Thursday, February 28, 2013


A few days ago I posted that I had a painting up for auction. Bronwyn Baker, a missionary from South Africa, is the artist. The auction ends tomorrow night and all proceeds go to my son Patrick's mission trip to Swaziland.

I will soon have another one up for sale. Bronwyn is seen holding the "Love" painting after decorating the frame. Chris Howard, one of our neighbors who grew up on Cohea Street just across the cemetery from here, is the artist of this one.

I'm so blessed by the folks willing to donate their time and talents to this cause. And those willing to make bids and buy the items, too!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Highlights of my day: inventing mufaletta burgers, painting with loved ones, date night with the hunky hubby, discovering THE best hummus ever, driving to the coast with Betsie, Biloxi lights late at night, and arriving in Ocean to be greeted by Anna and my mama and my nephew.

What a blessed woman am I!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013




Proceed no further unless you want to be exposed to yet another bodacious brag akin to the one about Anna last week.

Okay, you were warned.

Here goes....

Betsie was just notified today that she has not only been invited to be a part of the selective leadership program at Mississippi University for Women, something she interviewed for a few weeks ago, but she is also receiving one of their most prestigious scholarships. The Hearin Leadership Program selects a small group of incoming freshman each year to be a part of their leadership training community. The Hearin students live on a special dorm hall their freshman year, attend leadership building activities, and participate in various functions through out their four years at MUW that put their leadership skills into practice and benefit the campus community as well as the wider community.

Each year, a couple of $10,000 Hearin scholarships are awarded to selected incoming freshman. Betsie has been not only selected to participate in the program but has also been awarded one of those scholarships. We are so excited and very grateful to the Lord for His provision. He has put her on a path to be a world-changer and it is incredible to watch Him make it happen.

To learn more about Mississippi University for Women and their leadership and scholarship opportunities, visit their website:

Monday, February 25, 2013


I never know when I'm going to see or read something that stirs up my African dreaming. Today it was this rainbow of bowls. They were waiting for me as I walked around a corner at Two Sisters, a neighborhood restaurant.

I plan on filling my house in Swaziland with a cascade of bright colors...and then within those happily hued walls, I plan on there being a multitude of laughing, loud, beautiful Swazi children. Those children are a dream infinitely richer than even the dream of the blues, greens, oranges, and pinks of our future home. A dream that when it comes true will truly make our house a "home sweet home".

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Hope your weekend has been a good one. Ours has been a typically busy one. Living here at We Will Go definitely means our weekends are very full but most of that fullness is really great.

Me and the Grandkids and the Grandparents. 2-22-13 #grandkids #grandpere #nana #belatedchristmas #gifts #lifeatwewillgo

On Friday night, my dad and step-mom drove up for a belated Christmas get-together. We ate muffalettas, exchanged gifts, and told lots of stories. Harveys always tell lots of stories.

Volunteers, like Grace and Gwen from Fondren Church, are one of my favorite parts of We Will Go. #lifeatwewillgo #volunteers #wewillgo

Saturday morning found a hundred plus volunteers blanketing We Will Go with their hard work and prayers. I worked in the clothes ministry shop with a group of women and teenaged girls from Fondren Church along with fellow missionary Adrianne Sprinkles and one of my favorite neighbors, Carolyn. Then that night it was burgers with the family, The Monks visiting from Texas, and We Will Go missionary Levi (who, by the way, earned big points by helping Jim with the diehes).

The Monks from Texas and Travis. #visitorsatwewillgo #lifeatwewillgo #missionarykid #travis #smiles

This morning it was church with our Restoration Family and then church again with our We Will Go family. Bronwyn Baker from Iris Ministries in Mozambique was our special speaker and her story of God's redemption and freedom was powerful. I helped serve the fellowship meal and then it was on to the weekly team meeting.

Blessed to have Bronwyn Baker share at the We Will Go service today. #wewillgo #visitorsatwewillgo #amylancaster #worshipservice

I am blessed by the weekend God sent our way but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't exhausted. I'm really, really tired and as soon as I'm done blogging, this big-haired gal is putting herself to bed. Tomorrow morning is our family's day of rest and I am definitely looking forward to that.

Gotta have the resting so we can do the serving. You do, too!

Saturday, February 23, 2013


A sweet little face in the window. #merry #window #lifeatwewillgo 
A smile is the light in your window that tells others
 that there is a caring, sharing person inside.
 --- Denis Waitley

Friday, February 22, 2013


...but you can buy this painting of Africa being showered by mercy and grace. When you buy this painting created by Bronwyn Baker, an Iris Mozambique missionary who is visiting us this week, you will not only have a powerful piece of art, but you will also be helping to send my 14 year old son to Swaziland where he will be used by God to shower a bunch of little African kids with some mercy, grace, and a big heaping dose of fun and love.

The starting bid for Bronwyn's painting is $12. Leave a comment with your contact information and the amount of your bid. I will ship to Canada if you cover the extra shipping and handling. The auction will end next Friday night. If your bid is the highest, you win! As does Patrick and the carepoint kids he'll minister to this summer.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


A hard truth is that I think we women struggle with never feeling like what we do is enough. Between kids, husbands, extended family, friends, and ministry folks, we just often feel stretched too thin. If we do a great job in one or two areas then it seems other areas suffer.

I have been struggling with this today and asking God to shore up my hurting and stressed out spirit. A lot of times I wish everyone's yoke was as easy and burden as light as Jesus'. He promises rest and He knows fully that I am but human and made of dirt. Too often it feels like people think I'm SuperMan, or more accurately, SuperWoman. The expectations are so high at times that I get tired just thinking about them.

Today is one of those days.

God says to love Him and love my neighbor. It isn't complicated, but those two supremely important things sure can get buried under the towering pile of science fair projects, yearbook pages, moldy shower curtains, grocery lists, sibling squabbles, and dirty dishes.

Help me, Lord. I don't know what needs to happen but I know something needs to happen and I know I need You!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013




Proceed no further unless you want to be exposed to a bodacious brag.

Okay, you were warned.

Here goes....

Anna in SGA President photo edited

See that beautiful girl second from the left? Not only is she my oldest daughter, she's now also the Student Government Association's president-elect for the upcoming school year at Holy Cross College. And she's only a freshman. Yep, pretty big stuff! And yep, I'm pretty darn proud of Anna and all that she's becoming because of her desire to love the Lord, obey Him, and serve those around her.

Alrighty then, as you were. The brag attack is over.

For now.

Monday, February 18, 2013


For millions of Christians around the world, the Lent Season building up to Easter has begun and many of those millions are participating in fasts of some sort. During the first 21 days of 2013, the entire We Will Go ministry family participated in an important fast for vision and direction. A series of blog posts were written that included testimonies and reflections that spoke to the change God brought and continues to bring in our lives through those weeks of seeking His heart. These posts point to two core realities: 1) Jesus is perfectly worthy to receive all praise, honor, and thanks! and 2) Our WHOLE lives must change after an encounter with the Living God because He never stops refining His creation.

Concluding this series was a story written by fellow missionary Levi Gill with insights from several of the We Will Go team that I want to share with you here at Musings from Graceland. Taken together these words illuminate a path forward — into the reality of heart-change. May they encourage you whether or not you are participating in a Season of Lent. Who knows, maybe they'll even encourage you to consider whether fasting is something the Lord might be leading you to do even if you're not part of a Christian faith community that normally participates in Lent or even promotes fasting.

“We’ve fasted and you’ve spoken, God. Take this hunger and draw us deeper.”


We are daily challenged to find God in the midst of broken lives in downtown Jackson. Without God, our efforts to help friends and neighbors always lack a key ingredient: “unconditional” love.

We know we need access to Love that really empowers and actually sets free.

Put simply, we sought experience with the above kind of love through our 21 day team fast. We did it through bold and continual communion with Father God thorough Holy Spirit.

In seeking to know the Lord better, we discovered a hunger for more than food. We found that “hunger” for God’s help increased with the absence of food. We learned we need His sustaining energy with ordinary calories missing. And He helped us!

Now we can testify from experience how the Lord can give strength to our bodies and our minds when we shouldn’t otherwise have it. One day in the middle of the fast I needed energy to participate in Saturday workday. I asked a friend to pray for strength. I prayed as well, and the Lord provided the needed boost. Thanking God for His obvious help was my only response. It felt so good to finally connect the dots.

It gave me a picture of faith. Faith is the audacity to say, “God helps me. He showed up and gave me strength today. I know it. I want more of His life in me.”

Missionary Laura Sims saw faith in action during the fast. She writes, “The LORD was so tender with me. I got really sick, but HE lavished HIS love on me while I was sleeping. HE confirmed next steps for my family. HE showed me that this time HE would display HIS mighty power to me! HE showed me that I am not to hide the season that we are in, so I should tell my story more. That ripped out some pride. HE also told me that I am not pitiful! HE is my DADDY! I learned to be very thankful for the season of trust that our LORD has us in. What an honor!!! It was an amazing fast, always such a sweet time with my DADDY.”

In Psalm 109 King David says he “gives himself to prayer” in response to false witnesses and wicked accusers who curse him without reason (vs. 4). Imagine someone giving themselves to prayer. Wow! It takes faith to go beyond the routine of prayer and to dive in completely.

We give ourselves to tasks, jobs, and people, but I never considered prayer. We give ourselves to non-eternal things and make earthly kingdoms. Giving ourselves to prayer as an actual source of sustenance was our goal for 21 days. After 21 days, we don’t want to change and go back to the way things were. Although we all return to eating in some way, we cannot deny the lessons learned in the midst – lessons that carry us beyond a special 21 day focus.

Missionary Elysa MacLellan writes, “For us, a family that participated by doing a Daniel Fast, doing without some of our favorite foods made us more grateful for what we DO have and stirred up in us compassion for those who often don’t have anything to eat or very little. And the fast did more than just stir up compassion; it also made us more committed to helping those who have to do without. My kids learned to be more grateful for the simple fare and learned to appreciate even more the blessings that God has given us.”

A commitment to helping those who do without comes with a price tag: total surrender and a willingness to keep growing.

Later in Psalm 109 King David says his “knees are weak through fasting” (vs. 24). It’s clear David trusts God completely for help against his tormentors. His lowly position and weak body teach us that prayer and fasting empower us to call out for God’s help – help for ourselves and help for the task of helping others.

We found our hearts have to change when we get close to God and cry out for help.

Praying for my friends and neighbors, for their struggles, trials, and victories – for the broken and impossible situations – changes the way I see them. Sometimes all I can do is lift them up before God in prayer because I so often lack an answer to the need. He softens me when I pray for my family – for breakthrough in splintered relationships that seem beyond repair.

This softness becomes a strength. When I am needy, I’m discovering, it’s not the same as helpless. When I’m needy I look to God for help, and He gives me vision to see where to step next. He strengthens my willing spirit!

For WWG volunteer Kathy Still, a willing spirit looked like listening and receiving words of life. She writes, “The Lord spoke so clearly on the hardest day of the fast. I am just a ‘simple person’ who loves my Jesus, and yet God speaks to me. Here is what He told me: ‘You ARE somebody. You ARE worthy of My love and everybody else’s love. You have compassion for others. Stop feeling like you are nothing. I have many plans for you. YOU ARE MY CHILD!!! I created you! You have forgiven others, so forgive yourself.’ ”

God motivated us to move forward with what he’s already asked them to do. He tells us to move forward, as Kathy shared, by first recognizing our position as members of His family.

By this, we are encouraged to increase our faithfulness in the small things, which are like joints and fasteners and glue, keeping the structure unified and strong. It’s a beautiful thing – giving ourselves to fasting and prayer – and we are grateful for such a worthy King and gracious Father.

At the end, we press on toward the goal of daily connectedness to the source of love unconditional. Through faith in Jesus we have power for the main task in front of us: loving God and loving people.

Food only energizes the body for a short while. We generally spend lots of time preparing food, thinking about food, planning what eat, talking about our favorite food, and cleaning up after we eat. After a few hours we are hungry again. With such a fleeting energy source, we long – even more – for that which lasts forever. We are hungry to say as Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34).

To read the others stories in this series, visit the We Will Go Ministry blog:

Sunday, February 17, 2013


In the last couple of blog posts, I've shared some details about Jim and my recent get-away to Stark-Vegas and Memphis. Today, I'm sharing details from a different sort of get-away. One of the ways that We Will Go spreads the light of God is through frequent mission trips to other parts of the world. Just this year alone, there are plans to take folks to Mexico, India, Micronesia, Turkey, and Peru. Mozambique is another place that will be visited, twice in fact, this year. I came across this blog post written by our ministries director, Nancy Flowers, when she was in Mozambique on a mission trip this past summer. I loved all the bits and pieces of African life that she included as well as God truth and thought you might enjoy this bit of vicarious travel, too.

We Will Go David Lancaster Mozambique

A Trip into Town
June 11, 2012 – Pemba, Mozambique

After spending the morning with the widows, we plan to go into to town. Downtown Pemba. For groceries. Amy has given us a list which I am happy about because it includes coffee. I haven’t had coffee since the Atlanta airport days ago.

The town isn’t far from the mission base but we have no transportation and it is too far to walk. David’s plan is to try to get some cabs, and as he is trying to figure out how that will work because, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore, a smiling man steps through the gate at the visitors’ center. David obviously knows this man, as they shake hands and visit. I am introduced to him and learn that he is Peter Wilcox. I have heard of the Wilcox family and am very glad to meet him. He wonders what we are doing this afternoon and we tell him of our going-to-town plans. His smile grows, though I wonder how such a thing is possible.

“I’m headed into town right now,” he says in his merry Australian accent. “I’m happy to take you.”

I look over at his vehicle. A Toyota pick-up truck, one of those small ones. It does have a backseat, but in my American seat-belt-for-every-person mind I wonder how eleven grown people will fit. David is thrilled and calls our group together. In moments we are miraculously stuffed in and Peter throws the truck into reverse. This is my first clue that driving in Mozambique is much different from driving in the USA. Five people inside the truck’s cab means that six are in the truck’s bed. With the spare tire.

Peter and his wife Debbie are expecting baby #7 in their late 40s. Their oldest are twins, young ladies also serving as missionaries, one of which will be marrying in October. I imagine the life changes of having the newest child in August followed by the wedding of the oldest. Peter tells us the story of how he and Debbie married.

They have both been missionaries always. Peter was serving on a mission field far from his parents’ home, while Debbie was serving with an organization that brought her into contact with Peter’s parents. In fact, she became very close to them. Peter met Debbie on one of his trips home, but thought nothing of it. Not long after they met, his mission organization encouraged him to get married. He’d reached the ripe old age of 23 and it was time for a wife. Peter had no idea where to start. He’d been on the mission field, not exactly a place filled with marriageable young women. His supervisor pressed him. “Don’t you know somebody you could start a relationship with?” It was then that Peter remembered Debbie. And the rest is history.

I hear the six team members in the bed of the truck. They laugh and sometimes yell as Peter maneuvers the rough Pemba streets. No doubt their backsides are getting a pounding. I see another truck next to us that has at least 25 people in the bed. As the light changes from red to green, I see a couple more Mozambican men hop into the now-moving truck. And I was thinking that 6 in the back of our Toyota was too many. I am so American.

We have made it to town, and Peter lets us out. I’m hoping Amy scheduled some time for us to get to know this family. She has told me much about them, and I long for the chance to hear what a life of missions work is like. I’ve been a missionary for such a short time; I have so much to learn. We spill out of the small truck and thank Peter. In the twenty minutes we’ve spent with him his smile hasn’t faded.

Some of the girls in our group want to convert their cash into mets, so Jonathan takes them into a small business sandwiched in between some other unrelated businesses. We women are wearing long skirts to cover our knees, but I see some school girls in shorter skirts. In this part of Africa, the knees are considered the sexual part of a woman’s body. Not only must the knees be covered, but the outline of the knees must be covered as well. No pants or leggings. Just long skirts. While our culture considers breasts to be sexual, knees are the part to cover here. Breasts are for feeding babies in this culture and women here breastfeed openly. I ask Sarah about the school girls and their above-the-knee skirts, and she tells me that this newer generation is breaking from tradition. We came prepared to cover our knees. I am glad to be here during Pemba’s winter. The temperature on this winter day is probably around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and my long skirt makes me hot. I can only imagine what this would feel like in the summer.

Driving on the left side of the road, 25+ Mozambicans in the bed of a truck, temperature measured in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit, gas purchased in litres, skirts to cover my knees. So different from America.

We walk toward a market that sells fresh vegetables. We’re looking for something to cook that we can put over some spaghetti noodles. The group looks to me because I cook, and I examine the vegetable table to review the available options. I decide on onions, peppers, tomatoes, green beans, and limes. The limes are small like key limes with a yellowish tint. I spot some avocadoes that will be wonderful on sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. David and I discuss how many of each item we need and he turns to Jonathan. “We’re ready,” he says to his boy.

Jonathan steps up to haggle with the owners of the vegetable stand and it is a thing of beauty. He is 18 years old, 13,000 miles from home, and he doesn’t speak the language, and yet he is clearly seasoned in the fine art of bargaining. He shows disgust at the appropriate moment. He stops the guys from slipping some extra produce as they weigh each item. He gets them to their lowest price and then asks to go lower. He finally settles on a price he can live with and we bag everything up. I want to get bananas for dessert and we step over to another vendor. African bananas are small and I’m hoping they have a similar flavor to the small bananas I ate on a trip to Mexico a couple of years ago. More intense banana taste and a creamier texture than the bananas I usually buy at home. There is more haggling to do so Jonathan steps up. The vendor has already bagged up a bunch and he hands them to me. I take the bag in hand. Reflex action. Jonathan’s haggling is done. “Once you touch it,” he tells me, “they consider it sold.” We pay and go, and I marvel at this teenager’s grasp of foreign customs. And I can’t help but think that it seems more important to be able to haggle at the market than to actually speak the language. Just sayin.

We find a place to buy a cold drink before we head off to finish the Amy List. First stop is a place that looks to me like a store housed in somebody’s garage. We walk up a rough gravel driveway and enter the store on its side. Unlike the grocery stores I’m familiar with, this store has its good behind a plexiglass wall. We look around for what we need and communicate this to the guys behind the counter. They retrieve our items for us. Stealing is a mega-problem in this third-world city, and this method of dispensing groceries seems to be working. We buy shelf-stable milk and juice, raw sugar, tomato paste, and a few other things that will be less expensive here than at our next stop. The coffee available is Ricoffee, an instant coffee with chicory. Not the brewed coffee I was hoping for, but coffee nonetheless.

The streets of Pemba look battle-scarred, the effects of twenty years of civil war. Though the country gained independence when they drove out the Portuguese, there is still no government structure in place to manage the country, its people, and its resources. Even the sidewalks have potholes. There are no city garbage cans anywhere, so we dodge the random piles of trash and stinky garbage along our walk to the next store. Dirty streets seem to be a trademark of hopelessness. Nobody cares enough to pick it up.

Our next stop looks more like the grocery stores I’m used to, but I learn the prices are higher. A large package of sliced cheese is the US equivalent of $20! We put it back and get a smaller package. Peanut butter, jam, seasoning for our veggies, and we’re on our way.

Jonathan’s haggling skills shine as he negotiates 3 cabs for our ride back to the base at 100 mets each.

Mozambique Nancy Aulds

Our veggie stir-fry over spaghetti noodles is some real Adventure Cooking. The visitor hut has a tiny stove and the light in the kitchen is out, so we’re really winging it. David uses his phone to give me more light. We add the tomato paste and squeeze the limes over the simmering vegetables. Someone went to the base cafeteria for rice, apparently thinking there is someone on our team who is craving more rice. David uses some of the spaghetti noodles to make macaroni and cheese. Our bountiful feast is amazing. We bless it and dig in. No leftovers tonight. I pass out bananas for dessert, no dishes needed. Jonathan eats his in the hammock which he has attached to the support poles in the hut, making him the centerpiece of the room. Even though we didn’t have meat in our supper, we are mindful that most of the people in Pemba will not eat this well tonight.

Julie Meyer, a worship leader from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, is visiting Pemba as well, and she leads worship tonight in the big school hut. She shares a vision the Lord has given her involving the media, and how He is releasing ideas for screenplays and books and songs. That word is for me, as I am eagerly expecting Him to bring about the vision He has given me for We Will Go Media, which will produce all of those things to encourage Christ followers in their faith.

The longer I walk with God the more I see complacency, discouragement, conformity to the world, and rebellion among Christians. These are not new issues, nor are they unique to our generation. The Gospels are full of Jesus’ words to those professing a belief in God, and His words are strong. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matt. 7:19) Jesus doesn’t say the tree is dead or that it is not bearing some kind of fruit. He is looking for the trees that bear good fruit; all other trees, even lush green trees, will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

The Lord has convicted me of being busy with activities that are good but not of Him. It is all too easy for us to get caught up in doing good deeds while our faith dries up. Without faith, Hebrews 11:6 tells us, it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Without an active and growing faith, how can we even believe in God? Especially in a culture that is so unbelieving? We live in a world that tries to explain and tolerate and excuse the things of God when God asks us to simply believe in Him. And He has asked me to tell the stories of those with this active and growing, even rugged, faith to encourage His people to be steadfast, to press on, to be strong. Do not quit. Ever.

Being on this trip has been busy with activities and I desperately need time to pray through what He is showing me. I can hardly wait for tomorrow morning as I fall asleep praying.

To read more about this amazing adventure God has called Nancy to live, visit her blog:

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Some folks feel lucky when they get spoiled rotten, I feel very ducky.

I love my little not-rubber ducky. 2-15-13 #chocolate #ducks #desserts #sweet #cute #food #foodiemama #peabodydelianddesserts #peabodyhotel #memphis #happy #delicious #happyfoodie

Yep, ducky.

Or in this case, Peabody Ducky.

For the second part of our Anniversary/Valentine's Day/Birthday get-away trip, we traveled a bit further north to Memphis, Tennessee. As honeymooners twenty-two years ago, we were limited to where we could go due to Jim being on alert with his National Guard unit. They had been activated for the first Desert Storm and couldn't go more than 30 minutes away. We spent one nice at the very nice Ivy Guest House in Starkville before starting our married life living in Jim's small travel trailer home. After he returned from activation, three months later, he surprised me with a weekend in Memphis where we stayed at famous Peabody Hotel, complete with ducks swimming in the fountain.

My hunky hubby +  ducks + me at The Peabody = sheer happiness 2-15-13 #peabodyhotel #peabodyducks #smiles #happy #marriedromance #ilovethisman #fountain #fun #fancy #memphis #tourists

So for this trip, not only did I get another night in the Ivy Guest House (now Hotel Chester) but I got another visit to The Peabody. It was as beautiful as I remember and with even more ducky touches (like duck monogramming on the bed pillows and duck-shaped soaps in the bathrooms). We ate delicious food at, deservedly, well known places (The Rendevouz, The Flying Fish, Peabody Deli and Dessert, The Arcade, and Central BBQ), did lots of walking, and visited music themed sites (Gibson Guitars, Memphis Rock and Soul Museum, St. Blues Guitars, Sun Studio ), shopped at Schwab's on Beale, and got quick peeks at historical sites (including The Lorraine Motel and WKIA).

#tourists #gibsonguitars #guitar #ilovethisman

It was a fabulous trip and, as much as I love my kids and life at We Will Go, I wasn't quite ready to head back to Jackson on Saturday afternoon. I can look forward to returning to Memphis again this summer with the kids where we'll revisit some of our favorite places, plus, we're already dreaming about future anniversary get-aways. Our 25th in Capetown, South Africa, sounds really appealing, don't you think?

Friday, February 15, 2013


For a while now, I've been looking forward to a romantic get-away with my hunky hubby. Life at We Will Go can be pretty intense and the need for quality couple time, though always important, is even more necessary now if we're going to not only effectively minister to others, but minister to each other as well.

I had thought we'd be spending the whole time in Memphis but I was wrong. My husband really kept me in the dark and cooked up a great surprise. After we had been heading north towards Memphis for about an hour or so on Valentine's Day, he abruptly took and exit. I figured Jim just wanted some coffee and a bathroom break, but when he cruised right past the gas stations, I asked him where we were going. At that point, he handed me an old letter I wrote him in our early months of marriage and said I'd find the clue there. I did! It was the Ivy Guest House in Starkville where we spent our first night as a married couple twenty-two years ago. As part of our Valentine's Day/Anniversary/Birthday trip, Jim was taking me back to the same hotel, now with different owners and renamed The Hotel Chester.

Memphis still plays a part in our romantic excursion, but so did the small college town nicknamed Stark-Vegas as did a quick visit to see Jim's parents, the "eat local" Restaurant Tyler, a stroll around memory lane on the campus at Mississippi State University, and a simple but nice breakfast in Hotel Chester's Library dining room.

So happy together! #valentinesday #marriedromance #smiles #ilovemyhusband #date #songlyrics #ilovethisman #friedchicken #macandcheese #burgers #duckburger #sweetpotatoes #eatlocal #locavore #localvore #localtarian #youmightliveinthesouthwhen #southernlivi

God never ceases to surprise and bless me through this man.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours!

May you be reminded today of how precious you are to our Heavenly Father. He spares no expense on your account.


"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:38-39

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Meet Danielle. She wants your lunch money.

Danielle Brower and Swazi Girl

Well...not exactly...

Valentine's Day is all about spreading and sharing love with those who are dear to your heart. This year you are invited to spread your wings of love even further by one simple, selfless act.

Join people all over the country who are giving up ONE day's lunch money to show real love to waiting children in Swaziland, Africa.

To read more about this action of love, visit this link:

And listen, if you just can't give up your lunch date (I know that I for one don't have that option because my wonderful hubby has a big special day already planned well in advance), consider sacrificing something else. Maybe it is skipping that pricey, fancy coffee for the next few days or instead of giving up tomorrow's lunch, you fast as a family one day this weekend and use the money you're saving to bless some kids in Swaziland. You could also consider giving a monetary gift to Children's HopeChest in honor of your kids' mission group leader at church, favorite Sunday School teacher, or that special missionary in your life. I know I'd be thrilled for someone to hand me a handwritten note saying that they'd given $10 in my honor to Childen's HopeChest and the kids in Swaziland. And believe me, don't despise the little things. Those 5, 10, and 15 dollar gifts add up when we all just do whatever we can.

To read more about the ministry of Children's HopeChest (an organization that we are  involved with) and what your money will go to support in Swaziland, visit this webpage:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


One of my favorite parts about ministering at We Will Go is the groups that come volunteer. I especially love the girls' groups because I can so easily remember being their age and I know that it was when I was still in elementary school that God started planting His big plans for loving orphans and missions in my heart.

Today, a group of Girl Scouts came and visited us. We told them about our ministry, Betsie talked to them about their dreams for the future and how God wanted to use them, and then we let them do a mini-tour of the ministry as well as help in the food and clothing ministries.

Betsie shares with a group of Girl Scouts about following their God-given dreams. 2-12-13 #wewillgo #betsie #volunteers #girlscouts #missionaries #missionarykids

They were so excited to be here, eager to help, and it was especially sweet to hear how disappointed one of the girls was that she wouldn't actually get to meet any of our neighbors today. As always, we let them know that they could come back anytime to help and meet lots of neighbors. Many volunteers just come once and never come again. But every now and again, a volunteer will come and keep coming back. Maybe she'll be one of those. After all, we ourselves were once "first time" volunteers.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Here is the letter Patrick has written about his upcoming mission trip:



How's it going? I hope everything is okay. I am writing today to ask for your help.

As you might know, I've been accepted to go on a trip to Swaziland with Adventures in Missions (AIM). This is the same trip that my oldest sister went on a few years ago. I saw how she was changed and she made it sound so awesome and thrilling. So this year I am finally old enough to go on an AIM trip. This fall I prayed that I would know which trip I should go on, and I heard GOD say Swaziland.

I'll be gone for four weeks to Swaziland. AIM sends students/missionaries there every summer, and I am happy that I get to be one! So are my parents. They are really excited that I will be going to Swaziland, not only that I will grow in Christ, but also because it will prepare me to move there at the end of this year.

On this trip, I will serve food at the Care Points, play with the kids, tell Bible stories, and lead worship. Care points are like daycare centers, African-style. They are places that kids of an area like to gather because at a Care Point they get food and water, they get to meet new kids, and they get some education. Another reason kids go is that one or both of their parents are dead from the AIDS virus or have to work hours away. I will be sharing GOD'S love to the kids affected by AIDS.

I really need your help to raise all the money to go on the trip. I need $4,000 by June 21 to be able to cover all my expenses including plane tickets, food, etc, etc. You might be asking, “Why should I help him?” Here's a few answers to your questions.

It is a good idea to help because when you give me support you become my partner. As my partner, you will get to know how my trip is going and what GOD is teaching me. Being my partner also means you will be sharing in the prayer effort towards Swaziland and its people. Another reason to help me is that I bring comfort and laughter anywhere I go. It's just part of who I am. For me, that is the best way to help people. My goal isn't to fix Swaziland, it is to encourage the people I meet there. I can do that by giving food, prayer, comfort, encouragement, and by showing GOD'S love.

A special gift of $500, $250, or whatever you can afford would help me get to Swaziland. Before you give, remember to pray first about becoming my ministry partner. If money is tight, don't worry. I just really need you to pray for me that I will be changed by GOD, and that I will get all the money. Would you also please pray for the people in Swaziland that I will meet. Pray that they will know GOD.

Donations can be given either through AIM's website: Once you are there, click on “Choose a Program” and select “Ambassador”. Then just fill in my name, Patrick Washburn MacLellan.

Thank you in advance for whatever God leads you to give/pray, and I hope you have a great year.

Patrick MacLellan

 P1180831 Patrick and Thandeka

Thank you for your consideration. If you'd prefer to mail a check, let me know and I'll tell you how to do that or you can just check the AIM website for that information. Also, if you'd like to hold a fund raiser on Patrick's behalf, share this letter with others, or donate something that we can sell or auction to raise money, that would be so much appreciated.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Sunday had many of the normal elements such as the Sunday morning church time at Restoration and afternoon worship service at We Will Go. One element that was unusual was the flooding we received that afternoon.

Water floods the worship pavilion. 2-10-13 #wewillgo #hamiltons #rain #flooding #badweather #storms #innercityministry

Yep, that's water you see. It was raining so hard that at one point, it came rushing into the worship pavilion. Praise God for concrete floors and fairly sturdy furnishings. The heavy rainstorm kept the crowd a bit smaller than usual, but we still had a good time of praise, teaching, sharing, praying, and eating together.

Saturday, February 09, 2013


Saturday's big event was a WOW Kids' Day at Will Go over on Base 2.

Oh Happy Day, Take 2 2-9-13 #songlyrics #ohappyday #betsie #praise #worship #innercityministry #wewillgo #missionaries #missionarykids

The day included worship time, games, face painting, a hotdog lunch, and prayer.

Chris Howard leads us in praying for our neighborhood and city. 2-9-13 #wewillgo #kidsday #chrishoward #childrensministry #innercityministry #missionaries #prayer #redandyellowblackandwhite #children #missionarykids

It also included a time of remembering a little girl who was hit by a car and killed on this corner several years ago.  Her family was honored and a sign memorializing her was dedicated.

Memorial sign for Taj. 2-9-13 #memorial #wewillgo #kidsday

Please pray for this neighborhood.  Too many families have lost children too early in life.  We pray that God will bring transformation, peace, healing, and abundant living to this city.

Friday, February 08, 2013


Friday was classes for Anna, sleeping in for me along with control of the tv remote (a rare treat for a wife and mom with lots of strong men in her life), a good workout to work off all the yummy New Orleans food, and then quick stops at some local food providers before hitting the road for Jackson.

The start of something beautiful.  2-8-13   #hidobakery #kingcake #gretna #louisiana #neworleans #mardigras #purplegoldandgreen #smiles #happy #foodie #foodiemama #bakery #bestkingcake #stillwarmfromtheoven #superfresh #sweet #yum #food #holidaytraditions

After reading reviews and getting insight from locals, we picked up a still-warm-from-the-oven King Cake from the Hi-Do Bakery. Wow! Those pinches we snatched in the parking lot were incredible. Then it was on to pick up a combination Vietnamese sandwich from Mr. Bubbles for me and a Subway for Anna before we crossed the Crescent Connection over the Mississippi River and began our trip home.

 Saying goodbye to New Orleans as we go over the Crescent City Connection. 2-8-13 #neworleans #crescentcitycinnection #mississippiriver #travel #taxi #blueskies #city

 But don't worry New Orleans, as long as my oldest lives there, your food is amazingly fabulous, your people are so interesting, and your city is one of the most beautiful in America, this Mississippi mama will keep finding her way back to your streets.

And restaurants.

Thursday, February 07, 2013


Thursday was all about time with my mom, time with my oldest, and time being tourists.

Grandmommy in front of a fantastic little coffee shop cafe in historic Algiers.

Coffee from the Tuit de Suite and leftover bread pudding on a park bench with my mom in historic Algier's Point.

Breakfast on a park bench with my mama. 2-7-13 #breakfast #food #breadpudding #kingcake #coffee #grandmommy #dessert

Rockin' the fun stuff! 2-7-13 #meandmama #ilovemama #mardigras #parade #ilovethiswoman #smiles #beads #holidaytraditions #neworleans #travel

Playing the tourist in the Garden District meant a school Mardi Gras parade, lots of beads, shopping, and fun sight seeing/people watching.

Three generations of strong women. 2-7-13 #neworleans #motheranddaughter #anna #grandmommy #mardigras #smiles #family #aquagreen #purplegoldandgreen #beads #throws #ilovethiswoman #ilovemymama #doors

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to my mom and then it was on to more good food and exploring for me and Anna.

Casual, funky atmosphere of La Divina Gelateria. 2-7-13 #ladivinagelateria #anna #neworleans #funky #light #restaurants #food #yum #art
La Divina Gelateria

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


Most of the week busy in New Orleans and at the ministry. Will post a picture or two --- or maybe even three or more --- for each day as computer time very limited.

Waiting at the train station, New Orleans bound.

A relaxing train ride afforded me plenty of time to edit photos, catch up on facebook, pray, read, and snack on healthy Chex mix.  I was picked up by Anna and my mom, walked around the mall on Veteran's for a while, before heading to Celebration Church for the Watoto Children's Choir concert.

You KNOW we're smiling big being with these beautiful African kids.  I didn't want to leave for sure.  It was the first time I'd been around that number of Africans since being in Swaziland and South Africa last year. #watotochildrenschoir #africa #anna #

This Africa freak was obviously happy to be in the company of these children from my favorite continent.

After concert dinner and dessert with some of my favorite women --- my mama, my oldest daughter, and Anna's Life Group leader Jessica (now a new friend). #anna #grandmommy #celebrationchurch #newfriends #food #dessert #cheesecake #fun #restaurants #neworl

After the concert, we headed to Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro for an after-concert supper and some fabulous desserts including Mardi Gras cheesecake.

Mardi Gras cheesecake + me = fabulous happiness  #happyfoodie #cheesecake #yummy #food #dessert #smiles #mardigras #purplegoldandgreen

Amazing food, people I love, New Orleans, and African children equals one happy mama!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


I'll be honest, as much as I dream about moving to Swaziland, sometimes I get worried about things and other times I think about how much I'm going to miss my big girls when they are in college here and I'll be living all the way over there. I wonder about where we'll live and if we'll have to move around often. I hope that my other five kids will adjust well and like it but I don't have that guarantee. And I hope that our retirement will be enough to live on and that we don't have to live too frugally. And I even have silly concerns, such as will all our stuff that we are going to ship arrive safely to Swaziland.

And then I read reports from Swaziland and I am reminded of what really matters. I read about the life-and-death struggles facing so many people, including babies and wee children, every single day. Those true stories make my concerns pale in comparison. They also remind me that the sacrifices are worth it because the children and Lord I'm sacrificing for are worth it.

People ask if it is going to be hard to leave here and move there. There will be some things that will be hard. Some days, even weeks and months, are going to be intensely hard, but when I think of those who are in desperate need for help in Swaziland, and I think about all my Lord has done for me, then once again I know that I will continue to say "yes" to this call, no matter the cost.

Janine Maxwell, co-founder of a home for abandoned babies in Swaziland, wrote a post that illustrates all too clearly why missionaries are needed there and why those of us who are still State-side must continue to give and pray:

Swaziland Baby Asher El Roi Janine Maxwell
Baby Asher

On Thursday I got a call from a Social Worker at a local hospital saying that there was another case of rape and the 17-year old girl couldn’t possibly care for the baby that had been born that morning. Fortunately some of our friends and family signed up to give monthly to support the El Roi Baby Home over the Christmas holidays so I was able to say “YES” when asked if I could pick up the baby on Monday. That baby would be #23 and what a gift to have a team of volunteers here with us to celebrate his arrival!.

Then late Friday afternoon I got a call about another newborn baby boy, this time from a different hospital in a different part of the country. His mother is 26-years old and is in and out of the psychiatric hospital with many voices talking in her head. Her own mother kicked her out of the house when she came home pregnant, but would welcome her back without a baby. Could we take him? The answer was “yes” and he would be baby #24.

So baby #23 actually will be baby #24 when we go to pick him up on Monday.

When does it end? What is our maximum? I am often asked those questions by well-intentioned people from North America, but I am never asked that question by my Swazi or Kenyan co-workers or family. Not ever. Why is that? I think it is because they have been there when a baby is found or when a baby shows up starving to death or having been burned or left on the side of the road. It’s great to build spreadsheets and set goals, but at the end of the day we must prayerfully say yes to any and all babies that El Roi (the God who Sees) sends to us. I am not sure how I will say “no”, if and when that day comes.

I am thankful to each and every person who supports Heart for Africa and the El Roi home for abandoned babies. I have no doubt that El Shaddai (Our Provider) will continue to provide for these little ones. I could not do my job without you and I can’t imagine not doing what I do. I love my job, my calling and am eternally thankful to have been given this gift.

Taking the baby to the car to bring him home.

Early this morning we drove to Siteki to pick up the 4-day old baby boy, named Asher (means “Happy”) we stopped to drop food off to the homestead with 15 children living with no caregiver, whom I write about often. A dear friend from Missouri dropped money off at the US office yesterday and asked me to buy them some food. Last week I took Manna Packs and 10 KG of rice, which should have been sufficient for a month. Today I brought bananas, bread, oil, onions, potatoes, squash and other fresh food. We even brought plastic plates and cups because the children all eat out of the hot cooking pot with bare hands. Today, I discovered that the food I left last week had been stolen by a 19-year old “Auntie”. Nice eh? I am so angry. But that fight is for another day.

Swaziland children Janine Maxwell

15 children living with no adult to provide for them.

Our last stop before getting Asher home was at the National Tuberculosis Hospital. My young friend (Leah; Rachel’s mother) asked if I could bring her some mayonnaise. Mayonnaise? Yes, because she said the food was inedible and she thought mayonnaise might help. When I walked in her room I found a young woman lying naked, face down on the concrete floor. She couldn’t have weighed more than 70 pounds and was skin and bone. I was shocked and asked my friend if she was alive. She said yes, and shook her head. She said, “She is very sick and has gone mad. She refuses to lie on her mattress so lies here until they come and put her back.” Minutes later two people came in with masks on (to protect from the TB), then put on rubber gloves and lifted/dragged the lifeless body back to her mattress on the floor. That is a vision that will never leave my head, and I am thankful that our volunteers stayed in the car with the new baby.

That’s all for today, I am a bit weary and weepy and it is time to sit on the patio, look at the beauty that God has created and give thanks.

Live from Swaziland … it is Saturday afternoon.


To read more about the ministry of El Roi and Project Canaan, visit Janine's blog: