Saturday, August 22, 2009

Journey to Africa and Beyond Part 5

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4

On our first day, we would be taking a tour of the university and getting to know some of the people we would be working with there. We got all of our instructions about what would be safe to eat or drink, and what we should stay away from. We met Mike and Julie, the missionaries that were living at ANU during at the time, and our hosts while we were there.

Our first stop was breakfast. We met our personal chef for the week. Yes, you read that right. We were in Africa, and we had a personal chef. This is where I start to get uncomfortable. I don't have a personal chef here, so why would I have one there? Anyway, I don't remember his name, but this picture is him.

We toured ANU and saw some of the places we would be working. Remember the $5000 we needed to raise (the other church also raised $5000)? It went toward the student center they were building at the time. You might need to click on the picture to see it, but notice the ladder leaning against the house in the background? That is the type of equipment they use all the time. They don't buy things like ladders and scaffolding - they make it themselves. We really thought we were going to be helping to build the student center. But the reason we raised the money was so they could hire local labor. Which is good, but we really wanted to be more hands on.

So what was our mission while we were there? We were about to find out.

to be continued...   Part 6

Friday, August 21, 2009

Journey to Africa and Beyond Part 4

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

Needless to say, there were a lot of emotions running around in my head during the few days before we left. We were leaving October 1, 2005. A few days before, someone on the team had to back out so we had a last minute replacement.

Finally, it was time to leave. We met at the airport, some of us meeting for the first time. Nineteen of us boarded our first plane for the 8 hour flight to London. Our flight left on Saturday at 630PM and we finally arrived in Nairobi, Kenya at 845PM Sunday. This included two 8 hours flights, a 4 hour layover in London, and a 7 hour time difference. Truthfully, I don't remember anything about getting to Nairobi except standing in line at London Heathrow airport for what felt like forever, and then turning a corner and standing in line again.

The airport in Nairobi was complete chaos. Getting through customs and searching for all of our luggage was quite an experience. One of the missionaries, Mike, was picking us up at the airport. Fortunately, we were travelling with some folks who had been there before and told us exactly what to do... and not do (Like do NOT let anyone help you with your bags; they will expect to be paid). All of the luggage arrived safely, except for one container full of medical equipment for the clinic at the university where we were staying (this never arrived. It was held up in London - never to be seen again). Once we finally arrived at the house, it was late and we all just wanted to get some sleep.

Africa Nazarene University is located just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. It's really a beautiful campus and highly secure. This is where we would spend a better part of the next two weeks.

To tell you the truth, I don't remember the order of the rest of the events that happened, which I will share in the next few posts. I'm sorry this is taking so many posts to tell, but I am sharing as I remember, and the thoughts don't come as quickly as I would like.

to be continued...   Part 5

Monday, August 17, 2009

Journey to Africa and Beyond Part 3

Part 1   Part 2

I wrestled with God a little bit on that one. I had enough money in the bank to cover it, but I also had rent and bills to pay so I really didn't want to pay for the whole trip right away. What if something came up and I needed that money? I was making excuses, and God was asking me to trust him. So I did. I wrote the check and mailed it to the church (the other church was collecting and tracking the funds). And I prayed. I knew God was going to provide for whatever needs I had. And I had no worries.

On Tuesday of the following week, I checked my mailbox at the office and found my paycheck from the previous week (it's direct deposited and I don't get much mail so I hadn't checked it). I started crying as I opened it, because there was a bonus included that I wasn't expecting that covered the entire trip, plus a couple hundred dollars - and this was net, not gross. I checked my bank account right away to make sure it wasn't a joke. It's amazing what God does when we obey him.

That check had already been written when I was having that "discussion" with God. He knew. As much as I thought I was trusting him, I really wasn't. Here's what really strikes me about this, and I actually just thought of it. I didn't even ask God to provide the money. It was His idea. All I did was listen and obey (after a while). One day, I hope to live in immediate obedience, even though I think we grow stronger in the wrestling.

So things were really in motion. I was locked in. Money was coming in from other fund raisers. We were getting passports and visas, shots and prescriptions, and figuring out how to pack for 2 weeks across the globe.

In the mean time, things were changing at work. My boss was leaving the company and I was transitioning into a new position. I hired someone who already worked for the company, but she was new to the department and just over a month after she started, I was about to leave her for 2 weeks.

Then, a couple of weeks before I left, my step-mom died. Everything came to a screeching halt. All the planning, preparation, excitement was put on hold to mourn the loss of a woman who was like a second mom to me.

to be continued...   Part 4

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Journey to Africa and Beyond Part 2

Part 1

Once I regained my composure and the meeting was over, I followed my Pastor to his office.) I don't know why, but it always felt like going to the principal's office.)

We talked about what was involved in being Missions President. It sounded exciting but terrifying all at the same time. There was already a good team of people involved so it was basically some facilitating of meetings, educating the congregation and getting them excited about the world, and raising a boat-load of money.

After much prayer and discussion with the exiting president, I decided I would accept the challenge. There were several logistical tasks I had to complete, but after a while I was thrust into a side of the church that I was not prepared to handle, but that's a completely different story for another time.

One of the projects that was already in process was a mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya. The first time I heard about it, something inside me said "I'm going". Had an awesome friend working with another church to plan the trip. I couldn't have done it without her.

As the details of the trip were coming together and we started fund raising efforts. Each person was responsible for raising money for their own portion (around $2000 each), but the church needed to provide $5000 to go toward the project in Africa.

When we started fund raising (which actually turned out to be a lot of fun), I had been reading 2 Samuel. At the very end in chapter 24, David goes to buy the threshing floor so he can present and offering to the Lord. Araunah tried to give it to David, along with everything he needed for the sacrifice. But David did something amazing. He said he wouldn't sacrifice anything to the Lord that cost him nothing. He refused the gift because he knew that it isn't really a sacrifice if it doesn't cost you something.

God really spoke to me as I read that. I really felt he was telling me I needed to pay for my trip on my own. I thought that was a crazy idea. I even tried to change it by telling God I was sacrificing my time to go, so it was OK to raise the money. But you know God, he was persistent. Finally, I said something like "OK, God. I know you want me to do this and I don't know how I'm going to pay for it, but I'm going to trust you." We had our first payment due that week - I think it was $500. As I was writing the check I heard that still small voice again... "Pay the full amount".


Was He kidding?

to be continued...   Part 3

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Journey to Africa and Beyond Part 1

I've been thinking a lot lately about my trip to Africa in 2005. I'm not sure why it's so prevalent in my mind these days, but since it is, I'm going to write about it while the memories are still there.

It started years before when I heard my first "missionary" speak. I put that in quotes because we are all on a mission.

I remember something stirring in me. I don't remember where he was from, what his name was, or what he said, but I know something in me changed that day. I think it was the first time I realized there was a great big world out there and we could be a part of changing it. Sad that I didn't learn that until I was in my late 20s, which really speaks to the selfish me-focused part of the world I live in. That's another post for another time, though.

Fast forward several years... I think it was 2004 and I was sitting in a meeting of the missions council at church, listening to all of the different areas that are available to serve. Many of them sounded interesting, but every time I would get the nerve to volunteer, someone else would take it. (This was just a few years ago, but back then I was so quiet and wouldn't hardly say a word to anyone.) I was sitting next to my pastor, and he leaned over and said something like "you didn't sign up for anything". My response was something like "I'll do whatever is needed. If there's a hole I'll fill it." He replied, "I have the perfect job for you." Then he scribbled something on a piece of paper and slid it over to me.

It said "President".

I laughed.

to be continued...   Part 2