25 January 2013


As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

I was absolutely blindsided by the homesickness I experienced the first few days of orientation. I love my home, but I also love leaving my home to visit new places, so I never expected to miss my family so intensely. The jam-packed busyness of daytime kept my mind occupied, but the quiet stillness of night allowed thoughts of home and family and friends to overwhelm me. The loneliness was a physical pain, and my short five month term suddenly seemed decades long. In a really strange attempt to cope, I pretended to be origin-less, without a home or family to miss.

The homesickness led to a lot of questioning of what home is, what home means. My home is my family, my friends, my rituals. Sleeping in my bed, taking walks with my mom, eating dinner with my sister, doing school work with Rachel and Caroline, hearing my dad preach. These are barometers to my brain that  gauge whether life is okay, that all is well. When stripped of all of those signals of comfort, I felt uprooted and incredibly scared. In the middle of those dark nights inside strange rooms, I begged the Lord to bind me up and to numb the pain. But, as always, He did me one better. Instead of immunizing me to homesickness, He taught me where my home truly is.

As Colossians 2 says, when we walk with Jesus we are rooted and established in Him. A relationship with Christ provides us with roots, with a home in Him. I can abound in thanksgiving because I belong with Jesus, who does not leave or forsake me. So while the people I love so deeply are far away, I can still belong in Africa. This is the truth the Lord repeatedly whispered in my ear as I struggled to fall asleep on the floor of an African family I had met two hours earlier. This is what He told me as I boarded a crowded bus headed to a village I had never heard of. These are the words He shouted into the terribly long silences of language barriers. When you walk with Me, you are Home. 

Update: My roommates and I are finally settled into a flat and a routine. We  received our first big design assignment, worked in a preschool (or creche) for orphans and vulnerable children in a nearby township, and visited a local Baptist church. We even adventured to Soweto for a little bungee-jumping. Not a bad first week of work, eh?

24 January 2013



Challenging. Terrifying. Enriching. Confusing. Incredible. All these words are understatements when it comes to describing the last ten days. I am glad they are over, but, man, am I thankful for them.

My Hands On term began with about a week of orientation with 13 phenomenal students in Botswana. I will spare you specifics of the experience, but (in the words of our Student Strategist Andy Pettigrew) "we drank in culture from a fire hydrant." Among our adventures: piles of mopani worms, an immigration interrogation, chicken beheadings, lots of public transit with very few directions, cow liver, a three day homestay with a local African family, a shameful number of shower-less days, Muslim mortuaries, 3 AM wakeup calls, and fat cakes. The really fun part? We were never told what was coming next. We were orientated through a technique called "inoculated stress" in which we are put under extreme amounts of pressure in a controlled environment.  Consider me vaccinated.

Camera use was very sporadic, so here are a few shots from some of the more peaceful moments of orientation. I'm happy to have two photographer roommates (Katy and Hayley) who captured some moments with our beautiful host family, the Chitogwas. The bottom photo is the entire Hands On team, which will be scattered all around Sub-Saharan Africa. They are legendary people.

 I can't express my appreciation for your prayers and support. The Lord has been faithful and good, as always. I pray that every moment of our toiling would bring glory to Him. He is so, so worthy.

13 January 2013


I have safely and soundly arrived in Johannesburg! And here is a photo to prove it! 

Can't thank you enough for all the prayers, messages, and love you've sent my way. I've felt it like you can't imagine. The Lord is good and I am here! I will now go sleep for the next 30 hours.

09 January 2013


I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

In a little under three days my life will be changing in some considerable ways. Instead of returning to school this semester, I am relocating to Johannesburg, South Africa, where I have the distinct privilege of working as a missionary for the International Mission Board. This is exciting news -- the happy kind of exciting and the scary kind of exciting. Admittedly, my decision to take this opportunity wasn't solely motivated by a desire to do mission work (although that was a big part of it). I felt it was time for me to grow up. Get brave. Overcome fears that make me weak. And I really thought that's what I was doing by  moving to a country 8,000 miles from my home, family, and friends. But, as is so often the case, I had missed the whole point of this experience.

I don't pretend that my semester abroad requires particular bravery for most people. It's not that big of a deal, really. But certain things I will have to do in the next six months scare me to death. I hate that. Over the past several years I have become acutely aware of and disgusted by the fears I allow to dominate my life, so I decided to kill those fears. I have become a little obsessed with bravery, to be honest. I took the advice of the incomparable Eleanor Roosevelt to "do the thing you think you cannot do." 

But the Lord, as He is so very good at doing, taught me how wrong Eleanor and I were.I am human. By definition I am weak, afraid, and sick. I do nothing, absolutely nothing, by my own power. I'm not making my lungs suck in air right now. I am not telling my neurons to fire or my fingers to type. So why am I under the impression that I can will myself to be brave? That's not my job. That's a job for the same One who keeps my heart beating. That's the job of the VINE.

He is the VINE. I am just a branch. He gives me nutrients, oxygen, life. As I read John 15 last night, I was dumbfounded that, on one hand, I could claim dependence on my God while, on the other hand, remaining convinced that I could make myself braver. Do not mishear me: I am still certain that bravery is one of the rarest and most valuable of human traits. But real, true bravery can only be supplied by the One who overcame death (the ultimate source of fear) so that we could live life abundantly and fearlessly. It is through the VINE we are brave. And, in turn, we are brave so that we may glorify our Vine, our God. 

So, dear friends, as I ask for your prayers during this time, I ask for the bravery rooted in the deep peace and empowerment that comes from  knowing Jesus Christ. His death means I have no fear in my death. That also means no fear in flying, no fear in injury, no fear in robbery, no fear in inadequacy, no fear in lostness, no fear in homesickness. This is good news! This is why I, the coward of all cowards, can do what I'm about to do. To God be the glory!I'm tweaking Eleanor's words a bit: I'm letting HIM do the things I know I cannot do alone. I think she would approve.


This month I had the honor of doing calligraphy for the wedding invitations of a dear friend! 
I know she will be the stunning centerpiece of a beautiful wedding. Congratulations, KA!

05 January 2013


All eleven Wolves celebrated "Christmas" together this year on December 29th. A few traditions we observed: brunch on Christmas morning, sibling gift exchange, eggnog at midnight, a big fire in the fireplace, letters from my dad, and adding to our respective collections. (I collect music boxes, Sarah gets first-edition books, et cetera.) It couldn't have been a happier day!