I was fresh into my first year of college, first year 7 hours away from home, first semester of trying to catch a glimpse of who it was that God was shaping me to be as an adult.
I wasn't sure where I fit in that year. I felt conspicuous and out of place. I felt unknown. And so He drew me closer. He had put a love in my heart for missions and big urge to just GO... anywhere, everywhere. And so I found myself at the Lipscomb University Missions Fair, perusing the tables of upcoming trips and opportunities. The world truly felt at my fingertips.. every continent and dozens of countries were represented. But my heart had always been pulled toward Africa. And I came upon a small table, manned by one freshmen who was a little younger than me, starting up a trip for the first time to Ghana, West Africa. The Spirit leapt in my heart. I was pulled there.
|Our team in 2004.|
Forgive the poor quality of these pics... they are pics of non-digital pics from 10 years ago! :)
I loved everything about it. I didn't even mind the heat; the lack of showers and electricity just made the experience all the more authentic for me. I taught at a school and was paired with a teacher, Mrs. Kangah in the third grade.
And this is where it all made sense. The reason I was a 19 year-old scaring her parents to death by going on a first-time, no-faculty trip to a small orphanage in West Africa. It was for this teacher and her daughter. It was for me.
Have you ever experienced the Lord just "clicking" your heart together with another? Like in the deepest part of your Spirit, you just know the relationship was meant to be?
This teacher, Ernestina, has become a sister to me over the last 10 years since my first trip to Ghana as a college freshmen. Her daughter, Anna, was in that 3rd grade class I taught for two weeks. They would come to the orphanage every night so we could sneak away and learn more about one another. We laughed together, cried together, wrote letters and exchanged gifts on our final night at the orphanage. They left town the next day so they wouldn't have to say goodbye. My heart loved them, but I wasn't sure how this relationship would continue except through prayer. But God is so much bigger than this little ole world.
|Me, Anna and Ernestina in 2004|
Over the next 3-4 years, we wrote. These letters from my sister Ernestina have some of the deepest sorrows, greatest joys, hardest heartbreaks, and weathered faith I've ever experienced in my life. This single mother in West Africa shaped me in a deep way over the course of my time in college.
|Anna is on the far left|
|ignore this picture of me, but I love this one of Ernestina!|
It is truly a picture of a God-ordained friendship.
And now that 3rd grader? She's a grown up woman. She not only graduated high school, but has finished near the top of her class and was even honored by the President of Ghana along with 22 other scholars last year. She is brilliant and motivated and mature and loves the Lord.
|Anna in 2013|
|Anna receiving her award from the First Lady in Ghana last year|
Ernestina is a teacher in Ghana, but there are seasons when she won't see a paycheck for months on end. It is not socially acceptable to be a single mother - this is something that Ernestina has fought for years. She longs to send her bright daughter to college but the reality is a hard one for these two hard working women.
And so, in honor of my 30th birthday on September 22, I'm asking that 100 people will donate $30 to fund Anna's first year of college. That's all it will take. $3000 in Ghana will pay for a year of school.
Won't you join me? These women mean more to me than I can fully express to you in words. My favorite story of our friendship is the night in 2011 when they called to pray over my daughters' health before I even knew she was sick. And later that evening, we wound up in the ER with sweet baby G. I had peace in knowing the Spirit had convicted my sister on the other side of the world to wake up in the middle of her night to lift my daughter up to His throne! These women are the real deal.
Please pray about donating to this cause. For my birthday, this would be the greatest gift I could receive - to take this financial load off the shoulders of my sisters and let them know that we are all behind them, on their team as Anna begins this amazing journey!
Thank you, friends.
(If $30 isn't do-able, I understand! If the Lord prompts you to give more or less, it would be a blessing!)
If you'd like to send a donation via paypal, my email address is LThrasher10@gmail.com, just put that as the recipient and I will receive it! I'll let you know when I get it! You could also send a check if you'd prefer, message me for our address! This means so much to me!!
Grace, Faith and Joy to you,