I leave for DRC in less than one week. I feel overwhelmed and have been surprised by bouts of anxiety. I have always been someone who has had to conquer my fears often. When I was young, death came unexpectedly and suddenly to our family. The losses were tragic and changed our lives forever. I didn't realize it then, but looking back I can see how fear of losing those close to me constantly haunted me. I remember irrational anger at my mom when she was late; I feared she had died and that is why she wasn't there on time. I remember overreacting to situations that didn't bring risk, but in my mind meant a possible threat or potential loss. As I grew into adulthood, a combination of stubbornness and determination meant I did things that scared me but that I knew were worth the risk. Yet, the anxiety was there. Always there.
Obviously, moving to eastern DRC took a bit of courage. More than courage, it took trust in God, trust in the unseen. Interestingly enough, the things that scared me most were the chances of random accidents or disease. Airplane crashes or car wrecks. Getting very sick and not being able to access quality health care. Something about the drive to the orphanage pushed all those anxiety buttons for me. The complete loss of control involved in driving along a curving escarpment that was barely more than one lane wide, meant that fear was something I battled. Insecurity, road blocks, guns, riots, they all scared me less than a simple rocky road surrounded by breathtaking beauty.
For whatever reason, flying has become an anxiety for me lately. A bit ridiculous, I know. Going without Mike to Congo, also makes me feel vulnerable in an unexpected way. Leaving the girls. Feeling unreasonably afraid that I might die and they would be left without their mother (for two of them, losing their mother a second time). And knowing they need me. That I couldn't bear to leave them; they would be lost. I suppose there are some that might argue I increase the chances of that happening by going to eastern DRC. I don't really think so (yes, I suppose statistically there might be some validity to the argument from the perspective of the greater chance of a car accident, for example). There is a different reality that you know after you have lived somewhere like eastern DRC for years. You trust those on the ground. You know the news paints a different picture than the day to day life you will experience. That the life your friends experience. In the end it's not about statistics though. It is about something bigger combined with wisdom. There is the trust. Trust in God, in the unseen. Trust that this is the right decision. That the work is right. I have continued to feel doors opened, gentle pushes forward. Support from others saying that this is the right work. Despite the obstacles, it is just and good work. Knowing that I won't forget promises made years ago to incredible women caring for vulnerable children.
I have my moments of doubt, of fear. I try to keep walking forward. It isn't about me in the end. It is and only has been about them. They are not voiceless (everyone has a voice); we must simply listen. It is about the amazing children, women, and men on the other side of the world. Keeping families together. Loving children and their communities. Small work, hard work, very daunting work. It is about humanity. Caring and loving others. Never giving up. Walking forward despite fears. Finding courage and strength. Trust in God.