SOOZ-NEWS -- Travel updates and Prayer Requests

Welcome to Sooz-News, where you can get stories and pictures of my mission trip travels, my East Austin ministry at Mission Possible, and prayer requests.
In order to get the full story of how God pulled me out of advertising to take me on this adventure with Him, you should check out my first post dated Dec. 29, 2007.
Peace, love & joy to all,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A God-sized assignment: House Mom at His Harvest House!

Earlier this year, while continuing to work full-time at Mission Possible I responded to God's call to fill a temporary assignment as a "house mom" at a transitional home for women coming out of homelessness, substance abuse, prison, or other dangerous circumstances.

From January - early February, 2009 I lived with six women between the ages of 20-64 for five weeks, providing spiritual, emotional, and logistical leadership and acting as the liaison between His Harvest House and its parent organizations (Luke 4:18 Ministries and Christian Women's Job Corp). I led a morning Bible study several days a week and coordinated daily schedules and activities with a team of volunteers who help provide support and well-being for the residents. I also did intake interviews and orientation for new residents and temporary guests, of which there were many, due to the nature of the homeless population being highly transient and exposed to situations that necessitate immediate housing if available. (There is an extreme shortage of transitional housing for women in Austin, so since opening in December 2008 it has remained at full occupancy for most of the time.)

While I was COMPLETELY in over my head and ill-prepared for this assignment in my own strength, I see in hindsight how God equipped me with the love I needed to bring some peace to these women's often chaotic daily lives. It sounds trite but is true, that I received more than I gave. We lived as a family for those five weeks, and I had the privilege of experiencing the erasure of the subtle "line" between the servant and the one being served that so often causes us to unknowingly act as benevolent oppressors. I learned first-hand that resources alone rarely if ever have the power to "fix" people, and that the road to true healing is filled with as much pain and disappointment as it is with love, faith, and laughter.

My experience confirmed that it's NEVER too late, that EVERYONE is worth the effort, and that God is the POWER SOURCE for love, healing, and life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Great Thanksgiving Banquet

These pics were taken at Mission Possible's "Great Thanksgiving Banquet" at Church Under the Bridge (under I-35 & 7th Street) on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008. Over 800 meals were served to the homeless and to those with homes who came to volunteer. The main way we asked volunteers to "serve" was to simply sit with homeless folks and listen, learn and love. These were the photos I captured as I walked around the gathering. It was as if heaven had a crack and was spilling down blessings. How often do you see sights like this?

Mobile med clinic at Booker T

These are pics from a mobile medical clinic Mission Possible did at the Booker T Washington housing community in cooperation with Christian Women's Job Corp on Nov. 22, 2008. Doctors, nurses and other volunteers from Hill Country Bible, EV Free, and Gateway came together to serve and care for the uninsured in East Austin, most of whom were single moms living on government assistance.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Letter I recently sent out - long...and long overdue.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you. - Psalm 33:22

November 5, 2008
Hi friends and family,

Can you believe it’s been a whole year since I left the ad biz?? Sometimes it feels like yesterday, but mostly it seems like another lifetime. My journey took me on mission trips to Panama, Oman, Yemen, Ethiopia, Egypt, India, and Zambia to serve the poor. In actuality I ended up learning from the poor, working alongside the poor, and seeing God’s face in the faces of the poor.

This letter is long overdue, mostly because I have struggled to know what to say, with it being impossible to encapsulate my experiences in words. I haven’t yet fully processed everything myself. It seems that each week I have flashes of memories, with haunting images of a burned boy’s raw-skinned belly and forlorn gaze, a malnourished man’s toothless grin and yellowed eyes, an orphan child’s torn shirt and joyful giggle, a village woman’s dirt-caked calloused feet, a black-robed woman with only henna-tattooed hands escaping cover, or a dust-filled home made out of sticks, plastic bags, and tin. It seems like the minute I rest on a revelation or understanding of my experience more pleading questions arise. I have waves of pain and outrage for injustices I saw and still see, not the least one being the vulgar wastefulness of American lifestyles, including my own. Even our “poor” are wealthier than 99% of all the people who have ever walked on this earth. Even so, I would argue that, except in the face of devastating poverty or disease, we are no better off with all our material wealth; in fact the pursuit of it isolates us from each other and from our own hearts, and worst of all, from God.

Over the course of the year I had the opportunity to slow down and listen to God’s voice and my own heart, to ponder my purpose & desires, and to learn from faithful people around the world. I got to sit and talk and have tea – for hours. I got to wander. I got to see three of the wonders of the world. I got to be humbled and inspired. I got to be alone with God while never being alone. I got to live in community with gracious hosts. I got to be gripped by terror in the night and rescued by my God who was nearer. I got to pray and be prayed for.

The cost to do this was almost everything yet nothing at all. In pursuit of God’s call I gave up most of the worldly possessions and professional identity I had built up for myself over the years, and laid down my pride to ask for the help of family and friends. But looking back the only things I would do different now would be to have chosen more radical trust in God for my well-being and more willingness to serve Him. I marvel at His goodness and at the lovingkindness with which He has cared for me.

I also marvel at you guys, my faithful loved ones, who have stuck by me through the ups and downs of helping me live out my calling (a messy process at times) - inspiring many of you, terrifying others, befuddling some, and even offending a few. I thank you for taking the journey with me in the form of friendship, love, encouragement, shared wisdom, loving caution, financial support, help with packing and moving, and faithful prayers. It’s a journey that in many ways has just begun, and I truly thank you for being part of the team that helped me get started, even when the vision wasn’t clear and the outcomes were unknown (and still are!).

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
-Hebrews 11:1
“And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray
to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare…For I know the plans I have
for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give
you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and
I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
-Jeremiah 29: 7 & 11-13

As many of you already know, my journey led me back to Austin where I am re-planting my roots in this new season of my life, after a period of discerning whether or not I was being called to mission work in Cairo, Egypt. God released me from that sense of calling in mid-May, coincidentally on the morning of the day I set out to co-lead a team of 30 people from my church on an “Urban Submersion Weekend” mission trip to East Austin to serve with an inner city ministry called Mission Possible. Mission Possible connects Christians from different churches, regardless of denomination, to serve the homeless, at-risk youth in nearby housing projects, and the poor and elderly neighbors around their community center, an old church building on a corner notorious for drug-deals and prostitution. It’s also an area that is experiencing the pressures of gentrification which pushes the poor out as the wealthy move in, “flipping” homes and tearing down affordable housing, which causes skyrocketing home values and taxes.

While I was in East Austin I sensed God inviting me to join the work He is doing right here at home and saw how some different aspects of my calling aligned with Mission Possible’s vision for community transformation through individual lives being touched by the love of Christ. In this season God has called me to go where others don’t or won’t go and then report back what I see and learn while on the front lines, or better said – to be a scout and a vision-sharer. It doesn’t really matter whether I’m in Egypt or East Austin. I am who God created me to be wherever I am. It's not about what I do, it's about His grace and love and my heart being surrendered to both. That weekend with Mission Possible opened my eyes to the plight of the poor, sick, addicted, abused, homeless, hungry and oppressed in my own city. I began to see God’s plan to transform this city of Austin that I love so much. I started to pray for an east side revival to spark citywide transformation, for people to be reconciled to God and to each other through the power of Christ’s love. Before the weekend was over, I told the executive director Tim Pinson Sr. that I felt like the Lord was calling me to Mission Possible.

After that I served as a volunteer at Mission Possible for two months in order to get to know the staff and for them to know me, and on August 1st I came on staff in a full-time role as Director of Community Outreach & Communications. In a nutshell, my role is to network with church leaders and volunteers from all over the city, sharing Mission Possible’s mission and vision and getting them connected to serve in one-on-one relationships through the venues of spiritual, social, and economic programs we offer. The programs I oversee are under the umbrella of Community Outreach: a wellness center that provides free medical care to the homeless and uninsured, an in-home grocery delivery service for the elderly and homebound on fixed incomes, a free home repair ministry, and a community garden. I also do PR and media promotion for our community events such as His-Story, a live presentation of Jesus’ life with live nativity scene (complete with camels, donkeys, goats, and sheep – reminds me of my vet clinic days in Ethiopia!!). In the upcoming year I will coordinate a charity golf tournament as well as our annual banquet and silent auction. Plus I get to go to Camp Nikos with the kids and teach arts & crafts and the ropes course! It’s all hands on deck at this small-staffed ministry that runs on volunteer power and the faithful donations of individual donors, with no government grants and no corporate sponsors, just faith in God’s provision alone.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. -Micah 6:8

Eternal moments from the frontline…

During my second week on the job a middle-aged African-American man pounded on the side door of Mission Possible while I was upstairs working, asking if I had anything sweet I could give him. I knew that was a sign that he was coming down off of crack but decided his request was innocent enough, and his tone of voice didn’t sound malicious, so after rummaging around our food pantry I found some cookies to give him. Barely 10 minutes had passed and I heard another banging on the door. “Hey, um, yeah, say, can I have some cookies too?” the voice on the other side of the door said with an urgency that betrayed his faux timidity. So there I was, suddenly playing trick-or-treat with these guys, not knowing what it would bring next. That’s when I felt a check in my spirit that said “pray for him.” So I decided to go with that nudge and opened the door, but before handing him the bag of cookies I looked him in the eye and said with a playfully stern smile, “there’s only one stipulation, tell me what I can pray for you about.”

It’s weird but in that moment I felt like he was kin to me, my brother, and like I was supposed to be there to show love to him at that moment, but also like it was growing something in me to be able to be there for him, like he was there for me as much as I was there for him. I think he felt the connection too, because he instantly bowed his posture and then looked up at me with a plaintive look of trust mixed with desperation and said, “um, yeah, um, can you pray that I would get off the drugs?” I said of course and asked if I could pray right there (yes) and could I put my hand on his sweaty shoulder (yes) and asked what his name was (Thomas). So right there we prayed. Right there I was just a sister bringing her wounded brother before the throne of our loving Father, asking Him to show mercy to His struggling son. I thanked God for Thomas’ faith to even let me pray for him, and I pleaded with the Father to grant victory to Thomas over the drugs, and to restore the damage done to his body. I said goodbye to Thomas and went upstairs and cried in Tim Jr.’s office. At the end of that day, when I looked at all the things I didn’t accomplished on my to-do list, God spoke to my spirit and said, “Well done my child, you did what was most important to me today, you loved your brother.”

One afternoon, as I was alone in the office and getting ready to leave for the day, a haggard-looking overweight Hispanic woman came to the door. When I’m there alone I’m more cautious about who I open the door for, but as a general rule I always let women in. Plus, she looked pretty desperate. I let her in and she explained that she’s been living in her car with her baby, and that the car was out of gas and she was broke and had walked several blocks to find some money and food and use a phone. I asked her name (Dorothy) and gave her a cup of water and invited her to sit down and talk. She was exhausted from the long walk in the heat and seemed so downtrodden and alone. We talked about her situation and I learned that in the past she had lived on the streets in Austin but had moved to Houston last year, but that Hurricane Ike has displaced her back to Austin to live in her car. She used my cell phone to call her husband and ended up getting hysterical on the phone, yelling back at him and starting to cry. She hung up abruptly and broke down sobbing, with huge tears rolling down her face and onto her t-shirt. I put my hand on her back and rubbed it gently to comfort her as she told me how her husband had left her and was now married to her sister. She was so dejected, and in that moment I felt such pointed compassion for her, such a deep connectedness to her pain. There was nothing I could do to solve her problems, but I could rub her back and sit with her in her time of sorrow, and I could pray. After I prayed for her she wiped the tears from her eyes and thanked me. We have an informal policy not to hand out cash to people, but I gave her $3 and packed her a couple bags of food for the road.

Two weeks later I saw her again at Mission Possible, this time in the morning as I came in to work. I excitedly greeted her, “Dorothy!! How are you doing!?” She beamed at me and said she was doing so much better than when I had last seen her. She was there that morning because she had come for our Tuesday Night Fellowship for the Homeless the night before, where we serve a meal to 100+ homeless people and have music and Bible study, and then invite them to sleep over on the floor of our community center. A doctor comes twice a month to treat and give out necessary meds free of charge. Our building used to be a church, so we have the dinner and worship serve in the old sanctuary, and when all those homeless people are crammed in there talking, listening, laughing, debating, arguing, complaining, singing, and smelling as human it gets - in those moments - you get the sense that you are in the presence of angels.

Again, I’m upstairs in my office, working on my computer, doing things that could pass for your typical cubicle job in corporate America. Emails, phone calls, paperwork, following up on this and that, the usual. In comes Theresa, a 42-year-old Caucasian woman with scraggly blond hair and thin as a rail. She’s been using crack cocaine for 20 years and her skin, teeth, and body have aged accordingly with the damage it’s done. She had just been in Terry’s office talking to him. A retired IBM guy and then missionary to China and Russia, Terry counsels some of the homeless people and neighbors in our East Austin community when they are in need of someone to talk to about spiritual concerns and matters of physical and economic need.

So Theresa bounces into my office and says “I need a card, do you have a card??” I thought she was asking for my business card, like maybe so she could keep it handy to call me for stuff, but something told me to ask her what kind of card she wanted. “A greeting card” she said, “like the kind you give to someone.” She then explained to me that she has a crush on Brian, one of our regular volunteers who serves the homeless on Tuesday nights and on Sundays at Church Under the Bridge (under the I-35 & 7th St. overpass). She went on about how he is so kind to her and to everyone else and that she would love to marry him, but that she knows he would never marry a crack addict like herself. I commiserated with her, as women do when talking about unattainable men, and encouraged her to think of it like this: maybe God was showing her a guy like Brian as a wake up call, to show her that He has good plans in store for her in the future, maybe to inspire her to seek victory over crack. I think Terry had given her similar advice, so she was content to just dream but still wanted to show her appreciation for his kindness.

Right then I realized I had a greeting card in my desk that I had planned to give to a friend but hadn’t gotten around to (sometimes procrastination has unforeseen benefits). I pulled it out and gave it to Theresa. She was so excited because it had a violin on the front and a message that said something about being created to play a tune that only you were meant to play, and on the inside it said “Play on” and had a meaningful Bible verse at the bottom. She ran out of my office giddy, and ten minutes later ran back in waving the card at me. She kneeled down by my desk and showed me what she had written in huge scribbly handwriting that could have been that of a first grader. She was so genuinely excited to do something nice for this man who had been so genuinely kind to her, and I was so happy to be able to help her do it. And in that moment, conspiring to commit that random act of kindness together, we were sisters.

And he will answer, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” -Matthew 25:45

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.
-I Corinthians 13:13

I can’t say that every interaction with the homeless has been as pleasant or meaningful for me or them. I’m not even saying that those moments meant a hill of beans to Thomas, Dorothy, or Theresa in the grand scheme of their lives or in helping them to get off the street or off of drugs. But I do know that God’s Word says that only three things are eternal: Faith, Hope, and Love. For me those were moments of obedience to the Holy Spirit’s nudge on my heart, obedience that God sees as an act of love towards Himself and other people, who the Bible says over and over that He loves and sent Jesus to die for, to reconcile to Himself. So if these little moments of love are pleasing and of eternal value to the Lord, then they are treasures for me to hold dear, treasures so valuable that I am compelled by His love to share them with you.

It’s not easy doing inner city ministry, and some days it feels like too big of a burden to bear. But those are usually the days I find myself working in my own strength instead of God’s. It’s His work, not mine, and He will accomplish His purposes with or without me! I just thank Him for inviting me to be a part of His plan. And when I work in the peace of that knowledge He uses me to bless others, which is the greatest blessing of all to me.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from
God and not from us. -II Corinthians 4:7

If you would like to donate to Mission Possible you can specify on the mail-in envelope provided that your donation go to the general fund or to one of our three ministry areas: Homeless Ministry (Church Under the Bridge), Project Intercept (kids after school programs and Nikos camps), or Community Outreach (medical, groceries, home repair, community garden). You can do a one-time gift or an ongoing monthly donation. For questions about giving you can call our administrative assistant, Billie Robinson, at (512) 494-0953.

I am personally fundraising for the purchase of a MAC laptop for business use and for general personal expenses that will enable me to continue doing ministry long-term. If you would like to donate to my personal ministry please put #1006 on the envelope or attach a note to your check. If you do not receive a hand-written thank you note from me within six weeks please contact Billie or myself to verify proper accounting of your funds.

As I move forward in this ministry I ask for your ongoing prayers more than anything else. There is nothing, NOTHING, of greater value, blessing, protection, and provision for me than prayer. Thank you again for your friendship, love, and support!

Susan Joy
Personal contact info:
12401 Los Indios Trail, #28, Austin, TX 78729, (512) 773-3240 cell

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to
us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. –I1 Corinthians 5:17

Saturday, February 9, 2008

the Flip-side...

Ok, I feel kinda bad for not saying all the wonderful things about Yemen and the middle east in my last email. After three weeks I'm growing a bit impatient with middle eastern culture, so even though everything in my email was true, it was probably tainted towards the frustrating differences vs. the awesome ones!

Here's what I will say...obviously from the pics there are some beautiful incredible people and places. The market ("souq") in the Old City was amazing and colorful with winding streets and people selling their wares of all kinds. I took lots of pics b/c it all struck me as so incredibly beautiful. Same thing at the House on the Rock which is toward the end of my web album, just gorgeous. Regarding culture, I have learned more than a thing or two about hospitality. People here openly welcome friends and strangers into their homes (of course separated by gender). They always serve you tea and usually with an appetizer or full meal whether it was a planned visit or not. If you're invited to someone's home it's understood that you can bring all your extended family, so they are fine with it if you show up with 10 extra people. We in America have gotten so closed off with our fences and locked doors and busy over-planned schedules that many would be offended if friends brought over uninvited guests or (gasp!) were to stop by unannounced. Here I have been lavished with graceful and generous hospitality and have been made to feel comfortable, special, and doted on.

I also think it's amazing the way they take care of their family and extended family here, taking care of ailing relatives, widows, and unmarried women. They don't just throw money at the problem for someone else to deal with. They take people in and take responsibility for their longterm care. You have to respect that.

Also, regarding modesty, while it's way out of whack here with the face-coverings and full-length robes, there is something to be learned from it in moderation. I think of some of the ways women and girls dress and act in America and it is kind-of out of control. I can't blame guys for staring & lusting when our junk is all hanging out!! I am in no position to judge either culture, but I personally am learning about some of the benefits of modesty... again, IN MODERATION!! :-)

My last thing is that it is not as dangerous here as everyone makes it sound. Yes, there's tribal violence going on in some parts of the country and there are the occasional dangerous fundamentalists you have to watch out for, but by and large I've felt safer here than in any big city in the states. It's considered extremely dishonorable to bother a woman in public, so except for the occasional "welcome to Yemen, I love you" from men on the street I've been completely left alone. In fact, the other day my aunt and I walked right through the middle of the quat souq (market where the men buy the quat drug they chew) and you would have thought we had a bubble of protection around us. Even though it was a sea of hundreds of red-eyed men getting high, they let us pass untouched in total peace. I wouldn't walk through a group of men like that in the states or Europe for a million bucks!

So, there's my other side of the coin. I feel better now.

Ma salaama, salaam aleykum! (goodbye, peace to you)

Friday, February 8, 2008


Copy of email I sent from Yemen on 2/8/08:
Hi everyone,

A few of you have commented on my pics and the fact that there are few women and girls out and about on the streets and in my pictures. Here's my reply to one friend plus some additional comments..."You are correct in your observation that mostly they are confined to the home, however, that is changing somewhat and more Yemeni women are getting jobs outside the home, of course they stay covered/veiled while at work. Some brilliant women have been offered great high-paying jobs at international companies that would require them to not veil their faces (they could still cover their hair at work), but many have had to turn down those jobs if their fathers or husbands won't allow them to remove their veils for any reason. All of that being said, there are some women out and about on the streets, but my pictures don't show it because it is considered VERY disrespectful to take pictures of women and girls. Whenever I ask they always say no, except for a few little girls here and there. It's a huge issue of modesty and would be shameful and disgraceful for their photos to be shown to people. Some even feel that taking a person's picture steals the soul and invites the "jinn" or evil spirits in. Many of the women here say they love being covered and feel protected like "beautiful flowers" that are to be cherished and only seen by their husbands. Hmmm, not sure if I'm buying it."

Technically I could just dress modestly and walk around in normal clothes since I'm a foreigner, but it would really invite unwanted stares, and showing my hair is to them is practically like going topless is to America. So me and the other American women I'm with cover up so as not to draw attention to ourselves and to respect their culture of modesty. It has invited confusion and conversation from Yemenis who wonder if we are Muslim and if not why would we cover ourselves, but ultimately they always end up thanking us for our respect for their culture.

The day before yesterday my aunt and girl cousin and I went to a public hot bath ("hammam") with a Yemeni friend. It was dirty and super basic and like being in a dungeon or old cavern but I loved it just for the experience of it. The Yemeni woman taught us how the locals wash and scrub and prepare for wedding day (scrub first on dry skin, THEN wash...who knew?!). It was much different from any "spa day" I've ever had in the U.S. We had a lot of good laughs (at our own expense) with the other women near us b/c we were doing it all wrong at first. I tried rubbing this hydrating orange mud stuff on me but because my skin is so white compared to the Yemenis' it was staining my skin orange, so they got a kick out of that. For some reason I don't mind being laughed at in a foreign country. If you look at my web album there are a couple pics towards the end of a door on a gross building on a dirt road. That's the front door of the hammam. We were told this was one of the nicer aunt had been to one years ago with roaches climbing up the walls.

On the drive home I took off my head scarf for two seconds to flip my hair (you can take a girl out of the 80s, but...) and my aunt freaked and said to put it back on and that she'd tell me why later. After the Yemeni friend got out of the car she said that having wet hair means you had sex that day because women are required to shower afterward b/c it makes them "unclean" and then they wouldn't be able to pray. She didn't want to say it in front of that girl b/c she's not married yet and it wouldn't be appropriate to talk about that in front of her. There are so many rules here that I keep unintentionally breaking!!!!!!! I feel sorry for women here who are shamed at every direction. Women also aren't allowed to pray or go to mosque when they are on their periods since that also makes them "unclean" (so does nail polish), so once they are off their period they have to make up the prayers they missed. Fascinating huh?

Today we visited the home of a local man and his family. We were pleasantly shocked that he allowed his wife to eat and talk with us and even remove her veil! Apparently that is extremely rare and was a huge huge sign of trust. Most times the women would all be put in a separate room and we wouldn't see my uncle again until it's time to leave. That happened to us in Oman a couple times, where us women were herded into the women's quarters with no English speaking Omani women. It was awkward, but fun in a way trying to muddle through the time with smiles and extremely basic English. They did let us take digital pictures of the children there and occasionally of the women because they don't veil their faces as much. So the camera provided a lot of fun and laughs. So anyway, with the family today we were served a traditional Yemeni meal on the floor with everyone eating family style from all the plates (the man with his hands but the rest of us with utensils) and then talked all afternoon -- the women with the wife and my uncle with the husband. We were there for four hours! My aunt tried to translate as much as Arabic as possible for me. I brought some balloons for the kids which were a big hit. The wife got out all these homemade perfumes and made me put them on and then sent me home with some homemade incense chips. I got a headache from all the strong scents in the small room we were in! I keep forgetting to mention that men in the middle east can marry up to four women, as long as they can financially support them all. So guys, you interested in moving over here?!? ;-)

Moving on.........I found out the other day that the vet clinic in Ethiopia is definitely happening, and sooner than I thought. I will fly from Yemen to Ethiopia on Sunday, and then we'll leave first thing Monday morning for the remote desert to work with a nomadic "people group" immunizing their camels, goats, and sheep. We'll have four men and two women, so me and the other girl will handle goats and sheep, thank God b/c I am keeping my distance from camels these days! Pray for that and for my own battle with fear. It always seems that I get all freaked out before big stuff like this, and then I get there and the holy spirit totally takes over and brings me peace and strength. I am praying for remembrance of God's past blessings and for faith in His promises of future grace towards me. Your prayers will be extremely important, so please keep them coming!! Monday - drive all day to desert camp, Tues-Thurs - Vet Clinics all day, Friday drive to hotel, Saturday - drive back to Addis. We won't be able to shower til we get to the hotel Friday night, so we will be N-A-S-T-Y with dirt, sweat, and animal crud all over us. I know that Kilimanjaro and Panama have prepared me for this, but still, I tend to get anxious and scared about being that primitive! This time I'm really really REALLY trying to claim victory in JC and surrender my pride to God's protection and provision. Growing my faith has been a humbling and messy process, and I'm still a work in progress, breaking old habits as I learn to trust God more. Also pray for my pre-work lesson planning for Egypt. I am running behind (shocker) and needing to get all my stuff turned in by Sunday. I'm working on it a little bit each day and plan to spend several hours tonight and tomorrow finalizing stuff to send to the translators before I leave for Ethiopia.

I know it's hard to know where I am and what I'm doing, and having to be so vague about so much of this is no fun. But it just helps me to know that you guys are out there thinking about me and praying for me. I think of you OFTEN and am missing home quite a bit this past couple days. I'm going to call home tonight for the first time in three weeks.

To all the Gatewayers - I will totally be praying for the AIDS Experience exhibit this weekend!! Good luck with everything!

To see my Yemen pics click on this link...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Prayer requests for my family back home

Please pray for:
-healing for my mom from shingles and the constant headache that it creates
-my nephew Cal's first trip to the dentist which can be scary for a little guy at age 3
-my sister Carolyn's job situation & praise for health insurance which changed for the better

Also, pray that God will lead me to the right apartment rental and/or roommate situation when I return to Austin homeless in late March. Ask him to prepare a home for me that is comfortable and peaceful and within my new financial constraints.