Pandas and Passports

This last day and a half has been quite an adventure. For those that don’t know, I realized on Sunday that I needed to get my passport renewed. Not because it expired, but because it wouldn’t be good for 6 months upon my exit from Kenya (a requirement that I was either unaware of or had completely forgotten). In a frantic moment, my heart began to freak out, until I remembered truth. God has known this would come up before time began. He knew that this would happen, and He knew He would take care of it. I remembered the verse that has been my mantra for this journey Isaiah 52:12 “For you shall not go out in haste, nor in flight. For the Lord will go before you and the God of Israel shall be your rear guard.” My heart rate slowed, and my brain got focused. I began to sink into “get it done” mode and just plowed through what I needed to do.

I scheduled an appointment for today (monday) and printed out the necessary paper work, paper clipped it all together and rested my head with little stress! Praise God!
Well, today, I knew I would be in for some sort of adventurous outing as I made my way to downtown Dallas to the passport office! Can I just say how happy I am that they have one in Dallas now as opposed to driving to Houston?!  I found a parking spot relatively easily, found the building and made it through security, up to the 11th floor and in the line to check in for my appointment.
As I approached the line, I heard a woman’s voice…this was no doubt a sign that things were going to be funny and interesting to say the least!

Her name was Panda. Yes, Panda…like the bear. She was a larger african american woman full of spunk, sass and joy! Our conversation began as she commented on how the man in front of us was sweating profusely…(he had been running all over downtown dallas, getting the correct documents). She started talking to me as if we’d been friends for years. “Oh girl, I tell you what. These fools better say this second birth certificate is enough of they just gonna have to arrest me! I done lost enough pounds today just walking around downtown.” She was already cracking me up. Then she looked at me “Oh now you look all organized! Girl, where you heading?”
“I’m moving to western Kenya!”
“KENYA?! Really?! Honey, are you a missionary or something?!” expressed Panda as if this would be great news!
“Well, yes ma’am!”
“oooooohhhh, you gonna go do some work for da LOOORD!! Hallelujah! That’s so good!” she exclaimed.
Right after her excitement, she was called to the front. So, I waited.

Next, I met Janet. Janet was so kind and very helpful. I handed her all of my documents and then she asked for my proof of travel. My face went white and I felt shaky. In the instant she asked, I realized I had left it at home…in prosper, texas….which is 45 minutes away! She was so helpful and asked if anyone could fax it over in the next 20 minutes. I said yes confidently and then walked away praying that my dad would answer his phone! I hurried down to the first floor where you are allowed to make phone calls and I’m pretty sure my dad didn’t understand a word I said…but he got it. He sent it on its way and I made my way back…the whole time, Panda and her daughter, cheering me on to success!
Janet seemed impressed that I got back so quickly, and even more impressed that the document got sent without a problem! (Thanks DAD!!) So, I grabbed my number and sat down…of course, next to Panda!

Earlier, I had overheard them talking about the X Factor. So, appreciating the fact that I made a new friend, I asked. “Were you guys talking about the X Factor earlier?”
Panda’s daughter with such pride said “Yeah, gurrrl…my mama made it on the show!”
I of course got all excited in my ghetto voice, and said “Go girl! That’s excellent!”
She began to tell me all about her 4 auditions, and then her time meeting simon where she told him “Hey Simon!! You know you my baby daddy right?!” This woman was seriously hysterical!
She said Britney Spears wanted to send her straight to Hollywood. She went on and on about all the people, and I was just cracking up. This woman from east dallas, is eagerly and passionately pursuing her dream of being a musician in her middle age. She has had to fundraise to get there…with shirts that have a panda on them with a microphone which is AWESOME! She had to get a passport to be prepared for all the journey holds. I barely know her and I am seriously so proud of her!!!
Panda kept telling me to watch the show and vote for her, and I kept reminding her that I will be living in Kenya and that won’t happen. She then got all her ducks in a row, and wished me well. I sat back and smiled at the unexpected surprise she had been in the midst of this crazy day.

A few minutes later, my number was called, and Dwayne met me on the other side of the glass window. “How are you today ma’am?”
still on my high from meeting Panda, I expressed “I’m doing great! How are you?!”
“Doing great?! I love that! I LOVE it when people are doing great!! That makes me so happy!” Who would’ve thought people at the passport office would be so great?! He asked me where I was going, and when I told him, he got a proud smile on his face. “I’ve always wanted to do something like that!! What’s the name of the group you’re going with?”
As I told him about Ndoto: For Africa’s Future, he wrote the name down and continued my paper work with great excitement. He then got a puzzled look on his face. “Ummm if you’re doing so great, why do you look like a stone cold criminal in your photo?!”
The girl at CVS had told me I wasn’t allowed to smile and Dwayne looked at me with compassion. “Honey, we changed that rule a long time ago!! We want you to show yo true self! And I’m pretty certain, that ain’t it…well, I guess the people at the airport will get a kick out of it when they see your personality.” I laughed, and was secretly wanting to go slap the girl at the cvs for making me have a neutral look. why oh why?! Last time, I had braces, and I didn’t want to smile…because I was a 20 something year old with braces. lame. This time, I was excited to show off my pearly whites…and then bam. no smiling allowed. I guess they want us to look like criminals.

All of that to say, I left my time at the passport office completely blessed by the two people I met, and with a new passport that will be in my mailbox no later than friday. Easy breezy…that is how it went! I went in to today with an open mind, ready for whatever God had for me, and ready to pursue His peace in the situation. He just encouraged me, taught someone about Ndoto, and raise a ton of voters for a middle aged woman to follow her dream and succeed! Who knows what else He did that I didn’t even see! He’s clever, and preparing me for the unexpectedness of living in a foreign country before I get there! I have realized that this journey is starting, and it’s time to put on my “flexible pants” and let go of my expectations!

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement in the last 24 hrs! It has meant so much, and it has helped me to refocus my attitude on what matters! I hope you enjoyed the humor from my day…it sure did bless me! Oh, and one more thing….watch the X Factor when it starts…and VOTE FOR PANDA!!!

Before and Behind…He is there

I’m nearing the end of my preparation time which has at times seems entirely too long and at other times seems beyond short! If I have learned anything the past couple of months, it is that you can never prepare for a move like this. You can’t know what the future days will hold in your daily life, and you certainly cannot know what those future days will look like across the globe!

I am however encouraged that God doesn’t call the equipped but He equips those He calls. That is very very good news for me as I am increasingly aware of my own inadequacy! As I search for bible study materials and the right resources, I am reminded that He is truly all I need. A particular verse in Isaiah has spurred my heart to have peace, to trust and to confidently walk forward in His plans for me. 
Isaiah 52:12
“For you shall not go out in haste, nor shall you go out in flight, for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” 
He is already in Kenya. He is working mightily. He is preparing hearts of female students that will be ready to receive His word and grow deeply in a relationship. He is preparing my flights, my friends, my ministry partners, and even the needs I cannot think of. He goes before me and prepares the way. I am reminded of this when I look at my financial fundraising statements. In one month, God stirred the hearts of about 30 people I know to give financially to get me to Kenya…the exact amount that I requested in my prayer letter. Then I realized that I miscalculated the list of budgeted needs and even still, God has raised up people to keep giving when I didn’t even know I would need it! That is how dearly he plays attention to the details of my life. 
I even have heard recently of what God is doing in Kenya and I am blown away! Not that He’s moving, but that He would invite me to join along side the work He is already doing, with the servants He is already using! Because of these promises, I can walk forward in peace (although its a daily reminder for me), and I can rest in Him because He hems me in and around. 
One thing that the Lord has been placing on my heart is the need for prayer warriors. Starting this week, I am going to be updating the blog with prayer requests each week at least and I would ask that y’all would join me in this journey. I am going to be on front lines, battling for the Lord, to grow His kingdom in Kenya! Here are some things you can pray for during the duration of my 6 months there, and some this week:
1. Peace – Those of you who know me well know that I have anxiety disorder and therefore peace is a struggle for me. God has been very good in giving me the right tools to lower and manage my anxiety. However, letting the peace of Christ rule my heart is sometimes more of a challenge than i’d like it to be. Please pray that He would flood my heart with peace about all things from getting ready to getting there etc. 
2. Bible study materials – that I would find materials that can culturally translate well, be able to purchase them (some are super expensive), and will have wisdom on which things to take for the differing age groups (ages 5-25). 
3. Spiritual protection – join me in praying on the armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-20 as I am feeling strong warfare going on in my heart. Asking for a hedge of protection around me and my family before I go and while I am there. 
4. Finances – asking that God would continue to raise just a few more hearts to give a few more dollars for me to be able to cover my expenses. 
5. Team Ndoto – pray for the team on the ground that God would give them rest as they work hard, joy in the hard moments, vision, strength, patience, and unity as they dream big and work hard! They also have a new blog
Also, just in case you were wondering…it’s almost 1 month till I leave to go live with these people in this place!!! In case you don’t know, the girl on my right is Rida, the first grader that I sponsor. On my left is her brother, Domonic who is sponsored by my friend and songwriting buddy and his wife! 🙂 
Thank you for your prayers friends or as they say in Swahili, Asante Sana (just like the Lion King). I am so overwhelmed by the blessings God has bestowed on me in my short almost 28 years of life (next weekend Ahh!). I am one grateful gal! Praising Him for the work He has done, is doing and will do in my life…and you’re part of that!