Reflections from a First-Time Traveler

I have eagerly longed to place my feet on African soil and this week, I prepare for my first visit to Mwana Villages in the Congo.  I’ve been expecting nervousness to settle in but all I feel is excitement. As I imagine what this experience has in store, I consider the ranges of possibilities: joy and sadness, hopefulness and hopelessness, pride in wanting to be accepted and humility in being a guest, language barriers and the overcoming of those barriers, awe in beautiful hues of brown skin and sadness that the beauty is not always acknowledged. I anticipate God’s glory, life change, and a part of my heart being altered forever by the scenes and sounds of Congo. 

With anticipation comes many questions. I wonder what the scenery might be like. What is the landscape of the land? Will the sky be full of stars at night or feel dark and empty? What about cultural scenes? The colors of fabric and textiles? The smell of their cuisine? The sounds of their day - calm or chaotic? I worry that I won’t be able to capture and absorb it all.  I will be a guest in the land and I hope to honor my host with services of love. 

I’m mostly humbled by this opportunity. In the states, I am married, the mother to three boys, and I work as a mental health counselor.  Most of my days look the same with minor variation - waking up to my dream guy; getting the kids off to school; a day of clients; and back home to get the kids off the bus for afternoon homework and extracurricular activities before we eat, pray, and sleep. While I find my daily activities important and satisfying, I am aware of how small we are in this big big world and how my daily affairs seem so minor in comparison to the reality of what others face. This is my lot and so I am grateful and find contentment in the Lord’s provision. But the idea that the Lord would call and allow me to use my gifting in the land of my ancestors floods my soul with humility.

As I prepare for my travels to Mwana Villages, I see an opportunity to serve my brothers and sisters. I have established plans for my time on the ground but each time I review those plans, I’m compelled to ask, “How can I be most useful?”  This is normally followed by a keen awareness that I am not needed but privileged by the call of God and the people of Mwana to make this trip.  Because I know this to be true, I expectantly leave room for God to move in my efforts. I set my feet to walk in the Spirit, trusting that He will lead every step of the way.  In this, there is freedom and the chance to make myself available to the hope of the hearts I serve.

—Michelle Torbor

Wellon Bridgers