I tell everyone, "If I can do this, anyone can." When you asked me at 24 what I would do with the rest of my life I would have never told you I would be living in Uganda.
Yes, here I am, 31 years old and I have been living in Uganda, Africa for four years now. It doesn't seem possible. I am just a simple Texas girl who didn't own a pair of flat shoes, didn't own a t-shirt, and couldn't imagine life before eyelash extensions. That makes me sound pretty high maintenance, but I think most everyone would tell you that I just love pretty things. I have always had a love for the fashion world, and it is something that makes me happy. So, when I boarded my first flight to Uganda on a short term mission trip, I didn't know how this girl was going to handle all things third world.
The smells, the sights, and basically all things sensory captured me. Anyone that has been here will tell you that your first experience here is very romantic. All your senses are on overload, and your heart is trying to keep up with everything that your eyes are seeing for the first time. You are easily captivated by the beautiful people, the hospitality, and the smiles that pierce you.
I always knew that I wanted to be in the ministry. I am a pastor's kid and unlike the stereotype I did still have a passion for people and loving them. That's my thing. (Besides a good outfit ;) ) People. I stinking love people. I love people's stories and seeing God do what only He can do in people, so ministry is a great place to live that out. But a missionary, in Uganda....never. crossed. my. mind.
I have been asked so many times, "How did you get here? What's your story?" For a long time I didn't know how to answer that question, as silly as that sounds. So much of my journey here was a fight to the finish with the Lord. It was personal, it was offensive, and it was such a humbling journey. One would think that it would be one night in my room, agonizing over a big "yes" or a resounding "no." But I could never pin point that night. I honestly can say that long before He started talking to me about Uganda, I began saying little "yeses." Yes to moving to Austin, which put me in the same city with others that have a love for Uganda. Yes to sitting next to a random lady on the plane who gave me my first check to embark on this journey without knowing my name. Yes to many small conversations. And all those "yeses" got me here. Tiny moments of obedience and surrender.
Surrender: to yield to the power, control, or possession of another.
After being here for a year, I went home for a break and while there I wrestled more with returning than I did when I initially said yes. I had many conversations and break downs with the Lord and friends. I then knew what I was surrendering. It wasn't so much an adventure anymore- it was commitment. It was knowing the pain of loneliness, getting in the deepest trenches that I have ever dared to enter, and it was the thought of giving up my personal dreams of being married and being a mom for the sake of Him. It seemed easy enough to say it, but when it came down to knowing that by coming back for another year I could be saying no to my heart's desires, it was paralyzing.
I had a conversation with one of my best friends while home that year and he said this, “I think you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, and that you are meant to be there- but not forever. It’s just not the Dacia we know. We know you to love your friends more than anything. You are always connected. You enjoy being a part of what is going on in everyone’s lives back home. You love your family and you are family oriented. I just don’t think you could be gone forever.”
I knew his heart and I love it. I agreed with him 100%. He knows me well. He knows that it is not me to be away from my friends that are my family. He knew that I desired to be a wife and a mom and I have a very sweet family that I love being with. I love that I have friends that know me the way they do, and it is comforting to know that your friends actually do want you to be there, doing life alongside of them. His words were true.
This is not me…
I pray that it would be that very statement that leads me, what defines my life when the world looks at me. That they will not see Dacia, but the love of my Savior who demands my life, my soul, my all. Surrendered. This is not me at all. If I could choose, I would really try to have the best of both worlds. I would recruit everyone that I love spending life with to pack up and move with me. I would have my mom and dad here in Jinja. But His love has stained me, and it is no longer about what I want. For I have tasted of both worlds. I know what it is to live in my favorite city, to have an incredible job, to have security, to not really ever “want,” to call up friends at anytime, to be successful, to start a business, and there are days that I miss it so much. I also know what it is like to say “I’ll go.” To sacrifice very little and to give up a few comforts in order to gain a perspective that allows me to see with different eyes. A life where there is suffering daily, but it is what I long for, because that is where I see Him. A life that sometimes is very lonely, especially for a girl who loves people, but a fulfilled life that makes the lonely nights worth it.
A life surrendered is life in the fullest.
That is what we are searching for, is it not? Something that allows us to go to bed at night feeling like we had a purpose that day. To wake up knowing that the day might be full of heartache, but we will overcome because He has promised He would never leave us or forsake us and that He is here in those moments. To walk assured that you are right where He wants you. To watch your black and white life become vibrant with color and meaning.
For when I am bent low, serving with my face to the dirt, that is where I find Him in all of His fullness. But today, I know that with me bending my knee, placing myself in a position of surrender, I can only take this position because He first bent towards me.
When I surrender, I find Him. I want to fight for what I want, keep my hands with a firm grasp on the things so that I don't lose what I want to hold close but this journey is about total surrender. He has to possess me. Fully.
I have to fight to see how everything I do here daily is a chance to display His glory. And when we see His glory there is this taste that happens: “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Satan’s main job is to get me frustrated with this culture, with me always giving and it never being enough, to feeling inadequate… to keep me from seeing His glory. The battle for joy is the battle to keep ON seeing glory. In all of this…I want to see God. I don’t want it to just become routine, which is so easy to do. Preach to myself the glory of the Gospel every day so that I can continue to pour out.
When I surrendered, He brought me to Uganda. It is here He has pieced together my family. He brought me my man and my daughter. He gave me the desires of my heart. I am overwhelmed.
I want this for you. I want my journey and my stories to quicken your heart to live beyond yourself. I want you to trade these earthly desires for something more. I do not know the way; I am still learning daily and I still take my own road sometimes. But I will say: "Let’s try this together.” You have a story. Go find it. In the coming days and years, we will either have to run hard or we will be defeated. Let us start now. The world will be looking to us.