Fund Raising, Missions

Updates headed this way soon…

Hey everyone!

It’s been quite a bit since I’ve gotten an update out, but I wanted everyone to know one will be arriving very soon. On top of that I will be sending out newsletters in the next few days, so if your not signed up for those, make sure to do so!

This past month has been pretty crazy, readjusting and changing, and working towards being fully funded. But I’m excited to see the new year and to step into missions work full time, when that moment arrives.

Thanks for all your prayers and support, it means a lot!

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Fund Raising, Missions

Update on Living Arrangements and NY/MA Trip

Ok, time for an update on everything that’s ben happening.

First off, I now have a permanent place to live here in FL, after two months of traveling and not not exactly knowing where I was going to live.  My friend, who’s place I have crashed at for over a month, asked me the other night if I would be interested in renting a room in his house.  This works perfectly for the time being, as I needed a sort of launching place that I could live and travel out of.  A total answer to prayer, as I have been trying to figure out where to live for a while now.

Next, I was able to attend the support raising seminar in MA during the middle of September that I needed to attend, due to the costs being covered by a church.  This was a huge blessing, and allowed me to join several other fellow staff members on a road trip up north, which saved money drastically for me.  I came out of the seminar totally amped up and ready to dive into support raising, with new knowledge on how to do so.  We stayed with a fellow staff member in his home in NYC both before and after the seminar, and in general it was a very productive trip.

Support raising is also going quite well, and based on a conservative number and once all pledges have started, I have around 11% of my monthly funding raised.  That’s awesome news for me, and I can’t wait to get to the 100% fully funded mark!

As far as traveling this month, I plan to be in Savannah, GA over one of the weekends in October, and then the rest of the time in good old Florida working on setting up meetings with possible partners.  Excited to see everything God has for me in October!

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Missions, Uncategorized

Going Forward

Posted this on my tumblr a bit ago, but figured I would throw it up here on my wordpress as well, in case someone might not have seen it:

Why is it the path going forward sometimes can be so hard?  So incredibly difficult.  Every step forward sometimes is seemed to be met with two steps backwards.  Every corner turned into the unknown can feel like its met with doubt and uncertainty.

I don’t know whats going to happen, exactly.  I don’t know what will be, and in no way can know on my own.

I know what Gods word says about my future.  I’ve read it, I’ve seen it, I’ve preached it, and yet even now I don’t fully comprehend it all.  And at times life can be overwhelming.  The unknown future can seem a dark void, or some far galaxy way out in space.  I get the image of a sci-fi movie from long ago, or some video game that I’ve played way into the dark hours of the night, when I think of it.  Its has a sort of surreal feeling, the unknown, both good and bad, that I can’t quite describe and put into words.

But theres another side to going forward, to stepping out into that infinite abyss we call change.  To taking that leap of faith forward into God, and into what He wants.  I get the mental thought of someone standing at the front of a train, hair blowing in the wind, cares flying away.  Hands gripping the old rusted railing attached to the front, that someone has a smirk on their face.  Or is it a smile?  Maybe its a bit of both, but the point is their excitement there.  An excitement that they have never experienced before, and even though the train they are riding takes them through dark valleys and foggy forests, they know that its somehow going in the right direction.  A sense of future accomplishment, of moving forward with a great urgency and joy.  A passion rises up deep on the inside of them, that can’t be explained.

I’m on that train.  But at times, I’m not that someone that I described.  Many times, many many times, I’m quite another someone.

I’m in one of the cabs somewhere, tired and exhausted, collapsed on a worn out and faded chair.  I don’t want to walk to the front of the train, in fact, I don’t want to even move from the chair.  To even look out the window and see things rushing by, much less to stand on the brink of the future as it barrels forward to me feels like to much.  I don’t feel prepared for the journey that I’m on, I don’t feel that I deserve to be on this train.  In truth I feel like a phony, a fake, and somehow know that at any moment, at any time, the conductor is going to slam on the brakes and throw me off.  I see myself trudging off into the wilderness, and watching as the train continues on, with that someone at the front watching as I pass into the distance to become a mere speck on time.

This is a depressing thought for sure.  But bare with me for just a moment more.

I feel the fact that I can recognize this reality, and that it is a reality in many peoples lives, including many Christians lives, is important.  Too many of us want to give up, to let go, and to not continue forward with Christ.  We, be it for whatever reason – tiredness, brokeness, unforgiveness – want to give into the thoughts and fears that try to plauge our minds.  And quite simply we want to give up.  To let go.  We stay in the cabin to make the unknown ahead of us disappear.  We hide from our future because it is unknown, and we feel that what God has said about us could never be true, it could never be a reality.

I’ve been there.  I’ve been in that exact seat, thinking those exact thoughts.  Does that make me less of a Christian?  I don’t think so.  I think at some point we all have to face tough questions, and really decide what we believe, and why.

And at some point we have to learn to trust God.  To let go, and to stand at the front of the train.  To believe that He is taking us somewhere, and that we are driven with a purpose.  Do we always see what the entire plan is?  No.  Do we always know what He has in store for us?  Of course not.  Faith doesn’t go forward because you know the end result, faith goes forward because you believe God is taking you to an end result.

But I want to learn to stand at the front of the train.  To stop hiding in the cabin, and to lean forward with an expectancy like no other.  Sure the path seems hard, and in lots of cases, is hard.  No one promised it would be easy.  No one said that it would be a comfortable ride.  But its part of the process.  For some reason Ephesians 6 comes to mind:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might….Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

We can only really stand and resist, and move forward effectively I think, when we’ve decide to be strong in Him.  To lean on the power of His might, and not our own.  To take up His armor.

Anyways, now I’m rambling.  That’s fine, its good to ramble sometimes I think.  We need to get our thoughts out there sometimes, and to spill our hearts out.

We need to cry out to God more.  I need to cry out to God more.  To get on our faces, to put a demand on Him and expect Him to respond.  To believe, truly believe in our hearts, that He is the one true God, the God of yesterday, today and forever.  That He has a plan, that in all actuality would blow our minds away if He revealed it all to us.  Sure we would all say that’s what we believe.  And it would be true probably.  But I don’t think we have quite the understanding of it that we could have.  Probably not even a small percentage of the understanding.

I’m going to the front of the train I think.

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Fund Raising, Missions

Trust

So a few posts back I mentioned a few key things God was working on with me (patience, trust and being satisfied).  It has been quite the journey since I have come back from Africa, and each day is always a fresh opportunity to practice what I’m learning, as best I can.  One of those three that I have really had to work on is trust, and its been very interesting to say the least.

I arrived back in Florida a few weeks ago, and came on board with Overland Missions officially.  Now that I have done that, I’ve begun the process of meeting with people, and working towards being fully funded.  Having never done anything like this before, it has been a huge learning curve, from working on a budget, to planning out schedules, to arranging meetings.  I’ve also been without a job for the past few weeks during this time of transition, which has made things even more interesting.  So back to trust.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in prayer as of late, over all the decisions and choices that I have to make over the next month or two.  Things like where I’m going to live, how to go about support raising, where I’m going to work and for how long, and finances in general are things I need answers to, and some of them a lot sooner than later.  The issue however, is I’ve been starting to lean over onto how I think things should be done, instead of how God thinks they should be done.  I have a habit (and I think this applies to a lot of us) that I know what needs to happen, so I immediately start trying to make it happen myself, when I see things aren’t coming together as quick as I would like them to.  Instead of following the leading of the Holy Spirit, I follow the lead of my own logic and thinking, determined to make things work, and quickly.

This approach doesn’t work well at all though and just results in constant frustration, as you try to do things in your own strength.  Pretty much every single one of my plans thus far have not worked out at all the way I imagined they would.  The plans that I have felt strongly God leading me to step towards however, have worked quite well.  You would think I would get it by now, having had to rely on God for the work I did overseas.  But I guess that we all need reminders sometimes.

I was reading through one of my old journals the other day, and came across this note that I had written down quite a while back:

“Do not move till God moves.  Don’t get ahead of God, walk behind Him, follow Him and do what He says to do.”

This sort of ground me to a halt in a way, and I realized just how much I was relying on my own ideas and plans on how to make things work, instead of focusing on God and trusting Him to show me the way.  I fully believe that I am suppose to be working in missions on a full time basis with Overland, and a part of the process in that is raising my full time support.  But God doesn’t want me to do it alone, and He doesn’t want me striding off by myself trying to do it my way.  He has a direction and a plan for this time of my life, and wants me to follow Him as He leads me through it.  And that means trusting Him, completely and totally, and relying and seeking Him for how to do it.  This made me think of Proverbs 3:5-6 (Amplified).

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all of your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.”

Wow, talk about intense.  Trusting God isn’t just a a partial thing, it should be a huge part of our life.  And its something I’m having to learn how to do more and more, on a day to day basis.  I honestly have no idea where all the finances will come from, as I begin to move over into this new phase of my life.  I don’t even know where I will be living in a month.  But I know God is faithful, and I know if I focus on and trust Him and follow His guidance, He’ll direct and show me the exact way to go, and everything will work out.

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Fund Raising, Missions

Update on Finances/Next Few Months/Newsletter

Just wanted to post an update for all of my financial partners and friends/family, both in the states and abroad.

As I talked about in my previous update, I have arrived back in the States and am adjusting back into daily life here in America. I have been in the great state of North Carolina for the past week or so visiting family, and that has been good.  Also as I previously mentioned, I have made plans to come on board with Overland Missions, the NGO that I was with the past three months in Africa, and can’t wait to do so.  I will be flying into the Orlando-Sanford area later this week, and from there will head to the Merritt Island/Cocoa beach area, where Overland Missions US offices are located at.  There I will take care of the paper work needed, and after that will officially be on staff.

I’m totally stoked to be joining this organization on a full time basis, and am looking forward to everything the future has in store with them.  Overland Missions is a solid and time proven, with tons of experience in the missions world and the drive to reach the people that are unreachable, both in the countries of Africa as well as others all over the world.  My plan is to work with their expedition department, helping lead ministry expeditions primarily in Africa over the next few years.

After I finish this week with paperwork, my next step will be attending a two day support raising boot camp, were I will be equipped with all the know how and knowledge to correctly raise finances for full-time missions work.  Overland Missions believes, and I personally agree, that being 100% funded before leaving the country as well as how to correctly accomplish that goal, is a vital part of the ministry I will be partaking in.  To many missionaries commit to traveling over seas and doing the work, only to end up coming home before the job is done, due to finances.  My plan is to be fully financed before I depart for Africa and other countries next year, and this course will help me learn how to get to that point.  The course will run me around $300 or so, adding in another $200 for travel.  I am currently working towards raising those funds, and if you are feeling the Lord directing you to help supply that need, please feel free to contact me via email (brokenllamas@yahoo.com).

I will be staying (as far as I know) in Florida for the rest of this year, and the beginning of next.  I will be in contact and working with OM’s in recruiting for expeditions to take place the following year, so if you would like to learn or know more details, please contact me!  Also I would love to come share in your church, small group, ect, about all the awesome things and work taking place in Africa, so please let me know.

I also will be keeping partners (both financial and prayer) up to date with my monthly newsletter.  If you would like to be updated on everything going on, and my progress with Overland Missions, and basically everything going on, please feel free to sign up for the newsletter by clicking this link.

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Expeditions, Missions

Welcome Back America

Sorry for the length in advance, but this is the first update in a while, and I have a lot to say.

As I type this entry I have been in the states for almost a week now.  It’s strange to be back on American soil, after living for three months on another continent.  One would think naturally there would be some attachment, but I never truly realized just how much there would be.

Last year I traveled to Zimbabwe with an NGO by the name of Overland Missions.  I was inspired by the trip, and as a result attended their three month Advanced Missions Training course in Zambia this past summer.  It was an amazing time and an amazing journey that I took, and I couldn’t possibly do it justice in a blog.

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AMT class as well as Dan and Janell.

I remember arriving on day one, and meeting the other thirteen individuals that I would spend my time learning with, and not quite knowing what to think.  Meeting tons of new people can be intimidating enough, but to have to stay with them for such a long time, and even immediately room with a few of them, can be even more daunting.  However things went smoothly, and I got along great with my other AMT classmates.  And we pushed through all the challenges that the next three months brought, be it the rigorous school schedule, or hiking out into the bush to survive a night on our own, or traveling throughout chiefdoms doing ministry.  I honestly couldn’t have expected all the amazing things that would happen, or the people that I would make such lasting connections with.

Each month during our ministry training we headed into the bush, like I said, to minister to the people.  These were by far some of my favorite times in Africa.  Using DAF military trucks, we would drive out to areas that could not be reached otherwise, and set up tents in the wilderness.  After making camp, we would hike out each day there, visiting with villagers at their huts, and ministering to them in whatever way we could.  We worked in their gardens, we walked along the dusty roads with them, we sat with them in their churches, and we prayed with them at their homes.  We ate with them at community meals, we danced and sang with them around their fires.  It truly was an awesome time.

That being said, it has been an interesting transition back into the states.  Last time I returned to America, I didn’t in fact want to.  I wanted to stay in Africa, and go through the training course then.  But due to finances this wasn’t possible, and I had to come back.  I equally wanted to stay in Africa this time, due to the fact that I felt like, well, that I fit.  It’s a hard thing to describe, and in my experience I’ve found its hard to relate it to people who have never traveled outside of the country to do work like this before.  Theres a sort of freeing feeling that comes with this sort of work, and after seeing the needs of people in Zambia, as well as other countries in Africa, you really can’t go back to the same-old same-old.  You don’t really feel comfortable in the old “American dream” sort of life.  The teacher of my cross culture class described it in a perfect way; that you no longer feel totally at home in either place.  When your in Africa there are certain aspects you miss from the states, and vice versa.  It’s like your half-in, half-out.  Hopefully that makes some sort of sense.

And to be perfectly honest, there are so many things that I miss at the moment, its not even funny.  I miss living in a tent, which is probably strange to some.  I miss hanging out in the main center of Overland Missions base at night, talking with people who I’ve grown close to, and sipping down the third or fourth coffee while working on a project.  I miss the huge dinners where 50 some people gathered to eat on a regular basis, and you got to catch up with everyone on what they had done throughout that day.  I guess it would be safe to say that I miss OM in general, and the time spent there with everyone moving towards one cause.

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Dancing and Singing around a fire with the villagers.

But the fact is, I’m now in America.  I remember having a conversation with a few of the staff members one night, and one of the staff members made the comment “its not about Africa” when talking about future ministry.  Now let me clarify, she was not insinuating in any way that ministry in Africa didn’t need to be done, or wasn’t important.  The point she was making was that ministry isn’t about the place your at, its about who you are.  We should be ministering to people regardless of what continent we are on, or who they are, or their skin color.

I have already started making plans to return with OM next year, and to help lead expeditions into the bush.  I’m totally stoked to be planning to do this, as living in the bush in a tent and getting to meet with the people on a personal level is one of my favorite things.  But what I’m learning I suppose, is that until then, I need to be satisfied with where I’m at now.  Yes I’m in America and yes I would rather be back in Africa, but while I am here in the states I’m going to make the most out of it, and get everything I can out of it.

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A headman of one of the villages we visited.

If I were to list some of the hardest things to learn in life (especially my own, on a personal level), they would be patience, trust and being satisfied with life right now.  Patience is hard, because we want everything now.  This sort of mentality is especially breaded in Western culture.  Trust is another hard thing, because it takes so much investment and can be destroyed so quickly.  Being satisfied correlates directly with patience I think, because impatience can lead to a lack of satisfaction.  And when we aren’t satisfied with what we currently have, we tend to look to other things to hopefully fix that hole.  And the problem is, nine times out of ten those other things don’t work.  They fall through, they fail, and they just don’t do the trick.  This is something I’m learning a lot about, and have been learning a lot about over the past few months.

So whats on the horizon, and what am I going to do?  As I said I want to work with OM on a more full time basis.  I’ll be traveling to Coco beach, FL, next week to do paperwork and come on staff officially, and am planning on returning next year for expedition work.  Do I know how its going to all work, or where all the money is going to come from, or where I’m even going to live once back in FL?  Absolutely not.  Does that freak me out a bit?  Totally.  But I’m not worried.

I’m attempting a new solution in life.  I’m going to be patient, I’m going to be satisfied, and I’m going to trust God.

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Expeditions, Missions

Walking Into The Wilderness

As I sit here on base camp, on the day that our AMT class graduates, I can’t help but think about all the awesome and crazy experiences that I’ve had over the past three months.  Both in day to day life, and ministry.

Our last expedition found our group living in the Nyawa chiefdom, camped on the edge of a dried up river.  On our side of the river sat villages and people that had been there for years, but on the other side of the river sat the former GMA (game management reserve), which people had only lived in for around two months.  The story behind that is years ago the government decided that the animals in the area needed to be protected, and they forced all the villagers in the area out.  Not only did they force them out, but they burned down their homes as well, to discourage any of them from trying to stay.

These people had been, for a lack of better terms, without a homeland for years, and just two months prior had been allowed back into their land (and only because the new president decided that they could). They were given tents, and were as we traveled throughout, in the process of rebuilding homes and rebuilding a life.

This made for interesting encounters, and sometimes, no encounters at all.  On the last day, myself and a few others hiked into the GMA for the second time that week, and proceeded to walk the entire day.  From around 9:30 in the morning, till after 4 in the afternoon, we walked, almost non-stop.  At times we didn’t even have a path, and had to hike through thick wilderness.

Walking through the GMA, Zambia, Africa.

How many people did we find that day you might ask, as we trekked through the African bush?  The answer might seem to some to be disappointing.  We found two people, a man and women, relatives, sitting by a few huts in the middle of no were.  Along with them were two children, who were playing a ways off on a log.  We sat down, discussed the word, and ministered life to these two individuals.  They were already saved, but we got to learn their story, and encourage them in the Lord.  The man was just weeks away from getting married to a childhood friend, and we got to pray for him as well.

Now you might think that it was pointless to walk all that way, all day, to minister to two individuals.  And many times that week we did have the huge meetings, with the showing of the Jesus film, praying for the sick, and salvations.  However that day the plan God had for us was to just walk, for hours on end, to find two people who hadn’t come to our meeting.  Two people that lived so far away that they would never find themselves at our meeting area, but that God still cared for and still wanted to minister life to.

And thats the point behind OM and behind the work that we are doing, and continue to do.  To go as far as we can, to areas were no one has gone, to minister to someone that might need salvation, or healing, or just an encouraging word.   We go to people that will, in all reality, probably not get reached unless someone treks out to them.  Here in Africa NGO’s are a dime a dozen, but so few are willing to go that extra distance, and to find and reach the people that are almost unreachable.

As we left that afternoon, I was somehow completely satisfied with the day, and even though we had only found those two people, I knew that we had instilled life and encouragement into them, and that it was worth every step that I had taken that day.

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