When it comes to taking a road trip, I am completely reliant on the navigation on my phone to get me where I want to be. I just came back from visiting my best friend from college and needed my trusty phone to lead the way. A little while into my drive, I began to realize that it was not taking me the way I thought I should go. I opened the app to check the directions. It didn’t have me getting on the interstate at all. Doubt in my pocket navigator immediately filled my mind. Surely this was not the best way. It was probably going to take forever to get home now. Did I mention that I was making this trip with my sweet, teething baby? Doesn’t this thing know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line? Not a squiggly, winding line through the mountains?
Then I looked around me, and it was beautiful. I drove through wide mountain skylines, trees aflame with the colors of fall, winding streams, old red barns, little white churches.
So much better than driving on boring I-75. Nora and I had an impromptu date at an apple orchard we passed.
I am not certain that the route I took was shorter, but who cares! This life moves fast enough as it is. Days spin into years faster than we can keep up with. Our hours are filled with busyness. We have to fight to savor the sweet moments.
It is in that fight that I find myself lately. I have challenged myself to list my gifts daily (as inspired by Ann Voskamp). It can be a tedious discipline, that I often fail at. Yet, when I put pen to paper over and over, my outlook changes. Everything changes. Gratitude changes everything.
I am thrilled to share with you that next July I will be leading a team to Ethiopia! The trip will be July 18 to the 26th. We will be spending our time in capitol of Addis Ababa working with a community called Korah situated adjacent to the city dump. We will come alongside some ministries who are in Addis Ababa doing the day to day work. We will build relationships, serve as needed, and love big! I promise our time will be packed full of crazy adventures and crazy amounts of love!
Short term mission trips can get a lot of criticism, and for good reason sometimes, but short term mission trips can be so powerful. Mission trips can ignite a fire in a person that leads them to come home and sponsor a child, tithe to a ministry close to their heart, start their own ministry, move across the world, adopt. They have the power to create ripples. I love that I have the honor of coming alongside individuals as they have that passion stirred in them.
If you have felt any urging to go on a trip, go! Of course I would love for you to go with me! Check out this page to find out all of the details and sign up! If you are remotely interested, or if you are chomping at the bit to go, I would love to chat with you. Let me answer your questions, quiet your fears, or cheer you on.
There is no perfect time to sign up for a mission trip. You cannot wait for the stars to align before you go. It will never happen. There will always be something that the enemy uses to whisper doubts in your ear. But the enemy comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; Christ came that we may have life, and have it to the full. There is no fuller life than when you are basking in God’s presence and following His call.
I mentioned in my last post that I was becoming certified as a doula…two months later I’m finally getting around to writing this post. Oops!
The word “doula” comes from a Greek word meaning “a woman who serves.” A birth doula is someone who provides continuous emotional, physical, and informational support to a woman before, during, and after birth. A doula helps a mother (and her partner) prepare a birth plan and fulfill it. Childbirth is such a huge life experience and is something that the mother will always remember. A doula serves to protect that birth experience.
It is hard for me to put into words just how invaluable our birth doula was, not just for me, but for Zach as well. It was comforting to have another woman with me who had gone through childbirth and stood beside other women as they brought their babies into the world. I knew that she, like I, believed that my body was created to give birth and would do everything she could to help me have the birth experience I wanted. Her presence took some of the pressure off of Zach. There was someone else I could lean on, literally. A doula by no means replaces a person’s partner, but helps to empower them to support mom.
A lot of women believe that because they are not planning for a drug free birth or because they have already given birth before, they would not benefit from a doula. I can confidently say that I will have a doula for any and all future births; just like each child is different, every birth is different. Also, a birth doula is certainly not restricted to a natural birth. A birth doula will never dictate what kind of birth a woman should have, but helps you the achieve goals you have set.
And just in case you need some convincing, research (like this and this and this) has shown that women supported by a doula are:
*more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
*less likely to ask for pain medication
*less likely to have a cesarean birth
*more likely to report a positive birth experience
*more likely to have a decrease length of labor
So, if you or someone you know is expecting, I would love to talk with you about having a doula at your birth. I absolutely believe that women’s bodies were made to give birth. You CAN do this, and I would love to come alongside you.
“How was your trip?” When you come home from a mission trip, and get asked this for the first time, it can leave you at a loss for words. On a trip like this you are flooded with so many emotions: joy, sorrow, excitement, exhaustion, anger. When you come home, back to your very comfortable reality, you have to process through all that you have seen. I love that after each of my trips God has taught me something new. So, what did I learn from those beautiful people?
1) I need to slow down and focus on relationships. We often joke about being on “African time” while there. No one gets in a hurry. You have to be flexible in your idea of a schedule. People are “late” because they spend so much time talking. And it is beautiful. I had someone attempt to teach me a few Lugandan phrases while there. I learned that there is one greeting for someone you see all the time. However, if you are greeting someone you don’t see daily, there is a much longer exchange. So much in my life is go, go, go all the time. That’s not what God created us to be like. He is a God of relationships. We just miss those beautiful relationships because we are too busy to slow down.
2) I am selfish. Ok so this wasn’t exactly news to me. Self-sacrifice seems to be ingrained. One day we served food to the kids at Return Ministries. I watched older siblings make sure the baby in their lap got a plate first. I saw kids tear open a sugar packet and split it between their friends. Ugly truth, I have gotten upset before when my husband came home early, and I had to unexpectedly share my snack. I am all about my comfort and my desires. That is not how Christ lived! He was constantly giving of himself.
3) I need to let go of my expectations, and trust in God’s provision. We were welcomed into several homes, and what was universal of every family we met was that they were so honored to invite us in. They did not care what they had or didn’t have. They glorified God for providing for their needs. They trusted that He was going to answer their prayers. Absolutely every single one of my needs is met. Any discontent I feel is because I lack something I want. How peaceful life would be if we trusted God to provide for our needs and thanked Him for any blessing above that.
The trick to any mission trip is fighting to remember the lessons once you are home. It’s not easy. I have already caught myself slipping into old patterns. But I will continue to share stories with you because I need to be reminded of the lessons learned.
We are wrapping up out time here in Uganda at Return Ministries. We have loved and been loved on by hundreds of kids. We had ths honor today of delivering rice, flour, beans, and posho to families in the village. How blessed we are. Tomorrow we will attend church with our new Ugandan friends. Church in Uganda is truly a one of a kind experience, simply amazing! I, along with two other team members have been asked to speak. An amazing honor. Prayers are greatly appreciated! Also, pray for our hearts. Ending our time here will be difficult. Going home is just the beginning. Pray for team members as they look for the next step.
Happy New Year! We are having an amazing time. We spent one day going into the homes of families in the village. What an honor to sit and share in their lives for a bit. We rang in the new year with a huge all day celebration full of food, music, dancing, and laughter. As I sat with my team that night we could hear drums and singing from the church. How awesome to bring in 2014 here! We have the rest of today here at Ekubo before heading to Return. Nora has been dancing to some African drums today. I am feeling great. Everyone has been so sweet and mindful of how I’m doing. Continue to pray for strength and health for the team in the days ahead. Pray for all of our hearts as we listen for God’s message for each of us. Miss you all!
I just heard from Amanda who just finished her first full day in Uganda! Her team is doing awesome ministering to and loving on families in the village they’re in right now, and Amanda and baby are well!
I’m Zachary, Amanda’s husband. I’ll be updating her blog for her while she’s gone. She landed safely in Uganda at around 5am EST this morning. 🙂
This is it! The moment I have been preparing for for months. I am sitting on a tiny plane ready for flight one of this journey. I cannot even begin to tell you the range of emotions I’m feeling. Stepping out in faith is never supposed to be easy or comfortable. I will update as I am able once in country. Please be in prayer for my team as we travel today and tomorrow!