4 off-white, stained, cracked walls. 2 broken, sunlight-inviting, open windows. 1 dusty, familiar, Rooibos-scented smell. 10 beautifully fierce, harmonious, passionate voices.
This is South Africa. This is Masiphumelele.
This is the room where I realized I felt a call to mission work. It was during a song called Jehovah is Your Name. English and Xhosa words were intermixed as these voices carried out of the windows and drifted down the dirt streets into the ears of all passersby. Ten sets of eyes were closed, hands were open, and hearts were on fire.
“This is it, God. I want to do this. Here I am, Father. Lead me and I will go.”
An intense joy and peace settled into my heart and since that moment, God has continued to affirm this call. Throughout the next year, I heard countless sermons and chapel speakers, read numerous books and devotionals, and talked to several people in which the resounding message was “Go.” It was undeniable. God wanted me to go, and I had only to say yes.
In September 2015, I applied for a program through my school, Azusa Pacific University, called H.I.S. Years. It stands for hearing, investing, and serving. This is an amazing program that allows students the chance to do mission work in unreached areas for 2 years without needing to worry about their student loan payment. In December 2015, sitting on Cougar Walk eating a Mexicali burrito on my work break, I received the email that I had been accepted into the program. Tears immediately came to my eyes as my body echoed, “I’m in.”
Over the next 6 months, I encountered many, many bumps in the road as I tried to push past lies from the enemy, honor my mom and dad while following God, and apply to organization after organization when teams kept falling through. As it seems to be, the closer you get to God and the more you play for His team, the more the enemy will try to knock you down, take you out, call foul play. “You are not worthy of this. Why do you think you can do this? It’s too hard; just live the comfortable life you know is easy. Sit here, don’t do anything, don’t feel anything, it’s okay.” In those moments, I needed the cheerleaders God had put in my life to encourage me, cheer me on, catch my tears, listen to my fears and then speak truth into me. I needed the Word of God and I needed time with my Father. He seems to constantly pour out peace when I need it, and confidence in Who He has made me.
Becoming a missionary opens the door for really difficult conversations and confronting a lot of unknowns. There were numerous times when I felt like taping out. Yet each time I walked away from a tough conversation, God said, “I am here, and I am greater.” I knew I was filled with strength from the Holy Spirit because there is no way I could have walked away from some of those conversations still at peace and confident in this calling and the truth I knew in my Father.
So how did I get to the Digo people? In the very beginning of this journey, I was pursing North Africa and the team I was close to accepting unfortunately disassembled. I talked with several organizations and applied to a few more. To my dismay, the teams either had no nursing, had no placements in Africa, or had no teams ready to leave in the next year. Then I stumbled upon AIM, Africa Inland Mission. The more I explored and found out about the organization, the more I began to love it. I applied in May 2016 and was officially accepted as a full-term missionary in November 2016.
Throughout this season, God has absolutely been teaching me patience and reliance on His timing. While the whole process took much longer than I had originally anticipated, I needed to remember Who was in charge. After a few more months of different team possibilities coming and going, the Digo people, in Southern Kenya, finally seemed like the door God was opening. Lo and behold, I was accepted onto the Digo team in March 2017 and I am so ecstatic!
A year and a half after applying to H.I.S. Years, I finally had an answer.
I then found out that I was to join this team as soon as possible, with a July send-off. Now I was simply swimming in excitement, nerves, unknowns, and lots and lots of work that suddenly needed to be done yesterday. It has been a roller coaster, but it has been one I know I will look back on and keep learning from for years to come. God is faithful and He delivers. Not always in our timing, in our fashion, or in our miniscule idea of the right way, but He does. And now I can be certain that God has been preparing my heart and the hearts of those in Digoland for what He will accomplish in the next few years.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matthew 28:19-20.
“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” 1st Peter 1:8.
Praise to the One who creates all, knows all, and loves all. Amen!