Many of you are probably aware of my love and passion for Africa. If not, let me catch you up...
In sixth grade, a unit/lesson about Africa sparked an everlasting interest in me. From that day forward, my dream revolved around going to Kenya and experiencing her culture.
This opportunity was awarded to me through a generous grant during my second year teaching. I spent a month working on an Earthwatch Expedition investigating the Grevy Zebra (before going, I had no idea that there were different types of zebras).
After the grant concluded, my parents joined me for two weeks of traveling through Kenya, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. The experience was life altering, and I know many of you are rolling your eyes thinking everyone would say that. It honestly was the best experience of my life.
Since that trip, I've pined for opportunities to get back. Unfortunately, the opportunity hasn't arisen.
The story continues about a year and a half ago, when I went to Nicaragua with a group of educators to provide professional development to teachers in a rural village.
The trip was so uplifting and sparked a passion inside of me. Because of this experience, I decided to explore options of places to go and serve. I began talking to my sister and through her understanding and encouragement decided I was going to take a leap of faith and spend up to a year working some place outside of my comfort zone and simply serving.
So, I began praying for guidance. I didn't know where to go or how everything would happen, but I knew God would provide guidance. I vividly remember during a trip back to Nicaragua last summer, I sat on the rooftop patio on a dark and hot evening and prayed ferociously for this guidance. In tears, I begged God to show me the path he had in store for me. Yet, I heard and felt nothing.
I continued this process over the course of the summer. One day in New Zealand, I landed in a gorgeous Methodist church, sitting on the back pew praying again that God would show me his plan and help open the doors. Still nothing.
I must admit I was beginning to doubt. Here I was begging to go somewhere and serve, yet I felt no guidance of how I should proceed.
Several weeks after the New Zealand trip, I was reading a magazine article entitled, The Way Home. As I read the article, tears filled my eyes (as they are now) because I finally felt the call. My call wasn't what I expected, wanted, and hoped for...instead it was a call home. As an adventurous person, I admittedly felt disappointed. But I'm growing to realize the importance of being content wherever God leads you.
Shortly after I returned home from New Zealand, I sat in my dad's office describing the unbelievable beauty I witnessed during my travels. Dad quickly snarked, "Where are you off to next?" I explained that there were no trips on the horizon, and he commented back, "Well, maybe now you can reconnect with your family." That comment stung for a while. I'm family oriented, and many of those who know us Barnes's, know that we stick together. But later I realized this is God's intent. His purpose of calling me home is to reconnect and find peace with the present.
So, although I'm closing the chapter on Normandy Drive, I'm not opening the chapter to the world (like I thought I would be doing now). Instead, I'm opening the chapter to Marietta, family, contentedness, and peace. I ask that you pray for me on this journey. It is not what I expected or hoped for, but it is where God is calling.