She quieted for a bit. Then out of her stillness said, "Jesus in Africa?"
I responded, "Yes, Hope. Jesus is in Africa."
Hope: "I want to see Jesus in Africa."
Me too, sweet girl, me too.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We are leaving Grand Rapids in less than two weeks. We are leaving our family and friends, our jobs, our church and our home. Our vehicles are sold and every day, pieces of furniture are leaving through our door. Orange, green, and white tubs are more abundant than furniture and meals are becoming reminiscent of college days as we try to eat our way through the remainders of our fridge and pantry. We're selling off winter clothes and stocking up on long skirts, breathable shirts and sandals.
Grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins, friends...we are leaving so much behind...so much that we cannot pack up in our 11 pieces of luggage. They won't be in Africa. But Jesus will be.
Through all this change, Jesus is constant and he is with us always. In Grand Rapids at Plymouth Heights. In Muskegon at WMC. In Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa at HOPAC.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
We continue to feel God's presence and peace as we pack, clean, and try to prepare. And we move forward, trusting in the God of peace to be with us and near to us as we go, knowing that he will be faithful to that promise - both for us and for those we leave behind.
And lest you think all the conversations with our kids are spiritual in nature, shortly after this little interaction, Hope asked me to sing the Dora song and told me she wanted to watch a Dora movie. I told her that her Dora movies were already in Africa. She now may or may not be as excited about Dora in Africa as she is about Jesus in Africa.