Monday, March 03, 2008

Happy Africa Anniversary

Since today & tomorrow mark 4 years starting a missionary career and relocating to South Africa, I thought I would share a glimpse of how it all began….

In July 2003, I was asked if I would travel to Thailand for a week and check on a short-term mission team ministering there. Having never been to Asia I quickly accepted. On my way to Thailand there was brief fuel stop in Tokyo, Japan. Due to the brevity of this stop, we were not allowed to deplane. While sitting on the runway, I heard a voice inside my head say, Thirteen years ago, Japan was your destination and Africa was the furthest place from your mind, now here you finally sit and it is Africa that has captured your heart.

You see it was thirteen years prior while attending college that I went on my first short-term mission trip. While in preparation for this trip, I actually prayed, “Lord, I will go anywhere but Africa”. I then signed up to go to Japan. Well, as I have shared in my profile this was the one of my, “Never say nevers”. Yes, you guessed it, my Japan trip was cancelled and I found myself on my way to South Africa.

I never planned on being a so called “missionary”. In fact, it was the last thing in the world I intended to do. When I signed up for the trip I did feel in my heart it was something the Lord asking me to do but I also saw it as a fun excursion (that was before they stuck me on the Africa team) and something on my “Christian to-do list” that I would be able to simply check off. I even recall boarding the airplane to return to America at the culmination of that first trip and wiping the sweat off my brow as if to say, “Phew, I am not called to be a missionary.”

I realized years later that it was on that first trip the “missionary seeds” were planted and for more than a decade they would be watered and cultivated. Fourteen years would pass, a long journey ensue and the dread of Africa would become a dream. During that time, I graduated college, married my missionary partner, who also at the time had no intention of living overseas, had my first 2 children, traveled all over the world on short-term mission trips, worked for a missions organization that taught me a love for God and His people and watched my heart break for the brown-skinned people living an ocean away.

Four years ago we arrived on African soil with 2 children, 3 suitcases, 6 trunks, 4 carry-ons and a mind full of wonder. Today, I sit in celebration of all the Lord has done in the short-time of being here, gratitude for the journey and all that I learned along the way and hope for many more years of living and ministering to those I dreamed of almost 2 decades ago!

It is a happy Africa Anniversary!


Penless Thoughts said...

Loved reading this capsule version of your story!!!!!! Thanks for posting it and what a WONDERFUL anniversary to be celebrating. I celebrate YOU Michelle!!!!!

Heidi Jo said...

that gave me holy ghost goose bumps michelle. God is so faithful, and so wise. planting a seed a decade earlier...because He knows our human hearts so well. we sometimes need TIME to see it His way. He needs TIME to prepare us, mature us, and call us.

is this a permanent missionary placement for you guys, (permanent obviously excluding another calling elsewhere), or is is certain length of time?

i feel so blessed to know you. (in the weird way in which i do:0)

nickernoodle said...

That is so amazing how God takes something and turns it into what He had planned for you! Happy Africa Anniversary Day!!!

Anonymous said...

Happy Africa Anniversary sweet daughter!!
Yes, we watched that journey progress. I even remember buying you the CD "Don't send me to Africa" by Steven Curtis Chapman. I also remember some of those first postcards from Africa.
Then we saw you go from the caterpillar stage to the butterfly with your love for Africa. You have been richly blessed and will continue to be richly blessed because you are doing what the Lord wants you to do.
We love you guys!!

Just Mom said...

"It is a happy Africa Anniversary!"

I'm sure the people you're helping feel the same way about your work and your arrival.

God bless you and your family, Michelle.

Anonymous said...

Love hearing this story. I guess I never asked you...

Once God gets that hold on your heart it is hard to let it go.

Blessing to you and Rich for all that you do and all you will continue to do for the people Africa.

Bless your families for allowing you to go. I think of your mom often.

Love you guys so much!

Lisa H said...

Great story! Happy Africa Anniversary to you! :)

How long 'til your husband is home?

Highday said...

Loved reading this- thanks for sharing.

Momma Roar said...

I'm so glad you've posted this since I've always been curious as to what drew you there. I think it is such an awesome calling!!

(Homeschooling was one of those "nevers" in my life...since I was a public school teacher)

So? Will you still be there in 6 years that we can come for a visit for T's 40th? That would be awesome!!

michelle f said...

To anwser the "how long" question...We feel it will be a good long season! Can't even imagine at this point returning. We have a lot our hearts that we want to do...only just begun!

Rich will be back on the 14th...still a while- :-(

michelle f said...

Oh so yes Lee Ann let's start planning a 40th b-day party here! :-)

Karenkool said...

Yay! My first missionary journey was supposed to be Australia and ended up being India. My husband and I thought we'd be missionaries to India and ended up on Long Island with six kids. Go figure. God has a way of directing our steps in ways we cannot fathom.

Molly said...

Wow - that was beautiful, Michelle. God is so good to give us the desire to follow His call. I can't believe it's been 4 years already!! Love you!

gaylafriend said...

congrats on your anniversary, and on following God's call and changing the world!!!

Teresa said...

I loved reading this Michelle, as I have often wondered the story.

Happy Africa Anniversary!

Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing your story of how you ended up in Africa! It was so interesting to me!

Happy Africa Anniversary!!!

Melanie W said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It is amazing how Man makes plans in his heart, but God is the one who directs his steps. This is an awesome testimony of how God can change a heart and how strong your obedience is to the Lord. From your pics, it looks like you and your family are doing great. Blessings, Melanie Stanley Wallace