A Couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I would be having a month of missions and I sent out a questionnaire to a number of missionary friends… well turns out everyone was in the middle of some sort of life changing busyness and they were all unable to reply…
Anyway here she, with her family, and here are her answers to our questions…
- Tell us about the one thing that made you become a missionary. Or how did you become a missionary – what path did you take.
- Do you work for a missionary organization, and if you do could you tell us about it.
- Tell us about the people you minister too.
- Teach a message of hope
- Touch each child (or adult) by washing their feet
- Treat each person to a new pair of socks and shoes.
- What is the hardest part about being “out in the field.” and/or What is the hardest part about returning back “home for a break”?
- How do you get a break or get refreshed when you are so submerged in your work in a different culture.
- Tell us about a typical day in your life. Or tell us an amazing tale from your travels – weirdest food, strangest invitation, some interesting cultural differences? … and if your life seems ordinary… then tell us something ordinary!!!
- How would you encourage a young person who wanted to become a missionary.
- Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?
I went on a short term mission trip to Mexico in the summer of 2002, while I was still in university. In those two and a half months abroad, I met God in a way I never had before. I felt like I was “ruined for the ordinary” and wanted to continue to serve Him like that for the rest of my life. The next summer I took a shorter trip to South Africa and Zambia, and the next summer I spent a week in Scotland with a team preparing to plant a church there. When I left Scotland I immediately began praying about returning, and a year later, I moved there with about thirty other people to start a church. My husband and I met there and married, and worked for the church for a season before we felt it was time to move on and spend time here in SA!
Sure! We work for an organization called Samaritan’s Feet — we’ve been endeavouring to set up a local branch of this international charity called Samaritan’s Feet South Africa. The organization has a great story — it started with the founder as a young boy, growing up in impoverished circumstances in Lagos, Nigeria. When he was nine years old, some missionaries visited his village and held basketball camps and he won his first ever pair of shoes. He began playing basketball with his new shoes and developed a talent which eventually led to him earning a scholarship to play basketball at a university in the United States. He completed his studies and climbed the corporate ladder, married an American girl and began living the dream. On a trip home to Nigeria, God reminded him of the kids like him still playing the park where he played growing up, and still living in poverty. He wanted to make a difference, and Samaritan’s Feet was born.
SFSA hosts shoe distributions in impoverished areas throughout SA and other parts of southern Africa. These are usually in townships or at local schools in disadvantaged areas. At the distributions, we:
It creates an opportunity to touch and pray for people who have often have very little hope. Some kids arrive barefoot in the dead of winter or are just wearing mismatched flip flops. Some have school shoes, but they take them off and walk home barefoot in order to preserve those shoes. We look for opportunities to work with local partners and touch the lives of people who #1 could use a new pair of shoes and #2 could use a kind word and a gentle touch. We focus primarily on children because they’re often the most vulnerable.
Being “out in the field” is a challenge because I miss my family so much. I’m thankful that I married a South Africa and we do have some family here in SA, but I sorely miss my Mom and Dad, and my brother and sister back in the USA — especially at times like this when we’ve just had a baby and it will be months and months before anyone on that side of the pond gets to meet him!
The hardest thing about returning “home for a break” is often knowing that we’ll be leaving again! The longer I’m away, the more I feel like a bit of a foreigner in my home country — that’s also strange. Things are not how they were when I left almost six years ago! The amount of “stuff” we accumulate in the States, and what I know we could do with a different focus — that’s sometimes a little overwhelming.
I blog! Honestly, I’ve discovered that I understand things better as I write them out and think through them. Blogging has been a source of life and connection for me being in a foreign country and sometimes feeling a lot like an outsider. We aren’t “out in the field” on a daily basis, so taking the opportunity to write things that will encourage others feels like another aspect of ministry that I’m privileged to be part of. South Africa is such a beautiful country, it is also easy to step outside my doors, go for a walk and feel refreshed!
Some of my favorite moments on the mission field involve being reminded that “It’s a Small World After All.” On my very first overseas mission trip, I remember being in a Mayan village on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. A friend and I were walking through the village to go and get something at the little “store,” passing tiny makeshift one or two room huts with thatched roofs and dirt floors. I remember looking at my surroundings and looking up at the beautiful blue sky and thinking “The world feels so big, and I feel so very far away from home right now.” All of a sudden, the sounds of U2’s latest album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, came blaring from the radio in one of the little huts. I’m a big fan of U2 and hearing my favorite Irish Rock Band filling the air with “It’s a Beautiful Day” made the world suddenly seem a lot smaller. It really is a small world, after all.
Before anything else, I like to try to remember to encourage anyone considering stepping onto the mission field to remember that they already are. Whether we’re in the lofty heights of New York City or the sprawling slums of Buenos Aires, there’s work to do for the kingdom. If we aren’t at work where we are, will we start to work when we move? If someone feels a tug to enter a foreign mission field, my encouragement is take to a short term mission trip to get an idea of what the work you’ll be entering into will be like, and count the cost. But be careful, because short term trips can be deceptively romantic! Anything worth doing is usually a challenge — it has its drawbacks and its rewards — but if you are following Jesus’ lead, He’ll be with you every step of the way and you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime!
And the Se7en + 1th Question:
If I’ve learned anything from my time abroad, it’s a lesson I want to remember wherever I am: All we have to work with is the moment at hand. Do your best to seize the moments you’re graced with each day and make the most of them!
Thanks Caroline, for taking the time to answer our questions so fully, with a new babe in arms, you are simply amazing!!! And a great blessing to lots of little feet and more important hearts, in our country… Thank You.