Monday, January 13, 2014

Kenya: Expectations

My mind is swirling with thoughts and feelings and emotions and mostly jitters of excitement coming out of our first group meeting yesterday. I learned more about our trip and how we'll be serving, which was very different than my expectations (naturally). As our leader put it, we Americans tend to think in terms of tasks and objectives. "OK, once we get there we are going to do this and teach that and build this and fix that and I am going to check off my list every time we accomplish a task." But this trip is not like that. This trip focuses more on the relational aspect between us and the Kenyans in the community we are visiting.

Our leader explained that these people never dreamed that they would meet Americans, let alone befriend them and get to spend time with them - whether it's Kenyans taking us into their home to show us how they live, us holding and loving on their children, or just sitting with them and talking and laughing and doing life, if only for a week. And I guess that idea goes both ways. Even just a few months ago, I would have never guessed I would be trekking across the world to go spend time with our brothers and sisters in Kenya, that I would have the opportunity to humble myself and see how others live without so many daily comforts I take for granted: a steady supply of running water I can count on, food (in excess) to eat and leftovers that don't always make it home, new clothes whenever the shopping mood strikes me, a prosperous job, health insurance...the list goes on!

We were challenged us to leave our expectations behind as we embark together on this journey. Coming out of the meeting, I can't seem to shake the idea of how different my life would be if I could learn to quit creating expectations each morning when I step out of my apartment. Expectations of myself, of others, what will happen at work, how my day will go. Because isn't it true that each of us wakes up each morning with a fresh set of ideas of how we want things to go and how we worry things will play out? I certainly know that I do. I spend a lot of time living in anxiety over how others will react to something I say or do and more often than not, I am totally wrong in my thinking. And then there are the expectations I put on myself, beating myself up when I don't meet them. All of this is exhausting, not to mention the absolute best way to become disappointed in yourself or others or, worst, in God.

So that's my prayer today and over the next few months, that I could cast away all my expectations of myself, others, and what to expect on this trip. There is only one expectation that's safe to hold onto, and that's the expectation that God has some awesome plan totally unbeknownst to me that is going to change my life and way of thinking. Only He knows how this trip is going to work in my life and it's time for me to sit back and let Him do His job.

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