So many times in the last few years I have wondered if I was missing God or staying where I was comfortable instead of stepping out and moving to another country. I went on many short term missions wondering if it would be the one that God said it's time to move there. I came home each time with a love for the people but no clear sense that God would have me move there.
August 31st 2012 I boarded a plane with my little sister and and 6 other friends to go and serve on a Mercy Team in Guinea, Africa with Mercy Ships. We really had no idea what to expect. We only knew that we were going to serve in a capacity that encouraged the long term staff as well as freed them to do what they needed to do to take care of patients. The Africa Mercy is a hospital ship that goes to developing countries in Africa to bring hope and healing to the forgotten poor. There are about 450 people who live on the ship from more than 30 nations. Each person from the doctors to kitchen staff volunteer their time so be a part of bring the love of Jesus to Africa.
Unlike many short term teams out team was blessed to stay on the ship with the crew. We experienced crew life, attended trainings and learned more and more that excited us to see how God is working through Mercy Ships. Their heart is to go in and strengthen the local people so that by the time they leave hospitals, dental and eye clinics are set up as well as local doctors trained in modern medicine.
An excerpt from an update sent by our team:
September 3rd at 0530 am our team and the Mercy Ships crew gathered together and jumped into 27 land rovers and drove through the dark streets of Conakry to the People's Palace. The People's Palace was a large beautiful, marble building where Mercy Ships set up to do the screening for almost all the cases and surgeries for the next 10 months they will be ported here. The spirits and excitement were high as we were about to experience something that we would never forget. As the sun rose above the horizon of the sea, we literally saw a SEA of people over 2 miles long. Later on we found out the number totalled approximitaly 4,500 people, who were waiting for the gates of the Palace grounds to open (some had waited since the day before and all night). This had to have been close to what Jesus experienced everywhere he went, thousands of people desiring to be healed! As the people started flooding into the lines we were faced with the reality of their situations: goiters, facial tumors, eye atrophies, club feet and hands, bowed legs, "wind-blown" legs.... Despite all of the disabilities, when we looked into their eyes we saw they were wonderfully and fearfully made people of our Creator. All the team members were assigned to different areas all throughout the palace and outside on the palace grounds to help escort patients to their next station or line to see if their case could be to be treated or not. Despite many being turned away because Mercy Ships could not help them they all experienced hope and encouragement whether or not we conveyed that through prayer time with each patient who wished to participate, smiles, hugs, or time. But there was much joy for the thousands of people that could be treated by Mercy Ships. After a long 15hour day our team was very tired, but felt very priveledged to be part of this day.
That day I saw God's love in action and it was incredible! Later that week I was given the opportunity to spend the day at the Mercy Ships Academy. I spent time in K-5th grade. It is an amazing school where the kids get a quality education while learning how to walk in the giftings God has put in them! I could't believe it. I was seeing 2 passions of mine, missions and kids come together in one place. I began to think this might be the place God is calling me to.
I returned home on September 12th and began to pray, read the word, journal and research. Everything was pointing to me going. On Sunday morning, September 16th I read the following devotional from Sara Young's Jesus Calling:
I designed you to live in union with Me. This union does not negate who you are; it actually makes you more fully yourself. When you try to live independently of Me, you experience emptiness and dissatisfaction. You may gain the whole world and yet lose everything that really counts.
Find fulfillment through living close to Me, yielding to My purposes for you. Though I may lead you along paths that feel alien to you, trust that I know what I am doing. If you follow Me wholeheartedly, you will discover facets of yourself that were previously hidden. I know you intimately--far better than you know yourself. In union with Me, you are complete. In closeness to Me, you are transformed more and more into the one I designed you to be.13 you knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Verses: Mark 8:
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[b] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
For you created my inmost being;
After all these years of knowing I would live in another country one day God spoke very clearly and told me to go and serve in Africa with Mercy Ships only 4 short days after I retuned. I immediately began to prepare to go. Stepping out and obeying has been the most amazing thing ever! God has taken care of every detail.
I set up an estate sale to sell everything I own in order to prepare to go. God's blessings were abundant! I had multiple family and friends come and help me with the sale as well as bring donations and give generously! In only a few days God brought in $5,600. When God speaks and you obey he works out every detail. I am so humbled by everything I have seen him do already. I can't wait to see what God is going to continue to do.