Why does a suburban housewife from Oklahoma need to go to Africa?

For years I had been telling people I was going to go to Africa. I didn’t know when or how, I just knew I was going. There was an inexplicable pull to Africa. The response from one friend was, “Why does a suburban housewife from Oklahoma need to go to Africa?” Well, I didn’t know why; I just knew I was supposed to go. I wanted to help. I wanted to be part of a healing. I didn’t realize all those years ago, it would be a healing that I needed.  Within a few short months of sharing my enthusiasm to go to Africa with my friend, I would no longer be a housewife but join the ranks of thousands and thousands of others whose marriages are broken beyond repair. My dream to go to Africa dimmed for a bit. My life moved at warp speed after the divorce. I finished my Bachelor’s degree, got accepted to grad school, and moved across the country within about 14 months.

In 2006, I was living in Bronxville, New York attending my first semester of graduate school at Sarah Lawrence College. On a cool, crisp Sunday evening in September, I made the half-mile walk to Christ Church in my overalls, Sarah Lawrence College (SLC) hoodie, and hiking boots to attend an informal Eucharist service. I had never attended an Episcopal church nor did I really know what a Eucharist service was, but I needed God and needed to be in his house. During the service I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and knew this was where I was meant to be. After the service something amazing happened. One of the young ladies came over to me and asked if I attended Sarah Lawrence. I was stunned that she would just guess that, then remembered I was wearing my SLC hoodie. We chatted for a few minutes, then we all gathered downstairs for fellowship.

The next week at church, an announcement was made about a trip to Malawi, Africa. The church had partnered with another organization to help fund  a well and a school in a village in Malawi. There would be a meeting the following week of those who were interested in traveling to see the progress of the well and school and also to take medical and school supplies to the village. To say I was excited would be an understatement. For weeks, I had floated around thinking I had made a mistake in coming to New York. But this chance to be part of something that mattered, something that would make a difference suddenly gave my life meaning and purpose. Along the way, I faced obstacles that threatened to derail my trip, wrestled with my failings as a wife and mother, and struggled to embrace the person God wanted me to be.

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