American Girl : Part One

do something“I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I am somebody.” -Lily Tomlin

I came across this quote while thumbing through Instagram. I appreciate a good motivational quote here and there, but this one really struck me. It wasn’t a feel good quote. Or something about how great things will happen to those who believe. It wasn’t about your dreams coming true or hoping for something magical. No, these words didn’t make me feel good at all. They looked me square in the eyes and shouted, DO SOMETHING!  WHAT are you WAITING for?  Bottom line, I am SOMEBODY.

I’ve got a story to tell, and its been a long time coming. And therefore, it’s kind of a long story. So to spare you the lengthy novel, and hope that at least a few people will read it without falling asleep, I’ll be making it into a series.

Here it goes.

American Girl: Part One

I’ve shared bits and pieces of my year on the World Race, back in 2007. Most of my stories have been the comical, near death experiences (you can read those here and here). Those moments made for great stories and even a few fun snapshots, but as much as I love reliving those adventures and seeing the priceless reactions as I reach the climax, there is a much bigger story to be told.

As I prepared for the 325 excursion around the globe, our leaders and mentors advised us to abandon ALL of our expectations.  SURE. Done. Okay, not really. But (oh the notorious but), I only had a few expectations. I expected to have an adventure of a lifetime. I expected to snap some National Geographic worthy pictures. I expected to fall madly in love with Africa, and probably just move there full time when I was finished with the Race. I expected to grow radically in my relationship with God. I certainly wouldn’t admit it then, but I likely expected (or really hoped) that I would meet my husband-to-be. I didn’t feel that my expectations were unreasonable or something I needed to abandon. Except maybe the husband part. But the rest of them didn’t even feel like expectations, they were just obviously going to happen.  Especially the part about Africa. I KNEW that I was going to fall in love with the little orphans in Africa. And I KNEW that I was going to be called to move back to Africa when I had finished The World Race. It was the perfect calling for me.  I was great with kids. I had a reckless spirit. I had a heart for adoption.  And I was even considering putting my hair in dreadlocks. Obviously, it was destiny.

As you might expect, it turned out that I DIDN’T know everything. In fact, I was perfectly wrong.  I had set my expectations for Africa so high, that when I arrived in Swaziland I was basically naming my future children.  But during my time at the care centers, I experienced a major spiritual and emotional drought.  I was empty. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the orphans. I did. My heart broke for them every day. But I didn’t feel like I had arrived to my life calling. I didn’t feel much of anything at all, except tremendous disappointment. I thought I had done something wrong. This was my one and only chance to find my life’s purpose in Africa, and I was missing it.  Our next stop was Southeast Asia, and I didn’t really have any particular interest in going there. It was the one part of the world I had never given much attention and therefore had the least interest in visiting. I was excited to put the stamps in my passport, but that was about it.

A couple nights before we were scheduled to leave Africa, a friend gave me the book, Not For Sale. She said it would offer some good insight to prepare me for what we would be involved in when we got to Thailand. Nobody warned me about what was in the book. I flipped open the pages to learn about a world I had never heard of. A world so broken, I couldn’t even believe it existed. It was like watching a train wreck. The more I read, the worse it got, but I just couldn’t stop reading.  I didn’t know what was going to happen in Thailand, but I knew I was in for an awakening.

Stay tuned for more from the series, American Girl, to learn how I came to be involved in the fight against Human Trafficking.

More from this series:
Part Two

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