Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Surviving Bumper Car Life: METS meeting

Tonight, I got the opportunity to share with Shadow Mountain's METS ministry about my upcoming move to Kenya as well as the process of getting there. METS stands for Missionary Encouragement Team Support and their mission is "to be involved with missionary women in a team effort through prayer, communication, and acts of encouragement. It was so encouraging, I really enjoyed my time with the other women in the room, and of course, hearing fellow cross- culturally workers share about their experiences! Here is what I shared, I hope it gives you a slight chuckle :)

When I was young and I would get to go to Family Fun Center (or Boomers as it is known now), my favorite rides were the go carts, race car driving in the arcade and definitely bumper cars. But why? I LOVE being in control!

First, I want to premise my time by saying I have not been to the field yet long term. I am preparing for a year and a half service in Kenya as a teacher in a small village along the coast, and who knows what God has next? But just because I haven’t been to the field yet, doesn't mean I haven’t experienced a bumper car collision.

I want to share with you a few “small crashes” that have taken place as I have been preparing to go overseas. When I think of missionaries sharing stories, I think of stories from the field. But I want to give you is a different perspective on missions, one that most missionaries don’t share about, and one that God uses to bring Himself much glory. Because I love control, the small crashes that God brings may seem like a negative to me, but really, through God’s lenses’ they are positive.

Now imagine with me that you are standing in line waiting for the bumper cars and you’re thinking about how you could avoid all the other cars and get a good 2 minutes of peaceful control. For me, this ride is not about bumping into each other but rather trying to avoid all the other cars! I like a smooth, relaxed, and enjoyable ride. For those who have raised support, you will agree with me that there is no better analogy than bumper car life to explain the days, weeks and months leading up to leaving for your first overseas experience.

My first “crash” happened while I was at training in November of last year. My fellow trainees and I quickly scanned our individual schedules to see when the dreaded, I mean much anticipated meeting with our financial adviser would be. I had been given a rough budget before training and honestly went into that meeting thinking my monthly amount would go down… who would need so much money to live in Africa??? Smooth ride? I think not. My numbers actually went up, by $700! This wasn't just a fender bender, as he showed me the numbers, and one influenced the other, soon enough I felt like I was in a wreck and my car had been totaled. But remembering that I was only in a bumper car, I realized no harm was really done to God’s plan, He knew it all along, the shock wore off, and He gave me His peace. I had survived the first crash.

My second “crash” occurred as I disembarked the plane back in San Diego. I had just received all the classroom training I was going to get, said goodbye to fellow cross-cultural workers who understood the emotions of it all and now I was on my own to raise up a support team, mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepare myself, and be brave enough to board a plane to Kenya, in less than a year. I remember thinking the spiritual truth, I really wasn’t alone, God would be with me the entire time, but the realization had hit me, I was really leaving. I had to hand over all control of raising the prayer and financial team to God, but I wasn’t quite ready to do that. You can say with words one thing, but if you don’t believe it in your heart, your actions will show it. As the other bumper cars began to hit me, I began to realize that once again, I wasn’t in control. I wasn’t by myself, I had God, but I also had a whole team of people that were ready and willing to give. I was learning that the crashes weren’t so bad after all, in fact, they could be taken as more of a slight bump with the right perspective.

And my third and final “crash” so far has been the over pouring of prayer support and financial gifts towards God’s ministry in Kenya. Every time I hear someone say they prayed for me, are praying for me, will pray for me, I feel a slight bump by the car behind me. And as my financial accounts are increasing almost daily, I feel like I’m in a jam, one where the only way to get out is from help from the staff because I’m so overwhelmed by the generosity, I just can’t move! One that left me paralyzed and in tears happened over the course of the last few weeks. I had received a large one-time gift into my account from someone I did not know. After a week of follow up, I finally got in touch with the person who had processed the check. It had come in undesignated. The last name happened to be a previous last name of my coordinator and the donor was her ex-sister in law. My coordinator has not had communication with her in years but because of their past connection, the donor wanted to give her financial gift to someone at SIM, my sending organization. At the time, I was the missionary working under this coordinator who had the most need (and by the way, they checked my account back in November) and therefore I received the $1,000 gift.

I’m sure other missionaries can attest to the fender benders, bumps, small wrecks, and jams that take place on the preparatory journey to the field, but it only makes me reconsider my perspective on how I think the ride should take place. In my control, I want my bumper car experience to be smooth; however that isn’t the point of the ride. God reminds me that each touch from another car is His outpouring of love to me as He daily shows Himself in so many ways. It’s definitely a ride, and who knows what bumps, crashes or jams I will endure in the next few months and years to come, but I do know they are purposed by God and He is ultimately in complete control, not me.

I have a faith departure date of the last week in July. I will spend the first 2 weeks in Nairobi doing orientation and then take an 8 hour bus ride to the coast of Kenya, to a village, where I will have 2 weeks of intense Swahili language school. I will begin teaching the first week of September in a classroom with a banana leaf roof. Oh the crashes, I mean bumps that are yet to come!

I began sharing with people more intently about my call to Kenya once I returned from training in November, and as of yesterday, my monthly support is at 20% pledged and my one time needs are at 64%. Praise God!

Prayer Requests:
1. That I would continue to be in God’s word daily and in communion with Him throughout each day.
2. That I would continue to trust Him to provide the exact people He has chosen to be a part of this team, in order to carry the gospel to the children and their families in Kenya.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Budget Story #2

I have been encouraged to write down some of the amazing experiences I am having as I am in the process of watching the Lord provide. I have mentioned on facebook that the "front row view to God's working in your lives" is very exciting! But here is a story that brought me to tears as I realized God's hand in building this team through someone I don't even know.

I'm must preface this story by saying I have been praying day and night for God to work in people's hearts to want to be apart of His ministry in Kenya, especially financially. As I pray, I also tell God that I want Him to work in such a way that only He can receive the praise, credit and glory.

This story begins last week when I did a gift input into my database. With one click of a button, any money that has been processed by SIM syncs with my database of connections on my computer and links gifts to those in my database (or creates a new contact if it is new). I clicked, and up popped a name I did not recognize. Hmm.. this must be a mistake. I looked at the information given and I recognized nothing, and was overwhelmed by the amount... at this point I felt positive it was a mistake. So I wrote an email to donor relations at SIM, telling them the circumstances and asking them to check on it and let me know. The next day I get an email saying they were forwarding the email to another person who handles that type of gift. 3 days later... no answer. At this point, I was getting a little antsy. I really just wanted it out of my account so that I wouldn't think I had that money when I really didn't. I decided to call, and got passed from person to person when finally I got a response, "so you are Danielle!"... yes, yes I am... and can you tell me what's going on here?... the kind lady on the phone says, "let me explain what's going on"... thank you!!! the kind lady on the phone again, "so we received this check in the mail but it was not designated to anyone. Someone recognized part of the last name and linked it to someone who works in this office, that person knew the donor but really had no communication with her. So I (the kind lady on the phone) made contact with the donor who said they didn't care where the money went. So I (the kind lady on the phone) contacted the person at the office who is linked to the donor and that person suggested it go to one of their missionaries who they have been working with to get to the field who is in the most need. At that point we checked support accounts with the most need and yours was chosen." (by the way, they must of checked this back in November)

Tears are now flowing from my eyes. I'm feeling totally overwhelmed by God's presence, her mere words felt like a huge hug from God. I told the kind lady on the phone, "I really can't believe how amazing our God is." (a few sniffles)... she responds, "It really is amazing to get to see God work in such powerful ways." She went on to tell me that when things like this happen, she is just as excited as the missionary she transfers the money to. We praised God together in those next few moments and then I hung up the phone and let the tears flow.

There are still no words to explain just how real God is in answering my prayers. There is nothing special about the words I say, but my heart is so in love with my Savior that I feel completely in tune with him. Jesus, you are beyond amazing. Thank you for hearing me and answering my prayers. May people read this and praise You for how real, personal, and generous you are! Jesus, keep my focus on you, align my heart to yours, so that everything I do is because you have led me to do it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Support Progress 1.21.13

This whole raising support and moving to another country thing, it is not some little decision. I'm sure by now, all of you have realized exactly what I am undertaking (with God's leading and help of course!), but to be honest, I have not. Even as financial gifts have been pouring in and people share they are praying for me, it all just doesn't make since.

Reality check. I'm moving to Kenya in less than 6 months. And I'm moving to Kenya to live in a village with  people who speak 100% not English and I will have running water- conditionally and power- on and off. Yes this is different. Almost 8 weeks ago now, I received an email with a curve ball for prayer. An opportunity to live in a village had opened up and I was asked to pray about it. I prayed alright. I read God's Word like I had never read before, I prayed as if I knew God was going to answer. And He did. I have gone back to the Exodus account of Moses and the burning bush so many times for encouragement during this process. It was in this piece of Scripture that I found my answer. God was going to give Moses a sign after he brought the Israelite's out of Egypt. And the sign Moses would receive you ask? Moses himself worshiping God on the mountain. As I take this step of faith, God will affirm my steps. I no longer will be living in Nairobi and walking to the slum each day. I will be living about 8 hours East of Nairobi in a small village along the coast. And I couldn't be more excited for the opportunity that God has opened up to share His love with these families. (I will share more details in my next March newsletter about the village and will be posting my journal I kept regarding this curve ball soon!)

Reality check #2. God is my provider in every way. Your generosity has been so encouraging as I have received almost daily financial gifts ranging from $10 to $1,000! As of Friday, my monthly support reached 20% pledged/giving and my one-time needs reached 37%. It is so humbly as I realize more and more that this is not my ministry, but God's and this is about Him and not myself. Here is a wonderful picture of how it is all connected!
Heavenly Father,
  It is beyond amazing to me to see you at work in my life. You are so real and intimate to me. I love that you are so BIG that I will never fully understand You, and yet, through your Word, You are revealing yourself more and more to me each day. Thank you for hearing my every prayer. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit, who dwells within me and helps me to understand your will for my life. Thank you for the specific purposes you have for me, which were planned long before I was even thought of. Thank you for wanting to use me to further your Kingdom. Thank you for Jesus, for his example of a perfect life, and His mercies which are new every day. Thank you God for loving me the way you do. 
  I pray God that you would continue to work in your children's hearts to want to be apart of your ministry in Kenya. I pray that you would continue to grow my faith as you provide the support for this ministry that you have allowed me to be apart of. Thank you Lord for those you have already called and have taken the step to make the commitment to You to give to the families in Kenya. May you abundantly bless them and allow them to see how their support is furthering Your Kingdom. May we all see You in this process and continually offer you the praise and glory you desire as You provide. 
                              I pray all these things in the Mighty name of Jesus,

Friday, January 11, 2013


If you read my latest post, faith in the face of finances, you know that God is definitely stretching me as I place my faith in Him to provide for His ministry. When I say it like that, I'm reminded that this isn't my ministry, this isn't my plan, it's God's. (He’s reminding me of a lot of characteristics about Himself as you will see)

I'm being stretched by a lot of things at this moment. 

Daily Grind
There just doesn't seem to be enough time in a week anymore. Between work, school, building a support team, homework, eating food(to sustain life), sleeping...the days are flying by! Thankfully, even after I summarize just all there is to do each day, I am reminded of God's presence as I take on each thing. 

God's Presence
Even though sometimes I don't feel it, He is always with me. During my Bible reading this morning, He showed Himself to me.
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
   we will also live with him.
If we endure,
   we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
   he will also disown us;
If we are faithless,
   he will remain faithful,
   for he cannot disown himself. 
–2 Timothy 2:11-13

What a beautiful piece of truth from the Scriptures! Admist the daily grind that has a way of overwhelming me, His spirit supersedes the lies and reminds me of His power in my life.

People's Generosity
God is reminding me that He is my provider through your generosity. Every time my faith seems to slip, I get another email with more gifts. Almost every time I sign into my account there is more support! Why oh why do I doubt??? It reminds me that it is nothing of myself that is going to provide the funding for His ministry, it is Him working in your hearts to generously give. And generous you have been! In the last week my one-time needs have increased from 11% to 30%!!! I have communicated with three families that said they have begun monthly commitments! And that’s only the one’s I know of!

Thank you for your prayers through this support raising process, prayers and the reminder that God is my strength are the only things that are going to get me through these next 6 months!

He's stretching me alright!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

faith in the face of finances

Faith. The Greek word for faith is, πείθω, transliterated is pistis, meaning to persuade, [or] be persuaded…persuasion(come to trust) It is God’s warranty that guarantees the fulfillment of the revelation He births within the receptive believer.

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith (through persuasion, through coming to trust); and this not from yourself, it is the gift of God; not by works, so that no one can boast." -Ephesians 2:8-9

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering, You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give. –Exodus 25:1-2

Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work…” –Exodus 35:20-21a
The persuasion comes from the Holy Spirit working inside me to remind me of God’s power in my life. And I am so thankful for the Spirit who is helping me stay focused during this incredibly faith-stretching process! As I go through this process of raising up a team of people to be apart of this ministry, I am constantly reminded that it is His job in others’ lives as much as it is in mine to keep us focused on the kingdom. (Ex 35:20-21a) He allows us not to get caught up in budgets or needs but rather people and opportunities. By keeping my faith grounded in His promises, I know He will provide.

And He is! I am so encouraged as I watch God work in the hearts of my family and friends, and people I’ve never met, to join this ministry. However, that’s not to say I don’t struggle. There are moments when my faith slips, when I doubt God’s calling or want to turn and run the other way. It can be very overwhelming when I realize just how much God is entrusting to me.  The last two days have been very hard. Overwhelming, emotional, frustrating, and confusing. I’m sensing God asking me to give up comforts now so that I can focus on this ministry of raising a support team. (Ex 25:1-2) In order to be successful on the field, it is crucial that I have strong relationships with those back home that are supporting me through prayer and finances. And relationships take time.

Tonight, I put my faith in the fact that He knows what I need. I’m seeking him tonight, asking Him to direct my ways, to show me where I must let go and let Him led, and where I must take a step of faith and trust that He will work out the details. Whether it be time, relationships, feelings or finances, I must place my faith back in Him, and not in any of these barriers.

Will you join me in praying for God’s leading in all of this? Specifically that no matter what I’m facing or where He is leading me, I will continually place my faith in Him and Him alone.

By the way, back on May 17, 2012, during my time at SIM for SIMStart, I blogged about faith in the face of fears. How appropriate that I go back to Moses to discover what faith looks like in the face of finances as well.

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