“I am never going on a mission trip” those words straight out of my mouth a little over a decade ago. Just call me a Pinocchio, because now here I am packing my 5 kids and husband and we’re leaving to spend a month living in Africa.
“I am never going on a mission trip”. I remember saying that so clearly and confidently to Jeremy. He was a youth pastor <<pause- yes I was a pastor’s wife, almost 13 years later I still have a hard time believing it myself. God has a sense of humor, doesn’t he?>> One of his youth group kids was preparing to move away to become a missionary and I was like no way, not for me. More words straight from my mouth “ I will never do that, it’s not safe, you will never get me on a plane that long, negative ghost rider, I will only leaving the US for vacation” Of course I even threw in the most famous saying of them all “I will support them, but I will never go” yep, I said that too.
I love that our God knows us better than we know ourselves. I wonder does he just sit back and give big giant laughs when we say stupid flippant things. Like when I very confidently and proudly said “I am never going on a mission trip” Only He knew that one day serving in Africa would become one of the greatest joys of my life.
On another day, when I have more time and I feel more confident in my writing I will try to tell some stories of what all has transpired from that very first trip to Swaziland Africa in 2009. My life changed, many other lives have been changed and lives are still being changed, from that first 10 day trip
But today I want to share with you a dream.
I fell in love with Swaziland that first summer I went in 2009. My very first mission trip, my first time leaving the US (other than my honeymoon to Jamaica) and the first time away from my babies. My heart was changed. The trajectory of my life was changed. I saw a purpose for my life on a whole new level. The way I saw the world was changed.
When I got home from that trip, all I could think about was going back. I immediately planned our next trip for the following summer, but what I really wanted was all of my family together with me in Swaziland. Jeremy and I served together on that first trip and it was amazing, it connected us on such a deeper level. But all I could dream about was bringing my 4 kids (at the time it was only 4) back with me and all of us serving together.
That first year I went to Africa my babies were only 1 yr, 2 yr, 4 yr and 11 yrs old, that’s a lot of little people to try to trek halfway across the world. There was no way we could take them at this point. The travel to get to Swaziland is long and not easy. A third world country is no joke. Where would we stay? What we would we drive? And after all how would we even do any type of work chasing a 1, 2 and 4 year old around? The kids were a full-time job by themselves at these ages.
The dream never left. I might have tucked it away a time or two, but it never fully left. For 3 years straight Jeremy and I kept going back to Swaziland to serve, the same vision and dream would come up, to bring our entire family back with us. Each year when we would start thinking and planning for the summer trip we would talk about it, we would pray about it and the answer kept coming back as “not this year, not yet”.
Then we started fostering and had a long term foster placement that was turning into adoption. We wouldn’t have been able to leave the country with her, and we wouldn’t want to leave for a long period of time without her. For those 2 years during our foster adoption, we were grounded here in the US. It really wasn’t even an option to leave. More answers of “not this year, not yet”. Eventually we took our oldest daughter with us when she was 15 and our next daughter when she was 9. Our oldest daughter even moved to Swaziland for 6 months after she graduated high school. Yet, the dream was still not complete. We were ALL to go together and serve together.
Not only were our kids one obstacle, but work was also a problem. We are both real estate agents, our job never really stops and we were working hard on building up our businesses. Leaving for the summer and leaving our growing businesses was just not an option, yet.
This fall….6 ½ years after that first trip. We found ourselves starting to discuss another trip with Heart for Africa, the non-for-profit we have served with since 2009. Heart for Africa was planning a big summer service trip to celebrate their 10 year Anniversary as organization. This got us excited to go help with the teams and also visit all our Swazi friends and church community. Here we go again…we started talking about going on a longer trip, maybe for the summer and maybe taking all the kids?? We kept throwing the idea around, we prayed about it, and this time we didn’t get the “not yet” feeling. We didn’t get the “not this year” voice. Instead we started feeling a peace about it, things seemed to be falling into place, we had backup at work, the kids will be easier….Finally I felt that the dream might be ready for reality.
I bet you can guess it! Here we are, FINALLY the year has come! The answer from God was finally “NOW, now is the time” The kids are older, the adoption is final, our businesses are stable and we have a great team to help us while we are gone. We are doing it! We have rented a house, we have rented a minivan, and we leave in just a few days. EEK!
Our kids will go with us each day working alongside us at Heart for Africa’s farm called Project Canaan. We will serve at the children’s home, the school, the artisan center, visit community churches, we will be used wherever we are needed. We don’t have a set schedule (after all it is Africa, time and scheduling is very different than here in the US, which I love btw). My kiddos are over the moon. The 2 words: Swaziland and Africa are common language in our house. These are words they’ve grown up with and have heard their entire lives. Now we get to show them what those 2 words mean.
I get to introduce them to a beautiful little country that holds a spot deep in my soul.
It’s pretty funny when I tell people I am taking my entire family of 7 to Africa for a month. It’s usually one of two looks: You’re crazy or the super excited look. I know it’s not your average family summer trip, but then again we’re not your average family. Many people do think we are crazy (not just with this but other things we’ve done too), but I’ve always said if people think I am crazy I am probably doing something right. I don’t want to be like everybody else. A lot of people thought Jesus was crazy too (and they still do). I like to shake it up and live and experience life fully. And who ever said following Jesus is boring? I’ve been on the wildest and most exciting adventures of my life while following Jesus…this may be one of the best yet.
I’m not taking this experience for granted, trust me I know how special this opportunity is. It’s not going to be easy, it’s a long trip. We are venturing half way across the world with 11 bags, 4 carry-ons, 4 little kids, a 16 hour plane ride and a 5 hour drive. Leaving our jobs, the kids will be totally out of routine, leaving our dog, being 9,000 miles away from home, but we know this is exactly where God wants us. And that excites me!
Together our family will fulfill a dream, not just my dream, but God’s dream for us too. A dream that God laid on my heart years ago. I believe He dreams for us…have you ever thought of that? That God actually dreams for us?
Do you have a dream right now? One that may seem to crazy to say out loud or maybe one that feels too small to even mention? It’s not going to be the same dream as mine, but that doesn’t it make it any less important. Maybe it has nothing to do with missions or traveling, maybe it’s a work dream, or a family dream or maybe it’s just an urge to change something in your life. My advice to you is don’t push your dream or urge away. Don’t minimize it or compare it and don’t just write it off. Maybe like my dream, it just needs to be tucked away for a little bit, but not forgotten. Just keep asking and trusting, going back to God, maybe like I did saying “Now? Is it time yet?” And listen. Listening is just as important as asking. If we ask, we must listen for a response. He will answer.
Never underestimate that God knows us better than we can ever know ourselves. He knows our deepest desires even when we don’t. He dreams for us and He dreams with us. Trust in that.
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4
I hope to give updates during our trip on my Facebook page, be sure to go over and “like” my new page to stay in the loop. You can find me here: https://www.facebook.com/letsberealtogether/ My internet will be limited (which I am also super pumped about) but I do hope to update and share. We do plan to take the kids do the Indian Ocean while we are there too!
If you have a dream or an urge right now and you’re too scared to share it or say it out loud, I’d love to encourage you in it. If you want to share your God size dream or your little tiny baby dream with me, just email me at email@example.com. Nothing is too small or too large if God is in it.
Dreams do come true.
Here we go!!!
To find out more about Heart for Africa and the amazing work they are doing in Swaziland watch the video below or you can click here visit their website . www.heartforafrica.org