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? :)