Main Pic.

Main Pic.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fading Smudges

It's happening. It happens every time and every time the bitter-sweetness of the moment is just as real as the first time.

The smudges are fading... 

The red-ish brown marks of dirty fingers throughout the pages of my Bible are beginning to disappear. Some would think it better for the pages of the Word of God to be clean, while I respect your stance, I disagree. Because when I see the dirty print of one of my Malawian brothers or sisters on one of the pages its like I'm there again, going on a journey of discovering Jesus with them.

 My memory of the red dust begins to fade and I start to forget. I become preoccupied. While yes my beloved family is always on my mind, life happens. But when I see the smudge during my daily reading or in one of my religion classes suddenly life stops and I'm sitting next to Lekelini in Lumbadzi church and she is flipping through the pages of my Bible as fast as she can. She cant seem to find the book fast enough but I don't help because I love what comes next...she finds the book, chapter, and verse and glances towards me to make sure I know she did it by herself. I tell her through our unspoken look just how incredibly proud of her I am! She runs her finger across the words as the service continues leaving a small strike of smudges behind her.

The smudges remind me of the little unmemorable moments that I told myself to never forget. And yet when the smudges are gone the reminders come less. I still remember the big things, its just the daily life moments that I miss. The smudges fading is a close to a season. It happens every year the smudges, or what ever the significant memory is (once is was my chaco tan line on my feet), fade away. The moment I can't see them any more is heart breaking. It's the moment of reality. But it is also a moment of great joy. It is seeing the closing of one season to bring in the new one! If the smudges stayed forever I would never be able to move past the past. I would dwell daily on the past moves of God instead of pursuing the present move.  I am so thankful for the smudges in life that remind me of what God has done, but I am also thankful that He allows them to fade so that we can move on. I am beyond excited to see what happens this year as my smudges fade and I watch as God cleanses me to prepare me. But yet I still pray and believe in a God who loves the good smudges and He will allow me to see them when I need to be reminded of what He has done so that I will know He is faithful to do it again...and maybe this time next year the smudges will be giant stains that declare the greatness of a faithful God.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Real World

My heart is full. I spent another 6 weeks with these people I have come to love so dearly and could have spent 100 more. People keep asking about being back in the "real world" and Im not so sure that my American lifestyle is that. I think what is over there is real in more ways then we know how to handle real. Let me share with you a few real things that shook my world this summer. 

This is Josen. He is an incredibly an funny and animated little kid. In the top picture he is sitting with my baby Andrew who just turned 4. Josen is five years old but because of extreme malnutrition he gives the appearance of a 3 year old. Since coming to Mtendere he is growing and learning to be loved. He brings so much joy even though he is still suffering the affects of his former life. Malnutrition is a real problem, and Josen is a real victim and he is really beating the odds and living to grow into a healthy young boy. 

I'm learning that my friendships that I have made in Malawi are real. This summer I learned more from my friends at Mtendere then I could ever teach them. Through many afternoons of hanging out, listening to music, eating "chamanga" (roasted maize), and talking about life, real relationships grew. I hear people point out the differences in our lives so often but when I am there more often then not we are talking about the things we share in common. And those are the things that really matter in life. 

I had the incredible opportunity to watch my malawian brothers and sisters and best friends minister to their community in huge ways this summer. The kids at Mtendere organized trips to local villages where they would hold youth rallies and share the gospel with whoever showed up. They brought gifts and they loved on these kids. God did amazing things and I was able to just witness this. 

As I sat and watched, I began to notice the kids that were showing up for the youth rally. They were dirty, some with runny noses or strange rashes, some were taking care of younger children, many of them with ripped clothing. As I sat with a crowd around me, because many had never seen white people before, I couldn't help but realize the incredible miracle that was occurring. These were our kids...
This was the reality that most of our children knew before they were able to come to Mtendere. My friends were these kids. And now they are able to come and minister and love on these kids. In that moment I was overwhelmingly thankful that my "real world" consists of beautiful relationships with 160 amazing young Malawians that are changing their communities and changing people like me who have the privilege to sit and get to know them. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Faithful Answer

Last night I was sitting in the dark in a rocking chair on the porch listening to the sound of the village. The moon was bright as I watched the shadows of movement and tried to listen closely to the small voices sharing secrets in Chichewa. I closed my eyes…God You are faithful…

I have graciously said those four words so many times this year. And He is. He is orchestrating a special move of His Spirit in this place. For the past few months my constant prayer for this place is to see God change the lives of these kids from the inside out and that they would respond by sharing this love with everyone they encounter. I desperately want to see them go deeper and grasp the fullness of joy that comes with dwelling with their Redeemer. The past four days God has shown me how He is answering my prayers, and it has absolutely nothing to do with anything I have done. The kids themselves are leading nightly prayer meetings and sharing their testimonies with each other. They have taken the initiative to organize trips to other surrounding villages to go and pray and minister to teenagers and show them the Father’s Love. God is allowing me to participate and witness what He is doing this place. He is faithful!

In the midst of this sweet moment the battle is raging all the more.  A battle that three years ago I refused to listen for, thinking that if I didn’t listen or look then it didn’t exist. Because the truth was I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t want to realize the reality that so many of my family came from and was constantly surrounded by. I couldn’t imagine the darkness that infuses so much of this culture and tradition. But God has not called me to ignorance but to war. Prayerfully waging war with the God of the angel armies on my side! So as I sat with my eyes closed listening to the sweet sounds of my kids and the horrific sounds of the battle raging around them…I pray with complete confidence in victory.

I am confident in the Father’s love and I am confident that this place will be a place of prayer, joy, and victory. I am confident that this place will be known as a place defined in Kingdom culture. I am confident in a generation of young Malawian boys and girls who choose to live in the Spirit and refuse to succumb to evil because of tradition. I am confident in a God who is able.  

I close my eyes…God You are faithful!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


So I have sat here for entirely too long trying to come up with the right words to communicate the emotions and experiences of this last week of being home in Malawi, and now Im realizing that there is no way for me to accurately tell of the love I have for this place, the joy I have in this place, and the frustration I feel because of this place. Being back here I am filled with so much joy but also I again notice the reason I come and it frustrates me because these people are no longer a mission to me, they are family. And that fact alone makes it harder and harder. The closer I become to these people the more it hurts to accept the phrase "thats just how things are done in Malawi". But even with my frustration my love goes further. This place is home and these people make my heart so happy.

This past several days have been filled with firsts. I somehow gained the title of dental assistant and found myself helping with extractions and fillings and many other disgusting things. For those who don't know me that well, any kind of medical work is not something that I handle very well. But some how God still used that and let me find my place there. I was able to hold babies for mothers who were getting checked, or hands of those who were afraid of this crazy american who wanted to take out their teeth. God allowed me to thrive in an area that I would have run away from if given the option.

After the team headed out I had the opportunity to go visit some of my best friends who are away at boarding school for a few more weeks. I was so happy to be able to surprise them and spend just a few minutes chatting.  This trip was yet another reminder of our differences, and Im working through the emotions that came with that realization.

Overall this past week and a half has reminded me of my ties to this place and given me hope. I am extremely thankful that no matter how many things make me different from these people, the love and bond that we have in our King breaks down every difference and allows me to find myself sitting a room full of singing children in the pitch black dark and Im able to say "this is my family"!

Monday, May 20, 2013

He is God in EVERY nation!

Every time I go somewhere new I learn something new. Every time I travel to a new culture I come away from it changed and more aware of the faithfulness of God. And yet, I still am surprised when God shows Himself faithful, as if part of me is still expecting Him to let me down.

I just spend 10 days in San Ramon, Costa Rica. While I was excited about the trip, in my mind Costa Rica has been just something else for me to check off my list of "to do's" before I could go to Malawi. But I had no idea just how important that check mark would be.

From the first meeting I knew that the team that God put together for this trip was special. God used these 12 individuals to minister to my heart and to the people of PuraVida Missions and Costa Rica in incredible ways. We all come from drastically different backgrounds and yet the unity we experienced was only possible by the constant dwelling of the Holy Spirit on all we did. Ministry started from the moment we woke up to the moment we went to bed. Not only did I watch this team change the lives of the children we worked with but I watched as not a moment was wasted. It did not matter if we were with the kids or just hanging out the Name of Jesus was being lifted up and ministry was going forth. The love I have for these 12 individuals and the PuraVida Staff is impossible to put into words.

It was refreshing to see this team be the church and show what the Body of Christ is supposed to look like. It was refreshing to meet Costa Rican believers who are ministering to their own people. It was refreshing to work with an organization that loves people and wants to see a nation changed for the glory of God. It was refreshing to spend 10 days with people who are committed to radically pursuing the heart of God and willingly going wherever He leads. It was refreshing to know that my God was not done revealing Himself to me.

You see, before Costa Rica I thought that Malawi would be the only nation that I loved, that my heart would beat for. I want to go to many places and experience many cultures but I never thought I could love a place the way I love Malawi. While I still have deep roots in Malawi and I still feel called there, I now know what it is like to love many places and many people. Malawi and Costa Rica could not be more different but they both possess something very similar. They both have the attention of a God who is revealing Himself across the nations as the King of Kings and they both have a part of my heart.  When I left Malawi after my first trip I came home with a constant reminder that I was not finished in that place, that same feeling feels my spirit when I think of Costa Rica and the work that God is doing there. I can't wait to partner with my new friends and watch God work in a beautiful country full of people who need to experience the freedom He brings.

I so wish that it was easy to express these feelings, these thoughts, that feel your mind when you return home after a life changing trip. However, all to often words aren't enough. Until you see what I saw, or meet the people I met, or experience the things I experienced it will never really make sense. But Im okay with the crazy looks, Im okay with the confused questions, or even the condescending remarks because I have seen, I have experienced, and I have heard of all God is doing in the nations. So my response is to bring those things back here, to tell you about them, so that even if you don't fully understand maybe just maybe you will be able to realize that there is SO much more out there and that our God is not limited or confined but He is on the move and is changing lives all around this world.

My thoughts are still all over the place as I try to figure out all that God did this past week and all that He is going to continue to do. Im still trying to wrap my mind around that fact that God has placed a new nation before me that I want to return to and that I want to pursue His heart in. Im still wrestling with the hard questions that were brought up and about the new things He showed me. But even in my confused rambling I have an underlying peace that this week was more than just a trip and that He will work it out for me to partner with Him in this nation. And I KNOW that I am more prepared than ever to return to Malawi in 11 days with a refreshed spirit and love for this Man that pursues me wherever I am and allows me to witness the way He pursues others in many different ways. He is good y'all and I am so incredibly thankful that I follow the God who is present in every nation!

Monday, April 29, 2013



A year ago I was approaching graduation, about to leave the only home I had ever known. Leaving this chapter of my life behind was easy in light of the knowledge that only a few days after I crossed that stage I would be back with the people that had become my family the year before in Malawi.  I left for Malawi having committed to go to college but still very reluctant to be obedient.
I knew that God was leading me to SEU but every part of me wanted my ticket to say “one way.” How was I supposed to tell these people goodbye again?

If I had known then what I know now, being obedient to His leading would have been simple. But that is not how it works. He asks you to go into the unknown so that He can be made known to you, and so that you can learn to know yourself in the process.

This is becoming a pattern in my life. God says “go” to a place with no realm of familiarity so that you can become familiar with Me. It’s beautiful really, only I don’t always see it that way in the beginning. I could tell you about nights when all I wanted to do was run in the opposite direction but those nights did not last forever. In fact, those nights seem silly now that I see what He is up to.

This past year has changed everything about me. Relationships, dreams, revelations, dialogue, experience, travel, service, community…things I’ve learned, things I’m still learning.

My testimony is this, that when He asks you to jump, it’s more about the free fall then it is about the landing. And it’s about the realization that finds you half way down when you see He is going to catch you. Its simple, He is reminding me that He is faithful and the sooner I learn that the more effective I can be in the nations.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Simple Love Doesn't Wear Pants

I expected God to move in Haiti. I expected to learn from God in Haiti. I expected to find a new revelation of Jesus in Haiti. 
But don't you know that God does much more than we could ever expect or imagine?!?

When we first landed in Haiti and took the 45 minute drive out of Port Au Prince, I was immediately struck by the extreme poverty that surrounded me. Just like everyone else on the bus I round in a sober amazement as I watched people go about their daily life in tents, shacks, and sheds. I thought about their stories. I wondered who they were and why they are where they are now. I thought about that dreadful day just over two years ago and where they were the day their world shook. I asked God to show me how He loves them. But the biggest thing I could not get out of my mind, is that it only took us 1 1/2 hours to fly from Florida to Haiti. I travel for over 24 hours to get to Africa where I see poverty and heartache. But I did not even have to travel half a day before I reached the same poverty and a devastation I have never known. These people are literally our neighbors. They are so close yet we so often turn a blind eye to the circumstances that our neighbors are facing. 

Throughout the week I questioned why I was there. I saw a beautiful nation. I saw amazing people who loved the heart of God. I saw children who needed my affection, and I happily picked them up. But yet I wondered did I only come here to pick up naked children all week? I know that God works through simple things but really? God still had a lot to teach me about simplicity. He choose to teach me this lesson through two very little people who touched me in a very great way. 

It was Wednesday morning. My team and I were working tilling soil in an older gentlemen's yard. We were taking a water break when I was quickly surrounded by the children above. We laughed as we made silly faces at one another and I tried to teach them how to cross their eyes. The older gentlemen came over to talk to me and through a translator he explained that the girl above was his granddaughter. I had no idea what her name was but something about her stuck out to me. The grandfather grabbed her  hand and put it in mine, he pointed to her fingers. On both of her hands she had a little extra finger, something that would be so easily fixed if it were to happen in America. I immediately noticed how embarrassed she was. This little thing mad her different. These two tiny fingers set her apart from all of her friends. 

I continued to play with the kids, desperately trying to get her to smile and laugh with the others. She would not. I tried to make her know that I noticed her. I sat in the middle of all the kids and the only one my heart was burning for was the one who would not smile or speak. I knew that God loved her and wanted her to know. So I continued to sit there. Finally after a while of still no response. I went back to tilling the soil. About five minutes later I walked to get another shovel and the little girl jumped to her feet, her eyes lit up and she ran over to me. I squatted down and she threw her arms around me and whispered some secret in Creole into my ears. Then she darted back to her place against the house. I may never know what she said or what it meant that I sat there for so long without a response, but what I do know is that God's love is as simple as sitting in the heat making funny faces. And I know that she knows she is loved and noticed by not only me but by a Father who says she is fearfully and wonderfully made!

Meet Dolfe. 
Dolfe changed my life. 
Through Dolfe I learned what God's plan was for me and what His heart beats for. 
Dolfe confirmed my call and reminded me of what I want to do with my life. 
Dolfe stole my heart.

The first time we met Dolfe he was sleepy, unresponsive, and sad. The first two days of our trip he hung out with me and my friend Danielle and basically laid on our shoulders as we carried him around. Both of us quickly fell in love and were immediately concerned with this unresponsive baby. We never knew much about him. We did not know where his parents were. Or why he never wore pants. But we fell in love with him all the same. In the middle of a sea of children Dolfe caught my eye. 

One day a women from the village told Danielle that if she loved him so much she could have him because he did not have a father who loved him. This broke our heart. We are not in a position where we could take Dolfe home. If we could have we would have but it was impossible. So we struggled the last two days of the trip knowing that in no time we would have to leave this baby not knowing who would love him. However as the trip went on Dolfe began to open up, allowing us in. He showed us his smile and with it stole our affection. 

God reminded me that Dolfe does have a Father who loves him and takes care of him and will provide for him. During my last few hours with Dolfe God changed my heart and showed me so much about His. 

First I met his mother. She first came to get him. I saw the fear in his eyes as she pulled him away from the crowd. I thought I was going to throw up. I stepped out of the gate holding back my vomit and tears as I watched Dolfe look back at me with those eyes. "That's it" I thought "He is gone and I have no idea what is waiting for him. He looks scared. God please hold him and take care of him" I tried my best to compose myself although everything in me wanted to grab him and take him to the bus and do everything I could to get him away from this women who he seemed to fear. How incredibly wrong I was...

Right as were about to load the bus to leave for the last time I saw him running back over to the crowd with his young mother a few steps behind. I grabbed him and swung him around. Holding back tears I told him that I loved him knowing this would be the last time I would hold him. Then I locked eyes with this young mother. She had to have been my age. Her eyes were sweet and tired. I got a translator to join me as I expressed my love for her son and thanked her for allowing me to play with him that week. She just smiled and looked down at Dolfe. I could tell she loved him. She had nothing to say. But after the translator walked away she tried to tell me something. I speak absolutely no Creole but from what I could understand she was asking if I would be back tomorrow to Leveque. I sadly said no and her eyes dropped to her son. She hung her head and gave me a hug. Then the bus honked. It was time to go. I hugged this precious baby one last time and gave him to the hands of his mother, who I now knew loved him. She was not scary, but she comforted him. As I drove away I saw him cry, but this time it was not a fearful cry but a sad cry. It was sad. But this time instead of me comforting him, his mother was able to. His mother who I know trust is loving her son. Even if she can not provide everything in the world for her son, she does love him and he found comfort in her embrace. 

Dolfe reminded me that God called me to love the ones who seem unloved. He called me to hold the pant-less child and sit with the girl who doesn't smile. Dolfe showed me the power of affection even without words. Through Dolfe God showed me that He does not visit Haiti, He stays there. God would be with Dolfe much longer than I would. All I am called to do is love in obedience for the time I'm allowed. I tried to guard my heart when I went to Haiti. I said that I would not let myself get too attached because I would only be there a few days. Dolfe made me a lier. There was no way that I could be unattached. It would have been disobedience to not let myself love those people. God called me to love them for the short time I was allowed. I was afraid. I was afraid of the feeling that I did feel as I drove away and saw the tears run down his face as I felt them run down mine. But just life Dolfe, I was being held by my Father and comforted. I know now that I was called to Haiti to relearn simple love. A love that holds and protects. A love that spins around in circles just to hear a baby laugh. A love that sweats and hurts. A love that breaks down barriers in four days and creates lasting impressions. A love that heals and teaches. A love that goes deep. A love that doesn't have to wear pants. A love that doesn't have to speak. A love that is powerful and full of hope.

The children of Haiti taught me much more than I could ever have imagined or expected. God is so not limited to our experience, expectation, or imagination. He used the most unlikely children to teach me the simplest of love and oh how thankful I am for that!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Haiti Prep

Oh that word. It seems as if this word has been thrown in my face a million times over the past few months. I thought I had "surrendered", as if it was a one time occurance. On the contrary, it is a decision I have to choose to make every moment of every day. I choose to say "yes" to Him and say "He is more important" to everything else. He doesn't always ask me to say "no", because some of the things I surrender are perfectly good and even part of His plan for me. That is what makes it so difficult. He is teaching me to choose Him, the person of Jesus, over the good things. Over the greatest dreams I have. Over relationships. Over position or opportunities. But the greatest mystery I am learning is that He IS worth it!

He is worth going across the world to bring the hope of His name. He is worth walking across the street to share the glorious story. He is worth moving across the room to meet a stranger (or even a friend) and speak the words to them. He is worth it! That is the simple motivation behind all we do. He is worth it!

As my team and I prepare in our last few days before Haiti, I am convinced that this trip is a whole lot bigger then the 11 of us. This trip is not about what we can do or how many people we can help. This trip is because He is worth it. This week will be solely to bring more glory, more honor, and more worth to His name.

God is going to do big things while we are in Haiti, I have no doubt about it. I really have no idea what to expect but I know this week will change and touch my life in a way that no other experience ever has. Would you be praying over the next week. Our team is going to a dark place and the light we carry is very threatening to that darkness. Would you pray for covering so that we can accomplish all that God has in store for us.

I surrender to this Man. I will go any where, do anything, because I have encountered the One who is worth it.  I would rather pursue this Man than do anything else with my life.

Pray for Haiti March 2-9. Pray for our team and for the believers there.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Point

What's the point?
I have secretly asked myself this for quite sometime. Why has God given me this call for overseas mission work? What is the point of going through all the trouble of raising money, shots, pills, planes, dangerous adventures, etc. Why is He calling me to a people that I can only be with for a few weeks at a time and spend the rest of the year missing them with everything in me? Why couldn't He have just given me an easy call or a more convenient call. Why Africa? Sometimes it feels like I am just burdened by the heartbreak of a nation that is in such desperate need. In those moments I question, and I find myself asking "What is the point?"

And then I remember this...

This is the face of a child who will know the goodness of the Lord instead of the hell that she was born into. Because of the circumstances surrounding this precious girls birth many in her village thought her to be cursed. She was not wanted and could not be taken care of by anyone in the village. By the grace and divine plan of God she found her way to Mtendere Orphan village where she now has a family, a blessed hope, and a bright future. 

God called me to overseas missions so that beautiful faces like this one could encounter the same blessed hope. Jesus is coming back, He promised He would! However, before He returns ALL nations, tribes, and people will have heard of His amazing grace. Jesus begged His disciples to pray for the "Lord of the Harvest Fields to send forth laborers into the harvest field". I want to usher in the coming of our Lord. I want to see Jesus come back! I believe that God is going to use little ones that have been rescued and redeemed to be a testimony of His goodness to the nations. 

So my call is not easy or convenient but I am willing. I want to see Jesus return and I want to see children redeemed. Over the next few months as I travel to Haiti, Costa Rica, and Malawi my heart is to spread the good news of Christ and illuminate the same Joy of this baby girl, the joy of a child that knows the goodness of the Lord. 

So that is the point. The point is that I wouldn't want to do anything else. The point is that Jesus wants every child to be redeemed. The point is that Jesus is coming back. The point is that I will not be silent because there are little ones that don't have this joy and Jesus is the only one who can bring it. The point is that I would travel any distance, take any shot/pill, go on a million planes, or put myself in any dangerous circumstance just to see the face of a little girl that discovers the goodness of the Lord. That is the point.