Anna and her team have been back from Africa for two days now. They've been sharing stories, answering questions, and beginning to process through what they saw and learned and did and how it affects the now and then the future.
This summer was huge for Anna. I asked some of her teammates at the airport to tell me something about the trip that Anna wouldn't perhaps tell me on her own. They said that she had grown more than anyone. God did truly big and incredible things in and through her.
I asked Anna if she would give an overview of what her summer was like and what God did for my readers here at Graceland. Here's what she had to say:
In January I asked God for a word for the year. The word He gave me was Surrender. Total surrender to Him in everything. That surrender was what propelled me to go on this two month trip to Africa.
I could probably write a book about everything I saw and everything God did on this trip, but since I'm trying to keep this short I'll just share a little about how God opened my mind and heart.
Despite my many trips to Africa, I'd never had any kind of heart or passion for Africa. God definitely changed that in me.
We arrived in Kenya, our second country, and almost immediately after arriving, I started to get this weird feeling of, "I could live here." I didn't have any reason for it, that was just how it was. Then we went to an orphanage, and I met a little girl named Shayla. She was about four and had some obvious abandonment issues. We visited that orphanage twice and she clung to me each time we were there. When we had to leave the last time, I had to have a teammate pry her off me so I could get on the bus. Leaving her was the hardest thing of the trip at that point, but it was only going to get harder.
A few days later I met Maddox. Maddox is a ten-year old boy living on the streets and his story broke my heart. Nearly four weeks later I still can't get him, or Shayla, out of my head. God brought those children to me to wake me out of my too-focused mindset and show me that there are people all over the world, in all kinds of situations, that I can and should help and be broken for.
Kenya is not my Swaziland (what I mean by that is that I'm not gonna spend my whole life there, and I don't have the kind of feelings towards it that my mom does for Swaziland) but I do love it and I will live there at some point. My heart has learned to be open to God in all new ways, and in that to also be open to the world in all new ways. And not just Africa, but New Orleans too. Watch out Holy Cross, a crazy, empowered and FREED Jesus lover is about to be leashed on y'all.
See? As I said, God has done amazing things and this mama couldn't be happier.
Thank you all who have prayed for her and supported her in other ways during this journey. You are a part of what God has done and what He will continue to do through my Anna.