i should have written this months ago.
but the truth is that i knew the story wasn’t ready. it wasn’t finished.
it’s only begun…
in february i took a trip to visit my dear friend April, who is serving in Niger as a missionary with the International Mission Board. my plan was to go visit my friend who i missed and love dearly. my plan was to visit another continent and do good work for 2 weeks. my plan was to come home with another foreign mission trip under my belt.
aren’t our plans funny?
i had arranged this trip when i was working for the Baptist Convention of MD/DE. in fact, this was a fairly new job, and i was still getting into the swing of my position. as quickly as i swung in, i was told i would be swinging back out. i found out i was losing my job a little over a month before i was slated to leave for Africa. not only was this unexpected change shaking up my financial situation, but it was shaking up every aspect of my life. i allowed myself to grieve and worry for a day or two. and then i decided that God was faithful and i was going to boldly walk down the path He was laying before me, whatever it turned out to be.
so, to Niger i went. i went with a heart wide open; for change, for a new word from God, for leading and guiding from the Spirit that always happens when i’m at my quietest. i went only with the expectation to see God move in ways I hadn’t seen before.
Niger is different than any other place i’ve been. i had a feeling it would be. more than ever before, this trip was about people, not a location. before i left, a friend who had lived in Niger for a summer said to me “no one moves to Niger because it’s beautiful and exciting and filled with opportunity. you have to feel called there to make it, but it’s tough.” and i took that little piece of knowledge with me, packed it in my backpack knowing i would need to refer to it when i arrived. he was right. Niger isn’t a tourist destination. it’s not a place to live if you’re looking to make a quick investment or nice retirement property. it’s dry. it’s overwhelmingly underdeveloped. the landscape is flat, sub-Saharan, aquatically and arboreal challenged.
all of which made it that much easier to see the true beauty of Niger and the true reason i was there: the people. it was exhilarating to meet every person i met. to smile and laugh with them, to share what common things we could. i listened to every person i met, even if i couldn’t understand the words they were speaking. i intentionally looked at each person the way i believe Jesus sees them- as a person made in the image of God who deserves my love and care, able to do that only because of the Spirit of Christ in me.
i fell in love every day. with moments, with little smiles and little laughs, big bright eyes that held lifetimes of stories in their tiny frames. i fell in love with stories and the people who shared their lives with me for 2 weeks. i was pouring out and being fed, and it was truly refreshing and i felt at ease…i knew before i left that my story there wasn’t over.
i’ve been on mission trips many times. i’ve always left those places feeling refreshed and feeling a connection to the people and the experience. but this was different. this time i felt like i was at home. uncomfortable at times, with growing pains, but it felt right.
which brings us to current time. the time in which i am making preparations to place my current life on hold to go back to Niger. to serve with April for a few good months and help her finish out her term as a 2-year missionary. to help her love people, teach them about Jesus’ saving power, sing songs with them, create art together, learn new agricultural methods to improve health and nutrition, help kids get needed medical attention. to show everyone we meet the road to freedom- Jesus Christ.
it’s funny that i have been dreaming for many years of the chance to be a foreign missionary. i had been resolve to the path my life had taken: full-time ministry jobs here in the US with the freedom to take short trips when i wanted. it’s funny that something that at first swept the rug from under my feet has actually opened a door of possibility and opportunity to my own road to freedom. the freedom to be led “where my trust is without borders” and where i am able to boldly follow God’s gentle guidance in my life. in a million years i never would have seen this coming. not the way it came about, not the steps it took to get me here or the speedbumps i encountered in the daily quest to trust God. but it happened, and the time has come for me to walk a new path.
so, i’m going to Niger in August. i don’t have a lot of information other than when i’m leaving and where April will be picking me up. aside from that, i am waiting to hear from the LORD about what He specifically wants me to be doing while i’m there. i know i’m going to love people and point them to Him, using whatever abilities God wants to use through me.
what i do know is that many people have asked me how they can contribute to my trip. i will be living and volunteering in another country for 4-5 months. it’s up to me to cover my trip and time over there, so as you can imagine, even though it is not an expensive place to live, there are costs involved. my wonderful church is going to be collecting donations for my mission to Niger. if you would like to contribute financially, you can send a check made out to:
Summit Trace Church, memo: Grace’s Africa Mission
3886 Roundtree Rd Unit 2
Jefferson, MD 21755
Your donation will be tax-deductible and will go directly to my plane tickets, language school, ministry supplies, food , major medical insurance and utilities while I am living in Niger. if you are able to help send me to Africa, i would love to have you as a partner in this journey.
above all, i am grateful to the many people who have shared my excitement for this opportunity, who have committed to praying for me and the people I will be working with. i cannot begin to understand this life i have been gifted with, but i am ever grateful for it and will continue to live every moment eager to make the most of it. thanks for reading and being interested in my journey. thanks for praying for me and thinking of me. i am blessed and undeserving, but so very thankful.
i will be sharing my journey here on my website, so if you feel like keeping up with me while i’m overseas, keep checking back here! all of my stories from the field will be tagged “niger” so you can easily find the newest face and adventure i’m sure to share.
ay sabu. i am thankful. :o)
(the church at brook hills- we are the body)