First, I've been struggling with the fact that the opportunity God seems to be calling me with is not necessarily where or what I thought it would be. I love East Africa. Uganda was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. But it was also my first time spending a significant amount of time outside of the United States/Canada, so of course it seemed like the most amazing place in the world. Even on the trip home, though, the three days in England made me feel more like I "fit" in that country than the weeks I spent in Africa. When I think about those cultures where I feel like I belong, I think about Hispanic or European or even Middle Eastern cultures. I don't automatically think "Africa!"
Also, when I initially thought I was being called to teach overseas after graduate school, I felt like I was being called to teach in a secular school in a mostly non-Christian place. I thought that a lot of what I was called to do would be evangelism and being a light for Jesus somewhere where not very many people knew him. By my senior year of college, I was fairly convinced that I should live in a Muslim nation. I didn't think that teaching overseas would mean teaching in a strong Christian university in a country which was 45% Protestant and 33% Catholic.
I still don't know what I'll end up doing after grad school--even if I'll end up overseas or not. I have been thinking and praying about it a lot, though. I've realized that missions isn't about going to a country where you feel like you "fit." I love the way that the book of Hebrews talks about the men and women of faith: they had "acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth" because they were "seeking a homeland" (Heb 11:13). Our homeland is the new heavens and new earth. If I teach in Kenya long-term, I'll be so fortunate that I will be going to a part of the world I love, even if it isn't on the top of my list of "places I feel I belong."
In response to my "but this place is sooo Christian!" thoughts, I've started to think that part of my desire to go to a Muslim nation comes from a selfish desire to do something "hard." I want missions to be difficult and challenging and--honestly--impressive. I want to go somewhere where I can really explain to people why I need to be there and what awesome sacrifices I'm making in the process. I don't want people to look at my life and say, "Well, yeah, that's easy." And that means that I'm thinking too much about myself. I have this idea that what I do matters, and that my efforts mean something, and that I know better than God does where I can do him the most good. Maybe God sending me to a Christian nation is his way of saying, "Anything I do through you is because of my power and for my glory. I don't need you here--I've done a lot here without you. But I'm choosing to let you be one of my instruments in this place."
Like I said, I don't know where I'm going to end up after graduate school. I don't know if I'll end up in Kenya or South America or the Middle East or even the United States. However, my prayers and Bible study have led me to the conclusion that I should pursue the option of teaching in Nairobi next summer. I've already figured out a preliminary budget and figured out how much I can save toward the trip and how much support I would need to raise. In the fall, I'll contact the university's US office in the Twin Cities to talk to them about whether it would be a viable possibility and how I should go about planning for it. I'm open to the possibility that God might say "no" at some stage through health or money, but I'm also excited that he might continue to give me yes-es.