world race video

Words seriously cannot express how excited I am for this trip. Especially with these people. So pumped. Enjoy the video.

World Race - January 2010 from Margie Termeer on Vimeo.


the letter e

I like the letter e. I use it a lot. Did I think it would completely change my perspective on how God works? Not. A. Chance.

Fast forward to training camp – individual lives were changed and our teams had been made. My team is awesome and soon I’ll fill you guys in on my team members. Friday rolled around and it was “Ministry Day”. This is the part where I’m thinking, “Don’t make me do this, don’t make me go talk to strangers on the street. I’m not good at this…” Every time I think this, I should just know that God is going to rock my world. Every time I feel incapable, He pulls through.

We learned that we were going to head into a part of town called Little Mexico on Friday afternoon to do ministry. What exactly were we going to do? God knew. We didn’t. So, we spent part of the morning praying as a team, asking God to show us where to go and who to talk to. Seemingly random images popped in our heads. We wrote them down. A man in a black hat. People with umbrellas walking down the street. A little girl. Flowers. A corner building by a dark alley. The letter e.

Hmmm, okay God, I don’t get it. But oh well, here we go. So we drove over to Little Mexico and started walking down the street. Almost right away, we notice a man in a black hat sitting at a taco stand.

Teammate: I want some tacos.
Other teammate: Good cover, let’s go over there.

So we walk over to the taco stand and strike up a conversation with this man. We asked which tacos were the best. We asked his name. We asked where he was from and what he was doing here. And come to find out, his mom lives here and she’s sick and he moved to take care of her. So we prayed for him and his mom and that he could soon go home.

Alright, God, that was pretty cool. I didn’t say much in the conversation; some of my teammates took the lead. But I still walked away trusting God a little more.

We kept walking. We walked past a guy who was on the phone and when we were five paces past him, we realized that his hat had the letter e on the front. So what did we do? Two of my teammates turned around and chased this guy down the street. They talked for a few minutes and asked what he was doing. Turns out, he was headed to the local tattoo parlor we had already passed. Cool, maybe we’ll stop in there later on our way back to the car. The guy seemed real nice. We walked some more, talked to a few more people, prayed together and decided to head back and stop in at the tattoo parlor.

We looked around, saw the guy from earlier and struck up a conversation with the tattoo artist sitting at the front desk. He was drawing a tattoo but continued talking to whoever walked up to the desk. I was talking to him when my teammate Christine walked up and started talking about a book she’d recently read about the connection between creativity and spirituality. And all of sudden, I could see this guy get real interested in what she was saying. So before we both knew it, this guy is telling us that he has a little faith but he’s questioning whether or not you can be sure about going to heaven. “OH MY GOODNESS!” I’m thinking. This is crazy. This is unexpected. And I have no clue how to say everything I want to say to this guy.

So God stepped in, plain and simple. He gave us the words. He led my team leader over to share the gospel story with us to this man and another teammate came over and shared some scripture with this guy. We prayed with him before we left and made sure to give him a phone number so that he could get in contact with someone who could continue to answer his questions.

I walked out of that tattoo parlor thinking in a completely different way. God can use whatever he wants to lead us to people who are searching. It can even be as simple as the letter e.

I always glanced over the letter e. I NEVER considered that it could change my perspective on how God works, much less maybe change someone’s life. But God is just that good, and just that big and just that incredible.


stained clothes

They weren’t kidding about Georgia red clay dirt. Seriously, it does stain everything you own. And when you weren’t planning on the cold days and real cold nights, you end up wearing everything warm you own, and it all gets stained.

I’m trying to decide whether or not to keep these clothes. I’m beginning to think that the stains symbolize something. Something different happened to me here this week at training camp and I’m not sure that I can adequately explain it.

God is more powerful and scary and loving and wonderful than I ever imagined. I have seen so much of God this week, and not only in my life. I walked in here on Friday night not knowing a soul. And that night I met three incredible friends, buddies, if you will that have been more than a blessing in my life over the past few days. And as we learned our final teams today, I was blessed again to be placed on a small team with one of my buddies.

God is good. I keep going back to that. And it has been amazing to see that in so many different ways, like a hike through the woods, team building activities, and some serious worship through dancing. Seriously. God is good.

It really is hard to put all in words here on a blog right now, when I’m still in the midst of all these amazing people who so clearly have God in their lives. I have been encouraged and challenged beyond belief and I LOVE it. I have come alive here and I am free.

* I would love to talk to anyone who has questions about training or about what God is doing in my life. I will be available by phone starting Sunday and home by Wednesday so feel free to call or stop by anytime. Love you all! *


where i've been and where i'm going

my room is a constant work in progress. it has been for the last four years. since i am now living at home - not moving back and forth from college - i have gotten some things done, things i have been thinking about for a long time.

i received a gift last christmas from a friend who knows me well. it was a large map of the world and it came with pins to mark the places i've been and the places i am going to.

until tonight, that map looked like this on my wall.

and i finally had the supplies i needed and the drive to make it look like i've always wanted it to look.

final product.

you may not be able to see it from the picture but there are green dots marking where I have been and pink dots marking my upcoming World Race trail. as i look at them, i notice that they are on two sides of the world. i have been mainly to north, central and south america, with one trip to africa. i am going to new zealand and australia, asia, africa and eastern europe. it dawns on me that these are places i know nothing about. the world looks both big and small to me as i sit here on my bed and stare at this map. i can't pick one or the other.

but no matter how big and how small the world is, i feel safe right now. because i know this, God is guiding me in this world. he has guided where i've been and he is guiding where i am going. simply put, he is in control and with me no matter where i am. sitting here staring at this map or traveling it, he is with me.


the summer i felt redeemed

I never remember FEELING redeemed before this summer. Redemption was something I kind of knew about, it was something I talked about in Sunday School and heard in church sermons. But I didn’t know that it could actually be FELT. I didn’t know until this summer that redemption and grace go hand in hand. I didn’t know that God’s grace is shown through HIS people. It is shown by second chances. It is shown by people trusting me again. And not just trusting, but giving me more of a chance than I had ever had in my life to live for God.

The summer started before summer. It started when I got a phone call from Wanda Wilt early in April asking me to help her co-direct our Vacation Bible School. I said, “sure, why not.” What else did I have to do at that time, really? So I jumped in full force and began learning the ropes for running VBS. It was a learning process. It involved meeting after meeting and spreadsheet after spreadsheet, but it was so worth it. From June 15th – 19th my life was consumed with morning and evening VBS. I should have just lived at the church that week.

There is something special about VBS that I still can’t place my finger on. There’s something about it that makes me cry every time we reach our missions money goal. There is something about the way the kids faces light up when they sing the songs. There’s something about the way the church transformed into the Amazon all for the kids. There’s something about dressing like a crazy person to go to church. There’s something about the way the little kids hug you on the playground every night. But most important, there’s something there that we give them that week. The Bible becomes a little more real, a little more important, and a little more exciting to them. And that’s the whole point of our long preparation, isn’t it?

Rewind a little bit in time to my first week in the office working on VBS. Gary stops me in the hallway and asks if I want to go on the Jr. High Believe conference that weekend. They really need another adult female sponsor to go, and would I be willing… Um, do you REALLY need me? I mean, Jr. High kids, come on. But once again I say, “sure, why not” and I’m off on another adventure.

My thinking about Jr. Highers changes on this trip. I swore up and down I would never work with them, and look where God has obviously placed me. He seems to do that quite often in my life. I had an incredible time and I’ve been a sucker for working with the Jr. High kids ever since.

Because of the above trip, I ended up being a sponsor at the Round Lake Jr. High week that I attended as a Jr. High student. I worked under the same deans I went to camp under. I served with the staff that served me. And I grew to love my kids even more, especially as I watched them get catapulted into the air on the blob. Camp was a highlight of my summer because of one night we had. They had an altar call for the kids and those who also wanted prayer could come forward and receive that. 5 girls from my dorm came forward for prayer and I got to sit around a table and pray with them collectively and individually. My heart broke that night as I listened to their struggles, cried with them and tried to encourage them through this time. I had no clue what to say when I walked down with them, but God gave me the words and pushed me to minister to them that night.

Another highlight came the week after camp. I got home on a Friday and boarded a plane on Saturday to go to another place I call home. I went back to Arizona, largely because they begged me to come back and bake cookies for them, but also because I had missed everyone terribly the whole year that I had been gone. My week was full of incredible moments. I drove the strip in Vegas, watched the Bellagio fountains, got Arizona iced tea at gas stations, went to church and sang with their teens, cooked in the same place I did before, ate plenty of frybread – even my favorite meal, frybread, spam and onions, sang with Daniel, had a heartbreaking and incredible conversation with Daniel, reminisced about last summer, drove up Navajo mountain, camped, saw the best view, and swam in Lake Powell. It was everything I dreamed and more. This was the place where I experienced both extreme hardships and also extreme joy. I left a part of my heart with those people, and I will always carry a part of them with me.

The end of July provided me another opportunity to work with Jr. High students. I took a three day mission trip with them to the Christian Children’s Home of Ohio, where my main job was to cook for our team. Our kids built and painted picnic tables for the children’s home. We also got to climb a 40-foot tower and zipline down. This was a new a scary experience for many of these kids, and it was fun to be there and encourage them in this adventure.

August has included a stint of grandma-sitting for some of my friends’ grandma while they were on vacation. I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. It has included a family vacation to Minnesota where I was thoroughly entertained by my cousin’s 4 and 2 year old boys. And it has also included me going back to Tree of Life as a secretary for 3 weeks, a job that was an answer to a prayer I didn’t even know I had.

At the beginning of all of this, I had no clue what the next year held in store for me. Many of you who read this already know that the next year of my life holds an adventure that will be greater than I can even imagine at this point. Another part of my FEELING redeemed this summer was my acceptance into a program called the World Race. It is through an organization in Georgia called Adventures in Missions and it is an 11-month, 11 country missions trip experience. I heard about this trip in February of 2008 and ever since then, it has been on the back of my mind. When I didn’t receive an internship that I had applied for, the World Race once again popped into my mind and I began the application process in May. In mid-June I got accepted and it has been a whirlwind of emotions ever since. I am incredible excited, but I have days where I am scared out of my mind wondering what I am thinking. God calls us out of our comfort zones, and while I know that I can do this with HIM, I still can’t stop the scary feeling I get knowing that I am leaving everything I know for 11 months. It is a long time, but this is something that He has called me to do, and I’m going to do it.
So, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Kenya, Uganda, Pioneer Africa, Romania, Ukraine and Pioneer Eastern Europe, here I come.

I have been broken. And I am redeemed.

(For more information on the World Race, check our their website at www.theworldrace.org or my World Race blog at www.margietermeer.theworldrace.org)


never thought this would happen

Jr. High kids were not my specialty. In fact, a year ago or 6 months ago, I had NO plans of really working with them, ever. But my plans are not the best, really. So when God opened the door to work with jr. high kids, I stepped through in faith. And I have had the time of my life ever since.

These kids are great. I have learned to LOVE them. I have learned from them. I was recruited as a mentor, but these kids have ministered to me more than I could realize. They are part of my second chance. I look forward to every minute I get to spend with them.

And boy, do we have fun together...



girls in blue dresses with no satin sashes...

I really wish I could explain what the sisterhood meant to me.

There's been wonderful times that we've walked through together (mostly late at nite and involving macaroni and cheese).

There's been hard times (with many tears) that we have unfortunately walked through together.

But through it all, these three girls have been ones I could call at any time.

And today, one of them got married. Lisa always tried to take care of us. Her older sister, mother instinct kicked in quite early in the sisterhood, and it is one of the things I love about her.

But Lisa also knows how to have an incredibly good time (seaweed, anyone?)

Congratulations, Lisa and Lin - know that I will always be praying for you both. And Lisa, just because you're married doesn't mean that sisterhood moments can't be relived...


ah. here we go...

Here goes the month of July…

First of all, there’s the wedding. Lisa is getting married in less than 48 hours and it’s going to be an all day affair, but it will be a fun one.

I have one day to recoup.

Sunday, I leave for jr. high church camp up at Round Lake. I haven’t been up there in two years, and I am really excited. Two years ago, I got to go to Round Lake with a bunch of other people from church as well as a bunch of our jr. high kids. This year, I’m the only sponsor from church with a dozen or so of our kids, but I’m still really excited. I’ll get to be a family leader and get to know not only whoever I am leading a family with, but also all of my kids.

In my head, and a few times out loud, I’ve said that jr. high kids weren’t my favorite and I couldn’t really picture myself working with them.

Well, God likes to take what I say and turn it around. And like I’ve learned before, I’ve seen it again lately, His plans are ALWAYS better (and more fun) than mine.

So I’ve been working with jr. high kids. And I love them. I love talking to them, I love subbing for them, and I love being around them.

So, RLCA, since you invested in me in jr. high school so many times, here I am again, to invest in however many of the 140 kids next week that I can.

Jr. high, here I come.

After jr. high camp, life gets even more exciting. I’m going to Vegas.

Just flying there, where I go beyond Vegas is way more exciting to me than Vegas. Inscription House, AZ, here I come.

I love this place. I left my heart there. (For more details or info, go back and read my old posts from last summer about this place and the incredible people that I love there.)

It’s been too long since I’ve seen this family, this family that I am a part of. Sarah told me to come back anytime after I told her I loved eating drybread with sheep fat and liver.

So, Arizona, I am so ready to see you. I am so ready to walk across eggshell arch, to hike down in the canyon, to drive fast with Jere, to talk with Daniel, and to give every single family member a hug.

Life is good when you can see and be with the people you love. This is going to be a great July.


waterslide lines, or any kind of line

I went to hang out with Anna. People watching is an added bonus. The local waterpark just happens to be the perfect place to do both.

We were standing in line yesterday, waiting for a slide, when some guy made a really strange comment to Anna about her being a competitive swimmer, then proceeded to tell us that the slides were so crazy he sometimes screams four-letter words. We weren’t impressed. We went down the slide and thought we were done talking. Lo and behold, we see this guy and his friend again, in another line, another opportunity for a short conversation.

It was typical, until we asked when they had come to the waterpark today. The guy said 2:00, because they had been drinking the night before and slept in late. Not impressed again, either of us. We tried to end the conversation as soon as we could. The slide line couldn’t move fast enough.

After it was over, I looked at Anna, and we both had the same look on our faces. I asked her why people always feel the need to brag about cussing and drinking. Is that really supposed to be impressive? Maybe so, maybe the world is impressed by these things. We are different. To the world, we are supposed to look weird, the be strangers, to be aliens.

After the fact, once Anna and I had walked away, we thought of several good things we could have said to these guys, things that would have made them second guess what they wanted to tell us. We were too put off in that moment to take the opportunity to talk about why those things don’t impress us. But next time, in whatever line I find myself in, I will carry on that conversation.

There’s always opportunities to shine the light in a dark place, to explain why we are like aliens in this world.


tiki huts and carpet rolls

Tiki huts and carpet roll trees were the visible signs that VBS was going on this week. The invisible signs were my brain getting ready to explode and my heart overjoyed that VBS was actually happening.

The week was crazy, crazy in a good way. It was the kind of crazy that I love. The kind of crazy that has attached to it beautiful moments engineered by little kids. There was the little girl that made Tangi wear the sparkly star-shaped sunglasses, the little kid named Matteo who spelled out his name before he said it, the way the little kids chased Chris around the playground, and the way the 6th graders got so excited about whipped cream shots from Phyllis.

But VBS definitely is not all about the funny and wonderful moments with the children. It is about sharing with them the most important thing of all time. We traveled through the Bible via the Amazon and ended on the last day with the story of Jesus. There was the skit, being acted out in front of me, re-telling a story I have heard more times than I could count.

And as I stood in the back, hanging on to a chair, I found myself crying. I listened to the story again, and I found myself overwhelmed by the gospel, again. It has happened before. The greatness of the story, the immense love that is God, physically shakes me, and tears start rolling down my face. There were two women crazily dressed up on stage trying to tell kids about Jesus, and they touched me too.

I still get overwhelmed, and I love it. The Word is alive and has the power to overwhelm me every time I hear it, or tell it.


23 places... or just 2

"The opening greeting (of Colossians) closes with a most significant placing of two things side by side. He writes to the Christians who are in Colosse and who are in Christ. A Christian always moves in two spheres. He is in a certain place in this world; but he is also in Christ. He lives in two dimensions. He lives in this world whose duties he does not treat lightly; but above and beyond that he lives in Christ. In this world he may move from place to place; but wherever he is, he is in Christ. That is why outward circumstances make little difference to the Christian; his peace and his joy are not dependent on them. That is why he will do any job with all his heart. It may be menial, unpleasant, painful, it may be far less distinguished than he might expect to have; its rewards may be small and its praise non-existent; nevertheless the Christian will do it diligently, uncomplainingly and cheerfully, for he is in Christ and does all things as to the Lord. We are all in our own Colosse, but we are all in Christ, and it is Christ who sets the tone of our living."

-William Barclay (in his commentary on Colossians)

2 places. 2 dimensions. Duties here and duties in Christ. Our own Colosse's.

Today and for the next week, my Colosse is VBS. The rest of the year is still a mystery.

Hopefully starting January 1, 2010 my Colosse will be in 11 different countries next year. (my interview for the World Race is tomorrow. for more information, go to www.theworldrace.org)

But for now, I'll realize that I am in Christ, and this one thing, I share with millions of people all over the world. So no matter what city or town I am currently in, I am connected to the body of Christ, always.

*I'm just learning to be 23 places...* (or just 2)


slowly... getting... there...

books. i love books.

I picked up Les Miserables again, the 1460 pager by Victor Hugo (who was getting paid by the word - if you were getting paid by the word, you'd write 1400 applicable pages and 60 on the battle of Waterloo too.)

I haven't read Les Mis since the plane on my way home from Africa. Every time I pick it up, I think of the many hours I spent sitting on our porch against the pole reading Les Mis while others worked on their homework. It reminded me too much of Africa, of the good times and the hard times. I don't know why I chose this week to pick it up again.

But I'm glad I did. As I sit here, in the library back at Tree of Life, it suddenly dawns on me that this book is one large story of redemption, at least, that's what my mom always says. I'm remembering it now. Redemption, forgiveness, a second chance. Hmm, sounds a lot like my life at this moment in time.

I needed time to process Africa, before I could pick this book up again. I've had that time. Those memories still come back. I still have to deal with consequences of my mistakes. But there is redemption, a wonderful redemption because of my Savior, who has forgiven me, and called me to a new and beautiful life. (hopefully more to come on this new life later!)

So even with the craziness of life right now between subbing and VBS, I'll hopefully finish the last 200 pages of Les Mis, completing one of my life goals of reading the entire unabridged version, and view the story in a whole new light.



I should be asleep. By my normal standards, this wouldn’t be late. But tomorrow is different. Yes, I am going back to school tomorrow to sub, but that’s not even why 11 at night is late. The reason is breakfast.

Bob Evans.

I don’t normally get excited about going to Bob Evans. It’s not like it’s my favorite restaurant or anything.

But there’s this group of people that get together and go to Bob Evans before school. I’m lucky enough to be one of the original five, along with my brother Matt, and our friends Anna and Dan Starkey and Alex Aurand. I’m lucky enough to be as crazy as these other four people that go to Bob Evans with me once or twice a year.

We’ve gone ever since I was a senior in high school. We went on special occasions, birthdays, end of the year, etc. When I left for college, the other four were still in high school and when I was home on holidays, we would go again. We’ve had special guests go with us some days, but it’s not the same if one of the original five is missing.

When we were all in high school, I would drive everyone in the mornings. For convenience, everyone would stay at the Termeer household the night before the Bobs breakfasts. Alex holed himself up in the guest bedroom so our cats wouldn’t bother his allergies. Dan was content to sleep on the couch, Matt slept in his room, and Anna and I would cram ourselves onto my twin bed. Those nights before, the morning breakfasts, and the crammed rides to school in a little Hyundai are some of my favorite memories of my senior year.

Tomorrow is the end of an era for Bobs. Anna and Matt graduated two years ago, and are home now. Dan and Alex graduate this year, and once that happens, our Bobs tradition will change. And that’s okay, but I know Bobs is something I’ll remember. And maybe one day, once all of us have been through our various schooling and we’re at home for something, we’ll wake up before 6 and go to Bobs for breakfast.


the meaning of a pink mug

There’s this scene in Return to Me when Minnie Driver is at the zoo with Bonnie Hunt and all her kids. She has this pink letter in her pocket that she has been carrying around for a year. It’s a thank you letter. For a heart. You see, Minner Driver had a heart transplant (and received David Ducovney’s wife’s heart, she later falls in love with David Ducovney, but that’s not the point of this post…) Anyways, she can’t bring herself to mail this letter. And Bonnie Hunt is yelling at her to just mail it. And Minnie Driver stands there, shaking the folded pint letter in her hand saying, “a thank you letter for a heart… it seems so… not enough.”

So… not enough.

That’s what mother’s day is, a day to say thank you to your mother, but the thank you seems so… not enough.

So, mom, here’s my not enough thank you for everything you’ve given me…

Thank you for:
Dollar theater movies.
Instilling in me a love of musicals, books, and Steel Magnolias.
Sharing your friends and Bible studies with me.
Shopping days.
Random gifts.
Putting me through college.
Always being involved in my schooling.
Not holding me back as I travel the world.
Wanting to visit wherever I am.
Being the one who’s always been there, who knows me better than I realize and for seeing past my mistakes to my heart.
Your love and grace.

And thank you most especially for your hugs. I and anyone else who’s ever received one know that yours are the best. I highly doubt I could survive without them.

The real meaning of the pink mug is this: I love you, more than I say, but I wanted you to know that you’re the best and I am thankful for you everyday, not just on mother’s day.


blessings of the unexpected

It has been nothing less than an interesting week. I think I could appropriately title it “Change and Growth” but that really just doesn’t sound cool enough. Don’t worry, I’ll work on it and come up with something better. But for now, I’ll just say that basically everything I am doing this week is included in the list of things I thought I would never do. Seriously.

1. Direct a VBS. Monday was a now-typical Monday. I meet with the other VBS director on Mondays and talk about everything we need to get done. Normally, these meetings last quite a while, and Monday was no exception. Most people don’t enjoy meetings, I understand this. And sometimes, I hate them too. But these VBS ones, looking ahead and getting a picture of what the week will hold, it makes these meetings exciting. And while it is a lot of work and many days I still feel I have no clue what I am doing, I’m learning and getting to work with people who have been so gracious and loving.

2. Go back to high school. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. This, I NEVER thought I would do. And for the record, I am officially blaming Sheri Aurand and Laura Stier for my return to high school. Yes, I went back to high school. But not as a student (which is strange being that’s all I’ve known until now.) Yep, you guessed it. I’m a substitute teacher. At the small, wonderful high school I attended only four short years ago. Those years went by really fast… Substitute teaching has been more than an adventure. It has really been hilarious. And apparently, now I’m an adult. Although I sure don’t feel like it. Maybe I should be worried about things like getting a car, having health insurance, and other adult-like things. But I find myself strangely NOT worried. Somewhere inside my mind I know that God will provide for me. And it’s slowly reaching my heart, so that I am really truly believing this. And there’s this peace, this peace which passes all understanding. And that’s really all I can say about it, because I don’t understand it. All I know is that it’s there.

Life takes these strange turns. And I’m never sure why or sometimes even how they happen. But in 5 years, when I can look back, I wonder if I’ll see this week or month in a whole new light. I wonder if the craziness of May 2009 will make sense to me then. Sometimes I wonder where I’ll be in 5 years, but then I get overwhelmed and just stop thinking about it.

All I really know is this… God is in control (just like the old Twila Paris song). He WILL provide, in his own way. And if it’s directing VBS, substitute teaching at Tree or something else I don’t really expect, I’ll take it, because his adventures are always greater than mine. All I have to do is look back and see what he’s already done.


i've worn out the world

What does a goodbye look like? A goodbye to a place that’s been like a home for four years. What do you do? There’s no way you can say goodbye and give everyone you’ve met there a hug. There are people I had coffee with several times that I never officially said goodbye to. I found myself instead getting one last glance as I watched them on the screen walk across the stage and receive their diploma cover. I said goodbye in my head. I said goodbye for me, not for them. Because they’ve already moved on. I saw the people I needed to see, and said goodbye in my head to the others.

Driving away was different than I thought. I was already done with IWU the school. And this time, I was driving away from the people. And the people that were hardest to drive away from was this family that I had grown to love so much. I love their house. They have 6 children (one is a new baby), 2 ducks living in their kitchen, a cat with 3 new kittens and a goat tied in their backyard. When I walk in, I’m greeted with hugs and smiles, and I can sit and play and talk with them for hours. I love that place. That home was hard to leave. I would go back not for campus, not for IWU, but for that home, those incredible people.

I’ve worn out the IWU world. I’m done there. And I’m good. I’m better than good. There’s something new waiting for me. There’s a place where I will live. There are people I will meet. And while IWU is in my past, I’m not going to really miss it. I’ve carried the memories and the people with me.

It was a good place. I learned there, through good times and bad. But it’s officially over now, and I’m moving on.

Hello World…

*Now that I've worn out, I've worn out the world
I'm on my knees in fascination
Looking through the night
And the moons never seen me before
But I'm reflecting light

I wrote the pain down
Got off and looked up
Looked into your eyes
The lost open windows
All around
My dark heart lit up the skies

And now that I've worn, I've worn out the world
I'm on my knees in fascination
Looking through the night
And the moons never seen me before
But I'm reflecting light

Give up the ground
Under your feet
Hold on to nothing for good
Turn and run at the mean times
Chasing you
Stand alone and misunderstood

And now that I've worn, I've worn out the world
I'm on my knees in fascination
Looking through the night
And the moons never seen me before
But I'm reflecting light*

Reflecting Light – Sam Phillips (As seen in Gilmore Girls)


orleanna and the jr. high kids

“I find her standing on the sea wall in raincoat and no shoes, glaring at the ocean. Orleanna and Africa at a standoff.” (Adah – The Poisonwood Bible)

I spent the weekend with 14 jr. high students at a Believe conference in Anderson, IN. Why? I think I’m still figuring it out. I spent weeks waiting, wondering where God was going to take me now. Back to a place that holds great spiritual memories for me.

I found myself looking over the auditorium at Anderson University remembering that that place held my beginnings at youth conferences too. In the summer of 2001 I was getting ready to enter high school and spent a week in Anderson with some incredible people who changed my life. And here I was again, with these kids as they began their journey. And while I would have loved for my mind to be thinking all about them this weekend, God did something different in my heart.

Once again, He spoke to me about grace. He used loud music, wonderful speakers and an auditorium full of crazy jr. high students to show me his love, and that he has plans for them and me.

He showed me that Africa and I aren’t done yet. There is still this longing in my heart for that place and those people. Maybe it’s because I left fast, but as one speaker told the story of Austin Gutwein and Hoops for Hope, I found myself crying as I cheered for the clinic they built in Zambia. Those people have a piece of my heart.

Orleanna and the jr. high kids aren’t the most likely combination. But since when has God ever used anything normal in my life…


at 9:30 on tuesday morning...

I’m a fairly lucky 22-year old. Not only do I have an incredibly wise and wonderful mother, she is now sharing with me a part of her life that I have grown to love.

There is an eclectic group of really cool women that meet at 9:30 on Tuesday morning for Bible study. They have often gone through Beth Moore books and are now making their way through a Kelly Minter study. But the books that they go through isn’t what is special about them.

They share their stories. They facebook each other. They relate to what they’re studying. And probably little known to them, they are teaching me more than I ever could learn in a classroom.

These are your everyday women, wives, mothers, grandmothers, and friends. I understand that many college students probably wouldn’t love going to their mom’s Bible study every Tuesday morning. Maybe I’m strange, but I love it. It’s my favorite time of the week. I never know what I’m going to hear or learn.

So, Tuesday morning group, here’s to you. Thank you for making me feel included. Thank you for welcoming me home. Thank you for sharing your stories and allowing me to interject comments every once in a while. I’ve learned more from you than you’ll ever know.


ruth and lezlee and jon

For me, Africa has been about grace. And it isn’t just what happened at the end. The whole experience has symbolized grace to me. If I could put a face of someone on grace, I would use Maureen’s face.

Grace welcomed me home. And it’s not leaving either. Sermons I’ve heard since I’ve been home have been about grace. The North American conference is about grace this year.

Easter, this year for me, was about grace. Grace.

I was overwhelmed with the letters I and my family received as I returned back to the States at the end of February. I printed these out and put them in my journal from Africa. These letters are as much about Africa as everything I wrote.

Two incredible women that I wish I knew better wrote me something about Easter that hit home on those cold days in March and the beautiful sunny, Easter day today.

“Life is always messy. That’s why we needed the cleansing blood. Sometimes if we live just good enough, we never really believe we need it that much. You will know him for his gift now at this season of Easter. You will be better for it.” – Ruth

“We are most formed spiritually when we come face to face with our sin and the suffering that accompanies it in this world. My hunch is that this Easter will be like none other for you… basking in the love of Jesus in new ways no one could imagine.” – Lezlee

I kept thinking about these letters and the many others that flooded my inbox as I sat in Easter service and listened during communion. And the Jon started to sing…

My soul is weak
My heart is numb
I cannot see
But still my hope is found in You
I’ll hold on tightly
You will never let me go
For Jesus, You will never fail
Jesus, You will never fail

Simply to the cross i cling
Letting go of all earthly things
Clinging to the cross
Mercy’s found a way for me
Hope is here as i am free
Jesus, You are all i need
Clinging to the cross

Even darkness is as light to You, my Lord
So light the way and lead me home
To that place where every tear is wiped away
For Jesus, You will never fail
Jesus, You will never fail

Simply to the cross i cling
Letting go of all earthly things
Clinging to the cross
Mercy’s found a way for me
Hope is here as i am free
Jesus, You are all i need
Clinging to the cross

What a Saviour, what a story
You were crucified but now You are alive
So amazing, such a mystery
You were crucified but now You are alive

Simply to the cross i cling
Letting go of all earthly things
Clinging to the cross
Mercy’s found a way for me
Hope is here as i am free
Jesus, You are all i need
Clinging to the cross

Thank you Jesus. I couldn't thank you enough for your grace in my life. So thank you.


band-aids and longer lasting pain

I no longer fully own my heart.

And I used to think that I left pieces of my heart in the places where I’ve been. I’m rethinking that. I haven’t just left random pieces in the places, I’ve given pieces away to people.

When I look back over my life, a life that to many would maybe seem unexciting, has been to me a grand adventure. The people I’ve met have been more than amazing, and it’s these people that own pieces of my heart, whether they know it or not.
And I guess that’s why it’s so hard to leave these people. They own a part of me, a part that while I am glad to give away, I will never give back. I always think when I leave that things will never be the same. I will never be with these people in this place again. And when I stop to think about it, it hurts. Really hurts.

When I left Africa, it was like ripping off a band-aid. It had to happen and I wasn’t really ready for it. It happened so fast and it hurt intensely for a while, but it wasn’t like anticipating leaving. And that is what my friends are going through right now.
Two incredible young women have spent since the beginning of January in Dubai. They come home in 3 weeks. And am I ever ready for them to come home. Yet, I know these last 3 weeks are going to be hard thinking that they will soon be leaving. This isn’t ripping off a band-aid. It’s something in which the pain lasts longer although with maybe a little less intensity.
In the end, the hurt is kind of the same.

Whether I leave fast or slow, I realize that I’ve still left a part of myself with the people.

So here’s a toast to the people who own a part of me that may not even realize they own. And here’s another to two amazing friends. May the next 21 days be more than you ever imagined. And when you get home and it hurts, I’ll be here.


for you and me

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish He didn't trust me so much."

- Mother Teresa -


verse two

*I was a little girl alone in my little world
who dreamed of a little home for me.
I played pretend between the trees,
and fed my houseguests bark and leaves,
and laughed in my pretty bed of green.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest swing.
I had a dream.

Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park,
I asked God who I'm supposed to be.
The stars smiled down on me,
God answered in silent reverie.
I said a prayer and fell asleep.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest tree.
I had a dream.

Now I'm old and feeling grey.
I don't know what's left to say about this life I'm willing to leave.
I lived it full and I lived it well,
there's many tales I've lived to tell. I'm ready now,
I'm ready now, I'm ready now to fly from the highest wing.

I had a dream*

Dream - Priscilla Ahn

*Thank you Tibs - I'm so blessed to have a friend like you*


the little girl in me

I have spent the past three days surrounded by kids who are half my size, little girls who are better basketball players than they were three months ago, who are still in elementary school, who are not ashamed to skip and dance and laugh out loud, and who have so many adventures ahead of them. I closely watched these 8 little girls on Friday, as I ref’d one of their games. I watched them play their last 36 minutes of Upward basketball this season on Saturday. I saw my dad and their parents beam with pride as my dad explained how far they’ve come this season and how much they’ve grown. And I celebrated with them today.

Julia, with the crazy hair, was who I saw myself as when I was that age. My dad disagreed. He said Sidney, who skips down the court, was the one that reminded him of me the most. And I remembered this video we have from when I was three or four, singing in front of church. I don’t remember myself at that age, but apparently, I loved to sing and dance. During a song the little kids were singing in front of church back in the day, I was standing in front, and I got excited about this song. So I started jumping, up and down, by myself. But soon, others joined in my enthusiasm, jumping up and down with me. My mom has memories of me dancing around the house singing along with a tape of “Sing Your Praise to the Lord.”

Somewhere around 2nd or 3rd grade, I got really shy. Yes, I am an introvert, but I really closed up for several years. And the dancing little girl in me got lost. That lasted for a long time. I took on the shy identity and made that who I always was. I forgot to really sing and dance. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to do.

In 2003, I went to Venezuela and found myself again in the adventure. I fell in love with the country and the people and traveling. I sang at the top of my lungs with those people and began to dance again. Every trip I take, I find another piece of myself, only to leave a piece of my heart with the people I meet and travel with. The little girl, uninhibited, is resurfacing. I want to jump and skip and dance and sing again.

So many people today told me I have the “adventurous spirit.” Is that what it’s called? This desire I have within me to go everywhere. People wonder where it’s from, my parents, other family members? I have no idea actually.

All I really know is this…

This adventurous little girl who will gladly hike up a mountain in Venezuela, play a softball game with strangers in the DR, go white water rafting (and fall out of the raft) in Costa Rica, hike down a canyon and cross a natural arch in Arizona, skydive in Ohio and ride on top of land cruisers in Zambia is not done being adventurous. She has no clue what’s next but she is ready and willing to go everywhere and do whatever God calls her to do.

The little girl in me is now really me.


school bus hugs

Today I saw a little girl get off a school bus. She wasn’t very old, maybe 1st or 2nd grade. My mom and I were driving along Hard Rd and had to stop because a school bus was letting off kids near an apartment complex. There was a mom and a younger brother waiting for this little girl. And when that little girl stepped off the bus, the younger brother ran up to her and gave her the biggest hug.

And I thought, ‘he’s probably waited all day to see his older sister and give her that hug.’ All day to that little boy was a long time. A day doesn’t seem that long to me anymore. But I’ve lived 22 years. That boy was maybe 4.

I remember when days seemed forever. Weeks were an eternity. And I could barely wrap my mind around a month. Not seeing my brother all day was torture. All day was a long time back then.

Nowadays, I go months without seeing my brother, or other people I love. My concept of time has changed. A day to that little boy is the same as months to me. But hugs for my brother after months look exactly the same as that hug I witnessed today between a brother and sister who had gone ALL DAY without seeing each other. It’s like stepping off a school bus to a waiting family at the end of a long day.

I get my next hug in a few weeks from my little brother. Except now he’s the one in school and I’m the bum at home. It will still be just as good. I’ve been waiting all day.


see blog name

I am home, in Ohio.

Africa was great. It just ended a little differently and a little earlier than I thought it would. But I’ve learned over the past 10 days that while life may never go as we plan, God is still in control and he can use our mistakes and screw-ups for his glory.

I made a mistake. A big one. And it has cost not only me, but so many people that I love and care for. A group of 10 of us from the team went to a local place in Choma that didn’t accurately represent IWU or World Hope. We didn’t think before we went how our quick decision might affect so many people. I personally slipped into being a friend and forgot to be a leader (something I struggled with throughout my whole time in Africa). Peer pressure took over. And I’ve asked myself questions. What was I thinking? How did I let this happen? I've been wracking my brain for a week trying to figure out everything I did wrong, everything that led me to this point. And while I could make excuses for my decisions, it comes down to a poor decision and lack of good judgment on my part.

Because of this decision, the 10 of us were all sent home early. Some may claim this was too harsh, some understand the consequences. All I can really say is that no matter what IWU decided as punishment for our actions in Zambia, I trust that God is still in control and still has great things in store for every single one of us that got to spend 7 incredible weeks in Zambia.
I truly wish I could express how sorry I am about what happened. God has done a number on me the past few days. He's been the one I've had to run to and while I understand his disappointment in me, I have also felt his forgiveness and his grace in ways I can't even begin to express. He has taught me how to have a truly repentant heart. He has shown me the hearts of the other students who were also there and how incredibly sorry they are. We never dreamed that our actions would cause so much heartache and pain, and if we had honestly known or thought about it, not one of us would have ever gone.

God's grace has been clearly evident through this whole situation, in spite of the heartache we've caused everyone. I wish grace could be explained through a picture. I would take one of Maureen and the WHIZ country director, Elvan Chilundika. They have shown us more grace than I believe is humanly possible. They have exemplified Christ in so many ways that I struggle to believe it most days. We deserve nothing, and they have given us everything and more. I wish everyone could know them, understand grace the way they understand grace. We have all learned more from them than we ever imagined we could through this time.

If there can be a good side to this mistake and this story, God will find it. My prayer over the last few days has been that in spite of my many mistakes here, this included, He will still shine through and his glory will be revealed. I know he can take things like this and turn them into something great and wonderful that can be used for his kingdom.

I didn't go to Lusaka with the team last weekend. I spent time alone for four days, reading and wrestling with God and surviving off instant coffee and popcorn and PB and J sandwiches. God used these four days to prepare my heart to come home. It's not going to be easy, and many conversations are not going to be fun, but I trust that God is going to do something in that. And maybe there's something hidden for me in coming home early. I don't know. Maybe I'll never know. But He is so good, and I trust him more now than I think I have in the past.

That weekend was hard. It was hard to be alone, to be silent. And I tried to avoid God at times. By Sunday morning, I was tired and frustrated and not sure what to think. I hadn't heard God yet. I knew in my head that he loved me, that in spite of everything and this situation, he still had great things planned for me. And yet, it hadn't sunk into my heart yet. And then, something happened.

This is what I wrote down after my experience in church:
“I wish I could explain what just happened. Church was normal, other than the fact that I'm here alone while everyone else is in Lusaka. Special music, yeah, it happens every week. Except someone different got up today. He'd made a DVD of songs and was singing one of them for us. He sang. Ba Judy translated for me. He called up one man, sang something to him. The crowd was totally into it. And then, he looked right into my eyes and called me up front. I was shocked. I had to put down the little girl in the red sweater sitting on my lap and stand in front of everyone. When I got up there, this man whose name I don't even know, grabbed my right hand and started singing to me in English. I smiled and listened to the words. He was saying that God brought me here from somewhere else for a specific purpose, that I was in Zambia for a reason. And tears started to form in my eyes and I tried so hard to keep smiling. As he continued, talking about how God knows my past, present and future, the tears started falling and I kept trying to smile. And when he told me with such clarity that God has great things for my life, I really lost it. I was so in awe. 60 some hours alone, with almost nothing but 4 novels to show for it, God spoke, out loud. So clearly. He said exactly what I needed to hear, exactly when I needed to hear it, in front of the entire Mochipapa church, right before I was about to give up some hope. He's incredible. He's amazing. How unworthy am I to be called a child of God and yet, I am one. And despite what I've done, He has great and wonderful things in store for me.”

That was last Sunday, in Zambia. And today, God blew me away again. I came home on Thursday. My incredible parents picked me up from the airport and drove me home. Every single person has been glad to see me, no matter the circumstances. And God’s love, shown through all of these people that love me, has continued to overwhelm me day after day after day that I am home.

There’s a program called Upward basketball that my church in Ohio has. This year, they are reaching 800 kids from 1st through 6th grade with basketball programs and cheerleading. My dad coaches 1st and 2nd grade girls. And on Friday, I got to watch their game. These little girls were much improved from the stories my dad told me of their first few games. They were a joy to watch, but the interesting thing came from a little girl named Kaylee on the other team. One of the goals of Upward is for every kid to score at least one basket during the season. The season ends next week and for this little girl who had yet to make a basket, time was winding down quickly. After half time I noticed that every time Kaylee’s team had the chance to shoot a basket, they passed her the ball. They all worked together to make sure that she had a shot. And my dad’s girls even noticed and backed away playing defense, giving Kaylee some open space to shoot. You see, little Kaylee is really little, barely reaching 3 feet, and many of the girls she plays with and against are at least a foot taller than her.

She shot 3, 5, 7, 11, who knows how many baskets and was always a little bit short. So the coaches and refs lowered the hoop a little bit. And one of Kaylee’s coaches stood holding the basket. She took a shot with one minute left in the period she was playing and the coach leaned the basket forward a little bit and the shot went in. The crowd went crazy, both the home fans and away fans, jumping up and down and cheering for little Kaylee, who finally reached her goal.

It was a special moment, one I’ll probably never forget. And the moment connected with that came today, in church.
There was a special emphasis at our partner church today for Upward basketball and so my parents and I went there for morning service. Kaylee’s mom, Cindy is an organizer for Upward and shared a little something with this church that has allowed us to use their facilities every week and weekend for this amazing outreach program. So Cindy got up front, shared some statistics about Upward and then told this story of Kaylee. She explained how the coaches had helped Kaylee all along, even lifting her up at times so she could see what it was like to make a shot in practice. And finally, her coach gave that little extra push on Friday night so that Kaylee could make her first shot. She reached her goal.

And isn’t that what God does for us. He helps us along, lifts us up when we can’t make a basket and in the game, he leans the basket forward a little so that our shots go in. Even when we’re too short to make the basket, He helps us. His grace and his love provide a way for us to take part in his ministry, even when we fall short.

And I cried again. This story was another picture of God’s amazing love that he shows us each and every day in little ways. Sometimes I think I miss the love and gifts he gives me. Other days, they are so obvious.

I’m loving Sundays more and more. I’m loving God more and more.

Through these past 10 days, there’s been so many little things that God has used to show me how much he really loves me. And when I stop to think about all of the things and I add them up and I start to feel how much he loves me, I’m overwhelmed again and I find myself in tears most times, good tears.

One of these things that God used was a letter I was supposed to read when I was tired and exhausted during my time in Zambia. It was the one letter from a dear friend that I hadn’t read yet and I carried it with me during the four days I spent alone. There was a song in the letter, a song that my friend regularly sings and doesn’t always remember the words. So she found the words and wrote them down for me, and those words were ones I used to sing myself to sleep those nights I was alone.

*He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us, so.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way…

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us, so.*

Thank you Jesus, for loving me in a way that I often don’t understand. Thank you for showing me that love through little kids’ smiles, through letters from home that mean more than the writer intended, for parents that are so willing to forgive, for second chances when I thought there would be none, for friends who want me home, and for using me even when I’m too short to make a basket.

God is good. All the time.

And all the time. God is good.


hamstring or quad

Okay, ready?
Stupid Marge Moment in Africa #1

There’s this building right behind our house in our little compound that I believe is used for storage of some sort. It’s a simple square building with a flat roof. There’s a really strange makeshift ladder that is sometimes next to it and it also has a fireman-like pole attached to one side.

So anyways, Elijah and Bratcher have climbed up there several times to lie in the sun and relax and read and sleep and get some time to themselves. Leah went up there the other day as well. One night early this week, we made popcorn yet again and decided to sit outside and eat and look at the stars, which when the nights are clear are incredible. And in order to see the stars and moon better, we decided that we too wanted to climb up on top of this building.

Elijah helped us up using the ladder and we sat up there for a while and had a great time. The night was beautiful and the moon was full and it was great and relaxing.

The issue for me was getting down. Now, it seemed pretty simple. You just shimmy over the horizontal part of the fireman pole and slide down. There were two people on the ground spotting us, and it really wasn’t that hard to get down at all. I made it over and started sliding down and was doing great until, BAM, I hit this little spicket type thing that was sticking out of the side of the pole. Yes, I hit it with my thigh and it did not feel good. No one really told me it was there and I slammed right into it.

Moral of the story: Even in the dark, look before you slide down fireman poles for a spicket thing or you’ll end up with one beautiful bruise on the inside of your thigh for a good long time.

*Football player comes into the training room where Christi Church is working holding the front of his thigh and limping and maybe almost crying a little bit.

CC: Um, that would be your quad. Your hamstring is the back of your leg.

Christi and I laugh about this for a long long time.*


matching choirs

I think Sundays are my favorite days. They kind of always have been. I have always loved church in the morning, a relaxing afternoon most likely with a nap, and fellowship of some kind at night, with dad’s popcorn for dinner. Sundays here aren’t that different than my Sundays at home. Granted, church is longer here, but the afternoon is relaxing and really nice with our Vesper service and Kara and I had popcorn for dinner last night.

Church in Africa is different than anywhere else I’ve been. And I’m learning to love it. In the States, church is fast and then everyone leaves. In Central and South America, church is long and everyone sits down and talks after the service. In Africa, church is wonderful. Our team has been split into three different groups and we go to three different churches. So Kara, Audrey, Brandon and Michael and I go to Mochipapa church, right next to the current World Hope offices. We go to Sunday school at 9 and normally the Vice Pastor teaches the lesson. Lately we’ve been talking about Abraham and how he was wiser by faith. They also asked the question, “should the church choose spouses for the youth?” which has been an interesting discussion both in and outside of church in our group. By about 10:15, everyone has come and the church is getting full, we start a time of singing and dancing. There is a different worship leader every week and they lead us through different songs and times of prayer, as well as offering. There are two choirs, one with 6 or 7 ladies called the Queen Esther choir and one with probably 30 people in it. They provide special music throughout the time of singing. There is also a praise team with around 15 people in it that gets up and leads us in worship choruses. This is normally my favorite part because we all get up and dance. It’s so freeing to dance in church. I think that’s my favorite thing here, the dancing. They also take offering during one of the songs. After a little over an hour, the pastor gets up and preaches for about an hour. Sometimes it’s longer, like last week, when we didn’t get out of there until one, I think. And then, as we exit, everyone stands in a line and shakes everyone else’s hand. It’s so nice because you get to see and somewhat meet everyone in the church every week. Vespers in the afternoon allows us to sing some of our favorite songs, ones that we know the words to, and read scripture and pray together. It is more relaxed but still pretty powerful and really nice since the students are the ones that set it up every week.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assissi (We used this during Vespers and it’s been something I’m thinking about a lot this week)

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love;
Where there is injury your pardon, Lord;
And where’s there’s doubt true faith in you.
Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life let me bring hope;
Where there is darkness, only light;
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.
Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love with all my soul.
Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
In giving to all men that we receive;
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

Both the choirs and the praise team at church try to all match every week. One time, the praise team all wore red shirts. Yesterday, the Queen Esther choir had matching chitenges, shirts and hats and the other choir all wore blue polos and black skirts or pants. It was pretty sweet.


the end is not the end

Random updates:
- I’m still entering African names and other information into the system for the WHIZ staff. Yikes, I totally thought I’d be done by now, but there’s lots of names. My favorite ones so far have been Fridge and Controller. It’s pretty sweet.
- I’m still blowing my nose a lot. And as Nick says, “Aren’t we all.” Yeah, 14 people in a small house, should have expected that.
- Housemates: I probably will come back with worms. Get over it. I’ll get deworming medicine before I leave.
- Mom, I have exciting news: I am a pro speed scrabble player. I challenge you to a game when I get home. It’s so fun.
- We get really excited about chocolate and cookies and popcorn here.
- I’m on page 745.
- It’s still really warm, and I’m still getting sunburned.

Alright, on a more serious note, there’s some things about Africa that have been breaking my heart and making me think. It’s fun being here, but not always easy.

AIDS: I find myself staring AIDS in the face every day here. And that’s not really a bad thing. But I’ve realized how little I know about the entire epidemic, both here in Zambia as well as everything that surrounds AIDS in America. I’ve probably encountered AIDS more times here than I even know. We’ve visited HIV+ and AIDS patients, and I’m not ever scared, but it’s just so different than anything I’ve ever run across in the states or other countries that I’ve been to before. I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to do about it. Maybe I’m not supposed to do anything. I don’t know, and right now I’m okay with not knowing.

HOPE: Despite everything that these people have been through and continue to go through, there is still so much hope. I get too caught up in things that don’t matter when I’m living with too many material things. I lose hope quickly. I get short-sighted. But I know more now. And the question that I’ve been asking myself lately is, what am I going to do about it when I leave? What am I going to do about it 5, 10 or 20 years down the road? Africa will still be with me, in one way or another. What am I going to do about it?

*And we were soldiers then – our bodies in the sand
And like that sand through our hands – go our grandest plans
And just to see your face for one moment
I’d cross the ocean again
The end is not the end
And I’ll be by your side on the other side
I’ll be by your side on the other side

And through the cloud of death – we’d find our way back home
And though I hold your hand – all must go alone
And when you see the face of our maker
You don’t have to be ashamed
He knows the promises we made
And I’ll be by your side on the other side
I’ll be by your side on the other side*

By Your Side – House of Heroes (thanks, kid)



So, I'm officially taking a survey. Should I or should I not get dreds this weekend? It would make life real easy and I was going to cut my hair short anyway when I got home. What do you guys think?


how to talk to girls

Day 18 and being sick in Africa has officially set in. It’s just a head cold, but I don’t sound too great and my nose will not stop running which is just really annoying. I also cough quite a bit and that’s just not fun at all.

So while the teams went out with the WHIZ staff yesterday to some different trusts, I stayed back and did office work. All over Zambia last year there were about 2600 people in primary school (grades 5-9) and in different communities that went through the Abstinence and Being Faithful program. They have all of the class lists from the local schools that are handwritten and bound together in this little book. So what did I get to do? Yep, you guessed it. I plopped myself down in an office chair at a computer and began to enter all of those names and ages and schools and whatever other information they needed. It gave me a lot of time to think and it was interesting seeing all the different names of kids across the country.

I finally went to town with Melinda the other day and we walked around. I bought a pair of shoes that I can hopefully wear with everything and they were pretty inexpensive. I also bought some chitenge material and we can have skirts made by the women of the community and help out the trusts with their projects so I am hoping to have that done too. The material here is so colorful and fun. Our style is way too boring in America sometimes.

The students are still reading a lot. You do that when you have no television at all. We sit on the porch in the amazing weather and watch the rain. We eat our amazing meals together all the time. We truck down to where the Garners are staying to get on the internet when it works. We have loud and interesting discussions. We sleep whenever we can. We share thoughts in devotions and pray together every night. And I couldn’t have asked for a better group of students to live with for three months. How blessed am I to be here.

Ethan is our resident storyteller. For the first week we were here, he read us a chapter every night from the nine year old author Alec Greven’s first book, How to Talk to Girls.


chitenge stall

Well, I’ve found myself reading a lot. The students are being very studious and so I can’t have any fun without them. Besides, I’m trying to fulfill a life goal in reading the unabridged version of Les Miserables. So now, out of 1463, I’m on page 428 and I keep on trucking through. Although, I’m still amazed at how Victor Hugo could write 59 pages on the Battle of Waterloo. Oh well, he was getting paid by the word.

We had class Wednesday and today and they both went extremely well. It’s fun to sit back and hear from the students and see their ideas come out when they talk together. I hope they are learning. It seems to me like they are.

Thursday was another day of adventure. We did a trust visit as a group and traveled up to Nakabanga. At one point, I got to ride ON TOP of the land cruiser with Bratcher and it was beyond fun, like, I can’t even describe it to you. It was that amazing.

But anyways, Nakabanga. It will be hard to find another group of people so incredibly welcoming. They were beautiful people, so full of joy and so happy to have us there with them for the day. It was just wonderful. They taught me how to make cabbage, and it’s pretty good. They made shima for us (the staple food of Zambia) and also cooked up some chicken and goat. Goat is really dark meat by the way and quite chewy but it has a pretty good flavor. We played with the kids, did some work on their piggery and also paid a visit to two different families.

This is where it got hard again. We saw so much joy in the faces of these people as we spent the morning with them. But our moods changed when we visited a little girl of seven who has been sick her entire life. I can’t imagine never being able to run or play with other kids. Never going to school because you simply never feel good. It was heart wrenching, again. Heartache and joy go hand in hand most days here. There’s no getting away from that.

We visited another mother who was 26 and a widow. She had just lost one of her three children and was in the hospital for several weeks. Now she’s living with her other two children and goes many days without food simply because they have nothing. We brought them some ingredients for shima and some sugar, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. Most days, I find myself wishing I could do more.

This morning we had class and this afternoon we visited the work site and pitched in where we could. I was painting some window shutters when one of the workers started working and painting close to me. The following is our conversation.

Him: What is your name?
Me: Margie, and yours?
Him: Fred. How old are you?
Me: 21, and you?
Fred: 23. What are you guys doing here?
Me: Working with World Hope. We came from the university in America.
A few moments of silence
Fred: Are you married?
Me: No.
Fred: Are you single?
Me: Yes.
Fred: I am looking for a partner.
Me: Oh really?
Fred: Yes.
Me: Well, I’ll keep an eye out for you.

Then we had to leave to go hang out with the World Hope staff. I could not stop laughing though, it was so funny. My first proposal. What do you guys think?

Chitenges are pieces of fabric that women wear that can be used for anything, including bathroom stalls when you have to pee in the bush.


pink toilet paper

We have yet to have a day where we get to “sleep in.” On Saturday we had a guest lecturer from the University of Zambia, located in Lusaka, come and speak to us about Community Development. The rest of the day was quite relaxing. I parked it on the front porch with a blanket, some music and Les Miserables and read all day. (Mom, I am now on page 173 and the students all think I’m crazy but they all think I can finish it before the trip is over!)

On Sunday we split into our church groups and went to church. I am attending Mochipapa church for the entire time we are here and so my team and I went and worshipped with the congregation. Sunday school starts around 9 and the service normally goes from 10-12 or 12:30. Some of my favorite things about church are the choir (they all wore red shirts this Sunday), how we all get to dance, and how they pray. During worship and pray time, everyone prays out loud at the same time. And they pray with such sincerity. Most times I just stand and listen while everyone pours their hearts out to God. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever heard.

We were all invited to Bible Study at one of the church member’s home Sunday afternoon. Most of the kids had schoolwork to do, but Michael and I went with the vice pastor of the church. It was basically an extension of the sermon, a chance for people to sit around and discuss and talk about what the sermon was about. It reminded me a little of Exit 59 and the Sunday school like group that met after church to talk about the sermon. It was nice. One thing though that is very different is that in the Zambian culture, everyone is very soft spoken, and silence within groups is extremely common. So there were points during the Bible study when it felt a little awkward to an American, but in reality, it was a perfect picture of their culture.

We had to make our first trip to the doctor that is down the street from us. Elijah (I knew he’d be the first one to have to go) has had different red marks all over and we’re pretty sure now he’s allergic to mangoes and our mango tree that we have. (Yes, we have a mango tree, and they are amazing! We eat them all the time.)

Monday morning we did some home visits with the Home Based Care branch of World Hope. We had been briefed about these, but I know no one was fully prepared for what we really saw. We drove out into the villages, where people live in little compounds in huts and there are kids running all over the place. They chased after our car yelling, muguwa! Muguwa! (white person) We are used to it by now, everywhere we go, people, especially kids, are yelling muguwa.

We visited two homes. At the first, we met a young mother who found out she was HIV+ in 2000. Since then, she has had two children. But her husband and children don’t live with her and her mother is her caretaker. She barely looked at us and wouldn’t really answer any of our questions. We talked with her mother a little bit and then sang a song and read some Scripture to her. Leaving was hard because we really had no guarantee that visiting was worthwhile. I know it was in my mind, but that doesn’t take away the things you feel. From the moment I walked in, all I wanted to do was give her a hug. But they don’t hug in Zambia, and I knew it wasn’t appropriate. It was just hard to see, as are so many things here.

The second person we visited was an older guy who was so welcoming and couldn’t wait to share his story with us. He knew English and so he told us everything and even showed us his medicine and log book of when he takes everything. He is currently living alone, but has a sister that checks in one him a few times a week. After he got sick, his wife left him, which is unfortunately an extremely common occurrence regarding HIV and AIDS. It breaks your heart to watch people go through so many trials and not even have a support system. That is why this Home Based Care system is so important. They try to visit the clients at least once a week and provide them with comfort and hope.

It’s hard to look some of this stuff straight in the face and wonder how people survive. I guess I’m not as strong as I thought I was. I don’t think I could handle going through the many things that these people go through. And yet they trust God and have hope in him. It’s amazing. These people amaze me and put me to shame all at the same time. I have so much to learn.

Mrs. Bota is the most amazing housekeeper and cook ever. She has done a wonderful job at taking care of us day in and day out. Monday was her birthday and so we bought her some cooking pots and a gift certificate so that she could buy something for herself. The look on her face was priceless and she hugged us all afterwards. It was such a fun moment and blessing to be able to give her a gift for all the hard work she’s done for us.

It rained all night Monday night and we were supposed to travel out to the trusts on Tuesday to do a few more assessments for World Hope. We all piled in the bus but soon got a report that the roads were going to be too bad to take the bus. So we all quickly piled into two land cruisers and headed out. After riding in the back of a truck all summer long, I was looking forward to a little adventure. And that is exactly what I got. I sat with several of the guys in the trunk of the land cruiser and had so much fun. We plowed through huge puddles and put on the four wheel drive in order to drive through a river. Not kidding, it was one of the coolest things I have ever done. I’ll put up some pictures as soon as I can for all of you.

The trusts were good for us to experience and we also got a chance to stop by Pemba Pilgrim Wesleyan Bible College and view the campus. I think they have 26 students right now, most of which are married and their families also live with them on campus. It is a three year program and missionary couples often teach the students which come from all over Africa.

More later. I promise.

We use pink toilet paper here.


tomato soup

I am incredibly unworthy.

We made it to Zambia. Almost a week ago, in fact. Life has just been so crazy that I haven’t had time to blog and tell the world about what’s going on. So grab your cup of coffee and an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie or two and sit in your most comfortable chair for a while.

I have never been on a plane that long in my entire life. We traveled for three days straight, got on four airplanes, the best bus ride of my life, saw the mist of Victoria Falls from the airplane and slept whenever and wherever we could. The most amazing blessing was sitting in the 69th row, which was also the last, on the airplane from Amsterdam to Johannesburg. Four seats for me and another student so I got to LAY DOWN and sleep and it was so wonderful.

It felt so good to land in Zambia, see Chief Jeff Johnson (Community Health something for World Hope) and Maureen (an amazing World Hope International Zambia employee) waiting for us and load up to drive three hours from Livingstone to Choma. We stopped in Zimba (about half-way) to visit a missionary at the local Wesleyan mission and give us a little break.

We reached Choma around 6 at night and finally got to see where we will be living, for a little while at least. The building we were supposed to be staying at is not done, so we are currently in temporary housing. This “temporary housing” involves Dr. Garner and his wife staying with Jeff in a house near the WHIZ offices and the other 14 of us crammed together in a little house with three bedrooms and only one shower! The students, though, have been more than incredible at being flexible and willing to go and do whatever. And really, for the most part, they have gotten along extremely well.

Sunday was our first full day in Choma and we all went to the Mochipapa church, where I will be staying with four other students for the rest of the semester. The people were incredible and it was another reminder to me that worship in another country is always better to me than a normal Sunday in America. We heard some of the Sunday school service, danced during worship and attempted to sing in Tonga. It was wonderful and all of the students loved the experience.

It got me emotional again, big surprise. And I was reminded of something that someone told me during Christmas break. In America, the motto is, “I think, therefore I am.” And that’s what I was living. But as I prepared to come on this trip and now being here for a few days, I’ve come to see that this man was right when he said that Africa’s motto is, “I feel, therefore I am.” I realized that it’s time for me to feel, really feel, again. I’ve been broken before, but I have this feeling that Africa, in all of its glory and suffering, is going to break me again.

Monday was spent allowing the World Hope staff to train us and explain the different departments that they work in. It was long, but I was blown away by their organization and their passion for the people of this country. Chief Jeff claims that these people are his heroes, and I totally see it now.

Thanks to Mr. Tolley, the book of James always comes back to haunt me, and it did again on Monday as one of the committees shared their theme verse with us.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 1:27

On Tuesday we were trained as to how to go out into the community and assess the 75 trusts that WHIZ is in charge of. The afternoon gave us some time to relax and play with some kids here at the compound who are incredibly beautiful.

God had been pressing on my heart to be completely open with these students. For relationships to be built, openness is key. So Tuesday night I was thinking about what I was going to share with the students later in the week when Jeff asked who wanted to share with the whole WHIZ staff the next morning. I kept my mouth shut, but when I do that God always uses someone to call me out. So Ethan (this team’s James Davenport), volunteered me to lead devotions for everyone the next morning, and I knew that God wanted me to talk to everyone, not just the IWU team.

So Wednesday morning, I did the devotions for everyone, and I have to admit I was a little nervous. I simply shared what God had placed on my heart, how no matter where we live, we all experience suffering. Despite all of the suffering we may endure, God is still ALWAYS faithful. Since then, several people have told me that what I said made an impact. It’s a humbling thing, being used by God. Many days, I feel so unworthy.

Thursday was EARLY. I’ve been doing really well at giving myself time in the morning to read and gather my thoughts for the day, but we were on the bus a little before 7 on Thursday morning. We went back to Zimba for the day to help the WHIZ staff with some of their trust assessments. So we loaded on the bus and drove along this amazingly bumpy road (my personal favorites if I’m not driving) and my team stopped at a small church in Dunka village to meet with the workers there.

These people were incredible. They have next to nothing, but they use all of their resources to help each other. The trust has started a piggery and will use the funds from that to start a garden, help send kids to school, and gather resources so that they can make home visits more often. It’s amazing the commitment you see in the villages from the people. They care so much for everyone around them. They are the true pictures of community.

We had some time to kill because of the rain and so they got out the drums and we sang and danced with them for a long time. It was also the right time for two of the pigs to mate, so we saw some real-life discovery channel action. As I danced there in the church with them, I had another one of those, “I’m never going to forget this” moments. God is so good.

Today we finally got around to doing some classwork. Nothing real strenuous, some relaxation and time to process and wind down after a crazy first week.

It became extremely clear last night as I sat on our Tonga stool and was prayed for how incredibly blessed I am. God has taken me through a whirlwind journey in the past four years to bring me to this point, with these insanely wonderful people, to serve him. It is amazing to look back and see his hand guiding my steps, both hard and joyful.

He is faithful.

When it rains, the ground looks like tomato soup.


one week

One week is all that separated me from two dear friends. I put them on a plane today for a crazy four month adventure in Dubai, knowing full well that had Africa never worked out, I would have had my passport in hand and said goodbye and gone through security to some B gate in the Port Columbus airport with them.

But for some reason, there is exactly one week between our different flights to different places where God is going to use us in different ways.

I have no way to describe how I felt as I hugged Emma and Anna today and stood there watching them as they walked through security. It was a different and strange feeling knowing that the next time I see both of them, all three of us are going to be completely different people.

I think I am okay with that.

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back?” - Frodo