Six weeks before I was due to move back home to start Uphold Global and I realized I knew nothing about what this issue looked like in real Africa. I only knew how bad it was in the most developed city in the entire continent. I'll be honest, my initial reaction to this realization was a much more colorful version of "crap." I hadn't planned on going on another trip, our church wasn't hosting one, I didn't know where to go and I didn't have any money to go on one--but I knew I had to do it. I reached out to other organizations in the Cape Town area that did outreach elsewhere in Africa that could direct me on where would be a good place to go and landed on Kenya, and within a few days the resource to make this trip happen came through too. I arranged to meet with five different organizations that work with children with disabilities over 2.5 days and the timeframe between when I could meet with them all and when the only flight that could get me there on time left was a grand total of 6 hours.
I booked my ticket, packed a bag, picked up my malaria tablets, got a lift to the airport, emailed a random hostel hoping they'd receive it by the time I got there and asked them to hook me up with a room and a reliable cab from the airport. They did.
Now, if I wrote you all of the details of that trip, not only would it be a book, but it would also be entirely depressing and I probably wouldn't even get through writing it because I'd be too preoccupied with sobbing to even get through it. Not like tearing up because things are sentimental, but ugly crying that promotes onlookers to invest into brands like Kleenex and Zoloft. However, I do have one story that is probably the most badass thing I've ever done.
This airport had ONE line for international departures. I waited in line for hours and when I finally got to the security point they asked to see my yellow fever card. Cape Town isn't a yellow fever area and neither is the United States, so once I moved out of South America I never gave much thought to bringing it around. I calmly reassured the guy that it was okay that I didn't have my card because 1. I had the shot and 2. South Africa wasn't a yellow fever area.
He looked at me like I was the hugest idiot in the world (which admittedly, I was) and told me "Yes, miss, but Kenya is. You can't go back into the country without it." My heart sank all the way into my small intestine and I and protested "But my flight leaves in an hour and a half now! What am I supposed to do?!" And he responded "You'll have to be inoculated. Go to the international health office, see what they can do for you." My head started spinning with the horror stories I'd heard from others at various entries into countries where the officials would insert the needle into the medication and squirt it from the syringe into one person's arm, and would repeat with the same needle down the line.
The man at the health office motioned for me to follow him and we went into a room in the back. It was entirely concrete, no windows, no signage--basically my parent's worst nightmare for her their girl. He slammed the heavy door and motioned for me to take one of the two chairs on the side of a single rickety table while he took another one. He smirked and asked me "What would you like me to do for you?" I replied honestly and said "Give me a yellow fever card. I have the shot, I just forgot my card."
"What's in it for me?" he questioned, "if I get caught doing this, I could lose my job. My family wouldn't have an income anymore..."
This is the part where I should have started planning my funeral. I always said that when I inevitably die I hope I get shot while trying to take a stand for Jesus or some really cool story that inspires others to do something crazy. I mean if I'm going to go out eventually, I might as well go out as a bad ass. I also want to have wanted Chipotle served so that everyone will remember me with fond memories of delicious Mexican food and I'll have had one of my best friend's Jordan Doyle sing a a borderline inappropriate song. I also want my eulogy rapped. Basically, I want everyone to think of me and laugh and dare to live a ridiculous life.
However, I didn't have time for fear or funeral planning. I looked that dodgy official in the eye and I knew that Jesus would never put me in a position where I had to compromise my integrity. I fearlessly replied "Look, I'm a missionary. I have like no money to pay you off. I'm not doing anything dodgy. I don't even have money to stay here any longer. I have thirty American dollars on me and thats all I can do."
He agreed to the trade. To this day I have a dodgy, fake, Kenyan yellow fever card that got me back into South Africa. I'm framing it.
Being brave sometimes can mean just having zero tolerance for things that you know you cannot and will not do. It means standing your ground and trusting that Jesus has a way to work it out regardless.