To my family and friends,
I'm in the process of packing my bags and finishing the last details to be ready to board the plane early next Tuesday morning for two weeks in Burundi! I'll be participating in a retreat for widows sponsored by Sister Connection. Some of our team members will be working in a camp for the widows' children (up through age 13) and later in the month there will be two back-to-back camps for the youth and young adults. All together there will be 1500-2000 Burundians -- widows and orphans -- who will be a part of these times of fellowship, growth, and joy.
It has been such a blessing to be a part of this team, and I haven't even gone yet!! It's not just the anticipation; it's all the remarkable aspects of just preparing to go! Here are some highlights:
The Lord made it clear from the beginning that I should go on this trip. He called me at 1:30 on a Monday afternoon by prompting both Denise Patch, the US Director of Sister Connection, and me at the same time. Here's the story about it.
With very little fanfare, all my funds have come in. God has met all my material needs. I want to thank Him, and each of you who have had a part in that. It was a very clear confirmation for me that this is the Lord's doing. (He even used a playing piece given to me by a friend to win $100 in the recent Haggen Monopoly game, which went into my Africa account!)
So many people have encouraged me with their assurance of prayer, with their excitement over this opportunity, with their kind words. It occurs to me sometimes that people are traveling all over the world all the time, and I am not the only one who is headed out on a grand adventure. Yet the people with whom I've shared this upcoming trip have responded to me as if they have never heard of anything so wonderful! I'm so touched by people's interest.
I have met only a handful of my teammates, but these few are amazing women, women with a deep sense of God's love and a desire to touch the lives of others. They are beautiful, tender, funny, and full of faith. I anticipate some deep and lasting friendships from this trip.
A group of quilters in a group called Quilts Beyond Borders have sent us 300 child-sized quilts to give to the younger kids at camp. We are each carrying several with us, and we get to be there when they are distributed to the children. It has brought me so much joy to be able to handle many of these gorgeous, one-of-a-kind quilts as I've prepared them for travel. Can you imagine how the children will feel when they each get their own bright colored quilt! (I'd been a bit concerned that quilts may be irrelevant at the Equator, but many of these kids live in the mountains. I think the children will treasure them.)
For several years people have been cutting the fronts off their Christmas cards and giving them to Gladys Scholsser, who attaches a scripture verse in Swahili. The cards are very popular among Swahili-speaking Africans, but the trouble is in finding a way to get them there. There were now 17 pounds worth of cards and the missions ladies at church asked if I'd carry them in, and they gave me the money to cover the cost. I've made arrangements to leave them for my friend Alice Matthewson, who thought a bag of chocolate chips might also be nice to have. The cards, the quilts and the 98 toothbrushes from Toni, my dental hygienist, can all travel in the same box.
Preparing to speak has blessed me as I've studied the story of Jochabed, the mother of Moses, and the way she trusted God with her son, and the story of the outcast woman who had been bleeding for 12 years but was healed when she touched the hem of Jesus robe. There is so much truth to plumb in these two stories and I believe the Lord put them on my heart to share with these women.
My friend Abby, who works for Sister Connection, has prepared a prayer calendar for the month of July related to this trip. It gives some general prayer requests as well as something specific you can pray for each day. It would be wonderful if you would join with us in praying for God's work and blessing trough these camps. Contact me if you'd like a copy of the calendar.
I don't know if I'll post many blogs while I'm away, but you can check back from time to time. Who knows -- maybe I'll be able to send a few updates from Burundi.
Thank you for your love, your friendship, and your gracious support.