Monday, December 05, 2011

Just Down The Coast...

Back in September, walking past a bulletin board at work, I saw the word Africa on a one page printout, and I stopped to read what it had to say.  To this day, it still amazes me that God made that one word jump out at me, but He knew He needed to.

The poster was an announcement for a sponsorship opportunity.  Each year, thousands of our employees from across the country are eligible to apply for this sponsorship, and if they are the one person chosen for that year, they are given a sponsorship for a 2 week mission trip to Africa to build wells, schools, or other vital infrastructure projects.

I saw the notice on September 9th, and noted that the deadline to apply was Sept 15th. The application simply instructed anyone interested to write an essay as to why you would like to take part in this opportunity.

Did you say essay?  Oh, no, how would I ever manage that?  :D

The best part was knowing that regardless of the outcome, there would be no one losing.  If I was chosen, I would be blessed with the opportunity to return to Africa and contribute to a community in need.  If someone else was chosen, they would be blessed with the opportunity to go to Africa, perhaps for the first time, and contribute to a community in need.  What an incredible gift all around!

I asked my husband's blessing to apply, and having received it, sat down and wrote my essay.  I thought it would be hard to limit it to 700 words, as instructed, but it was strangely easy to do.

I sent it off, and given the focus on our work in Ghana, it became the furthest thing from my mind.

A week before we left to go to Ghana, I received an email in my inbox at work, informing me that I had been chosen to receive the sponsorship for 2012.  You may wonder why it took me so long to share here... well, honestly, there are two reasons.  Our focus was Ghana and our work there, but beyond that, well, I was just struck speechless, really.  Returning to Africa, in less than 3 months...?!  Oh how He loves!

Destination?  Cameroon... just a few countries down the coast from Ghana.  Cameroon is officially English and French, much like the province in which I live, so my bilingualism may be an asset.  It is said to be Africa in miniature, whereas it has a little bit of all of Africa compacted into one region.

When?  February 2012.

What?  Building 4 schools.

The work will be very physically challenging, much more labor intensive than Ghana was...  so beginning this week, I will be hitting the gym on a rigorous fitness program to prepare for what will be required.  We will be traveling there in what will be the hottest months of the year in Cameroon, so I anticipate it being very uncomfortable.  I just cut 8 inches off my hair, and I may cut it down even more before then.  Less hair, less heat!  Less weight, less heat too, so pray I can succeed in losing 20-30 pounds.  Much like my time in Honduras, I gained 15-20 pounds within days of landing in Ghana, which makes tolerating the heat difficult, but with heavy labor, it will be even more so.

All the travel costs are covered and the project is fully funded.  I already have all the immunizations, the passport, and the malaria meds.  Although I will have to cover the unpaid time off work (I used the last of my vacation time for Ghana), I'm not concerned, I know God will provide in His own ways.

I'm really excited about this opportunity, and grateful beyond measure that God would provide for this.  One of the reasons I'm grateful that I will not have to focus on raising travel funds for this, is because it allows me to focus on fundraising for two other opportunities.  One being what God would have us do in Ghana in 2012 (to be announced as soon as God gives me the green light!), the other being my sister-friend Michelle's Compassion travels to Ghana.  Remember Precious' sponsor?  That's the one!

When we're blessed, it's not for our benefit, but so that from the abundance of blessings, we can bless someone in return.  That is what I would love to see...  this blessing I've received, used to bless my friend Michelle.  

To contribute to Michelle's Compassion Ghana fund, please visit her blog and bless her today -- no amount too small, God will multiply it all!