Since some of you found my mention of travel to Africa a surprise, I did a search on my own blog to see if I had said anything about it. Like I said in the comments, I tend to think I repeat myself. But maybe its only in my own mind that I say things over and over… (Here’s the post where I did mention wanting to travel to Africa.)
So Africa. How did this happen to me? I grew up going to church and hearing missionary stories which were alternately boring and scary to me. Please, Lord, don’t make me go to Africa.
But the church I go to now has a pastor who has a heart for missions. And for the first time I found the missionaries to be interesting, and I have felt compassion for the people they work with. I actually got carpal tunnel from knitting so many hats for the orphans in the Ukraine–it is so cold over there, and they shave the little kids heads when they come into the orphanage (lice.)
Then a couple of years ago, I read an email story written by this guy about the abject poverty in the Kawangware slum in Kenya. What this young guy has managed to do is amazing. He has a goal of starting centers in the 10 largest slums in the world. And what I like is that they minister not just to the spiritual needs of the people but to the physical and mental needs as well. I think it is sort of funny that I like an organization that is involved with sports, because I am not interested in sports at all. But I love the passion and compassion that is shown to the people.
So I have mentioned periodically that I am really concerned about people going hungry, and living without clean water or even shoes to wear. I could go on and on. But you guys all know what its like. Its on the news and talk shows and Oprah, for goodness sake. It’s unbelievable, the stories of children raising themselves, no clean water anywhere, food once a day or less. And it bothers me. But its too easy to forget and go blithely on my way and buy stuff I don’t need. I want to go to Africa so I won’t ever be able to forget. I want my heart to be broken. I want to care about the things that God cares about. When I read Kristen‘s journal of her trip to Africa, it was like reading my own story in advance. (This is the post she wrote shortly after returning from her trip.)
The Africa quilt is something I made as a gift for Micah and Audrey McElveen (from Vapor Sports.) Its called ‘A Dream for Africa’ because the center panel shows a group of happy, well-fed African women and children. But that is not the reality. I plan to have it displayed with pictures of the kids from the slum of Kawangware. The two yellow banners on the quilt are Scripture quotes from James 4 ‘Life is a Vapor,’ and Isaiah 58, a passage that I memorized a while ago that really taught me what God is concerned about (…feed the hungry, and help those in trouble…)
Last Sunday we had a bunch of missionaries at our church and I spent some time talking to a couple who work with the hill people in Thailand. I think they started out trying to rescue the young girls that were being sold into slavery (again because the people were starving to death and had no food.) And now this couple has developed schools for the girls to go to, and they teach them practical crafts so that they can make a living. They have a program where you can sponsor some of the little kids, and I am going to do that. But I see a trip to Thailand in my future…