Preparing for the journey

May 01, 2017 at 6:00 AM

benin-transport1.jpgAfricans have talent in the preparation and efficiency of making the most out of a trip.             (Photo by Brent Van Andel) 

(Editor’s note: Brent Van Andel is family medicine physician from Española, N.M. He and his wife, Cindy, are members of a Partnership Ministry Team to N’Dali, Benin.)

Preparing for the journey

By Brent Van Andel

One of the things that is always memorable about our trips to Benin is the way we see certain vehicles loaded to a maximum capacity that we did not think possible.

We have seen cars with motorcycles on top; vehicles loaded with mattresses and other furniture; semi-trucks piled high with cotton; and people on motorcycles carrying canisters of gasoline.

It makes me think of the preparations people must undertake for their journeys and how this is similar to the preparations we make.

As Cindy and I were preparing for a recent trip to Benin, one of the things that struck me was how much time and effort it takes to get prepared. Is your passport up to date? Do you have the right Visa? Does the director know what flight you will be on? Do you have your malaria prophylaxis? Did you get your meningitis shot? Are the medical supplies you are taking useful to the ministry and clinic? Did you pack your mosquito repellent and sun screen?

These are just some of things we think about as we prepare for our trip. It is important to prepare but you can only prepare so much.

As we were traveling on this particular trip, I realized I could not prepare for every unforeseen circumstance. I am not in control. There are things that happen that I do not always expect: a lost bag, a delayed flight, an unexpected illness are just some of the things that can happen.

At a certain point, I just have to let go. I need to trust. The preparation ends and the trip starts.

Like Peter, we need to follow Christ out out on the water. Out into the wilderness. Often times, this is a place where we may feel vulnerable, alone, and out of control, but it is here, we realize that an essential part of preparation is cultivating our relationship with Christ.

Drawing closer to him, growing deeper in Him, and keeping our eyes on Him are the most important parts of preparing for our journey – our journey overseas and also our journey called life.

benin-transport22.jpgThis Benin driver has the talent to stack two modes of transportation on top of each other.                        (Photo by Brent Van Andel)


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