Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Last full week of FPO

So almost two months ago I arrived here in Rockville, VA, ready to begin one of the first major transitions of going to the mission field. At the time, nine weeks seemed like a long time but now that it's almost over, I wonder where the time went.

But here I am, these final days at ILC for FPO with the IMB for my ISC term (gotta love those acronyms - wait, is correct?) finishing up last-minute details and attempting to finish my seminary assignments before the weekend so I can enjoy those final precious days with some of the most incredible people in the world. Going in to FPO, I heard from previous missionaries the friendships made here are the best part and what they remembered most. I was a bit skeptical but not anymore. Sure, it's tough living in an isolated place with more than 300 people, spending all day together, eating most meals together and socializing together. But if it wasn't for these close quarters and walking this journey together, we wouldn't have built the close relationships we have.

One thing I'm finding comfort in when I leave next week is I'll be reconnecting with most of my friends going to Central Eastern & Southern Africa about three weeks later. Actually, after I've said my goodbyes at home (which I'm also not looking forward to) October 16, I'll meet up with my buddy Jeff (who has been a God-send at FPO) and one of my new extended families, the Warren's, in Atlanta. The Warren's and I will be making the 18-hour flight to Jo'burg together (praise the Lord we're on the same flight!) and Jeff will be boarding his plane to Tanzania just after us. Less than a week later, most of us will be back together for another month in Zambia for 40/40 on-field training.

I am ready to see my parents (happy birthday, dad!), grandparents, Keilani & John, aunts and uncles, three beautiful and incredible nieces (Beth, Kati & Holly) and of course, my incredible friends who I've missed so much.

Here are some pictures below from my latest trip to DC and a special African meal we prepared last week. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Me & Chris (Shay)

Jeff, Jessie, Me & Matthew outside Nando's in DC

Our DC team - Jeff, Me and the Warren's

The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Cooking team at the Allen's - Me, Jeff, Roxie & Eric

Making something African, but I forget what

Stirring ugali

Ugali (after nearly an hour of stirring)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Three more weeks

My time here in Virginia is quickly wrapping up. Three weeks from tomorrow, I'll be saying goodbyes to new friends and going back to Arkansas to start packing, say more goodbyes and get ready to move to South Africa.

These past couple of weeks at FPO have been draining. The next three days aren't going to be any better as my group starts Security Contigency Training. We haven't been told much about it, other than to relax and not worry. All I know is we will be taught, through role-playing, how to deal with various "security threat" situations we could encounter on the field. These days are sure to be long and intense but once over, the last couple of weeks of training will be over before I know it.

Despite my ADD and lack of energy, God is teaching me and drawing me closer to Him daily. I love my Jesus because He loved me so much that He gave His life for me and died a horrifically brutal death because of sin. But death couldn't hold Him down. He defeated sin. He defeated death. And He walks with me daily, even when I am selfish and don't think about it.

I praise the Lord for rescuing me from my sin and depravity. I praise the Lord for dying for me. I praise the Lord for choosing me. I praise the Lord for His grace and mercy. I praise the Lord for calling me to Africa. I praise the Lord for giving me strength to overcome. I praise the Lord for holding me when I'm weak. I praise the Lord for my incredible family. I praise the Lord for my friends from home who have been some of the greatest blessings in my life. I praise the Lord for my friends here at FPO, especially those who I'm not sure I would make it through without them here. Father, may your name be great among the nations as you send us out in this world. I love you. Amen.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


We are officially at the half-way point of FPO and over the weekend, I was definitely feeling it. Over the last few days, I've really been anxious and ready to get to Africa. I've enjoyed the time here in Virginia at FPO but sitting in sessions all day, although the information is great, can be draining and my ADD doesn't help matters. Thankfully, God has blessed me with some incredible friends here to sympathize with and to encourage when I have my down moments. I'm so grateful for that (thanks, Tank).

Tomorrow, Tom Elliff, a vice president with the IMB, will be here conducting sessions on doctrine. I'm especially excited about Tom being here as his brother, Bill, is my pastor at The Summit Church in Maumelle, Ark. When I first began the application process with the IMB, Bill got me in touch with Tom, who served several years in Zimbabwe. Tom and I emailed each other a few times throughout the process as I was discerning God's call to serve through the IMB and specifically in Africa. I'm looking forward to meeting Tom and hoping that Elliff humor and wit will show up.

Tonight at dinner, I got to visit with this sweet lady from Missouri named Luella who is here at ILC with a team from her church, prayer walking the campus all week, praying for each one of us. She is 80 years old and still active in missions! She and her husband served an ISC term with the IMB in Taipei, Taiwan, from 2001 - 2003. Luella shared with us that her husband was a pastor and she was a school teacher. They promised the Lord when He was ready for them to retire, they would commit the rest of their lives to serve as volunteer missionaries and she is definitely keeping her promise! She and her team are not finished with their mission once they leave here. They're going up to colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown to prayer walk that historic area of our country. What a blessing Luella and her team is to us! By the way, during our visit we discovered that I'm staying in the same apartment (22C) here at ILC that Luella and her husband lived in back in 2001 when they went through FPO!

So six weeks from this moment, I'll be on an 18-hour plane ride to Johannesburg, South Africa. It's getting so close and I get more excited every day! I know these next few weeks will fly by, I just pray I'll enjoy every second of it and not just count down the day until I'm off to Jo'burg. God is good...