Friday, July 11, 2014

on surprises

It is absolutely insane to me that a couple weeks ago, I sat in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport awaiting a departure for a second Africa trip within one summer. I was in such a daze and cannot believe that God led me to this place. What is life?!

Imagine my surprise when my friend Elissa called me on a Thursday afternoon and asked if I would like to join her on a trip to Kenya that left on the following Monday. I was shocked, bewildered, taken aback-and yet I had complete peace, and I was so grateful for the opportunity. Elissa and I have known each other for years. We attended the same middle school, high school, and college. She is an amazing woman. We share so many of the same interests, but what has brought us closer together in the last few years is our love for Jesus and His people-near and far. She lived in Kenya for six months a year ago and worked with the Divine Providence Training Center at Camp Chemi Chemi, a pastoral school for Kenyan men and women.

While in Uganda, I had the privilege of meeting some amazing men and women. We visited with and encouraged several different village churches and beheld faces full of the joy of the Lord. And it was good. So good. The journey to Uganda was so clearly marked by the Lord, and even though I knew I was supposed to go, I wasn't sure why I went. On one of our last days in Gulu, the Lord gave me the opportunity to share with a group of women who call themselves the Daughters of Destiny. This group is comprised of adult women who are there to mentor and be mentored. As I sat and shared with these women what the Lord had given me to bring them that day-the importance of a woman of God knowing and understanding her identity in Christ- my heart burned within me. I knew that I had come to Uganda for that purpose.

Sunset in Uganda

After reluctantly leaving the women due to a tight schedule for that afternoon, I told Robbie, our trip leader, that we needed to chat. I wanted to come back to Uganda and do a retreat for these women. He was super excited, and I just began to pray and ask that God would show me how to plan through the next year, trusting that He would raise up the right people and resources for this dream.

When Elissa called me that afternoon as I wandered aimlessly around Target, contemplating how I was going to pay for another international trip, she shared with me the one fact that made me say yes. Upon my return from Uganda, Elissa was one of the first people I connected with. We sat down to lunch at The Fickle Pickle, and when I told her about my desire to return to Uganda, she told me all about her friend Jennifer, who is the founder and director of True Identity Ministries- a ministry dedicated to helping men and women find their identity in Christ. Jennifer has done several retreats in the United States and also in Kenya, and she, too, was going on this trip and would host a day for women at Camp Chemi Chemi. I knew I had to be a part of it.

Within hours, I reworked my budget, dipped into my savings, and received gifts from generous friends and family. I ordered more malaria medicine and packed my bags. I was going to Africa. Again. Life with the Lord is a great adventure. I've been called a nomad, Dora the Explorer, and have been given looks of disbelief as I recount to others the Lord's faithfulness in my life and the ways He has brought me to the places He has known about before the beginning of time. And I'm grateful. So very grateful. Within the coming days, I will share more about our experience in Kenya and what the Lord showed me there. Right now, I'm going to attempt to get over my jet lag and lay down for a nap. :)

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