“You are my momma!!”

“You are my momma! You are everyone’s momma!!” In that moment my heart felt like it would explode! But let me back up a bit…

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a mom. I have always wanted a lot of children running around and for a long while I wanted them to all be my biological children. But in the last couple years God has placed adoption heavy on my heart. I thought that I would have a couple biological children but then I would have a few more adopted children! I was so excited! And then I went to Africa….

During my first trip to Zambia in 2014 I fell in love with the country and the people that live here. But I was heartbroken by the sheer amount of orphaned and vulnerable children everywhere and I knew right away that that was why God had wanted me to be a mommy. He wanted me to be a mommy to lost and broken children in Zambia.

Fast forward about a year to my second trip in 2015. I remember this day like it was yesterday, I was sitting outside behind the school building in Chipata (the village where the feeding center is) after a particularly rough morning and Victoria came over and started talking to me. (Victoria is the manager for GlobalFingerprints in Zambia and has a huge heart for the kids here.) She asked me about school and what I wanted to do after I was done with high school. I told her nursing with hopes to use it in missions in the future. After I had told her my plans she looked at me and said, “Jim and I have been talking and we were wondering if you would like to be the Coordinator for GlobalFingerprints in Zambia?” (Jim has been overseeing GlobalFingerprints in Zambia and was very instrumental in starting up the program some years ago.) I must have had a strange look on my face because she told me to take it home and think and pray about it and see what God was saying.

I went back to America a couple weeks later and proceeded to tell my parents about the offer. At first they were a bit hesitant. They had reason behind their hesitation but did agree to be praying for it. After a bit of convincing on my part and I’m sure a whole lot of convincing on God’s part they decided to let me go for it. (Thank you mom and dad you guys are the best

This brings me back to the quote I started with: It was my sweet Given who said this to me on one of our days at the orphanage last week. My heart skipped a beat! This is what I was waiting for! It seems that all at once I became a momma to all of the crazy, rambunctious, loud, sweet, loving, and adorable children at the orphanage! And it felt as though my heart could not be any happier! But God was not done with me yet.

Yesterday on our way to church I was praying and my mind settled into praying for our week at Chipata. And it hit me-the kiddos at Chipata are mine too. And my heart felt so full. I was so excited. But then I started thinking…. God has placed over 120 of His precious children in my hands. 120 children who need to be sponsored so they can go to school and get an education. 120 children who need to be sponsored so they have enough food to fill their bellies. 120 children who need to know they are loved by me and the Mwansa’s but most importantly that they are loved by their heavenly Father. And that terrified me.

I was so terrified. Why had God placed 120 children in my hands. I am only 18…. An intense feeling of inadequacy overcame my whole body. I couldn’t think straight. I could hardly utter a word. All I could think was “Why me Jesus? Why me?”

After a few moments of “Why me??” came a few moments of “Please Jesus help me. I can’t do this alone.” By the time we arrived at church I could feel Him telling me “You are not alone in this. I am here with you! I love these children more than you can even imagine!” The verse that kept coming to mind was Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” I can’t remember the last time I had read that verse or had talked about it but God is so good like that.

I love to look back on the short 18 years of my life to see how God has been preparing me to me a momma to 120 orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia. God placed it upon my heart years ago that He would make me a mom but never in a million years would I have guessed that it would be to 120 littles running around in Zambia. God sure does have a sense of humor!!

Thank you Jesus for placing this upon my heart many years ago! Thank you that your promises will always come true. Thank you for never leaving me nor forsaking me in my day to day life. Thank you Jesus.

Prayer Requests
-We are spending the next week or so with the 80 or so children at the school in Chipata.
-Please pray for strength to get through the week strong and healthy,
-Wisdom as to what to teach these precious littles
-For Gods love to shine through us onto the kiddos.
-Pray for all the other teams around the world that God is working in them and through them

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Velveteen Rabbit

Being in a third world country on a mission trip is not as glamorous as it looks in the pictures. It isn’t always adorable children running around you gently tugging on your skirt. It’s crazy children running in circles screaming, yelling, and laughing as you play with them. It’s hard work. Its’ mentally draining. It’s spiritually demanding. It’s physically exhausting. But it is oh so worth it.

Last night was an adventure to say the least. We had a mishap with some boiling water that resulting in Jenna having a second degree burn on her wrist. I had adrenaline coursing through my body trying to find medicine for her to take, cream for her to put on it, clean water to put on it. By the time we finally went to bed and fell asleep it was probably close to 1:00 and we had to be up at 7 the next morning. That made for a short night but praise Jesus we both slept through the whole night and woke up feeling pretty refreshed considering our past night. But I had a strange comfort knowing that we were doing God’s will and Satan was trying to do everything he could to stop that.

After that 7:00 alarm went off and we groggily rolled out of bed and started getting ready, Barbra came in our room and told us that Edward wanted to have a family devotional this morning before everyone went their separate ways. The devotional itself was just a few minutes long but it was incredibly encouraging.

We arrived at the orphanage around 10 after a various series of stops on the way only to be welcomed by 68 eyes staring at you, 34 mouths yelling hello, and 68 feet running towards you. Best welcoming ever!! Oh how I missed these littles!!!

There was a volunteer from a local university there who was entertaining most of the children while Jenna and I went inside to get our materials out for the day. Beatrice, one of the older girls and one of my little buddies, followed us in and then ran to the girls room. I didn’t think much about it until she came back bearing a hand written letter to me with pictures she had drawn and the absolute sweetest note written inside! I read and  did everything I could do to keep from crying.

We shared our lesson about creation, did our craft with the kids which included play dough and lots of smiling faces. After we had finished that portion of our day we all moved outside and started playing a various assortment of games. I had my sweet baby Deborah with me but this time I wasn’t just holding her, I was able to play with her, tickle her, and see her face light up every time she smiled!!

We were at the orphanage until about 3:00 just playing and hanging out with the children. It doesn’t sound like much but trust me when I tell you that entertaining 34 children all day is exhausting but oh so worth it. By the end of the day I was covered in a layer of dirt, food, playdough, and germs but none of that mattered, all that mattered was the fact that these children of Gods precious little ones who deserve the best in their live and deserve to be loved and I hope that just in today Jenna and I were able to show that to them.

In the book Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis she compared herself to the velveteen rabbit and I can’t agree more with that analogy. On my first trip to Zambia I was all happy and excited to change the world and fix the things in Zambia that needed fixed. But now on my third trip I like to think I have a different mindset. I don’t want to come in and fix everything while here, I want to come in and create relationships with people who can then create change in their lives that then affects the lives of the people around them. I want to teach these children what it means to follow Jesus and disciple them so that when I am not here, they will still know how to read their bible, what certain bible stories are telling them and how to pray. I don’t want to come across to these children or to any of you like I have this all together and that I am perfect. I am the farthest thing from perfect. But God is using me. I do not understand why He picked me but I am listening to Him and obeying His will for my life to the best of my ability. I am no longer the perfect little velveteen rabbit that I was on my first trip, I am worn, used, broken, and torn. But I am loved and I am loving those around me. I would so much rather be torn and broken and be able to show how Jesus is mending me than be the perfect rabbit who is not living in Gods will.

Prayer Requests

  • As I mentioned earlier I was covered in a layer of germs well as if it were clock work I am starting to feel a cold coming- please pray for health and that I can stop this cold from coming.
  • Pray for Jenna’s wrist, she has a pretty nasty and strongly cool looking blister on her wrist-pray for quick healing and for the burn to not become infected.
  • Pray for open hearts and minds of our littles at the orphanage.
  • Pray for the older girls at the orphanage, my heart really went out to them today and I really want to show them that they are loved by me and also by their Heavenly Father.
  • Pray for any distractions that come to mind that they will be pushed out of our minds so we can yet again focus on Jesus and His will for the trip.

Jesus,

I thank you for giving Jenna and I the opportunity to come to Zambia and serve you. I pray that you will open the hearts of our sweet little friends at the orphanage this week. Open their minds to hear what you have to say through us. Keep them close to you Jesus. Let them know that they are loved, cherished, and oh so special!

Fellowship

Fellowship is vital part of your relationship with Jesus Christ. It enables you to share what you are feeling, what God is doing in your life, the trials and tribulations in your life. When you are involved in fellowship it allows you to do life with those people and walk along with them in your relationship with Jesus.

Last night Jenna and I had to opportunity to fellowship with an American missionary doctor and his family. Dr. Day opened up a clinic this past December that caters to people that live in small townships around the clinic. He and his wife graciously welcome us into their home for dinner and fellowship! We were able to hear a little bit about what the missionary life looks like here in Zambia!!

I am so incredibly thankful to have a family here that has such as big heart for the Zambian people as I do. I don’t think I realized how much I was craving someone to talk to about my love for Zambia and the highs and lows of missions!! I walked away so encouraged and excited to continue what Jenna and I are doing here! It is such an encouragement to meet and interact with other people who want to share Jesus with those around them just as bad as you do!! I am so incredibly excited to hopefully continue this friendship with the Day family!!

Jesus,

I thank you so much for bringing this family into my life exactly when we needed them! I pray for protection against spiritual warfare as this family is right in the midst of your will! I pray that you will use them to advance your kingdom here in Zambia! Thank you again Jesus!!

Prayer Requests

  • For the Day family to continue to listen to you and your will for their lives
  • Strength for both Jenna and I (I am feeling a little under the weather)
  • Encouragement from Jesus and from those around us (I am looking at the huge amount of need here in Zambia and am feeling very overwhelmed and ill-equipped for this)
  • On Monday Jenna and I will start going through our lessons for the children at the Orphanage- We are doing 5 lessons at the orphanage next week as well as various GlobalFingerprints stuff that I need to do with Victoria so our week will be very packed!
  • Praise for this past week- we have had a few down days so we can get acclimated to the 9 hour time change. We have also been able to prepare our lessons well which has been a major blessing!

 

In Him,

Shelbyrae

Home

Home. Home is the word I would use to describe what I feel. The joy of seeing the orphanage children again is so indescribably. I wish that everyone could feel this right now. It feels as though nothing can ever make me feel as happy as I do now.

We went to the orphanage today just for a bit but just that short time made my heart feel like it will explode. Seeing the improvements that have been made to the orphanage are astounding- from new staff members added to Sara Rose, to the physical changes that have been added to the orphanage, and most of all the growth of the children.

If anyone has been following my journey since my first trip you will know that there have been a couple children that have made a lasting impact on my life- Given, Pasco, and Deborah.

Given has been at the orphanage since she was little and has a very sweet spirit about her. She has had her fair share crap in her life but she presses on. She is 8ish years old and totally recognize me this morning!! She had the biggest, brightest smile on her face the whole time we were there!!!

Pasco is a 6 year old little boy who has cerebral palsy and as result he doesn’t have a very high range of motion that other children his age would have. He has involuntary muscle spasms and is unable to support his head. He has been at the orphanage since he was a baby. He spends his days laying on a mattress in the common room watching TV. When we walking in the room he looked very sad but as soon as I went over and he saw me and I said hello his face lit up like no other and brightened the whole room! My heart felt like it would explode with overwhelming joy!

And last but not least my sweet little Deborah! Victoria had one of the other orphanage moms bring her out and my heart skipped a beat!!! She walked up, in her school uniform, with her friend Moses and it was all I could do to hold back the floodgates! My frail and fragile little girl from last year is all grown up!! I ran over to her and picked her up immediately p gave her the biggest hug. We went into the common room and sat down and her friend Moses was with us and they started playing together. She was running around with him, smiling, laughing, and being the happy little girl I wasn’t sure she would ever be!! She is talking, she knows her numbers, and overall has improved so incredibly compared to last year!!

I knew I had left my heart here in the past years but coming back and feeling God slowly put the pieces back together has been amazing. I feel so at home here in Zambia. Everything that I remember being astonishing on my first trip seem so normal. Having spotty electricity, trash fires, crazy bumpy dirt roads, speed bumps every 30 feet, children walking around everywhere you go, people walking alongside the road with the cars and crossing the street in a moments notice, driving on the other side of the road than in America, school children in uniforms, moms carrying children on their backs, women and children holding baskets of food on their heads. It all seems so normal and I love it!! I am so incredibly thankful for all that God has done in my life to bring to to this very moment!!

Prayer Requests:

  • continued strength as we are still adjusting to the 9 hour time difference
  • wisdom when interacting with the children
  • faith to trust in Jesus and His timing for everything
  • Rissa and Johnny- especially for Rissa to reach out to the church we told her about

Jesus,

Thank you for bringing Jenna and I to Zambia. We trust in you that you have an amazing plan for our life and for this summer! Thank you for all that you have done in Zambia through Sara Rose Childrens Foundation. Please help Jenna and I to have wisdom when we are interacting with the children around us. Thank you Jesus!

In Him,

Shelbyrae

His Grace Abounds

I am in awe of how amazing Jesus is. He is always there. Never changing. He loves me unconditionally. I love that about Him. He is full of grace and is willing to forgive me no matter what I do to stab Him in the back. I get so caught up in myself that I forget these things. We become so focused on ourselves- having the best clothes, the best job, the most money, the newest phone, etc. We become so focused on material possessions and supporting ourselves that we forget to give our lives to God. We forget what is means to be solely reliant on God and to trust that He will provide what we need exactly when we need it.

One of my friends who is currently in Costa Rica with Trek7 wrote a blog about how it is so hard for us to surrender things-the big things and the little things. We get so caught up in serving ourselves that we either forget to serve those around us or we just choose not to. (To read her full post click here)

I pray that on this trip and beyond I will continue to learn what it means to surrender my life over to Jesus. That isn’t just a one time thing, it is a daily act of waking up in the morning and saying “Ok Jesus this day is yours, do with it what you desire.” It is a conscious daily activity that needs to be done. In the Jesus Calling for June 28th it says “The true question is not whether you can cope with whatever happens, but whether you and I (God) together can handle anything that occurs.” We do not need to do this life alone, we need to turn to Jesus and surrender our life to Him, and let Him take control. Much easier said than done trust me I know!

The past two years have been some of the hardest years of my life. I spent two weeks of my summer before my Junior year in Africa and fell in love. But coming back to America and the materialistic nature we embody disgusted me. Often times it literally made me sick to my stomach to see all of these people who are complaining about not have the newest phone or the newest style of clothes when I had just spent two weeks around people and children who need the basic necessities to get through life. I was angry. I was bitter. I was disgusted. But most of all I was broken. I couldn’t understand why God has put me in America when my heart was clearly in Zambia. It became a daily struggle to turn to Jesus and let Him take control. I remember there were days that turned into weeks that I was so mad at God it made it hard to get through the day.

Last year coming back from my 7 week trip was no different. I was still angry, still saddened, still disgusted, and still broken. But God placed a couple people in my life who showed me that there were hurting people right in front of my eyes. He showed me that these people have everything anyone could ever need except for Jesus. He showed me that I could be a missionary in my own backyard just as long as I was willing to put myself out there and love on those around me.

Romans 8:7-8 “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rush destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lead up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where you treasure is, there your heart will be.” These verses are incredibly convicting but they serve as a good reminder that we cannot put our hope and faith in things of this earth but in the things of above.

I pray this prayer for everyone who will read this blog and I pray that you will start to pray this for those around you as well!!

I pray that when you look at those around you that you would see them through the eyes of Jesus. I pray that you will be able to speak to them the same way Jesus would speak to them. I pray that you will be able to love them the way Jesus would love them. And most of all I pray that you will listen to God’s calling in your life-whether that be long term, short term, or someone who He placed on your heart to pray for. I pray that you are sensitive to the Lord’s little and sometimes not so little nudges.

Prayer Requests:

  • Jenna, and I met with some of the leaders and administrators of Sara Rose to plan out our time here- we will be doing a lot for GlobalFingerprints, we will be going through some bible studies with the children and discipling them!
  • Please pray for wisdom, pure hearts, and clear minds for Jenna and I as well as everyone else who will be helping us with the children!
  • Please keep Rissa and Johnny in your prayers!
  • Please keep all the other teams in your prayers (If you missed my blog with prayer requests for each team you can click here)

Thank you all so much for faithfully praying for Jenna and I on this trip so far!! It means the world to us!!

He Is Writing My Story

The summer after my seventh grade year was when it all started. I had recommitted my life to Jesus and was totally on fire for Him! About a year after that I was back at the same camp in Glorietta, New Mexico hanging out with friends and so immersed in Jesus’ love. Little did I know God was going to wreck my heart and shatter it to a million pieces.

The missions focus for that summer was in Canada and in Africa. We would spend the nights after worship praying for a specific missionary in either one of those places. One night there was a video for a missionary organization in Johannesburg, South Africa called the Door Of Hope. The Door Of Hope is a babies home that cares and loves for abandoned babies around Johannesburg and on top of that they have a “drop box” that is a place for mothers to place their children if they don’t have the capabilities to care for them. (If you would like to learn more about Door Of Hope click here) Well, after watching this video and crying my eyes out I knew God was calling me into missions in Africa. I didn’t know what country or when but I knew I would go to Africa at some point.

A yearish later I was kind of at the point where I wasn’t sure I still believed God was calling me to Africa. God knew that so He sent a friend to give me the book Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis. God yet again broke my heart into a million pieces for Africa. Katie went over to Uganda during her Christmas break of her senior year and fell in love with the people and the country and knew she had to go back. She convinced her parents to let her go back for a year after she graduated but only under one condition, that she come back and go to college. She agreed and went over and yet again fell in love with the country and saw such a huge need in Uganda. Over the years she has adopted 13 daughters, started a sponsorship program, a feeding program, a primary school, and is in the process of building their secondary school. After reading this book I knew for sure that I was going to Africa!!

Again it was about a year after that that God placed the opportunity to go to Kitwe, Zambia with my church for two weeks. If any of you have been following my journey since then you know that I fell completely head over heals in love for the country of Zambia and the people in Zambia. I knew that I would go back but little did I know that I would be spending my whole summer there the following summer. I fell even more in love with Africa and Zambia and most of all Jesus. I love every aspect of missions the good , the bad, and the ugly and knew that I would go back.

And that brings me to where I am now. I am staying in Johannesburg thinking about the Door Of Hope and how God used that organization to put a fire and gave me a passion for missions and that has not stopped since.  I am so excited to get on a plane tomorrow morning and head to ZAMBIA!!!! I am so in love with how God works and how little things like a short video can impact my life in such a HUGE way like it did 5 years ago. I hope that 5 years from now I can see how God was working in my heart during this trip for where I will be then!!

Prayer Requests and Praises-

  • Praise! As far as I know all of the teams have made it to there destinations safe and sound! Yay Jesus!! haha
  • Pray for safe travels as Jenna, Stu and I hop of a plane to take us to Ndola, Zambia and have someone pick us up from there and drive us to Kitwe, Zambia. We should arrive there around 2 or 3pm.
  • Pray for wisdom and strength with what we will be doing in Kitwe.
  • Pray for Rissa and Johnny that someone will come into their lives and will invest and disciple them so they can be more like Jesus.

 

Thanks so much friends!!!

The Little Things

It’s the little things in life that make tough travel days like today worth it!

It’s being prayed over and supported by so many other young people who all have a huge passion for Jesus.

It’s meeting new friends who you haven’t known for more than a week but know you will be forever friends.

It’s hearing stories already of how God can use you exactly where you are and how He calls certain people to speak to specific people around them and how that can touch those individuals lives.

It’s being told by a stranger they would pray for you while you are on your trip because they saw us praying before we left for the shuttle.

It’s having a conversation with the very unhappy lady sitting next to you about her travel mishaps and missed flights. And being able to pray for her the whole flight. By the end she seemed to perk up and told us more about her life and what she did when she was young. Again very cool to see the amazing power of prayer!

It’s being able to share what God is calling you to do this summer in Zambia and being so encouraged by complete strangers.

It’s sitting in the Atlanta meeting a youth group of 20 going to Haiti to help build a school. And being so incredibly encouraged by them and how young they are but so willing to go and help those in need in Haiti.

It’s watching Tim Hawkins videos during our layover and driving everyone around us crazy because we are laughing so hard we are crying!

It’s meeting a guy who is going to Zambia for work but his work involves bringing sustainable energy and efficient energy to the country on Zambia!

It’s sitting behind two precious little girls probably 3 and 8 years old who behaved exceptionally well for being so young and going on such a long flight. The oldest of the girls became my friend and we talked for a good chunk of the plane ride and after we landed and were getting ready to disembark she told me she would miss me! Totally made my day!

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It’s sitting in our room at the guest house we are staying at in South Africa, being so completely exhausted to the point that the dumbest things we say will cause an eruption of laughter from the both of us- like Jenna trying to figure out which water is hers and her blurting out “I can probably smell my own saliva!!!”

 

Here is a list of prayer requests and if you would like to scroll all the way to the end and join me in praying for these-

  • A good nights sleep for both of us and a quick adjustment to the major time change
  • Safety while going to the game park tomorrow
  • For all the other teams, those who have arrived already and those who have not (not sure on which ones have made it, which ones haven’t, and which ones have had difficulties but will keep you posted)
  • Safe travels from South Africa to Zambia on Monday!
  • Rissa and Johnny (the two ladies we met in downtown Minneapolis) that they will give up on trying to fill this void in their lives with worldly and material things but that they will find their worth in Jesus Christ!

 

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for these little things that make the toughest days worth it. Thank you for getting Jenna and I to South Africa all in one piece with all of our luggage! Please protect all of the other teams that they will have safe whether they are still traveling or on site. Please give them the words to speak what you would speak and the eyes to see what you see. Father work in and through all of the other teams wherever they may be in the world! Lord I lift of Rissa and Johnny to you, I pray that they will turn to you Jesus and will no longer be on the search for worldly and material items but will be completely reliant upon you for everything they need!! We love you so much Jesus!!!

 

In His Name,

Shelbyrae