When I grow up….

I want to be Rosemary Jensen. At 82, she’s the founder and director of the Rafiki Foundation, and I have only met a handful of people with faith as big as hers. She started the Rafiki Training villages in her seventies and continues to travel to Africa at least three times a year. The mission of the Rafiki Foundation is to help people to know God and to help people improve their standard of living. They do this through training villages in which they raise orphaned children to be Africans who help to improve Africa overtime… and in September, I’ll get to be a part of the action in Uganda!

We went to training for the Rafiki Foundation this past weekend in Eustis, Florida, near Orlando. It is a training session that everyone (with a few exceptions) that goes to Africa with Rafiki has to attend. It was an incredible weekend that gave me even more assurance that this really was what God is calling me to for the next semester. There’s so much that could be said about Rafiki. But this is a blog and not a novel, so I’ll condense it. If you want to know more about Rafiki, you can visit their website: RafikiFoundation.org. They do a much better job of explaining themselves than I could ever hope to.

Training went from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and we attended St. Andrew’s Chapel, the church the Jensens attend, on Sunday. Training was held at the Rafiki home office, which is a small scale replica of the training villages in Africa. There are ten Rafiki training villages in ten different countries of Africa. The picture above is of the gate of the fence that surrounds each Rafiki village and below is a few buildings within the home office, built similiarly to the villages in Africa.

I’ve been realizing over and over again lately how small my faith really is and how little I trust in God, sometimes because I don’t have to trust and sometimes because I choose not. At the beginning of this whole process, I was so excited, but as weeks turned to months, and I still had no definite plans, I felt discouraged and unsure if this was even something I was really supposed to do. I had gotten to the point that I just wanted plans, any plans, but I waited, impatiently, for God to open the right doors, even though I was skeptical that it would happen. Now I can see that God was orchestrating his plan perfectly to get me interested in Rafiki. Rafiki fits both my desires to serve the Lord in Africa and my parent’s needs to feel that I was safe halfway across the world, and now we are even praying about my mom coming with me for the first two weeks I’m there!

We’re working on dates with flights and all, but without a major act of God, it’s looking like I’ll be in Uganda from the beginning of September to the beginning of December, loving on sweet Africans and serving alongside Rafiki Overseas staff and native Africans.

my little faith, big God story.

I’ll start with the basics.
If you’ve ended up here (hey mom!), you probably know me, so I won’t go to much into who I am logistically, but read on to see what God’s been doing in my life lately.

My sophomore year (the one that just ended) was one of a lot of growth and change in my life. For a while, I had been feeling God preparing my heart for something different than my “normal”, but I wasn’t sure what that change would be or how that would happen. I am, after all, a college student. I had gotten super involved on my small college campus at the beginning of my freshman year of college, signing up to do anything and everything that was offered. By the middle of first semester this year (sophomore year), I was burnt out. I was busy for the sake of being busy and wasn’t really enjoying any of the activities that I was committed to. I hadn’t spent real time with Jesus in months, and church had become a check on my full to-do list.  I was a member of Campus Activities Board and an officer in my social tribe, two positions that I let define a good deal of who I was at Mississippi College. I quit CAB in October, partially to allow myself to be available to run for Vice President of Laguna (my social tribe, it’s kind of like a sorority-baptist style.). I really wanted that position. I told God that a lot. In the weeks before elections, I heard God telling me that this wasn’t what He had for me, but I was stubborn. It was what I wanted. With that said, I shouldn’t have been surprised when we lost the election, but I was. I remember hearing Him telling me to pray for something bigger. I kept having this feeling of a calling to missions but didn’t know how that could fit into my life, being on a college student’s schedule. I began to seek after what that nudge towards missions would mean and pray for something bigger. Almost immediately, He began to show himself in my life in ways that were so obvious.

The first week of second semester I broke up with my boyfriend of two years. It was a hard but right thing. I now realize that God wanted to take the place that was rightfully His, a place that I had been giving to many other things in my life. I prayed for God to change my heart to reflect His will instead of simply giving me the things that my human heart wanted right then. The next weekend, my roommate Kristen came back from a weekend away with the news that she was going to Africa for two weeks this summer. I was thrilled for her but impatiently wanted God to reveal His plans to me like I saw Him doing in Kristen’s life. My small mind couldn’t see past the immediate present to what He was preparing me for.

In late February, my mom sent me a link to a blog that God has since used in incredible ways to focus my heart as well as change my parents’ hearts. KissesFromKatie –if you haven’t read her story, stop now and go read it. This girl has faith.. and fourteen daughters.. in Uganda.. at the age of 22. I digress. Well one thing led to another, and when spring break rolled around I sat down and had a heart to heart with both of my parents seperately.. in which I told them of my desire and maybe calling to go to Africa for at least a semester.. and in response my dad said no to Africa.. and asked me to pray some more about even leaving school in the first place. The one thing we agreed on was that God would have to do something incredible to make him change his mind and allow me to go to Africa. So I prayed really hard that he would, and less than a month later through a series of events that I had no hand in and could literally be nothing less than divine appointment (extreme short version of this story. i’ll explain in more detail one day maybe.), my dad’s mind was changed, and I had a green light to explore the options of going to Africa.

Through another divine appointment involving my parents and our associate pastor, the Rafiki Foundation was brought to my attention. I knew it was familiar for some reason but couldn’t remember why. I went back to Clinton that evening and was telling my roommate about it, and she reminded me that the reason that it sounded familiar was because that was the same organization that she was going to Ghana with this summer. I knew almost immediately that this was probably the organization that God had in mind for me. My parents wanted a stable and reputable foundation that we had connections with. Rafiki had all of the above. I filled out a missions application and emailed it in. A few days later, I got accepted to be a mini-missionary and invited to training in May.

Clearly, this isn’t the whole story. There was an entire semester–a very full semester– of life lived in the midst of this story–and a very full life that has led up to this point right now–but for our intents and purposes, this gets us to today. This weekend I’ll be attending training outside of Orlando to learn more about Rafiki. Hopefully, if everything works out, we will have solid trip plans in the next week! I’m so thankful for His big plan and that He doesn’t give up on me when my faith is smaller than a mustard seed. I can’t wait to see what the next few months hold and invite you to join along in this crazy ride! If you’d like to hear anything more, let me know. This whole process is something that is quickly becoming my heart. I love to talk about it!

In Him. Always,

Hallie.

Hello World!

Welcome to my blog!
I’ve started this to chronicle the next few months of my life as I prepare and travel to Africa to live, eat, breathe, and work in this incredible continent. I’ll be updating this frequently, so come back often!