Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Malawi Support/Thank you letter

Palibay Wofana Ndi Yesu
(There's no one, there's no one like Jesus)
Typically, after one returns from a mission trip, a thank you and “this-is-how-God-moved” letter is sent out. I, however, failed to do such a thing right after my trip because when I came home, I had Upper-Respiratory issues that did not leave me until two weeks after arriving in the States. Also, our family joined a co-op that started one week after coming home, this took just a bit of adjustment :) These may seem like reasonable 'excuses' to put off the letter, but really Lacey, a whole year? Yes, it really has been just about one year. I'm actually very thankful that I've taken my time and seen the long term fruit that God has produced in my life. When coming directly from the mission field, missionaries get a high, a high called the Holy Spirit. A literal fire burns within your chest for a people group, nation, or continent, it is unquenchable. You cannot refrain from telling all about your adventures and you are constantly talking about wherever you went. Unless you have experienced this first hand, let me tell you, you have know idea what it is like. Because of that fact, if you are the one patiently listening to Lacey ramble on and on and on about Africa- again - quite frankly, you may feel inclined to slap her or tell her to shut up. The sad reality is that not everyone will continually have a passion for the lost like you have until, they too, have been affected. Even though not everyone has missions near and dear to their heart like I now have, you, in faith sent me to Malawi Africa. My petty human words cannot communicate the depth of my gratitude towards you. As a result of your prayers and financial support, God has used you to grow me tremendously, thank you. You may not be called directly to the mission field ever, but as John Piper says you are either a “go-er or a sender.” After persistence, the gospel on tape and, a final presentation of the gospel (while we were in Malawi), an influential chief came to the Lord. His willingness caused many others to come to saving faith. Oh, the side note? He was a Muslim. Thank you for sending me to spread the gospel. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to have my faith challenged. Thank you for encouraging my desire to go to Africa at age 16. You have had a direct impact on the world by supporting me, thank you.
The pre-story to how I chose Teen Missions International and why I chose a foot-washing team goes like this. On missions Sunday at our church, there were videos shown about the work that God was doing in our “denomination”, Sovereign Grace Ministries, in 3 different countries. I sat in the back of the church, my eyes tearing, I knew I had to be a part of sharing the gospel. At this point all things were emotional, I 'felt' called to go to the Bahamas Sovereign Grace Church. I began to pray and even called a ministry to get the process rolling. As time began to tick, I sensed that this was not the trip for me. “Okay God, I know I'm supposed to be going on a trip this summer, but now where am I going to go?”, I wondered. My dad has gone on two trips with Teen Missions International, and I had gone to the peanut camp (7-9 year old version of TMI), so TMI was always in the back of my mind. I, with the encouragement of my parents (it seemed like prodding at the time because I was stubborn not to go to TMI) checked out the TMI website. Previous to this, I had a dream about washing people's feet. “God this is just a little bit strange, is this a sign from you? What am I to do? Do I begin a conversation, 'Oh, hey, can I wash your feet?'”, I let the dream slide and moved on. I was scrolling down the website page looking at the different trips and saw “Malawi Foot Washing.” I was struck. This was the one. I believed with all my heart that I was to go on the trip, I mean really, what was there to question? I had a dream about washing peoples feet for Pete's sake, this had to be it. I told my parents that this was the trip I wanted to go on, and they (wisely) suggested that I pray that if this was His will, that God would continue to open doors. God worked amazingly though my supportive family and friends, he never stopped providing for me while I was at boot-camp preparing for Africa. All the while in Africa I never lost his nearness. Yes, I did struggle with home-sickness especially when I was physically sick, but oh how sweet is the Lord's tender care for his beloved children, when they humbly lay their burdens before him. My first assignment in World History, after coming home, was to write about “My Connection to the World”, this assignment helped me organize my thoughts and experiences from my trip.
Many people are curious to know the 'key idea', main 'lesson', or the favorite part of my trip. I learned about a lot about God, and our relationship strengthened tremendously through this trip. I have gained life lessons and made unforgettable memories. Honestly, my favorite part of my trip was the whole African experience. Yet, the biggest thing that I gained from my trip was perspective. My perspective about the world pre-Africa was selfish, sheltered, and ignorant. I had heard about world hunger, terrible natural disasters, and about a world in need of Jesus, but what could a teenager in America do to help the world? It's amusing when we question how God can use us, he does not hesitate to show us how he will use us. So easily I assumed that America was the center of the round globe and all other life on the planet revolved around America. I now see the world through eyes that have a view of life outside America. Spirituality aside, Malawians do not get the concept of life beyond Africa, let alone their own country. My teammates and I would tell the natives who asked, that we were from America, they would smile and nod, as if they understood. Odds were, they did not even comprehend the life of the Western world. They knew the word America, and that is about all. The lifestyle comparison between Malawi and the Western Civilization is quite a drastic one. In America, everything is at your finger tips and if you want something now, now, now, you get it when you want it. 'Life on demand'. It's sickening. In Malawi, everyone is very laid back and most everyone meanders around from place to place, in no hurry. Malawi is in no way perfect, but their lifestyle allowed my team and I to spend a lot of time with the Women and children during our presentation times and foot-washings. I also learned that to show Christ's love, you do not have to speak the same language. I washed a young boy's feet, he looked to be about 8 years old. I washed his feet, put his socks on, found him a pair of shoes, I smiled and he went on his way. Over the next several days, we had 4 or 5 foot-washings. I gathered that this little guy lived around the area we were because he would hang around us while we were in that particular village. When he found me, he would come up to me, stop, point at his feet, socks pulled up to his calves, shoes on, smile and give me a thumbs up. We would smile, make silly faces at each other and, laugh, laugh, laugh. I will always have Malawi on my mind and the memories in my heart. This experience has opened my eyes to the world of missions, and who knows where God will lead! God has used this trip to grow me closer to Him, closer to His heart, and ultimately, closer to His ordained purpose in all of believers' lives, to spread His gospel.
Holy God, in love, became
Perfect Man to bear my blame
On the cross He took my sin
By His death I live again”

Soli deo Gloria

Romans 10:13-15 “For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?And how are they to hear without someone preaching?And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'”

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