the return to liberia: an update

it was a mere two weeks ago that i stood in church, hands shaking in surrender as i realized the magnitude of what i was saying yes to. a return to liberia. a return to the oppressive heat and sleepless nights. to lives lost too soon, to children who nobody mourns once they leave us. to a land that assaults the senses, to the corruption, the poverty, the things i saw and heard that my heart and mind still have no words for.
but also–a return to regrowth. a return to a simple life, lived without excess. to hope and dreams for brighter futures. to community and to my kids, these young ones who have forever stolen my heart and changed the course of my entire life.

two weeks ago, i said yes. and i started to prepare. i filled out my citizenship application and put out a plea for the funds needed to file it. two weeks later, i’m over 60% funded, with a little over a week to go until my deadline**, and i’m already looking ahead to the next phase of this process.

two weeks ago, i told God, “yes…but it’d sure be great if you could let me know i’m making the right choice here.” and He did. in the scriptures that urge me to spend myself on behalf of the needy. in old journal entries that reconfirmed His call on my life to  “be love.” in the support and encouragement of friends and family who agreed to give, knowing that this, all of this–whatever God is up to–is a worthy cause. “it’s no surprise,” they said. “we all knew you’d be back there one day eventually.” and when i told my good friend Momo that i was coming back to Liberia, he laughed delightedly and told me, “God will provide. you need to be here.”

and i do–need to be there, that is. i need to be reunited with the pieces of my heart waiting for me there. i need to be living out my days doing what i was made to do.

and so i take another step, a little shaky but with all the faith i can muster. and when i falter, and this all seems crazy and impossible and a little of both, i lift my vision higher.

i walk, slow but sure, and every day, i cry a little with gratitude for this crazy, beautiful, messy adventure He has put me on.
wait with me, my sweet Liberia. i’m coming-o! 

**the first step in getting ready for a return to Liberia is filing my citizenship application, so i can travel freely between countries. the cost is $680, and i hope to file by November 1st. if you feel led to give towards this, please send me a message so i can give you donation info. no amount is too big or small–every little bit helps!

Let’s work together to bring Troken HOPE!

More great news: Troken’s story is now #1 on HopeMob! That means that people can start donating today–$1200 is all we need in order to send him to school next year. Click the link, read his story, and consider making a donation to bring Troken hope today. Big or small, every amount helps. Thanks for joining with us to help Troken out!

Please also visit Orphan Relief and Rescue’s website for more ways to get involved in the work we do in Liberia and Benin, West Africa. Join us to be a voice with action for orphans that no one else will help.

merci! gracias! THANK YOU!

Last night was the benefit concert at Hope of the Nations. Only one word can describe it: INCREDIBLE. How beautiful it was to be able to share my story and the story of what God is doing in Liberia, in the lives of those precious children that live there. I am immeasurably blessed to have had that opportunity.

Thank you so very much to all of you who came out & showed your love and support. And thankyouthankyouTHANKYOU to everyone who helped put this whole thing together! I’ve said it a million times, but it’s true – there’s no way I can do any of this without you. Thank you, Jewels, for birthing this event – love you times a million! Thank you to those who decorated (Mary, you’re awesome!) Thank you to everyone who baked all the yummy desserts (and thank you, Cordie, for taking care of planning that!) Thank you, Callowhill Cafe, for donating the coffee. Thank you, Al & Donny, for doing the sound and A/V. Thank you, Bala and Laly, for being my creative geniuses. 🙂 And thank you, Gustavo and Twila, for being not only my pastors but my dear, precious friends. Thank you for supporting and encouraging me. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for caring about the things that make my heart cry. 

And finally, thank you so incredibly much to everyone who gave. The offering last night totaled over $1,500! (And that’s not even counting any proceeds from Jewels’ merchandise or donations from my monthly sponsors.) God is so amazingly faithfulI know beyond a shadow of a doubt that last night was just the beginning of something special in my life, in the life of my church (just like you said, Twila!) and in the lives of all of you who have joined me on this journey.

Much, much love to each and every one of you.