It is so interesting how people seem more reflective on their birthdays. I find myself thinking,
"Where do I see us in 5 years?"
"What do I want to accomplish in the next year?"
"Wow...look at all that God has done in our life this last year!"
This weekend I had the wonderful privilege of spending 2 days with 80 team leaders who came from around the country to participate in the official training conference of my work, the nonprofit Visiting Orphans.
I felt like I was meeting my distant family for the first time. These are the people I email, call and contact everyday and here they all are together. It was so amazing to feel the passion of the leaders and to know that the work that our staff does at Visiting Orphans is supported by so many people! It can be easy to loose sight of the big picture when ministry is your full time job. Everyday is filled with discussions about money, policies, applications, etc. And I found it so encouraging to see so many people willing to give up weeks of their year to lead trips around the world. It was as if, as a staff, we were seeing the fruit of our labor. This is what it is all about... training more leaders so that more and more team members and orphans are touched by the love of God.
I was listening to all the stories of team leaders who experienced the love of God in a very real way while "visiting orphans". Since I started at VO I have found that I have often had to defend the work that I do. This weekend reminded me that one planted seed, one "I love you", one American heart awakened, is worth every second and every penny. And as we sat for 8 hours yesterday discussing policy and trip etiquette, I was encouraged that VO is doing it right and we truly are helping.
Pure Religion is this, to visit orphans in their distress -James 1:27
My husband and I are given the opportunity to go to Rwanda and Ethiopia this December. This weekend tripled that fire inside of us. We were both born overseas, Michael in Europe, myself in Africa. We have both been on numerous short term trips all over the world. But this is our first trip as a married couple to walk into what we strongly believe God has called us to. (And for some reason I feel God stirring in my heart for the country of Rwanda....) We will be working in multiple orphanages, including the largest orphanage in Rwanda, where there are over 200 children under 2 years old. There will be lots of baby holding! We will also be working in the Korah trash dump in Ethiopia, a tough place to stomach but a place that God has filled with such hope!
and click on the donate tab in the top right corner. You can designate the donation to the December Ethiopia/Rwanda trip and put Michael and Merrill Durham in the memo. Call it a birthday gift to us :) (Michael's is on Wednesday)
This weekend has truly reignited a fire in both my husband and me for the nations. And we are so blessed to be part of the work of Visiting Orphans and all the leaders that we met this weekend!
And as I sat at training today, with tears in my eyes, I knew that God was beginning to unfold an exciting and new chapter in our lives. Walking with God is such an adventure!
The incredible staff at Visiting Orphans
By the way...I have the most amazing coworkers, whom I call my friends!