Thursday, February 24, 2011

Africa - the hows, whats, and whys of it all

So, as many people know by now, my friend HannahBeth and I are, Lord willing, going to be taking a volunteer missions trip to Africa this summer (Eep! :OD), and I have received lots of Q's about it, so I've decided it was time for a blog post! :-) So here's some information about not only why I'm going, but also some stuff that will hopefully put people's minds at rest, since I know Africa is pretty scary sounding! And I am SO blessed to have SO many wonderful people who loved me and care about me, and I sure wouldn't want them to worry about me! :-)
So before I begin - PLEASE feel free to email me or leave me a comment with more questions or concerns!! Also, for privacy sake I am not going to be putting the link to where I am going in this blog post. If you would like to see it, please e-mail me and I will send it to you! :-) Unspecific info is better for blogs I think! ;-)

Anyways - Africa in 2011 - wow! I can hardly believe this dream is coming true! It may seem to have happened really quick to some people, but in reality, this has been a dream of mine since I was about 12-years-old! It was when I first read a book about a missionary to Egypt named Lillian Trasher (amazing woman, go find a book about her!!), as I read that book I could feel God pressing it on my heart, "This is what I want you to do with your life!" And ever since I have felt that call, I have never been the same, and it has never gone away. Now, a little side-track to here to clarify - I have been interesting in MANY things over my life, and have started some, and the interest has fairly quickly gone away, or some I have just almost had a possibility of doing something I've been interested in, and just the THOUGHT of ACTUALLY doing it sorta takes away that interest - this calling - to be a missionary and rescue and love kids - that has NEVER happened too!! I still truly believe that is what I will be doing for the rest of my life UNLESS God CLEARLY shows me differently.
Anyways, back to my story - growing up I never went on any mission trips, or anything like that, and I prayed for years and years that when the time came for me to go, that my family - parents and siblings - would be really cool with it! And just in the past year or two I have seen that prayer answered - not only are they totally cool with it, they are really excited for me! Wow! What a blessing it is to get to do things like whisper to my older sister/best friend "I'm going to Africa!" and have that send us off squealing. :OD
So, anyways, no mission trips were even considered by my parents until about last year this time when I started mentioning it, and they started thinking more about it, and started talking about how since I'm an adult now, they'd be cool with it (Praise the Lord!). And so this past fall/winter when I came and said I was thinking seriously about going on a volunteer trip somewhere this coming summer, they fully supported me in that decision just saying that they would prefer I'd travel with someone else, and if you ARE an adult, you should know by now that a lot of times your parents have GOOD ideas ;-) so I was like, "Yup, I'm cool with that arrangement", and not long after that asked my friend HannahBeth to pray because I was searching for someone to go with me, and her response? "Look no farther!" (Wow, I love that girl - and keep your eyes on ALL the details God has been bringing together in SUCH an amazing and almost unbelievable way through this whole process!) - wow! An almost IMMEDIATE answer to prayer (and what a blessing for God to chose one of my very best friends to go with me - HannahBeth has been SUCH an amazing encouragement to me since we became friends! And ever since we started this processes she has just been amazing about details and finding things out - working together is def. a wonderful thing! Whew, takes SO much stress and pressure away from both of us!!!).
So we searched around and found two places - one was the place where we both sponsor children from, but they aren't accepting volunteers at this time, so the next place was a orphanage for babies to age 5 in Africa!
Why did we choose this place almost right away???
Well, for one thing we know lots of people who have gone there - not only do we have a mutual friend who was there just the beginning of last year, a pastor in a sister church and his family just recently adopted a little boy from there!! (And so have been there a couple times!), AND HannahBeth knows one couple who have adopted twice from there - and so have been there a couple times, AND another person who has been there! And so we had lots of people to check up on this place "for us"! :-) Also the place we are going has a very detailed website - lots of info for volunteers (other sites it's often hard to tell what they are all about, and all that), and it is in a SAFE part of Africa!!! (Yes, for our first missions trip ever, we decided a safe place would be good! ;-) Who knows where God will lead us later in life, and I know I am always in His hands, but safe was another blessing about this place!!! :-)).
So we applied there, and went for passports in December, which came back amazingly fast, and God really worked out details for that!! :-)
So after a few glitches with sending in the application (had to use my Aunt's computer cause the place couldn't open my Mac application!), we got them officially sent in, and were told we'd hear back from the place in a couple weeks.
So we waited, and trusted God that if this was HIS will we would get accepted, and if not then... We wouldn't! ;-) Anyways, then Tuesday night I believe it was I was sitting doing work on the computer, and I saw I had an email, so I went and checked and - OH MY WORD!!!! YES! I had been accepted!!!! Glancing at the clock and seeing it was only 10:30 at night I quickly texted HannahBeth hoping she was awake, she was and called me right away when I said, "Can I call you????" So I told her to check her email and EEPP!!! She was accepted too!!!! :OD Needless to say that was one of the most AMAZING nights of my life!!! :OD (And it's been an amazing week because of that - no matter what goes wrong my heart keeps singing, "You are going to Africa! You are going to Africa!" (This is all Lord willing of course!!! Things could change of course, but I'm leaving that up to God! And I still can't believe we have actually made it this far!!! :OD).
God has been teaching me SO much through this process - one thing is about stepping out as an adult! Yes, going to school was a first BIG step for me, but making this decision, and working on all the details - wow! Yes, I know it's time to become an adult, and to actually truly start on the path God has mapped out for me, and it's really exciting - this stage of just beginning adulthood! Yes, I still need my parents and other wise adults inputs, but I also need to learn how to be a responsible, mature adult! Yikes - exciting and scary! ;-)

Fear???? Um yes! Lots of fear and worries and doubts - over all the years and now - questions keep racing through my head! And things like, "Are you nuts??? Are you SURE you don't want to just go hide under the bed for the rest of your life??? You have a potentially AMAZING career ahead of you in Deaf studies - are you SURE you want to give that up someday and go to another country to serve?? You love it so much!"
And the answer is - Yes, I DO sometimes really just want to hide under my bed, life a perfectly "normal" life, get that amazing career I love in Deaf studies, and yet I CAN'T! That's right - it's to late for me - I cannot NOT follow where God is telling me to go! He has completely stolen my heart! Yes, there are fears! But something God has been teaching me is found in Romans 8:15 -

"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'"

And in 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

In Christ I don't have to have that "spirit of bondage to fear" - He has released me from the terrifying fears which I had all throughout childhood, and given me the Spirit which makes me cry out unashamedly, "ABBA FATHER!" - He's my FATHER! He's my SAVIOR, He's my GOD, He's my KING, He's my PROTECTOR, He's my ALL IN ALL, He has bought my heart - He has saved me from hell!!!!!! And my amazing King, God, and Savior is telling me "Go" and that's what I HAVE to do - GO! No matter what people tell me - no matter if it's "smart" or not! I'm not going to live a "smart" life - I am going to be a fool for God! I am going to follow His lead, even if I end up being killed for my faith someday - I CANNOT WAVER! I CANNOT say "no" to God - And I don't want too! I have the Spirit of God living it me, and He has, and is daily, taking away that spirit of fear! I know that no matter WHERE I go, or what I do, He is with me, and protecting me!
And, no, I cannot guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen to me - but I CAN guarantee that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS GOD IS WITH ME! And HE will give me the grace to go through anything! Because I know He is carrying me through it all!!
As Stonewall Jackson once said -

"Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. Captain, that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave."

Amen! Lord, where You lead I will follow! Forever and ever amen! You have my heart, and I know You aren't giving it back! I praise You for Your amazing grace to me and Your calling on my life! Lead me Lord! Lead me right up to the lions mouth with no fear!


Sister said...

Wow Amy! That was an amazing post! *hugs* You are amazing! :) Praise the Lord for making your dream come true! :D

Madeline said...

Oops! That was me, Maddie. :)

Joy said...

Amy, I'm so proud of you! :-) You have conviction and courage and you are doing what God has called you to! :-) I'll continue praying for you - and I'm really excited for you! :-) *Hugs* :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
Here is a Bible verse for you.
"But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy because You defend them; let those who love Your name be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield." Psalm 5:11-12