One more week

One week from today, I will be boarding a plane for Africa.

It’s embarrassing how incredibly stressed I’ve been preparing for this trip. I’ve had migraines, sleepless nights and vertigo to the point I haven’t been able to get out of bed. Meanwhile, my sense of adventure, excitement for the work I’ll be doing there, and thankfulness for the opportunity are off the charts.

I’ve realized that my fear of how my body might handle the experience has been waging war against my mind.

Because of my auto immune issues, I’ve been extremely nervous that I will get sick from eating the wrong food or from my weakened immune system. I know how much my middle-aged body is going to hurt from long flights, lack of sleep and hot weather.

But last week — in addition to praying a ton and asking everyone I can find to pray for me — I turned to a friend for reassurance.


She has been to Africa before.

In fact, at the age of 23, she flew to Africa by herself. She lived there for three months. She stayed with people she didn’t know. And she walked many times by herself with her Sony Walkman blasting 90s music in her ears into parts of town where she most likely should not have been walking alone.



She took her point-and-shoot camera and developed film photos that are remarkably good considering her limited equipment.

Her life was changed, her mind was blown and her worldview was expanded as she looked in the faces of extreme physical poverty, as well as incredible spiritual poverty.

She promised herself that someday she would return to Africa. And she begged herself to make sure that when she was older and had kids, she would try to take them as well.


So, next week, I will live up to the promise I made her — that I made ME!

Not only do I have the incredibly opportunity to go back to Africa. I get to travel with my son who is the same age I was when I went 30 years ago.

This time, it’s part of my job to gather photos and stories for the nonprofit Christian ministry where I work. I get to take my nice digital camera with its high-quality lens. I get to build relationships with our team that works tirelessly in Ghana to spread the gospel.


Just as I did back in Zambia in 1992, I will get to experience two very distinct ways of life.

We will spend the first part of our trip in Accra, a city that is the capital of Ghana, where we will stay in a guest house with running water and at least some degree of air conditioning. During the second half of the trip, we will fly on a small African airplane and travel long distances by truck to see the work we do with villagers in remote areas of northern Ghana.

This is the part that I’m most excited about mentally, but fear the most physically.

We will get to visit an “unreached people group,” meaning people that live in a part of the world where less than 1 percent of the population has ever even heard the name of Jesus. Our African teammates travel to these areas by motorbike, facing all kinds of danger as they ride through the bush.


They deliver water filters that can provide clean water in areas where people get their drinking water from streams infested with parasites and bacteria that also are used by animals for bathing. They show The Jesus Film each night to hundreds of people who gather around a portable projector. And they deliver small handheld audio Bibles that bring the word of God in the heart language of villagers who otherwise might go their entire lives without ever having access to a Bible.

I vividly remember my first days of my trip back in 1992. I had seen so many photos back then in National Geographic or Time magazine of people living in extreme poverty. But getting to know these humans as real people was a life-changing experience.


I’m nervous about leaving the comfort of my home, facing days of sleep deprivation while we travel and the unknown of finding food to eat that won’t accidentally make me sick because of gluten contamination or unpurified water.

But I’m equally as excited to get to be part of such incredible work that our team is doing, rekindle my adventurous spirit and fulfill a promise I made to myself 31 years ago.

One Comment

  1. Emily,

    What a great couple of blogs. I didn’t know you went to Zambia and made that promise to go back to Africa. How cool that the Lord is orchestrating your return, and with Andrew going as well. I will be praying for you the entire time and believe that your precautions, coupled with God’s hand of protection, will keep you safe and well.

    I subscribed to your blog and look forward to future posts.


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