Most days, more often than not, its hard to even believe the last year of my life even happened. Looking back a year ago, I was quitting a good job, to follow a calling I felt to serve in Africa. Wow. Now a year later, I am back home, earlier than expected, and blown away by the experience I had.
Before I go any further, I want to share with you all an email I sent out soon after finding out for sure, I was going to have to leave earlier than I planned.
"Friends and Family
God is good all the time. All the time God is good.
Sometimes His sovereign goodness is displayed in a manner in
which we didn’t expect to see his good. That sometime happened to me just
As most of you know, yesterday was border-crossing day for
me. My passport stamp expires on the 24th of the month, so it was
important to cross a few days in advance just to be on the safe side. With an
early morning start and an amazing Game drive safari in Botswana, we made our
way back towards the Ngoma border crossing back into Namibia.
I can’t even begin to explain to you the nerves I felt with
each passing mile. All I could do was pray.
As we reached the border, and stood in the long line of
people trying to get in the country, I’m sure I was pale in the face. My nerves
had gotten the best of me. Sure it is easy for me, every step of the way
leading up to this moment to give it over to God, to trust Him with everything
that is within me. But in that moment standing in line, my heart dropped deeper
into my stomach with every loud thud of that immigration officer’s stamp.
When my time finally arrived, I kindly handed over my
passport, smiled my biggest smile and tried to make small talk with the officer
behind the glass. Apparently the heat and the long lines had gotten to him,
because he was in no mood for conversation. After several remarks, threats, and
questions, he finally stamped my passport and handed it to me without a word.
I walked out of the building and opened my passport to see
that I was not given any sort of extension. My date remained the same.
September 24th. Tears immediately filled my eyes until my vision was
blurred. My first thought, “I have to say goodbye, and how do I even begin that
After a car ride of tears, that saying came to my mind. God
is good all the time. All the time God is good.
Even now, in my sadness, shock, and confusion of emotions in
coming home, my God is good.
I want each and every one of you to know how important you
have been along this 9-month journey. I am so thankful to have people such as
you in my life to love and support me.
As I begin the process of saying goodbye, and the long
journey home, please remain in prayer for me. Intercede on my behalf requesting
that the Lord will bring peace and comfort that washes over all of my sadness."
So now with the recap of what happened just over a month ago, I want to share with you all a thank you.
Well it has again been to long since I have updated on this
blog! YIKES! I am so bad at this! I hope you all will forgive me!
Well since the last week of August things have not slowed
down one beat around here!
The Curry’s (our directors) left the end of August for the
first 3 month Furlough. We were sad to see them leave, but we know how excited
they are to see family and friends!
Before they left, a few of the Aunties and I decided to surprise
them with a going away party! It was tons of fun! There was SO much food that it
was almost insane! The children performed some dancing and singing, and I made
a video with all the children giving them a little message! It was a fun
afternoon, but followed by swimming in the Zambezi River! Now that was fun! The
water was freezing, but it was definitely worth it!
With the Curry’s leaving, The Mission Society sent a
wonderful couple from the States. Ed and Linda Baker. They are very seasoned
missionaries and it is great having them here! Also, Carl Otter, a member of
the Children Of Zion board in Maryland came the same time! Today we said
goodbye to Carl as he makes his way back home. But it was great to have him
here to help!
Once they left, things of course swept right back into
crazy-busy-never-a-normal-day mode! Considering it was school break, most of
our Out-schooler kids were home for the 2-week break! There were lots of kids
and lots of playing over those 2 weeks!
Now that school is back in session things have slowly
started to get back to normal…. Well as normal as things are around here! We
have had our fair share of vehicle problems, late night drives to pick up kids,
and several long days in hospital queues!
But there has been fun too….
This past Sunday, the Bakers, Carl and I took the boat out
on the Zambezi doing a little “animal hunting!!” We were so excited to see
Crocodiles, Hippos, and otters! It was a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon!
I’m sure the weeks will continue to have their unique
craziness, but I am glad to be here learning, growing, and changing. I know
that the Lord is stretching me in ways that before I thought would have surely
made me break!
You know the kind, a brief almost seemingly insignificant
moment in time, maybe it is a few words said in passing, or a look given from
across a crowded room. Whatever the scenario, no matter the place, it moves
you, provokes you to act, drawing on the human instinct to follow your heart.
Or in cases like my moment last night, it moves you to your core awakening your
every pore to the unmistakable weight in the room.
Last night was one of those moments.
With tears brimming my eyes ready to tumble downwards, I
watched as a group of our kids performed a dance to the song “City on its
knees.” I’ve seen them act it out a million times before. But tonight, in this
room, something was different. Something was there with us. I looked around the
room at these children feeling more love than I ever thought possible. So much
more than I thought I could ever love a once stranger. All around me I saw
Jesus. I saw Him in the concentration of those dancing. I saw him in the little
ones running around with their hands held up to be swooped off the ground. His
face was illuminated in a gentle teenagers smile as she sat next to me. His
presence was thick, almost suffocating in the atmosphere. In that moment I had
to stop, breath, and count my every blessing.
Jesus called me here to Children of Zion Village for a
specific reason and even if I never know or see that reason, I was brought here
to feel, see, and taste Jesus in the way I did on that cold Thursday night in
As I sat there overwhelmed with love, emotion, Jesus, sweet
Mona came and sat with me engaging in simple conversation. When the teams
impending departure and a question of any other volunteers in the near future
coming to join us, I simply answered with a smirk and a “sorry, its just me”
sarcastic answer. She had her hands lightly playing with my hair, combing every
piece into place; sweetly she said words that permeated every ounce of my
“Auntie, you just belong here. You are like one of us.”
A moment in time, a simple phrase said in the easiest of
moments with simple words from a sweet teenage girl will forever be branded on
my heart and memories of my time here. I can’t even begin to express the
welling up of joy, love, and raw emotion that consumed me.
I am simply where God wants me and He made that evidently
I don’t know what the Lord has in store for me in the
future, what path He has planned for me, but I know for certain that if that is
what it feels like to be right in the midst of His will and Holy presence, then
I would blindly follow Him anywhere.
So today I am thankful for this place, because sometimes out
of the blue, something clicks and you know then, that there are these little
moments that define it all.
You know the lyrics… everyone does. “I get knocked down, but
I get up again, your never gonna keep me down…” and so on and so on. Feel free
to add the ever-popular head bob in as well.
Well this seems to be Satan’s tactic in my life. But like
they lyrics say, He has no capability of keeping me down.
As you might or might not know, since the time I left the
states, sickness has been the one thing that has plagued my time here.This time around I really thought this
sickness was going to be the one! I can’t tell you how terrible I felt. Lets
add to it the added exhaustion of jet lag and it equals an awful 10 days of
But I can’t help but be drawn closer to the Lord every time I
get sick. It makes me laugh because I know that the evil one is using this to
break me and wear me down, but inevitably it brings me closer to my savior
Since I was cooped up in the house so much, I spent so much
time in the word, and pleading with the lord in prayer.
Although I wish I could skip out on the being sick part, I
have to say I am grateful for the ways the ultimate physician has provided
healing in His way and His time.
So this week, I am thankful for sickness, and even more thankful
for a Lord who can and will heal me in His time!
Traveling halfway around the world is certain to raise
problems, right? Well I guess that last two times I got lucky. This time, the
travel was not so pleasant!
To start off the terrible three days, my British airways
flight from Dallas to London was cancelled. There was a fuel leak in the plane
and so we couldn’t take off. So they had us standing in lines trying to fix our
reservations for what seemed like hours!When I finally got up there, they told me they had one more seat on an
American Airlines flight to London that was leaving at 9:30pm that night, and
at the time it was like 8:45. So I took that seat rushed to AA checked my
luggage and headed to the gate. I looked at my boarding pass and it said “FIRST”
and yes that means FIRST CLASS. I was seriously SO excited! And let me tell you
that first class cabin is seriously awesome. My seat turned into a bed. They
served me dinner on real china, offered me pajamas, and hot towels! So fancy!
Well I got to London around 12:30 local time, and I rushed
to lock up my carry on items and head into London. The train took about an hour
to get to Trafalgar Square. That is where my tour bus left. The tour was great,
and such an easy way to get to see things. Unfortunately I didn’t get to stay
on the whole time! But that’s okay! Because of the Olympics the trains were SO
slow and it took forever to get back to the airport! Of course as in the
fashion my travel has been playing out, that flight didn’t even end up taking off
until 2 hours later, because the pilot was late!
I got to Johannesburg Wednesday morning at about 8am. I
headed through customs to go get my luggage. I waited and waited and waited.
Finally nothing else was coming. Commence freak out mode. So I headed over to
claims and the lady tells me that my luggage was left in LONDON. I almost lost
it! I was so mad! After what seemed like forever I believe I finally conveyed
how important it was that those bags made it to Kasane, Botswana on the next
flight. They promised me there would be no issues!
I left Johannesburg about 11:30 and got to kasane at almost
2. Travis and Lorna were there waiting for me it was great to see them!!
Unfortunately during all my travel I developed some sort of
awful cough, and even still today I have it! But when I landed that first day,
I had absolutely no voice! What a fun way to start things out!
We spent a little bit in kasane and had lunch at a
restaurant and did some shopping in town. On our drive to the border my nerves
kept getting higher and higher about possibly not being allowed into the
country! But the awesome animals helped distract me! We watched an elephant
knock over a tree right in front of us! It was awesome! We also saw monkeys,
zebras, kudu and sable!
So we finally get to the border and I could hardly breathe I
was so nervous! Since I have been gone, the border became computerized. Which
means they scan your passport and can see your travel history, and all your
information. The problem with that is that know they really know how long I
have been in the country. I hand the lady my passport, she reads my form, scans
my passport, and then stamps it. I had asked for 3 months, and when we got
outside I looked at it and she only gave me 2 months (September 24th)
which I guess is better than nothing. All this means that we are searching out
options on how to get enough time to stay in the country longer!
But I have to honest. I can’t tell you how at peace I am
with all this craziness. It is so funny; old me would have just about had a
panic attack in the unknown. But I do have peace, I have an understanding that
God is in control and He will keep me here as long as He wants me here! I just
have no clue what that looks like or how it will play out right now! But that’s
We finally got to ZION. When I walked up to the children’s
home, someone saw me and yelled “AUNTIE MAKINSEYS HERE” and literally ALL the
children ran out and gave me hugs and asking millions of questions. Seriously
made me the happiest I have been in a long time!!! Then little Liseli comes
running out, she kind of looked at me funny, and all the kids were asking her
if she remembered me, and she just wasn’t to sure. But then about 10min later
she was running at me with her hands held up for me to pick her up! Nsala
remembered me right away! She came running yelling my name! SO sweet!
The twins are HUGE. Its so precious! I’ll have to have a
baby photo shoot soon and upload pictures!!
I hung out with the kids for awhile that evening and then
headed to my house to shower and head to bed. It is weird being here all by
myself. Its so quiet in my house, kind of creepy! I went to sleep at like 9:30
and slept almost the whole night! It was great!
Over the last several days, I have just been trying to get
back into the swing of things. As I mentioned earlier, I am under the weather.
For some reason I just can’t kick this cough and flu like symptoms. Besides
that, this past weekend was an outschoolers weekend, so Friday we loaded up the
cars and headed to pick up all the kids! I drove the quantum there and I have
to say did pretty darn good, for being gone for a month! We had a great weekend
having all the kids home!
Zion was also busy with a different kind of adventure! A
local church hosted their kids camp here on our property. They camped out all
weekend and they were so excited! We could hear them singing all throughout the
day! They got to go on a boat ride and an adventure walk around the island!
Some of the men who were involved in the helping are the same men who sang at
the church service I went to before heading back to the states. They have
voices that are so amazing! We enjoyed their singing so much, they even came to
our church service on Sunday!
Sunday afternoon we drove all the kids back to their
schools. This time I went with Travis to a different school. While we were
waiting on some of the kids, we heard that they were cleaning game from the
festival they had over the weekend. So we pulled the car over and the first
thing we saw…. A hippo head just laying on the ground! We saw parts of
elephants, Cape buffalo, hippo, and wildebeest. Talk about a crazy sight.
Over all this first week back has been great! I can’t wait
to see how God chooses to move and use me in these months here!
Being away for 5 months doesn’t seem to really be all that
long, that is until you are home again.
As some of you know, I spent the last month back at home,
celebrating the marriage of two friends, visiting family members, and spending
quality time with the ones I love. But it was in my visit home that I learned a
The first being that, in all things, no matter the time,
things change, people change. That change is one that I was not particularly
naïve to, but unfortunately it snuck up on me faster than I imagined. Those 5
months I was gone, were a normal 5 months for the rest of the world, daily
routines, jobs, and life happenings.I
don’t know what I was expecting, but what I saw was not how I had imagined it.
Deep down I understand the process of change,I understand that natural evolution of life, but it doesn’t make it any
The second thing I learned was that relationships take
effort. If both parties are not willing to put up an effort to make time for
the other in essence the relationship will fail. I don’t know if I can
generalize it in every situation, but if you don’t make the time, there will be
nothing left of what was once there. I hate that this process is true, but it
has proven its pain in my life, and some of my closest relationships. All I can
say about this lesson is that I hope with everything that a second time around
the will to fight for the relationship is there.
Home all together was very refreshing. I can’t even tell you
how much fun I had catching up, relaxing, and just being around loved
ones.Most days were spent with my best
friend Melissa Davis. Wow, I am thankful for that girl. Not only did she
genuinely care to hear about my experience in Namibia, she also knew when I was
tired of talking about it!
The first Sunday I was back, I had the chance to gather most
of my supporters together for dinner and the chance to share stories and
pictures. I had a wonderful video I worked on for weeks, and of course the day
of, my computer crashes. OUCH. That brought on a whole new set of issues!
I also had the chance to travel to see family members. It
brought my heart so much comfort and peace seeing that everything is okay, and
I got to have conversation and important moments with loved ones.
Although home was great and the time I spent with everyone
was great, it was also very exhausting. It’s hard to readjust to such a
different way of life. I think culture shock goes both ways. Now, I didn’t have
it too strong in my visit home, but it was just SO different. It gives me a
whole new set of eyes on how I live, how I consume, and all that I am missing
I am so thankful for my time at home and I feel so refreshed
and renewed because of the visit.
And now, I am back at Zion! So look for the next blog about
my first few days back!!