shopping list, I went to Publix and headed straight to the produce section.  Pineapple.  $4.99.  I was in heaven.  Until I tried it.  Blech.  Fake pineapple.  If you think I'm exaggerating, come here and try it for yourself.  Seriously.

Every single place I went, I seemed to hear someone complaining about something. The children throwing full-blown temper tantrums in the stores as their mothers/fathers bought them whatever they wanted just to shut them up. The woman in front of me at Target that joked about spending $500 on things across the street at Walmart only to come there and drop another $400 because she was “stressed”. I felt myself judging people in ways I never thought I would. My heart was in a village in the bush in Uganda where they don’t even have access to clean water and she was gloating about spending money because she’s stressed! Does she even know what stress is? Then the cashier that told me “better you than me” when I answered her question about where I was moving to. I could literally write a book on the comments I got, frustration I was met with, and things that broke my heart after I got home. I was seeing things through new eyes – His eyes – and I couldn’t understand why everyone else seemed to have blinders on. I wanted to be mad. That way, I didn’t really have to deal with what it was doing to my heart. But George just kept encouraging me over and over and over and over. I couldn’t stand it. He just didn’t know Americans, I reasoned. He just doesn’t know, I told myself. He just sees the good in everything. But there was nothing good in what I was going through. So I started to avoid him.  But everything reminded me of him.  My necklace.  His favorite cartoon that was on after I woke up from dreaming about him.  A receipt I'd found in loose cash I had in an envelope.  Everything.  Just everything.

I was spending some time at Mom’s and we always stayed up late working on paper beads I brought back to sell to raise funds for the village. We would take apart the necklaces and make bracelets and earrings out of them. So we burned the midnight oil and slept late. I remember waking up to a cup of her hot tea and grabbing my cell phone to see if he’d texted me. It was August 29th, 2010. I was sipping on the tea as I read the following message:

"Please call me. Just had a fatal accident".

My heart dropped and I felt it sinking into my chest as I fought the urge to puke. What does that even mean? Is he OK? Was someone texting me from his phone? We’d seen horrific accidents just in the 3 weeks I was there, and I couldn’t get some of those images out of my head. Bodies on the side of the road as people stand around aimlessly and no one is in a hurry to call the police. I called but he didn’t answer. I just wanted to hear his voice. I felt helpless. I made my way back to her computer and quickly signed into Facebook to see if he’d messaged me. I found this:

"am in hospital got a terrible accident about 5 hours ago. lost conscious for about 3 hours. just pray for me." 

I was hurt but more so I was mad. Mad that I was so far away. It shouldn’t be like this. I should be there with him. What if something happens to him and no one knows to call me? What if this? What if that? Why? Did? I? Have? To? Leave? I rejoiced when he got out of the hospital. Actually, everyone following my journey rejoiced! I knew that if he didn’t have his truck fixed soon, he couldn’t serve the people he was serving and he couldn’t get to and from school, so after he got back on his feet and was able to get an estimate of the repairs, I dove right into raising money to get it fixed. And God quickly answered our prayers and blessed us with the exact amount just over a week later. It was the first of many things He used to grow my faith and show me that by following Him and serving where He asked me to go, He would provide. George put his truck in for repairs and we all rejoiced when it was fixed. 

Over the next few weeks I threw myself into fundraising for my trip back to Uganda. For good.  We shipped order after order after order.  People I'd never met came to my Mom's apartment and bought jewelry after their friends had shared my journey with them.  

Then God impressed upon our hearts that 100 of the 800 children in the village just wasn’t cuttin’ it. Wasn’t His plan. We were made for more than this. But we didn’t have a school. Soooo we started raising money for a 2-classroom building. When it was fully funded, we put the need out there for sponsors. The only thing was that George didn’t have a camera so they would have to sponsor and when I got home, I’d take the pictures and they could choose their child then. I sold paper beads to raise funds for my trip and when I had enough money for my flight, I booked it. God provided the money on September 30, 2010. So I booked a round-trip ticket home and I’d leave on October 12th. But God had different plans and He was about to show us more of His heart. 

On the Saturday before I was scheduled to leave, I got a call from my sister. She had gotten a call from my step mother who told her that my Daddy needed open heart surgery. He had a couple stints put in a couple years back but this time, some blockages were found. I’m not even going to sugar coat what I went through for the next couple days. I cried. I screamed. I yelled at God. I was confused. I was hurt. I was numb. I felt everything. I didn’t understand nor did I want to. My faith was tested. I wanted to give up. I questioned if God was even real. I questioned EVERYTHING. How could He ask me to do everything I had to do to prepare for leaving to serve Him and then drop this in my lap just days before I left? Was He testing me? Should I stay? Should I go? What does this mean for His story for me?

I tried to reason that He’d moved mountains for me to go and that I should go. But what about my Daddy? I tried to reason that there were people in the village waiting on me. But who would be there for my Daddy? I tried to reason that these people need Jesus. But my Daddy didn’t know Jesus. I cried and cried and cried some more. I was miserable. I completely turned away from George. I felt so torn. I could NOT tell him how I was feeling. I knew he wanted me there so badly. We used to cry together on the phone and we were SO excited that I was to leave in just a couple days. The timing was terrible and I didn’t trust for a second that it was His timing. I thought there was something I’d done wrong. I’d missed a step somewhere. It almost killed me – those next couple days. George FINALLY got me to answer the phone and I will never forget the words that came across the line. He said, “I love you. Please know that. We need you here but this place will be here when your work there is finished. There’s nothing coincidental about God’s timing. And it IS His timing. Your Daddy’s heart is important to God. Everyone’s heart is important to Him. Baby, you will find us here when your work is done.” I would love to type the words, “and I immediately felt at peace. I immediately knew what to do.” But I didn’t. When I say I struggled, oh, you have no idea. I poured my heart out to Him but I wasn’t ready to hear His response.

Stay tuned for the rest of our story...


  1. Christie...thank you for laying your heart on your sleeve and sharing his story of your life. I am learning HIS timing...and I feel frustrated often...discouraged that I am not where I think he wants me to be....I thank you for being transparent...and well I just love you sister!!

  2. Oh, great! Now you'll make all of us blog followers wait months to hear Part 5!!! lol :-) I suggested to my book club to read your blog instead of reading a book, so I hope you have that part finished before August when we meet!!!
    Sue Moore (Debbie's friend)

  3. God.....is a God of His plans.....oh man! Why does it seem that they are always sooo strange. Oh yea, ummm....because we didn't create the universe? ;) LOVE reading your story- a testimony to REALITY of following God!

  4. Ahhh....waiting on pins and needles to see what God did next. I can't.even.imagine.