Monday, July 18, 2011

Danielle's story

My story, in large part, begins with a commitment from my parents for their children. Because of this, I had the opportunity to go to Kenya, Africa after my senior year of high school. I can remember sitting in training watching a video about missions and thinking, "Well, Lord, this is nice, but it's not me. This is a 10 day trip, nothing more. PLEASE don't send me to Africa, God! Not for more than this, anyway."

Well, just like Jolene shared and many of you know, God so often has bigger plans than what we can imagine. What I thought was a 10 day trip, "nothing more," was the catalyst for a passion in me that absolutely CANNOT BE QUENCHED and is so much stronger now, 16 years later, than it ever was after that summer.

Africa changed my life forever.

After that trip, I went off to college and found out quickly that Taylor University was a part of a consortium that would allow me to study abroad for a semester and, low and behold, one of the places I could study was Daystar University in Kenya....the same place we boarded while working with street kids on my mission trip, and in less than 2 years, I was back for 4 1/2 months, building relationships and weaving Africa even more intricately into my story.

Fast forward 10 years. I have a beautiful family of 5 with 3 incredible little boys. My husband is a missionary kid from (you guessed it!) Africa, and I just can't believe we're not relocated yet! Doesn't marrying an MK from Africa almost guarantee you're going to end up back there? No, it most definitely does not. So, I let the dream die. I honestly think I subconsciously pushed down this very real part of me--this passion for Africa and its people--and thought the dream was dead. But God was working. He was working through the miracle of adoption. He was working in the restlessness in me to LIVE OUT MY FAITH and not just talk about it. He was working in a small group of women who gathered to pray for me and encourage me that Africa was a part of who I was. That dream was not dead! In fact, one person went so far as to say that the "MORE" that I seek of God? Africa was part of the answer to that "more." This realization revitalized me. It made me realize that while it may not look like how I thought it would look, my life journey will forever involve Africa.

Bringing Selah home from Ethiopia confirmed this even more. But then God had another test. When my husband lost his job as a pastor less than a year later and an opportunity presented itself for Karl to go back to Sierra Leone to train pastors, I was sure this was what I had longed for! But, my husband wasn't sure. And once again, God knew the big picture. Honestly, this part still confuses me today. I STILL wish our house would have sold and I was sitting in Sierra Leone right now. I'm not sure why we're not. But I have faith that GOD IS IN CONTROL. He knew that if we were gone, I wouldn't have the opportunity to work alongside Jolene to start Awake and Alive--the dream of a lifetime. He knew Karl and I wouldn't have the same opportunities to grow and learn together in the same way. He knew and He knows. And while I still don't TOTALLY understand, I DO trust Him.

So, here I am today. I am a mother. I am an advocate. I am a teacher. And I am a passionate child of God, more determined than ever to bring life and joy and LOVE to those all around me--so that myself and others--including the beautiful people of Africa--can truly be

Awake and Alive.

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