May 16, 2011

where YOU lead: the night before africa

"for attractive lips, speak words of kindness. for lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. for a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. for beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day. for poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. people, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. as you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others." audrey hepburn

in titling the posts about my adventures in africa, i was blessed with the strangest source of inspiration. i love music and naturally thought some clever lyrics from a devotional song or a song about africa would come to me, but instead, the song that kept playing in my head...was the theme song from gilmore girls. the lyrics are not spiritual in nature and don't have anything to do with africa, but when you twist them to be about GOD and following HIS will, it is quite amazing what they create: "where YOU lead, i will follow, anywhere that YOU tell me to. if YOU need, YOU need me to be with YOU, i will follow where YOU lead."

when it comes to the journey that i am about to take, there are no more appropriate lyrics to be found. the fact that GOD led me to harding university, to be blessed with a previous international experience, to fall in love with the field of speech pathology, to work with children on a daily basis, to take 3 incredible missions classes, to be in 1 of the 1st classes in an upcoming program, to be in the 3rd group to ever have this opportunity, and to be able and willing to go is nothing short of providential. i truly believe that i was made for such a time as this.

i believe at this time in my life:
while i'm in grad school. while i'm unmarried. while i'm young and love to travel. that i was meant for this work. to be holding, feeding, changing, treating, and loving on orphaned babies with various diseases in a home called the haven. to play with, get to know, and love older children in their home called eric's house. and to grow as a speech pathologist and more importantly a daughter of GOD at the namwianga mission site of zambia, africa.

when you tell people that you're about to move to africa to be a medical missionary for 6 weeks, you get some pretty interesting reactions. in the past week i have been told not to die, to come back, not to drink the water, and to wear gloves. and trust me, those thoughts were definitely my initial reactions, too. but as you individually prepare to live in africa. when it's you that's actually going. when it's your life and your path. when somehow you find yourself boarding a plane in 24 hours. as much as you want to prepare for all of the physical changes and precautions. as much as you want to be afraid of all of the crazy things that might happen. and as much as you want to question if in fact you really are ready. the only thing that you can focus on is your heart.

when you're packing to live in africa, you pack things that you have never purchased before in your life. you soon find yourself researching the best antibacterials and discussing the pros and cons of imodium. your suitcase becomes a living pharmacy. you become a pro at listing off the different medications that you're taking all at the same time. you find yourself bragging about how you suffered 5 shots in 1 sitting. and soon to use bug spray with deet or to use bug spray without deet becomes the question.

hands down, my favorite purchase for this adventure is my headlamp which i have affectionately named "lolita" because i love to name my possessions and because it totally sounds like a light's name. it's orange and white and produces 3 different types of light including night vision which i fully plan on using on a regular basis. and as i visualize myself walking in africa by the light of my handy headlamp, i can't help but realize that the concept of my headlamp defines my whole journey.

here i embark on an unknown adventure, unable to see the path ahead of me. but just as my headlamp will physically help me to see exactly what i need to. indicating exactly where i need to go. identifying only what's just ahead. emphasizing every moment and every step. guiding my very direction. i believe that GOD will light my heart and my steps just like my headlamp. seeing exactly what i need to. indicating exactly where i need to go. identifying only what's just ahead. emphasizing every moment and every step. guiding my very direction.

for this adventure i'm trading my favorite pair of coral heels for my chacos and toms. i'm trading my pants for some shin-hitting skirts. i'm trading my makeup for moisturizer with some serious spf. i'm trading my perfume for some deep woods off. and i'm trading my multi-vitamin for anti-malaria medication. but ultimately i'm trading my pride for some humility. i'm trading my luxury for some discomfort. i'm trading my planning for some uncertainty. and i'm trading my put-together life for a broken heart.

i will be restoring, renewing, reviving, reclaiming, and redeeming only to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. and my prayer is that GOD will help me bear the pain as HE breaks my heart.

to read more about where i will be living and working, go
here. if you would like to pray for me, i have 2 requests: 1) that my team and i will remain healthy and safe in order to fulfill our plan and purpose effectively and to physically return in the same condition in which we left and 2) that our doubts and fears will not inhibit our efforts and that we will not return the same people emotionally and spiritually. thank you for caring about my journey, and i promise to write as often as i can.


  1. From your lowercase i to your heart that is leaping in anticipation of this mission, you have the prayers of many - looking forward to reading all about your trip. And I know that you will be writing about each and every moment of the 5 Rs. Godspeed and cherish every breath.

  2. I know just how your sweet mom feels right at this moment! Watching your daughter head off to Africa-rather like watching them take those first toddling steps. You struggle between the fear that they are going to fall and hurt themself, and the enormous sense of pride you have in what they are accomplishing! Look for Jessica's favorite baby Tegan and give her a kiss! Godspeed-you will be in my prayers.