Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Africa Update Part 1: Going Back to Africa

Part 2: Working with residents is here
Part 3: Tanzania is here

Back in March, I posted that we were making plans to move to Africa after Dave finishes his residency. I’m finally making time to share more about how we got here and how our plans are shaping up.

First a little background. For those who don’t know, in college I spent 6 months living in a rural community in western Kenya, teaching in a primary school, learning about life in the village and exploring issues surrounding poverty and development. As a graduate student studying community development, I spent another 5 months in that same community studying local development efforts. I also studied Swahili, both at Michigan State and in Tanzania and Dave spent six weeks during his medical training working at a hospital in Malawi.

We always thought that we would end up in Africa eventually, probably in rural Kenya. Then we landed in Detroit and realized that this was a great place to put down some roots, build relationships, and engage in transforming our community. We had never dreamed we’d be in Detroit, but once we got connected, we were absolutely sure that God had placed us here. So we began to wonder whether we should stay here in Detroit. We knew we’d be here for a while (General Surgery residency is LONG!), but would this be the place for us long term?

We began asking God what was next. We entertained ideas of all the “fun” places we could live. We considered what life in Detroit would really look like and all the things we would miss if we were not here. We wondered about the possibilities for serving in Africa. But as Dave asked, “what’s next?” God clearly showed him: “You’re not ready yet to hear what’s next.” So we waited and wondered, prayed and pondered, all the while seeking to learn and grow.

Then one day, we both knew that we needed to go back to Africa. It was different circumstances for each of us, but on the same day, we each came home convicted that we needed to go. Our calling has never been to live in America, make a doctor salary, give away a lot of money and take short term trips overseas (the justification we used for the “live in a fun place” fantasies.) We also realized that our time in Detroit is for a season. We’ve learned so much while we’ve been here and have grown in so many ways. But this is not the place for us to stay.

More to come...


Ruth Chowdhury said...

Praise God for dreamers & people who aren't settling, but who are clinging to God's will even when it's not easy! Praying for you guys in your journey. I'm glad God has you here for a season, and will rejoice with you when you take the next step (even if it's through tears!).

Paul Robinson said...

Wow! This is really exciting, Sarah! I'm wondering what in specific this means, and will look forward to Part II of this essay. In the meantime, we hold you in our prayers as you dream, plan, discern. Paul & Margie

Annalisa said...

Yay! So good to hear a bit of your thoughts and process about heading to Africa. I'm really excited to hear more specifics.