Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I have a really long break on Tuesdays and Thursdays... so after Carl left me alone in the library, I tried to do homework and couldn't focus... While trying to decide which snack to eat first, I stumbled upon my Africa journal. Why I have that with me, I do not know... but obviously it's a sign that I should continue my Africa blogging, right?

Flipping through my journal, I found where I left off... and I laughed out loud as I remembered the incident that I wrote about first thing:

Last night Meghan went to the bathroom after trying to hold it in for some time (we often found ourselves waiting til the very last possible second because bathrooms are not as luxurious in Africa as they are here in America-- if there even is a toilet, there's definitely not a toilet seat. makes for strong thighs!) First of all, Meghan had to go turn on the light in the kitchen because it was somehow connected to the light in the bathroom. Sharon's family was sleeping on the floor in the den because they had given us their beds, so this light probably woke up everyone. I was just laying in bed when all of the sudden I heard a HUGE crash, a few seconds later the light turned off, and then Meghan was back in our room. I asked her what happened and she explained that she had tripped when leaving the bathroom. Fell flat on her face. Didn't catch herself at all. So if the light hadn't woken up the family, the crash certainly did. No one said anything about it in the morning, so we're still not sure if they all saw her or not. Once Meghan was back in bed, she had to explain to me what had happened since I missed the whole thing (minus the noise), and we laughed for so long about it.
I was woken up in the middle of the night by a donkey braying. I had NO idea what the noise was, but it was right outside our window. It occurred over and over again until it was time to wake up. I finally somehow figured out that it was a donkey, but it was still scary!

Pierre picked us up from Sharon's, and then we were on our way to the safari. We all piled in two trucks and got there about 5 hours later. We saw lots of elephants, zebras, a few giraffes, a few variety of deer, a warthog, some buffalo, hippos, and wildebeests. Sadly, my camera died at the beginning... so here are some more stolen pictures.

During the whole trip so far I've been really worried about mom worrying about me... so Meghan and I walked to where we thought there was a payphone, but turns out it was just a guard sleeping. Whoops! We are staying in "chalets" with thatched roofs and we can hear the animals outside. I've never heard a hyena before, but it makes a very strange noise.

This morning we woke up early to go on a safari where we saw the same things as yesterday plus a jackal, hyenas, kudu, impala, and we nearly ran over a giraffe- it was SO close to us! Then we had a nice breakfast and were off to Vic Falls which was INCREDIBLE. There's no way my words or anyone's pictures can do it justice. It was beautiful. Amazing. Gorgeous. Breath-taking. Magnificent. I can't even begin to describe it. I had heard it was supposed to be so great, but figured it was just another pretty waterfall... wrong! It was such an awesome experience to stand in awe of God's creation with such great company.
We signed up for activities and were told the lion walk was right then! Also such a neat experience.
Then we went to the Boma- an amazing restaurant where we got our faces painted and wore African wraps. We had drums, danced, and ate wonderful food- warthog (the best thing I've ever tasted), half of a grub worm, impala, kudu, ostrich, etc.
I washed my hair for the first time since Jill's house on the 28th! This "vacation" to Victoria Falls has been such a great experience- so much fun, time to relax and be together as a group, great food, showers, one of the 7 wonders, petting lions...

We paid for internet tonight, and it ended up not working. Each time I can't contact my parents I get a little more homesick.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Happy (early) birthday, Steeny!

I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for this girl right here.
I remember the first time I met her at my very first Young Life club. Freshmen year was not my peak, but I still don't believe that I was truly as awkward as Christine swears I was. :) Now I have experienced how she felt trying to pursue us, and I feel so sorry for her. We were young, awkward, bratty, dumb, dramatic, not nice, self-centered, lost, immature... typical high school freshmen. Oh yeah, and I was depressed, and I'm pretty sure I piled that all on her the night I met her. Via Facebook. I grew so much as a person and in my walk with Christ through my high school years thanks to this beautiful young woman I called my Young Life leader, but she was (and still is) SO much more than that- a friend, a role model, a mentor, a listener. I could go on and on about how wonderful she is and how much she means to me.

Christine, I cannot thank you enough for investing your time in our lives. For pursuing us even when we didn't know we wanted/needed to be pursued. For putting up with all our BS, and continuing to build relationships with us even when we did not treat you well. For always being there for us. For listening to our drama. For taking us to Frontier. For speaking truth into our lives. For never giving up on us. And for being completely out of your mind and taking us on our senior spring break trip. Can't wait for the reunion trip! :)
(still hate that I'm not in this picture)

Words cannot describe how much you mean to me.

Happy birthday!



Gary posted some general details about the trip here. It's long, but gives a play-by-play of our time in Zimbabwe.

The girl on the right asked me to take her back to America with me because she had friends there that she had never met but had received letters and pictures from.

 It was SO cool to see 
Zimbabweans wearing 
Knoxville YL shirts.
(Thanks Tim Teague)

In the link, Gary mention that we did some major deep cleaning. This picture doesn't even begin to describe the conditions we had to work with but it is our "before" picture.
And although this would still NEVER be acceptable at a YL camp in America, it was MUCH cleaner and nicer than when we began... and beds are a luxury for the kids in the rural area. We moved all these beds, put the nicest mattresses we could find on them, and made these sheets after we bought out the entire fabric store.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"I'm not gonna question why You're so faithful, why You give me the blessings that You have"

I am blessed beyond belief with the relationships that God has placed in my life. I had some awesome conversations today with sweet, sweet friends and was just reminded of how truly blessed I am by the people in my life.

Nicole and I walked for a while tonight- the weather was beautiful, and so was the conversation we had. Gah, she is so wonderful- she encourages me constantly and speaks so much truth into my life.

I also talked to my best friend from middle school, Ashley, a little bit today. We don't talk nearly enough so it was so good to hear from her, and I cannot even wait to see her get married this winter.

(unacceptable that I can't find a picture of us together... probably a good thing to save us both the embarrassment, but I don't know why I can't find those awesome pictures we took to make our best friends shirts! I'll hunt them down)

Another great conversation was one I had with Matt. It had been a while since we had really talked, and even though it was kind of a tough conversation (mainly because I've sucked at being a good friend to him lately and had to own up to that), it was so good to catch up and be real with each other.
(hahaha sorry Matt, this is the only picture I have of the two of us)
I got a super sweet note from Chelcie on my car today. She's awesome, and I already miss living with her! Thank goodness we have a class together!

Jamie took me to lunch this week AND made me muffins. She's just trying to fatten me up... So thankful that she's on my team and we get to grow in our ministry together.

My family is also simply incredible, and I have loved spending lots of time with them since I've been home from Africa. Just being in their presence is so great.
(we may seem a little dysfunctional, but personally, I think we've learned to function quite well. we love the Lord and we love each other.)

I miss my friends that I went to Africa with and the African friends I made while I was there!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In the arms of Your mercy I find rest

Journal entries from the trip (all pictures stolen from my dear friends):

After a 15 hour flight, we landed in the Johannesburg airport where the guys got free shots of whiskey, we stopped for breakfast/lunch, and there was a lot of world cup stuff. When we got to the Bulawayo "airport" we had to wait forever to get through customs. We got out visas fairly easily, however, they would not let us through with all the items we brought to give away. After long debates and even getting our interpreters to helps us out, we had to pay them $700 to get this stuff that we had been donated (FOR FREE) through customs. Pierre and Patson were waiting for us on the other side where we then had a surprise welcome from the city leaders with vuvuzelas and a Young Life banner. They were so welcoming- jumped out, hugged us, and gave us little bags they had made for us.
After going to Pierre's to repack, we were off to stay with white Zimbabwean families. Meghan, Lindsay, and I are staying with a sweet widow, Jill. I really wish I had some way of telling my parents I made it safely (put this in here for you, Mom).
Tomorrow night we start doing homestays in the townships where we will be the first white people ever in those parts of town. I'm really nervous. Jill told us over dinner about a bad gang that has been hanging around her area of town. It's the first time I've been nervous at all, but it's strengthening my trust in God to provide and take care of us according to His will. I would feel much safer if we were all staying together.

I really can't fathom that I'm in AFRICA right now! And just staying at a random lady's house... It'll only get scarier from here.

Tonight we are staying at Mrs. K's house. She showed us all around her neighborhood- her house is "smart" for this area. It's bigger than I expected, and I am not nearly as scared as I had expected to be. Since we are the first ever whites in this neighborhood, people are very intrigued. They like to ask how much things cost in America, etc. The elders around here hardly speak any English. The meat for dinner was too tough for me to chew- I had to spit it out. We went in one lady's tiny house where she dried fish for a living.

We had a bonfire outside Mrs. K's, and a lot of neighborhood kids gathered around. Then everyone went inside for karaoke and a dance party. Mrs. K's little sister really liked me and made me a paper cell phone. I'm sure everyone thinks we ask the dumbest questions because we don't know how to do such simple things.
Today we toured a public school- Gifford, where Lloyd does contact work. Then we had club training with all the [city] leaders. They are so energetic and welcoming.
They days are passing so slowly, and it's much colder here than I expected. The air is very dry and dusty. It's amazing how out of my comfort zone I am. It really helps that everyone is so friendly. Friendlier than anyone I know in America. I've learned so much just by talking with people. I couldn't make it without knowing God was with me through all this. When we sang worship songs at the YL training I got chills from watching these Africans worshiping the same God I worship despite the huge differences in our culture.

I took my first ever bucket bath at Mrs. K's this morning. The house was very cold so I was freezing with no clothes on in the bathroom with a bucket of boiling water. She brought me wet towels to dry off with so I ended up using my dirty shirt. I had no idea how to go about washing my hair so I haven't washed it since the night before last. No one has mirrors and the electricity was off this morning so I can't even see what I look like until pictures are taken.
Tonight at dinner at Sharron's my stomach made a really loud noise because it's not used to eating these foods- really embarrassing. Sharron's house is much smaller and only has 2 bedrooms. Meghan and I are sleeping in her sister's room while there are people sleeping on the floor in the living room- they refuse to let us help cook or clean, and I feel terrible! Before dinner Jack, Zach, Dalu, and Quintin came over and the American guys fell asleep while Meghan and I had a really cool conversation with the others. We played cards with Sharron and her sister before bed, and they were amazed by our shuffling. None of the houses we have stayed at have had a man. Mrs. K's dad is in SA. Sharron's mom is dead, and I'm not sure about her dad.
We did our first club today, and it went really well considering the lack of preparation. One girl was "manifested by a demon" during Gary's talk so Pierre prayed over her and it left. As much as I've tried to convince myself that things like that really do happen, I don't think I ever fully believed it until I witnessed it myself today.

Next we toured a school where they were having a fashion show where students walked out on a runway made of desks. After, we went to lunch and had some sort of gray hot dog that I could not make myself eat so I ate a piece of bread with peanut butter. 

Lastly, we went to a juvenile/orphan school called Percy (where Sharron is a leader) where they were raising guinea pigs to eat. We had another club here, and it was very successful.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where do I begin? I'll just start with a picture:

This one's not quite as good as our "Young Life" one, but hey, it has character. Notice in the first one my U is the only letter that isn't practically perfect... and it's such an easy letter so obviously it's not a good idea to give me an A for the second one... so much more difficult!

I'm a little bit intimidated to even try to blog about my trip since Anna's was SO GOOD. Way to set the standards high, my friend.

Next I'll go with my verses that got me through each day (along with the letters that my sweet friends wrote me- and some of these verses I got from the letters):

2 Corinthians 4
(my go to verse for my ministry at CAK as well)
Treasures in Jars of Clay
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Habakkuk 1:5

Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

Colossians 1:28-2:5

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

Those are kind of long, but I would really encourage you to read them sometime. Very encouraging.

Much more to come!

John 14:27

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

You thought wrong.

God definitely has a sense of humor. I know everyone has experienced that in their own way at some point in time... but my most recent experience with it was when I arrived in Bulawayo. As I mentioned before I left, I wasn't nervous at all going into the trip- I was completely trusting God... or so I thought. I'm sure He thought that was pretty funny, and He obviously wanted to show me that the one thing I thought I was good at (sorry Mrs. Crawford), I really wasn't. It's true that going into it I wasn't fearful because I knew that God's will would be done... but I wasn't trusting God with every step I took like I should have been. Therefore, when I got to Africa, He threw me for a loop. I realized that Gary and Judy weren't going to give us a detailed day by day schedule of our time there, and that freaked me out. I was already in such a foreign place and now it seemed very unorganized... Not exactly my type of trip. If I had known what the trip was going to be like before I got there, I can pretty much guarantee that I wouldn't have gone... and that is why I'm so glad I didn't know what I was getting myself into because it was such an incredible experience. It's ironic (to me, not to God) that while I was there the main thing I learned was how to rely on God daily (even hourly) and that's really what I thought I already had under control. Just proof of how much better He knows me than I know myself. Almost immediately after I got home I was shown a huge reason why He was teaching me to trust in Him, and I can now honestly say that I am relying on Him.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I really want to blog about Africa... but I'm still taking it all in and searching desperately for words to describe my trip, but I'm beginning to realize there are none. Anna did a great job of expressing her experience, so check out her blog here.