Oh, hi there. I'm Ashli and I love you already. Thanks so much for being interested in either Love Global, WORLD RACE or me, a racer, enough to sort through this jibber-jabber I call a blog!
I'm SO excited that you're here because we are going to have much fun together!! :)
PLEASE be sure to contact me because I'd love to know that you were here! If you'd like to follow my personal blog (and you should, because we are friends now) it's http://onedayweshallknow.blogspot.com/
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I believe in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I believe they make up the Trinity and that they are all active in our lives.
I believe in the Word of God and that was breathed by and inspired by God.
I believe in following Jesus - where ever He leads.
I believe in faithful friendships and nights that involve movies and wine.
I believe in transparency and honesty.
I believe that when my desires align with God's - dreams come true.
I believe salvation is only found through Jesus. NO other way.
I believe God doesn't want our good works and a list of things we did or didn't do for Him. I believe He wants our white flags. He wants our surrender.
I believe in fighting injustice. I believe in caring for widows and orphans. I believe in loving homeless dudes and crack-whore girls. And not from a distance, but the way Jesus did. Up close and personal.
I believe in love.
I love you and I love God. That's really all you needed to know ;)
Latinos call Him Jesús (hey-soos) – Haitians call Him Jezi- most of us call Him Jesus. Regardless, on the World Race, He does the dandiest things. Things like this:Here in Philippines, the hills are a challenge for vehicles to climb. Why they aren’t made for the hills, I’m not sure. But they have a hard time getting up them. Last night, our cab died three times, overheated, and burnt rubber trying to get up. On our final attempt, I said, “Oh Jesus please push us up this hill.” We made it up. Around the corner was another big one. “Please Jesus get us up this hill.” We went up the hill without problem.Today I was the only one home and the power went out. That is never a good thing because it means our fans go off. And our fans are our only source of air movement. Therefore, electricity is vital. It was off for a couple of minutes when I prayed, “Jesus please turn the power back on!” Literally three seconds later the lights flickered back on.Last week, we were ministering in the riverbed community (slums). We met a lady who was having intense pain in her side. We started praying over her, “Jesus please take away her pain. Heal her of the pain in her side. Make her better, Jesus.” The pain was still there. So we prayed more. “Jesus you are our healer. Pain, leave in Jesus’ name.” Minutes later she began to feel relief.Today Amy expressed to Laine how tired of rice she was. We have been in Asia for two months, after all. We’ve had enough rice and noodles to last a lifetime. She said she really wanted spaghetti – that would treat her tummy right! As she walked in the door to what should have been a typical Filipino meal, she smelled.... you guessed it... spaghetti. A team from Australia had come over to cook for all of us. Surprise!!
Last month in China, we’d been traveling for hours. Exhausted and still carrying 60+ pounds on our backs and fronts, we loaded a public bus. If you’ve been to China then you know that, because there are a million people everywhere you go, getting on public transportation is hard enough – let alone getting on a bus with hiking backpacks, day packs, pillows, side bags, and grocery bags. We were beat and the last thing we wanted to do was dig into someone’s bag to find our fare. Just as the bus took off, we realized that it cost 2 Hong Kong dollars each and all we had was a $100 dollar bill. The public busses do not make change so we would have to dig until we found it, and then lose $86. As Joseph began to ask around if anyone could break $100, a nice young gentlemen looked at Jo and said, “Don’t worry, I got it.”
When people in Hong Kong get on a public bus, they just get on and go to their seat. Then, when it’s time they make their way to the door and get off when they need to. They keep to themselves and usually do not talk to anyone in the process. Three of our teammates were on the next bus behind us. Having no idea where to get off, they were counting on us being on the curb, jumping up and down to signal at them that it was their stop. The only thing they knew was to get off at “Gold Coast.” A white lady boarded the bus right behind them, looked at the driver and said, “I’m getting off at Gold Coast.”
Two months ago in Swaziland my tent flooded a couple of times. It rained... often. Because my tent flooded, my sleeping pad got wet. I thought it would start stinking so I decided to wash it and lay it out to dry. Except that after I laid it out, the clouds came out and it seemed it would rain again soon. “Jesus, PLEASE let my sleeping pad dry. I really need it to sleep on tonight.” Minutes later the sun came out. I slept soundly that night.
Two months ago in Swaziland, it rained... often. (Hence the above bullet point). One morning, however, I was the only one home and it was very hot outside. “Oh Jesus, if it’s this hot this early in the morning, it’s going to be a very hot day. Too hot for us to handle.” I went on with what I was doing and walked back to my tent. “Geez Jesus. Maybe you could make it rain? That would probably cool things off a bit. Please?” Literally, four minutes later it began to sprinkle. The sprinkle turned into rain. The rain cooled things off and 13 world racers carried on with life as usual.
These are only a few examples of things that may seem small to the average westerner. However to a world racer, a “small” prayer answered is a big deal.Everyday we learn more and more the power in the name ... Jesús – Jezi - .... Jesus.
I never thought I’d be twenty-six years old, single, and not have kids. Miss Independent, Miss Corporate America, traveling the world, working on promotions ... I just wasn’t that girl. In high school, and even college, I was the one who, out of all my girlfriends, would be married first and starting a family. “Ashli’s closer than any of us are,” they’d say. At that point in life, I had all the qualities the world considered to be “wife material.” Little did I know, the King of Glory was pursuing my heart in ways I never recognized and wouldn’t surrender to until years later.I remember sitting in the living room, of a lady who would end up playing a vital role in my life and story. As Jamie told me her story, I sat there in awe. God took a woman from impurity and gave her the fairytale every girl dreams of. “Seven years of singleness,” she said. At age 23, I sat there thinking to myself how great her story was but there was no way God would make me go through singleness for that long. Surely He knew my heart’s desire for a husband and that man just had to be waiting right around the corner.As my relationship with Jesus grew, so did my relationship with Jamie. She had become my mentor and such an instrumental person in my life. I went to her about everything: Advice, to vent, or simply for dinner. Each time a new beau came into my life, we spent hours analyzing whether or not he could be THE ONE. There were one or two that we seriously considered, but time proved otherwise. One thing that never changed was my desire to be loved. I simply wanted what every woman wants- to be cherished, handled with care, sought after. I read all the books and bought all the t-shirts. “When God Writes Your Love Story” and “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” I even started in on “Lady in Waiting.” I was beginning to understand what it looked like for a man of God to pursue a woman and I knew that I was not willing to settle for anything less.Weeks, months, and even years went by – one suitor after the next. But none seemed to be the hero God had designed for me. The first eight months of 2012 flew by and the next thing I knew, September came out of nowhere and I was boarding an airplane to Africa – not married and without children of my own. “Have I really become the girl I never thought I would be?” My whole life seemed so surreal. As the plane took off, I reflected on the last few years of my life. Three years ago I sat on Jamie’s black leather couch dreaming about the knight who would come (soon) and carry me off into the sunset. I thought for sure my life would have been complete by then. And now, instead of riding off with my beau, I was flying off into the sunset with 60 other young adults just as crazy as me, willing to follow Jesus to 11 nations.As I sit here, across the world from people I love the most, four months into the race, I’m hit with the tough reality that life is still happening all around me – and worse? Time hasn’t paused in America either. People from my past are getting engaged, married, and furthering their families ... one little munchkin at a time. Even here, my best friend Amy has an [in.cred.ible.] boyfriend back home who pursues her well [from around the world] AND plans to spend forever with her! (Eeeekkkk!!! Exciting!!!) Earlier today, I quickly scrolled through the Facebook page of another best friend, Laura. She just moved home from Haiti and is getting settled back in a western lifestyle. She’s with friends and family and guess what? Some little hottie is ... you guessed it ... pursuing her. (Yes, he sent her flowers to work!) I can remember the butterflies and fun feelings these life events bring. But are you catching my drift? For a moment, I got lost in the self-pity scheme that Satan just loves to throw us ladies into.“Why does everyone else get their happy ending? What are they doing right that you’re not? They don’t deserve it any more than you do. Where is God, anyway? I thought if you delighted in Him, He would give you the desires of your heart? Where is he now? And why aren’t you getting your desires?”Unfortunately for the voice of the accuser, the Voice of Truth is louder. He reminds me of WHO I am and WHERE I am and WHY I’m here. His voice breaks through lies, breaks through self-pity, and remains victorious.He has called me lovely. He says I’m worthy to be pursued, cherished, and handled with care. HE is the Lover of my soul – the One doing the pursuing, cherishing, and handling. He reminds me that this is my story – He’s writing it – and it’s going to be a good one.In fact, it’s perfect.
In December (12-12-12, actually), I wrote in my journal about how much I had changed after three months in Africa. Some serious, some funny - but all true.
Things I'm learning about myself/my mindset that have changed:
Almost one month later (1-6-13), I made another list.
It's interesting to look back and see the way I felt even a month ago. People often say that the World Race will change you. But I sort of think it's Jesus ;)
Some days I look into the African sky, and there’s no place else I’d rather be. When I hold a newborn baby it reminds me of the fresh, pure life Jesus gives us everyday. When revival breaks out in a hospital room, and women flood to us for prayer, I’m reminded of what happens when the Holy Spirit enters a room. Sometimes, here on the World Race, I’m assured that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
As much as I love being here, I’d also love to be at home. This month in particular has been very hard for me to see pictures of family parties, fall and Christmas decorations, and all the life going on in Mississippi. I love my life here, but I miss my life there.At the Blackwell house, we love any excuse to celebrate. Besides just being very close with each other, we will create a party out of anything. Give Daddy some meat to throw on the grill, put Mama and me in the kitchen and we’ll have a feast in no time. You can count on Lesley, my sister, to bring a crew with her so there are always plenty of mouths to feed. We love to cook and we love to eat, but mostly, we just love to celebrate. I won’t go into all the details but when we celebrate, we do it well. We celebrate season changes, big holidays, small holidays, good grades, home runs, scored goals, graduations, and anything else we can come up with.
So, you won’t be surprised to find out that birthdays are a big deal for us. Lesley’s birthday is October 30. Exactly one week later, on November 7, I turn another year older. One week after that is my cousin Paige’s birthday, and exactly one week from that is my dad’s big day. Two days after Daddy’s birthday is Thanksgiving and as soon as that is over, the Christmas season begins.
Last night, laying on the ground... in my tent... breathing in hot, African air... fighting bugs from having more of my flesh and blood... I cried. There, I said it. I don’t like to cry but it happened. I lay there listening to music on shuffle and thinking about all the reasons I’d rather be sitting in front of my parent’s fireplace sipping hot cocoa and watching Home Alone. Not by coincidence, LeeAnn Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” began to play – a song I’ve not heard in years. As soon as she sang “... and if you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance,” I thought immediately about a journal entry I wrote last month.“I have one year... ONE YEAR, to experience this [the World Race]. To take in all I can – to experience all I can and I do not want to “miss out” on any of it. I want to get everything I can out of every day.”When I talked to my sister on the phone last night, I told her I wanted to be home and her response was, “Why?” She legitimately could not think of a reason I would rather be home than traveling the world Kingdom building. Her simple question reminded me that if I were home I’d be wishing I were here. And I know that when August 2013 gets here, I will be looking back on the past 12 months and wondering where they went. The point is, Reader, that the grass always looks greener on the other side.Some of you are walking through life anticipating the next big event. The next big celebration. If you’re engaged, you’re counting down the days until you become one with your love. If you’re pregnant, you probably mark off the calendar day by day. And I know that when December gets here, tons of you will already have out your Santa Claus countdown. We get excited when we think about the future and the things we are looking forward to are great, but most of the time it causes us to overlook the blessings of today.Be reminded that today (and everyday) God wants to rock your world. He wants to blow your mind by making possible the things you find most impossible. Don’t miss the adventure He’s offering today because you’re too concerned with where you’d rather be in life. Today, right where you are, the grass is greener.
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.
Oh, Africa. Where the sun is hotter, the stars are bigger, and the babies are cuter.
Our ministry this month is basically up to the Holy Spirit and us. There’s no one around telling us where to go and when to get there. That’s not to say there isn’t opportunity, I mean, we’re in Swaziland, after all. Down the street from our huts is a hospital and across the street from that is a school. We live at a community center so every day after school there are kids galore here. There is ministry opportunity everywhere.We have only been here for about two weeks but so far, my favorite place to go is the hospital. I have gotten to know the patients, hearing their stories, learning their pains and seeing it all over their bodies and faces. I watch hem try with what little air is in their lungs to tell me why they lay there, hopeless. Some have been in horrible car accidents, some have been attacked by robbers, and other patients have just been diagnosed with TB. In the maternity ward, I celebrate with mother’s who have healthy babies and we praise God for another fresh life. No matter the circumstance, God always bring forth hope and joy in that hospital room.
Yesterday was quite the treat! I walked into the maternity ward and went straight to the first lady who looked up at me. She looked young, 23 maybe, and had a beautiful smile. I was attracted to her immediately. We began to chat and get to know each other. I looked over at the bed and asked to hold her baby. Clothed in a precious pink plaid shirt and grey sweat pants, the baby shines brightly. It was one of the happiest babies I had held there. “What is her name?” I asked the mom. She shrugged her shoulders and nonchalantly said, “I don’t know. I don’t have a name.”“What! This baby is FOUR DAYS OLD and you haven’t given a name? This is absurd. We must name this baby now. Can we name your baby now? Can I do it? Can I name your baby?” Still laughing at all my questions and concerns, the baby’s mom nodded yes and quietly said, “You can name my baby.”
Holding this new life in my arms, I asked God what He wanted her name to be. When I did, Lauren walked up and mentioned how beautiful the baby was. As soon as she said that, it clicked. OF COURSE! “Buhle!” I said out loud. (If you’ve read my blog entitled “I Showed her my Marsh mellow Stash” you know the significance of the name Buhle. It has a very special place in my heart.) I was so excited to go back home and tell my team about the baby I named Buhle! I knew they would be so happy for me and we would celebrate how cool it was. Not only did I get to NAME A BABY but also I named her Buhle!! I was on cloud nine.For about 15 or 20 minutes we sat there with all the moms and babies. Finally after I referred to the little girl I had just named, one of the other mothers told me, “This is a boy.” Are you kidding me?? I couldn’t believe it. It was like someone let the air out of my balloon. So I did the only logical thing and renamed the baby Surprise David. Surprise is a semi-common African name and David was a man after God’s own heart. Besides, Buhle has a biological brother named Surprise and I love him as much as I love her. So I figured it fit well.
There are blogs and there are updates. Updates are easy because we just talk about our ministries or some cool safari we went on. Blogs, however, are another story. When I sit down to write about the lessons of the Lord, it can be a daunting task. Attempting to put into words what only God can write on my heart is like a camel trying to walk through the eye of a needle. This, in turn, leaves me feeling like John in the last sentence of his gospel book. "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." John 21:25
On the World Race, revelations, lessons, and answers are things we receive everyday. Our mere existence is about God and what He is doing in and through us so trying to account for all of them would be a task in itself - not to mention verbalizing them through a blog. Sometimes the lesson is for me and only me. But from time to time, there are things we learn or experience that simply must be shared with others. This is one of those times.
Last week I was heavily burdened by a situation back home and it captivated almost my whole focus for several days. I was deeply hurt by someone at home who didn't even realize they were hurting me. To make matter worse, I am across the world from them and get Internet once a week. So a conversation that could happen in 30 min. takes 3 or 4 weeks.
As you can see, it's a bit difficult to have a conversation with any substance if both parties aren't extremely intentional and on their A-game. I am a "get-it-over-with-as-fast-as-possible" kind of girl so it is certainly a frustrating process. A situation that could be dealt with and resolved in an hour or less takes three weeks - or in my case, more.
On this side of the world, though, life is very different. I have a cell phone but most of the time I do not know where it is. I have my computer but most of the time it's dead and there's no Internet. I have a Kindle but all I want to read is my Bible. My point? On this side of the world, life is about more than electronics, communication, and conflicts back home. Every 60 seconds an African child dies from Malaria, a preventable and treatable disease. I live at an orphanage and on a daily basis there are 18 incredible, playful, smiling orphans waiting to be loved on. At any given time, one could be knocking on my bedroom window asking us to come out and play. On this side of the world, what's in front of me seems a lot more in need of my attention than the thing back home I'd really love to attend to.
Some days I feel pulled in three directions: upward (to God), outward (to ministry), and backward (to life in the States). As you can imagine, this predicament serves up an abundance of emotions. Some days are satisfying, some are painful, some are fun, and some are very busy. Some days I am uneasy and some days, I am content.
I'm sure you can feel the emotional breakdown coming.
So last Sunday morning getting ready for church, I was uneasy. The knot in my stomach would not dissolve and no matter what I tried to fix my thoughts on (Phil. 4:8), the enemy kept reminding me of the hurt I felt from home. Sitting at the table, doing makeup with other girls, worship music played and I sang along to one of my favorite Hillsong songs: "All of my life, in every season, You are still God and I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship." I needed to hear that reminder, and for the first time in a few days, I felt the knot dissolve. The words of praise became louder than the whispering lies of the evil one. I wrote on the inside of my palm, "You are still God. I have a reason to sing."
On the way to church, surrounded by sweet songs of praise coming from the lips of little African children, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and it was a lesson I never want to forget. Simple, yet profound ... and just the thing I needed to be reminded of. I thought about how just a few days before, I was happy and laughing. But my circumstances taught my heart to feel otherwise. My emotions changed from one day to the next - and they still change from one hour to the next.
But the peace I had when I sang about God still being God has never changed. The joy we have when even the hardest things in life attack us will never change. The love that we receive from the Father will never change. Y'see, God is not an emotion. Some days I am happy and others I am hurt. One hour I'm content and the next I could be anxious. My emotions change but God does not.
Love is not an emotion.
Peace is not an emotion.
Joy is not an emotion.
Those things are given to us from God and they do not change. He does not change.
He is still God and He is still on the throne. He is still good.
I still have a reason to sing - I still have a reason to worship.
She is sassy and prissy and in English, her name means "Beauty." She puts up an independent front but we see right through it. She loves her best friend, Fortunate, and being a social butterfly is important to her. She runs around with a "my way or the highway" attitude and if she doesn't receive the amount of attention she thinks she deserves, she pouts.
The tall dead grass is taller than she is and a few days ago she ran off on the trail, disappearing into the brown blades yelling, "I'm never coming back!!" She said it about three more times and two minutes later she was standing amongst us again attempting new ways to force us to look at her.
Like many African girls, her hair is short, not even reaching the back of her neck. With crooked teeth and bright eyes, she truly identifies with her name, which means beautiful.
She's the first child I spoke to here at our ministry site and the first thing my teammate Liz said upon meeting Beauty was, "Oh, she's such a little African Ashli."
I remember the moment I fell in love with her. Amy and myself were teaching a dance class for the kids when Beauty decided she needed a water break. After chugging three cups of water, she walked back over to the rest of us and without hesitation, let out the largest belch I've ever heard from a 7-year-old girl. It was such a proud moment for me.
She has walls around her heart and rightfully so because she's experienced more in her short seven years of life than most of us can imagine. For the first couple of weeks she wouldn't even let me close. I know the way to a kid's heart so I showed her my secret stash of marshmallows and from then on she was hooked. It took her a while, but now she calls me her best friend and I grin ear to ear every time. I ask her often, "Hey Beauty, who's your best friend?" Pointing at me she replies, "It's yoouuu!" I then say, "No Beauty, who's your best African friend?" At which point she responds with, "Oh. Fortunate." Then we all giggle at the fact that I just said "best African friend."
Yesterday we starting saying, "I love yooouuuu, I love yyyooouuuu" over and over as we jumped up and down holding hands. Today I taught her to point to her eyes when she says "I" - cross her arms over her chest when she says "love" - and point out when she says "you!" It's the cutest thing you've ever seen.
I'm probably a little biased, but in my eyes, Beauty can do no wrong. No matter how many times she walks around with that bossy little attitude of hers, shaking her hips, and running off to play in "Beauty's World," --- and regardless of the times she sprints up a trail, aching for attention, yelling that she's never coming back, she still can do no wrong. I have learned a lot from Beauty but the thing I think I've enjoyed most about this small brown friend of mine, is that without realizing it, she's taught me more about the God I serve and how HE views ME. I only met her a couple of weeks ago but I love her already.
And if I love Beauty that much after such a short time, can you imagine how much the Father loves me? When I'm sassy and bossy and prissy and crying out for someone to look at me, He's there. When other parents say to ignore me because I just want attention, He's there. He looks at me and smiles, because He wants to give me the attention that I'm seeking. In His eyes, I can do no wrong and He wants to scoop me up the way I do Buhle and tickle me until my sass turns to praise and laughter.
This world has hurt me and when I put walls around my heart, the way Beauty has, He shows me marshmallows.
And He's got me hooked.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog on ABANDONMENT. A few days later I got an email from my adorable girlfriend, Rachel, and she was basically word vomiting on me. She talked about her husband who is in medical school and the process they are walking through to get him into his Residency. She talked about life as a wife, a businesswoman, and her desire to be a mom one day. She told me more about the new city she is living in and how different it is from home – ya know, the place she is most confortable. But then she said something that struck me.She said, “It’s funny. When I read your blog on abandonment, it made me realize that I am so blessed to not have to deal with true abandonment or even walk through what you are walking through. Your words bring me back to reality as I realize that life is really not all that bad. “When I responded to her e-mail I could not type quick enough. I had so much to say in response to this and my thoughts were running faster than my fingers. As I struggled to get it all out, I felt God say, “You should tell everyone this.” When God speaks, it’s loud and clear. All we have to do is listen. So to you, world, I say listen intently. He has a lot to tell you.Dear Everyone,Abandonment is for you. It seems scary and hard. It’s intimidating because no one ever wants to feel abandoned. No one wants to see abandoned children in hospitals and some of us hate to see abandoned animals in shelters. We don’t want to abandon “stuff” or people or feelings, even. But trust me, abandonment is for you. All of us, at some point, have to give up something. Even if it’s our size 4 jeans for that dang 6/8, abandonment is inevitable and unavoidable. And it’s for you.But for most of us, abandonment looks differently. God called me on the World Race for many reasons but one of them is for alone time with Him. In Africa, it’s impossible to be distracted with Facebook because Internet is just simply not an option most days. I am not distracted by phone calls, e-mails, text messages, cleaning my room, going to my 9-5 job, church services, serving in the countless programs within my church, or anything else. Out here, in No Man’s Land, Africa, it’s just me and God. And He likes it that way. For some of you, God is calling you to abandon something in order to have alone time with him. Sports in itself are not bad, but God just might be asking you to give up a few nights a week to hang out with Him. Church in itself is not bad, but this might mean that you don’t serve in 5 different ministries this year – in order to experience Him alone.Dare to ask God what He wants you to abandon during this season because abandonment is for you.Because it looks different for all of us, World, mine is not anymore “true” than yours. Some of you may think that abandonment here is extreme because we left everything we know and you are still at home living your day-to-day life. We all have a choice whether to enter into abandonment or not. For me, I chose it when I chose the World Race. I knew going into this that I would not have some of the same “luxuries” here that I have at home. For you, choosing abandonment can be a day-by-day thing. Either way, it’s a choice that we have to make. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, abandonment brings forth the same results and from it will flow blessings.You can choose it. I dare you.So much of my love,Ashli
October 4, 2012
At first we weren't aware of how bad it was, or just how big the flames were.
Playing games in the prayer hut with the kids, we laughed and ran and sang. We taught them new games and giggled when they made it their own version, as most kids do. Johnny came down the hill and told us the fire was back and he needed to guys to come help immediately. They put out fires last night so none of us really thought much of it. The other girls and I continued to play "Red Light Green Light" with the little brown children we've grown to love.
When Vanessa and Carrie came down to the prayer hut with the babies, I decided to go check on Liz and Amy who were ministering to the house mothers of the orphanage. I had on my favorite skirt and new earrings. My hair was clean, I smelled fresh, and I actually wore makeup. I walked into the kitchen to boil eggs and I knew something was wrong. As I looked out the window, I could see black smoke in the distance. I walked outside to take a picture as it rose from the tops of the trees. "I hope they get it put out soon," I casually thought to myself, "it will be lunch time soon." Not long after visiting with the ladies in the living room, Bex (a staff member here at Michael's Children's Village) came in and said the flames were spreading and she's not sure if we should start getting stuff out of the houses or not. Walking back into the kitchen, I looked out the window again and knew the flames must be growing because I could see their shadows in the sun.
I grabbed my camera and walked outside to take pictures. As soon as I got to the door I could feel heat coming all the way down the hill and I knew it was bad. I intended on taking several pictures but before I could take more than a couple, I realized, "Oh my gosh. This is for real, and they need more help."
I handed off my camera and immediately ran toward the fence to see what I could do. I started by running a water hose through the fence but it wasn't long enough. We started filling up huge buckets and pots and anything else we could find with water and relaying them out to the boys. By this time, all the girls were involved as well as some of the older kids from the orphanage.
After much heat, lots of sweat, and many tears and prayers for rain, we got all the flames put out. Although it was intense and hard work, it was so good to see our whole team drop everything they were doing to run and give themselves to help. Everyone played an important part in getting the fire put out and later we celebrated with ice cream.
We got showered and began to rest. It was so nice to be clean and lay down but then Liz ran in and said, "The fire's back!" So immediately we jumped up, threw on clothes and ran out to start the process over again. Thankfully, it didn't take as long to get them put out this time and before long we were back inside telling God we couldn't handle any more fires.
October 5, 2012
God must have listened. This morning is because this morning it began to rain. It didn't last long but it was just enough to cool off the day and keep more flames away.
Please continue to pray for Michael's Children's Village. That the fires would stay away and that God would send armies of heavenly hosts to protect this property from flaming arrows of satan, literally.
One thing I promise not to do is mislead you into thinking I’m okay when I’m not or that I’m not okay when I really am. The last thing I want is for a future racer to read my blogs and decide to apply for this mission because it sounds cool or fun or glamorous. Because the truth of the matter is, I’m three weeks into my race and I want to pull my ever-loving hair out. I have to get this out; I’m just going to say it:THE WORLD RACE IS FREAKING HARD. Sometimes? It’s EXTREMELY HARD.Yes, I read the blogs by other racers before me: “Don’t go on the World Race If...” and “A Blog to Future Racers” and everything in between. I’ve talked to alumni racers, AIM staff, pastors, friends, and even my own teammates. I’ve read the books, gone to the conferences, and bought the t-shirts. But the thing I’ve realized? Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is going to prepare you for this adventure.Since being in Africa, I’ve decided a thing or two. And here, I will share with you my thoughts.First of all, abandonment is a process. I’ve found that a lot of racers have this unrealistic notion that as soon as our race starts, we simply flip this switch and all of a sudden we are okay. Okay with living out of a backpack. Okay with not showering. Okay with leaving people behind whom we love so much. Okay with living in community. Okay with sleeping on the ground. Okay with cultures that do not function like your own. Okay with dirt and hairy legs and no electricity and no Internet and no money and no vehicle. Well Racers, breathe easy. I’m here to remind you that it’s OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY.Secondly, abandonment is a must. You will not make it 11 months on the World Race if you do not press into the process. There are times that this culture just does not make sense. Why is no one on time here? Why don’t they eat when it’s mealtime? Why do people lie just to tell you what you want to hear? One thing our team is trying to be more aware of is cultural sensitivity. “We can’t just come here and expect to live the same way we do in America,” my teammate Liz reminds us during family time. We must press into the people, the culture, our contacts, God, our team, and ourselves. And from that, abandonment flows naturally.Lastly, abandonment is good. The word abandon can be scary. Who wants to leave behind the people who are closest to their heart? Who wants to drop all of their expectations for the sake of other people? Who wants to sleep on the ground, eat unfamiliar food (or miss meals all together at times), not have a car to jump in when you want to go somewhere, shower out of a bucket or with baby wipes, and live closely with 6 other people who were strangers to you a few months before? In what world does that make sense? I’ll tell you – this world; because when we are stripped of the things that make our life easy, we have nothing and no one to cry out to but the Father. My team is amazing and they support me and encourage me and carry me through the day. However, when I am weak they are not my strength, He is. When I am sad and missing home, they are not my joy, He is. When I am frustrated to wits end, they are not my peace, He is. And He is good. He has called us to abandonment and while it is one of the hardest things I have ever done, it is good.If you’re considering the World Race, you’re crazy. You are insane. This process is tough and rough. But I don’t believe it’s any harder than a man prophesying rain and building a huge boat. Or any more insane than a man holding up a rod and splitting a vast sea. And it’s certainly not any more painful than a man hanging on a cross to save humanity. The people we read about in God’s word did crazy, insane, ridiculous things but they did them because it was what God called them to. They were able to complete it because it was performed in God’s strength and through His power, not their own.So I say again, if you’re considering this, you’re nuts. But people said the same about Noah, Moses, and Jesus.And they were history makers.
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