Archives For Africa

You might be a recovering short-term missionary if…

1. You’re still wearing the long skirts you wore in Africa because you realize they really are so comfortable… and no one can see your berenstain-bear-level of hairy bristles you once called legs. bonus!

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2. You have a deer-stuck-in-the-headlights look on your face. Yeah, even you see it in the mirror. “I don’t know what is happening to me, but I know it’s gonna hurt. Brace for impact!!!’

3. You don’t know how to answer, ‘How was your trip?’ so you just say, ‘It was good; hard but good.” You don’t want to trivialize it to the point of it just being an adventure or mere vacation, because you didn’t rough it as much as you thought you would. Yet you also don’t want to over-share, fearing that your friends will from now on run the other way when they see you & your extra-long skirt trotting down the grocery story aisle or at upcoming school activities.

What happens here, stays here… lest I over-share.

What happens here, stays here…                            lest I over-share.

4. You have never in your life been so excited to see a Chick-Fil-A (and that’s saying something). It’s like you’re not officially back in America if you haven’t made two necessary stops from the airport: Chick-Fil-A & Starbucks. Granted, you feel bad that you haven’t even left the airport yet and you’re already stuffing your face with first-world luxuries. But still you do.

Side note: My friend & I happened to be rerouted overnight through Atlanta on our way to Johannesburg (after our flight was cancelled) a few weeks ago. We made the best of it, encouraging each other “Hey! At least we can wake up tomorrow from the #notellmotel {thanks for that United Airlines!} and get airport Chick-Fil-A for breakfast!!!” Our dreams were crushed when a lady overheard us talking about CFA on the tram ride… she said, “Um, it’s Sunday.” WHAT??? I didn’t lose my salvation but I’d never in my life wanted a business owner to be more of a heathen… pretty sure Jesus would want his chicken sandwich on Sundays too.

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5. You’re kinda pissed off. At yourself. At your ‘blessings’. At America. At your church. At First-World issues that distract us from dying children… see #4. For the first few days & weeks, you are confused, frustrated & your heart is breaking. You can’t quite reconcile how just hours & days prior to this you witnessed some of the most difficult of circumstances, yet some of the strongest and most joyful people you’ve ever met. And how on earth are you supposed to share those stories with grace & joy?

Isabel & toddler selfies!

Isabel & toddler selfies!

In a nutshell, you’re wrecked for the ordinary.

Jeff Goins, in his Manifesto for Misfits describes being wrecked like this:

To be “wrecked” is to be disabused of the status quo. It means to have a redemptive transformation, often catalyzed by a brush with the pain of a dying world. The process is anything but pretty. It’s harsh and real and painfully honest. Finding out who you are and what your place is feels like a sweater unwinding thread-by-thread. Your old life begins to make less and less sense in light of your new priorities, and it seems futile to rebuild the old way of living.

At first, it’s disorienting—maybe even distracting. It calls out of you the greatest parts of you— the parts you might be afraid to let out.

To be wrecked begins with an experience. It pulls you out of your comfort zone and, consequently, out of self-centeredness. Whether you want it or not, this is what happens—your old narcissistic dreams begin to fade in light of something bigger, something better. The process leaves you with a paradigm that is still left standing after the “real world” has slammed into your ideals a couple dozen times. It’s hard, but only because all things worth fighting for are hard. Being wrecked means that everything you believe about this world, yourself, and your destiny is now in question. Because you’ve seen something larger.

In the end, you’re not who you were before. You’re different. You’re changed. You may even feel like your old values have been, in a sense, ruined by this new worldview. As confusing or as difficult as that may sound, it’s a good thing. 

I encourage you to read the full Manifesto for Misfits which can be downloaded here.

It’s incredibly insightful & encouraging.

This post was originally intended to bring some light-hearted levity to what can be a difficult transition between two continents & realities that you desperately love. But I’m seeing there are very little resources for those who return from short-term missions, especially those endeavoring to do it ‘right’; in a way that honors both God & those who have so graciously allowed you into their lives. If nothing else, I hope you, short-term missionary with your unshaven legs, can see that you are not alone in the difficulties of re-entry. Allow the Lord to continue His good work in you. It’s not over just because you have returned from Africa! No, no no! Jesus said ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel…” Today, wherever you are, there is a world of people all around you waiting to hear the good news of the Gospel! Go! Live His love BIG in your family, your school, your neighborhood and your workplace!

Shine On!

Danielle

5 SScreen Shot 2014-07-16 at 11.07.17 PMigns You Might Be Going on a Short Term Mission Trip 

1. You have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into, but you’re excited about it!!!

2. You share every. single. blog. and. article. relating. in. any. way. to. extreme. poverty. and. missions…

On LinkedIn, FacebookTwitter… and Google+ in case anybody’s there.

3. You begin to use words & phrases like ‘called’, ‘love on some orphans’ (please stop!), ’empowerment’ and the newest ‘self-sustainability’… you don’t really understand what they mean, but you know it’s good. And you somehow work them into every conversation. Even the gas station attendants know you’re going to Africa!

4. It’s 36 hours before you leave, yet you are incessantly cleaning your house from top to bottom, paying overdue bills & getting your affairs in order, you know, just in case! The worst thing that could ever happen… your mother-in-law sees what a mess your life really is.

5. You’ve got your obnoxiously bright ‘Africa’ fundraiser T-shirt on, so as to match the dozen other team members ~ leaving no doubt for ANYone why you & your matching friends are boarding the plane! For the record, my teams are NOT allowed to wear these at the airport anymore! We want to fly under the radar, you know, blend in with all the other regular sinners & snorers!

Okay, there’s really six… (my smarty pants husband accurately assessed this one)

6. If you’re procrastinating packing to write a witty blog post…you might be heading to Africa! 

Would you add anything to the list?

Shine On!

Danielle

ps. T-2 days til Africa!!!

This post is written by my husband, Mike Brower.

It is really resonating with people who are also trying to reconcile what they have witnessed & been a part of when they return from carepoint ministry. To God be the glory!

Often since our return to America from Swaziland I’ve been asked, “How was your trip?”

The answer is typically some form of “Good” or “Great!”

And that’s the truth…but in so many ways it’s not really the truth either.

The trip to Africa went extremely well. There were so many ways that it went good. We made the trek to Swaziland without trouble. Our team of seven found each other in Atlanta, arrived in Johannesburg with all of our luggage intact, met our contact from Adventures in Missions right on schedule, had zero issues with Customs Officials in any country throughout our journey, and none of our planes crashed in flames!

The technical parts of our journey, the travels and schedules and connections, went perfectly!

Had this been a dream vacation, or business excursion, we couldn’t have asked for more.

But something more happened in our trip, something beneath the surface, a thing that was unexpected and without a nice little box for me to check off.

In the words of one of our team, I was “wrecked.” I experienced a sense of brokenhearted living that I cannot explain. In talking about the mission, I can relay the experiences fairly well.

It’s the transformation happening within me that is challenging to express.

On our first day with the beautiful children of Bheveni, we were able to bring new outfits for each of the children. This was something that we were so excited about. Delta had assisted us by waiving our additional baggage fees, allowing our team to transport 28 large suitcases from the United States to Swaziland. We carried many changes of clothes for the young boys and girls. Our goal was to have at least one new outfit for each, and thankfully we were able to have all that and more!

As the team set out the clothes and prepared for the children to come through, we were anxious about the hours ahead. Would we have enough clothes? Would we have the right sizes? Would the children enjoy these simple gifts? The questions came and went as the children began to arrive.

I watched the boys and girls begin removing their old, tattered, dirty clothing, be washed by members of our team, and outfitted with new shirts, shorts, or skirts, I was overcome with emotion. I could not stay in the room for long without tears welling up in me. I didn’t want the children to wonder why the guy with the camera was crying his eyes out, so I’d wander out every few minutes. As the emotion would subside, I’d return to the scene of the cry for a few more minutes of torture in my soul.

What I saw in Swaziland didn’t fit in my central Minnesotan box. I had an expectation of extremely different life, but I was not prepared for the dramatic shifts in physical poverty I would encounter. I was not prepared to see children barely old enough to walk wandering alone through the countryside. I was ill equipped for the barefoot masses, the distended abdomens, and the barren landscape dotted with homes that could not exist in my life in the States. What really rocked my world though was something I expected less than all else…the smiles.


On so many faces, and behind so many pairs of eyes, was an emotion that I couldn’t make sense of. Joy. In the midst of the most limited existence I could imagine, I met grateful hearts. I saw lives torn apart by disease, divorce, and economic disparity, and so many of those lives were marked with joy.

It made no sense. I couldn’t reconcile the extreme difficulties with the beautiful smiles. My breakdown was complete one afternoon as I noticed a young woman, perhaps eleven years of age, strolling to the outhouse. She appeared cautious. I saw her furtively glance about as she travelled the well worn trail toward a bathroom facility that most of us in America would be disgusted to visit.

And then it happened…my heart was in my throat and I couldn’t stop tears from flowing.

This young woman jumped into a hole. I wasn’t sure what I was seeing, but she casually jumped into what looked like a future, or possibly historical, latrine hole. As I stood in stunned observation, she climbed out of the hole carrying a crumpled up bit of cellophane plastic. My confusion cleared when it dawned on me…she had just found something suitable for her immediate need in the restroom – old, dirty, cellophane toilet paper. And with the realization, I was wrecked again.

It wasn’t fair.

It made no sense.

What could I do?

I was lost in a swirl of tears, prayers, and once again…joy.

In spite of the overwhelming need I could see around me, I had an element of joy as well. I knew that I knew that I was smack dab in the place I was supposed to be. God had brought me on this journey so that I could see and know and be wrecked by these moments. There was no quick fix. There was not a three point, formula sermon that would bring hope, heal the hurts, and provide the kingdom of Swaziland with wealth and toilet paper. There was nothing I could do.

But I could respond with love. I could choose to be broken. I could choose to grieve with the grieving, I could laugh with the laughing, and I could cry with the crying. I could offer myself to those in need. I could be salt and light to the world around me.

I could be wrecked, but not destroyed.

I was reminded of Esther and her uncle’s encouragement that she “had been made Queen for such a time as this.” I had travelled to third world Africa for such a time as this. Not only could I encourage the children with hope and love, I could be transformed by their joyous, grateful hearts as well.

And so I prayed. I asked for God to work in the lives of these children. I asked that they far outlive the statistics. I asked that they be protected from the predators, human and otherwise, that are out to get them. I asked that they would know God’s love in their daily lives. I asked that God would continue to work on their behalf…and that He’d show me what’s next for my involvement.

And then I played. With the kids. I gave what I had. They wanted me…just me…to see them and give myself. My time, my smiles, my arms, and legs, and back. I became their “jungle gym” for awhile. I got down at their level and shared my smile with them too. And it was fun! We had a ball together. In spite of the difficult language barrier, and the disparity in backgrounds, and all the many differences in our lives, we connected for a time.

And it was good. Great even!


I know that there’s much more that God is doing as a result of this trip. I know that the times of connection and play were not overly unique to many of the children. There is a consistent stream of American missionaries that flow in and out of the lives of Swaziland’s children. For the children of Swaziland, “Hello” is often followed quickly with “Bye Bye!”

And I know that I was where I was supposed to be in that stream. I know that there were seeds planted in me, in the B-team, and in the lives of the children there, that are going to germinate and grow and produce good in all of our lives.

Statistically, most of the children I met in Swaziland will not live to see their thirtieth birthday.

That’s horrible.

Something should be done.

I agree wholeheartedly. I’m trusting God to show me, or anybody, what the solution is.

In the meantime, I want to be about sharing life and love with these young people. I want them to know that whether they live a long while on this earth, or they are in the middle of the statistics, that they are valuable, lovable, and beautiful. They have much to give. I want to share in their joys, and help in their hurts.

My central Minnesota understanding of life needed to be wrecked. I’m so thankful for what was begun. And I’m looking forward to all that is ahead.

To see more from Mike Brower, please visit & subscribe to his blog @ www.mebrower.com

B-Team Prayer T-12 days!

September 5, 2010 — 10 Comments

That’s right only 12 days & our feet will be on African soil!!!!

My parents are going where? without me?

Today’s Prayer Request is for the B-Team’s families that remain in the United States during our Missions Trip.

Pray for the following:

  • For our children & families as they deal with our approaching departure. It can be difficult especially for the younger kids. Colossians 2:2
  • Ask for God to help us with needed childcare & family care.
  • Pray for protection over our children & families while we are away, that God’s hand would be upon them to comfort them & keep them healthy.

Thank you for your prayers. I hope you know how comforting it is to have a prayer team supporting us!

God bless your Labor Day Weekend!

Danielle & the B-Team

A short P.S. ~ Praise Story ~ we received our first donation through PayPal (that bright yellow button to the left!) as of this morning! You know who you are – thank you for $50 that will be used for much needed aid for our Beveni Kids!

Africa.

I knew two things about it as a kid.

{And I use the word “knew” loosely!}

1. It was big &  had millions of hungry kids who never heard about God. (Remember me telling you how my dad would cry when we watched the “Feed the Children” infomercials?)

2. I should never go there. I mean, there is even a song written & performed by Scott Wesley Brown called Please Don’t Send Me To Africa! Here’s part of the song.

Please don’t send me to Africa

I don’t think I’ve got what it takes

I’m just a man, I’m not a Tarzan

Don’t like lions, gorillas or snakes

I’ll serve You here in suburbia

In my comfortable middle class life

But please don’t send me out into the bush

Where the natives are restless at night

……

I’ll see the money is gathered

I’ll see that the money is sent

I’ll wash and stack communion cups

I’ll tithe eleven percent!

I’ll volunteer for the nursery

I’ll go on the youth group retreat

I’ll usher, I’ll deacon, I’ll go door-to-door

Just let me keep warming this seat!

It was all done in good fun, but Africa was clearly a difficult place that only the flakes would dare go (that had no sense at all!)

Know what? I have no sense at all.

I even remember journaling something like, “Lord, I’ll be the crazy one to go to Africa if that’s where you want me.” I wanted so badly to serve God & do whatever He wanted. And “if Africa is the worst place on earth where they don’t know about God, well, I’ll go anyway!”

At age 13, I laid on my pink pillow, on my pink bed, in my pink room, and I begged God, “Lord, Here am I! Send me!” just like Isaiah the prophet. Of course I had NO IDEA what I was saying – only that I wanted to make a difference.

Know what? Until about a year ago, I did not remember this. I was reminded of my prayers when I read Tom Davis’ book, Red Letters, that opened my eyes to the TRUE Africa. Uh-oh! So God had taken me seriously all those years ago, “I’ll EVEN go to Africa, God!” Who knew!

He still hasn’t come through on the ‘don’t let me get fat’ prayer. 🙂

Here is the Africa I now long for. In less than three weeks, my prayers to go to the ends of the earth will be answered! And God orchestrated it all. I am humbled & so thankful.

“Africa is amazing. Africa is a million and one things. It is a land of contradictions, and a land of great controversy. Africa is more diverse than any other place on the planet. It has experienced the greatest combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill. It is plagued with individuals who are hurting, dirty, and dying. It is plagued with rich leaders. It is strong, joyful and resilient. Africa is filled to the brim with song, dance and soccer. It fills your lungs with life with every burnt breath. It fills your eyes with tears with every sight. The sun blazes, the rain pours. It has more sky than your eyes could possibly take in. Africa is humbling. Africa rips the heart out of your chest and buries it in the rich red soil, knowing that you will someday return, to see the growth. And there is no doubt it will grow. Africa is dangerous, welcoming, and addictive. It is prosperous. It is poor. It is all too overwhelming. Africa knows the value of friendship. Time is not money in Africa. And money goes a long way. Africa holds a mirror up to your soul – letting you see all your selfish desires, and not letting go, until you’re completely broken.” Unknown!!!

So Moms, don’t let go of the things God put in your heart long ago! Recall those innocent prayers of doing whatever, whenever God wanted. And listen to your kids’ desires & dreams – my parents never once told me I wouldn’t go to Africa. They let me dream until I moved onto my next big idea.

Of course, our children’s’ lives will take many turns, but I encourage you to stir up those innocent dreams in yourself & your children – even if it takes you half way around the world!

Nothing is too big for God – not even Africa!

SOS! Shine On Sisters!

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ~ Nelson Mandela

On my last blog post, I shared an article written by Seth Barnes. You can read it here. Jesus, An Activist. But I’d like to discuss the subject a bit further as it relates to human sacrifice. That’s right. Human Sacrifice. It’s a good thing. Read on.

No matter what the need is that stirs your heart…

~ serving at-risk teens

~ local community outreach

~ domestic abuse advocacy

~ finding a cure for breast cancer

~ supporting orphans & vulnerable children in Africa

If you want to be part of the solution of change, sacrifice is required.

I believe awareness alone does little to bring real change to these issues.

Seth Barnes explains that awareness is needed, but ACTION must follow or our words are in vain. This is a huge part of why HH & I want to put our money where our mouth is and go to Swaziland in September.

{Don’t read this thinking that I’m saying only people who go on missions trips are activist – I’m not}

Yeah, there’s a ton of other things we could be giving our time & money to, but God has been crystal clear on His desire for us to go – to be activists – no matter the costs. Personal sacrifices is a form of ACTION. We see that our summer will be spent working hard to raise funds for the missions trip, as well as making personal sacrifices to save money.

We won’t be taking a cross-country family vacation this year.

We don’t have television service anymore.

And perhaps the hardest is no more bottled water at home! 🙂 We’ll save $300 just using glass cups!

And we see that not everyone will support it. But we won’t retreat just because not everyone approves. In fact, there’s a rumor going around our new neighborhood that a set of our neighbors are actually ticked that we are going to Africa to help “black people”! Are you kidding?

Don’t be afraid of a little controversy to stand up for what’s right!

We pray that whatever it is that you are bringing awareness to, you are also being an active participant who digs in & MAKES change happen – even if it requires human sacrifice!

What sacrifices are you making to bring awareness & change?

Shine On Sisters!



Just goes to show you can have the respect of your peers, be successful, make a name for yourself, but when it comes down to it, your heart can still be empty and LONGING to impact lives! That’s how the man that built the new Twins Stadium felt. What’s fantastic is he & his wife are DOING something to make that dream a reality! That’s what I call a GRAND SLAM!!!

Twins Stadium Builder Moves to Africa

We are all called to do different things with our lives. But do you think you could ever sacrifice, sell it all, give up the so-called American dream for the greater good of others?