Tuesday, July 31, 2012


God is so good.
Since I have made my decision to go to Ethiopia, God has proved himself to me in more ways than one.
One of them being financial help.
Since this summer started, I have started working at a day care, nannying for another family, and have gotten lots and lots of babysitting jobs. That in itself has been a total blessing!
On top of that, a family handed me an envelope with the exact amount of money I needed to pay for my plane ticket. GOD IS GOOD.
Then, I said something on Facebook about collecting can/bottles stuff for recycling, and I get a call form my Grandma. My grandpa is normally pretty good about turning in his recycling, but it just so happens that it has been about 2 years since he turned in anything, so my Grandma said she would give me whatever they got from that! (Ended up being over $120!)
That same weekend I went and babysat a little girl, and the dad just kept handing me random bills before/after their date. The mom paid me after. It ended up being about $25/hour to watch their one child. Whhaaaat?? Unheard of.
Now today, I got out of the shower, and mom knocks on my door and says "Do you want another blessing?" I was beyond confused til I see an envelope in her hand with my name on it dated December 20, 2007. This money wasn't my moms. It was back when I used my parents as a bank. I had completely forgotten about it. Over $200 in it back from 8th grade when I was saving for something. Something I don't even remember. Something that now means "Addis Ababa, Ethiopia."

So many other things have happened. And now my financial worries do not worry me any longer. Yes, I still need to raise about $4,000 for the rest of my trip, but to God that is like a penny. I believe that if I am supposed to go, then I will go. I believe it will all work out in the end.

All I have to say is, God is good. And no matter what, you have to trust in him. Through all these miracles and blessings that are happening, it's a confirmation that I should be going. If he didn't want me to be going, he wouldn't be blessing me like this.

Praise Jesus! He deserves all the glory!

Monday, July 16, 2012


After I told my parents, things got easier. I wasn't stressing about keeping secrets from them. And it was then that I could really concentrate about whether or not I was going to take this seriously, or if I wanted to go back to my original plan and go to Sierra and become an emergency room nurse...

15 days after I talk to my parents, I get a Facebook message:

And with that message, it all became real to me.

These people heard a rumor (obviously started by my dad..) and wanted me to come spend time with them in Ethiopia? It didn't make sense to me! I was just an 18 year old girl, hadn't graduated from high school yet, and they were inviting me to come spend time with them? The same people I was having dreams about? Coincidence? I think not!

I didn't know what to say. I shut my computer, and just sat there. I prayed again right then, and then went to sleep.

I told me mom the next day, I was obviously giddy and excited, that it all might happen. I didn't know if it would happen. I was still praying about it. But now the door was open. And it made it more real to me that if this was really what God wanted to do, than he would have his way and make it happen.

For two weeks I opened that Facebook message to reply in some way and just didn't know what to say. I mean, I really didn't know if I wanted to go yet. But when I did finally decide that I thought this was something I really wanted to do, I ended up talking to a friend, and they told me just to share my heart with Levi and if he still wanted me to come after I told him my story than I would decide to go.

So two weeks after I got the message, I sent one of my own to Levi, saying everything about my heart for Africa, how it started years ago! In 6th grade I received a prophesy about Africa, and that was the initial seed planting. I thought that with the adoption of Tsehay and Fekadu that they were what that prophesy was about. But it came back up when praying about what to do after high school! So I went on for a bit about that, and sent my message.

You know with the new Facebook messages, how you can see when people read the messsages? Yeah. I checked back constantly to see if the message was read, just so I could see the response when/if he responded. I saw that he had checked it one morning and just sat there waiting to see if he would respond. Well he didn't respond that day.. Or the day after.. Or the day after. My mind went negative. So he read my message and just ignored it. Awesome. "See, this wasn't a thought from God. He never really wanted you to go," I told myself each day that I didn't get a response. I remember almost crying to the friend that told me to share my heart, and told them that he ignored my message, so it wasn't from God. That friend told me to have patience. Because he was on the other side of the world, where the power might be down or whatever might have come up. I told them they were right, and went to bed.

Of course due to my finally beginning to be patient, and calmness about the whole thing, I woke up the next morning and had a message from Levi... The first line saying "Emma. I have been trying to get time to sit down at y compter and write you but every time I have the power is out or the internet goes down ...." So my friend was right. I was just being too impatient. The rest of the message said that they wanted me to come back with them in October when they returned to Ethiopia after a summer here, than I could! For however long I wanted, a month, six, a year! So with that message not only was the confirmation about going there, but also that long term was possible! God is so good!

I made my decision that I was going to go within the next few days. And Levi and I talked a little bit more back and forth about random things. He explained to me about what I would be doing, and the job sounded perfect for me. He was coming to America soon and we would talk then.

It was all coming together. I had a place to stay. A job to do. And Jesus with me to make it all happen.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Parents.

That night after my talk with Bob, and really thinking about it, I didn't know how I could tell my parents. I knew that as soon as I saw them, I would feel guilty for not telling them. Yeah, it wasn't something to feel super guilty about, but still. My mom knows almost everything, and at this point what she knew was that I was going to Sierra in the fall and transfer to a school with a real good nursing program when I was ready. I didn't think it would be a big deal, telling her something different like Africa, but I still didn't want to deal with it at that moment...

Good think we had a girls night that Friday! We all went to Anjuli's and had a crazy sleepover with lots of laughing, getting in trouble for being loud with her parents (sorry Mr. and Mrs. Watson!), and peanut butter cookies. Mmm mmm. Were they good! (Thanks Katrise, Lisanne, and friends!) Anyways, the next day we had a pancake breakfast, and outreach, and by the time I got home it was time to leave for church Saturday night. SCORE. I didn't have the time to tell them.

Sunday on the other hand was a different story.. It was the day we were doing yard work. We were up pulling weeds as a family, Dad, Mom, Sam, Tsehay, Fekadu and I. Dad was down on the lower level and mom and I were up top. She brought up college in the fall and that's when I told her... "What if I chose not to go to college, Mom? What if I went in a completely different path?" She asked what I was thinking and I told her. She was super acceptive about it. And encouraged me just to pray and make sure that that was really what I wanted to do with life, and that no matter what I chose, she would be there for me through thick and thin and she would help me with anything in order to get me there. I had my moms support.

Now my dad...... I was fully convinced he would deny the idea, and tell me that college was the best idea and all that..... My dad would take convincing.

Let's face it: Emma can be put to better use in the kitchen than she can be out in the yard. Emma always makes lunch when the family is all busy doing family projects. It's just how it is. Emma and Dad that is....

Mom walks in while we are making lunch and says "Emma, tell your dad about what you just told me." Obviously, Dad was curious and wanted to know about it all. I went around it, saying "I wasn't ready to share it." and every other excuse I could think of.. He finally kept pushing me away from what  I was doing saying "Just tell me..C'mon..Tell me!!" Dad's can be so frustrating sometimes! ;)

I just kept cutting up cheese, pickles and stirring the tuna we were making. Finally, I just said "I'm not going to college." He looked at me like I was crazy. So maybe that wasn't the best way to tell him.. I continued to tell him that I was thinking about maybe going to Ethiopia instead, and that I had been having dreams about the Benkert family. (I had no idea what the dreams meant, just that they were in Africa and that could possibly mean something, like I could go to Africa like they did? No idea.) He was quiet for a minute, and I was scared he was mad. But after a little (or big) awkward silence, he said "Well, I can talk to Levi for you."

I was completely shocked. Completely. Dad supported me.

The Beginning.

It was a Friday night after youth. I was cleaning the women's bathroom by myself. I normally clean it with my two best friends, but they were in a meeting. I found myself almost in tears. Not because I was cleaning the bathroom alone. But because I was confused. I was about to graduate. And though 3 months before I had everything planned for the fall, that was no longer the case. 

"What should I do? What is my purpose here?" I cried out to God while scrubbing a toilet. Here we're my options: School. Work. Africa. Wait, Africa? Where did that even come from? I hadn't thought about Africa in years. I mean, yeah, it has always been in the back of my mind, but that wasn't really a possibility was it? No. No way. No chance! I couldn't leave my family, even for a short time. "Long term." I heard in my head, but loud enough to really get me to think. 

I tried to shake the thought. All I needed right now was for Amanda and Alec to walk around the corner and say "Let's finish this!" and a hug from Amanda, but I looked outside and saw no one. 
Keith Haines and Bob Dryer were cleaning the men's bathroom. I asked Bob to help me with the trash key, and that's when he asked what was up. I have known Bob since by 5th/6th grade year. He was my Jr. High youth pastor, and more importantly, he was that older brother I never had. I know if I ever needed anything, I could go to him for help. 

That's when I broke down to Bob. Not crying, but on the verge, and just dropped everything about my future, Africa, what I wanted to do with life. But a lot about Africa. I remember telling myself "What are you saying? You haven't even prayed about this recently! This isn't God's plan!" I continued talking anyways. This wasn't me talking. I had no idea what I wanted! I kept looking at the door for Amanda or Alec to come in and save me from this conversation. "This is all a big mistake. Emma, shut up and finish the bathroom," I told myself countless times. I finished my little rant, took a deep breath and looked at Bob. There was a little silence for a minute, and I kept feeling like I should fill it, but decided against it because what I had already said sounded stupid and anything else I could say would sound stupid. 

There was an awkward eye contact and Bob just said one word, at first: "Go." He told me. What? What in the world was I hearing? Wait, he possibly couldn't be telling me to go to Africa is he? No. He's just telling me to "go" finish the bathroom.. Yeah. That's it. But then he started to explain that he could see me in Africa and lots of other things (about Africa and such) but my mind was spinning too fast to catch anything except that he thought I could do it and he would support me 100% through whatever I chose. He left the bathroom, and my head was spinning. I went to finish the bathroom and while I was in the Handicap stall I stopped and just stood there. 

Maybe I really could do this. 

Maybe this could be a crazy adventure I would never forget. 

Maybe that why I was having dreams about the Benkert family and little Luella. 

THE DREAMS! I hadn't even thought about that. 

The Benkert's are a family from our church, living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They have lived there for 3 years, doing God's work. They come back during summers, and I figured that's what the dreams were. I'm sure I was just up late Facebooking and happened to see a status Levi or Jessie posted about their trip this summer. But now I began to think differently. But at that point my brain was on overload and I needed to shut out the rest of thoughts, at least until I got home. 

Amanda and Alec finally came down when I was mopping the hallway, so the bathroom was done. These two can read me as easy as a child's book. Separately they came down the stairs, and separately they both asked my what was up, something was on my mind. I told them. I remember one of them asking why I had never mentioned it to them, and I couldn't give an answer except I didn't even know I was thinking about it until that night, about 20 minutes before. Before I left that night they both told me they would support me in whatever I did, and that they were happy I was thinking more about it than just making an on the spot decision of 'no' like I felt like I should do. I had my best friends, my brother, and most importantly, My Jesus standing behind me with whatever I did. 

Before I left, Bob told me I had to tell my parents. Not that I had to that night, but he highly recommended that I talk to them about it. And soon, since I was still living under their roof. My heart dropped. My mom might understand, but my dad? No way. He would never let me go. I'm his youngest biological daughter. Yeah, we didn't have the best relationship, but he still wouldn't want me to pick up and leave as a long term missionary, and, and, and.. 

Too much for one night! My brain was about to explode. 

Amanda took me outside before I left and she told me just to breathe. We looked in and Bob was standing at the door mouthing "Africa! Africa! Africa!" We both giggled like little girls, and we had a little talk about girly stuff. It was getting late, and we knew we had to leave soon so we finished our talk and hugged, because that's just what girls do. "I'm gonna miss you." She said softly in my ear. "Amanda, it's just an idea. I don't know what's gonna happen with it. We'll see though." I don't remember her exact words after that, but she told me she knew my heart well enough that I wouldn't be this tore up about something I didn't really want to do. Yeah I wanted to do it. But could I? "You can do it." She said tossing all my negative thoughts away. We went inside and I felt a little more relaxed. 

Why was I stressing about it this much? I really shouldn't be. I had Jesus on my side! And I knew I could get through anything, even something as big as moving across the world, as long as I had him. I didn't know where I was going. I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know where I would be in 6,8, 10 months! All I knew is that I believed that I would be right where God wanted me. And that was enough to get me through.

And this is only the beginning...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

God is a Flashlight?

When you are walking in the dark with a flashlight, it doesn't show you where you are going, it shows you your next step. Yet you still trust that flashlight with your life.
That is like your life in Christ. He knows where your going, but he doesn't always show you the whole blueprint.
You don't know everything. You don't know where you are going to go. You don't know where life will take you.
But, why do we need to know? We don't.
It is all in God's hands. He knows what is best for you. He knows how everything will work together.

Trust in God like you would trust in a flashlight. Trust him to take you that next step.

Dear Jesus, Please show me the next step in life. I am going to trust you like I would a flashlight. I believe you have a plan for my life and I am excited to see what you have in store for me.
In Your Glorious name I pray, Amen.