Thursday, December 13, 2007
I want to take the time to update you on what happened with ROCK of Africa’s ACT of Thanksgiving outreach in Zimbabwe and Zambia before I left,The Thanksgiving outreach is very special to me. As many of you know, it was that trip that first took me to Zimbabwe in 2005. What a blessing to experience it with others each year!
This trip was even more wonderful because many of the people that came to serve are friends of mine, so spending the holiday serving with them was very nice. We got to see God move in amazing ways and I can honestly say that none of us returned from the trip the same as when we left.
One of the experiences I would like to share with you is a miracle that many of you played a role in. When we were preparing the itinerary for the team and planning the outreaches, we somehow made a plan that didn’t fit into the budget the team had fundraised. I had already met with village chiefs to plan the outreaches, which included selecting the livestock we would be cooking and feeding the villages with. We were put in a very difficult situation because we didn’t have the money to pay for the supplies and we had to decide if we would cancel the dinners, change the outreaches or find more funds. In the culture I live in now, your word is a promise, even a contract. It would not have been understandable for me to go back and cancel the dinners or to cancel the orders for the animals. It could have seriously impacted the relationships that I have spent two years building.
What happened next was amazing. We needed $1,500 to cover the cost of what was not met by our budget. I sent out an email to a few of my friends in the States, explaining what had happened and outlining the needs. I knew the giant opposition meant something big was going to happen in these villages. I asked for prayer and I asked for help. Within 10 minutes a friend of mine from college had made the first donation and within 24 hours $1,590 had been donated!
When I checked my email the next day my heart was so full of gratitude I couldn’t hold back the tears. This ACT of Thanksgiving outreach was successful on a level so much bigger than we ever could have planned for. Not only did we see funds miraculously appear, but we saw so many lives impacted – lives from our team and also the people in the villages we were ministering to.
On the first day of outreach in Zimbabwe, my friend Lori used her gift of evangelism for the first time (although we both have known for a while that she has it) and over 30 people came to accept Jesus. More miracles were seen that day, but that is a story for another day. I don’t even know if I have the words to describe some of the things I have experienced in Zimbabwe, this being one of them.
The second outreach was so amazing. There is a ministry in Zimbabwe we have a relationship with that has been working to renovate and supply a school -- they feed 500 children in the school daily. The people who fund their ministry were visiting to see the school in its new condition and we were there to help celebrate, to encourage and to host the feast. This was the biggest food outreach ROCK of Africa has ever done and it was amazing. We fed over 700 people that day and celebrated the amazing things God has been doing through the obedient people He has called to that school. We ministered to the school children and their parents, the teachers and the village leaders. What was overwhelming for all of us is that we saw 500 children singing in sincere gratitude for what we consider to be bare necessities in our country: a meal every day, school uniforms, shoes, books, pencils, notebooks, desks, and windows and doors for their classrooms. What a joy to be a part of the celebration and what an honor to provide them with a Thanksgiving feast instead of their normal sadza and vegetables.
In each of these villages we also donated Bibles, maize seed and mosquito nets. It was unavoidably emotional to see the women and men dancing for joy as they collected these items. The seeds brought the most excitement, for they allow the parents to provide food for their children on their own.
We also did an outreach to the hospital where we donated food to be cooked for the patients and hung mosquito nets over the patients’ beds. Imagine a hospital during peak malaria season not having the one thing, a net, which could prevent their patients from contracting the deadly disease. Who are more at risk then the men, women and children already in the hospital with a weakened immune system? It was great to be able to equip the hospital with what they needed to better care for their patients. I don’t know who was more grateful the staff or the patients!
For those of you who were part of our outreach team, and I think this year we proved that there are so many ways to be involved, I send you a sincere, giant, heart-full-of-gratitude thank you. This is for the 10 people who traveled to Zimbabwe, the Zimbabweans from the local church who provided an opportunity to serve with them, the people who financially supported the outreach team, as well as the people who prayed for them and especially for the people, who when they were informed of a need they responded, and became a last minute member of our team! You all played a role in seeing lives changed. My hope is that more hearts are stirred. Each time we prepare for these outreaches to Africa, we need a team of people here praying for the work God has for us. What this trip proved is that, as well as prayer, people investing financially in the trip, above and beyond just sponsoring the people to come, can make a big difference in how effective we can be.
As always, if you would like to support my work or the Refuge program, you can send a check made out to ROCK of Africa with Refuge in the memo to:
ROCK of Africa Mission
PO Box 5000
Costa Mesa, CA 92628
You can also donate online at www.rockofafrica.org by noting that the donation is for Refuge.
Thank you. As you prepare for the holiday season, please remember to keep us in your prayers. This is a time of overeating and overspending and so many of the people we love and care about in Zimbabwe and Zambia will not have the option of either. My prayer for each of you is that you are able to remember the simple and beautiful truth of what we are celebrating and that you do it in a way that brings glory to the one whose birth and death gives us reason to celebrate. How blessed we are in this nation, I know that my gratitude this Christmas will be much more authentic than ever before!
With immense gratitude,
If you would like to hear more about the Thanksgiving outreach, see pictures and hear personal stories from the members of the team, please see http://www.rockofafrica.org/thanksgiving/email/
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I am alright. This is the first time I have made it through the entire flight, and the entire first day without crying.
I miss Zimbabwe. I miss that place terribly, but I am ok. I am excited to be back for a bit, and I am returning to Zim as soon as I can.
Today was fun, I laughed with my girls and had a perfect first day in Cali:
~Slept in until 10 am (Gigi is back!!!)
~Took Rocky for a walk...(a very short one, he is lazy now)
~Made scrambled eggs for breakfast (Yup, I can cook now)
~Took a shower (A really nice, really hot, really long one--I smell so nice)
~Blow dried my hair, (oh my gosh you have no idea how pretty I feel)
~Went for sushi with Yara (I dream of sushi while I am in Zim... I am so happy!! But my stomach is too full... I will spare you the details of my stomach problems... yup --already!!)
~Went for waxing (Oh my there is a girl under all that hair!!)
~Went for pedicure (I am sorry, I have been in Africa for most of this year, please forgive the condition of my feet!! )
~Got my hair did (This was sooooo neccessary, Amen for cut,color and deep conditioning)
~Stopped by to visit with the pastors... (I don't know if it's sad or funny, but they didn't recognize me, all night they kept saying, 'you look better in America')
~Stayed up late laughing with my girls and eating chocolate chip cookies and milk (sorry marcus, I am gonna eat!!!!)
I can't wait to see you all, I have laughed so much since i got off the airplane and I know that this is going to be a great trip!!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Today I am leaving. I am heading back to the States, back to
I am excited to get back to see my friends and family, but as always, leaving is bittersweet. I no longer have a life back in
People ask why I love
I have learned who I am in this place. I have learned who God is in this place. I have learned how I want to live my life: what I am willing to fight for and what I need to let go of. In
Not only am I visiting friends and family, I am attending the global summit on AIDS in the church, I am so excited to hear what is happening in the church in other parts of the world, we are on the front lines here. But this trip is really for a specific purpose: WORK PERMIT. I have to leave Zim to apply. Immigration says that this process could take a minimum of 6 weeks and I want you to join with me in prayer. Every fact says that I should be denied, the circumstances are bleak, but the truth is that I am called to
To my friends in the States, I will see you soon! I land Monday at 2:45pm!
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Tonight I was at a special Friday night service at church, which is such a gift...extra Celebration Church before I leave, but it was extra special because Pastor Tom, a man that I respect so much from Harare, was preaching in Vic Falls. So much stood out, as I try not to be consumed by thoughts of my work permit and my immigration status in a land that feels like home.
Pastor Tom said 2 things that I will hold in my heart until I get my papers and I return to my little home in Mkhosana!
~ My circumstances don't determine my future or my life, the kingdom does.
~ When love is high miracles happen.
I am banking on these two points, I believe that the circumstances, no matter how bleak they are do not determine my future in Zim. I know that God will ensure the circumstances are perfect for me to be where He will have me. I have tried to be faithful and obedient and I know that God has called me to Zimbabwe. I do not think that my time here is over. I also believe that God's grace can suspend the rules of the world. I am counting on this suspension when it comes to my immigration status because of the second point. Miracles happen when love is high, I don't know why, but Zimbabwe has stolen my heart. It took a group o f 12 boys, that has grown into a group of almost 60 boys to melt my heart, but it is not just them. This entire land has captured my heart. I have never loved so much, nor have I ever been able to accept love so readily either. This place has changed me, God has changed me and I have been prepared.
Some days I am tired of fighting, but no matter how great the difficulties I can just crawl into my father's arms and I am reminded of why I fight, and what I am fighting for. Please keep praying for me, I am unprepared to leave this place. I don't think I can get ready. I will even miss the unreliable phone lines, the slow internet, the power cuts and the times that i wake up in the morning and can't take a shower because I have no water. If that is the worst I have to deal with I will take it...in a heartbeat.
Pray for favor with the government and for peace while I wait!! Also, please pray that i just have a ton of fun while I am home!!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I will keep this brief as the details are not that important.
The outreach that is arriving here in about 24 hours is the November Thanksgiving outreach, this one is similar to the one that I first came on in 2005. Our focus is going into the rural areas and sharing a meal, while we share the love of Jesus and worship with our Zimbabwean friends. We also leave seed for them to plant, Bibles and mosquito nets as we are coming up to peak Malaria season.
I arrive back from Harare with my new visa about 12 hours ago at 4:30 am. Today I was informed as I came to collect money to make the purchases that we need for the teams to work, that they budget was off and that there isn't enough money to do the outreaches as we had planned. I am not sure how it happened, but I am sure it has happened.
OUr origonal budget for our outreaches in Zimbabwe was $1,500. At this point I am not sure if there is any money or if we are a little short, so I am asking you to help. I have gone around and set up all of these parties in the rural areas with the village heads, and my name is on the line. It might not seem like much, but honestly at this point it is all I have here. These men trust me, they help me when I need it, and the bleieve that my heart is in the right spot. Now I look like a big jerk to say the least, as if I have made fake promises of an outreach, with a big meal, lots of love and especially the much needed profits from us buying thier livestock to feed them.
We were meant to buy a lot... if you would like to know the breakdown, here are some of the costs:
We also need money for mealie meal, rice, cooking oil, salt, juice cabbages and salad cream. We will also need money to pay for our transport out to these areas.
Please help. If you want to make a donation, please send me an email letting me know that you are donating so we know right away as most of our office is on thier way to Zim right now. You can donate online at www.rockofafrica.org just write in the memo "Zim food outreach". You can write the same thing on the memo of your check and mail to ROCK of AFRICA:: PO BOX 5000:: Costa Mesa, CA 92628. Anything over and above what we need will go towards Refuge's normal operating budget and is greatly appreciated. All donations are tax deductable.
I know that God will provide, and I also know that just as with my first outreach, the opposition is fierce because something great is going to happen. One of my best friends, along with some other very special women in my life are on thier way here and I am so excited to see how God uses them, and me at this time. I will be traveling back to the States on the 25th with them, and I will not return until immigration gives me a work permit. This is big. Please keep us and this outreach in your prayers!
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I got my new visa for a little bit, but please continue to pray for my work permit!
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Reconnecting with old friends…..
Many of you know that I did not have the ideal childhood, but what you might not know is that some people loved me enough to try to give me the ideal childhood even though it wasn’t what I was born into.
My grandparents were those kind of people. We went to stay with them every weekend and did fun things and were loved on to the extreme. We took lots of vacations and every summer they took us to Sauble Resort in
I think I could say that some of the best moments of my life happened during those weeks at Sauble, which happened to coincide with my birthday every year. As I began adolescence I complained about leaving my friends to spend time with the people up north, but once I got there I was reminded of the special friendships I also had there. There were a lot of us in the same age group….I think at least 4 or 5 families and we all had such a good time! But by far, one friendship stood out the most… Sean Ford. I can never call him by just his first name, it’s weird. From like the age of 5, maybe earlier we were such good friends. Of course by the age of 11, I was for sure, at least for one week out of the year, that he was the cutest boy in the world.
The friendship that we formed was solid, and I had forgotten about it for a long time, until recently we were reacquainted over myspace…see it can be good for something other than pre-teen girls finding old men to flirt with! We have been emailing back and forth and getting reacquainted and talking about old times. It is like one of those times when you go out for drinks with someone you haven’t seen in 10 years…or going to your high school reunion. I keep waiting to get to the point where we are both like….uh, ok now what do we talk about… but it doesn’t come.
One of the first things Sean wrote to me was, ‘Do you remember what song we used to rock out to in the car??’ I immediately thought of this quote I had read… "A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." That is true, even when the song is “It must have been love” Oh, we did grow up in the 80’s and 90’s people!!
In what could be one of the loneliest seasons of my life, Sean Ford’s friendship is a priceless gift. I think what I am finding out is that sometimes all of the love that we need is right there, just waiting for us to see it! I think we should all get reacquainted with an old friend… one of my best friends and I also recently hooked up (over email…I’m in
Today my heart is smiling,
"I never had better friends than the friends I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?" -Stand By Me
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I visited my friend Michelle who gave birth to a beautiful baby boy 3 weeks ago and I was so blessed to spend a whole day with her and her family. I was most blessed, by the time I spent in AA meetings and with my fellow AA's around the country. I was in Masvingo for 3 days for an AA convention and let me tell you, I have missed these meetings. I need to remember where I came from or else I will forget where I am going. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the stuff of life and forget that every day that I am alive is a miracle. As I was sharing my story with these new friends, I realized that i have forgotten the girl that I was. WOW, I shared my story at the convention (a speaker had car trouble.... his fuel tank was leaking on the way!) and then was asked to travel to Harare and Bulawayo to do the same. I do not think it was an accident that I shared my story over 6 times in the past 2 weeks in AA and alanon meetings. I think God was telling me something, and I think I need to remember what it was like and what happened. I spend to much of my time these days in 'what it is like now' and that is dangerous territory for me.
It has been over 9 1/2 years since I have had a drink or a drug and it amazes me the journey God has taken me down. For those of you have been with me, you know that it has been a whirlwind and it is hard to believe that 10 years ago i was as messed up as I was an in a hospital after a suicide attempt. Miracles happen, I am living proof.
I am trying to work on an update to fill you all in, but really all I can say is that I am grateful. Now, I have to tell you that with every breakthrough, there is intese opposition. Not only am i grateful, but i also have felt a heavy wave of depression... something that i haven't felt in a long time. It doesn't suprise me, because I know that I am most vulnerable after a victory and I experienced several very important victories in Harare, but also the opposition I have faced from the few people in Vic Falls that don't like what we are doing have been intense since I returned. I try not to let this get to me, but there are moments when I forget who I am, I am start to listen to who they say I am. Why is it that the hurtful comments are so much easier to remember than the good ones?
I love you all, and i know I have been out of touch, but i am back!! Email away, I will respond now!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
It is October in Zimbabwe, the month we in Vic Falls affectionately call "suicide month" It is starting to get really hot! I spend as much time as I can in the shower, in the river or in a pool... unfortunately there is often not water in my neighborhood, the river is illegal according to Parks and Wildlife and there isn't a pool in Mkhosana so I am sweaty a lot of the time!
I am heading back to the States for a little while at the end of November and I am really looking forward to seeing my friends and family and or course, my little Rocky. I have missed a lot in the lives of my loved ones this year. 3 of my cousins have gotten married (I missed each of their weddings) and now one is having her first baby (congrats manda and tony!!). So many friends have gotten married and had babies and it is so hard to miss these special occasions. I cry when I look at pictures and realize that the babies in Vic Falls know me and I am more involved in their lives than the kids in my own family. These are the hardest sacrfices by far.
I have been posting my blogs on Myspace for a while, but an old friend (I try to listen to the ones that have been around a long time) really pressured me into this... so here goes. I will try to regularly update you on what is going on in my life here!
These days it is a lot of paperwork (for ROCK and for my work permit), a lot of cleaning and unpacking my new home )I am renting an adorable little house in Mkhosana, one of the high density areas of Vic Falls, and gardening... I am not a natural, this is a first for me! I spend a lot of time with the kids and their mom's in my neighborhood and I am learning all of the things Zimbabwean mommies do well....this is harder work than I am used to!
Well, I need to get back out into the heat... I am walking to the post office to mail a letter to the coolest kid i know in California. I will also check my mailbox, but I haven't had it long enough for mail to get here.... but if you want to send me a letter:
PO BOX 85