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This fundraiser ended on 07/31/11

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The story

In a quest to discover my purpose and the qualities that I possess that could be used for Gods Glory, I recently took a Spiritual Gift Inventory online. Cheesy, I know…but I'm kind of techy:) After taking multiple inventories, the same rang overwhelming true in each assessment. Faith continued to rise to the top of the list. Over the past few weeks, I have been very grateful for that gift and have found myself in dire need of it.

About a month ago, I began to feel a stirring in my heart, that I was not to travel to Ethiopia with my team in March of 2012. For a variety of reasons, I began to question whether God was calling an end to my mission in Africa or my own hesitations were pulling me from God's work. I believe this is a struggle for many Christians. When do we know if it is God or us? I remembered this question coming up in a sermon and our congregation saying, you will know because the feeling doesn't ease up, he comes to you in prayer and meditation, and to seek counsel from people that join you in your walk with God. So I began to pray for discernment and seek guidance from two of my closest Christian friends.

I spent time in tearful prayers, begging that I could continue my mission in Ethiopia, but the feeling didn't ease up. God was definitely telling me that I would not be joining the 2012 Ethiopia team. I had to lean on faith, my heart was broken, but I had to have faith that there was a reason and in God's timing, he would reveal his purpose.

The evening that I felt at my breaking point, I received two emails, from two different individuals, unbeknownst to each other, inviting me to Africa. The first was the coordinator for the care points that we visit in Ethiopia. She was inviting me to travel with her group in November, to explore the possibility of co-coordinating my own care point in Ethiopia. The second was from a vision representative from Children's Hopechest that noticed from my email that I was an educator. Children's Hopechest had been praying about a new initiative regarding starting a partnership with local educators that would connect school communities in Africa with school communities in America.

Wow!! Within 24 hours, I had went from feeling heart broken, desperate and confused to having a clear understanding that God still has a purpose for me in Africa. His idea was just much bigger than what I had ever envisioned. Now, more than ever, my prayers for discernment could not cease. Which opportunity was I suppose to take? Which path was I meant to follow? I began to pray that doors start opening to whichever opportunity God had planned for me. I prayed "Lord, show me the way and I will follow."

Within the next weeks, I received emails of interest from a variety of people to partner in an international initiative and an email from a world renowned author interested in collaborating together to begin an international literacy project (based on my efforts in Ethiopia). What a better way to connect schools to communities separated by man made boundaries, than through literacy! The doors were opening.

I began to reflect (with my close friends) on what I believe in relation to the mission to which I was called! To have goals, you have to have beliefs and beliefs can not stand alone. One can not solely reflect on their beliefs, but must also discern whether or not their actions are in line with their beliefs. I had to ask myself…if this is what I believe…what will others see me doing? So here is what I discovered.

1. I believe that Christians have the responsibility to reach out to "the least of these".
Actions: find a focused cause, build relationships, participate in mission work near and far, display neighborly kindness, pray for others, offer monetary support, provide resources and network with other communities.

2. I believe that we are all God's children and are not divided by man made borders.
Actions: keep your eyes open to the needs of others, respect other cultures, have an open mind, remain non-judgmental, be open to traveling without Americanized comforts.

3. I believe that Every child should have the opportunity to learn
Actions: provide resources, provide experiences, provide training, offer financial support, be a team

4. I believe that it takes a village to raise a child
Actions: spread the word about need, build relationships, ask for help, be open to help, accept help, offer help, collaborate

Next steps:
Knowing my goals, we had to begin to create a plan of action. It is very apparent that God is directing me toward a school collaboration with international orphan communities with an emphasis on literacy. I plan to travel back to Africa in September on a 'vision trip'. The purpose of this trip will be to visit several areas of high need, partner with a particular community to whom we can offer support, and prepare a plan of action. Upon my return, we will begin to lay the plan before our community. Working with one small community at a time, allows us to not only provide the books, but build relationships with the people in that community that can translate into slowly changing a cultural awareness of literacy one village at a time. (which I now realize that my prior experiences have been preparing me for both of these)

I am so thankful that God's plan for me has combined my two passions; education and international missions! So now that I've rambled (and I'm sure that I left out huge glaring details), here's how my friends and family can support this mission.

--Prayer!!!! Without the power of prayer, I would not be this far. Now it is time to include others on my prayer mission. Please pray that I will continue to follow on the path that God has intended and that he will continue to open the doors of opportunity toward his ultimate goal. Please pray that everyone involved will be open to collaboration and work seamlessly toward God's plan.

Financial Support--I typically fundraise for these trips for entire year, I now have 2 months. I have $1000 raised. I will need another $2000. This fundraiser is set up to cover the $500 that I still need to cover my flight. I will set up another for the additional expenses, but the flight needs to be booked soon.

Collaboration--If you know of anyone that might have advice or ways that they can support our trip, please connect us.

Networking/Encouragement--Following the vision trip, continuing to follow up with our mission and support through praying and spreading the word.

Without my friends and family, I would not have the courage to pursue this mission!!!!! Thank you for everything that you do to support me! Love you all!
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