Letter #674: When I Want to Go…

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Dear questions,

There are a handful of you I’m consistently asked. One is “Lindsay, are you going back to Africa this year?”

A year ago an opportunity opened up where I attended and helped put on Family Legacy’s Dream Camp in Zambia (recap of what I did). Words will never fully describe my time there.

Eye-opening. Fun. Life-giving. Refreshing. Incredible. I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything again in my life quite like going to Africa for the first time. The unknown. The excitement. The hesitancy. The lack of expectations.

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My girls, Esther and Mercy!

Anytime the subject of Africa comes up, I’m overjoyed. I love talking about it. The people. The kids. The joy they exude despite circumstances. The simplicity. The genuine faith. The depth of knowledge. The scripture they know.

Sure I was able to love on some kids for a week and laugh lots with them while I was there, but the impact Africa and the kids at Tree of Life Village had on me was and continues to be far greater (my one Africa Takeaway). My life, perspective and prayers will never be the same.

So we’re back to the question. There’s nothing I’d rather do more with 9 days of my winter than hang with the Tree of Life kids. I have been able to tell my story of Africa more in the last 15 days than ever. New and even more passion, thankfulness and excitement have been discovered.

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All the kids in the house I was paired up with, Mercy House!

Everything in me wants to go back. Everything. And I don’t even think choosing to go could be a negative. But the thing I’m learning is that sometimes the answer can be no to even a good thing. Even when yes makes sense, sometimes my answer has to be no.

I can’t explain it. A sea hasn’t parted and a voice hasn’t bellowed from the sky, but as sure as I was the answer was yes a year ago, I am that it’s no now. This is harder for me to type and ultimately embrace than going ever would be. I want to go, but I am not to go right now. So we’re back to obedience matters. Even when it doesn’t make sense, it matters.

So there you have it, the really long answer to a pretty short one of you. No, I’m not going to Africa this year. And while I may never fully understand why, I am choosing to trust this is best.

Lord, you know best,

Lindsay

Have you ever been told no even if yes sounded like a good thing? What’d you learn?

Letter #641: Anonymously Thankful

Dear anonymous donor,

Words won’t even begin to express my gratitude for your generous gift. I had no idea how funding my trip to Africa was going to happen, but I took one step of faith, signed up and trusted the details would follow. Your donation not only helped make me visiting Zambia possible, but it also has been used in a huge way to show me God’s faithfulness.

About a year ago, the phrase “immeasurably more’ entered my world. I have watched more than I could ever have asked or imagined happen before my eyes. You made it happen.

I will never forget the moment I received the news. I was driving to Oklahoma State’s Homecoming. My mom happened to be in the car with me and we were waiting for my dad in a Tulsa parking lot. I hadn’t checked my phone for a couple hours because a cell phone even being within reach while driving with my mom in the car is an unforgivable offense! I opened my email to find a late afternoon note from the Dream Camp coordinator entitled “Good News.’ I figured it had to do with the Gospel, but instead I opened to find this.

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Dazed. Confused. Speechless. Awestruck. You name it, I was experiencing it. After a few moments of silence, my mom noticed the shock in my face and asked what was wrong. All I could do was hand her the phone.

The craziest thing about this whole story is that I have ZERO idea how you even knew I was going and then figured out how to donate. You see, I haven’t personally told a ton of people about my trip. Not because I don’t want to, but mostly because I’ve been traveling and haven’t had extended conversations with too many folks lately. Yes, I wrote a blog post about going, but it never asked for anything. It barely even gave details. There was one link at the very bottom directing folks to be able to see a little bit more about Dream Camp but that was it.

I say this to say, you were determined. You did your homework to figure out how to donate. Nothing that I have said or put out in public gave specific direction. It would make sense for me to receive money if I had asked people for donations. I haven’t.

You are a catalyst to how the Lord is showing me how He will do immeasurably more than anything I could’ve ever asked or imagined. Never in my wildest dreams could I have come up with this scenario. I really did believe the Lord would provide, but I did not know how. I sure didn’t foresee this coming.

I decided to go to Africa about six weeks ago. It was one step, one I didn’t know what the following would look like. Your generosity has stretched my faith in ways I can never express. How many times have I failed to take the first step out of fear and lack of trust? How many times have I missed watching the Lord’s provision and Him doing immeasurably more in and through me because of it?

Thank you. Thank you for your financial contribution. For making my trip a reality. Most importantly, thank you for allowing the Lord to use you to grow my faith, trust and obedience to our God.

I will never be able to thank you adequately, but may the Lord bless you as you bless others in His name,

Lindsay

***A story I couldn’t begin to make up. I wrote this in an attempt to express my thankfulness and sent it to the Dream Camp coordinator to pass on to the donor. This story was too good not to share and Thanksgiving seemed the perfectly fitting time. More than 60% of a nearly $5,000 step of faith provided by someone I can’t even thank in person. God is so much bigger than I remotely give Him credit for. I’m excited to continue working toward as well as watching Him provide the other 40%. Here’s more info on where I’m going, Family Legacy’s Dream Camp.***

Letter #634: One Step

Dear steps,

I ran a half marathon in the spring. 13.1 miles. I read somewhere once that’s about 25,000 steps. Wow.

As we go through this thing called life, we’re all on a journey. Our destinations are all the same (death :)), but not one of our paths look alike. I love and hate this at the same time. We question our journey and compare ours to others unnecessarily because we think ours needs to look like everyone else’s.

The reality is, none of our lives are going to look alike. Let’s stop trying to imitate others’ paths and start living in our own.

So I’m stepping along over here, doing my best to embrace my path. Sometimes I take lots of you consistently because I can see where I’m trying to get. Other times, all I can do is take one. I can’t see any farther. I don’t have enough courage or information to take anymore.

Both are acceptable. Both are exciting. Both are going to happen at different points in our lives. Sometimes I know the big picture of where I’m trying to get and take the steps to make it happen. Others, all I can do is simply take one step out of faith and trust I’ll know the next step because I had enough faith to take the first one.

This is where I sit currently. I’ve taken one step without knowing what’s next in a particular area of my life. I don’t know all the answers. I don’t have financial details worked out. I have no idea what exactly I’m going to be doing. This one step has taken me more out of my comfort zone than maybe any one thing in my life.

So what’s my one step? As of a week ago, I’m going to Zambia, Africa December 26th-January 4th. I’m going to Africa. I AM GOING TO AFRICA!!!!! I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet.

A really long story I’ll probably never be able to fully share short, I started praying about the possibility of going to Africa more than two years ago. Through books I’ve read, friends I’ve made, prayers I’ve prayed, causes I’ve supported and things I probably don’t even recognize, a flippant prayer prayed more than 24 months ago will soon turn into reality.

I couldn’t be more excited, yet nervous. I’ve never been more unsure about something, yet so sure. I couldn’t feel more inadequate, yet I’ve never felt more peace. I don’t know many details and I have no idea how I’m going to come up with nearly $5,000 to get there, but I do know I’ve taken one step. The next step will make itself known in time. For now, I will continue to rest in obedience of the one step.     

For the planner that I typically am, one step isn’t good enough. I want destinations. I want a plan to strive for. The older I get, the more I learn I don’t need to know everything to be obedient. Honestly, if I knew everything that was coming at me in the future, I’d probably run the other direction. God probably knows I can only handle one step. And He’s probably anxiously awaiting the opportunity to reveal Himself to me as my faith and trust are stretched.

Here’s to a wild ride filled with lots of steps,

Soon to be Africa goer/step of faith taker

***I’ll include more details in later posts, but I’m going to do camp for a week in Africa. It’s called Dream Camp through Family Legacy. Find out more here.***