Girl, Be Brave

These are my words for this year. Girl, Be Brave. I will repeat them over and over again to myself as I tackle both small things (like entering a room of strangers or biking in bear country), or big things (like asking for support and riding my bicycle in a foreign land). I wonder if it will work – this self talk. This attempt to muster courage that I’m not so sure is there.

If you know me, you know I can talk a big game, but as the time for our departure draws closer, I can sense my fears and doubts beginning to muster like so many soldiers for a full-on attack against my hope. The more people we talk to, the more we are told about things to be afraid of. We try to laugh them off and make jokes, because the objects of the fear seem so foreign and ridiculous to us. We swing back and forth between, “We got this!” to “Oh, man. This is too much. What are we doing?!?”

We recently met a Ugandan man living in Alberta who told us to hire policemen daily to accompany us to protect us from thieves and bandits, who would not only take our stuff, but also possibly kidnap us for ransom. We have been told by a few African friends that we are crazy because of cannibals in Uganda. Although this IS actually still practiced in Uganda, it IS illegal – good to know. This threat in particular has us joking a lot with our kids and friends, because it’s terrifying unless we can face it with laughter. We have been warned about animals such as elephants, black mambas, cape buffalos, and of course, the dengue fever and malaria-carrying mosquitos. We ARE taking precautions against everything in our control, such as buying Ex-Officio Bugsaway pants with built in bug repellent, bringing a Garmin In-Reach with us to text and reach out in the case of an emergency and allow anyone who wants to, to follow us in real time. But I have no insight into fighting off the Big Five, cannibals or bandits. We will have bear spray, dog spray and I plan to sleep with those close at hand and my new Opinel knife under my pillow (thanks for the gift, Hannah!).

This post is not a cry for kudos, advice, comments about our courage or anything of the sort. It’s me getting it out there so people can pray against these things and against the fear that could be debilitating. It’s me voicing the reality of the risk. (Yes, we are updating our will before we go). But, we are choosing to take on these risks for the reward that we are hoping for – the adventure of a lifetime, interacting with beautiful people, seeing sights we could not see by any other means than by bikes, working together for a common goal and showing ourselves and others that age is just a number. And for the reward we have already received – getting a number of children off the streets and sending them to school through the generosity of family and friends like you. What has become increasingly clear to us this past year is that there is NOTHING that gives us the right to not suffer in this lifetime.

Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” I’m here to testify that the fear is there. Now, it’s time to resist and master it. 

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