A change of plans…

I’ve been quiet, haven’t I? I haven’t blogged since Valentine’s Day.

That’s not true.

I live in a land of infinite beauty here in Africa...
I live in a land of infinite beauty here in Africa…

I did blog, but was asked to take it down after a reminder that I do not live in a country that embraces freedom of speech.

And then, life just got in the way. Boy did life get in the way. So much has happened in the past month that I can’t even begin to describe it. Horrible things. Wonderful things. So many things happened.

I’ve said all along that God uses us wherever we are. I’ve also said that whatever I decide about my future, it is ultimately between me and God. And in February I made the big decision – I would stay in Africa for a second year. I didn’t feel God calling me to one specific place, and I believed He was leaving the choice up to me.

“The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

While I still feel that I can’t go wrong with my choice, things have changed. I started to feel uneasy. Some things started to unravel. My heart wasn’t at peace. My health started getting worse. Some things were revealed to me that I never imagined would be revealed.

I finally broke down one night while saying my prayers before bed.

God, I can’t make this decision. I need you like I’ve never needed you before. I need you to make it clear. I need to it to be crystal clear, spelled-out-in-the-sky clear. God, I am begging you. I need guidance and wisdom, and I need to know for sure what I am supposed to do.

I also live in a land of infinite chaos...
I also live in a land of infinite chaos…

The next day, God did just that. He revealed everything to me. He showed me things I hadn’t seen before, and He made it clear, just like I had asked Him to.

“Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful.” Psalm 69:16

It’s time to go home.

I know some people believe I’ve been “under attack” from Satan, but as long as I walk this earth, he will always be there looking to stop me from doing God’s work. That will happen in America as well as Africa. I’ve had enough conversations with God to know the difference, and I know that He is closing the door on my time in Uganda.

Yes, my heart is broken. I wanted to come here and fall in love with life in Africa. I wanted to find my lifelong calling and serve God here for years and years. But what we want doesn’t always line up with the plans God has for us. His plans, though, are always best.

I had to take a leap of faith before coming to Africa, but to be honest, I feel like it’s an even bigger leap of faith to go home. I will be unemployed, living at home, and trying to fit back into a society that was once normal to me but now seems so incredibly strange. I’ll have hundreds of stories to tell, but will anyone want to hear them? I’ll have so many memories, but will anyone even understand them?

I am faithful that God will work it all out. He has given me peace with my decision.

“Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you.” Job 22:21

I am overjoyed at the support I’ve received this year from friends and family, and even a few strangers. Whether it’s been financially or through prayer, so many people have given their love and support. But I need one last thing from you all: accountability.

Don’t let me come home and be the same person I was before I left.

I am at peace with my decision. USA bound in 71 days!
I am at peace with my decision. USA bound in 71 days!

Don’t let me forget Africa.

Don’t let me stop serving the Lord because I’m comfortable in my home country.

I will volunteer. I will fundraise for worthy causes. I will support missions. I need you to help remind me to do so.

I have 71 days left in Uganda. There will be no second year. God has big plans for me in America. I can’t wait to see what’s in store…

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.” Hebrews 10:36

You don’t have to be in Africa…

Sometimes here in Uganda… we can feel guilty. We look around at our beautiful international school campus and think, “This place is amazing.” We think about our remarkable students and their privileged backgrounds and think, “Why would God want me to help here? Should I maybe be in a village somewhere helping poor children?”

Our beautiful campus!
Our beautiful campus!

On January 10, my co-worker’s husband, Glen, spoke to all the teachers about our calling, about our influence and about how what we do is important. We don’t have to be living in a village and helping the poor to be a light for Christ.

“Declare His glory among the nations,
His marvelous works among all the peoples!”

1 Chronicles 16:24

You’ll notice that in most verses about spreading God’s love, God wants us to spread His love to everyone- not just the poor. And after hearing Glen speak a few weeks ago, I really realized that what we do at our school is important.

Our school’s students come from one of three backgrounds: missionary families, government employee families, and families who own major businesses in and around Kampala. We have students from nations all over the world: America, Australia, Singapore, North Korea, Congo, Kenya, Eritrea, Columbia, England, Sudan, and more. Some will stay in Uganda after they graduate, but most will go back to their home countries to attend college. Our hope is that they take their experience at our school and use it to impact the world around them for Christ.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew 28:19

Don’t get me wrong, I love helping the poor. I love our trips to the village where we play with the kids at the jigger clinic, our Saturday afternoons we’ve spent with the babies at the orphanage and cleaning the place up. But I do realize that first and foremost, I am here for the students at my school, the well-off students with a roof over their heads and plenty of food to eat.

In October we took the high school kids on a spiritual retreat.
In October we took the high school kids on a spiritual retreat.

Think they don’t need just as much support? I’ve got students whose parents have never come to a sporting event because they are too busy. I have girls with eating disorders. I have Muslim students questioning their beliefs. I have students who have suffered the escape of war-ridden countries to come to Uganda. I have a number of students who live completely by themselves because their parents are never home; their house help and drivers are a bigger part of their lives than their actual parents.

These kids need us. No, they aren’t poor, but they need us. Privileged kids aren’t any less in need of the Gospel and of good role models than poor kids. Often they’re in need of it even more.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

Glen also talked to us about our “mountain of influence.” Ours is here in Uganda at our school. In the same way that I don’t feel called to spread the Gospel in the villages for a living, maybe you don’t feel the need to come to Africa. And that’s OK! Africa isn’t your mountain of influence.

My roommate and I cheering on my students at a basketball game.
My roommate and I cheering on my students at a basketball game.

What if all Christians came to Africa? Who would be left to witness to the people in other places? We can’t all come to Africa or third-world countries.

God wants you to serve Him right where you are, and He thinks it’s beautiful when you do.

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And who are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”
Romans 10:13-15

Don’t wait to move to Africa. Don’t wait to meet a homeless person. Be a witness for Christ in your mountain of influence, showing God’s love to EVERYONE you meet.

A true survivor if I ever met one…

IMG_3841“That’s Allan back beside Collins,” Mandy whispered in my ear this morning at a village church in Kyampisi.

I turned around and saw a nine-year-old boy talking to Collins. I immediately noticed the scar that extended from the back of his head and around the side. I began to tear up. That was Allan, the little boy who survived child sacrifice.

I’ll admit. Today was going to be rough for me. It’s the regular season opener for the Indianapolis Colts. Sundays in the US mean church, lunch, and football all afternoon. For me, here in Uganda, that’s just not possible. But instead, I found myself in Kyampisi with some of Ugandan’s most beautiful children. And there’s honestly nowhere else I’d rather have been.

The church wasn’t very big. Some were dressed in their Sunday best, while others clearly wore whatever they could find that day. Before we even sat down, a little girl grabbed my hand and walked with me to my seat. I asked her what her name was, but she didn’t speak English. That’s OK. All she needed to read was the smile on my face, and I’m hoping that showed her some love.

After church, some of our friends showed us around Kyampisi. We saw homes they were building for families who have been victims of child sacrifice, and we even got to see a house my friend Mandy did some fundraising for.

It was strange to be in Kyampisi. I have watched a few documentaries about child sacrifice in Uganda, and apparently Kyampisi is one of the biggest and worst areas for it. I’ve heard about it and read about it, but now I was finally seeing it. Kyampisi is crawling with witch doctors who are quick to tell someone, “Bring me a child sacrifice, and you will have wealth and prosperity.”

That’s what happened to Allan. He was playing with a friend one day when he was abducted. They not only castrated him, but they also took a machete to his head and neck. They cut out a part of his skull for the sacrifice. It’s literally a miracle that Allan survived.

Allan knows who did it. Everyone knows. But the man was released from police custody because of lack of evidence. This is common with child sacrifice. And that’s why it continues.

I got to meet Allan today. I got to meet his father. We went to their village home and sat in their living room. Allan was given medical treatment in Australia, and he had a photo album filled with pictures from his trip there. Allan was excited and full of life, the only sign of his tragic experience was the giant scar on his head. We also know that inside Allan is very fearful, but on the outside, he’s just a kid like any other.

Allan‘s survival was a miracle. His best friend George, who was also castrated for child sacrifice, was also a miracle. Most kids’ stories end in death.

IMG_3878

It was emotional to be there. Every little hand that grabbed mine (there were lots!) made me shiver as I wondered if they would be victims of child sacrifice someday. It breaks my heart to know that anyone has so much evil in them that they would kill innocent children. Not just kill them, but mutilate them, decapitate them, and then eat their organs or drink their blood. To me, humans just aren’t capable of that. Only monsters.

I hope to get more involved with Kyampisi Childcare Ministries. I hope that there’s love and hope we can bring to the families who have lost children to child sacrifice, and that there are things we can do to keep the children safe. No one, not children or their parents, should have to live in such atrocious fear.

Please pray for Kyampisi and those who work there daily to be a light for God in such a dark area of Uganda.

“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.”
Isaiah 48:22

 

A day out of the city…

My “Africa Mix” was the only CD we had with us. My roommate Debby and I were jamming out to IMG_20130831_111001Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” when we were stopped at a traffic crossing. A young boy selling bananas approached the car.

“No thank you, sebo!” Debby said to the young boy, who then heard our music and began dancing beside the car as we waited for the traffic police to let us through the intersection. It was a great start to the long day ahead of us.

The car was loaded with toilet paper, rice, tea, sugar and soap we had purchased to take to the orphanage in Bulamo. Bulamo in normal conditions would be about 30 minutes from Kampala. But in African conditions, it took us almost two hours to get there.

I was mystified at the beautiful Ugandan countryside. So much green, everywhere! Sometimes I felt like I was in the middle of a jungle.

We did some “off-roading” to get to the orphanage, which was down a long lane with lots of bumps and holes, chickens and cows, and of course, children, who would smile, wave, and yell, “Mzungu!” as we drove by.

IMG_20130831_120842The orphanage was thrilled to receive the supplies we brought them, and I walked around the compound with Debby as she introduced me to all the wonderful staff and children there. It reminded me a lot of Lifesong Zambia, and I felt an overwhelming sense of love walking around the compound.

Soon after we arrived, we met up with Bruno, Debby’s sponsor child. I’m not sure I should call him a “child,” considering he is 19 years old, but he still has one more year of school left before he goes to university. Bruno walked around with us for awhile and then we started the journey to Bruno’s father’s house.

Again, it took us about an hour to travel not much longer than a few miles. Bruno filled us in on how he was doing with his studies and his plans after graduation. He wants to study tourism at university, and with that sweet smile of his, I can definitely see him succeeding!

Debby had told me that Richard, Bruno’s father, would likely have all their nicest things out for our IMG_20130831_112601arrival. Sure enough, as we walked into their “house”, the couches and coffee table were covered in lace doilies. We were given the royal treatment, as Bruno’s step mother served us ice cold Cokes. Bruno’s little brother, Peace, was pretty overwhelmed by the two mzungu’s in the house, but he smiled big when Debby gave him the toy car we got him earlier in the day when we bought supplies.

We talked with Richard for a few hours, mainly about his profession. Richard is a butterfly catcher. How amazing is that? When he has the money to pay for his license to catch them, he spends days at a time traveling across Uganda and catching the most beautiful butterflies you’ve ever seen! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone so passionate about something like that, but what made Richard even more special is his love for God, which was just as apparent as his love for butterflies.

Debby, whose heart is one of the biggest I know, wanted to help Richard pay for his license so he can get back to butterfly catching to make money for his family. I was more than happy to offer to split the cost with her, and we gave him the money he needed for the license.

After saying goodbye to Richard, Mary and Peace, we took Bruno to where he could catch a taxi back to school. We might have gotten a little lost then, even to the point where we stopped and asked for directions and the lady said, “You are really lost!”

Eventually, we found our way to Garden City where we enjoyed a nice meal at Café Javas and did some window shopping at Nakumatt.

While the entire day was pretty amazing, I think one of my favorite moments came after we left Garden City. We were stopped at a light when a young, thin boy approached the car to ask for money or food.

“Do you want to give him your leftovers or take them home?” Debby asked me.

I was thrilled that she thought of that, and I handed her my box of food. She rolled down her window and handed it to the boy who smiled and said, “Thank you!” We were stopped at the light for a long time, which was totally worth it to see the boy sit down in the median, dig into my leftover club sandwich and fries, and smile the biggest smile I had seen all day.

Needless to say, it was one of the most fulfilling days I’ve had since I’ve been here.

Walking on Water

“You called me out upon the waters
The great unknown where my feet my fail.
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand.”

I’ve seen my fair share of beautiful bodies of water. From the Caribbean, to the Atlantic Ocean, to the Pacific Ocean, to Victoria Falls and beautiful blue rivers in Africa, I can honestly say I’ve seen some incredible waters on this earth. It wasn’t until recently that I truly connected the idea of water, Jesus and what it means to have faith.

I’ve always known the story of Jesus walking on the water, but it’s taken a new meaning in my life lately, and it’s eerie how God has revealed to me the importance of this event.

IMG_3120In Zambia a few weeks ago, we taught the story to the children at Lifesong for Orphans. In short, Jesus approached His disciples by walking on the water, and not just any water, but it was also in the middle of a storm. The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost, but Jesus said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Oh how often Jesus tells us that, yet we fear so much!)

Peter had such great faith that he told Jesus to call for him. Jesus did, and Peter also walked on water. But when Peter lost sight of Jesus and focused on the winds, he began to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me!” And Jesus grabbed his hand and saved him.

“I will call upon Your name.
Keep my eyes above the waves.
My soul will rest in Your embrace.
I am Yours and You are mine.”

Beyond teaching this story I’ve known since childhood to the kids at Lifesong, my friends Mo and Janeth played a song for me while we were in Zambia. The song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong began to speak to me, as it did to Mo and Janeth. I didn’t really get a chance to listen to the lyrics until I got home and downloaded it, but when I did, it all came together for me.

Everyone has their own ways of relating to the story, but here’s mine. Me going to Uganda is God calling me out upon the water. I’ve never been in a position like this where I’ve had to have so much faith and rely completely on God. I have to trust Him for my safety and my fundraising. Some people say I am doing such a great thing and that I must be so strong. I look at it as God did this because I’m not strong. He wanted me to be in a position where I had to surrender to Him completely, because before now, I hadn’t.IMG_2678

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters.
Your sovereign hand will be my guide,
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.”

Peter started to sink when he lost sight of Jesus and focused on the storm around him, and Jesus asked him why he doubted and where his faith was. There will be storms in Uganda. I will experience things I’ve never experienced before, and the biggest storm of all will be missing my family and friends. I’ll sink if I don’t stay focused on Jesus, and if I don’t keep my eyes above the waves.

God has been calling me to step out in faith for years, but only within this past year have I had the faith to step out of the boat and onto the waters. These final lyrics I will type now are so perfectly and beautifully written, that I feel like they came from my own heart:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me.
Take me deeper than my feed could ever wander,
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

—————————————————————–

Lyrics from Hillsong’s Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
All photos by Natalie A. Trout

Tough question to answer…

It’s nearly 5 a.m. here in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I am wide awake and trying to process the things that are infiltrating my mind and heart as I finally have a moment to think about everything that happened in Zambia. Jet lag is getting the best of me, but that’s OK. I need this time to prepare for what’s coming.

Each time I’ve gone on an international mission trip, I try to prepare for the question that everyone will ask, “How was your trip?” IMG_3287 (2)

I am not sure how people want a response to that question. I think some want to hear, “Excellent!” or “Life-changing!” and for that to be the extent of it.

Others want to hear in detail the ways God revealed Himself to us in Africa, and still others want to know about the orphans and how they broke our hearts.

There are some who will want only to know about the safari, Victoria Falls and the crazy foods we tried.

No matter what response people are expecting, I will never be able to fully communicate the answer to “How was your trip?”

After spending two weeks in Niger, Africa in 2009, it was tough to put things into words when I returned. It was even harder when I got back from Nicaragua in 2011 and had met my sponsor child. This time, it’s even more difficult. From day one in Zambia to the very last day, there were things I saw and things I experienced that have forever changed my heart.

Our trip started off with some sightseeing, where I saw what I now believe to be one of God’s most beautiful creations in nature, Victoria Falls.

Then I saw God’s perfectly created animal kingdom at it’s most vulnerable, as I saw a lion try to attack an impala who then sought refuge behind some cape buffalo.

I felt the deep love of orphans, who grabbed my hands each day at Lifesong and told me they loved me.

I spoke with full-time missionaries so in love with serving God and dedicating their entire lives to helping others that I believe there is nothing on this planet that would make them happier.

IMG_2977 (2)I experienced the great faith of people who have next to nothing by American standards, yet have all they need simply by having a relationship with Christ.

I saw love at its best. I saw hurt at its worst. And while our team of seven has returned to the comfort of our lives as we know it… they are still there. The orphans are still sick. The compound is still plagued by disease and witchcraft. The grandmothers are still trying to care for more children than they can handle. IMG_3255 (2)

“How was your trip?” people will ask me. I still don’t know exactly how to answer. In a way I feel like I’m still there, since I most definitely left a part of myself in Zambia. I guess it will depend on who is asking and how much they want to hear, but I do know that part of my answer will be this, “God is alive in Zambia. I saw Him in nature, orphans, widows, teachers, missionaries, and my fellow Team Zambia members from the US. God is alive, and He will return one day to claim His children.”

Most orphans don’t have curly red hair and freckles…

orphan – (n) a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents

My entire life I’ve feared the death of my parents. No one has supported me more, loved me more, or taken better care283670_3138899200926_1422215904_n of me. The thought of one of them passing used to bring me to tears. It was also something that kept me from serving overseas where God was calling me, but I’ve found a peace within the last six months. I’ve had 32 amazing years with my parents. That’s much more than many people get.

In four days we leave for Zambia where we’ll be working with Lifesong for Orphans. My heart is already breaking for these children who have lost both parents, usually to HIV/AIDS. Can you even imagine? As if survival wasn’t tough enough in a place like Zambia, they have to face the world as orphans.

Not saying it’s any easier for orphans in America, but at least orphans here often have other family members that can take them in. Zambia has a life expectancy of around 49 years. There usually aren’t older family members to take care of the orphaned children.

Our typical view of orphans comes from movies like Annie. Wow did I love Annie, her curly red hair and freckles when I was a little girl. I listened to the soundtrack so many times that I wore out the tape. The movie also led me to believe that all orphanages were run by women like the alcoholic Miss Hannigan.

Luckily, that’s typically not the case. That’s definitely not the case at Lifesong for Orphans, where their motto is “Bringing Joy and Purpose to Orphans.” The people who work for the organization have dedicated their lives to making someone else’s life better- the orphans.

God couldn’t have been more clear in the Bible about how Christians should treat orphans:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27

7980_3138908681163_1818934831_nThere are many, many more verses in which God addresses the fatherless and how we should help them. Maybe that’s by sponsoring an orphan, visiting orphans, or financially supporting missionaries and mission trips… there’s something you can do to help.

I’m so glad Lifesong for Orphans brings the message to the Zambian orphans that they do have a Father in heaven who loves them very much. I can hardly wait to give them hugs with hopes that they’ll feel God’s love in the midst of my embrace.

Photos courtesy of Janeth Ibarra.

What you might be shocked to know about my trip to Zambia…

Two weeks from now I’ll be flying over Africa somewhere, headed to Zambia where we will serve God at Lifesong for Orphans. What’s really awesome about this trip is that Janeth, one of my best friends, will be going on the trip as well! But there’s something you don’t know about our friendship.

Let me tell you about Janeth. Janeth is amazing. Although just a young grasshopper, she doesn’t mind being friends 488122_3188445239546_496056400_nwith an old woman like me (she’s 24 and I’m 32). Never once has age stood in the way of our friendship. She always makes me laugh, and since we became friends almost a year and a half ago, she’s been there for me whenever I’ve needed her.

Even though Janeth is in Texas and I’m in Indiana, she’s managed to be my rock this past year, especially when I had my heart broken. Her advice and prayers got me through some pretty rough times.

What I love about her the most is that she’s such a Godly woman. She is so spiritually mature for her age, and I have learned so much from her beautiful heart for God and her passion for humanity and the earth in general. She is, quite simply, one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known.

Janeth is also the reason I even know about the trip to Zambia! The day she suggested I go was one of the coolest things ever. I’m so excited to serve God on this trip and to do it with one of my best friends.

Here’s what you don’t know…

Janeth and I have never met.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

No, we didn’t meet on FriendFinder.com (is there such a thing?), or some sort of Christian website. We met right here, on WordPress.

A few years ago I had a blog that none of my family or friends knew about. It was very personal, and for some reason, lots of people found it interesting. Janeth was one of those people. She followed my blog, I followed hers, and one day in February 2012 I posted a comment on one of her posts. She sent me an email with the subject: “Hi from Texas :-)”

We were both going through some heartache at the time, and her words in that email were so comforting and helpful. She was very open about her relationship with God, and what she was going through. Little did I know that a little more than a year later I would be going to Africa with her.

532521_3195916786330_513696476_nWhat’s weird to think about is that GOD knew. He orchestrated this entire friendship. I have never been so sure of anything in my entire life. God has used Janeth in a major way to help me grow as a Christian. I believe He’s used me in the same way for her.

Janeth and I will meet for the first time in London when I meet the rest of the group going to Zambia. We’ve text and Skyped before, so we’re definitely not complete strangers. Like I said, she’s one of my best friends! We talk pretty much every day!

I know plenty of people will find this all rather bizarre, and that’s OK. I think it’s all pretty awesome that God would use someone so far away to help transform my life. Just one of the many amazing things He’s done for me!

This verse definitely sums up my friendship with Janeth:

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Thank you, Janeth! Can’t wait to serve God together in Zambia!

We may not care, but I’m glad someone does…

Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to help. God gave me a heart for the poor, especially theIMG_3029 poor in other countries. When I see poor people, my heart breaks. I don’t question why they are poor or accuse them of being lazy. The things I’ve seen in Niger and Nicaragua are so heartbreaking that it makes me want to do all I can to help.

“What about the homeless in America? Don’t we have enough people to help here?”

That’s a common statement from many people here in the U.S. Honestly, it holds no weight with me when it comes from people who aren’t doing anything about the people in the U.S. that they claim to be so concerned about. Who are they to judge my passion and tell me I should be more concerned about something else?

1403438_jacky_-_our_young_jack_russel_dogYears ago, I remember getting frustrated at a commercial for the SPCA. Dogs? People were concerned about animals when we had people dying in the world! How ridiculous is that? But then I realized, what if no one cared about the animals? What if no one was their advocate?

God gave everyone a heart for something or someone different. If we all cared only about the homeless in America, we’d be in some major trouble.

Who would help those in countries where their own governments won’t help?

Who would look out for the animals and their safety?

Who would work at nursing homes to take care of the elderly?

Who would stand up for our planet and work at keeping it clean and beautiful?

While someone else’s passion might not be the same as yours, it’s important to realize that EVERY passion for humanity, animals and the planet is necessary for our world to survive.

Some people don’t understand my passion for Africa. I don’t know where it comes from, other than it’s the heart God gave me. I look at my friend Kim who works with special ed kids all day long, and I don’t understand her heart. It’s a heart I don’t have. While I hurt for those kids, I don’t have the desire to work with them.

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but I wish some people would be more sensitive to the different passions we all have. We think the world is falling apart right now, just imagine what it would be like if NO ONE cared about the kids in Africa, the animals, or taking care of our planet.

I don’t have a burning passion for animals or making sure the planet is taken care of, but I’m glad that someone does.

Picnic in the African desert

4788_103258966572_5840918_n

Entry from Sunday, June 21, 2009 journal from my trip to Niger, Africa

We split into two groups for church. It was incredible to see a room filled with African IMG_0723Christians. They even had a choir- their songs were great! They had drums, a guitar and a keyboard. The youth even did a skit!

There were some other white people there. Some were visiting like us and others were missionaries long-term or taught at the Christian school nearby.

The sermon was, of course, in French, so we were taken to a back room where someone translated for us.

The afternoon was pretty cool. We met up with the nationals at the office and divided into two vans to travel to the village of (?). I ended up next to Adam in the van. He’s so sweet. He was pointing out a lot of things we passed and explained them. I can tell he likes me. He even asked if I had a boyfriend. Then he said he was surprised I didn’t. He flirted a lot- so I kind of kept away from him when we got to the village. It took almost two hours to get there.

IMG_0733When we arrived, we all sat on mats under a mango tree. We had a picnic- ham sandwiches and pop. It was nice to have ham (and mayo!) because every night at the Jesus Film showings we have peanut butter and jelly on baggetts. We are so sick of that!

After lunch and a lot of good fellowship, we took a group photo. I’m excited to get that!

Then we heard from some people in the village. They didn’t really have a religion before- just DSC00613 (2)tribal stuff. I guess the Jesus Film mission has really been working with this tribe. Many people have turned to Christianity because of it! Even the tribal leader accepted Christ. They want a church, because right now they meet in a straw shack. It was only two years ago that the Bible was first translated into their language. That’s crazy to me! Very sad. I thought the Bible was in EVERY language. All the church men from the tribe had huge tribal scars on their faces. That was weird.

Most of us slept on the ride home. This is all so exhausting.

When we returned to the guesthouse it was around 7 p.m. We put some frozen pizzas in the oven and just relaxed. It was nice and cool outside so we ate out there. We ended up talking for hours about the most random things- from church, to gay guys, to No Child Left Behind, to “John and Kate Plus Eight.”

Since there was no Jesus Film showing, we were in bed before 11 p.m., which was nice. As Bruce said earlier, “Thank you Jesus, we don’t have to show the Jesus Film tonight!” That’s been a pretty big joke since then with our group. But really, we needed a rest. We aren’t at our best if we’re exhausted.