Ever since I was a child I have dreamed of going on a missions trip to Africa. I even tried to convince Mark to move there for a year after Sienna was born. The timing just never worked out and I assumed it would be on pause until after the kids were grown.
We have always tried to instill a heart for missions in our home. We sponsor many children in India and Africa, and read novels about missionaries and others cultures, but I never allowed my mind to think that we could do missions with our young girls.
This fall I read the book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World. I was convicted, I realized that I had compartmentalized missions in my life. I was willing to put my money and time towards missions and encourage my kids to be missional, but was hesitant to take my girls; 10, 8 & 5 on a missions trip. I gave that portion of my heart to God and asked him to open up an opportunity if it was His will. At that time we began Step Into My Shoes and our hearts grew for the people of Uganda.
Less than a week later I received an invitation. Our friend's daughter lives and works at the school in Kibaale alongside Jeff and Shannon Dyck through Pacific Academy Outreach Society. Sylvia was planning a trip this February to visit her daughter and serve at the mission and was led to invite me and my girls to join her. My prayer could not have been more clearly answered. I said yes immediately without thinking any variables through. How would we pay for such a trip? How would Mark react to me taking our girls to a third-world country without him? In my mind it was so clear that this was God's calling on our lives that I knew it would work out.
When I first brought it to Mark he asked logical questions that needed answers and I kept responding, "I don't know. I just know God wants us to go". He fully supported this calling but was tentative. The next day we had a prayer and pizza night with our girls. We brought up the opportunity that presented itself and each took turns praying over the possibility. We prayed that God would make it abundantly clear and that we would be able to save the money needed for the trip. I asked each girl how we could raise the money needed. They selflessly decided to put their grandparents' Christmas money toward the trip and start a babysitting business to earn the money. That night will go down as one of the most special nights of my "parenting career". This was a personal family time only shared between us and God; no one knew of this opportunity yet. Later that evening I received a message that a major portion of our trip had been donated. What?!? I began weeping; it was so beautiful to be able to tell my girls that their prayers had been answered. What an example to my girls about faith and what God can do.
Sometimes I will wake up in the night in fear of this adventure. I let the chatter around me influence my heart. I think, 'Am I crazy? I should cancel.' And then I remember how God has orchestrated this trip from the start and I give it over to Him again and God gives me peace. There are so many unknowns but I am trusting that God will lead. Rachel at Pacific Academy Outreach Society has been amazing to work with and has taken care of all the details around booking flights and visas.
Shannon and Jeff have made a life in Kibaale with their four children and as I follow their blog, I don't see the fear or danger that we as westerners often equate with foreign countries. Instead, I see joy and teamwork that my girls and I can learn and glean from as we serve the people of Uganda. My goals for this trip are that we will be a light to the people we come in contact with, an encouragement to the missionary families that serve in Kibaale, and -even more- that a seed will be planted in my girls' hearts of gratefulness and justice that will never cease.
The girls and I will have the opportunity to help in the preschool and kindergarten classes, the Awana program, delivering special gifts like food, goats, water, etc to families. Together, we will lead devotions for the students, mud a new home for a student in the school and I may speak to the high school girls. Many opportunities to serve and show God's love.
Kibaale is in a famine right now, as there was no rain between May and October. Because of this, the community is in great need. If you would like to help with the famine relief, a $30 donation is a huge help to a hungry family, giving them food to last a month.
I know with all the Christmas festivities, budgets are tight; trust me, I feel it too. But this is more than getting the newest gadget or flocking the tree: the people of Kibaale need food to live. So as you think through your last minute gifts, why not add one more: the gift of maize flour for a family in need. Here is a link to donate today.
Please pray for us as we prepare for our African Adventure,