Monday, June 24, 2013

Back to Africa it is...

Hello All...
Wow, it's been a long time since I sat down to write a blog post.  Forever it feels like.  There have been countless nights at work...caring for patients at the hospital.  Countless learning moments...where God rocked my world in a tiny second and showed me who He is or who I am in Him.  Countless times I've seen a sweet child and wondered about all my kiddos over in are they?  where are they?  what are they doing?  is someone loving them?  is someone caring for them?  Countless times I've asked...what was it all for?  why did you send me?  what did I learn?  how did I change?  Countless moments of pure fun and joy with family and new and old friends alike.  It's been two years.  TWO YEARS.  I have lived in the States for two years this week.  And I'm returning to Africa next week...(just for two weeks...for all those who's hearts just hit the ground)
Here's how it all began...
I've been hearing about a family (Will and Kelly Rodes...and their son Liam) from my church in South Carolina for a long while now.  They felt called to the mission field and ended up leaving their jobs and everything and everyone familiar and following God's call (sound familiar???).  Anyway, they ended up going to the mission school run by Iris Ministries (yes that's who I served with in Moz).  So, people keep telling me about them.  Do I know them?  Nope, I've never met them.  But LOTS of people ask me, and proceed to tell me their story.  Every time I'd excitedly say...that's so great!  I can't wait to see what they learn from all the kiddos and people in Moz and where God ends up placing them!  Next thing I knew, I was hearing that they were headed for Kenya to open a children's home.  And that their first step was to take in 20 babies, birth to 2 years.  At this point I made the comment to a friend at work, we should go help!  I'm sure they could use some nurses to get things up and running!  It was one of those times you jokingly say something, but God quickly tugs at year heart will go.
I left it at that.
Next thing I know, I'm reading this article written by a Clemson guy, Edward Phillips.  It's all about this family.  Really??  It was on my facebook news feed.  Truth.  The whole time I'm reading, I'm trying to figure out how I know this guy.  Why are we "friends"?  After I finish reading, I did a little detective work/stalking.  Yes, we went to Clemson for a bit of time together.  We even went to the same church (the same church the Rodes went to).  We both volunteered in the student ministry, Fuse.  Maybe that's it?  Maybe I met him in the mix of hundreds of volunteers?  At this moment my hearts says...just e-mail him.  What can it hurt?  Tell him you're on board with the vision of this children's home...which is called Kimbilio and willing to help out in any way you can.  So I did just that!
I get an e-mail back within 30 minutes...Edward knows exactly why we're "friends".  He tells me he heard about my work in Moz through a friend (a nurse who had heard me speak at Clemson when I came home the first time).  He had friended me on facebook and sent me a message explaining about Kimbilio and asking me to be involved.  Yep...I remember that message and there it is in my inbox...unanswered.  Oops.  No, seriously, I remember the message but I received it just as I was leaving Moz to move to the States.  At that point I could barely function in my own life not to mention help out with a new project.  I had nothing to give.  And in His sovereignty, power, and grace, God knew just that.
In this e-mail Edward tells me about a trip they are taking in the summer...a vision trip for Kimbilio.  I got a little excited as I read that he would love to extend an invite to me if I'm interested.  But, I also knew that I had already asked for time off work in the summer and was told no.  And I had 6 weddings of good friends coming up...let's be honest...a trip to Kenya was not in my budget or calendar.  I wrote back explaining this but telling him to send me the dates and I'd see what was possible.  Then I see the dates...July 4-16.
My heart sank...
...that wasn't going to work.  That was the week I'd already asked off work and was told no way.  But I pull out my calendar anyway.  (Yes, I still have an old school that I color code to keep my life in order.  I carry my iphone everywhere...thanks America...but I cannot and will not put my life schedule in it.  I just can't give up the physical and visual calendar I love so dearly.  Ok...enough on that rant...back to the story...).  July 4th is a Thursday I discover.  I'm a nurse who works 3 12 hour shifts a week...I don't need that week off.  I'll work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and leave for Kenya Thursday!  I wouldn't let my heart get excited...I still just knew it wasn't going to work out.  But I called work...and in a series of phone calls that took most of the supervisor said...the week after the 4th...3 shifts off...YEP WE CAN DO THAT!!!!!!!  My heart almost jumped out of my chest as I wrote Edward back to tell him...yes, I could go!!!  I also asked him if I was going to go was there a way I could fly to Moz before I returned to the States.  He came back with a yes, and I committed to go!

So the plan is...I fly out July in Nairobi, Kenya on July 5th.  I'm serving with a team of 13 through Choose to Invest for a week.  We are helping with a Rejoice Children's Camp...who's vision is discipleship in the next generation!  And then we're doing whatever we can to help with Kimbilio.  We are also helping in another children's home that's already up and running...where I'm sure I'll get my hands dirty in some type of nursing work!
What am I excited about?
I'm excited to finally meet people I've been hearing about for quite some time...Edward and the Rodes! I'm excited to be on African soil again, around a people I love, in a place I knew as home for two years.  I'm excited to offer up all the experiences, knowledge, and love I gained in Moz to a group who's just jumping off the ledge to see where God takes them.  I'm excited to start relationships that I hope to continue...I'd love nothing more than to partner with Choose to Invest/Kimbilio as this vision becomes a reality.  I'm excited to be obedient once again to the call God has placed on me...we are blessed in obedience...that I know.  And I'm excited to love and be loved...this team, these people, the children...LOVE is God's language for all of his children.
I will admit I have butterflies about this whole thing too.  I wonder if I have processed enough or anything when it comes to my time in Moz.  Am I ready to jump back in?  Do I have anything to give? Am I jaded by all I've seen?  Will I be able to wipe that clean and offer up the wisdom I gained from experiences instead of the hurt I walked away with?
But here's what I know...God has the answers to these questions before I even thought of them.  And He said go.  So, I'm going.  When my heart bends away from God, I tend to get lost in worldly questions.  I have to speak God's truth into these questions.  That's what I know.
So, Kenya for a week...then I'm flying to Moz...YES THAT'S RIGHT...I'M FLYING TO MOZ!  I get there the afternoon of July 12th and I fly out July 17th.  5 days to sit in the sand with babies crawling all over me.  5 days to hug the necks of my kiddos who have grown so big.  5 days to sit and talk with the ladies I worked with for 2 years.  5 days for dinner and game nights with the missionaries I did life with.  Are 5 days enough...NO!  But I am going to make every moment last.  I seriously cannot wait.  I fully expect God to break my heart and heal it all in one.  I expect to be overwhelmed and feel out of place, but feel full and at home...all at the same time.

God said go and I'm going.  God told me my word for 2013 was renovation.  Renovation: the act of improving by renewing and restoring.  I know this adventure is a part of this renovation process.  Renovation of a house is not means gutting the insides, tearing down the old, making hard decisions, developing a vision of the final product and fighting for that vision every step of the way.  Renovation is a process.  And heading back to Africa is a part of that process...
Please join me in praying for my heart, my team, all those we meet, all we are lead to do, safe travels, and renovation!
I'm sure there will be lots of stories and pictures to share when I return...stay tuned!

"Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.  For our heart is glad in him, because we trust his hold name.  Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you."
~Psalms 33: 20-22

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