I am mailing this letter to many of you, but I'm posting it for those who aren't getting a letter (I ran out of envelopes and flyers!).
Hello friends and family:
I hope that you and your families are doing well. Andy and I are enjoying Stillwater very much, although we do miss our biological families and our spiritual family in Russellville. We’re working toward being an integral part of a local church body. For us, being the “new” people is extremely uncomfortable. I may seem bold to some of you but it is only me overcompensating for my shyness. I don’t want to be shy; I want to reach out to people in order to love them. Not only am I actively trying to reach (out of myself) out to people in Stillwater, I am also planning to love others through a short-term mission trip.
If I could choose a place to minister to others, outside of the town God has placed me in, I would choose Africa. That’s why when my sister, Audrey, asked me if I would serve there I instantly and wholeheartedly agreed. I believe God has been shaping me for this trip. I’ve never been on a missions trip and I have (through Geography classes, through literature, and through those wonderful educational television programs) felt a longing to do something for the hurting people in Africa. I didn’t know what I could do – nothing seems like enough. But, God placed in me an intense love for children (for playing games with them, for affirming them, for talking with them, and for picking them up to give them hugs) and I believe that loving the group of children that God assigns to me will have a lasting and beneficial impact.
The organization I am going with is Family Legacy Missions International and I am planning to serve for two weeks this July at a camp designed solely for Zambian orphans. Most of these children have lost their families to AIDS. You may be familiar with the dire situations in Africa, but I would like to give detailed information for you about the area in which I’ll be working. Eighty percent of the population in Zambia live on less than one dollar a day. Zambia has the eleventh highest death rate and the seventh highest AIDS infection rate in the world. Over one million children are orphans; fifty percent of the country is under the age of sixteen and fifty percent of the children are so malnourished that their growth has been stunted. If an orphan does not have older siblings, grandparents, or other family members to take care of them (which would be difficult with the rampant poverty) they are likely to be lost to the streets.
I shared this information with you so that you could see the intensely stressful conditions that these children live with and so you could see how much they need someone to give them love and hope. You can also see how much I’ll need, and the children I’ll be ministering to will need, your prayers. With the Holy Spirit, I hope to love them with God’s deep love, not simply with my own pity for their position and my affection for small children. I also hope to give them God’s peace and the hope I have in heaven and in knowing that this life’s struggles are temporary.
I’m sure you can tell where this letter is going. I’m going to ask you for something now. First I’m asking for prayer. I need prayer for the children as I explained above. Also, I need prayer for safety, for enthusiasm, and for God to work through me here in Stillwater in preparation and when I’m in Zambia. I want to make the most of my time there and I need help to know how to serve the children who do not know English or who are only beginning to learn it. I also need help with the trip costs and with other non-monetary donations. Please do not feel obligated to send me money — God will make sure that the funds will be raised if He wants me to go to Africa.
I am hoping to raise $4,000, which will pay for my airfare and accommodations and will pay for fifty children to attend the camp. If you want to contribute financially, please mail a check to Family Legacy Missions International, 5005 West Royal Lane, Suite 252, Irving, TX 75063, and write my name in the memo line. If you would like to donate something else, there is a list attached of common items (many of which I’ve collected from my own home) that the Mission sends to Zambia. You can either collect the donations and I’ll pick them up or you can mail them to the address on the donation list. I will be making a trip to Russellville, probably in the late spring, so if you would like to help I’m taking several suitcases hopefully stuffed full of needed items.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. Know that in receiving this letter I count you as my friend. Please, let me know how I may serve you.