Out of Africa

Hi Friends!

For the past 2 weeks I led a team of women from our home church in Kelowna, BC to Living Waters, Mwanza, Tanzania. The journey of 4 planes over 40 hours was certainly a time for our team of 8 to bond. A quick stop at Kilimanjaro, Emily and I pushing 8 suitcases outside of Naritobi airport, unexpected tourist Visas and Ebola screening added to the experience.

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We were volunteering with Living Waters, a charity Phil and I have been involved with for many years. I was excited to return to Mwanza and join in with all that God is doing through the ministry.

In terms of staying in touch with YOU my prayer-ers and cheerleaders, my plan was to blog throughout the trip – this didn’t happen.

So! Having been at home for a few of days and beginning to find a time zone that is beginning to resemble my own, I will share a daily musing from my African experience for the next few days.

Join me as I process? Starting now… 2pm PST. 10pm GMT. 1am East Africa.

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Sunrise in Mwanza

IMG_9303and the sun sets….

Graduation. Celebration. 

DSC04014Emily and her new friends

One of the first events we were involved at Living Waters was the graduation of 26 students from the Living Waters Elementary School. DSC04040

Some moving onto Secondary education. Some not. We look forward to the day when the Living Waters Secondary School exists!

I was asked to share a few thoughts at the graduation.

I love this verse printed on the Living Waters School uniform from Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’

Truth. Yes. But sometimes I struggle with putting verses ‘out there’ without being a part of the application.

God uses us imperfect ones to fulfill His word and as much as I love Jeremiah 29:11 – I believe this verse needs action. Ours.

Before Living Waters Education Centre was in existence – before the building was built and teachers were employed and classrooms were full – local children would gather at Carolyn’s home.

The children who did not go to school. Those who were not receiving an education.

Living Waters staff would pull out a blackboard, lean it up against the wall and teach this handful of locals.

Back to the graduation – the first thing that came to mind as I shared with these young people and their family is the power of vision.

Carolyn pursued her God given dream and vision of a school despite setbacks and opposition. Despite it appearing to be beyond what could naturally be achieved.

In front of me sat 26 children who believed they have a hope and a future, experiencing first hand James 2:17 which speaks of faith being useless without actions.

Following the graduation, we sat with these teens in their royal blue graduation outfits drinking bottles of Fanta and asked them ‘What do you want to be’?

DSC04049They replied ‘Nurses, doctors, teachers’

We asked ‘Where? Here in Mwanza’?

Presuming they would want to escape to a ‘better life’ with their qualifications.

‘We want help the poor and the orphans – not in Mwanza’ one said ‘But with the poorest….like Somalia, where it’s desperate’.

Living Waters has not only offered an academic education but also the gift of discipleship and teaching children to recognize their God given calling too.

‘Works demonstrate what is alive on the inside. Outwardly manifesting an inward faith’

God sees the hearts of these young ones and I’m sure He is pleased.

Let us learn from them.

More tomorrow!

Love. Michelle x

Fifteen.

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Today, January 13th 2014, Emily and Jessica are 15!

Happy Birthday beautiful girls – I remember being 15 and thinking I knew it all. Honestly, really believing it. I was so sure that I could leave school at 16 and rule the world.

I was also reminded on the way to school today that the twins are one year away from driving (*insert nervous laughter*).

Birthdays! On the way to school Jess asked me ‘Why are you so excited about our birthday Mom?’                                        I said this… give or take a few words.

“Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: ‘thank you for being you.’ Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: ‘thanks for what you did, or said, nor accomplished.’ No, we say: ‘Thanks you for being born and being among us.’ On birthdays we celebrate the present. We do not complain about what happened or speculate about what will happen, but we lift someone up and let everyone say, ‘We love you.’…Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection. These are ways of saying: ‘It’s good that you are alive; it’s good that you are walking with me on this earth. Let’s be glad and rejoice…” Henri Nouwen, Here and Now.

So girls as we enter into this important year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I pray you will know how much you are loved unconditionally, by us and more importantly by God. I pray you will look in the mirror of your soul and see beauty by God’s standards. I pray you will know the knowledge of God singing over you. I pray you will learn to hear His voice – and respond. Know that you are called, unique and gifted. Know that you have God given purpose and destiny. I thank you God for amazing mentors around you both. I thank God that He has entrusted us with you. I thank God for you!

And for me Lord…as you see, this parenting is not ever, I mean, not always easy. Help me to respond not react. To know daily that Emily and Jessica are not ‘teen me’ (phew). Teach me that yolo’s are a gift, and one that I could use a little more often.  That taxi-ing all over town, all the time, to many different friends, is also a gift. Lord, give me wisdom. I will be praying this a lot… Amen. Did I mention wisdom?

Love you girls,

Momma xoxo

Ps. Don’t forget the letter I wrote to here!