Friday, March 22, 2013

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Advice for Overseas Missionaries

Hey y'all! I have been thinking about this post for a while, ever since I got back from Ghana.  I feel like going on a longer trip is a huge thing, and I know before I sought as much advice as I could get. Still, there are some things I wish I had done differently in preparation and also while I was there. Here is the stuff I think went well, and things I could have done better!

Do get to know your team mates. Meeting with Olivia and Hillary every week was really helpful for spending time over there. I think the fundraisers and planning meetings we had every week really helped us get to know our personalities and how we could best encourage each other. For instance, Hillary loved hugs and that is really how she was encouraged. So somehow someone came up with the 10 second hug.

Do research the culture. I did this a little, but I sooooo wish I had done it more.  The culture will affect everything about your ministry.  Especially know what is culturally acceptable and not.  If you don't understand the culture you risk trying to "Americanize" the people you are ministering to. And God didn't create everyone to be Americans. Eat up as much information as you can get.  I know in Ghana it was very rude to not tell people "Good morning/afternoon/evening." I am sure some people thought we were rude without us meaning to be! Definitely wish I had researched more. However...

Don't come in acting like you know anything.  From discipline to dress to manners, I know in the 2 months there was so much I didn't understand. We were given a lot of free reign in taking care of the kids, but I wish I had held back a lot more. If you come in and take over, again, it is easy to Americanize or to kick someone important out of their job instead of encouraging them in their position in the body of Christ.

Do communicate regularly with your team mates, hosts, and ministry.  There are going to be times you are annoyed. There are going to be times you are mad. There are going to be times where no one has any idea what needs to be done.  This is so important to be effective!

Do encourage each other.  Even though we do not do things for earthly rewards, encouragement is one way God can speak through other people and restore your spirit. There were many times this summer when the enemy snuck in and made me feel useless and replaceable when this was missing. Remember in times when you are feeling down to seek it from Christ, but also just ask your team mates. Also, in your times of feeling down, try to encourage someone else on your team.


What would be your advice to a summer missionary? How could they be most effective in their ministry?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

yesterday's struggles

I am a mess. You probably already know this, but I like to pretend you don't know, so it is only fair to warn you.

Lately, I have been struggling with things I haven't thought about since high school. In high school, I was so insecure and always seeking everyone else's approval.  I never got it, and the summer after senior year, God broke me down and I was stripped of anything of myself.  He made me new, he again made me His, He took my self-doubt and people pleasing away so I could have a better, fuller relationship with Him.

There we go, my Big Problem solved and wrapped with a tiny bow.

Except...

Now it's back, and in full force.  I have no idea why these thoughts keep coming back. I am involved in a million and one things this semester, and so overcommited I feel like I can't breathe without scheduling that into my day as well.  I am poured out, I am empty, and the devil is attacking.  He is telling me I have let everyone down.  He whispers that everyone thinks I am incompetent.  He speaks through other people telling me I am not good enough for my fiance (which is true, but....ouch).  I didn't even realize it was him talking until last night.

Last night the devil tried to hit me in a new way, something he's never tried before.  It was the first time I was even tipped off that I was being attacked.  That my exhaustion and insecurity was an attack and not just a personality flaw. I sat in the chapel during revival and just prayed, because I couldn't fight for myself.  The Lord fought for me, and He won. He breathed life back into me last night.

This morning I woke up with my same usual thoughts of doubt and insecurity and exhaustion. So I asked God to claim my day. I will ask Him to claim tomorrow. A day of His victory over my pride and myself and my thoughts. He will win. He always does.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Plans

My plan for my life was...

Go to college in some glamorous career
Move to the big city (cough cough Chicago) and live on my own or with a few girl friends
Get married around the age of 24
Have kids at about 28...or later
Move to awesome suburb
Live an awesome life with my awesome husband and two kids while working

Instead plans have changed  (and will probably keep changing)

Go to college to be a children's minister
Spend summer being mommy to precious orphans in Ghana
Marry Chris at age of 20
Hopefully adopt our sweet baby girl at the age of 23, if we can wait that long
Have/adopt more kids much later
All while living in Campbellsville
Work at a church or at a nonprofit that benefits orphans
Live an awesome life glorifying God with my super awesome husband and 5 kids, some of which would be Ghanaian babies :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What I'd Do Differently

Overall, Ghana was of course an amazing experience. I can't get the eyes of the beautiful children out of my head. When I think about my sweet R, I physically ache. I can't wait for the day Chris and I can bring her home.  Ghana was the most amazing experience of my life, and I can't wait to go back.  But there are a few things I would personally have done differently.

Some people say regrets are stupid. While dwelling in the past just leads me to guilt, I am a fan of evaluating things and seeing what works and what doesn't.  But for future reference, I do want to make sure I don't make these same mistakes twice!

1.  Been more conservative in the culture.  This includes dress, but also in speech.  While we were given a lot of responsibility with the kids, I wish I had asked John and Irene, the awesome director and his wife, more advice, even when I thought I knew exactly how to handle the situation.  Because no matter how much GMI sometimes felt Westernized, it was a different culture, and I sometimes should have handled situations in the way a Ghanaian would.

2.  Not been afraid to take initiative.  For tasks in the mornings, I was always scared I would overstep boundaries or make someone feel like I was taking their job.  I wish I had gone in and asked the Aunties to teach me to do laundry. We asked them once or twice, but I wish we had been more consistent.  I think I really missed an opportunity to minister to them and serve them consistently.

3.  Had more one on one time with the kids.  During the last few weeks, we made sure each girl got a "mommy date," whether that was a sleep over or a movie during nap time.  These moments were so precious to us, and I know the girls loved it.  I wish we could have implemented that from the beginning.  It was very hard to minister to the kids in a large group setting (example: VBS fail) because of the language and cultural barriers, but one on one the kids loved to hear Bible stories and be prayed over.  When I go again, even though it will be for a shorter time, I think I will definitely try and do as much one on one time as possible.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Today

Today, I am home to stay for a week before I go back to school.

Today, I have a to do list a mile long.

Today, my heart is aching for a girl I feel God is calling me to love my whole life who is is Ghana.

Today, I feel like smiling at people as I walk by is a little too much to ask for.

Today, I am called to show God's love, when it feels hard to even get out of the apartment.

Today, I feel like if I have one more thing to do before school starts I might explode.

Today, my emotions have run out.

So today, I will sit around. Not take a shower. Put off my to do list for a day. I will rest in God's love as He pours love into my heart so I can show others. Today, I may not be productive. But today, I will imitate the perfect God who rested on the 7th day. Please excuse me while I take 2 or 3 "seventh days".

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Home?

I am home...at least, I think so. It is hard to feel at home when my heart is left in Ghana and Togo with some precious, beautiful children. It is hard to have an empty lap and empty arms. I didn't realize I needed the kid's love as much as they wanted mine.

I miss them. I miss hearing a cry and knowing who it is. I miss hearing Esther's laugh and Emmanuella's very grumpy cry after nap time. I miss so much I can't keep naming things because I will never stop.

The hardest part is trying to figure out what's next. Because of school, it's not possible for me to plan another  trip back right now. But I know that I am responsible. I am responsible to pray. I am responsible to advocate for homes and supplies and love for these children.

I am praying for the next step, the next way God wants me to serve the kids. I am praying hearts will break and fall in love. I pray kids will find homes, but more than that, that God will reveal himself to these kids. I pray I will never get over the things I've seen. I pray my love for these kids won't just be a cute memory. I pray the emotion and the urgency doesn't fade like I know it can.

My heart is heavy, but it is also hopeful. I am so thankful for this opportunity, and I thank you for all your prayers and support. One thing is for sure: these two months are just a beginning. There are things you can never forget, and these kids have changed my life forever.

If you would like more information about Ghana, Great Mission International, adoption, or how you can help the 147 million orphans in the world, please contact me. If I can't answer your question, I'll get you to someone who will.