Less than a month!

With less than a month left before I leave for Africa, things are kind of picking up speed around me. I have learned a couple of things over the past few weeks: 1) I have the most amazing people in my life. I can't believe all the love, encouragement, and support I have felt from so many. 2) Goodbyes are way too hard! I am half way through my two-weeks of good-byes here in Austin and it has been just as hard as I thought it would be. I am full of such love for my friends and spiritual family here and really wish I could just take everyone with me to Botswana. Because that is not possible, I will continue with my "see you later" get-togethers and pray that God will allow our friendships to stay strong, even across the distance.

Prayer points:
1) Emotional strength, especially during this next week
2) Time management and getting last minute details handled (anyone who knows me well knows what a procrastinator I can be. Because of that, there are several things that have piled up for me to take care of these last few weeks.)
3) Excitement and an all surpassing peace about my upcoming departure
4) No fear! (The enemy likes to get me with this one in many areas of life.)
5) A safe drive home to my parents' house next Thursday

I can't tell you how much it means when I run into someone who tells me they've been keeping up with me and praying for me, even when I didn't know it. Or when I receive an e-mail or phone call of encouragement at just the perfect time. I could never walk this journey out without each of you. Thank you so, so much!

Getting close!

Thank you so much to those of you who said a prayer for me after my last post. I have felt the prayers and am so thankful for the work God is doing in me! I pray for Him to continue purifying me and preparing me more each day.

After a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family, I now begin my two-weeks of good-byes here in Austin. I can't say I am totally looking forward to having to say good-bye to so many people, but I know that the good-byes are only temporary and that this season of my life must end before the next one can begin. If I cross your mind any time between now and December 6th, it would mean so much if you could just say a prayer for strength and comfort as I end this wonderful season of my life here in Austin and say good-byes to such precious people.

Other than that, I am just working on getting loose ends tied up and final details handled. After leaving Austin I will have three weeks with my parents and lots of time to spend with the Lord and to get all packed! The home stretch has really begun...just one month left!

Update/Request...Nov. 14

Hey guys! This is just a quick post to let you know that I am very blessed in so many ways and God continues to do so much in my life. At the same time, I am in a period of struggling a little right now and would be so thankful if you could pray alongside of me. I have been praying for a while that God would purify my heart. I so long to have a pure, clean heart and have been praying Psalm 51:10 over myself, "Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me." I just still see too much 'Andrea' and desire with all my heart for my life to be less me and more Him.

I know that God has been answering my prayer and has been working to purify my heart. This process is painful, though, and there have been some emotional and spiritual struggles lately. I feel like I am getting a picture into the deep parts of my heart and it isn't that pretty! Plus, this time in my life is just an emotional roller coaster anyway. I would just love to ask for you to agree with me in praying Psalm 51:10 over my life and that I would rejoice that in my weakness, He is strong. (2 Cor. 12:9) I am praying for complete freedom (Rom. 6:18, 22), and that I will have a total peace and joy in all that God is doing and the amazing plans He has.

Thank you in advance for your prayers! I am so thankful for what the Lord is doing and love that I can share it with such an amazing spiritual family. Thank you!!

Two years ago today, the journey began...

Today being the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the "Journey to Botswana," I thought it would be a good time to post this. Here is my "Africa story" for those who haven't heard it and for those who would like to hear it again. The story is a pretty crazy one...well, crazy apart from the Lord. With Him all things are possible, so nothing should really surprise us!

On November 2, 2005 I had no interest in even traveling to Africa, much less living there. But that night when I went to bed, I had a dream that I was living in Africa, working with children. The vision was so real that when I woke up, I couldn't shake it. I had this amazingly strong feeling that I was really supposed to do that. I started researching about different countries in Africa and various mission trips. I told friends and family and received encouragement from them. Every single day I grew more passionate for the African continent.

In early December, I stumbled onto a website of Tree of Life Church in Pflugerville that is pastored by a couple who used to be on staff at a former church of mine. I noticed that they took mission trips to Africa every summer. I had such a peace that this was the trip I was to go on. I contacted them and got signed up for the Botswana trip in June 2006. I had an amazing time preparing for this trip and had no idea what kinds of doors would open in my life because of it.

Needless to say, that two weeks in June changed my life. From the moment I stepped off the airplane in Maun, Botswana, I knew that I was "home". I had such an incredible peace and joy the entire time I was in Botswana. I love the people there, the importance of relationships, and the people's openness to the Lord. I fell in love with the kids; some of them wearing the same outfit day after day, no toys or bed to sleep in, yet running around freely with the hugest smiles on their faces and full of never-ending hugs. Leaving there was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

Upon returning to the States, I immediately began praying and seeking how to get back to Botswana. I filled out paper work to work as a missionary at Love Botswana Outreach Mission, where we were for our mission trip. At the beginning of August I was contacted by them with an interest in us going to the next step, which was my going back to Botswana for two weeks in March on a "scouting trip".

During that two week scouting trip, I not only spent time in the international school at the mission (Okavango International School), I also helped deliver food baskets in the community, helped plan and attended a Botswana funeral, volunteered with the children's ministry at All Nations Village Church Maun, and got a taste of missionary life in general by spending time with the missionaries currently serving there.

Since returning home in March, I have begun working on raising financial and prayer support for the two years I will be in Botswana. I have also been keeping in touch with my new Botswana friends, who have offered to help me with my Setswana via e-mail. I have been preparing spiritually by spending a lot of time with the Lord, in His Word, and by getting trained at my church. I have also recently emptied and moved out of my apartment, keeping very few belongings, as I prepare for this new season in my life.

God is amazing....He plants a dream in our hearts that coincides with His will for us, and then He helps that dream come to pass, also filling us with joy and deepening the intimacy in our love relationship with Him. My life is about to completely change in a way I've never known before. Sure I am nervous and question my abilities and adequacy, but I know that God is faithful. I know that when I am weak, He is strong. And I know that He does not call the equipped, but equips the called. I can't wait to see where He takes me and what all He has planned for me. "Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes!" 1 Samuel 12:16

You can go to http://www.lovebotswana.org/ for more information on the place I will be working.