yesterday i headed back to the original village of Bamako for my fist lesson in tie-dye. the adventure began with an almost hour taxi ride up the mountain, past the presidents' palace and down onto the rocky mud road that led right into the clay tin-roof homes of a large population of sierre leoneans.  after paying the taxi man and passing off some ant-infested cookies (bought from the local boutique) to street children, we proceeded to attempt to find where Tim lived. remember, we had only been there one other time and once you step foot off the path and into the neighborhood, everything looks the same. so there we are walking around, (and let me tell you i have an in-grown toenail, so walking up a steep rocky path, trying to dodge the sewage water running down was not the easiest) calling out Tim be min?? (Where is Tim) & all the people are thinking what the heck are these two scrawny American girls doing here?? FINALLY, we come across someone who knows exactly who we are talking about and she takes us right to his place, which was literally like 20 feet away. so we were not that far off!! 

we step into the doorway of the small area, considered a house, and there we see the dark beaming face of TIM! He was so happy to see us, as well as the train of children that were hanging around his place. let me tell you, those children are precious. i was happy that we ended up waiting a little while till we got started with tie-dye... it gave the chance to hang out with the boys. i had just so happened to have a couple of pins with me, one that said grace the other love.  so i pinned them on two of the boys. they were so proud. i told them what it said & they repeated it and then started cracking up laughing. they apparently thought the word 'love' was hilarious. i am sure they have heard it before. 

30 minutes later we headed down to where we would learn the first steps in tie-dying. the three gentlemen that are teaching us are all very nice and almost seem to play the role as an uncle. they are not christians, but i believe that they are searching. after a while of giving us an introduction to tie-dye and moving from outside to inside multiple times (trying to dodge the rain), we participate in the afternoon tradition of sipping hot tea and carry on with conversation that headed in the direction of animism & refugees. these guys have seen some stuff. to tell you the truth, we were not too prepared for this topic and were somewhat taken off guard, so we decided to simply just listen to their stories. they were not wanting to know our opinions or cause an argument, but they just wanted to talk and share who they were and what their lives had entailed. 

i know that this will not be the last time talking with these people about religion and truth. i just pray that God prepares me for the next conversation & that if they have questions i will be ready to answer & that Jesus' name will be glorified. please. please. i plead with you friends to remember these men & children in your prayers. may their itching ears and broken hearts be met with the love of our Savior. 

these are the names of those in a lostvillage. 



its been over a week since my last blog. my apologies. But, do you know why i blog? well first of all it is a great tool to keep everybody informed of what you are doing and it's, of course, neat to follow people in their journeys. however, at least for me, it serves as a great way to express any emotions or feelings or possibly an epiphany i may have had during my day, week, month.... with that being said, i am going to be very blunt and transparent with you: this last week was tough. no, i wasn't homesick or even physically sick. i didn't have a disagreement in the apartment or get my feelings hurt. i would not even consider any outer event to have caused this week to be difficult. 
no it was simply my own mind. i have been in a battle with my thoughts. 
one of my journal entries i wrote: 
"i am such a failure. i am not working hard enough to learn the language, which is inhibiting me to be able to touch people's lives. i feel as if i am doing a lot of 'spiritual growth', which is much needed, but i am not putting it to work anywhere. i do not feel like i am being used by God at all, which is making me question if there is something that is drawing a wall up between me and God, something that is causing a hindrance to him trying to use me?? i feel anxious over it. When i am just in the apartment i am running around (not literally) trying to figure something out to fill my time. because i do not feel like i am doing anything productive. i feel as if i am failing people at home when i do not feel inspired to write anything. its as if 'oh i am not doing real work here or i am being lazy'.. i don't know.. i just need to get out there and work with the people and become more motivated to learn the language...i need to do something to better myself so people won't think less of me.. i just need to be better.." 

i think you get the picture i am painting of my discouragement. absolutely horrible. however (don't worry, this blog is not going to just be a debbie downer), it was a lovely day & the Lord did a work in my heart and mind. 

today. i went to the first village of Bamako in order to meet up with these guys, who are from Sierra Leone, to learn how to do the beautiful art of tie-dying (definitely not like the states). we get there and immediately i feel comfortable in the area and with the people. they start explaining the two different kinds of dying that they do: batik & tie-dying. the batik is beautiful and is a large piece of material with a subtle design and a wax pattern done on the outside & center of the fabric. they showed us tablecloths, napkins, place settings, clothes, etc... just outstanding! the missionaries bought  a couple tablecloths and we moved to our next site to learn the trade of tie-dying. 
walking through the streets of the first village in Bamako, we are, no surprise, greeted by numerous children, who are enthralled with white people.. their precious little pre-mature voices shouting 'toubabou' (meaning white man). we enter into the small building that consists of two very small rooms that contain amazing fabrics hanging all over the walls and two sewing machines. as they are explaining the process of tie-dying i can't help but keep my ears tuned in to the laughter and chattering of the children directly behind us right outside of the room. after our first lesson, i turn to see all of these charming smiling faces. i pull my camera out & take a short video of them, attempting to grasp their genuine happiness on film. i couldn't stand to not hug them and speak as little Bambara that i knew to communicate with these treasured angels. 
& then it was. it was instant- that the Lord said to me. 'see, you are demonstrating the love of Christ. you may not be able to orally speak to them fluently, but your actions are speaking more words than you could ever say.' i was floored. my perspective immediately changed & i felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart, making me aware that this village, this community, this time of learning tie-dye was going to be something special and a work in progress orchestrated by our wonderful Savior. my lack of language skills is not a boundary when it comes to the Lord's work. 

i tell you this to encourage you. like me, you may feel frustrated or limited in your personal expression of ministry or doing anything for God at that matter. HOWEVER. God works outside of the margins. he knows your struggles, your weaknesses, your questions, your doubts. but he also knows your heart and its desire to serve him and his people. so next time you feel useless & stuck--dont. dont let your thoughts vanquish God's work. & just remember my story. 

while they teach me the artistry of batik, i may teach them their artistry in Christ.
Daniel 10."...please speak to me, 
my lord, for you have strengthened me..."


in war with our toes.

another end to a great week & tonight i find myself in the presence of 5 lovely ladies. its friday and we normally have a connect time, which gives the five SAFE girls & glen and karen some time to just simply enjoy each others company, whether we go bowling or make some sort of dessert to partner with a romantic comedy. however, tonight we cherished our time for another reason. One of our beautiful ladies, Cami, is heading back home on Monday, so in honor of her we threw together a night that simply described who she was. 
homemade tortilla's & heart-shaped peanut butter cookies, as well as pedicures and my fair lady.... yes now that is cami in a nutshell. 
now you are probably wondering why i am rambling about a girls' night that will have absolutely no impact on your life whatsoever. However, as i was soaking my feet in a plastic container (we normally use to put leftovers in), watching audrey hepburn projected on our wall, hearing a close by neighbors child crying and sweating due to a hot summer africa night, i realized the importance of the relationships that were developing right before my eyes. five young christian women all in africa seeking after the Lord's will for their life & here we are with pumice stones in our hands attempting to remove african calluses from our american feet.  
it's beautiful really. to be able to develop these kinds of relationships. relationships that matter, that will flourish & not fade away after a certain season in life. not only is it beautiful, but important. it is important to learn how to build these friendships. to discover how to work with your brother or sister; to love and support them; to be able to sort out differences when you may not see eye to eye on things. 
please i beg,
do not lead a friend to betrayal, but be committed, loyal to the friendship.
Proverbs (17.17) says, "a friend is always loyal and a brother is born to help in time of need." 
create dependable and lasting friendships with those around you. love your brother or sister with the same love that Christ loves you. make your relationships intentional. 
for God's word says, "Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future." (Ephesians 4.2-4)
God desires for his people to be in unity, working together, staying loyal to one another. i desire with everything in me to be a dependable, loving, gracious, patient, understanding and true friend to those around me.i have committed myself to these girls here, as well as friends and family back home. in whatever environment i may be in, i will be what they need me to be.

as for now, in unity, 
with pumice stones in hand, we are in war with our toes.


craving of mankind.

[my child]
 i know when you sit down and when you rise up.  you may not know me, but i know you, everything about you. i am familiar with all your ways. Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. For you were made in my image. in me you live and move and have your being. for you are my offspring. i knew you even before you were conceived. i chose you when i planned creation. you were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. i determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. you are fearfully and wonderfully made. i knit you together in your mother's womb and brought you forth on the day you were born. 
i have been misrepresented by those who dont know me. i am not distant and angry, but am 
the complete expression of love. and it is my desire to lavish my love on you
simply because you are my child and i am your father. i offer you more than your earthly father ever could.  for i am the perfect father. every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. for i am your provider and i meet all your needs. my plan for your future has always been filled with hope. 
because i love you with an everlasting love. my thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. i will never stop doing good to you. for you are my treasured possession. i desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. and i want to show you great and marvelous things. if you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. 
Delight in me and i will give you the desires of your heart. for it is I who gave you those desires. i am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. for i am the greatest encourager. i am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. when you are brokenhearted, i am close to you. as a shepherd carries a lamb, i have carried you close to my heart. one day i will wipe away every tear from your eyes. and ill take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. i am your father, and i love you even as i love my son, Jesus. he is the exact representation of my being. he came to demonstrate that i am for you, not against you. Jesus died so that you and i could be reconciled. his death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. i gave up everything i loved that i might gain your love. if you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. and nothing will ever separate you from my love again.
i have always been your father, and will always be father. will you be my child? i am waiting for you.

rather than me personally writing. i leave you with a beautiful collage of words that describe the magnificent love that God has for you. every word is pure and true and given from the Lord himself. 
if you and i crave this love and we know God -
imagine the craving of those who do not know him. 
accept this love. 
know that his love reaches beyond boundaries. 
& go share this love with anyone and everyone.