Wednesday, January 21, 2009

an inspiring story

yesterday i got to speak to a dear friend of mine from zambia and i was blown away by what he said to me, so much so that i have to share it with all of you. my friend nyambe is one of the most amazing people i have ever met. he is so humble and has such a kind, gentle spirit. he has the heart of a servant and looks for every opportunity to show people God's love. you can see it when you look at him and you feel it when you spend time with him.

when we spoke yesterday he told me that he had been thrown in jail for 4 days and just got out. i literally had only spoken to him a week before. it turns out he was trying to help a friend who was getting arrested for drug possession and the police didn't like his interference. he was totally innocent but he was arrested anyway and thrown into a holding cell at the police station. now, i have seen this holding cell and it's more like a closet. he told me he was in there with all kinds of other criminals and i felt so awful knowing that he had to experience that.

then to my surprise he told me how happy he was that it happened. he said, "susan it's ok. i shared the gospel for 4 days. i shared God's love with the other criminals and all the guards that were on duty. i told them that jesus was the only one who could help them. they just needed to know." as he was sharing all of this with me all i could do was weep. i wept at the humility of my friend to make the best of what was a horrible situation. i wept at the injustice he faced but the beauty that came of it. i wept because i didn't know if i could have done the same thing. the more he shared with me of his experience the more blessed i felt to call him my friend.

i feel so inspired by his story and his heart for his fellow zambians. it inspires me to love people more, especially those who really need to know God's love. thank you nyambe for being you and for being the hands and feet of jesus in kaombe village and beyond. even though you'll never read this i hope you can feel all the prayers going up for you for strength and wisdom in the decisions you face. you are a blessing and i pray that God would continue to watch over you and provide for your every need. love you my friend. i'm so proud of you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

exercise = a happier susan

sometimes eating healthy can be a drag, but over the past couple of weeks i've really enjoyed it. what i really enjoy more is the 6lbs i can now say has left my body. that my friends is a good feeling indeed! one nice thing about diet-crazy-america is that companies have to cater to it. you can now go down almost every aisle of the grocery store and find your favorite snack in a 100-calorie version. i've found that when eaten in moderation these snacks give you the feeling of indulgence without all the guilt. and if at the end of the day that means less on my hips then i am all for it!

here's a pic of me eating my yummy fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt topped with fresh strawberries (which were on sale this week). mmm!

i also made it to step class at the ymca for their tuesday and thursday class this week. thankfully my friend kim was there as well so we could sweat and complain together! haha! actually we didn't do a lot of complaining other than to tell each other that we couldn't breathe. it's a great workout though and a nice way to mix things up!

now to just keep the momentum going!

oh and P.S.- check out the band "tenth avenue north." i downloaded their cd on itunes the other day and i just love them! cute boys who love jesus and sing great songs? can you ask for more? i think not!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

happy birthday!

this post is dedicated to an amazing woman, wife, mother, sister and friend. from the day i met her a little over 9 years ago we've been close friends. i remember my brother jim calling from college in tulsa, ok and telling my parents that he think he found the girl he was going to marry. all the typical thoughts went through my head: will she like me? will we get along? will we become friends? how will she fit into our family? i didn't have to wait too long because only a couple months after that phone call my family was in tulsa for thanksgiving where we were finally going to meet my brother's dream girl.

she was everything you'd hope your brother would find: beautiful, smart, funny and genuinely nice. little did i know after that first meeting that i wasn't only going to gain a friend but a sister. over the years she seemed to just mesh with our family as if she'd been there from the beginning. she picked up her life and moved halfway across the country in pursuit of the best for her and jim. in all the year's she's lived here i've never heard her complain about being so far away from her friends and family back home. she did what she had to do and made the best of her situation. i've always looked up to her and respected her for the way she's handled that.

i also had the privilege of working with her for several years where we probably spent too much company time just talking and laughing over stupid customer's and their crazy antics. our time there only further cemented the friendship and sisterly love. thankfully when she left to have my beautiful niece kyra, i wasn't far behind in my own departure in search of adventure. it was bittersweet in knowing that i wouldn't see her every day but i knew motherhood was where she was born to be. in all my times away she was always just a phone call or email away. her words of wisdom and love were a great encouragement to me in that season of my life.

it's been a joy to watch her mold into super-mom as she pours herself into her 2 beautiful daughters. i've learned so much by watching her and talking with her and feel so much more prepared for when my time to be a mommy comes. she loves with such a passion and puts herself completely into everything she does. i love the time we get to spend together whether it's shopping at the outlets, trying to eat a meal while entertaining 2 kids, or just sitting at home talking about anything and everything.

so here's to you keshet joy on your 28th birthday. you don't look a day over 21 but you already know that. thank you for always being there for me. my brother couldn't have chosen a better girl. you add so much to the witmer clan and our family wouldn't be complete if you weren't part of it. i love you so much and appreciate everything you do. love you sis!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

new day

well it's the new year and that means new starts so along with probably half of the world i'm resolving to be healthier this year. monday was my official starting day which began at the gym followed by a trip to the grocery store to buy some healthy food. in the meantime i made mom clear out some of the junk in the fridge. :)

it actually hasn't been that bad at all. now i realize i'm only 4 days in but i haven't really been grumpy or irritable... although you should probably check with my family on that one just to be sure. i have noticed hunger pangs a lot more than i did before which i'm not sure is a good sign or not. i realize that when i feel that way it's ok to eat something, but it should just be something healthy like a clementine or something. speaking of clementines, i must thank God for inventing that delicious fruit! i bought a box on monday and they are my little treat each day. so yummy!

i've also been hitting the gym which hasn't been too bad either. i'm still totally intimidated by all the weight machines so for now i'm sticking to the treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster and bikes. today i ran into my friend kim who also has a new year's resolution so i think we might go to a step class together next week. it's so much better going to a class with a friend!

today i decided to walk to the ymca. it was a beautiful morning, but very cold and very windy. i pressed on though and by the time i got into the gym i was plenty warmed up! it's about 2.5 miles roundtrip so it adds a nice extra half hour boost to my workout. i really enjoyed it. plus, after walking so much in zambia i've come to really appreciate walking. you're able to take so much more in when you walk and really look at things that you can't when you drive. so we'll see if i'm able to do that some more in the coming weeks!

so here's to a new year and a fresh start. let's make 2009 the best one yet!

Friday, January 2, 2009

question of the day

"what's next?" is a question i've gotten a lot since i returned from africa. it's a question i heard when i returned from my discipleship training school with ywam denver and a question i heard when i returned from my school of worship with ywam denver. it's a question that people ask because they are interested in my life but yet i still find myself getting frustrated each time those dreaded 2 words exit someone's mouth. i think the frustration comes because i've allowed those 2 words to have a power over me. by that i mean a pressure to say something that's going to satisfy the one asking the question... something that's going to sound exciting and adventurous because that's my life now right? ... not exactly.

don't get me wrong i think my life is exciting and adventurous even if i'm not in another country and i hope that after reading this you'll feel that way, too. so let me explain some more about my situation, my trip to africa and what i'm looking forward to in 2009!

last spring i joined some friends of mine, steve & stefanie wilson, in a new ministry endeavor they felt God calling them into. they wanted to start a non-profit which focuses on community development both here and abroad and thus Hope Beyond Borders (HBB for short) was born. i felt that their vision lined up with my giftings and the things i wanted to do so i joined on. it was a very transitional time for me as i was still processing the events of 2007. steve & stefanie were very gracious in allowing me the time i needed to heal and process all that i had experienced. one of my biggest projects with HBB was handling the details for the september 2008 trip to zambia. i used my admin skills to plan meetings, trip details, etc all the while feeling that i should stay in zambia longer than the team. miraculously those details came together quickly and before i knew it i was headed to zambia for 3 months instead of 2 weeks!

as most of you all know from reading my blog my time in zambia was an amazing time in my life, but also very challenging. life in africa is very different from the states and it took all of my 3 months there to really feel comfortable in my surroundings. right when i was starting to adjust and enjoy zam-life my time there was over. it was so hard to say goodbye to the people who had become my 2nd family and to a place i never thought i'd think of as home, but yet found i had.

my first couple weeks back in the states were filled with lots of family time and preparations for the christmas season. it was a welcomed distraction from the overwhelming emotions i was beginning to feel. i began to realize how much i enjoyed my simple lifestyle in zambia. i was a much simpler version of myself and i liked it. i was content with the few possessions i had and even more content with having only a small mirror to look at each day. there was no critiquing myself in the mirror trying to decide which outfit i would wear. the people didn't care and neither did i! the small amount of makeup that i brought with me began to get dusty from lack of use because once again, no one cared. like i said... simple! but those are small things compared to the joy i felt from knowing that each day i was helping people and helping a community reach their full potential. 

my time in zambia allowed me to become the relational person i'd always wanted to be. gone were the deadlines and agendas and in its place were hours of conversation and laughter over cultural differences. i knew that the time i was taking to get to know these people was what they were going to remember no matter how much "work" i got done. it was really good for me, a typical task-oriented person, to learn how to be more relational. that's a lesson God has been teaching me over the past couple of years and my 3 months in zambia was a perfect testing environment.  :)

as i said before i work for HBB now. my role there changes all the time depending on what needs to get done. i handle a lot of the admin responsibilities that a start-up organization requires but i'm also involved in the planning and visionary discussions that steve likes to have often! this year i'm hoping to get a lot of the details finished for HBB such as completion of our website, acquiring our 501c3 status and a lot more. we're also hoping to take another team back to zambia in july and you can bet i'll be doing most of the planning again! i'm also hoping to be a part of the team and extending my time beyind the typical 2 weeks as well. i don't know how long i'll stay at this point yet so if you ask me that's probably what i'll tell you. i've learned that no matter how much planning we do it can all be changed in a second when God speaks and says to do something different!

beyond the abroad ministry side of HBB there's also local projects that i'm going to be involved in. last year we started a "community night" on wednesday nights in coatesville that provides a free meal and various classes for people in the community. we've had parenting classes, financial planning groups, grief & divorce recovery groups and every age of children's classes & tutorials. it has been so awesome getting to know the people in that community and i'm looking forward to continuing the work there. whether it's jumping in the kitchen to help with the meal, filling in for the pre-school class or taking care of babies so their mom can attend class, i enjoy every minute of community night!

steve and i have lots of idea's for coatesville and how we can help people get started in business and other endeavors so you can bet we'll be making time for that this year as well. we don't want to limit HBB and what we can do so we're always looking to be creative in the ways we view community development. we're hoping to hold some more fundraiser events this year as well to get the word out and aide in future projects. HBB runs solely off of donations and grants. steve and i both do not receive a salary so we rely on the contributions of individual's and businesses to meet our monthly needs. that's an area i really need to work on this year and it can be really hard at times. with the ever-changing economy it can be discouraging but i know God will lay it on the hearts of His people how they are to be involved and He will provide for all of my needs!

so that's a glimpse into the last few months of my life and into the ones to come. i hope that helps when you're wondering, "what's next for sue?" by all means, keep asking the question. it's good for me to share it and remind myself what i'm doing and why i'm here. 

thanks for all the support in 2008. i'm looking forward to 2009 and so excited that you're partnering with me in this journey.

so now it's my turn to ask the question to you.

what's next?  :)