I'm here!

Hello everyone! I just wanted to let you know that I arrived in Botswana safely and have had a wonderful experience so far. My flights were great and I appreciated the chance to get so much sleep! My night at the guest house in Johannesburg was wonderful and I had some good time to just relax. When I arrived in Botswana yesterday, there were four women there to meet me with huge smiles on their faces and big hugs to offer. It has been kind of surreal to be here and know that I am not leaving in a couple of weeks, and I know that I will have to allow some time for adjustments. However, I feel very at home here and so welcomed by the wonderful people at the mission. A group of us had a fun time of playing dominoes last night, and despite not playing that well (I was second to last place!), I had such a good time. I am thankful for God answering so many prayers, and I really felt the answer to my prayer for community and friendships here answered last night. He provides in such amazing ways!

Today one of the missionaries took me into town and I got many things to get settled here, such as a cell phone, small refrigerator, toaster, iron, groceries, etc. It was so great to be around the people in town, and I was even blessed with an opportunity to chat with a few people at one of the stores and share some of the Setswana I've learned. It always motivates me to learn more when I see how excited they are that I know any.

The internet has been having many problems lately, so I don't know when I will have access again, but I wanted to let you know that I have arrived and am having a wonderful time so far. THANK YOU for your prayers. I feel each and every one of them!

I hope to be in touch again soon!

Here I go!!

Right now I am sitting in the airport in Washington D.C., waiting to board my plane to South Africa. I will spend the night there tonight and then fly to Botswana tomorrow! I should arrive about 4:00 a.m. Texas time Sunday morning. Thank you so much for all of your prayers, amazing encouragement, phone calls, text messages, e-mails, letters, etc. I feel totally loved and covered in prayer, and I feel so blessed to get to share this with you!

I am unsure when I will have internet access again, but promise to post an entry as soon as I can to let you know that I have arrived and that everything went smoothly with traveling. If you would like to join with me in prayer the next few days, these are some things I am praying:
1) That I would follow God's Word to Joshua to "Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
2) As I travel and feel any anxiety, that I would constantly remember all of the reasons why I love Botswana so much and how much joy I experience from being with the people there.
3) That God would comfort and strengthen my family during this time as they send me off to another country. I pray that He will give them an amazing peace that I am in His protective hands and He is taking care of me completely.
4) I am praying for my health to be perfect and praying against any sickness or injury of any kind.
5) For relationships to be formed right away and that I would feel an incredible sense of community where I am living. Also, that I would be able to easily keep in touch with my friends and family in the States. (Internet there can be somewhat unreliable at times.)
6) That God would equip and annoint me daily to minister to His people in Botswana: to be a light for Him while teaching or spending time with my teenage girls at the dorms, while out in the community interacting with people, at church working in the children's ministry, or any other situation He places me in while there. May I be His hands and feet, and a tangible expression of His love for the beautiful people of Botswana.

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and wish you a wonderful and blessed 2008. Thank you again for your partnership in prayer. I can't wait to write to you again...from Africa!!

Getting excited!

I am beginning to get very excited now! Yesterday I went shopping with my mom and bought some needed items, I am in the process of purchasing my vehicle online, and I have begun packing my suitcases! After a wonderful shopping day yesterday with my mom where I purchased many things for my trip, I finally feel really excited and ready to go. I am enjoying my time with my parents and my sister so much, and my brother comes Saturday! I can't wait to enjoy some great time as a family before leaving. Thank you for helping to pray me through my fear and anxiety. God is so faithful and is reminding me of all the things I love so much about Botswana. I get to be there in a week and a half!

"And He said to them, 'Follow me...'"

"I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." Isaiah 49:6

This is the verse the Lord showed me recently and encouraged me with. Several chapters back in Isaiah 6:8, God asked a question, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" I want to have the willing spirit that Isaiah had when he immediately answered with "Here am I! Send me."

I've been in an interesting place the past few weeks because I have had such a mixture of emotions. The past few months in Austin have been the best out of all the years I have lived there. For the first time since feeling God's call to Botswana, I began to feel torn...part of me still so excited to go, but part of me suddenly wanting to stay. Through the varying emotions, God has shown me that part of following Him is having to sacrifice some things. When the disciples were called to follow Jesus, scripture says that they dropped their nets and followed, leaving their former life behind. "And He said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. Immediately they dropped their nets and followed Him.'" Matt. 4:19-20 Scripture does not tell us if any of them ever had moments of sadness in leaving their former life behind, but I have to wonder if this emotion ever crept in. I am fully confident that even if there was some sadness in leaving their life and things behind, they would not have traded their new life of walking with Jesus for anything.

Jesus is showing me that in living here on earth, sometimes there are things we have to give up or leave behind in order to follow Him and the plans He has for us. Even though this can evoke many emotions in us, sadness included, I feel comforted in knowing we serve a compassionate God who feels every emotion with us and gives us strength to deal with all of them. And the truth of life is, there is absolutely no peace, joy, or excitement that can compare to what we feel when we are right in the middle of God's will for our lives, living fully for Him and His purposes.

I pray for each of us to continue to have the strength and faith to step out of our comfort zones and have the courage to follow Jesus completely, wherever that may be and whatever that may look like. I would be so grateful if you would pray the same thing for me. If you could, would you also pray Philippians 4:6-9 over me, especially these next couple of weeks?

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about those things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

Thank you so much...December 28th is right around the corner!

Good-bye Austin....

Unbelievably, the time has come for me to say good-bye to Austin, my home for the past six and a half years. God has done so much in my life while living in this city. He has introduced me to some of the most amazing people in the world, allowed me to teach the greatest 4th graders every year for six years, and deepened my relationship with Him more than I ever thought possible.

I had a heaviness in my heart when I woke up Sunday morning and realized this season of my life was really at the end. I've been in a spiritual battle, as well, as fears and doubts have crept up unexpectedly. However, God is so faithful and His presence never ceases to calm me and remind me that it is He who has called me to this great new season in life. He will be with me each step of the way, leading each step I take. He has already set up divine appointments with many people in the country of Botswana. I will have the privilege of loving on them and demonstrating the love of Christ to them on a daily basis. He has precious kids all ready for me to teach and minister to and a group of beautiful teenage girls ready for me to love on and disciple in the Lord. When I think of those things, I get so excited!

I come to you as your sister in Christ and ask for you to partner in prayer with me during this time. I so badly need the peace of Christ to cover me constantly and the assurance that I am not alone in this move. Even though I have such a peace in my spirit that this is God's will, my flesh still interferes and causes me to fear what's to come. I pray that I would be diligent in seeking hard after God's heart during these last three weeks before leaving. And I pray for wonderful time with my family enjoying the last days together that we will have until I return in two years.

I would also LOVE for you to write as often as you'd like to let me know how you are and how I can pray for you. It encourages my spirit so much to walk this life out with spiritual family, remembering that we have each other for encouragement and support. It's such an honor to serve the Lord among such amazing people. I love and appreciate you!