Posts Tagged ‘Kenya’

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Maasai Medical Camp

June 12, 2009

Wow, it’s been such an awesome week! This past week our team traveled to Kajiado, Kenya. Kajiado is in the rift valley province of Kenya, and there were some spectacular sights as we drove out to the middle of nowhere. We stayed with a missionary couple, Josiah and Sarah Kirisuah. Josiah and Sarah are of the Maasai tribe, and they live on a beautiful piece of land that overlooks a valley where Josiah’s native tribe of ~400 live. Josiah is a pastor at the local church that they started, in addition to the church, the Kirisuah’s also started a primary school for the local Maasai children.

Sarah and Josiah showed us such hospitality. For each meal, Sarah created wonderful dishes that filled our stomachs and our hearts. She also took the time to explain many recipes to us so we can replicate them when we return home 🙂 Josiah and Sarah have an extraordinarily beautiful piece of land, and it was so neat to hear Josiah talk about the land as God’s portion for him and his family. God has truly blessed this family with many talents (their daughter, Neema, is an extraordinary award-winning singer), great dreams (they hope to open a medical clinic, Neema hopes to open a school for arts), and outstanding relationships with their Maasai family and friends. If you Google “Maasai”, you’ll probably see a picture of a tall, lean warrior with a red and blue plaid cape over his shoulders. You’ll probably find stories of how the Maasai drink blood and how they are a ‘culturally preserved’ tribe. You may or may not find that the Maasai people are some of the kindest, healthiest (they live on meat and milk, yet have no heart problems?), most genuine people you can ever meet.

We helped out the village with building a dam so that they could one day have a large water source. The dry summer tends to be very difficult for the heardsman and farmers, and the dam offers hope that they can continue to make a living the way they have for hundreds of years. We helped by hauling huge stones (the area is FULL of rocks), we also had an assembly line where we passed cement up to the dam wall. It was great to mix in with all of the Maasai, and we had no idea what they were saying- because they speak Maasai, so the little bit of Kiswahili that we know was basically useless. But the smiles and funny interactions exchanged made us all instant friends. I’m not going to go on and on about how awesome the Maasai are, you’ll just have to come out to Kenya to experience it yourself 🙂

I got stung by a wasp on my first trip to the restroom, and I wanted to document the moment. This is such a beautiful picture, Nemma, the singer, decided to hold my hands- and this beautiful picture is the result!

This past week was filled with the extraordinary wonders of God’s creation. The landscape was beautifully filled with tall, thorny Acacia trees, towering red termite hills, sparse shrubs and blue skies that went on forever. At night, we got to watch the moon rise (I’ve NEVER seen a moon rise before), and I swear we could see each of the stars in the Milky Way. This past week was full of relaxation and beautiful sights, but we also did some hard work. Like I mentioned earlier, we helped to schlep materials for building a dam. The day before we left, we set up a small medical camp (which we advertised when helping out with the dam). We opened up the small church and about 150 people ended up coming! We held the camp from about 10am-4pm. My job was to do an ENT(ears, nose, throat) examination, and I also checked the eyelids for paleness that could suggest anemia. Here are some realizations:

-Children do not like ear scopes. In fact, they are terrified of them. The children like to slump to the floor, which makes it necessary for me to go down to the floor to get a peek into their ears and nose- all in all, it often looked like I was pinning a child on the floor, I promise I was only trying to help.
-The insides of peoples’ noses look different from one another. I mean, seriously, there are so many different inner-nose structure types. It was pretty interesting. But, when the interesting nose structures were inflamed or incredibly snotty- that’s when things got kind of gross.
-Apparently elderly Maasai women don’t have people asking them to open their mouths very often. Whenever I would demonstrate how they were to show me their lovely tonsils, they would laugh quite a bit. The women, lovingly called the “grandmothers’, also giggled when I proceeded to look up their noses.
-I know absolutely nothing about eyes, ears, noses and throats. I mean, I can tell if something looks bad, but I have absolutely no training to diagnose anything. But no worries, once the patients passed me and Ben for blood pressure, they went to fake Dr. Daniel and then proceeded to the pseudo-pharmacists Lauren and Courtney. No worries though, we did have Pamella, an LIA staff member and registered nurse on hand. So we were semi-legitimate.

The people needed basic medicines: de-wormers, pain relievers, antibiotics, anti-fungal medications- so our lack of knowledge about most things medical didn’t matter too much. The medical camp was a fun experience, though Daniel and Ben are feeling a little under the weather today, so keep them in your prayers.

Some fun experiences I had in Kajiado:
– We watched a goat castration (i.e. vasectomy) and we documented it with video and pictures
– We watched a goat become our dinner (I wrote a detailed how-to list for how to have goat for dinner)
– We drank copious amounts of Kenyan tea (tea, milk, water and sugar- mmmm)
– I got to take some AWESOME runs– my shoes are now a terra-cotta red color from the beautiful Kenyan dirt
– I fully intend on going back to Kajiado, and I told Sarah and Josiah that I would be back to visit them. Who knows? Maybe I can work in their dream clinic someday 🙂 P.S. It’ll take about 4 million Kenyan schillings ($50,000) for them to get the clinic up and running- if you happen to want to donate, let me know!
– I miss e-mailing Daniel. We didn’t have any internet access this past week, and I’ve missed talking to him. He arrived safely in California last week, and he’s been going through his orientation these past few days! It’s been so nice to finally read e-mails from him. Keep him in your prayers please!

Tomorrow we are headed back to Kibera slum to do a school outreach program with Nairobi Pentacostal Church. Pray that we’re able to have some good interactions with the children- as you may have read in the last post, the slums are a difficult place to be. We’re also not really sure what we’re doing, and we don’t know how much of a language barrier there will be, so I’m just praying that God leads us into some awesome fellowship with the people we meet. And I also want to thank God for the work he’s doing in the lives of people back home. I’ve been praying for many things this summer, especially for my family, and our Lord is faithful! Prayers are being answered!

What a beautiful picture of joy and laughter

What a beautiful picture of joy and laughter

God bless you all!
Holly

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Sunburn, Slums and God’s Children

June 4, 2009

On Monday June 1, Daniel, Lauren and I atteneded the Madaraka Day celebration. Madaraka day is the day Kenya attained self-rule in 1963. Let’s take a look at my fashion choices, can you tell what I’m missing?
I decided to wear a tank-top because it feels like the middle of summer to us, but the Kenyans think it’s cold because it’s winter here! I also donned a baseball cap to protect my face from the “winter” sun. I slipped on my Chacos (which I think I’ve worn every day since I’ve been here), and I also wore capris.. Anyways, now that you know what I’m wearing, notice that I forgot to put on sunscreen. More on that later.
Dr. Emily from LIA picked us up and dropped us off at the stadium. We got there around 10:30 am, and we waited till about 11:45 till anything started. It was pretty neat because we got to sit in the stadium seats, we got there before it was getting super crowded. There was a marching band that played as the Kenyan armed forces marched around the field. Then there were some other groups that walked a lap around the stadium, there was a brief air show, some Masai warriors did a dance performance, and there were circus-type acrobats who did some nifty tricks (doing a handstand on another persons ribcage, anyone?) Then the prime minister came out and talked, and then the President came and spoke for a while.
At one point though, when the Prime Minister was speaking (it was all in Swahili, so we didn’t know what he was saying)- some guy started shouting about 5 sections to our right. The Kenyan guards were all over him immediately, but it got our hearts pumping for a while- especially since we had no idea what was said by the Prime Minister or by the unruly man. We decided to take off around 12:45, the President had started speaking, and we were getting REALLY hot- that’s another thing I’ve noticed, Kenyan’s don’t sweat. We headed out to one of the exits, but it was closed. We decided to stay there because someone told us the doors would open once the President was finished. People kept pouring into the little area where we were, and we stood packed like sardines for close to 30 minutes. It was a little unnerving at points because we were a little scared that someone would get rowdy again, but no one did, the heat didn’t help with the closeness either. When they finally opened the doors, everyone was pushing and shoving toward the exit. If you would have fallen, you may have been trampled. It was like you were standing in this river of moving people, and you just had to follow the current- I’ve never been in that experience before! But we’re safe, nothing bad happened 🙂
Back to my lack of sunscreen, my malaria medicine makes me sensitive to the sun. I got a bit burnt on my shoulders and in my “elbow pits”. My feet, on the other hand, got pretty toasted. I look like I’m wearing white Chacos . It’s more like sun irritation from the malaria med. It doesn’t hurt at all, but boy was it red! Everything has pretty much faded into a tan now though! Lauren has an awesome leathery-feeling forehead due to her extreme sun exposure, and Daniel, the redhead in the group, really didn’t get burnt too badly! See all of that patchyness? Thanks doxycycline.

On Tuesday, I made eggs for breakfast. I’ve had some difficulty with eggs: The first time I made them I added milk, the next time I added water, then this time I didn’t add anything- and go figure, they turned out the best! We headed to LIA and watched a short video about HIV/AIDS, then we read some questions that I think were from students that were published in an HIV/AIDS awareness magazine. Then we met with a missionary man and his wife, Josiah and Sarah, who live in Kijado, which is where we’ll be from Monday-Friday of next week. They live with the Masai tribe people (legit tribe people, the husband is one of them). We’ll be sleeping in tents and living very primitively. We’re all really excited for a “real” African experience! Of course, I asked if we could run while we were there, and Josiah said “sure, you can chase the giraffes”!!! Chasing giraffes!! How awesome!
We had our first slum experience in Kibera. Kibera is the world’s 2nd largest slum, and Kenya’s largest. It covers 7 square kilometers, HUGE. We met 3 pastors from churches there, and they took us to a “school”. There was garbage everywhere, there was dirt everywhere, it was stinky, people were everywhere- you couldn’t really look up while you were walking for fear of tripping over something or stepping in a puddle of who knows what.. I don’t even know how to explain it. The kids all were saying “allo, ow are you?” (They have difficulty saying H’s, it’s adorable). There are a few main roads that run through the entire slum, and there are TONS of mud hut shack things that are tiny businesses. Some sell minutes for cell phones (you load them up, kind of like reloading a pre-paid card), some sell veggies, some sell cooked food. I wasn’t expecting to see so many “businesses” there. And people walk like 5+ miles to town to go into the city to work. Some women make porridge in their homes, and then they carry it around and give it to people throughout the day. It’s such a strange environment; you really do have to see it to believe it.
Anyways, we visited the school, and the classroom was a dark little mud hut room with little benches and “desks” (taller benches) made out of 2×4’s. We said hi to the kids, and they went around the room and told us their names, they were from ages 5-11, but most looked younger. There were about 40 kids in that one tiny room. Then, the kids were given biscuits (cookies) for a snack, and they gave us some Kenyan tea (they boil milk + tea + sugar, it was AMAZING!) The school has a feeding program for the kids- they feed them fortified porridge at 10am, and they give them lunch (usually rice and beans) later in the day, sometimes that’s the only food the kids get 😦

It was definitely a humbling experience. I said a prayer for them all, you could feel the love of the Lord in that place. We were meeting with a woman, and we followed her son, Daniel, home from school to visit with his mom who is HIV positive. It was so strange following this 5 year old boy through the packed mud and garbage alley-ways of the slum. There are “streams” of water and who knows what else running in the walking path, so you kind of have to hop around to avoid them. We arrived at the house, went inside, and saw the sparse furnishings of a wooden couch, some buckets for water, a simple stove (coals in a pot with another pot containing porridge on top), and a bed behind a curtain. The woman’s name was Faith (she’s a Christian), and she has 3 children. She welcomed us into her home (everyone tells us welcome everywhere we go, it’s awesome), and we said a prayer with her. And she was explaining (in English) the stigma about HIV positive people. Faith told her neighbors that she was HIV+, and they basically don’t talk to her anymore. People don’t get tested, because of stigma associated with HIV. BUT, HIV medication is FREE here, but people are just so afraid of what others will think, that they’re never tested, so they never really know their status, and they never can take advantage of free medication. It’s a difficult scenario to wrap your mind around.

A picture of Kibera in the rain from Ben’s camera

When we were returning to our van to head home, it started to rain, and the mud streets turned so very slippery. But, there was a rainbow over the slum, and it was just a really neat moment. God is still present even in this place where poverty, disease and hunger run rampid. I haven’t quite digested the whole visit to the slum yet, but again, it was humbling. I cannot believe that people are living and thriving in that area. It looks like a place where people should just be dying, but people have small businesses, and some people are happy? Then I started thinking, if SOME Americans would live a little less comfortably than they do (smaller house, not as extravagant cars, etc.), and if we sent all of that extra money to build houses/set up people from the slums with money for necessities for life, we could like, eradicate that slum area. That’s almost 2 million people and it really wouldn’t be much sacrifice for us.
On Wednesday, June 3, we met a guy named Julian (who happens to be the brother of the LIA founder, Dr. Florence). He founded an organization called Youth Redemption Africa, they basically start up bible studies/Christian youth leadership training within schools. Julian put together a book called “Aroma”, and it’s basically a year-long bible study for small groups that takes you through “Milk to Meat” types of studies. The first section of the book focuses on understanding what being a Christian means, then later sections talk about evangelism, traditions (prayer, fasting, etc), and then it talks about community/church importance and what each is supposed to look like. That wasn’t a very good description, but it’s basically awesome. It was an all-inclusive bible study that I think tons of people could learn from! I’m planning on bringing a few back home!
After lunch, we visited New Life Home Trust. They take in abandoned children (not orphans, just abandoned). Anyone can bring a child there (aged 1 day to 3 months- that’s the age range they’ll accept, lots of babies!) They were telling us about the program and stuff, and they take pictures of the babies when they are found/dropped off. The pictures were so heartbreaking. Some of the babies were super skinny, someone found a set of twins that had been BURIED under mud by the parents that didn’t want them, and one baby was wrapped in a garbage bag and was found in a dumpster. It was really difficult to look at the pictures. Then, they had pictures of the babies after 2-4 weeks at New life Home, and they looked SO much healthier and happier 🙂 Anyways, they’re running an awesome Christian facility. Courtney, Lauren and I played with some kids for a few. They’re just so cute. This is a quality place for the kids to be raised until they are adopted. We were given a little tour, then we were just allowed to help out with the kids. We played with them, and then we helped them wash their hands before dinnertime, where we got to help feed them. If it’s God’s will, I may be coming back to New Life Home Trust in the future to adopt 🙂 I grabbed plenty of brochures!

We had another authentic Kenyan dinner prepared for us by an LIA volunteer. She made an awesome beef stew, and rice and chapattis (wheat-tortilla like things that everyone loves). Sorry that post was so very long, but I’m just so excited to share what we’ve been doing with you all! God has definitely been opening my eyes to see how he gives people such life even in dire situations. He has also placed a few burdens on my heart, but I haven’t quite put a name to them yet. Keep everyone in your prayers, from my team mates, to our team mates in Poland, to Daniel as he prepares for his summer in California, and to my family and friends.
In Christ,
Holly

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Seeds are being planted…

May 29, 2009

Wow, today was an awesome day. We traveled about 2 hours NW of Nairobi to visit a city called Kijabe. In Kijabe, we visited the AIC (Africa Inland Church) Hospital to meet with a German missionary named Dorothy.

Dorothy shared her story of coming to faith, and she also shared about her call to missions. Dorothy grew up in Germany, where she studied agriculture in college. She came to the faith sometime during her college years, and married a Christian farmer named Thomas. Thomas had heard a call for work with Somalians, and he and Dorothy began a 9 year journey in prepraration for working with the Somalian people. Doors kept opening for her and her family, and they eventually found themselves in Wajir, Kenya (NE Kenya). Wajir is a community of Somalis. Apparently, there are 5-6 year waves of missionaries. Dorothy began to explain the nature of the Somalian people. She said that when 2 Somalian people tried to work out an issue, one or both usually ended up dead. From her explanation, it sounds like there’s not much compassion or empathy shown in these communities, and their Islamic “value” system only worsens their violence. Dorothy said the Somalians are very good at observing others, gathering resources, and they are very strategic in their planning. She mentioned the current state of the waters shared by Kenya and Somalia, and she explained how fisherman, computer geeks and weapon makers team up to hijak ships to terrorize waters. She also explained how it was very difficult for missionaries to stay in a Somalian community for long.

Our friend from LIA, Pamella, and her husband Francis also lived as missionaries in Wajir, Kenya for a time. Francis actually taught Dorothy and her husband the Somalian language. Anyways, Pamella and Dorothy were telling us that when they first relocated to Wajir, they were simply seen as outsiders. After a few years of becoming established in the community, the Somalians who were being protective would begin to study the missionary families. After a few years, the unwelcoming Somalians would eventually threaten the missionaries in some way so that they would leave. Dorothy was sharing a story about how three men came to faith during their time in the community. The Somalian men, however, were a little foolish- they went to the church, to friends’ homes, and to Dorothys’ house to share the news of their baptism. Mentioning baptism around Islamics who are very against the idea began to anger some of the non-Christian Somalians. Anyways, the day after the baptism, Dorothy, the church and other known Christians recieved threatning letters, and Dorothys famliy had to leave.

It was just amazing to hear about this womans story. I’ve read a few different books that talk about peoples experience in the mission field, but actually hearing it and being able to ask questions was so impactful on me. Dorothy then began to tell us how two German, Christian farmers began to serve at the Africa Inland Church Hospital. In 2002, the hospital was beginning to see an increase in Somalian patients, but not many on staff could translate, so Dorothy and her husband began working at the hospital to translate.

I realize that was a lot, and it may not have all been typed out very clearly, but Dorothy made an impact on me. I scribbled some notes down right after we talked to her:

  • Missions take a while; after you hear your call, it may take years of preparation before you actually “GO”
  • Establishing a home church is important; without that support and love from people at home, issues on field are even more difficult
  • Try to reconcile relationships at home prior to “GOING”; being immersed in a completely different culture, whether it’s the streets of NY or the streets of Sudan- you’re in a different lifestyle, and working on the relationships when you’re far away can be difficult
  • You can begin your mission field at home (in the States) by connecting with people who are from the culture that you’ll be working in
  • Get experience in the country! It’s okay to take a few weeks to check out the sights and learn more about the culture

And then the unevitable questions came to mind: Where do I go? When do I go?

Obviously these are things that need to be considered with lots of prayer and listening to God. I’m definetley feeling an even stronger call to enter into the mission field, which is absoultely scary and exhilirating at the same time. Scary because I don’t know what’s going to happen, where I’ll be sent, or how any of my past experiences will fit into God’s call. Exhilirating because God has given me the opportunity to Go and do his work. I’m just rambling now. I’m just excited 🙂

And, check out our team blog: www.mi2kenya09.blogspot.com. Our other Mi2 intern friends are over in Poland, so check out their blog and keep them in your prayers: www.mi2poland09.blogspot.com

And what post isn’t complete without a picture? Here’s a little kitty friend I made today, he was munchin on a french fry 🙂IMG_2678

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Mi2 Application Essays

March 10, 2009

I just wanted to share what I wrote for my essays when applying to the Mi2 Internship to Kenya:

1. Explain an attribute of God that has highly influenced your life?

God’s faithfulness is one characteristic that speaks volumes to me. I accepted Christ in 6th grade, and up through high school, I was a comfortable Christian. I attended church, I was a part of small groups and I always prayed at dinnertime with my family. I always knew that God was with me growing up, but I had not yet experienced His authentic love and his eternal companionship.

My first year at college was a definite breaking point for me emotionally and spiritually. My family moved out to Colorado just as I began as beginning college, I felt like they abandoned me, and in turn, I didn’t put much effort into my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I distanced myself from both new college friends and Christian friends from home. I secluded myself; I did not seek help from God or from any other Christian friends. I was not allowing the Holy Spirit to fix the brokenness in my life. I was shouldering all of my struggles and trials, and the weight was crushing me.

This stage of my life went on until the end of my first year of college. During the summer of 2007, after realizing how alone and miserable I was, I longed to have a relationship with Him. I started to read my bible, I felt God in church and I began to reconnect with my Christian friends from back home. Before school began, God allowed my family move back to Kentucky.

Heading back to college in my second year, I was a completely different person, and people began to take notice. I was back to my happy-Holly self. However, I’m human, and the stresses of school began to weigh me down again. Even though I knew the Lord was always present and all knowing, I had not asked Him to reveal His omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence to me. Part of me knew that living as a comfortable Christian was unacceptable, yet I didn’t quite understand how to change that. During the summer of 2008, God revealed so many aspects of Himself to me. I finally began to understand that God craves a relationship with us. He wants us to be 100% about Him because He is ALL about us.

God has been teaching me so much about forgiveness, love, friendship and relationships in the past few months. Even though I am in the midst of my parents’ divorce, God has continues to put wonderful Christian people into my life who offer love and advice to both my family and me. I am finally realizing that giving everything, everything to my Father in heaven is the best possible way to live my life. The Lord has always been present, no matter what situation I’m facing. And in the darkness of this world and the struggles that come along with being human, my Father’s pours out His light into my life without end. He truly is faithful.

2. How do you expect this internship to impact your worldview?

The Lord created everything out of nothing. There are essential biological processes that every human being on the planet shares. Our Father meticulously and carefully planned out every complexity that we, as His creations, possess. There is an elemental connection that binds me to every single person on this planet. There is such a vast array of people on our planet that I am continually astounded by the creativity of our Father. Yet my heart absolutely breaks for those who don’t know this wonderful Creator.

In my opinion, Christians growing up in America are often sheltered from the world. I’m not talking about being guarded from questionable television shows or music with explicit lyrics; we are so immersed in our culture that we don’t realize that the world is full of people who are very different from ourselves.

I was blessed to go to Poland for three weeks in the summer of 2004 on a mission trip. We took inner-city Poles camping and hiking and we had opportunities to share our faith with them. I’ve also had opportunities to go to places like Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and even other cities within the States. Every place is unique, and in each place, it is indescribably awesome to me how God loves and cherishes each and every person.

I honestly don’t know what to expect from participating in this internship. My prayers have been for the Lord to open and soften the hearts of the people that we will come into contact with. I’m tearing up thinking about the little children with distended stomachs from being hungry, or about the mother who has worked hours on end to provide shelter for her family. Do they know that there is someone who always loves them? Do they know that there is a Father who always provides?

I think that we as Americans often have preconceived notions about people in other countries. I don’t know what to expect from interning in Kenya. I began to pray from the moment I heard about this trip that God would use me in remarkable ways. I also pray that He reveals himself in ways that I’ve never seen before. I pray that my heart opens up even more to the people of this world, my brothers and sisters. I want the Love for our Heavenly Father to be the blood that runs through the veins of every human. I want the family of those who love the Lord to pulse with one rhythm, to the song of Life that the Lord has given us. I want to go beyond the elemental bond that all humans share; I want every person, in the farthest corners of the earth to be connected to the unbounded love of our God.

3. How do you view missions are a part of your calling in life?

I’ve had a strong conviction to show God’s love and compassion to other people. I know I’m not cut out to be a minister, a professional songwriter or an incredible author. I do know that I can serve people. I know that God loves when we decide to use our individual talents and unique abilities to praise him. This call to missions has become my passion, and if it’s God’s will, I would be so blessed to be in the mission field for the rest of my life. I want to bring light to those who live in darkness; I want to bring love to the broken. I want to help people rebuild their lives while laying the solid foundation of a life set upon Christ our Savior.

I am well aware that it is not my actions that will bring people to Christ, but it is the Lord who draws people near as He accomplishes His work and His purposes through me. I am nothing, and He is everything.

I’m at one of the many points in my life in which I’m not sure where God is taking me. I’m nearly finished with school, unsure about my future. Experiencing the fullness of life through missions would be a humbling and insightful opportunity to better understand God’s plan for my life. I think people, me included, are too accustomed to doing what is comfortable. Missions aren’t convenient; they often require you to leave family, friends and familiar places. Missions aren’t simple. Missions aren’t cheap. Missions aren’t a “typical lifestyle”.

Missions are our calling as followers of Christ. If I am to be a disciple of Christ, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

We are to follow Christ’s actions of selflessness, service, compassion and love. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2). This is our call from the Lord. This is my call to missions.