Letter #653: My One African Takeaway


Dear words,

There aren’t many times I’m short on you. 🙂 A time that I am”…my initial reaction when the question, “So, how was Africa?” comes my way. My mind immediately goes nine different directions, then each of those has at least seven stories I could share. Where do I even begin?! (ICYMI: here’s my initial post upon my return.)

So, after a few weeks of processing and a chance to get my American feet back under me, I’ve boiled down what deserves to be 10,000 stories to my one go to. Here we go”…

As I said in this post (if you haven’t, read this post for context first), I taught three classes each day. My 13-18 year old girls were my jam. Most people balk when I tell them I work with middle school kids at K-West”…it’s not people’s typical first choice of age group. The Lord has wired me to embrace and love this age and life stage. It was so neat to see that affirmed in me in an entirely different culture.

This and the picture above were my two classes…seriously, never dreamed 20 girls could steal my heart the way these girls did!

That being said, we had A LOT of fun, and we laughed real hard. So many sweet memories. (This link is a trimmed down version of one of the groups mocking me and my laugh…they thought it was the funniest thing ever!) IMG_3759_2

The girls LOVE being in pictures, but they may even love getting to take pictures more. My phone got hijacked multiple times on the trip!
Hahahaha…..clearly even African orphans love selfies! Veronica, Grace and Twiza…three I got to know best!
The athletic ability of these kids was mind blowing! Mevis had it going on!

The funny thing about these girls is that they were no different than American girls. Just like here, there’s the too cool for school crew, the super competitive group, the divas who want no part in active things, the super obedient as well as the troublemakers. You name the personality type, I had them. They were also incredibly inquisitive. They asked good questions. (Most of the kids, especially the older ones, spoke pretty good English, but I also had a translator.)

Hahahah….how one of the kids captured this, I don’t know because it’s too good. They all wanted to sit on me…we ALL tumbled!
The pictures they captured just make me laugh….SO many funny memories with these kids!

One day it was like one of my groups had one of those t-shirt cannons filled and just started firing away. “What happens when babies die? If God’s all-powerful, why does He not just kill Satan? Is there suffering in America?” Wow.

I got to help them navigate these for a bit. What a blessing! When I told them there was suffering in America, they didn’t believe me. America to them is people who can afford to come across the ocean to visit and befriend them. We were able to talk about suffering being everywhere because of man’s choice to sin and disobey God. We were able to establish a foundational truth of the Gospel. Man is sinful. All men.

We transitioned from serious into laughing and playing games, but I couldn’t shake their questions. That night, my biggest takeaway from the trip hit me like a ton of bricks. Kids are kids and people are people. The questions these African orphans asked were the same questions I get asked every week at camp. People’s needs are the same.

  1. We need to know we are loved.
  2. We need to know somebody believes in us.
  3. We need help navigating truth.

And this is what I get to do every day of my life. Yes, specifically at camp, but it’s even bigger than that. As believers, we get to do this every single day. Whether it’s with our waitress, a coffee barista, a seat buddy on public transit, a family member, a sorority sister, a co-worker or an African orphan, it doesn’t matter. We get to show people love; we get to encourage and believe in them; we get to be truth bearers. I’ll even go a step farther”…we get to and it should be exciting, but as believers we’re also called to.

It doesn’t matter if it’s packaged like an African orphan who has nothing or an American who has everything, the core need of everyone is the same: the hope of the gospel of Jesus. We have the power of life at our fingertips through our love, our encouragement/investment and our sharing of truth. We live in a world that desperately needs Jesus, and I get to be a part of bringing hope. THAT gets me fired up!!!!

It almost took me going to Africa to be reminded of this and to be reinvigorated for my daily life in America. The whole trip I kept asking myself what my takeaway was going to be. I was determined to not just go to Africa. I prayed and hoped I would never be the same. Not just because my heart had been stirred for orphans, but because my heart had been stirred for Jesus. The need in Africa is great. There are more than a million orphans in Zambia alone. If you have even a slight interest in going, go. The Lord will rock your world.

But don’t miss what my biggest takeaway was from going all the way to Africa. The Gospel, the true Gospel of Jesus > everything. EVERYTHING. Every single day, I get to love, encourage and point people to the truth of Jesus. In America. But I have to choose to surrender daily. To fight my selfishness. Now that’s a fight worth fighting!!!!

An attempt at explaining Africa in a nutshell,

Processer of Africa

Letter #651: What I Did in Africa.


Dear friends,

Most of you know I went to Africa, but many have no idea why or what I did. People keep asking, “Hey Lindsay, what’d you do in Africa?” So, here’s by best attempt to explain.

I went to Lusaka, Zambia to work with orphans through Family Legacy. There are more than one million orphans in the country. In the summer, Family Legacy puts on a program called Camp Life. Last summer 7,000 kids came. Every American participant is paired with 10 orphans, so 700 came last summer. From what I understand, you get to know your kids really well. You get the chance to sit down with each individually and hear their story, what home is like and actually share the Gospel with them. The hope is for that American to become the advocate to get those 10 kids sponsored in the Father’s Heart program. This means the kids still live at whatever home looks like for them, but they now get to go to school. School in Zambia is expensive and somewhat corrupt”…this is the only chance these kids would have to be in school.

As the program grew, the need for schools did too. Family Legacy now has 18 Christian schools in the compounds of Lusaka for these kids to attend. The schools are close to home and staffed with highly qualified teachers. There are currently more than 7,500 kids in the Father’s Heart program.

A classroom in the newest school…it opened January 13th and 500 kids from the compound will now be educated in it!

Back to Camp Life. The stories of these kids are heard and the most vulnerable are identified. Situations vary, but abuse, rape, HIV, malnutrition, abandonment and neglect are far too common stories. More than 400 of the kids with the most horrific stories from the ages of 2 to 17 now live in the Tree of Life Village. This is where I spent my week.

34 houses have been built. 12 kids live in each with two Zambian house moms. The vision is there would be 50 houses, 600 kids. Then, that 11 more villages just like it would be built. The need is THAT great. I can’t even begin to describe Tree of Life adequately. It’s the best. A haven of hope. A refuge of orphans. A nontraditional setup turned home.

morgs africa
Morgan and I with some of our Tree of Life friends at the opening of Rapha House, the newest Tree of Life house! Morgan is my connection point to Family Legacy, works with me at K-West and has become a dear friend. This was her fourth time to Zambia, and we’ve joke for years that maybe one day we’d go together…well, clearly that joke became reality! #immeasurablymore

We were there to put on “Dream Camp‘ for the kids at Tree of Life. They were on holiday from school, so we got to give them a chance to learn new things and encourage them to dream. Each American taught a class. Baseball, cooking, photography, Zumba, crafts, volleyball”…you name it, it’s possible. My class: games!!! If it’s a game, we probably played it. Initially, I was going to do basketball. Then they found out about my camp background”…I told them I was up for anything, so games it was! Kickball, balloon stomp, limbo, dizzy bat relay, water balloon egg toss, solleyball (game I invented at K-West!)”…you name it, we played it. And it was SO much fun!

Last day of class with my boys…(top row) Blessing, George, John, Mulenga, Simon, DeLiso, (bottom row) Amon, Clement, Peter, Emmanuel, Moffat!

I had three classes each day. My first: 6-9 year old boys. My next two: 13-18 year old girls. I’m so glad I got to do both, but it was really fun to see my age strengths affirmed even across the world. The Lord has wired me to work with young girls. My boys were awesome and taught me a ton, but I couldn’t work with elementary kids consistently. Their attention span is no different than American 6-9 year olds”…it’s zero. But we laughed a ton, I learned to be more flexible and they stole my heart. I’ll elaborate on the girls in my next post because they play into my biggest takeaway so far.

So after the classes, each afternoon had a different special activity.

Activity 1: Cookie decorating and crafting

Fatima, Blessing, Twiza! Each American brought frosting and sprinkles in our luggage for this…the kids LOVED it!

Activity 2: Movie day

Movie: Sight and Sound Theater’s The Beginning”…basically I brought 400 Africans to a Branson show with me!! The amazing thing: it was incredibly hot in here. They had no snacks or drinks. Americans would have been furious. These kids thought it was the greatest thing ever and LOVED it.

Activity 3: Field day

The staff found out I was a camp director”…naturally I ended up running kickball! Let’s just say I got pretty good at explaining the game very simply while learning patience as I waited for my translator as well as flexibility when the rules were stretched!

Activity 4: Splash day

The kids thought this was the best thing ever…..What a day!!!!

What a week! I basically got to do camp in Africa. I am passionate about summer camp and what I get to do in America. Getting to do what I love and use my gifts in Africa took it next level.

I could tell story after story and show pictures galore, but without context it would never make as much sense. Without knowing how the Tree of Life kids ended up there, I would never have known the vivid picture of death to life I witnessed. In every sense of the phrase, these kids have gone from death to life. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Before they were likely abused and malnourished. Now they are healthy and safe. Before they were emotionally lifeless and didn’t have much joy. Now they get to be kids who dream while their laughter fills the air. Before they were surrounded by death, witchcraft and hopelessness. Now they literally have life, joy in their eyes and eternal hope. These kids know the Gospel. Most of them genuinely know Jesus. They challenged me in my faith and because of them I will never be the same.

So, what did I do in Africa? Honestly, I didn’t do much…but the Lord did a whole lot in me and is continuing to do so.

Praying for the Lord to continue to bring the dead to life in Zambia,


***If you ever have any desire or even a slight stirring to go, I HIGHLY recommend looking into Family Legacy. I was beyond impressed by the mission of this organization and the vision they are moving forward with. It’s expensive, but you’re going to Africa, paying for the program the kids get to participate in and the things you will learn about provision are unreal. The Lord is at work in Zambia, and I believe He’s using Family Legacy. Look into it. Pray about it. Ask me your questions. Take a step of faith.

Letter #649: Initial Africa


Dear Africa,

I have been incredibly hesitant to write about you. For one, I can’t stay awake past 9:30pm because I’m still transitioning to the time change. Secondly, how do I even begin to do you justice? I will never fully be able to put you into words, but I will try.

Your story needs to be told. Yes, I want people to hear about the realities of your people and how they can help, but I also want to scream from the rooftops so people can know all God is doing across the globe. He is at work in Zambia my friends, and it is a beautiful thing!!

I’m still not sure where to start, but here’s where I’ve decided. I didn’t take my computer with me and barely used my phone outside of taking pictures. Being set free from the consumption of technology was one of many highlights for me. I went old school and simply kept a journal. I mostly just documented daily happenings and stories, but here’s an excerpt I wrote on one of the 24 hours during the plane ride home.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought saying goodbye would be so hard. One by one the kids I connected with found me. They were well aware we were leaving. I could see it in so many of them”…they were so sad we were leaving. Some even distanced themselves as their defense mechanism. I have never seen such genuine love in such a short time. These kids were so sad. I had the chance to say some really sweet goodbyes, to simply encourage them. Mercy wrote me a letter for me to remember her. Martha, the biggest hugs ever. Queen sang me a song. Grace and I laughed hard, real hard. Jessy, Twiza, Fatima, Mulenga, Moffat, Emma. The list could go on and on, but I got to individually let them know they are loved and believed in. I got to look each of them in the eyes and individually encourage them. Wow. I pray they are confident in who God made them to be and that they would know their Auntie Lindsay believes in them.

These kids made me feel more loved than any group of kids I’ve ever known. They have nothing but give everything. They likely never knew true love in their home lives but love better than most. They are genuine and committed. They are the most loyal friends. When they say they are praying for you, they really are. Yes, they have been given a second chance at the Tree of Life, but what’s even more amazing is what the Lord’s doing not just in but through these kids. I’m not a crier, and no I didn’t cry upon leaving, but my heart has been captured. A little bit of my heart has been left in Africa. Yes, I played games with and hugged them, but they’ve left me with far more. Far, far more.”

Five days removed, I thought I’d start by communicating my thoughts from just hours removed. I’m continuing to process, see and learn more each day and am excited to slowly put those thoughts into posts. I went to Zambia. Great. But I believe it was about more than just me going to Zambia. I believe God is doing a work in all this, and I want to bring as many of you along with me on the journey as I can. I may have been the only one who saw Africa with my own eyes, but I can tell the story and pray God uses my experience for more than I can even imagine.

The first post of many,

Africa processor

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.***

Letter #579: Alden’s House

A few weeks ago, I announced I’d be giving $200 to a cause (read here). Not that $200 can change the world, but it can sure begin the process of difference making. Today I have asked my friend Morgan to guest post on the cause I chose. Her letter is beautifully written and does a far better job explaining than I ever could. Morgan is one of the most faithful and mature college students I’ve ever met, and her commitment and ability to trust the Lord in both the little and big is encouraging and challenging. Morgan is making a difference. I’m committed to aiding her dream come to frution. I’d love to give you the opportunity to join as well. Read her letter, check out the links for greater detail, see if your heart’s moved to give or even just to pray and enjoy!

Morgan, thanks for writing. You’ve blessed both me and Letters for Lindsay readers by sharing Alden’s story. Proud of you, excited to continue to watch the Lord use you, and more stoked than words can express for Alden’s House.


Dear Calling,

You really scared me to death this time. At times I have felt and seen you in different ways. I felt you when choosing Auburn over Clemson and when deciding not to play volleyball in college. But this time, I simply laughed in your face when the Lord laid you on my heart.

I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Zambia, Africa over multiple summers where I can honestly say my life and faith has been transformed. My first summer there you appeared to me loud and clear.  The Lord laid you on my heart as a mere 17-year-old and told me to start raising money ($110,000 might I add) to build an orphanage at the Tree of Life children’s village in Zambia. The Tree of Life children’s village is a community of houses for the vulnerable orphans of Zambia that Family Legacy Missions International has developed over the past 4 years. It is a place of life and life more abundantly for the most broken orphans of Zambia. I will never forget the night that you first appeared, I looked over at one of my best friends and told her we had to raise money for one of these houses and name it after Alden.


Alden Malachowski was one of the strongest fighters I’ve ever known and kept her hope in the Lord’s unfailing love despite her circumstances.  She went to my small private school and was diagnosed with AML leukemia in the 7th grade. She fought leukemia with strength and faith for a year and a half, but the Lord decided it was time for his sweet 8th grade angel to come home in December of 2009. Alden exuded joy for life even in her circumstances and trials, a joy that I pray to have even in the darkest and lowest moments of my life.

The Lord whispered you and named you “Alden’s House” that first summer. You were a seed planted in my heart. Because of my lack of faith, I didn’t pursue you. I was prideful and didn’t want to disappoint anyone if you didn’t happen. I lacked so much faith that I laughed in your face and walked away.

One year later, I returned to Zambia and the Lord hit me in the face with you one last time. He asked if I was going to be obedient this time, if I believed that He was able to do immeasurably MORE than all I could ask or imagine. I said yes, took my leap of faith and here I am. We pursued you and the Lord has provided.

We began fundraising for Alden’s House (click for a video with visual explanation) in August and we only need $35,000 more dollars to see you through. If we raise $35,000 more dollars before February 1st, Alden’s House will open this summer, and I have complete confidence this will happen. The Lord has already provided in indescribable ways, and I have simply been blessed to be a vessel through this process.

So as much as you scare me sometimes and as much as I have felt inadequate and unable through this process, I want to thank you. It is you that has made me be weaker so He could be stronger. It is you who has allowed for His name to be glorified through this process because this dream is way beyond any human’s capabilities. I lastly thank you because I once read that “nothing is better for our spiritual development than a big dream because it keeps us on our knees in raw dependence on God” and that is exactly what this process has been for me.

I can’t wait to watch 14 broken orphans lives be restored the second they walk into Alden’s House. They were lost on the streets, but now they are found. They were beaten and broken, but now they will be restored and renewed. Is this not the perfect picture of the gospel? Is this not what has been done for us?

So very thankful,

Your trusting responder

Readers, let’s help make Alden’s House a reality. We can help this to happen by this summer…click here to give. Remember, any little bit helps. One person doesn’t have to give all $35,000. Every little bit helps…what starts as $5 or $50 or $200 or $500 could end in a house, a refuge, a home for 14 Zambian orphans. Together, we can make this happen!