Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Off to Zambia

I'll be in Zambia Oct. 22 - Nov. 21 without internet access so I'll update the blog as soon as I can when I get back to Jo'burg. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I'm an American-African

Thursday morning I left Little Rock, after a tearful but loving goodbye with my parents, on my way to South Africa. As I've shared before, those last couple of weeks saying countless goodbyes drained me emotionally and physically...I don't think I could have handled another day of it. After that two-week emotional roller coaster, my spirits received a big boost when I met up with the Warren's in Atlanta. It was great to reconnect with friends from FPO and know that we were about to board an 18-hour flight to South Africa to begin this incredible journey serving our Father on the field.

We also got a brief visit with Jeff, one of my closest friends from FPO, as his plane to Tanzania was leaving shortly after ours. The first leg of our marathon flight was 8 and 1/2 hours to Dakar, Senegal, on the west coast of Africa. It went by surprisingly fast, considering I didn't sleep a wink. We were only to be on the ground, but not off the plane, in Dakar for just over an hour. As we prepared to depart for Jo'burg for the second 8-hour leg, there was a mechanical problem that kept us on the ground, and the plane, for about 2 and 1/2 hours.

We finally got off and, thanks to some generic Dramamine, I was able to get a few hours sleep before we got to South Africa. As we approached Jo'burg, the pilot informed us there was rough weather between us and the airport that may cause some problems and turbulence...that was an understatement. We began our decent and I thought we were on a roller coaster...our big Boeing 767 was being tossed around the air like a toy while we could see lighting strikes all over the dark clouds around us. The pilot attempted an initial approach but quickly had to lift back up because the weather was so bad. He made a loop and tried again but still couldn't get in safely so we made a larger loop around the city to give it a try from a different direction. This apparently worked, although it was still a bit chaotic until we got under the clouds. The Lord is so good as we finally made a safe landing at the airport in Jo'burg. Praise the Lord for hearing and answering our prayers during those intense moments!

I was greeted at the airport by some fellow M's here in Jo'burg and enjoyed a tasty mexican dinner at Darrell & Elaine's flat. I love mexican food and thought I wouldn't eat another enchilada until I go back to the States so I this was a great surprise! We visited for a while then I went over to Stan & Nancy's to call home. After that, I was ready for bed but with a seven-hour time difference and jet lag, I was wide awake at 4 a.m. UGH. But the day has been good, I had breakfast at Greenstone Mall (very nice) with Barry & Linda and Alvin & Jane, then picked up a few groceries for the next few days while I'm staying at the BIMS guest house. It's been a relaxing afternoon, which was much needed, catching up on some rest and watching a movie on my laptop.

God is so good and has placed some great people here to take care of me and make me feel welcome. Praise the Lord, may His name be great and exalted in South Africa!

"Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!..." - Rev. 19:6 - 7

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A few more days

In less than a week, I'll be moved into my Joburg apartment in South Africa, trying to adjust to the seven-hour time difference and getting over the jet lag of being on one airplane for 18 hours.

These final days at home, or rather, visiting friends and family have been tough. I knew it would be hard but I never expected it to be as emotionally challenging as it has been. These days are all about transitions and change, something I need to get used to if God has plans for me on the mission field more than a couple of years.

The toughest goodbye so far came Tuesday morning. My best friend in the world, Nick Dorsey, moved to Louisville, KY, in August to start seminary at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Thanks to some banked frequent flier miles, I flew to Louisville last Saturday to hang out with Nick for a few days while he's on fall break. Nick and I met each other in 2003 through a student ministry and have been best friends ever since. We have literally travelled the world together on mission trips and vacations. We've shared more adventures, seen more places and experienced more things in the past five years than most people experience in a lifetime.

We have grown together spiritually, worked together, gone to school together, served at church together...the list goes on and on. But now, God has chosen our paths to split for a time. He has led Nick to Southern for seminary and is leading me to South Africa to serve there. What is so great about this is that, while we are on two different continents, we are still working together for the glory of God and sharing the same greater goal of reaching the world for our Savior.

I've never had a closer, better and more faithful brother and friend in my life than Nick. Nick was an answered prayer of several years that God put in my life at the most perfect time, for both of us. The few days we got to hang out in Louisville this week were sweet and I'm grateful for that time God gave us as we set off in different directions for this one common goal.

Things will and are changing and it's one of the toughest things I'm going through right now but I'm confident the Lord will keep my best friend and I closely connected over the next couple of years. There is no one in this world who I admire, respect and love more in the ministry than Nick. He is one of a kind and I'm richly blessed to have him in my life. I look forward to many more adventures God has planned for us in this world. Nick, you're the best. Thank you for being my best friend.

"Jonathan said to David, 'Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, 'The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.' Then he rose and departed, while Jonathan went into the city."
- 1 Samuel 20:42

Sunday, October 5, 2008


FPO ended Wednesday afternoon with a great time of fellowship, prayer and worship in our commissioning service. It was all bittersweet as our time at ILC came to an end and we bid farewell to each other.

Over the past couple of days, I've reflected on FPO and how God changed me. One thing I realized is how I took that time for granted and was far to eager for it to be over and be on our way. I never expected the goodbyes to be so tough, after all, most of us only knew each other a couple of months. But during those couple of months, something really special happened. God brought all 363 of us to ILC at the same time for us to walk together on this humbling journey and blessed us with a special bond that we'll never have with anybody else.

I absolutely love my FPO family and consider my friends there some of the best I'll ever know. They are some of my favorite people in the world (literally) and I miss them terribly but I know the Lord will always keep us connected in our hearts, prayers and the work He is sending us to do.

Even though I miss them, I'm enjoying my time with family and friends at home. We had an early Thanksgiving at my grandparents' house Friday night and it was such a special time with my family. Saturday morning, I flew to Louisville (where I'll be through Tuesday) to see my best friend, Nick, who is in seminary here. It's a blessing to see how God has helped Nick get adjusted here and surrounded him with great friends at Southern.

Pray for me and my FPO friends as we continue saying our goodbyes these next couple of weeks that we'll be able to show our family and friends how much we love them.

"Ask and I'll give the nations to You, O Lord,
That's the cry of my heart
Distant shores and the islands will see Your Light
As it rises on us"
- "You Said"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

So long Rockville

After nine and a half weeks in Rockville, VA, for FPO, this chapter of my journey to South Africa comes to an end tomorrow. I say it all the time but I can't believe it's come and gone and two weeks from Thursday, I'll be on a plane to Joburg.

So many times I thought FPO would never end. When your in the middle of it, sitting in sessions for hours, time can pass slowly. We've all gotten settled and comfortable here but it's time to pack up and move through another transition.

This experience would not have been the same without the people here and especially the ones who God blessed me with the privilege of building close friendships with. I stand amazed at the work of God and his provision during this time and the brothers he gave me to journey through FPO. I could never say enough what these guys mean to me and I pray our Lord will keep us connected on the field.

No doubt tears will be shed tomorrow and Thursday as we leave ILC. But I'm ready to see my family and friends at home who I love so much. I'm especially looking forward to my trip to Kentucky to hang out with my boy Nick.

These next couple of weeks will be exhausting for me, physically and emotionally. Let's hope the exhaustion will catch up with me Oct. 16 and I'll be able to sleep much of the 24 hours of flying I have before me.

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice."
Psalm 105:1-3