San Diego

San Diego

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Next Step In Ministry (San Diego Church Plant)

Here I am back in the states trying to readjust to life in America. I must admit that it has been a little weird adjusting back to life here because although a lot of things are the same, the Lord has been doing a lot of work in my heart and I have a whole new mindset on life here. He has shown me a new life and what it looks like to serve him with my whole heart. It has also been very hard leaving all of those relationships that were built there for those 6 months. The Lord really did bless me with a great team to work with and a lot of great locals. Although I do miss those relationships, it has been so good being home spending time with my friends and especially my family and I am very excited for this next season of my life.

I am very excited for this next season of my life. When I think about what God continues to do in my life and the next steps He has for me, I am beyond excited! Since the Lord started to lead me to ‘Go’ and learn to serve in missions, He has continued to put on my heart a desire to be involved with tough ministry and go to areas that need Jesus desperately. I still feel led to go and do more and make much of His name and His kingdom!

An opportunity has been placed in front of me, and I know that the Lord is leading me into it. In January, I will be moving to San Diego to help with a church plant. I’ll be serving with a good brother of mine and as well as a seasoned pastor and his family (he has been church planter and just finished serving as lead campus pastor at Mars Hill, Bellevue). The Lord began stirring my heart about this while I was in Senegal and, after a lot prayer and meditation, I truly believe that the Lord leading me to serve with this new work.

The church will be called ‘The Lord’s Renown’ because we want the Lord to be honored like He deserves and we want to see Him Glorified! As we plant the church in San Diego, we’ll start by loving on the community and building relationships to show the love of Christ and build up the Lord’s Kingdom. San Diego is a city filled with many different cultures, and people who try to satisfy their desires with the sun, beaches, fun city life, etc. They need Jesus desperately! The Lord has been stirring me to step out of my comfort zone again and go to San Diego to serve Him and to serve the people there.

I know that the Lord wants me in full time ministry and I know that this is my next step. It will also be a great opportunity to see where exactly my gifts are best used and to see where the Lord can use me within ministry because although I do know I am called to full time ministry, I don’t know yet what that looks like for me. The options for learning and getting involved appear limitless because there are so many great opportunities all over the place in San Diego. I am so excited to see what the Lord will put in front of us, as a team.

It is a little scary and it sounds crazy going down there with no guarantee of a job and not knowing what will happen, but I know this is where the Lord wants me right now so I am submitting to Him and going. I am depending on the Holy Ghost to guide me and provide for me. As I go, I also want to ask for your prayers and support again. My desire is to invest most of my time and energy into planting and growing the church, but I will probably need to find a part time job to help provide for my needs. You have faithfully supported what God is doing in my life and ministry, and I am very grateful! Now my prayer is that you would prayerfully consider supporting this work so that I can invest as much time into building up the Church as possible. I am committing to a full year in San Diego to serve the church and community and I want to raise $1000 a month. Your help will not only provide some support for me but also for the ministry of this new church, The Lord’s Renown.

If you would like to know more about what I am doing or if you feel led to give, please let me know and I would love to either meet or talk on the phone with you. Thank you for taking the time to read this and for being apart of what the Lord is doing in my life!

Scott Graff

You can give by writing a check to ‘The Lord’s Renown’ and you can send it either to my address or the Church’s address.

Scott Graff
23528 57th Ave SE.
Woodinville, WA 98072

PO Box 601982
San Diego, CA 92160
(this is the Church’s PO Box)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kids Camp/Thoughts of My Time Here

First I would like to update all of you on two events that I was involved in just recently. In late September, the Kaffrine SIM team put on their annual kids camp, which is one of the biggest events they have all year. Because of the Lord providing the funds through very generous donors and guiding the team through many situations that could have caused problems, we were able to have a great week at this camp at almost no cost to the kids going. We took around 80 kids between the ages 8 and 23 from Kaffrine and villages outside of Kaffrine to a nice complex, which was right on the beach, in Mbour and had a 4 day camp with awesome activities. The 4 days were filled with amazing Senegalese food, tie dying T-shirts, football (soccer), teaching them American football, Frisbee, Gaga Ball, making bracelets and necklaces, and swimming in the ocean (kind of). This really is a special opportunity for a lot of these kids because most of them can't afford to go outside of Kaffrine especially to a nice place like Mbour. So for a lot of them, going to this camp is the first time they have been out of their city for a year.

Even though there were a lot of fun activities, the coolest part of this whole event is that these kids, some of whom Muslim, came to this camp knowing that the Gospel was going to be preached. We had local believers speak to the kids, a lot of worship time, small group discussions, and watched a film about Jesus throughout the whole camp. It was awesome to see the Lord work through the camp and to see these kids be open and listen to the Gospel. One of the highlights of the camp was after our discussion group time, we gathered everyone back together and went over what each group talked about. In one group that had quite a few Muslims kids, started asking questions such as, “ How was Jesus the Song of God?” “Why did the devil try to tempt Jesus before going to the cross?” and several others. The pastor that was at the camp speaking was able to answer the questions perfectly and in a way that made sense to the kids. This is so exciting is because usually when people share about Jesus in this Muslim culture, they either shut down not saying anything back to what they heard or they walk away, so for them to ask these questions is a huge!

Another really cool thing was that most of the camp was planned by local believers in Kaffrine. Previous years it had always been the missionaries planning everything and even running most of the events in the camp. It was so encouraging to see these young believers rise up and take charge in planning this big event with so much excitement and passion.

The second event that I just recently got back from was a Wolofal seminar. In this seminar we were able to learn how to write Wolof in Arabic script. The reason we learned this is because most people in Senegal don’t know how to read or write Wolof in alpha script (“abc’s”) but they know how to read and write in Wolofal (Wolof in Arabic script). It is very useful in Senegal especially in Kaffrine because more people can read Wolofal than Wolof in alpha script. It took us about 3 days to learn how to write and read Wolofal although I am still very slow at it. But the Wolof have a saying that goes “slowly one catches a monkey in the bush”. I am so thankful that I was able to participate in this workshop to use this skill to ultimately glorify God and also for being able to meet and build new friendships with more missionaries and local believers. This country is filled with such amazing people, both missionaries and locals, and I am so blessed to be apart of God’s work here.
I only have a month left in Senegal and time is going by so fast. Sadly, before I know it I will be on a plane back to the States. I can’t say that I am not excited to be going home because I miss family and friends so much, but at the same time I will miss so many things about this place. The past few weeks I have really been recapping on my time here and especially on what God has done in my time being here and there are so many things that I am beyond thankful for as I have seen God pouring out His grace upon me. The Lord has revealed some really cool things to me and I would love to share some of them with you as well as some things I am thankful for.

1) As I have said this so many times, I feel like I can’t say it enough. Thank you to all of my supporters! Without all of your prayers, love and support I would have never been able to make this trip and experience all that I have experienced. It is so encouraging to me knowing that people are continuously praying for me and wondering how my trip is going. I truly am blessed to have all of your support so thank you!

2) Something that I have loved doing here is being able to travel around Senegal to see and take part in all sorts of ministries. I have been to four main cities in Senegal and have been involved with village outreach, soccer ministries, a kids camp, an English reading center, a kids center that works with talibee boys and neighborhood kids, and even growing crops. I have loved seeing how God is working through these ministries and also seeing the passion for Christ in the people that run the ministries. It has been great to get out of the States and see more ways to spread the gospel to the lost and love on those that need love.

3) I have said this in previous posts as well but again I don’t think I can say it enough times. I have truly been blessed by being placed in this specific place with these missionaries. God was continuously faithful throughout the whole process of me picking a place to go and I am so thankful for Him guiding me here. I could not ask for a better organization or a better team to work with. It has been so amazing to learn from a group of people that love Jesus with their whole hearts, love spreading the gospel, love the Wolof culture as much as they do even when the Wolof don’t love them back, and who act so faithful in the most discouraging and uncertain times. I have been able to take away so much from just watching and listening to everyone here. Even though sometimes I can't catch a break from them giving me a hard time on just about everything, this is an incredible team and I will miss them a lot when the time comes for me to go back to the States.

4) I am very thankful that I have gotten this opportunity to serve the Wolof culture and also the missionaries here. After being thrown into this culture and going through times where I wish I was home, I have grown to love this place and this culture. Because of the language barrier for me, it has been hard to do everything that I was imagining coming here but I have still been able do a lot and I am so thankful that I am able to help in even the little ways such as, help Corey with his farming project, running random errands, help with our kids camp, going to get all the kids on our scholarship program school supplies, and help to start a bible story group at a kids center. I am glad I am able to help with these things so that the missionaries have less to worry about with their crazy schedules.

I am very excited for what is to continue to come in this next month I am here but I am also excited to get back home to see family and friends. But the thing I am most excited about is to start on this new path the Lord has put in front of me. As I have been feeling this call into ministry, I have been spending a lot of time in prayer trying to see exactly what that means for me and the Lord has been so faithful in revealing some of the things I need to do to follow His calling. I will be honest in saying that I am a little scared of this new path because there are a lot of unanswered questions and I will be taking a lot of big steps in a completely different direction, but I cannot ignore this calling that the Lord has given to me and I know that He is continuously faithful to His children and He will never lead me in the wrong direction. I am so blown away by His grace upon me that he would first of all save a wicked man like me, but then choose me and give me this beautiful burden to want to share the Gospel with the lost, love people how Jesus has loved me, and disciple more followers for the Kingdom’s sake. I have been thinking to myself a lot, how could He entrust such a young, weak, and inexperienced person like me to the spreading and preaching of his Gospel, but I have been continuously reminded by scripture that He entrusts and uses the most weak and unexpected people throughout the whole Bible. So although I am a little scared, I know that Lord will be faithful and He will guide me and use me in ways I cannot even comprehend.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Life In Senegal

Hello Everyone,
Please forgive me for not posting or updating all of you on anything for these past couple of months. Within the first couple weeks of being here, my computer's hard drive randomly crashed and I haven’t had a working computer until just a couple of weeks ago and I have not had a ton of time to type out a blog. It is finally fixed and I can now share what has been happening here in Senegal and also show you all the pictures I have taken! I know a lot of you were wondering if something happened to me or if I was just really bad at blogging but I am doing more than okay and I am not that terrible at blogging. It has been super encouraging and exciting for me to hear that all of you are so curious of how I am doing and what God has been doing here in Senegal so thank you!
I have been living here in Kaffrine for just over 3 months now and I have loved it here! It has been a totally different life style out here but I have been really comfortable with it, well… maybe not the heat, considering I have lived in Washington for almost all of my life. . I must say I do miss home, family, and friends a lot, but I have been so comfortable here that I am okay with being away from home. It has been really cool to see God’s hand in this to where He has given me this rest with living here in Kaffrine and being thrown into a completely new culture
Learning the language here has been a fun yet a very frustrating process. It has taken me a while to get it but I am at the point now where I can live and do almost anything in Kaffrine and communicate things clearly, but I cannot have long conversations with people. It is funny to see people’s reaction when I start to speak to them in Wolof and tell them that I do not speak any French because most white people in Senegal are French and only speak French. For this being my first language learning experience (because Spanish in high school doesn’t count) I feel like I am doing all right but it is so hard for me ha. There has been many times where I would stay in my room because I would be so mentally tired and frustrated that I cant clearly talk to people, but that is all apart of the language learning process. I really do like this language and I am excited to continue learning it better.
Kaffrine is a very simple and rural area. It really only takes about 7-10 minutes to get from one side of Kaffrine to the other. Most big cities in Senegal have some what of a French or Westernized culture thrown in there to where you can get a hamburger and fries, some peanut butter, nice snacks, jump into a swimming pool, or even go to a very small grocery store, but there is nothing like that in Kaffrine, which is a small town. The closest place to get any of that is an hour away in a city called Kaolack, but it’s not too pleasant of a place to go spend a lot of time in. During the week I live in a very small 3 building compound with about 9 other Senegalese. I live in the same room with one other apprentice named Jacob and we share it with all sorts of bugs, mice, and bats. We eat almost every meal with one of the families in our household and it’s usually the same types of food every day. For lunch we have something called ceebu jen, which is rice, fish, and vegetables, and for dinner we have something called ceere, which is ground millet and it usually has some type of sauce on top of it. Whenever we have something different it usually still includes rice, fish, and ground millet. Every once in a while Jacob and I will go out to a local restaurant to eat something different and escape the traditional Senegalese food but the restaurants here in Kaffrine are absolutely nothing like back in the states. They consist of maybe two tables with chairs around them, set up under a shack, and the person running the place has everything out on the tables ready to serve or be cooked on a small gas burner. The nicer restaurants will actually have somewhat of a back kitchen room, a few small tables set up right outside the small kitchen room, and they are under a more stable building. The food at these restaurants is also a little different. They usually have things like spaghetti and fried eggs with Dijon mustard on it or sometimes a spaghetti and meat sandwich. I can tell you that its is actually pretty good and I probably would have never even thought of it or tried it if I never came here ha.
The living in Kaffrine is so cheap compared to back in the states and even compared to some of the bigger cities in Senegal. For all three meals in the day, a nice snack, and a nice drink (coke, sprite, juice), it wont cost more than 5 dollars. Even going out to the restaurants around town, you wouldn’t even spend over 6 dollars for all your meals and drinks. Even material items like clothes, shoes, utensils, tools, bags, etc, are very cheap and you can also bargain for a price with just about everything, which is the best part. Whenever I happen to go out to a bigger city, which has only been 2 times, I feel like I am getting ripped off because I am paying so much more for the meals there.
On the weekends I go out and live in our village with the Garretts, which is even more simple living than Kaffrine. Usually coming back from a weekend in the village makes Kaffrine seem luxurious and my small room with electricity (the times that we have it) feels like a palace. The village life is a lot of fun though and it has been a great experience. Out in the village I kind of have two ministries going. The first ministry I am involved with is helping Corey farm a field that he has bought to try a new farming method. This new farming method is able to produce more from the crops in a smaller area and it is also healthier for the soil. Because people here live off of what they grow, we want to help them find new and better ways to farm so they can have more food and money and also keep there soil healthy. Our field is looking really great so we cannot wait to see the end results of how much our crops produce!
My second ministry as I have previously mentioned is the soccer clinic. Last month we had our first run at it and it went really well! We had around 30 guys show up and I was able to put on several drills for them so they practice as a team instead of individually like they usually play. After our first weekend of doing the clinic both Josiah, a fellow apprentice, and I were able to share our testimonies to the group of guys. As Josiah was sharing his testimony, some of the guys started to get up and walk away and by the time it got to me there were only about half. I was still able to share my testimony with those guys that stayed and though it felt like no one was listening, it was such an awesome opportunity to tell them how Jesus has impacted my life and that He is way more important to me than soccer. A few weeks ago we were able to do our first bible story session, which went great! We only had about 10 guys but they all stayed and were listening to what was being said. That same weekend we ran into several issues with the clinic. Because of this crazy time in the season most everyone is out working in his or her fields so all of the guys that used to play soccer aren’t able to play because they are working. Also, the Ramadan fast lasted for the whole month of August and since they are fasting from food and water all day they do not have any energy to play soccer later in the day. But one of bigger issues is that a guy who owns a field of crops right next to the soccer field doesn’t want us playing because he doesn’t want the ball and people going through his field. But I am praying we will figure everything out by next week and continue the soccer clinic and bible stories.
In the beginning of July, Josiah and I were able to go help out with an English teaching ministry in Dakar. It was so great to see other ministries in Senegal and seeing God work through them. In this camp we had about 22 university students and we had them involved with English word games, discussion groups where we talked about the movie Slumdog Millionaire, and intense English learning classes. Through all of these activities we were able to tie in Scripture and discussions about religion. Josiah and I got to lead our own discussion group and we were able to have some great conversations with these students. Throughout the week I was actually able to connect really well with one of the students there and I was able to share a lot about Jesus and my faith to him. He actually knew quite a bit about the Gospel so it was awesome sharing more to him and answering his questions that he had. I connected with him and got his email and skype information so I could try to stay in contact with him. It was a great week of relaxation, seeing other ministries in Dakar, and growing better friendships with the rest of the SIM Senegal team. I am so thankful for the team here and the work they are doing!
So for the first couple of months here Corey (my mentor) and I have been trying to figure out what my ministry would be while I am in Kaffrine during the weekdays. After many attempts to figure out what I would be doing, we found the perfect opportunity for me. For the past few weeks I have been involved at a small center called the Eden Center where a local pastor runs some activities for the neighborhood kids and talibee kids (street kids). Although most of the talibee kids are gone most of the time working in the fields, Corey, Jacob, and I were able to start our own Bible story group twice a week at the Eden Center with kids in the neighborhood. We set things up sort of like a youth group to where we first play some games (we play a lot of foosball), then we go into our bible story, and then after the story we play another game that reviews what we just read to the kids. I have been able to help out with the games and also read the stories to the kids in Wolof. When I first started to read the stories I was very nervous because I don’t know the language that well and we usually have anywhere from 20 to 40 kids show up. After doing it a couple of times I am now able to read a little bit more confidently but some of the time I have no idea what I am saying. It has been a really good language learning opportunity to read the stories and also to just be around these kids. Last week we had the local pastor and another person that is involved with the local church do the stories and the review questions. We really want to get them more involved so when both Jacob and I leave they can continue to story and also for them to use these story books in other ways because the stories are such a good tool to use for many types of ministries.
I am so happy we finally were able to start this because the kids here need so much more attention and love than they are getting. Adults around here usually don’t take the time to play games with kids. Because the kids never really experience these kind of things, sometimes we have issues with them being able to sit down and be quiet for the full time we are reading the stories. But this has been such a great experience for the kids and especially for me so please pray for the Eden Center and for us as we trying to invest this time in these kids.
This whole experience here has been completely eye-opening for me. It has been so awesome to see how the Lord is working here and through missionaries and I am so blessed to be apart of it. The Lord has been revealing and teaching me a lot of things and it has been so humbling to be able to come here and serve the Wolof. Since I have been here I have been thinking to myself that if ministry, serving the Lord, serving people, and studying the Word to know Jesus more is what I love to do the most and is what I get the most enjoyment from, then why not be apart of that for the rest of my life. A while ago I got to listen to a sermon by Matt Chandler and while listening to it I came to realize that at any moment I could die and if the only works that I do that will matter after death are the works that glorify the Kingdom of God, why not invest all that I have to glorify the Kingdom. I am feeling that the Lord is leading me in the direction of ministry but I do not know what that looks like for me yet. I am praying and looking at several different options for when I get back to the states but I have no for sure idea of what I will do. Although I have no idea what I will be doing, I am trusting and resting in the Lord that He will lead me in the right direction because HE is such a faithful God even in times when WE are UNfaithful.
Thank you for all of your continuous prayers and caring, it has been a huge blessing to me. Please continue to pray for the team and I and also for all of the great ministries that are going on in Senegal.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kaffrine/First village visit

I made it to Kaffrine! I have been here for about 4 days now but I only spent a day in the city. This place is way different from Dakar. It has been around 110 degrees almost everyday and being raised in Washington my whole life did not prepare me for this! Here in Kaffrine I am living with 3 other apprentices in a Senegalese home and the living conditions here are a bit different to say the least. In Senegal there are power outages all the time and it is not like in the states where if the power goes out it is back on within a short amount of time, it can be off for a very long time. We shower here with a bucket and a thing called a settella, which is pretty much a big plastic teapot, our bathroom is a hole in the ground, and we eat with our hands for almost every meal. Even though there is a big change of the way I am living, I still love it here and cannot wait to dig deeper into this culture. I cannot tell you enough of how much I love these people! You greet everyone you see with a handshake and you tease anytime you get the chance. They say so many things here that us Americans would get very offended about if it was said in our own culture. For example, lines such as, you are so lazy and worthless, you like to eat a lot, your butt is big, and your name is no good are the more common ones. They love to also point out the obvious things to start conversations with people. They will say things like, you are sitting there, or you are standing there, or you are playing soccer, or you are working, etc. Some of the communication seems a little funny but I think it is great!

Now as for the first weekend in the village, I am going to say that nothing I say or show you through pictures will completely explain this experience. I will try my best to explain it though! We leave for the village every Friday afternoon and then come back to Kaffrine Monday evening. When we got to the village, we greeted everyone and I was shown the whole village. In the village I have a hut family, which is where my hut is, and I have a food family, which is the family that I eat with everyday. Walking around and greeting everyone, I felt like everyone was so excited to have me there and I immediately felt a part of their village. We do a lot of work in the village such as gardening, building huts, digging latrines, etc., but there is also a lot of sitting around and just having fun conversations. Going out to the village I was able to pick up a few more Wolof phrases and it taught me a lot more of the Wolof culture.

I adopted a new name, so I am now officially called Ablaye Ndao in Senegal. In this culture, you have to be extremely proud of your last name and you have to protect it. Everyone has people that they call their teasing cousins, which are pretty much anyone that does not have your last name in the village but it is common for a lot of people to have the same last name as you. Your teasing cousins are the people that you make fun of the most. The kids in the village are the funniest kids I have ever met! They always yell out my name when I walk by, they like to wrestle, they love their picture being taken, and I feel like they are always smiling and happy. I am excited to grow these relationships and to really reach out to these kids!

As you can imagine, soccer is a huge thing in Senegal. The coolest thing is that in Senegal they have a rainy season soccer tournament all over the country. Teams sign up and play teams from different villages and different cities and if you make it all the way to the final round you get to play in the soccer stadium in Dakar. I am super excited because I might have a chance to join the team in my village and participate in this tournament. In the village, Josiah and I set up soccer games for the kids every day we are there. Though there are a lot of ministry opportunities here, I feel like in the village, soccer will be the biggest way to connect with these guys. The guys that play soccer in the village know how to play, but they do not know a lot of the fundamentals of soccer. For example, we played a game of 5 vs. 5 and I tried to explain a formation that we can do so they would all have positions on the field. When I tried to explain, they all looked at me and did not move or understand what I meant. They pretty much just run around and play. We have some awesome plans to set up a soccer clinic with these guys to teach them more about the game and get them ready for the rainy season soccer tournament. As we run this soccer clinic, Josiah and I will get the chance to share our testimonies to these kids, do bible storying, and do development stuff (getting the youth to recognize and act on things that benefit the village). This will be such an awesome opportunity to share the Gospel with these kids and I am so excited for what God can do through this.

As I took this leap of faith into this journey, I was kind of wondering why Senegal, why Kaffrine, why SIM, why the Wolof culture, etc. As time has gone on, I know that the Lord has placed me here for several purposes and there is still a ton that I do not know of. All I know is that the Lord is good and faithful and I am so excited to see His grace and his works through this journey. I cannot thank you all enough for your support and prayers and I am so excited to keep sharing all that the Lord is doing on this trip. Thank you!

Arrival in Dakar

I made it to Senegal! I have been staying in Dakar for the past couple of days now because and we are heading out to Kaffrine tomorrow. Dakar has been so great! It has been more of a relaxing time because we were waiting for another apprentice to fly in. The Garrett’s (the people that I am interning for) and I took a day and did some errands around Dakar and I got to see most of the city. I also got to spend a lot of time seeing and learning about ministries going on in Dakar. There are so many amazing people doing amazing work here in this city and
t is awesome to see God using them. The city here is totally different from back in Seattle. I feel like their tallest building here is the size of our smaller buildings in Seattle. Most of the city is filled with either abandoned buildings or buildings under construction. The streets are filled with crazy drivers and people coming right up to you trying to sell everything such as phone minutes, shoes, sunglasses, peanuts (which is Senegal’s main crop), cologne, cloths, and literally anything else you can think of. It is crazy but I love it here! The people are nice and they love to joke around. In almost every conversation people are teasing and having fun with each other. Walking around and try to interact with some of the people makes me want to start to learn the language asap! I cannot wait to be able to talk to these people and just have more fun in this culture! I will be starting my language lessons of 6 to 8 weeks next Tuesday or Wednesday after we get back from the village. They keep telling me to enjoy my time here in Dakar because Kaffrine is a completely different place. It is much more of a rural area and it will be over 100 degrees for the rest of this month and some of next month before it gets into rainy season.
            I got to play football (soccer as we call it) with a bunch of kids in town in Dakar. They have little soccer games going on everywhere or they are just kicking the ball around. They also do not play on fields like back in the States --they play wherever they can
They mostly play on dirt and rocks and most play without shoes. It’s nice to be somewhere where soccer is appreciated a lot . Soccer is going to be a great way to connect with these kids and get to know them! Hopefully I can use that to start bible storying groups with the kids. 
m super excited to get into Kaffrine tomorrow and start these 6 months of intense ministry! I will be going into the village on Friday to start working and I will be back on Tuesday. Sorry I have not gotten any pictures up yet but when I come back on Tuesday I will for sure be getting pictures up! Please keep praying for the Senegalese people and also me! Thank you for your care and support!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Almost there!

I have been at Charlotte, NC for the past couples of days going through the SIM orientation and It has been an awesome experience! The staff here have been so great and I have met some great people in the orientation that are doing the same type of thing I am doing. We sat through several classes such as spiritual warfare, oral communication, Muslim Culture, health and safety, and multi-cultural that were super beneficial. I am still hanging out on the campus today but will be leaving for Senegal tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon and arriving monday morning around 6 am.
I am only getting more excited to get over there and serve these people! I know this is what God wants me to do right now even though I am noticing this will be a very challenging time. I do not expect this to be easy or to walk away without any suffering because I will be faced with things that I have never faced before in my life. There will most likely be sicknesses and there will be spiritual battles, but I know that the Lord is good and He will guide me through this.
The people will not have much respect for me when I first get there because they will view me as the typical "American Christian". Because most everyone in these third world countries cannot afford to leave their country, they are only able to watch the crap on TV shows and movies to see what America is like. This makes them believe that all Americans are rich and exactly like what they see on TV which creates them to have this certain idea about Christianity. It is so frustrating that our culture has turned so many people off to Christianity because there are so many "American Christians" that claim they are Christians but they still do what they want and do not faithfully follow Christ. I will have trust among some of the people because of the relationships the missionaries there have already built, but I am still going to have to gain a lot of peoples trust in this city and village. I will have to show them that I am not this "American Christian" that they think I am, but that I am a follower of Christ and I am here to love on them and serve them in any way I can.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support thus far! But As I go into Senegal I am asking that you please pray for Boldness, patience, understanding the language quickly, health, the energy to consistently serve, and for these people to have an open mind! Thank you and I will be updating all of you again after I am settled into Senegal!