I finally have some time to tell you about some incredible events in my life — and they both happened within the first two weekends of October. It was a busy time. And exciting. And stressful. And ridiculously rewarding!
The first weekend of the month was spent in New York. Mama and I arrived in Houghton on Thursday night. The Hess’s (OMS missionaries in residence at Houghton & mentors to many a Houghton student) let us stay in their spare room through Saturday. Mama had plenty of time to herself, and I had every moment filled with friends I miss very much! I was able to attend Chapel, a lecture on human trafficking (part of the faith & justice symposium being held that weekend), and have countless dinner/breakfast/coffee dates.
I can’t truly say how much I needed that time of rejuvenation — or how wonderful it was to see, talk with, and hug so many friends. God provided so much encouragement and reassurance and joy in a mere 1.5 days; right up until the last moments before I left, when I finished formatting & printing for my display board as Meg sat nearby : ) One of the last friends I talked to on Saturday was Jaime; rather appropriate, since I would sleep in her room that night.
Sounds a little weird? I’ve got a good explanation. This past May, directly following my acceptance to OMS, Jaime suggested I contact her church to see if they’d have me come speak. In fact, their pastor invited me to spend a Sunday as a part of their October Missions Month — and Jaime’s family offered to take Mama and I in for a night & 2 days.
Baptist Church of Northville, you were the best possible congregation for my first official speaking engagement. The people of this homey church, set against the beauty of the Adirondacks, are beyond hospitable. Mama and I attended the morning service and stayed for Sunday School, where we met a (some might say rowdy) friendly and extroverted group. They seemed like a family — and they were happy to have us be a part. My nerves were pretty tense, but laughing with the Sunday School group and meeting many smiling faces did wonders for helping me to breathe! So did many frenzied prayers, shot up to Heaven the day before & day of my talk.
“Dear God, be with me. And please remind me to look at my outline.”
That evening I shared for 40 minutes. Though my knees were shaking (hopefully unseen) behind the pulpit, I am grateful to say that I know God was with me. That gave me the most peace of all as I shared my missions testimony — how I came to be a part of OMS & HOPE61, shared information on human trafficking today, and shared what I’ve learned about Ireland and human trafficking there. For example: as in many other parts of Europe, prostitution itself is legal, though the activities surrounding it — including trafficking — are illegal. This creates some disconnect that will lead to an interesting work environment!
I also talked about the clear call to justice that Christians are given through the Bible (post on that coming soon). Afterwards we had a question & answer time that was enlightening at least to ME, if no one else! : ) The church gave me a generous gift towards my fundraising & several people signed up to receive my update emails/letters. I met amazing people who are living for God with so much joy, some of them reaching out, stretching far, to help others — though they have had enough happen in their own lives that the world would look at them & say, “It’s OK, take a break.” But the people of Northville want to do more, for the sake of their Lord.
I am so grateful for the Donnan family giving my mother and I a place to stay, for offering to help us in any way they could, for feeding us deliiiiicious meals (I’ve never liked apple pie before I went to their house…I ate 2 slices & would pay to have that pie delivered to my house if it would keep, haha), & for blessing us with encouragement. They made us feel right at home & provided everything I needed to finish my display board!
When we left New York that night, Mama and I speculated that if we lived in the Adirondacks…we’d be enthusiastic members of the Baptist church of Northville. Thank you!
The next weekend, my entire family (minus the one sister away at college) went to Millersburg to visit Reigles Bible Fellowship — another wonderful, unbelievable experience! Tomorrow I report.