Thursday, January 1, 2015

He Counts The Stars

      While in Togo this past summer we spent a few days in a town called Atakpame’. This is the town where God gave me the vision of Holy Ghost fire raining from the clouds and revival spread through the town. (I wrote about it one of my blogs. Here’s the link:   Our hotel was on a mountain and overlooked the town below. I described the night scene as a sea of stars. The town below was lite by small lights through out the village that reminded me of such. While praying over the city below those "stars" began to represent lost souls in the city, and it was more than I could count. This night turned out to be the most treasured and important night of my time in Togo. I will never forget the vision God gave me or that sea of stars. 
     A few weeks ago we had a guest preacher and He quoted a verse that sent chills down my spine. I guess you could call it an “epiphany” or an  “AH HA” moment. Either one, it was a moment I’ll never forget. A moment God put together months in advance after praying and travailing for the city on the balcony of the Roc Hotel in Atakpame'. I’ve said often that I never prayed for somewhere as hard as I prayed for Atakpame’ that night. I don’t know what it was about that city that captivated me, but what an amazing time with God I had there. The verse that preacher read was Psalms 147:4 “He counts the number of the stars and knows them by name.” and BOOM. I was immeditaly taken back to the balcony of that hotel overlooking the “sea of stars below". God amazes me how He works. That verse tells me that God knows exactly where each and every one of those "stars", or souls, are. He created them! He knows them by name! God hasn't forgotten about them. They will be taken care of. The souls in that river of stars in Atakpame' are in God's hands. 
     I'm still amazed by this verse and how perfectly it fits for my experience in Atakpame'. God will do amazing things in Atakpame' and through out Africa. Revival is coming. In Jesus name! Ready to get back and be apart of it all!

Happy New Years everyone! Thank you for following my missions journey. Praying 2015 will find me back in Africa or heading back soon. Love you all! 

Until next time, 

Brandi Young

Remember, God created you. Yes, YOU. He formed you with His very hands. He knows your name, and knows exactly where you are right now. He's got everything under control. :) 

Atakpame' at night. "A Sea of Stars" 

Atakpame' in early morning.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"The Waiting Place"

      Dare I argue one of Dr. Seuss’s greatest (and my favorite) works? Well, I will for just for a moment. Though everything in this book is spot on, “Oh! The Places You’ll Go” talks about getting stuck in “the waiting place”.

“Oh! The places You’ll Go” excerpt:

“You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.”

       While yes, I agree that at some point in your life you will come to “the waiting place”, I beg to differ with good ole’ Dr. Seuss. I don’t think “the waiting place” is a useless space at all. After spending some time now in “the waiting place” I’ve come to find that in this place, I’ve learned more about myself and God than I have in years. It has been in this waiting place that I have found myself closer to God. Though I may have more questions now than when I entered and though I’m as far from perfect as perfect can be, I have found God here. I believe God brings us to “the waiting place”. Maybe you are waiting for where to go on your next mission’s trip, or what next step to take in your ministry. Maybe you’re waiting on direction from God or for something, somewhere to change. I don’t know?

 I guess you could say I entered “the waiting place” the moment my last plane touched down in Little Rock after returning from a life changing summer in Africa. During my first few weeks in Africa I was so focused on what God wanted me to do next, that I wasn’t focused on the present at all. I wanted to know right then where God wanted me next. Like, I needed an answer right then! I didn’t want to wait.  After weeks of praying and speaking with amazing missionaries, I had to put myself in check. It was as if I was challenging God for an answer. So, I checked myself and  I finally  stopped worrying and stressing about my future during the rest of my time Togo so I could put my all toward that place and those people. What an amazing summer it turned out to be! But, I guess in my head I just assumed that the second I got home I would have my answer. As if I would know where to start AIMing the second my plane landed. Well folks, I hate to say it, but that is not what happened. That didn’t happen at all. My fly hasn’t landed, the skies have not opened up and I haven’t heard God in an audible voice tell me where to go. Since August I have been in the dreaded “waiting place”. I’ve begged God for answers. I’ve been angry when I didn’t get them. I have been through a whirlwind of emotions here. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, and I’ve been angry and happy all at the same time! (I sound like a total girl right?!) But seriously! It has been extremely frustrating! I have felt stuck and like I wasn’t ever getting out! It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I came to a sudden realization. This time period, or this “place” of waiting wasn’t meant to be wasted in a crazy range of emotions and temper tantrums because I’m not getting my way, no! God brought me here to learn. To teach me patience, to allow me to grow spiritually, to learn to trust in Him alone. I was brought to “the waiting place” for a purpose. As has everyone else who has ever journeyed through “the waiting place”.

I can’t promise you’ll never find yourself here. I can’t promise you won’t get angry and I have no place to tell you not to. I can relate though. I can relate to the frustrations of the unknown. To can relate to begging God for answers. I can relate to being mad when not getting them. I can relate to feeling stuck! But, the most important thing I have learned in this place of waiting is that God would never purposely upset you nor would He ever hide His will from you.  God doesn’t want you to get angry every time a prayer isn’t answered or every time you don’t get your way. Remember that He has a beautiful and PERFECT will for your life. As my dear friend told me, “He would never give you a desire He doesn’t intend to fulfill.” But it will be on His time, in His way. Sure, you can go ahead and try to rush the process. You can give yourself an answer when God hasn’t. I won’t say that He won’t bless it, but just wait. Wait on HIS PERFECT WILL. Don’t be in such a hurry with life that you rush His plan. I promise you it is a divine process. Something plotted out so perfectly and beautifully in the Heavens that every second of waiting and every frustration will totally be worth it. Learn from my mistakes, take my advice, and don’t spend your time in “the waiting place” bitterly. Don’t be angry that God has brought you here. Accept it, learn and listen to what God wants to show you there. Yes, it will seem boring and like wasted time, but you’ll soon find that this place can turn out to be the best place. A place for growth. A place for change. A place to learn. A place to draw closer to Him. We find God in the waiting place. Better yet, He finds you there. After all the hustle and bustle is over and when the loudness turns to silence, that’s where God speaks. It was in these moments I’ve come to the realization that “the waiting place” is nothing to fear at all. The Waiting Place can be beautiful if you allow it to be. So when you find yourself here, because you will, Thank God for it. Thank Him for what He wants you to learn and remember “the waiting place” won’t last forever.

Until next time friends,
-Brandi Young

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Shame On Me

      I've thought a while now on what I was going to say on this first blog since being home. Not a day has gone by that I haven't thought about Togo or Africa. I often find myself daydreaming back to me sitting on the balcony at SIL, overlooking the busy street below. Soaking in all the sounds and smells. Studying the people and the new culture around me. I miss my little spot on that balcony. I miss the kids waving at me from below. The miss the sounds of motos zipping by and of kids laughing as they chased each other down the road. I miss the simplicity of it all. Life here is, complicated. Distracted. Fast paced. 
I was sitting in church this morning and they were singing, "I Can't Go Back". I stood there and stared at the words and was suddenly brought to tears. "Never going back. Never going back. I won't go back. I can't go back, to the way things used to be. Before Your presence came and changed me…I found joy, peace, grace and favor. I've been changed, healed, freed, delivered… All my chains, guilt, sins, forgiven. No more chains, no more guilt, my past is over…" I wonder how many people have gone on life changing missions trips, came home, lived in the hype for a week or so, then went right back to the way things "used to be". I would be lying if I said I wasn't one of those people. Unfortunately, it's easy to do so. You come home on this kind of "high". Your ready to take on your youth, your church, the world. You feed off that for a few weeks, then you drain it. That "high" is now buried under the stresses of everyday things like, work, home life, social events and the simple fact of getting back to "the norm". Of course, it's still in your heart. You are constantly working on new and exciting ways to fundraise and save money to get back, but you loose that… zeal? I am not shaming church here in any way what so ever. If anyone it's my fault.  I lost my "zeal". I am constantly thinking about Africa and global missions, but I'm off that "fresh missions trip high" and I allowed myself to be distracted by life. Shame on me. In a world where we expect people to come to church. I should be the one bringing the church to the world. Instead, I sit comfortably in my pew. I listen to catchy music and an amazing message from my pastor in my beautiful stained glass church. Then, I go home. I go to work. I go to town. And not once, do I bring the church to the world around me. I contain it, I hold it in. I don't share it. Sure, I'm a nice person, I'll talk to anyone whose willing to listen. But, I am I doing here, what I do in Africa? The honest and hurtful answer is no. I don't. I caught myself thinking, "it's a free nation, if they truly wanted it, they could come find it." SHAME ON ME. Shame on me to think my only mission is to serve Africa. My first mission begins here on the home front. It is here my "skills" and "faith" and love for others is tested before I go back to the missions field. 
It's time I start treating home as my mission field. I don't want to go back to the same old "patty cake christian" I was pre Africa. I HAVE to share that love and that joy with people here. God said take His gospel to the WORLD. It's time I realize that includes home too. So, here I am. Making a vow that yes, though I am called to Africa and I'm doing everything in my power to get back there, while I am "home" I will share Gods love with the same boldness I had in Africa. I don't want to be an only in Africa missionary. I want Gods love and His gospel to shine through me so that I can be a witness to those around me here. In the words of Sister Sully, "God has moved you forward. Don't go back to where you were when you were at home. You're on a new level now. You may not realize it, but God has pole vaulted you forward in His plan. You will help a lot of people because God will work through you. He will give you the words to say to people. Don't drop down to your old level, bring people to your new one."  From now on I share my love for the people of Africa with the people here at home. 
          I am still praying about my next step in my missions journey. I know I will be going for a year though. Considering that is a long time and a lot of money to be invested I want to make double sure I am in Gods perfect will. And of course, you all will be the first to know. :) 
     I don't have all the churches I'm speaking at lined up just yet but there will be at least 5. I speak at Apostolic in North Little Rock on Sunday October 5th in the a.m. service. I'll let you know the rest soon.

I love you all.
Until next time, 
Brandi Young

This was my view from my spot on the balcony at SIL. :) 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Where is their Shepherd?

      Thursday morning we loaded up the van and the missionaries vehicles and headed out on our long journey north. With roads in Africa a 2 hour trip can easily turn into a 4 hour trip. We stopped about half way in the beautiful town of Kpalimé. It was our plan here to see a waterfall that came off the mountain. When we got their, much to our surprise it was completely dry. Some locals let us know all we had to do was rive up the mountain and there was one on top. Why not right? So with our van and 2 SUVs up we went with our guide riding on top of the van! Here we are about 1,200 meters (or something like that) up on this mountain. Rock on one side and a drop off on the other on a one lane road, not knowing if a car would come flying down the mountain at any second. It was terrifying to say the least. ;) But the view at the top was worth it all! Africa has some of the most beautiful landscapes. So here we are at the top and no waterfall. Our guide told us it was just a short hike into the rain forrest. We are already here right? So off we go, hiking through gorgeous African rain forrest in the mountains. We hiked, and we hiked and we hiked. 3 miles! Africans have no sense of time or distance! We were hiking and nearly to the point of turning around until we turned a corner and there it was! The most gorgeous waterfall I've ever seen! It was so worth the hike! The rain forrest and random villages were a very cool experience as well! ;) 

      When we finally arrived at our hotel in beautiful Atakpamé (about 4 hours later) we were exhausted. African roads can wear you out. Our hotel sat on top of a mountain over looking the city. The scenes were breath taking. I think we were most excited about HOT WATER and AIR CONDITIONER! I didn't realize how much I missed it. Once in my hotel room I took advantage of everything! A HOT shower was first on my list! Then, I turned the air down as cold as it would go! 
I spent the evening on the balcony overlooking beautiful Atakpamé below. The lights of the town looked like a river of stars. Friday morning we made the 2 hour journey to the village the youth camps were being held at. Once again, African roads will wear you out. I've spend a lot of my time here in the back of Sheaves for Christ vehicles. I now have a bigger understanding of the everyday life of a missionary. I think the biggest misconception about Sheaves for Christ is people think all they are doing is helping missionaries get vehicles. Yes, that's what it's for. But there is so much more to it than that. Sheaves for Christ helps missionaries reach a people who, without missionaries SFC vehicles, would never even have a chance of being reached. It can take them to secluded villages hundreds of miles out of reach from the rest of the world. It can take them through valleys and up mountains. Through big cities and African villages. It can carry a people to church who would never be able to make it other wise. They can go through mud and gravel, trenches and on broken pavements. They can drive through trash filled streets or clean city roads. Supporting Sheaves for Christ can help you, help missionaries reach "the utter most parts of the world". Support Sheaves for Christ, and help reach the world. 

       The youth camps were held 2 hours away in a town called Elavagnon. We arrived at a small church in a secluded village. It had a tin roof with bamboo sides. About 20 benches lined the floor on the inside with just enough room for drums, a piano and a small stage. Man did God meet us here. 15 people received the Holy Ghost during this youth camp! It was a mighty move. During altar call it got a little cramped. I stepped outside and saw a girl leaned over and praying on a motorcycle. It was extremely crowded so I assumed she just couldn't make it in and decided to pray where she could. I walked over and began praying with her. She received the Holy Ghost right there, bent over praying on the seat of a motorcycle. Isn't God good?!

      Friday night was our last night at the hotel. We had our weekly "friday night devotion" on the balcony overlooking Atakpamé. It was dark outside and city light up like stars. Gorgeous. Brother Adams started the night off with a small devotion about finding God's will. After we went around and all spoke a bit about how much we have been changed since being in Africa and how much we were going to miss it. Of course I cried the entire time. Brother Adams and Brother Sully then began telling us about Atakpamé. The town is about the size of Little Rock and North Little Rock combined. It sits in a valley between a beautiful mountain scape. The UPC of Togo has land purchased here but no pastor or funds to build a church. As I scanned the city I counted out  Muslim mosques. Many more were hidden around corners and over hills I couldn't see. In a city this big there isn't one Apostolic church. Not one place that preaches the truth. The nearest ones are 2 and 3 hours away. Where is their Shepherd? We began to pray over the city below. What a powerful prayer it was. I stood there overlooking the city as everyone finished praying and moved back up to their rooms. God began a work in me in the corner of that balcony. I began praying and travailing over that place. I felt like I couldn't pray hard or long enough for this place. I looked down at the sea of stars and heard Muslims calling for prayer all over the city and I began to weep. God, where is their Shepherd? The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few. Every light in the city became a lost soul. I then closed my eyes and God showed me something through my tears. I saw God riding over the mountains on a cloud. As He stood above the city He was so bright we had to shield our eyes. As I watched this scene unfold fire began to fall from the sky all over every ounce of Atakpamé. It wasn't a fire of destruction. It was Holy Ghost fire and all of those muslims prayers turned into people speakings in tongues and crying out to God. Each persons prayers echoing through the mountains. God then took me all the way to Little Rock and I watched as the same scene played out over my home town. God, where is their Shepherd? What we are doing isn't enough! God here are my hands and feet, use me! Lord lead me. Be a light unto my feet and a lamp unto my path! Lord let a boldness rise up in someone. Give them a revelation of the truth! Help someone to answer the call, send someone to Atakpamé. I then fell silent and He answered. He said, "I sent you.." (First off, WHOA. and secondly, ME?!) I believe God sent me there to see the need. I was there at that exact moment for a reason. I will continue to pray over this place until they get an Apostolic preacher. God can and will send one! After this experience I began to look up at the stars. There's nothing more beautiful than an African night sky. As I stood there looking up, each star began to represent a lost soul ready to be reached, and it was more than I could count. God, where is their Shepherd? This night found me on my knees in prayer. 

     Saturday we made the long journey back to Lomé and we rested. 

     Sunday morning we got to go to church. It was unexpected because we thought we would be traveling our last 2 sundays. We attended Pastor Severigns church. This happened to be the last service for the Sully's as well. They are headed back to the states with us to start deputation for Senegal. They pastored this church for a while because Pastor Severign was very sick. They threw them a going away service and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. During service the pastor spoke a word to us Next Steppers and it was something I will never forget. He said, "It is my prayer that you are satisfied with Jesus everyday and something good will happen on your way to the promise land. Your promise land is your mission field. It can be Benin, it can be Togo, somewhere in Africa or anywhere in the world. That is your promise land, that you be satisfied with Jesus everyday and something will be good for you. That is my prayer and that is what I can see far away. God will do it." What an awesome man of God and what an awesome service! We had church! Like I said before, there's no church like African church! 

      After service sunday we came home and caught up on lost sleep. Since we did that we were all wide awake at midnight! I went outside to see what my favorite guard Lucas was up to. I found him cleaning this huge tarp like thing. I offered to help considering I was so bored. Then I had the most brilliant idea! I had Lucas help me and then I called out all the girls. We made a SLIP N' SLIDE. YES! A slip n' slide, african style and it was a blast! We soaked it with soap and water as Lucas held the water hose. We slid and played and raced. We placed it between the swing set and clothes line poles. Rasché, Bekah and me decided we wanted to go together. So, we did and I slammed into the clothes line pole! I promise I blacked out a few seconds! It was hilarious! Once everyone knew I was OK I was the joke for the evening. ;) Lucas was worried but when I assured him I was ok he was all laughs and smiles! It was a blast of a night! African Slip n' slide= great success and great memories! (videos to come) 

         It's hard to believe a week from today I will be home. Though I am more than ready to see family and friends I am heart broken to be leaving Africa again. I think the scariest part is that I don't have a plan. When I returned from Tanzania I already knew I was either doing AYC or Next Steps. I have been praying and seeking God's will and I see Him opening doors. He has brought me this far and I know He will continue the work He started in me in Tanzania 2 years ago. All I have to do is trust Him. Trust. Sometimes thats hard to do, especially with your life. But I know He has a plan and what I've come to realize is that Gods plans for me are far better than anything I could possibly plan for myself. Tomorrow we take our last trip to the orphanage. It will be filled with many laughs and hugs and tears. Pieces of my heart will be left in that orphanage and with those amazing kids. Wednesday, thursday and friday will we be apart of more youth camps at the bible college. We will be teaming up with local youth and passing out tracts. Friday night we will have our last "friday night devotion" with the Adam's and Sully's. Which will also be filled with many tears. Saturday will have us resting and packing. Then, sunday will come before we know it. We will board planes and bid farewell to our friends we have made to last a life time and to the Adam's. Which will be impossibly hard. I will once again say goodbye to the land that has totally and completely stolen my heart. Goodbyes never get easier, I think this time I will say, "A' bientôt" ("see you soon" in french)  Africa and its people have left huge footprints on my heart. Like Sister Richardson said, "My heart will always be in the shape of Africa." 

Until next time,
-Brandi <3

The beautiful waterfall! :) 

 View from my balcony at the hotel.

  Atakpamé looking like a river of stars. :) 

Monday, July 14, 2014

"Do it for the Kingdom"

       The past few days have been absolutely amazing! Saturday we had our last kids crusade. It was a bittersweet day as well. But what an AMAZING service we had! We were able to get the orphanage kids we have been working with to come to the crusade! 3 of them received the Holy Ghost! Isn't that awesome?! We had nearly 200 kids there! We counted about 180 and got tired of counting! ;) 14 kids received the Holy Ghost for the first time and several had a refilling! God came and showed out! Altar call was just one of the most amazing I've been involved in since being here. After praying for the orphanage kids and some others I stood to the side and just watched. I watched as kids poured their heart out on the altar. I watched the stammering lips and loose tongues. I watched as tears flowed and praises went up to the father. I stared in amazement. If you didn't already know… God is amazing! ;) He is the same here, He is the same in Arkansas, He is the same in China and in the Pacific Islands! He is never changing! What a joy to know I can feel God here in the jungles of Africa just as I can in my prayer closet at home. What a comforting feeling. I have watched many muslims "perform" during their hours of prayer and nearly wept for them. Though as many times a day they pray can put us to shame, thank you God all I have to do is call on your name and your there in a second! All we have to do is cry out to God and He is there! No "rituals", no certain prayers or words need to be said, "Just call upon the name of the Lord" How awesome is that?!

     We were able to go back to the orphanage last week. What an amazing place that is. The kids are some of the happiest I have ever met. When you walk through the gates you honestly think, just by the looks of it, that you are walking into a sad desperate place. Then a few kids come running from all corners of the compound, some pour out of dorms, some from the soccer fields. You are greeted with hugs and well wishes and high fives! I just love them! We have befriended a few of the older girls. One of their names is "Happy" and Oh is it so fitting! She is a ball of sunshine! She is probably about 16 or 17. What was the most amazing part is 3 of those girls got the Holy Ghost. I'm just speechless by all God has done. 

      We got to meet with Terick again tonight. This makes the third time. I was very excited he stopped by because he was suppose to saturday but forgot he had an exam and apologized for his absence. Once he got here he asked how everyone was feeling and making sure the girls with malaria were better. He said, "here in Africa malaria is our friend because we have it o often. But when white people come and get it we take it more seriously because they don't get it and it can be much worse. So I am glad your friends are ok." After catching up he wanted to get right into practicing the songs he learned last time. He is doing a great job! He is even singing all the words with it now! Tonight Brier taught him, "Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus". He thought this one was more difficult than the last but was thankful she taught it because it helps him learn more. By the end of the night he was singing and playing perfectly! I will try and post more videos of him singing when I get to some better wifi! :) We then talked about our favorite sports. Considering the World Cup just ending he was curious. He was rooting for Germany and France so he was very pleased Germany won! :) What made me so happy tonight was when he started playing he pulled out the tract we wrote the lyrics on! It had looked worn as if he had been reading it. God is working here y'all! We can all feel it! You can just feel it in his voice as he sings and when he asks us about church. Please be in prayer with us that he will get a revelation of the truth! God is moving on his heart, you can just feel it! It is so amazing to watch! A muslim, singing about how sweet it is to trust in Jesus and about the blood of Jesus. It's amazing! I absolutely hate we are leaving in 2 weeks! Please pray also that we can get him in touch with a local pastor so he has connections when we leave. I don't know why, but I have a great peace about him. God is working in him greatly. I just know it! 

     This thursday we leave for 4 days and travel up north to be apart of the youth camps there. We are all very excited! Pics and stories to come! Please pray for safe travels and for a mighty move in the youth camps! :)

     Friday night we had our weekly devotion at the Sully's house. Brother Sully talked about how no matter what we do in life, no matter where we go, do everything for the Kingdom. "Whatever you do in life, do it for the harvest. Whether on the receiving end or the giving end, do it for the harvest." His words truly moved me. Though sometimes we do things we don't want to do, we must always do it with a thankful heart. Most of all, we must do it for the kingdom! After that we had prayer, and what an amazing prayer meeting we had! We kept praying and kept seeking and God showed up! We had tongues interruption and everything! God said, "Encourage yourselves in me tonight. And know that I have surely been here." How amazing! It's so hard to put experiences like that into words. It's moments like those I wish I could record to rewatch forever. Those spontaneous prayer meetings with this group and missionaries will greatly be missed. I was talking with a friend on the Sully's roof watching the sun go down, and we began talking about our futures and how being here as affected it. I began pouring my heart out about my experiences this summer and with AYC. Though I am extremely thankful for everything that has taken place this summer and for everything I have learned through the Next Steps program, I now know for sure that I am not called to West Africa. It's not a bad thing, not everyone is called here. It's a wonderful, wonderful place! Full of happy people and amazing churches! It's been a life changing summer! I have enjoyed every second of it, and learned more in 2 months than I have most of my life. But during my time here God has been pulling my heart back to East Africa. I have not been able to get it out of my head. It has been my prayer since being here that God reveal my "next step" to me so I can try and have a plan. I believe that God confirms his will with peace and when I think of going back to AIM in East Africa I have a great peace in my heart. The door has been opened, now I all have to do is walk through it with great faith right? It's exciting to think about! But anyways! I said all that to say this, sometimes we feel like we don't belong where we are or we are in the wrong place. Maybe like you don't belong or that you took a wrong turn somewhere.  But the thing is, you're still moving, you're still growing, still learning, and still going places. You're not stuck! God isn't finished with you yet. You're not done till you die! ;) So when you find yourself in those places, continue living every moment to the fullest. Soak in every lesson and every word. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. "Chase lions!" and remember, "It may not be your final destination, but it's apart of your journey." Everything you go through in life prepares you for what God has waiting for you. So keep going. :)

I'm pretty much an open book on my blog so you all will know about East Africa in due time. (God's time) Please in your time of prayer say a prayer for me. Pray that I can continue to walk through every door God opens for me with great faith. Love you all! See ya soon.

Until next time,
-Brandi :) 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Don't See Me As A Ghost"

    So much has happened since my birthday! My time here has brought so much. Valuable lessons, life-long friends, its brought me closer to God. I wouldn't trade this summer for anything in the world. It has been life changing. I'm sitting here trying to think of things to write for this blog and my brain is so overwhelmed! There are so many amazing things God has done! This post may be a little long but just go with it :) 
We started last week working in the bible college. We totally gutted and cleaned 2 class rooms. We painted, dusted, cleaned black boards, swept, mopped and stained church pews. Killed about a million spiders and found about 100 geckos. :) It was an extremely busy and tiring 3 days but totally worth it. The class rooms look amazing! We spent our 4th of July at the Adam's house. They made a delicious meal of BBQ chicken, baked beans, potato salad, grilled pineapples and a salad. To top it all off they had watermelon! Our fourth was a blast and it felt as if we were at home. So thankful for them. THey have truly changed and inspired my life for the better along with the Sully's. They are great missionary couples who will be in my heart forever. The next day us girls ventured back down town to tackle "Grand Marche" again. We were hoping it wouldn't be as crazy but, there were about 3 big groups of "Yovos", "white people", there so they jacked up the prices on everything. You can bargain, but they still gave us yovo prices. I probably spent too much BUT, I was able to get all of my souviner shopping out of the way. We ran into a group of American Soldiers. They had been in Togo for 2 weeks helping up north. It was nice to visit with some americans for a change and soldiers none the less. ;)  It truly is a small world. 
Sunday we traveled about 2 hours north through the jungles of Togo to a village church. It was the experience of a life time. The church was amazing! A small concrete beautiful with a tin roof and half built walls. It wasn't large in numbers but it was large in faith and boy did they have church! It was an awesome service. We had one receive the holy ghost! I was truly touched there. There was a man there I will never forget. He sat in the back of the church on the floor. He was extremely kind and timid. This man has polio. He is crippled from the waist down. His legs were bone thin and turned under to the sides of his body. I could fit my whole hand around his thighs. But he still came. He wheels to church every sunday. Weak and rail thin, but he comes. He touched my heart in so many ways. As I watched him sitting in the floor in the back worshipping as best he could my heart sank. He was walked over, not paid any attention to. As we were leaving there he still sat. At alter call I didn't go pray for him. I did pray afar. You never know here if it is ok for women to pray for men so I didn't want to cross any lines. I felt a sudden conviction. Who cares about crossed lines at this point right? This man needed a miracle. Mensa our driver picked him up and was helping him back into his chair. As Mensa sat him in his chair the man held on to his arm, closed his eyes and I watched as tears flowed down his face. He had pee all over himself, and he was dirty. But that didn't matter to Mensa. To see what just a little friendly human contact did for him broke my heart in 2. How dare I not have a enough faith to pray over him and believe God would heal him. How dare I not speak healing to his life in the name of Jesus. I was ashamed of myself. I can be honest with you all. As conviction flooded my heart I thought "Who am I to have a perfectly healthy body? Who am I that I can walk into church without a care in the world? I don't deserve any of this. I myself should be in that wheelchair." It made me weep. I know God can heal him, but I didn't step out in faith. I promised God that I would not let another person in need pass me by without doing something to affect their life for the better. This man with polio has changed my heart forever. I know God will heal this man. He has done it before. Please keep this man in your prayers. I don't know his name but I do know that He is important and has a purpose. 
After service we walked the village the church was in. Kids ran in and out of homes pointing and smiling at us. People poured out of grass huts to see the "yovos" walking through. We stopped by this woman pumping water and decided to give it a try for ourselves. It was hilarious and fun! ;) After we got back into town myself and 3 other girls walked up the road to the grocery store. On our way back we passed a young man playing his guitar. We try and speak to most everyone we pass so I stopped and asked him to play something. He laughed and said he was still learning and was embarrassed. ;) Brier grabbed the guitar from him and began to play and sing for him. Right there on the street she sang and played "What can wash away my sins" and "What a friend we have in Jesus" She has a beautiful God given talent! (I posted the video on Facebook so go check it out!) After she played he grabbed the guitar and played the exact thing she just played and she sang along as he played. It was awesome! We began to strike up a conversation with him. He said Briers song moved him and touched his heart and he would love to learn the words. He spoke OK english so it wasn't to hard to continue the conversation. His name is "Terick" and he is 23 years old. He has been studying medicine for 3 years. I tried to remember most of the conversation so this is bits and pieces of it. The more we spoke with him the more he opened up to us. It was an awesome experience "I know I am muslim but please don't see me as a ghost. Most people think we are all terrorist, but we are not. I am not. I have been studying medicine for 3 years now. I am also a soldier in the Togolese army. Most people here are scared of soldiers so first I tell them I study medicine until I get to know them. I was born in Togo. This is my home. I love these people. I would never want to hurt them. That's why I am studying medicine, to help them. This place is in my heart. Just as America is in your heart. I would be so privileged to go to America. All we see on TV is good. It is a mighty nation, full of opportunity. You are lucky to be there. But I love Togo. I hear people say, "I don't love Africa."  but that's why it's my choice to stay here after my studies. I want to something good for Togo. What if all young men my age worked on their studies to do good. Imagine who Africa would be in 50 years."  Terick has changed my heart as well. I see God has opened a door here for us to minister to a muslim. Please God we say the right things to minister and that God will continue to open doors for us with Terick. I think what got me most was when he said, "I know I am a muslim but please don't see me as a ghost." Wow. That spoke to me for some reason. What an amazing person, full of potential. God help us to share your truth with him! 
Today we ventured out to the orphanage again. It is such an awesome place. The kids are some of the happiest I've ever seen. I looked all over for Beauty and did not find her though. Not sure where she is but a piece of my heart will always be with her. I pray God keeps her in all her ways. Tomorrow we go to the beach again. Ready for a fun day to soak up the sun! :) I don't even want to think about leaving this place in 19 days. It literally makes me want to cry. Next weekend we head north for 3 days for youth camps. Please be in prayer for us for safe travels and that God will do a mighty work at the youth camps. Thank you!

Until next time,

Thursday, July 3, 2014

23 Years of Grace

    Sitting on the balcony, with a heavenly tropical breeze blowing, thinking back on my last 23 years and wondering, "How in the world did I get here?" Not in Africa in general. Just, to 23 years?! Looking back on all the stupid mistakes I've made in my life theres no reason I should be here today. One thing I've learned…God's grace is sufficent. God is enough for me. If I don't get one more thing out of this journey called "life" I want to know that God is, and always will be enough. Thank you God for Your grace! I seriously don't know where I would be with out it! I wouldn't be here, thats for sure. :) 
    This summer has been the most amazing one of my life. I have learned so much. I have experienced so much. I'm literally having the time of my life. But most of all, I have felt God. As the song goes, "I found love in a hopeless place." I found where I belong. Africa is quickly beginning to feel like home. I don't know if I am specifically called to West Africa? God hasn't revealed that yet. What I do know, is that without a shadow of a doubt, I belong in Africa. I don't know how long it will be till I get back. Not sure what God has planned. I do see Him opening doors before me, thats for sure. But He hasn't revealed everything yet. I'm ok with that though. I have learned to trust that God knows exactly what He is doing. He will reveal His plan in His perfect timing. :) I do know that when I leave here in about 25 days that I will again be leaving a huge piece of my heart here. I will again be leaving a place I know I will one day call "home". I will again be boarding a plane, not fully understanding my next move, but trusting God to see it through. I will return to Arkansas. Get "in the swing of things" again all too quickly. I'll go back to work, back to church. I'll hug my families necks. I'll bear hug my friends. But what hurts the most is knowing I'll be leaving behind a land I feel such a huge burden for. The place I will again leave my heart. The place I don't know when I will see again. Yah, I hate not having a plan. But I know God has a plan. I trust Him in that. The rest of my time in Togo will be spent in prayer that God will open the door to where He wants me to go. :) In Jesus name! 
     My birthday has been great though! We have been working in the bible college the past 3 days. We worked in 2 class rooms and in the sanctuary. We dusted, painted, scraped paint, mopped, stained and all of the above! They look great though! So we finished up today by sanding and painting 19 pews. Came home to find our house decorated with birthday stuff and balloons and streamers! I love my Next Steps family! They are awesome! Thank you for making my 23rd birthday in Africa amazing! :) We then braved taxis again and went to "Festival De Glaces" for plantains and ice cream! Then, I finally got to ride a moto! I've been wanting to ride one since we got here! ;) They are known as "jimijohns" here. It was a little sketchy at first, like wobbly, but then we got going and I just threw my hands up and enjoyed the breeze! It was a blast! I made Amber go with me too. ;) The Adams got me a beautiful painting! I love it so much! And a hilarious card from my Next Steps girls. What a GREAT 23rd birthday! :) 
   Tomorrow (today) we celebrate the of July at the Adams! Turns out the US Embassy isn't doing anything. So we shall party on our own! Minus the fireworks because they are outlawed here. ;) I got to talk to al my friends and family tonight so now my birthday feels complete! :) 
     So our team needs your prayers! We have 2 girls down with malaria and several with other issues. They are dropping like flies! We need prayers of healing sent this way! It gives me the feeling something amazing is about to happen in church! So I rebuke these sicknesses in the name of Jesus! So in your prayers tonight, send some this way! Love you all! 
    Until next time,
         Brandi :)