More…

People may make plans in their minds,

     but the Lord decides what they will do.

Proverbs 16:9

 

When I was twelve years old my family loaded up the car and headed out on a road trip. My sister and I were excited to get to spend a part of our summer with our cousins in Waco, TX…so much so that we hardly even fought with one another in the back of the car. We played “I Spy”, engaged in thumb wars, read (in my case) and slept (in my sister’s) in order to pass the time.

At some point, however, the trip began to feel unusually long to me. I swiped the map from my parents and, upon close inspection, realized to my horror that we were traveling in the wrong direction. Not only were we nowhere close to Waco, we were only an hour away from the Texas/Louisiana border.

Not wanting to process the magnitude of my parent’s error alone, I leaned over to my eleven-year-old sister and pointed out our location on the map. Let’s call this mistake number one. As it turned out, mistake number one was not that big of a deal…Emily looked blankly at the map…which led to mistake number two. Keeping my finger on our current location, I used the other hand to point to the home town of our beloved cousins and said, in my best-soap-opera-cliffhanger voice:

“This. Is. Waco.”

What followed was a tantrum of epic, and possibly biblical, proportions. To be fair, the perceived ferocity could be attributed, in part, to our proximity to one another in the backseat of the car. But, let me tell you, it was a humdinger: angry rants, hot tears, thrashing, sobbing, gnashing of teeth, the whole nine yards. Don’t get me wrong, I was equally furious at the thought of all of the wasted time we’d already spent in the car and the idea of driving allllll the way back to Waco was unbearable to me. I just wasn’t as….expressive?…as my sister.

Finally, my dad had enough and pulled onto the shoulder of the road to get control over us. Once my sister’s outrage had been reduced to lip-sucking hiccups, my parents broke the news to us: we were not going to Waco to visit the cousins.

We were going to Disney World.

In Orlando.

Surprise!

<crickets><crickets>

My sister and I sat there in stunned silence. We were so full of righteous anger over things not going our way- not going the way they were supposed to go – that we couldn’t process what they were telling us. As it turned out, my parents had hoped to get farther along in the trip before announcing the surprise to us. While visiting family was always wonderful, they had other plans for us, different plans for us, experiences that we hadn’t even thought to dream about.

They wanted to give us more.

It’s been a little over a week since  I returned from Rwanda and I’ve spent that time processing all of my experiences. At times, it has been overwhelming and every time I thought about consolidating those experiences into a post I became overwhelmed.

Because it’s impossible.

There is just no way to get it all into a single post. Every day offered its’ own story. Some were hysterical. Many were beautiful. And a few were almost unbearably heartbreaking. But each story held meaning and deserves to be shared. So, I’ve decided to write each day (maybe two) as their own post. Over the next few weeks, I’ll post the activities and pictures. I hope, in the end, you’ll feel as if you were there.

Going is always better when you’re with friends.

I have to admit, I had my own ideas about this trip – how it would happen, where I would go, what I would experience – and, from the get-go, God took that map I’d written in my heart, crumpled it up and tossed it over His shoulder.

For God had His own map, you see.

And it was so, so much more.

 

kinigi landscape FB

Fields along the path to the True Vineyard sheep farm in Kinigi.

 

Commissioned

spirit_lead

“….Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior”

 

I leave for Rwanda. Tomorrow. Holy moley.

On Sunday, the Rwanda team was commissioned in front of the church, sent off with their blessings to act as their representatives in a land far, far away.

As part of the commissioning, I knew that my family was going to have the opportunity to come up to the front of the church while I knelt at the railing and place a hand on my shoulder while the pastor prayed for us. Unfortunately for me, both Lee and John were off at Boy Scout camp and could not make it back for the service.

As I got ready for church that morning, I kept having to talk myself out of the sadness I felt over not having my family there for the commissioning. I told the younger boy that he would be attending both the 8:30 and 9:45 services with me. I explained what was going to happen and told him that he could come up when they called the family…or not…whatever he wanted to do was fine…no big deal.

When the time came for the commissioning, I walked to the front of the church with the rest of the team, turned to kneel at the railing…and waited.

And, sure enough, before long I felt the tentative touch of a little hand on my shoulder. Then it slowly moved to up to rest on the crown of my head. Then it slid over the top of my head and finally rested  somewhere between my eyes and forehead…with half of my hair smushed under it. Oh, how I wish I had picture of it.

But it wasn’t just Will praying for me, with his hand covering my eyes like a meaty little sleep mask. Other friends came up from the pews and hugged me, prayed for me, and whispered in my ear the exact times of the day they would be praying for me and our team.

And I realized, what do you know, my family was there after all. I have the best church family in whole world.

I am so grateful for every donation I’ve received and every prayer that has gone up for myself, the Rwanda team, and the women we will be serving.

I am so full of love and mercy and grace…and I cannot wait to pour it over the people of Rwanda.

bracelet

The two amazing girls from church who raised over $200 for our trip by selling loom bracelets gave me one to wear while I’m away. It will not leave my arm and will serve as a daily reminder to me of the love and support I’m bringing with me to Africa.

We will be offline while we are in Rwanda…no Facebook updates or blogging. We won’t even be calling home.

If you are on Facebook and would like to receive updates about our progress, click here and like the True Vineyard Ministries Facebook page. They will be posting for us while we are gone.

I will be home July 16th. I can’t wait to share the experience with you, friends!

Ok…deep breath…it’s time to go.

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine