Mission Trips

Here Am I…. Send Me!

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In the past two years, I have been on five mission trips. Before that, I had only been out of my own time zone one time. As a teenager, I said Lord here am I, send me. Send me and I will go. Sometimes we don’t realize the magnitude of our prayers and requests to a much later time in life. I could not have imagined at 16 what his sending me would look like. Back then I didn’t even really know what I was asking. I didn’t know very much about missionaries or mission trips. I just wanted more of God and less of me, whatever that looked like. As I got older, I thought less about being “sent”, but found I thought more and more of traveling. I have wanted to travel the world for as long as I can remember, and yet, at that time, I never thought it would be for the Kingdom. Just somewhere in my head I looked at travel as a vacation, exploring, or going off to find yourself. It is interesting how God starts to sow something in us, then we take it and run with it in our own way, often running ahead of God or taking it out of his hands completely. Overtime, hopefully, we realize that our hopes and dreams were placed in us by God and then when we give them back to him, he gets us back on course. When I was sixteen, I didn’t imagine that God would send me to the nations, and I certainly couldn’t have imagined that I would be in my forties, by the time I went. But I did have pieces of a God vision. And though, it was not a vacation, I certainly have come to know and understand myself in ways that I had not before.

As a young girl two places that were on my list to visit were Paris and Africa. I had grand ideas of walking the streets of Paris, visiting the Eiffel Tower and sipping cappuccino in quant cafe’s. I imagined visiting Africa and going on safari and seeing lions, and tigers and bears… oh my. Okay , well lions, zebras, and giraffes. Anyway, I had grand ideas of what travel would look like and feel like. But more about that later. My traveling journey started in 2014. I was a youth leader at the time and our youth pastor was planning a summer mission trip to Haiti. Two of my own kids were going and people started asking me if I was going to go. I wasn’t keen on the thought of going to Haiti. In fact, I was downright scared at the thought of being in a place like that and so far out of my comfort zone. I was not putting two and two together, that my desire for travel may be a God given desire for the nations. But I did want to be obedient and finally prayed, asked the Lord should I go, and he said yes. 2014 was my “journey year” and I will blog about that in the near future, but for now, Haiti was the start of something big in my life. Haiti was amazing and life changing for me. (you can read more about that HERE) I was gone for a week and then I was back and changed forever. I was not back for very long when a good friend of mine ask me if I was going to go on the mission trip to England with our church in the fall. I said no, that had I just got back from a mission trip. I remember she smiled at me and I was wondering what she was thinking, then she said to me, maybe you should pray about it. So the next day, during my prayer time, I was like, okay God, should I go on the England mission trip? Sure enough the Lord’s response was, yes, I want you to go. I was shocked. I began to wonder what all of this meant. I really questioned what I heard, but when I asked my hubby about going, he too heard from the Lord that I should go. I was puzzled and perplexed, but walked in obedience and started to and plan and look for sponsors. The trip was to Betel in England. Once more I found the trip to be amazing and came back forever changed. After this trip, I began to understand that the Lord was up to something and that when I said “send me Lord” he took me seriously and was now answering my prayers. I began to realize that when I had asked him to send me, I had my own ideas of what that would look like. My dreams of Africa and Paris were not going to come packaged the way I thought. Oh boy, were they going to look different. 

In the spring of 2015 I went on my third mission trip, back to Betel in England. This trip was my first trip as a Restoring the Foundations minister. I had had training the summer before and now my new skills would be used in a powerful way. My fourth mission trip was to Cameroon to train and teach Restoring the Foundations ministry. This trip would first take me to Paris. My first time in Paris was, yep, you guessed it, in the airport. I was in Paris but only flying through to Africa. Never did I think I would be only 30 minutes away from the Eiffel Tower (a lifelong dream to see it) and be in an airport on the way to somewhere else. Actually now, it is really funny. It makes for a good story. But at the time I was frustrated, disappointed, and even a little angry. I remember talking to God and saying, you didn’t tell me that this is how I would be in Paris. Then the Lord reminded me that I had prayed and asked…. send me! I will go! I want to go wherever you want to send me. Yielding isn’t always easy. In fact, it is almost never easy. Giving up our own ways can be painful. For me, it hurt to be sent. It hurt to give up my own preconceived ideas of what travel would look like in my life. However, I love the Lord with all my heart and what he wants matters more to me than my own ways of doing things. So I yielded, and these trips have meant more to me than any safari in Africa, or a hundred walks down the Champs Elysees could ever mean. I have made lifelong friends. I have seen people’s lives transformed. I have shared life and laughs with my fellow missions team members. The Lord just knows best. He knows what we need and what will make us more effective for our lives and for the kingdom. We just have to learn to yield and to trust. 

I do still want to see Paris and the Eiffel Tower, but now I have laid it at the feet of Jesus. I said, “send me Lord” and I meant it. If he wants me to see Paris, someday I will. I am walking out my own humility and trust in the Lord. It is not always easy, but I do think it is always worth it. I also want to say that I have come to realize now that being sent takes many different forms. God doesn’t send us all to the nations. Sometimes he sends us next door or down the hall to our child. Personally in my life, I have been sent as a wife to a broken marriage, sent as a mother to raise children in God’s way and not my own way, I have been sent to be a friend to the friendless, and yes, I have been sent to the nations. I understand now that being sent can mean to Africa or to Walmart to give an encouraging word to someone who needs it. I would encourage you to go where the Lord sends you. I would encourage you to hold onto the prayers you have prayed and to the promises from the Lord, but to remember they sometimes come in a way we weren’t expecting to receive them. I encourage you to trust the lord with all your heart and yield your will to His. It may very well change your life, give you life long friends, help you see people transformed right before your eyes, and be the real happiness that you are looking for.

Be Blessed my friends,

Leah

If you want to read more about my mission trips click HERE

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Called to Cameroon

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This past summer, August to be exact, I had the honor and the privilege of being called to Cameroon. Five of us went on a mission trip to train church leaders in Restoring the Foundations ministry. This was my fourth mission trip in the past two years. I have come to learn to expect the unexpected and was very exciting to go on an adventure to Africa.

IMG_1313We left on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning right after our church service. We arrived thirty six hours later in Buea, Cameroon. I could say so many things about this trip but that would take a small book, so I will share some of the highlights and a video that I put together.

I have always dreamed of traveling the world. Two of the many places on my list are Paris, France and Africa. I could never have imagined that I would travel to both at the same time. Though, I also never would have imagined that I would only be passing through Paris and not even get to see the Eiffel Tower, but that is a story for another day. This story is about Africa. Cameroon to be more exact, and its beautiful landscapes, like Mount Cameroon, and it’s beautiful people.

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We first arrived in Douala, Cameroon in the afternoon and were greeted by our wonderful hosts. There was a SUV to pick us up, a poem written just for us, and beautiful bouquets of flowers from their region. We were then taken over to a nice restaurant for dinner. This was just the beginning of what ten days of hospitality would look like.

Our first evening in Cameroon was spent having dinner in Douala and then heading up to Buea. Rush hour in Cameroon is like nothing we would imagine here in the states. The roads and traffic make I-95 look sane and slow paced. Since traffic is so bad, we stayed in the city for dinner to give a chance for traffic to die down a little bit. It was a nice dinner, and I ate goat for the first time. It was very good, and at first, I thought it was beef. The cuisine in Cameroon is rich and earthy, with many types of fish, greens and fruits to choose from. We were never left wanting for food, though some of the offerings, like Cameroonian plums, are much different than our food here in America. After dinner, we were off in the craziness of the traffic from Douala to Buea. The journey took several hours. Along the way we encountered multiple lanes of traffic, multiple types vehicles, such as taxi motorcycles sometimes carrying as many as four people on one motorcycle. We also encountered goats, cows, tolls, and fog (it was the rainy season). At last we arrived in Buea at the base of the beautiful Mount Cameroon. Since it was the rainy season, everything was lush, green, and in some places muddy.

Our time in Buea was very busy. It was full of teaching, prayer ministry, worship, and visiting. We taught seventeen pastoral couples, each from a different church, how to do Restoring the Foundations Issued Focused Ministry. They caught on quickly and were already very familiar with deliverance ministry. They all were very excited to add this powerful tool to their ministries. All together we had six long days of teaching. During this time, we got to know these couples well, and I fell in love with the Cameroonian people. I made a few friendships that I hope will last a lifetime and look forward to seeing them again this summer.

We had many opportunities while in Cameroon to pray for people. We were invited to the Mayor of Buea’s home. We got to spend time with him and his wife and pray for both of them. We also had the opportunity to visit one of Cameroon’s senators in his home and pray for he and his family as well. We also got to pray for and encourage many of the people who took care of us. We prayed for our drivers, the ladies in our house who cooked for us, and the many people who we met during out trip. It was and honor and a privilege to be used in such a way and I was blessed as much as they were.

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We had many rainy days and many rainy nights where we went to bed to the sound of rain on the roof and African singing. We had a wonderful day out to see Cameroon. We saw the lava flow from where mount Cameroon erupted many years ago. We saw a beautiful waterfall that had once been a place where witchcraft was practiced and now is a place for people to come and pray. I had a nice little tumble down the hill at the waterfall and was thankfully caught by our driver who was looking out for me. I spent the day very damp, but it only dampened my mood a little. We saw the Atlantic ocean, which is Africa’s west coast, and that fact sort of still boggles my mind. But most of all, we just got to be with the people of Cameroon, here their stories, worship with them, and share life together in the beautiful presence of God. The first day there I had a moment where it really hit me. Here I am in Africa and the Lord is here with me. He is everywhere and the same everywhere. Sounds so simple, but yet the revelation was so powerful to me in that place. In gave me new insight to the scripture “I am with you always, even to the end of time”. There was not a day that went by on my trip, that I didn’t think and repeat to myself “I’m in Africa” over and over again…. I would think it “I’m in Africa” The entire trip was amazing. It was a dream come true. It was beautiful. It changed me. I grew in the Lord. I made new friends. I loved it and I can’t wait to go again.

Be Blessed My Friends,

Leah

Fleeting Moments

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YWAM Family


Sometimes we don’t recognize the important moments until there are gone.

The smiles. The laughter. Holding your five year olds hand. The tickle fights. The late night talks. The one more story mommy. The five more minutes mommy. All of those moments along the way in the middle of the chaos, tears, sleepless nights and fears. They keep coming and time keeps ticking. Soon those moments are memories in a blink of an eye.

For the moms out there with babies and young children, I know that today it feels like toddler tantrums and sleepless nights will never end, but trust me, they will. Before you know it, it will be an adult staring back at you, and in my case, with my boys, having their chin rest on the top of your head.

I spent many days with my toddlers wishing away the time. Wishing for dad to get home, wishing for nap time to come, wishing for this week to be over and for the weekend to arrive. Wishing my kids could do more for themselves, like tie their shoes. Now they can…

All grown up.

I am officially a mom of two men and one woman. I am very proud of the people they have become and are still becoming, but I do miss their chubby little fingers wrapped around my finger, and their cute little voices calling out for “mommy”. However, I would not turn back time even if I could, but I do sometimes wish I had slowed down and breathed in those fleeting moments a little more. I wish I knew then, what I know now. That in a moment, in a heartbeat of time, my babies, my toddlers, my grade schoolers would be gone, never to return. But in this moment, as I am writing this, I also have a new gift. Best friends. You know the kind of friends that you know will always be there no matter what. That is now what I have in my children. Even when they are in another state or across the world, they are still only a FaceTime moment away.

I have new best friends.

I got to visit with them this past weekend after months of them being away. It’s amazing how they have changed and yet are still the same. The same smile, the same laugh, but yet more grown up somehow. It is really hard to put into words what it is like seeing your children, your babies, now starting to walk out their adult life. Some words come to mind. Love. Pride. Honor. Gratefulness. I feel a deeper kind of love for them. I am proud of them. I am amazed by them. I am thankful that I am their mom. But most of all I am grateful that God is still with us all, loving us, guiding us, and in these beautiful fleeting moments bringing us back together, even if it’s only for awhile.

The seasons are fleeting.

It is a new season for my children. It is also a new season of my life. A season that I saw coming and even a season that I have prayed for, but now that it’s here, it brings with it things I could never have imagined. A peace and a joy. A sadness and a difficulty. An excitement that I truly never expected. For as my children’s’ lives more forward, so does mine. I realize that more adventure awaits for us all. Both together and apart. That may be the most surprising part of all. Realizing that my children and I will now begin new adventures in the Kingdom together, not just as mother and child, but as brothers and sisters in Christ. I guess that is what we have been all along. Funny how time has a way of showing you things and teaching you lessons. So take it from somebody who knows. Breathe in those moments with your children. Capture them. Drink in the honor of being a parent. Remember that the moments are fleeting and that we, as parents, have a short time to pour into our children. To teach them the way they should go. To recognize that they have a call on their life. A moment in time to try our best to help them learn how to walk in that call. To steward them the best we can and rely on God for the rest. So friends, I leave you with these thoughts. Don’t stress about the things that don’t really matter. Hug more than you yell. Hold their hand. Have the late night talks. Pray over them daily. Speak over your children the things that you want them to be. Lean on God for guidance. For all too soon, you will have an adult staring back at you too. Be Blessed my friends.


Scriptures on the walls at the YWAM base in Charlotte:

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Beautiful Places, Beautiful Faces

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Been a few weeks since I posted. I hoped you missed me. ūüôā ¬†Here is something that I wrote a few weeks ago on my last day on the Betel England Mission Trip.

Tea House View

I am here today at Warwick Castle having tea at the tea house in the conservatory. England is beautiful. This place is beautiful. I hear the lovely sound of the fountain in front of me, the sound of peacocks, and the sound of happy families enjoying their Saturday adventures. Ahead of me are beautiful gardens and the Avon River. It’s a bit chilly, but I wanted to sit outside. Two peacocks walk by and the whole scene is like something out of a Shakespeare sonnet. The only thing missing is my kids and hubby.

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Today I just wanted to reflect on my week in Betel and on this leg of my journey in life. I have always wanted to travel. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to travel. I have always wanted to walk in the places where great people have walked and England has been on my list since I was a teenager. As I sit here today, I think, wow, I am here, but I could never have imagined it would be like this.

Better than a holiday, I have spent the week with truly great people. Beautiful people. People who carry something that I want to carry. They carry brokenness, transparency, humility, and an incredible hunger for God. They carry His love and His grace. This place that I am sitting is beautiful, but not nearly as beautiful as the people that I have spent my week with. They have left me full and transformed. I know that I will never be the same. For as much as I served them and ministered to them, they have returned tenfold, ministry and servitude to me. Words cannot begin to describe my gratitude.

As I sit here, I think about the journey of life. I think about how what we want and ask for are often not nearly God’s best for us. What he has for us is so much more than anything we can imagine. The scripture in Jeremiah comes to mind. It has been spoken many times this week, but today it has a fresh new meaning to me. It means trust Gods plans, because he knows me. He knows my heart. His thoughts of me are good ones. He wants to touch me in such a way that I a left wanting nothing more, but still have hope for the future. His plan is beautiful.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord,
thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

As a young girl, when I dreamed of traveling and coming to England, I never could have imagined that I would come to minister to people. I also never could have imagined that I would be the one who was truly ministered to. Life’s a funny thing. I often wonder how often God smiles at us and says oh my child, if you only knew… I’m grateful that he has those plans for me. I’m grateful he has taught me to trust him. I’m grateful for this place. I’m grateful to be used for his kingdom. But above all else I am grateful to be his child and to have his journey for my life laid before me.

So thank you Betel, thank you England, and most of all thank you God for the plans you have for me.

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My friends I want to encourage you. If you are in a leg of your journey that is hard and you don’t know what lies ahead, just keep on trusting God. Let him lead the way. And though you may not be able to see it right now, in the not too distant future you will look back and it will all make sense. So hold on and know that Gods plans are good ones. Be blessed my friends.

Peacock

Journey To Betel

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Hi friends I know it’s been a while. God has me on an interesting journey this year. I just got¬†back this week from my second mission trip of the year. A team of us went to Betel ministries in¬†England. Before this year, I had never been on a mission trip or thought much about going on¬†one. Now I am amazed by what a mission trip holds for all involved and would recommend¬†everyone to go on at least one trip.

On both trips this year, the first one to Haiti and the second one to Betel, I tried hard not to have¬†any expectations and to let God lead my every step. Even if I had an expectation it wouldn’t¬†have mattered. Nothing could have prepared me for either trip. On both trips I have been¬†stretched out of my comfort zone and like a rubber band I will never completely snap back to¬†where I once was. I am forever changed…. For the better.

Betel is an amazing ministry. They help the homeless with addictions get back on their feet and¬†to find The Lord. I got the opportunity to stay in the women’s house with my team and many¬†ladies that are part of the program. There were 21 of us all together. Let me say that community¬†living by itself, changes you. Sharing rooms, bathrooms and being on a strict schedule is a¬†sanctification process all of its own. Then serving, working and praying along side of those in¬†need, both humbles you and changes you.

The women at Betel are broken but so beautiful and in love with The Lord. These women, who have been through terrible things, have such soft hearts and an incredible love for Jesus. I was left feeling humble and ungrateful. These women are quick to serve, quick to honor and quick to share their story with 100% transparency. Every morning they do praise and worship and the presence of God was heavy. It made me think of the scripture that God is close to the broken hearted. As in Haiti, I was left with indescribable feelings and emotions. I made friends that I hope to see again. I was left wanting to be more for God. Just like in Haiti, I left feeling that I came home with more than I gave. Servitude in the Kingdom is a beautiful thing. When we set out to serve each other, we all come out better on the other side. I hope to see more of that here in my own country and in my own church.

So today I am grateful for everything God is doing in my life and for the journey he has me on. I am grateful for the friends I have made this year. I think of them and pray for them often. I am thankful that God cares enough for me to not leave me as I am, put to keep changing me daily. I look forward to more trips in the future and am grateful The Lord walks with me hand in hand on this journey. I want to thank each of you out there for reading my blog and special thanks to the people in my life who are on this journey with me. Only in heaven will you truly know how much you mean to me. Be blessed my friends.

Hope for Haiti

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This week I have had Haiti on my mind. More appropriately, the people of Haiti. See the thing is, when I decided to go to Haiti on a mission trip, I had no idea what to expect. When I got there nothing could have prepared me for what I would see. Flying into Haiti, you could see all the small temporary housing. To be honest, I cried right there on the plane. Then when we got off the plane and made our way out of the airport I was struck by the need here in this country. By the dusty desolation.

But then, driving along the dusty road, I saw a thriving green vine growing in an old building. It had beautiful crimson flowers. The mountains rose in the background and the beautiful Caribbean waters were just by the road. Beauty among desolation is what I felt. The people had their market stands set up all along the road. They were beautiful too. I felt thankful for all that I had back at home but I was also thankful to be here in this place. A little boy waved at me as we drove by and my heart was full of hope. Full of hope for Haiti.

As the week went by, I met many Haitians of all ages. I fell in love. The people of Haiti are strong, beautiful and welcomed me with open arms and hearts abandoned. I walked hand and hand with children almost everywhere I went. I spoke very little Creole and most of the people spoke little English but we communicated far beyond what words could say. We laughed, talked as much as we could, played games, and learned from each other. By the end of the week, I felt I had made many new friends. Several Haiti women had told me they loved me and I said I loved them too. The last day in the village I walked with a little girl and boy along the way. I had seen them several times during the week. The little boy was probably about 6, just a few years younger than my youngest child. When it was time to get on the bus, I told the children goodbye. As I looked out the window, there was the little boy looking back at me. I realized I would probably never see him again. Once again I cried. It was hard. It was wonderful. Going to Haiti changed me forever. Today I am thinking of all my friends in Haiti. I pray for them. I hope to see them again someday. And I have a great amount of hope for Haiti. Hope for Haiti, today and forevermore.

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Pictures from Haiti

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Just wanted to share some of my favorite pictures from Haiti

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