As a third grader, God set Africa in my heart. Since then I have dreamed of traveling to Africa and hoped that one day God would call me there. When God called my husband, Shaun, to Swaziland before me I was confused and struggled with understanding God’s plan. I knew that God had given me a love for Africa so why was Shaun going to get to go first? At times, I’ve been upset and angry at God for not fulfilling my dream, but I finally came to peace with God sending Shaun.
You can only imagine the joy that filled my heart when it was finally my turn — when God made it clear that it was my turn to come to Swaziland.
As I prepared for the trip, my heart began to respond to God’s plan for the trip as a whole, not just my plans for the trip. I began to more deeply understand the part of the Lord’s Prayer in Matt 6:10 that says “…your kingdom come, your will be done…” As I learned over and over again, God’s plan for me are not always in alignment with my own plan – and I’ve learned to embrace that God’s will be done, not my own.
Once there, I was really hoping God was going to use me in big ways, use me to speak words into people’s lives. As God would have it, I was told that I’d be helping in the medical clinic assessing weight, height and temperature. My heart fell. “How was God going to use me while taking temperatures?”
As the first wave of adults from the community came through, I was busy filling out papers and didn’t get a chance to encourage them. In the next wave of adults while I was taking the temperature of one man he started asking me questions about myself (How well many Swazis understand and speak English continues to amaze me!). A light bulb clicked on as I realized that God had given me one to two minutes with each person who came to me as I took their temperature. He was using me in big ways – but they were His ways, not my ways.
Later that day we began to welcome the children into the Ekudzeni CarePoint to receive their medical treatment. As each precious child walked up to me and I took their temperature, I was able to look them in the eye and ask them about themselves. After a few children, I could quickly tell that God was speaking to the children through me. I smiled with delight at the children whose favorite thing about school was their teachers and I told them I was a teacher myself. One little boy told me his favorite thing about school was math because he needed to learn it so he can go to university. I was blessed to be able to encourage many other children about the importance of school.
Each child receives a name tag when they arrive at the CarePoint that has the name of their special friend who sponsors them from K2, our church. When I recognized the name of their special friend from K2 I was able to share a little more with them about their friend. Many children’s faces lit up as soon as I said that they were receiving special prayers from their friends at K2. I hope that each child walked away from getting their temperature taken feeling encouraged!
Through this special trip, and my times since, God showed himself to me in amazing ways as I saw how much better his plans are than mine. If I would have pushed my agenda then God would not have been able to use me in the same way to bless and speak encouragement to the many children I was blessed to serve.
I pray that God will continue to make his plans clear and that he will not allow my plans to get in the way of his amazing will. HopeChest has provided an amazing opportunity for our church community to experience partnering with a community in Swaziland. It has opened doors for us to experience God’s will and his plans. I pray you will have the opportunity to experience it yourself.