How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
After a full week of exams and papers and then Hannah’s graduation today, we’re headed to Belize tomorrow. I feel so unprepared for this trip mentally, but so ready to spend some intentional time with Jesus and His people.
Pray this week for doors to open. For kids without parents to feel love. For police men and women to feel appreciated. For American eyes to be open. And for all of our focus to be on the only thing that matters: Jesus.
Also, I got to be a tiny part of another trip that’s going to be happening over break! Be praying for two Mississippi girls, Kristin and Leah, as they travel to Rafiki (my African home)!! They leave on the 15th (tomorrow!) and will be at the village for three weeks! Pray for safety in travel and health while they’re there. Pray that they get to love on those kiddos and the full-time staff at Rafiki well. Pray that God works in mighty ways in their hearts as He always does when we go outside of our comfort zone and into His awesome world! Pray that being away from home for Christmas will be a blessing and not a hindrance to experiencing all that God has for them.
Love first and always,
So I changed the title of the blog. For now. At least.
I say for now because I’m still hoping that Africa is in the future and maybe this blog will be used eventually to capture more of that incredible world I had my toe in for way too short of a time.
And maybe then it’ll go back.
But maybe my place is here forever. Wherever here is. But specifically here in the US.
But no matter where I am, two things won’t change.
I’ll still be drinking sweet tea, and I’ll still be telling stories.
(Well, and I’ll still be worshipping Jesus, but I couldn’t find a creative way to fit that into the title.)
So, Sweet Tea Stories, that’s the blog name.
(The URL (www.dotheyhavesweetteainafrica.wordpress.com) is staying the same.)
I was reading through posts from Uganda the other day and thinking about how much God has done. I have loved being home in many ways, but it’s also difficult sometimes because I left a nice chunk of my heart across the ocean. But God is doing big things here too. And I’m focusing on that this week, this month, and this year. A few weeks ago in a bible study I’m in, we went around talking about places we had seen God work in the past week. I sat in complete awe of the Lord as each girl shared how God had answered her prayer requests from the previous week, and most of them were answered in ways we couldn’t have expected or didn’t ask for. Truly the affectual prayers of the righteous availeth much. How good is our God.
So here’s another thankfulness post. More for me than anything. Mostly as a reminder that God is sovereign and He is here. He is alive and active. And I am His.
I’m thankful for churches that are speaking the Word, and not settling for “good enough”. I’m thankful for revival in this country and in our hearts. I’m thankful the state of the world is not what it looks like on the news, (as well as being thankful that I don’t watch the news often. it’s a scary place.) I’m thankful that we serve a God who has already got it all figured out. I’m thankful for our bible study group. A little idea I had in Uganda has turned into a weekly meeting of a group of incredible girls. It’s a fun time of fellowship where we’re able to be real and we’re learning what it means to walk with the Lord each day.
I’m thankful for a college campus where faith is integrated into life and education. I’m thankful for professors who we can ask tough questions and get wise guidance.
I’m thankful for efforts of social justice. I’m thankful that people are doing God’s work, even when it’s not in His name. I’m thankful for the things I don’t understand. The things I can’t understand. I’m thankful that even when I disagree with leaders or movements within the church or Christian organizations, we can know ultimately that God’s name is being glorified.
I’m thankful that it’s not all about me. Because pride and self confidence is a lot of weight to wear on your shoulders. I’m thankful that God is working to show me where those areas in my life are. I’m thankful to be surrounded by people who love Him. I’m thankful to have opportunities to love on people. People who know Him and people who don’t.
I’m so very thankful for an incredible support system. For my family and friends. For my dad and mom and sister and brother. For my grandparents. Uncles, aunts, and cousins. I’m so incredibly thankful and undeserving of the incredible group of people that God has given me to love and be in relationship with. I’m thankful for my friends. For the best “best friends” I could possibly ask for. For the most wonderful boyfriend. For new friendships and rebuilding and renewing of long-lasting friendships.
I’m thankful for my bible study girls. For my time each week with incredible almost-adults that love Jesus. For little opportunities. For seeing God at work outside of my own contexts. For overcoming and removing obstacles that I thought I would just have to deal with. For passion to know you and make you known.
I’m thankful for Rafiki and for email and letters. Thankful that we can still communicate even far, far away (although I’ve been a terrible communicator lately!). Thankful that God is just as big in Uganda and the far corners of the world as He is here in Clinton, Mississippi.
I’m so very thankful for answered prayers. For an understanding that God really is working for the good of those who love Him. For requests that were only voiced within my head or heart being provided for in miraculous ways. For problems I thought were impossible or unanswerable being made into beautiful stories of redemption.
But most of all, I’m thankful for the cross. For the blood that was poured out. For the nails in His hands. Thankful that He died for me. And doesn’t just leave it at that, but pursues a relationship with me each and every day. Regardless of anything I do or don’t do.
What are you thankful for this week?
Things are hitting me in different ways than I expected. I find myself sliding easily back into daily life in my actions, while my mind and thoughts race around trying to compensate for the obvious differences in life in America compared to the past couple months of Ugandan life. The past month has found me straightening my hair or putting on makeup and wondering what the point is, looking through my closet overflowing with wonderful clothes and finding nothing to wear, cooking holiday treats and shopping and enjoying time with family and friends, obsessing over silly tv shows and printing pictures of sweet children, writing names so I don’t forget. Because I don’t ever want to forget.
But in reality, I don’t think that will be the problem. Because as I find ways to fit a definitely changed but in many ways the same Hallie back into my normal life, I’m finding more and more discontentment in the way I live. There’s a closet full of clothes that I’ve collected over the years, beautiful clothes that my parents (I’d say I, but come on, that’s a lie.) have spent a lot of money on, and I want nothing more to get rid of it all. I’m stuck in a rut because I want to look cute, and I really do love and appreciate all my things. But at the end of the day, they’re just that, things. And I’ve spent the past three months living in a new different comfortable way without much, but with everything I needed. And now I have to figure out the balance between wearing only t-shirts and long skirts and having enough clothes that I could wear a different outfit everyday for at least three weeks without a repeat.
It’s a paradox that I’ll probably spend the rest of my life trying to perfect the balance of in some way, but for now, I’m working on living with less. Less stuff, but also less on my plate. Not heaping commitment on top of crazy commitment just for the sake of it, but really digging down deep, seeing where God is leading and slowly getting to a comfortable pace of busyness [busy-ness, not business] . I’m not sure what that will look like. I’m learning to say no, and starting to focus on what’s next. Seeking God’s direction, talking less, and praying and writing more.
Most of all, I miss those sweet kiddos and the wonderful ROS. I’m so thankful to serve a God who gives us not exactly what we want, but exactly what we need, and turns that into exactly what we want. A God who doesn’t always answer our prayers how we ask but changes our dreams, our soul’s deepest longings, and molds our hearts to be more like His.
In the next couple weeks, I’m going to try to write a couple of the experiences that I don’t want to forget, so check back for more. Thank you to everyone who has been reading and for all the wonderful encouragement I’ve gotten as I’ve seen people since I’ve been home. It’s crazy to me that so many people have been reading this! I’m not the best at expressing gratitude in conversation, but Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! It means so much to have so many people who care so much!
*This picture also doesn’t go with the post. (I feel like it’s becoming a trend.) However, it’s funny. And I love my sister. So it’s there. :]
No great moral is coming out of this post! I’ve been feeling out of writing since my last post, but I wanted to throw out an idea and share some pictures of last weekend adventures. I’ll write more later!
With the Thanksgiving and Christmas season coming into full swing in the US, I wanted to put an idea out there and see if anyone would be interested in it. I know so many people have done so much for me from donating for the trip to wrapping books and cars for christmas gifts for the kids and sending school supplies that are hard to get here, but God’s laid something extra for you to help with on my heart a few times. If you’re interested, I’d like to raise some money for Rafiki and the organizations that we visited this past weekend. If God doesn’t have me here next semester helping with orphans, I’d love to at least make it a little easier for the ones He has called for this time! These are all organizations that run on small budgets but do really incredible things for the people of Uganda. I can’t wait to tell you more about our weekend and Amazima and Musana later this week.
I’m not sure how this would play out. It’s definitely up for discussion. I’ll be home in about two weeks and I’d love to get something going for when I get home (nothing too involved Mom, I promise!). Maybe get kids involved in a tangible way. There’s a group that gets kids to do cupcake stands (kind of like lemonade stands) to raise money for orphans. Maybe something along those lines? Hot chocolate and cookies around Christmas time? Or something completely different. Whatever works! I haven’t even mentioned this to my parents, so if it falls flat, that’s totally fine! I just wanted to put it out there because I know this is a season of giving across the world, and I want to keep my eyes on Jesus instead of all the busyness of Christmas as I travel home in a few weeks! If you’re interested in helping or have ideas, email me at Darphin@mc.edu or comment here!
It’s been a week since our trip to Jinja and Iganga to see Musana and Amazima and the work both of these organizations are doing in this beautiful but very poor country. It was a really good and busy weekend full of experiences and conversations I won’t soon forget! I’m going to write a post on it soon (hopefully), but for now, here are some pictures! Enjoy!
And thanks for prayers. I got to meet and spend time with Katie Davis! God answers even the small desires of our hearts.
Thanks so much again for all the support, prayers, notes, facebook messages, books, school supplies, matchbox cars, packages, letters, emails, comments, and love that has been sent my way (and the kids way!) during this adventure God has had me on the past three months!
I love each and every one of you and am so thankful that you’ve followed along so far!
We’ll be getting up bright and early tomorrow morrning to travel to two towns about 3 hours from here for the weekend. The women ROS (Carolyn, Cecilia, and Patti) and I are going to see two ministries, Amazima and Musana (learn more about both in “Change the World” below the header). I talked a little about this trip on this post. Both ministries are run by girls just a few years older than me, and I’m so excited about it! Please pray for safe travels as the roads aren’t the best, and for a good time of fellowship and relaxation/learning for all of us. I can’t wait to tell you more about what God is doing in these places when we return!
(And continue to pray that Katie Davis would be at the Amazima feeding program. It’s a silly request, but I really want to meet her!)