2 weeks from today, I leave for Swaziland! I'm always excited to go, but this time I am just over the moon! Let me back up a little... I first went to Swaziland in 2007, I fell in love with the country, but a very special organization grabbed my heart too... Heart For Africa! I loved Janine, the director (with her husband Ian). WOW... the stories I heard her tell on that first (scary) bus ride, in the rain and fog, in a mad race to cross the border before it closed! She was fearless... She was inspiring... And her love for the people of Swaziland poured out of her (All of that is still true)! I loved the people who worked for them and I loved their vision. And as I've watched them grow and change over the years, walking by faith, I continue to love, admire and respect what they do and how well they love the people of Swaziland.
But something has caused me tremendous stress over the years too... What is my part? I SO wanted to make a difference, but I'm not a connector, I'm not a fund raiser, and with 4 children (about to have 2 in college), we don't have a lot of extra to give. I've examined and re-examined my motivations... Do I want something for myself out of this? Is there pride mixed up in it? But I keep coming to the same conclusion... I just love them, there is great need and the bottom line is, I just want to help...
A million times I have wrestled with the question, "Instead of going, should I just give them the money?" But every time I go to the little community I've fallen in love with, I see what an encouragement it is that we show up each year... And I can't forget the words of our friend Enoch who said, "We know you love us because you keep coming back." So every summer, I board a plane and go visit the piece of my heart that I leave behind each year. If loving them is all I'm supposed to do, then I had to be content with that... Maybe my part was just to encourage.
But now, I'm starting to see a bigger picture, one that has been 10 years in the making... It started in a boutique in Gulf Shores, Alabama. They were selling crystals on sheer ribbon for $36! I wanted one, but I thought, "That's crazy, I could make that for about $3." And so my jewelry design business was born, the first time. But after a short 6 months, a consuming success and 3 small children, I sold it!
Fast forward to the summer of 2010... I cried most of the bus ride out of Swaziland... I crossed the border from Swaziland to South Africa, begging God (I know we don't have to beg but I was desperate) "Please, please assure me I can come back next year." And in the search to figure out how to raise the money to do that, my jewelry design business was 're-born'!
Then, on my trip in 2011, Janine mentioned her vision for a women's center where they could come and learn skills to earn an income, sewing, jewelry making, etc. JEWELRY MAKING... maybe someday I could come and teach them, or just sit and make jewelry with them!
And in 2 weeks, THAT'S exactly what I'm going to do!! And I've learned something important... You never know what God is doing behind the scenes! If you are at peace with the path you're on, keep walking by faith, be content with where He has you and trust Him to work out His purposes!
Do I wish I knew lots of people with lots of money to give to Heart For Africa? ABSOLUTELY! But I don't... But I do know how to make a piece of jewelry... And if God can use that to help even one woman earn some money to feed herself and her family and give her a sense of dignity and accomplishment in the process, then I am THRILLED with what He's gifted me to do!!
We all have a part in this life and I'm thankful that I'm (FINALLY) learning to love who He's created me to be! Stay tuned... I'll be blogging from Africa!
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