Sunday, July 31, 2011

My feelings into words

I found this today and it is everything I feel but I didn't have my own words to say it. This is not my own advertisement for The Mocha Club, though they seem great, it is just literally, EXACTLY how I am feeling.

"When I think of Africa, the following images immediately come to mind: Starvation. AIDS. Child soldiers. Genocide. Sex slaves. Orphans. From there, my thoughts naturally turn to how I can help, how I can make a difference. "I am needed here," I think. "They have so little, and I have so much." It's true, there are great tragedies playing out in Africa everyday. There is often a level of suffering here that is unimaginable until you have seen it, and even then it is difficult to believe. But what is even harder is reconciling the challenges that many Africans face with the joy I see in those same people. It's a joy that comes from somewhere I cannot fathom, not within the framework that has been my life to this day.

The images spilling out of my television showed circumstances that could seemingly only equal misery, and I was fooled. I bought into the lie that circumstance defines happiness. The truth is, in Africa I find hearts full of victory, indomitable spirits. In places where despair should thrive, instead I find adults dancing and singing, and children playing soccer with a ball crafted of tied up trash. Instead of payback, I find grace. Here, weekend getaways are not options to provide relief from the pains of daily life. Relationships and faith provide joy. Love is sovereign.

My new reality… I know now that my joy should have no regard for my circumstances. I'm ashamed by my lack of faith, but at the very same moment I am excited by my new pursuit. I'm forced to redefine the meaning of having much or having little. I'm uneasy with the prospect of change and of letting go, but just the thought of freedom is liberating. I want what I have learned to trickle down from my head into my heart - I no longer want to need the "next thing" to have joy.

I'm not saying that Africa does not need our efforts. It absolutely does need our partnership. But for me, I've come to understand that I NEED AFRICA MORE THAN AFRICA NEEDS ME. Why? Because it is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hands will never be as valuable as peace in my heart. I've learned that I don't need what I have and that I have what I need. These are just a few of this continent's many lessons. I came here to serve and yet I've found that I have so much to learn, and Africa, with all its need, has much to teach me."

Friday, July 29, 2011


In case you haven't seen the pictures on Facebook, here are the links to my photo albums.  Hopefully I will be able to post some journal entries or thoughts and feelings in the future but I am still trying to take it all in and process everything.

Uganda photos:

Ethiopia photos:

Monday, July 25, 2011

I needed Africa more than Africa needed me!

Like for real! We have an overnight flight tomorrow night and I will have to be dragged away! Short post for now but just pray that we have a safe return and that God would clearly show me what to do and where to go in my future. :) See y'all soon!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Update from Ethiopia

We arrived in Ethiopia last night. Today we spent the day in Korah, a leper community.  Ethiopians are beautiful!! The thing that has broken my heart so far is the treatment of the aminals. I started to type all of the details but I didn't want to make Ethiopia sound worse than it is.  It is just really, really, really sad! Surprisingly, Ethiopia is a completely different country from Uganda in so many ways. Anyways, we are about to have dinner and it is the rainy season here so it is storming so bad but I just wanted to let everyone know we were all safe.  Please pray with us for a continued safe trip and especially for our health.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Update from Uganda

Just a quick update seeing that we have internet for a short while in Kampala. We spent the first three days in Jinja at Cannan Children's Home. What an amazing place! God totally put those children and that place on my heart for a reason I don't yet know. Specifically this sweet child Henry who is 11 years old. He speaks very good English, does very well in school and wants to be a pilot when he grows up. God brought this special child to me and I fell in love with him. It was so incredibly hard to leave. I feel that I will return very soon God willing. Today we are on the way to Return Ministry and tomorrow night we fly to Ethiopia. Continue praying for my team, our health and safety, and the people we will encounter. God is so great! To Him be the glory!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's time!

Saturday we had a lovely party to send me off.  Despite the awful weather, a good amount of family and friends still made it out.  If you know the Chinnis family, we always have tons of delicious food. The sweet Virginia Watson brought all 75 of the precious Gullah dolls with her. Each one looks different just like the dresses. I am soooo excited to give these to the children! 

Packing has been a little less than interesting. I had a minor freak out today as I did my final packing. I have my two large bags with 50 lbs each and my book bag to carry-on. I used plenty of space bags to cram everything in. When I was finished packing, I was a good 11 lbs overweight in one bag with no room to spare in either bag. Trying to keep calm we reworked everything a few times and figured out that the four children's Bible's that were donated was like a total of about 10 lbs. I started thinking, "God, don't you want me to take your Word to these children?" I ended up working them out enough and putting them in my book bag...well that will be heavy but I should live, haha. That being said, we have all 80 dresses, 80 pairs of underwear, 75 dolls, tons of children's fever reducer, other miscellaneous things, and about half of my stuff. Please pray that all of the donations/luggage make it to Africa without problem.

Monday I had an interview with a reporter from the Post and Courier for the community section about my trip and the donations of dresses and dolls.  I pray that God receives the glory. 

My flight leaves from Charleston around 10:30am to Washington, D.C. tomorrow (Wednesday) and I will be hanging out at Dulles until more team members arrive about 3pm. If anyone is in the area and wants to grab lunch I would love the company.  :)  We fly out of Dulles at noon Thursday morning for a 13 hour flight. Please pray that we arrive safely. 

Side note, I found out that I passed the Praxis II and PLT today.  I am just so excited because the only thing between me and a job is a diploma. I can leave for Africa not having to think about that and can start my job hunt when I get back.  

"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name." Psalm 91:14

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

1 week!

Ah!  This time next week I will be on a plane! I am getting so excited and just can't wait to start packing! My mom and I went through all of the 80 dresses that we have collected for the little girls! Tears fill my eyes thinking about how excited I am to bless these little girls with the cutest dresses. When I say cute, I can't even do them justice. I literally want to keep all of them for my future children (haha).  I just can't wait to see how these precious children make the dresses even more beautiful. My grandmother, her Sunday school class, and her friends all made these dresses. Wow!

On Saturday, we will have a precious doll for each dress graciously donated by Virginia Watson. I need to tell you about her! My grandmother was walking through the Flowertown Festival (Azalea festival, AKA local, annual festival in Summerville) when she came across a local vendor selling handmade Gullah dolls. One of the dolls was made out of a similar fabric that one of the dresses my grandmother made was and my grandmother mentioned something to my great grandmother about it.  Virginia overheard them and asked her about it. This got them talking about my trip to Africa and Virginia wanted to send her love to Africa as well.  I am so excited to see these sweet children when they get their new stuff! I can't wait to show y'all pictures! 

On Monday I will be interviewed by the local news paper and I hope nothing more than to give all the glory to God! 

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." -1 Corinthians 10:31