To stay united and updated about this process of getting to One Mission Society, what's happening throughout this support-raising journey, and where I am in the meantime!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Heavy Burdens

I’m home from Africa, and I’m so thankful for the chance to have gone on that trip. I'm thankful to be home, too.  Exciting things have been happening as a result of the trip, and I want to tell you about them, but right now my heart is too distracted by heavy burdens.

There are a lot of tough things going on this week- mostly in the lives of loved ones. It seems like every other conversation I’ve had this week has involved a major need. Not just like a lot of people are having bad days, but major things.  Friends or family in crisis. Last night, one of my good friends lost her mom. Today another close friend is getting an MRI. Friends are struggling through unemployment. One of my family member’s is waiting on medical test results from earlier this week, while other dear friends are processing a tough diagnosis one of their children received a couple of days ago. A family I love feels like they are under spiritual attack—and I don’t doubt it for a second, as I know how much they impact others by showing real love in Jesus' name.  And there are a few more things like this I can think of off the top of my head.

Whether in Africa or the States, there are deep needs.  I just feel so reminded that life is fragile and extra aware of the needs and heartache of those around me.  I don’t like it.  My heart hurts for them, and yet with so many needs at once, God has been reminding me that I’m not the One carrying them, holding them, as much as I may want to be.  It’s been a reminder to me of the need for His strength and His care, because mine is not enough to fill them up.

"'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the LORD, who has compassion on you."  -Isaiah 54:10

Junior's words in this Haiti missionary's blog encouraged me today.  Hope they encourage you, too!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Jackie's Home


GITEGA, Burundi-- My second day in Burundi, I left Bujumbura for Gitega to meet up with the Sister Connection team. This awesome ministry, provides sponsorship and homes to Burundian widows and their children. Many of these women were widowed during the civil war between the Hutu and the Tutsi. In fact, such a large part of this generation was wiped out that, when we saw an elderly man on the street Friday, Denise (the U.S. Director of Sister Connection) stopped mid-sentence to point it out. There just aren't many men older than late 30s or early 40s there, she said.

It was great to meet up with Michelle after all our emailing back and forth about this trip. She was the one person in Burundi that I had met before.  We arrived at the hotel where they were spending time working. There is a team of about 11 engineers and architects from all over the world, here to serve with EMI and work on building plans for Mount Hope, a mountain donated to Sister Connection by the governor, who was orphaned himself in 1972.

That afternoon, the EMI team, Denise, Michelle and I went to visit three widows. The pictures below are from our visit with the first woman, Jackie. She was so grateful. She kept saying, I want to thank Jesus for the blessing of this house and thank you. Praising God. In fact, she was so grateful that she told Denise she wanted to give her a chicken. Jackie had no idea Denise wouldn’t be able to take it on the plane, but it would’ve been horrible if she hadn’t accepted it.

Denise asked her if she had children. She brought out all three. They were 11, 8 and 6 years old. The 11-year-old was about the same size as the eight-year-old, and I would’ve guessed that the six-year-old was only three or four. It was so sad to realize that they were that undernourished. The smallest boy’s stomach was bulging out, but obviously he had been underfed for long enough that his growth was greatly affected.

Then, Denise had one of the team members pray for the family. I couldn’t stop my tears, realizing that many of the children who had sung for me the day before were probably in the same situation. I had learned after visiting them, that many of them were orphans, but it was just dawning on me that the kids I would’ve guessed were three years old were probably closer to five or six. My heart just broke for them even more.

However, these women that we visited were able to see the blessings in the midst of their poverty. Instead of focusing on what they lacked, they gave praise to God for their new homes and were so happy to receive us as visitors. Jackie shared with us that before receiving her home from a donor through Sister Connection, she had a thatch roof. I thought she would say the problem was rain came through, but what she shared instead was worse. Her own family set fire to that roof in an effort to scare her away and gain whatever her husband had left behind.

I was also so surprised to hear that the women we visited didn’t have sponsors yet. Though they could certainly use the aid, no one is currently sponsoring them through Sister Connection. The reason this surprised me because they were so thankful—thankful to the point of saying their lives had been changed—and by what? $600.

Their lives were changed by God using a gift from someone with more resources. What does it take to qualify as having more resources?  Take a look here.

If you’re interested in learning more about Sister Connection or in providing a home to a widow and her family go to

Thanks so much for your prayers and continued support!

 Jackie ripped a piece of the tree off to tie the chicken's feet together before handing it to Denise.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Unexpected Blessings

I arrived in Mozambique late last night after flying from Burundi- it took 12 hours with all my stops and layovers! I'm really thankful for a safe trip and that I met up with my contact at the airport. I am feeling so cared for by the Lord.

I just feel like God knew in what ways I had been getting tired and that He has been so gracious to give me a break from some things even when I expected this part of the trip to be rougher than Burundi. I really enjoyed being in Burundi-- while things were a lot different than the U.S., I didn't feel overwhelmed by the conditions or like I really needed a break, but I guess God just knew I could use this day of rest and would appreciate these things:

1. After spending all day traveling and being constantly crammed next to lots of people, I had an empty seat next to me during the last three hours of my flight last night.

2. During this last leg of my flight, I overheard the men behind me talking and I turned around and asked them if they were talking about Jesus. Peter and John are pastors from Canada, and they were just overflowing with joy about God. They really encouraged me, and had I not had the empty seat next to me, I couldn't have been turned around talking to them.

3. They stuck around with me until I found my ride at the airport in Maputo. I had emailed my contact in Mozambique on Sunday, asking for any special last minute instructions about the airport, who would be picking me up and for a description of them if I didn't know them. Well, turns out I didn't have internet after this for me to get his reply, so after unsuccessfully trying to track down his number, I found myself flying into Maputo with no clue who I was looking for (not even whether they would be Mozambican or International) and without any contact phone numbers.

So, here's an example of the type of thing you've been praying over in terms of my travel and me meeting up with people. Praise God, Aimee (an OMS missionary, whom I recognized) found me right as Peter, John and I were trying to call OMS or someone in the States.

4. It's already been great to get to know Aimee. She has been such a great hostess and I'm looking forward to learning more about her ministry here!

5. The chance to stay put for a while. I stayed three different places during the five days I was in Burundi, and I will be in this house for all seven days in Mozambique- this is so great!

6. Part of staying put means I can do some laundry. I was really looking forward to the chance to wash some things even though I thought it would need to be by hand. What a nice surprise that there's a washing machine!!! My things are already washed and out on the line.

I could go on and on, but a few other great things are... having a bed to myself, an air conditioner unit in the room (which means, I didn't have to use a mosquito net last night), a bigger & cleaner bathroom, lots and lots of clean water to drink, a CLEAN house opposed to the guest house (translation: dirty hotel) I came from, and an afternoon to myself to rest, do laundry and catch up with you while Aimee's taking a language exam.

These things are all pretty superficial, but I wanted to write about them, because I just feel so unexpectedly blessed with the ability to relax a little more before another busy week of learning and writing!

I'm really excited about the week lined up for me here! You could be praying that God would show me what to share at the CAM school (Christian Academy in Mozambique) Friday. I just learned I'll be speaking at chapel for 15 minutes to grades K-12. I know that's not that long, but I also know it turns out better if God leads me in what to share. I have no clue what I'll do- let alone what would be relevant to such a wide age range.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

If only I could hold them all...

(Oh my goodness! I'm so excited this loaded!!! We've had limited internet access and what we have had has been so slow that replying to your blog comments has not even but working, but I am getting them and am so encouraged! Thanks for being such a great team of supporters and friends.)

My heart is so happy and broken at the same time… Happy to have been able to be with these children, broken to be learning more about the depth of their needs each day that I’m here.

My first day in Burundi, I was picked up by four African OMS workers. Boopolo (the Village Church Planting supervisor), Pastor John, Pastor Peter and his wife, Fidelite. We drove for about an hour to visit two village church plants. It was a Thursday, so the churches had called special meetings to meet us.

The picture above was at the first church plant, which is only six weeks old. There were 48 children there, and they sang to us! It was so great! The pastor had special places for us to sit up front facing the congregation of kids. I just wanted to be sitting right in the middle of them, but I knew that the chairs they had set out for us were a gift of honor and that it was important to accept that. It took everything in me to stay put while listening to a few of them cry, only to be comforted or scolded by other small children. Besides the pastors, there were only three women with these kids.

Two of these women had testimonies of healing. The first had intense leg pain that forced her to go to the hospital every six months and kept her from walking more than 1 kilometer at a time. Since Pastor John prayed over her during his visit two weeks ago, she has been healed. Now, she doesn't have pain and can walk more than two kilometers. I found myself processing later that night just how much it must have impacted her life to not be able to walk a mile. Most people here have to walk more than 30 minutes to get water-- and that water isn't even clean. This was a major thing for her, and yet how many people in the U.S. can't walk 2 kilometers just because of their choice not to try?

We visited a second church plant, where about 15 adults had gathered to meet with us. The highlight of that visit for me was to be able to pray for them before we left, because honestly, I found myself asking what do I have to offer? At both churches, I was unexpectedly asked to give greetings and a brief word... I felt like, I know it's true that God is good, but what right do I have to even say that to these people who have experienced so much more suffering than I have? I felt completely challenged to be looking for the "holes in my gospel" and to ask God where I am selling Him short.

At each of these churches, I copied down testimonies and interviewed who I could, but the OMS workers who had brought me kept rushing us to move along. I learned at dinner that their plan had been: see now, talk later... more on that dinner meeting later.

So much to process, so much to be thankful for, so much to learn... I'm glad to have the chance to be here and at least get started!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Getting to Know Mohammed

As I got on the plane to Brussels, I found my seat, stowed my bag and sat down.  I'd pulled out a book, my Bible and journal, figuring I would read a little before sleeping the rest of the seven-hour flight.  If I slept this first long flight and stayed awake on the second, I'd be on schedule when I arrived.  Little did I know I'd spend the next four hours talking to the African man next to me about Islam, Jesus, forgiveness and Christianity.

Mohammed quickly introduced himself after I sat down. He's from Guinea, has worked in Sierra Leone, studied in Germany and Spain, and now lives in the U.S. He was coming from Tennessee, where he now lives with his wife and five children, ranging in age from 12 to 27.

We had briefly shared about our religious backgrounds.  He asked me about the purpose of my trip but I told him I was just visiting friends (to be consistent with my visa).  I closed my eyes so ready to rest and started praying, asking God to just lead me in what to share and asking that if I had been too vague in sharing the purpose of my trip, that he would tell me what to share.

I didn't even have to open my eyes before Mohammed says, "There's this famous atheist writer… do you know of him?" (He was referring to Christopher Hitchens.) "He is very sick with cancer, and he just doesn't believe there is any God.  I can't believe some people believe that there is nothing more than this and that God did not create us.  It's so sad that some people go to hell."

Talk about an opening!!!!

So we spent the next four hours going back and forth, most of the time with me asking him about Islam and genuinely trying to fit the pieces together but being honest when I didn't think it added up.

Eventually, he brought up natural disasters. He suggested I watch National Geographic and then think about how powerful God is and the fact that he will use natural disasters to destroy the people who don't love him.

I told him I believe God is powerful enough to do that but that I don't think he will destroy the earth like that.  "For example," I said. "In the story of Noah, God promised he would never flood the earth again."

"Did you read that in the Bible or did someone just tell you that?" Mohammed asked me.

"It's in the Bible," I said. "I can show you."

And all of a sudden we were reading God's covenant out of Genesis.  Mohammed asked me to read it out loud to him.

Later, Mohammed mentioned a few times that no one could know God, and as he was telling me about the prophet Mohammed in Islam, he said that the prophet Mohammed was the only one who really was with God.

I asked him about Adam or when God revealed himself to Moses.  Mohammed pointed out that God was speaking to Moses when he gave him the 10 commandments, but I told him I was talking about when God let Moses see Him after he passed by and so we looked up the story in the Bible and this time Mohammed read it out loud!!!

This story got me excited to think about how powerful God is and how close Moses got to be to Him, and the great thing about Mohammed was it was completely comfortable to show him my excitement in the Lord.

I told him one of the things I love about God is that He is relational.  He cares about relationship and that He tells us we will seek Him and find Him when we seek Him with our whole heart.  While we can't completely understand Him, He does choose to reveal Himself to us.

Mohammed could not stop himself from saying his god (Allah) is good.   "God is wonderful," he would say over and over.

I told him I bet he'd like Psalm 136 and turned to it and read the first few verses to him.  I told him he made me think of this passage.

The overwhelming thing to me about this man was that he loves who he thinks God is.  And my heart just kept thinking of Paul in Acts 17, sharing, what you worship as something unknown, I know who He is!!!
So many of the things Mohammed believes are true of Allah are true of God.  And yet there was such a void, especially in the area of forgiveness and eternal life and trusting God's character.  Mohammed thinks god can do whatever he wants but that he is not necessarily just or fair.  When I started asking about this, he said he couldn't answer out of fear that he would sin.

I'm sure this post is driving some of you mad, especially those who are well-versed in theology and apologetics.  I know I'm pretty inadequate in this area.  But I do believe this conversation was a blessing from God. And the thing is, the Gospel of Jesus was shared and God's word was spoken and read, and God says His word will not return void!

So I don't know what His purpose was in this meeting, but I'm excited that I had the chance to meet Mohammed that I had the chance to experience that conversation with God.

Mohammed said he was so glad god worked it out so that our paths crossed.  I said I was too and that it was very good to talk to him.

"It was excellent talking with you," he said.


(written Tuesday)

"For I am the Lord, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, "Do not fear;
I will help you."  -Isaiah 41:13

I'm leaving DC now for Brussels, and I am excited!  Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement.  I have felt SO supported in getting ready for this trip.  Thank you so much to those of you who have stopped and prayed with me or for me in the last few days. I'm so glad you're a part of this journey with me!

I really can't believe how calm and at peace I've felt—and that's how I can tell you've been praying, because if it was in my own strength, I'd be freaking out.

A couple of things that have encouraged me…

I read this in the prayer sheet I edited Monday morning:

"We will never be satisfied with knowing about God…we are satisfied only with our experience of God."  -Charles Price

And this, Psalm 62: 11-12a:

"One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,
and that you, O Lord, are loving."

I'm excited to see how He will allow me to experience Him and those He loves. Please keep praying!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I made it to Burundi safely last night (Wednesday afternoon U.S. time), and I was able to find my hosts at the airport quickly :)

I have a couple more things written from the trip but they will have to wait til my computer's cooperating.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, March 4, 2011


Visas are in hand!!!  Yay!  Thanks for praying for this.  It's a relief to have my passport with my visas for Burundi and Mozambique back before the weekend!

I posted new stories to the OMS website today-- the biggest work thing on my to-do list before leaving.  You can check them out here!

Now, it's off to Cbus to share a little about some opportunities to give in response to poverty.