Main Pic.

Main Pic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Understanding and Knowing

A lot of people have been asking me about how I feel about the refugee crisis and the world's response...I'm not sure what they are expecting me to say. Even more, I'm not sure they want to hear what I would say.

There is line between understanding and knowing. Understanding involves knowing all sides of the argument and then, in your knowledge, deciding on an opinion. There are a lot of people who are much smarter than me and they have the intel and knowledge to understand the refugee crisis. They know the answers to how welcoming in thousands of refugees can impact the economy of a community and how well or how flawed the vetting process is. They understand the risks and they comprehend the barriers. They see the benefits and the potential disasters and then, and only then, do they make an opinion. These individuals who understand, I believe they have a right and a responsibility to share their understanding and to share their opinion.

I am not one of these people. And if we are being really honest, most of the people reading this right now aren't either. I am not a politician or economic specialist.  I watch BBC, CNN, and other various news outlets, but I am in no way a foreign policy maker. I do not understand all the components of the refugee crisis, so my opinion is flawed.

But then there are those who know....

The moment we climbed out of our van in south east Turkey I became one who knows.

I know the refugee crisis because I know the refugees. It's easy to have a well developed opinion when it comes out of understanding but all of that washes away when you are sitting on the floor of a tent sharing tea and stories, and you suddnely realize that you have crossed over...this situation has just become personal.

I remember sitting and praying that the lice I saw in the little girls hair next to me weren't in the comb that was currently being stroked though my long curls as I allowed a 7 year old girl to practice her beauty shop skills on my recently shampooed hair. I remember asking my friend to translate as I learned her name and favorite pastimes. I remember when he stopped translating enough to tell me that her dad was killed by "the bad guys" when they were fleeing just a few months prior to our meeting. It just got personal, I now know.

I remember laughing with my sweet friend as we practiced simple English phrases and talked about her engagement to the man of her dreams. I remember seeing the look in her eyes when I asked where he was and when she would see him again. I remember the hurt that came when she said he fled before her and she didn't know when they would be reunited. He made it into Europe and she only dreamed of making it back to him. It just got personal, I now know.

I remember honoring a strong mother who somehow was able to escape captivity with her family. She dressed in dark colors because not all of her children made it. I remember being astonished when I discovered she came and led her family on her own because he husband had immigrated before the conflict. I remember the hope in their eyes as they spoke of being reunified with him again soon. I remember just yesterday when I saw that the very state they were to be reunified to turned red on the 'states not accepting refugees' map on CNN. It just got personal, I now know.

So for those of you that keep asking me to share my opinion. I don't have one. But I do have friends and I do have stories and I do have memories. So I may not understand the entire situation enough to formulate a proper political opinion, but I do know and I'll share what I know. I know that those I sat and had tea with are terrified people who's lives have been interrupted by a conflict so grand that the world cannot stop watching. They are fleeing the very thing that we spend hours debating on, and they are my friends. So I guess I do know how I feel about the refugee crisis. Do you? Because once that switch turns and it becomes personal, it is no longer opinions, it's lives.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Momma's Meeting Mommas:)

I was 16 the first time I ever went to Africa. I jumped on a plane and headed to Malawi with very little international experience and no idea that it would become a place I would return to year after year.  I fell in love with the country and it became part of me. 

I’d come home and share stories of Jazzy (our sponsor child), prayer requests, tons of dirty clothes, endless tears, and the occasional stow away spider from my suitcase pocket, and my mom would listen. As she listened to my stories and followed the lives of my Malawi family, they became her family too. She would ask about them and recognize their faces in photos. Even then I believe, God was preparing us for this moment.

I’ve wanted my mom to go with me to Malawi since the beginning.  You see, it’s her (and Dad’s) heart for the orphan that was instilled in me at a very young age.  Our family began foster care when I was 6 years old.  I saw my mom love on child after child that were not of her womb, and over time adopt some of those precious ones. 

This is why I go and do…it’s all I know. 

So, I continued to travel to Malawi and it began to become my second home and family.  I would tell my Mtendere mommas all about my Mom.  They prayed for our family during some very hard times and rejoiced with us in answered prayers. My families began to love each other from across the ocean.  I continued to pray that one day circumstances would line up for all of my Mommas to meet and these two families would become one.  

Well, the waiting is over…Mom is coming to Malawi with me!!

So here we go. Mom and daughter taking on Africa…full on anticipation and excitement for such a time as this!  We are going to Malawi and we are going soon. This December as the rest of the world is still cleaning up the wrapping paper and pine needles from the living room floor, we will be boarding a plane to spend 10 days in a place that has meant so much to our family for so many years. We will get the honor to visit Malawi at a time of the year when visitors do not typically go. Mom and I will get to spend time encouraging and pouring into the mommas and kiddos at a time that they would not usually receive it.

So here is the plan- Graduation, move out of my apartment, go home for Christmas, jump a flight to Malawi, come home, and figure out the rest of my life (hopefully a job will be lined up soon after). It’s crazy but there is no better way that I could think of to end this chapter of my life and start another.

We are so excited about the potential that our time in Malawi will have. We are already planning and praying. We are excited to usher in the New Year with our Malawian family and to introduce mom to a new culture. God is aligning this visit, for such a time as this, in this season, for us two women, to go to the other side of the world…and only He really knows why.

So we are going and we need your help. We need to raise $4000 really soon. In order to get our flights and visas in time we are trying to get flights within the next week or two.
If you want to partner with this trip visit and donate.
Make sure you choose “Missionary Fund” under designation and then put “Emily and Julie’s Malawi Trip” in the Notes section! 

 Thanks for your support and as always please let us know if you have questions about the trip or want to get more involved!

My Teacher, Guatemala

To check out a recap of my time Guatemala head over to Orphan's Hearts blog...

Huge thanks to all of those who prayed for and supported me!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Where I learned to love the ONE

Two years ago I went to Costa Rica. I was there for 10 days. Only 10 days. 

Somehow in 10 days I fell in love. Her name is Titi. It was something about her shy smile and quiet voice. It was something about the way she would whisper in my ear secrets in a language I did not know enough of. It was something about the way she loved me and shared her life with me. It was the look on her face when she got the opportunity to introduce me to her family. She changed me. She took part of me, a part that I willingly gave her and would give her again any day. 

Titi may never know the impact she made on me. She may not know that I still look at her picture hanging in my room and pray for her often. She probably doesn't know that she has been the topic of multiple blog posts. She may not even know that I ask about her as much as I can. She might not know that every time a team goes down to CR I ask them to give her a hug for me. She probably doesn't know that many of them send me pictures and I just add them to my collection. 

While I have gone to do many things in the last two years, Titi still lives in the same small village. She continues to love on new team members that come through. She is whispering her secrets to a new friend and she sharing her sweet love with more and more people. 

But Titi changed me. She helped me learn how to be vulnerable. She showed me that 10 days can change my life. She showed me that it's not about the masses but it's about the one. She taught me how to slow down and love well. 

So I keep praying for Titi and I keep getting pictures. Titi may never remember me but I'll never forget her. Love the one. Love the one well. 

(For those of you that follow my blog and have been waiting for Turkey stories, I promise they are coming. I am still processing and learning from my time there. But I will share soon!) 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Choosing to Fight

“God it’s not my fight. You did NOT call me to this”
“Oh really?... Just wait and see”

            I, in all my ignorance, told God one night that I was not called to Turkey. I wasn’t called to work with Muslims. I was called to Africa. I was called to orphan care and I was comfortably settled on pursuing the image of my life that I had dreamt since I was 16.

            Then one night at a late night conference during worship I fell to my knees as the weight of the Lord’s heart for the Muslim people hit me like a train. I found myself weeping “God YOUR heart if for them. YOU want them. And I want what YOU want.” I don’t know how long I laid there, but when I got up I sent a text that will undoubtedly have lastly effects far beyond what I can see right now. It read “I’m taking a team to Turkey. Don’t let me try to back out again.”

            So here I am. I prayed for a team and God gave me four of the most incredible team members. I prayed for provision and the Lord has been pouring out resources from the most unlikely of places. We prayed for the Lord to open and close doors to get us right where we were supposed to be, and He has been doing just that.

            We are two months out. I don’t know what this trip holds for me, but I do know that the Lord is ordaining our steps and wreaking my heart for these people I have yet to meet.  As I watch the news and hear stories of what is unfolding in this area of the world, I get excited because God’s heart is beating for these people.

 I have this running picture in my head as I pray. It’s of a man on his face crying out to his god begging for his attention, weeping over the happenings around him. Every time I hear so clearly the Lord say, “Oh that he would just say MY name!” The Lord is longing for these people and He so desires that they would know Him. He has not given up on these lands. He has not forsaken those He formed. He is desperately seeking them out, waiting for the moment that they would say “Abba Father”.

            So it has become my fight. It has become my heart’s burden. I still have dreams for other places and what the Lord will do through our journey together. I’m not upset or discouraged that the Lord is shifting my direction for a season. Instead I am honored that the God of the Universe, the only God who hears, has trusted me enough to reveal His heart.  To uncover a vulnerability, He is desiring something that He refuses to force, intimacy. The only true God desires intimacy with a people so far from Him and He is allowing me to somehow go and show them His heart. I am deeply honored.

            Two Months. Will you pray with me for two months? Will you take two minutes every day for two months and pray? Pray for a people who the Lord desires to say His name. Pray for opportunities to share the Lord’s heart in eye opening ways. Pray for God’s desire to come true. He longs for them! Pray that we would be obedient even when it’s hard. Pray for my team by name (Ray, Ren, Justin, Kyle, and myself).

Pray for a revelation of God’s heart in your own life. Know that He desires you in the same way that He desires those utterly lost. He is longing for intimacy with you. When you find intimacy with the King, oh the joy!

You might be saying the same thing I did, “it’s not my fight”. But I am challenging you to pray for two months and take up the Lord’s fight. He is fighting for the lost to be found, and if we love Him then that is our fight as well! So join me, and let’s watch as God pushes back darkness with immaculate light!