Well, it is now the beginning of September and I wanted to write and update you on the past 6 months. I must start by saying that this time has been centered around change: change in so many areas of my life. And as most of you know, I definitely have a hard time with change. But, it is during those times in life, when the path is uncertain, that your faith and trust in the Lord deepens as you learn to lean on Him and truly let Him guide your steps. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
In May, I traveled with a team of 5 to Berlin, Germany. We worked with a local church there and had the opportunity to minister to college students, to pray for the city as we walked through different areas of darkness and to help out this local ministry in any way possible. The ministry that took place during my 3 weeks in Germany was very different than previous mission trips. Germany is very similar to the United States in the sense that people there are not convinced of the deep need that cries from their heart. And if someone does not think they need anything, this presents many challenges when sharing the gospel. BUT…a challenge that is not too big for our mighty God. In fact, it was beautiful to see how God was using the local missionaries there to reach out to Germany. It is completely centered on relationships. Building relationships and investing in others, while patiently waiting for the people of Germany to see that this love we give to others is a love that only comes from Christ. And with time, the eyes of Germany, and I believe the world, will see something different about Christianity. They will see the Light of Christ shining out of us. And this Light has and will continue to change and ultimately save a dying world. “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
I arrived home from Germany about 36 hours before my graduation from pharmacy school. I still can not believe that I have graduated. What a wonderful day that was to walk across the stage, among my friends, and look out and have my family and friends there to support me. I thank you all again, for your support and encouragement during the past 6 years. God truly blessed me by your words of encouragement, your love, and the countless other ways that you supported me. I must admit, a part of me really misses school. Going from being a full-time student to a full-time pharmacist is definitely a change and one that I am still adjusting to. However, in the end, I know that it is time for a beautiful chapter in my life to be closed, and a new one to be opened. I can not wait to see what this next chapter will look like.
About a month after graduating, I was blessed once again to embark on a journey that would change my life. On July 5th, I left the country, AGAIN, for the country of Zambia. Let me give you a little background information on Zambia. Zambia lies in southern Africa and is ranked as the 7th worst human poverty index in the world. The life expectancy is around 38 years of age. A large part of this is due to the devastation of the AIDS virus. What happens when a population has this short life expectancy? It leaves a country where half the population is less than 15…and over 1 million orphans. Orphans that are left to survive on their own, to go to bed at night hungry, and even worse…1 million orphans who go to bed at night terrified, wondering if this will be their last night in the nightmare they were born into.
So, I left to go see this country for myself. I had no idea what I could possibly do, or how God was going to use me. But I left, for one week, to just get a mere glimpse into their life. Little would I know that this glimpse into their life would change mine. I went with an organization called Family Legacy Missions. This ministry has, since 2001, poured into the lives of Zambian orphans and allowed an opportunity for other Americans to be a part of this life change as well. For 8 weeks during the summer, in Lusaka Zambia, there is Camp Life! What is Camp Life? Well, each week, around 900 orphans or vulnerable children come to camp to experience life ABUNDANTLY. For one week, they are taken from their nightmare to be loved and given words of Truth. From the ages of 5-17, these orphans come in, broken and bruised, from the inside out, and experience a week of life change.
I had a group of 17 beautiful girls who were aged 12-16. The theme for this year was Freedom in Christ. They were taught about the lies that Satan feeds them and then given truth: They are LOVED, ACCEPTED, SECURE, SIGNIFICANT, VICTORIOUS and FREE in Christ. Majority of my girls had not heard the name of Jesus prior to Monday morning. By the end of the week, they not only believed, but they were running through their villages telling others of our amazing King and how much He loves us.
During the week, I had time to spend one-on-one time with each girl, to hear her story, and to pray for her. I will not go into detail about each story (though I would love to) but I just want to take this opportunity to share that these stories were indescribably horrific. Listening to the girls cry as they told me what they went home to every night, left me bowing at the feet of Christ, begging Him to reach down and spare them. Why was I so fortunate to be born into what I was? I didn’t choose Flower Mound, Texas. And they didn’t choose Zambia, but now they have to live in it, fighting each day to survive.
All week, I kept praying for God to continue to open my heart so I could feel the pain they felt. See, your first response is to want to close up, to believe that what you are seeing and hearing is not true. So, I continued to pray fervently all week, that I would not become cold toward the devastation I was seeing. On the last day, I had to say good-bye to 17 girls who I had become so close with. I had to look into their eyes, which were now filled with the hope of Christ, and tell them I had to go home; worse…to tell them that they had to go home. I cried as I begged them to continue to be filled with joy even after Camp Life was over. See, the joy that I saw in their eyes, was not from ANYTHING that I said or did directly, it was from the amazing work of Jesus Christ. So, even after camp was over, they were SAFE and SECURE in Christ. For the last hour we were together, we as a group decided to spend that time crying out to Jesus together. I can still hear their waling so vividly, and I pray that I never forget the sights and sounds specifically from that last hour together. As painful as it was to watch them cry out like they did, the only thing that gave me comfort and peace was to know, they were crying out to Him, the ultimate healer of all wounds. That week He saved them and for the short days remaining in their lives, He will forever be the protector of their heart. And one glorious day, we will all rejoice together at the feet of Him who saved us all.
So, now I am home once again, and I just had to share with you not only what was going on in my life, but what was going on in Choolwe’s life, in Tisa’s life, in Clara’s life, and in the life of all the other 1 million Zambian Orphans. So, what can we possibly do for a country that is so far away? Friends and Family…the options are ENDLESS.
Well I think that is it for now. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I love you all so much and I am so excited to share with you this passion God has laid on my heart and I hope that you too will feel a pull in your heart to pray for these children. Because if we don’t….who will?
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God is this: to visit the widows and the orphans in their distress.” James 1:27
(I love you all)
So this was just over 8 years ago. Since then I have had the opportunity to go back to Zambia two additional times, once with Matt. Since having children, we haven't been able to go on any international mission trips, but I know that day is coming. This time, with our kids in tow. Oh how I long to see my boys serving others, to grow and learn to love like Christ, to see life outside the U.S. I pray for their little hearts now, that they will see the light of Jesus Christ and that through Him, they will be a LIGHT in a dark world.