The Lord Goes Before

An island I’ve never been to before, a lifestyle I never could have imagined, teaching things I never taught to people who speak a language I don’t know. All of these things awaited me as I sat on the boat that carried me towards the island of Zinga, Africa. I closed my eyes and tried to find some familiarity in the way that the waves moved the boat slowly up and then down. I leaned towards the edge allowing the spray from the lake to sprinkle my face. The sun was hot and the water was refreshing, at that moment it didn’t matter to me how dirty it was or how many times I was told to not let the water into my mouth. I smiled as I remembered old summer days on the boat with my family. I rested my chin on the splintered wooden frame of the old blue bloat and opened my eyes. The clouds were rolling across the sky and seemed to be mightier than ever. The white wall reached from the sky above us all the way to the waters edge and it glowed with a reassuring light. The angels of the heavens were at Zinga, preparing the way. I thought of everything I had set out to accomplish and instantly felt the nerves rise in my throat. Will our work be successful? Do I know what I am getting myself into? Will these people welcome us as friends or be hostile as enemies? 
A distraction, I needed a distraction – “Bartholomew, can you teach me a children’s song in Lugandan?” We spent the next hour going over key phrases and songs in the language of the island, and I began to get excited about teaching the children. I looked out of the boat, and there it was…Zinga. The shore was lined with boats-some broken in half, some tipped on there sides or upside down, some intact and floating in the water. A man was walking behind a herd of about ten bulls. A few children were playing in the water jumping up and down waving their hands wildly. A woman with something on her head stopped walking to turn and watch us dock our boat. I instantly began to shake, my legs were weak and my hands were unsure. I was terrified. I scanned the island scene quickly and my eyes froze on one of the boats in the water. In large white letters scratched into the side it said “Amen.” I looked to Michelle (one of the members on our team) and saw that she saw the same thing. She smiled at me and said, “See, the Lord has already gone before us.”


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