I'm Never Going To Africa


I leave today for Uganda (although I don’t land in Entebbe until Tuesday).

I’ve never wanted to go to Africa.

Maybe a few locations in South Africa, but I’ve said for years that I’ve never wanted to go to Africa because it’s really far away and it scares me. I don’t know why I’m so afraid of this continent – I don’t know if it’s the distance, the stories I grew up hearing, the lack of stability in certain countries, the documentaries, national geographic magazines, or watching the movie Naked Prey when I was too young. It doesn’t matter; I have had it set in my mind that I’d never go. I have immense amounts of respect for people that travel to different African countries to volunteer, to do missions work, and help, but I always have preferred to “help from here.” I.E. Stay in my comfortable life within the United States, where the scariest thing I encounter on a daily basis are the rats in my alley & the drunks that stumble around the 7/11 I live next to, and try to remember to fill a shoe box for operation christmas child.

I should’ve seen this coming.

While I was in under grad at KCAD I took a class called, “Bible as Literature.” My professor was talking about how, “anytime you ask God to come into your life and take control he really shakes things up.”  I thought when I decided to trust God with my summer the most shook-up it’d get is going to LA instead of NY. I was still hoping to just intern with an agency at that point, but it wasn’t the path God had me headed – and I’ve accepted that. But man, this is something I really never thought I’d do.

I should’ve also seen this coming.

“In order to truly grow you have to step outside your comfort zone. You will never grow if you stay where you’re at.” I was pretty young the first time I heard this and it didn’t start to resonate with me till I got a bit older. The first time, I was moving to Grand Rapids, MI for under grad. The second time, I was moving to Richmond, VA for grad school. These were the steps outside my comfort zone that I became comfortable with. GR wasn’t bad; I had a lot of friends there. Richmond was tough; I didn’t know a single person and I’d be living alone.

Uganda. This is the biggest step I’ve ever taken away from my comfort zone. It’s time. It’s time to start growing again, and it’s time to start realizing (and practicing) that this life isn’t about me. I don’t want to be one of those people that live solely to serve themselves.

“Dying for something is easy because it is associated with glory. Living for something is the hard thing. Living for something extends beyond fashion, glory, or recognition. We live for what we believe.”  -Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz.

This resonates so much. It’s hard to decide to not live for myself; I like making my own decisions (and I really liked the idea of staying in the U.S. all summer). It’s hard to trust God. It’s hard to publicly talk about faith & trusting God (because I know it can sound crazy). And it’s really hard to step outside of what’s comfortable. My faith has been totally tested waiting to leave for this trip. There have been so many moments this summer where I just get freaked out and feel like I’m not capable of taking such a large leap.

But here I go.

“It is not enough for me to ask question; I want to know how to answer the one question that seems to encompass everything I face: What am I here for?” -Abraham Joshua Heschel

What am I here for?

I’ve never wanted to go to Uganda.

But I’m going.

Here I grow.

Click here to join Allison on her journey in Uganda. 

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Allison Sobolewski is a Masters Candidate in Art Direction at the VCU Brandcenter. She works as a freelance designer and consultant with corporations and nonprofits across the country. An adventurer and artist from Traverse City, MI, Allison currently lives in Richmond, VA. For creative insights, design consults and musings, follower her on Twitter@alliski