6.26.2011

3 Years Ago...I was in another land

Four years ago, when I first moved to Colorado, I started attending a church called New Life Church. It was the biggest church I had ever been to and decided I wanted to get involved in their college ministry, theMill. One Friday night, the college Pastor announced that theMill was having their annual Fall Retreat, so I decided to sign up with some new friends and go :) On that retreat, not only did I experience the Lord in a whole new way, made new friends, and felt more at home in a new state and city...I watched a movie clip of where the upcoming missions trip was to, and it was to a place I've wanted to go to since I was about three or four years old. I first became aware of this country when my parents told me about a little girl they sent money to every month and would receive letters from her updating them about her life, her school, and her family. This little girls name was Mildred and she live in Kenya, Africa! I prayed for her everyday and called her my sister :) My parents sponsored her (through Compassion International ...you should too!) up until she found a nice, Christian young man to get married to. Ever since I first learned about her, I wanted more than anything to go to Africa. I told myself that was a goal I would accomplish before I died. So, once I saw that video of where theMill was going in missions that year, my heart jumped with joy and I asked the Lord, "If it's Your will Lord, please make the way for me to go!"

Fast forward about 4-ish weeks later, I struggled in my heart if I really wanted to go or not. I would be on a team with all new people (and for the introvert side of me, that sounded like the worst idea ever), the money seemed impossible to attain, and I would have to leave the comfort of my home, my family, and my boyfriend for two weeks (doesn't seem like that long, but it did to me). Oh, and I forgot to mention....it would be my first time over seas on a missions trip...and my first time in a Third World Country! Fear overtook me, doubts screamed in my ears, yet, there was such a huge part of me that so desired to go. I will forever remember the moment the Lord spoke to me about Africa. Let me explain one thing...I'm not one to hear the Lord's voice loud and clear really ever. I hate that, but it's true. I can count the times I've heard the Lord speak to me loud and clear on one hand. This particular Sunday was one of those moments. I was standing in worship at the 11 o'clock service, next to James, the day the first deposit and the application was due. I had been battling whether or not to get my stuff turned in or just wait for the next opportunity (not knowing if there would ever be another opportunity). Well, in the middle of the song "Mighty to Save," I heard Him say, "Go." HA! That was it. And I stood there in shock, not knowing what to do or say. All I remember doing was leaning over to James and whispering in his ear, "I'm gonna go to Africa."

I turned in my application and first deposit that day, and then started the long process of writing support letters and sending them off to friends and family, buying all the necessary items, practicing packing my one backpack I could take for two weeks, meeting and getting to know my new teammates, team building, Africa meetings every week, getting my passport, shots, Malaria pills, and preparing my heart to say 'Goodbye' to the people I love more than anything, and 'Hello' to a whole new world! Before I knew it, I was being sent out by theMill and by Sunday service...me along with 250 other college students who were all ready to spread the name of Jesus to 5 different countries!

In the two weeks that I was there I saw God answer prayers, people get healed, worked harder than I think I ever have, held some of the most precious children I have ever seen, heard stories that left me in tears and in shock, ate some amazing authentic African food (and some of the best fresh mango's EVER), bonded with incredible people, was challenged in more ways than I could ever describe, and given a passion to go around the world and see Christ's name glorified. Africa changed me....and so many times I get caught up in life here, in the U.S., with all the materialistic crap and day to day things that, in the real scheme of life, don't really matter. If given the chance to go back to Uganda, I would go in an instant. No questions asked. And I will go back one day...because that place, that small village I stayed in, left a mark on my heart that will never go away.

I miss everything about Africa... the beautiful people, the simplicity of praising Jesus everyday while working my tail end off (and not having a care in the world I was sunburned, sweaty, and wearing the same clothes for days at a time), and playing with children, who, without even knowing it, challenged me more than I have been before and filled me with a joy that I longed to have for so long and continue to long for!

{I have hundreds of pictures I could post, but this one is my favorite...and I could have written a novel about my trip, but I figured no one would really take the time to read it! Maybe I'll write more another time}

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