Incredibly, in less than two months time I will be traveling to Africa with my oldest two children and my new dear friend Amy to work at an orphanage that has been established by some incredible people in memory of my late sister-in-law and niece (we’ll also be working at another orphanage nearby. You can read about the mission trip here http://www.trueimpactministries.com/trips/2013-trip-in-june/.) The emotions accompanying this journey so far have been absolutely incredible. I can only imagine what it will be like experiencing all things Africa, especially looking into beautiful little of faces of the children living there. I also really struggle with the fact that the only reason we are going to Africa is because my mom, sister-in-law, and niece are no longer with us. Sometimes the gifts are so hard to accept. I believe in my heart though that the story of this orphanage began long ago, and with that spirit, I will learn to accept lovingly the gifts that this orphanage will bring now and in the future. . .
ALL THINGS AFRICA: Part One
This week I have been a bumbling mess of tears. My current messiness has been caused by a giant mix of feelings surrounding this trip that I am finding more and more difficult to contain as the days go by. Blessed, grateful, and joyous. Sad, overwhelmed, and struggling to believe. Add to that total amazement at the generosity and love of people and top it all off with sheer excitement and you have my current emotional status. Let me tell you, it’s not pretty. So much has happened in the last few months, I’m not even sure where and how to begin this tale, so I’ll start where I came in. . .
It was late January, Amy and I had exchanged a text or two, which was promptly followed by a phone call because there was just too much to discuss via text. Plans for the Michelle and Julia Hoffman Memorial Children’s Home in Uganda had just been announced and we were beyond excited. We chatted about the future orphanage and then shared stories about how we each had always wanted to travel and work in Africa one day–stories we had both shared with my sister-in-law several times over the years. Maybe someday, we thought, we would get to go to Africa and work at the orphanage. How awesome would that be! We also talked about how much Michelle would have LOVED this project and how we couldn’t help but feel she had her hands in this incredible story that was just beginning to unfold.
Fast forward a few days and I had emailed Andy and Susie at True Impact Ministries (Check out True Impact here http://www.trueimpactministries.com/ ) wondering what could be done to help get the word out about the orphanage. I must have mentioned that I would like to go to Africa someday when M & J’s home opened because the reply from True Impact included an application to travel to Uganda and Kenya for this year’s mission trip. I opened the email in a round of sleeplessness and thought “Wow! Cool, I should go.”
Before my feet even hit the floor the next morning my very first thoughts were, “I’m going to Africa!” The financial commitment was way out of my budget for such short notice but I had this incredible feeling in my heart that God would provide and that I would be going. I didn’t question, I just knew. Then, my morning coffee kicked in, I fully awoke, and of course my head took over. “There was no way I could make this work,” I thought. “Maybe someday, but not now. It’s just too much.” My head and heart continued this battle for a while but no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to be going to Uganda and that I needed to be going now.
Well, I am not really sure how it all transpired but a few more texts between Amy and I over the next few days resulted in a crazy phone call that ended with us somehow deciding that we both needed to go on this trip, this year, whether the new orphanage would be open yet or not. Being responsible adults though, we decided to think about it and say some prayers because a week or so earlier, this wasn’t even remotely close to being on our radar. This trip was only a few months away and it was a lot to think about on so many levels.
Despite the fact that a possible trip to Africa was becoming more and more of a reality, I still doubted going for several reasons. First and foremost, I wanted all the money that anyone would maybe give to me to go to the purchase of the orphanage before all else. We had no idea how long it would take to raise the $80,000 needed to purchase the property that had been identified– it could take months or maybe not happen at all if the financial support wasn’t there. Also, I was struggling to reconcile how I could justify going if I wasn’t going to be working at the orphanage named in Michelle and Julia’s honor. I could go on and on but you get the gist. The back and forth in my head was pretty intense. Then, one night, I had a crazy dream that convinced me that I better decide to go. . .
In this dream, my sister-in-law came to visit. She gave me three signs that I needed to be going to Africa, NOW! I gave her my excuses and in her frustrated, serious tone she said, “MISSY! I don’t know how many more signs I can give you! I already gave you three!” (Seriously, those of you that knew Michelle know exactly the tone of her voice and her gestures at this point and can totally imagine her saying this. It was classic Michelle. And it was SO real!) That’s it! That is all I can remember of the dream. When I woke up, I looked up to the heavens and said out loud, “Okay, Michelle, I GET IT! I’m going to Africa!”
I decided right then and there to take that leap of faith. . .
Stay tuned for future installments: Next up– An orphanage? How it began. (I’ll give you a hint, it involves some incredible people and their courage to follow their heart.)