i’m on a bumpy bus ride from livingstone to lusaka, zambia. wide awake with a million thoughts from the weekend, running through my mind faster than the blur of trees passing by.
…i bungee jumped victoria falls…
ah! i’ve been dreaming of this moment since i was twelve years old. i saw some pictures in a national geographic magazine and knew, even as little lauren, that my first bungee jump would have to be victoria falls bridge. so with almost seventeen years of anticipation, and fewer straps than felt necessary, i hopped [like, actually hopped?] to the edge of the bridge. my dream was about to be fulfilled, and all i could think about [and tell the camera!] was that i might pee my pants. standing there on the edge, i started to doubt my dream. i wanted to back up, to back out. so many things could go wrong. i’m too young to die. i can’t feel my legs anymore. fear.
…five, four, three, two, one, arms out, camera on, bungee…
with arms spread wide and my voice raised high, i dove through the fear, head first into my dream. joy flooded every part of my being and i was giggling with euphoria. it was better than i had ever imagined.
…bounce,bounce,bounce,taking in the beauty, and freedom came out of nowhere…
literally. the guy who came out to get me, hanging in the middle of my dream, was named freedom. and isn’t that always the way? we jump through our fears, and freedom sweeps in. it’s the most beautiful promise.
of course, every great adventure reminds me of times past, and so i began to think about climbing kilimanjaro. i lived in tanzania almost three years before i got the chance to climb. the wait was shorter, but the dream was no less precious. you see, the peak of mt. kilimanjaro, the highest point in all of africa, is called uhuru, which means freedom in swahili.
those first three years of memories in tanzania are painted with kilimanjaro as the backdrop. before the courage house ever opened, i would see the mountain and pray psalm 121. that wherever girls were trapped in prostitution, they would get a glimpse of uhuru peak and know that their help, their freedom, comes from the lord.
eventually, i got my chance to climb, and fear also met me at the brink of this dream. i wondered if i would make it, if i had what it took. i wondered if the courage house would ever open, if i had what it took. i wondered and i walked and i prayed. finally, surprisingly, i found myself within view of the summit, freedom. i practically ran to uhuru peak [let’s be honest for a minute, my exhausted run was like a person trying to run with a treadmill on the lowest setting. embarrassing]
with arms spread wide and my voice raised high, i ran through my fear, and stood atop my dream. joy flooded every part of my being and i was giggling with euphoria. it was better than i ever imagined.
sometimes the journey to freedom is a long, steady climb up a mountain. sometimes it only takes a small hop off the edge. whether i’m climbing a mountain, jumping off a bridge, or walking across a country, i pray my arms will always be spread wide, my voice raised high, and giggling. because freedom isn’t in a weak whisper. it’s meant to be loud and exhilarating and the most beautiful, joyful adventure.