In April, I turned the big 3-3! I am really loving my 30s, and I’ve gotta say that it’s been the best decade of my life so far. This was also my first birthday to celebrate in Africa, and my African family went out of their way to make me feel special! They delivered presents to me throughout the day – flowers, balloons, sweets, lunch. They even threw me a surprise party! Turning 33 was a great day!
In an effort to help our youth recognize their God-given value and self-worth, myself and other adults in our church organized an Etiquette Party – a formal party in which our youth were served a 3-course meal and were taught about social etiquette and table manners. It was fun to see them get all gussied up – I had never seen some of the girls ever wear a dress before or some of the boys ever look so sharp!
In July, we held our very first youth conference! My dear friend, Kevin Went, was our guest speaker. The theme for our conference was “Unstoppable” – in reference to Philippians 4:13, reminding our youth that we can do all things through Christ and we are unstoppable in doing great things for Him! During the same weekend of the conference, we held our annual Crazy Olympics event in which other youth groups joined us for a fun day of various games/activities!
Held our first ever youth girls retreat and it was a blast! Taught our young ladies about their value in Christ, true godly beauty and etiquette. Highlights from this event were shopping (girls got to “shop” clothes, makeup and accessories that ladies from our church donated – this got a little crazy!), a Self-Esteem fashion show (each girl shared about 4 things they liked about themselves and then got to strut down a “runway”) and a stiletto race (exactly what it sounds like – racing each other in stilettos!).
On September 4, 2014, Heston Leonardo Barlolong was born, and I became an Auntie!!! In January of 2014, my sister announced that she was expecting her first child. Obviously, being so far away from home, I miss my family, and it was hard for me to not be there during my sister’s pregnancy. However, I was blessed to be able to make a quick (surprise!) trip back home to meet and hold my nephew 3 weeks after he was born! Just call me Auntie Mel :)
In October, we held our very first Purity Ceremony. Twenty five of our youth made a public commitment to live a life of purity, and each of them was presented with a “love waits” bracelet, which serves as a symbol/reminder of their commitment. They committed not only to abstinence, but to leave a better legacy for their future family, their city, their country and the next generation. I’m really proud of our youth who made this commitment and I hope to repeat this event again in the future for many other youth in Botswana! (You can read more about my plans here.)
Leading up to Thanksgiving this past year, I wrote a series on my blog called “10 Days of Thankfulness” to reflect on what I’m particularly grateful for about my life as a missionary. There have been very few mornings when I’ve woken up in bed and my first thoughts haven’t been, “Lord, thank You that I get to wake up in Africa today. Thank You that I get to be a missionary in Africa!” It’s an incredibly wonderful, precious and fulfilling thing when your job is something you love to do. I am immensely thankful for that.
On Christmas Eve, I was finally able to purchase my own car!!! I cannot express enough how much of a blessing this car is! And it was really special that I was able to get my car the day before Christmas :) This car is a gift from so many people – dear friends, family and supporters – who were willing to give and invest in me and what I do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I pray that God blesses you for your thoughtfulness and generosity!
- We have a goal to grow our church congregation to 1,000 people. We’re planning strategic outreach events this year. We recently held our first one on Valentine’s Day! We shared God’s love through handing out Valentine’s cards & sweets! We plan to do outreach events like this periodically throughout the year, with a focus on really connecting and building relationships with people we meet. Please pray for favor and that people are receptive to what we have to share.
- We want to see our church building completed by May 24, 2015. Please agree with us in prayer that we’ll be able to start meeting in our first church building by May 24th!
- I am still working towards finding my own place to stay. I would like some place in a safe area and near my ministry base. I will also need furniture and appliances for my home (bed, fridge, etc.).
I’m blessed with the opportunity to travel to the States next month! I will mainly be passing through the Southern CA (March) and Denver (April) areas. Hope to see some of you if you stay where I’ll be visiting! Here is my confirmed itinerary so far:
- Sunday, March 8, 10:30am: Cornerstone Christian Baptist Church – Murrieta, CA
- Thursday, March 12, 6:00pm: Cornerstone Christian Baptist Church (L.O.L. youth service) – Murrieta, CA
- Friday, March 13, 7:00pm: Pacific Lighthouse Christian Fellowship (youth/young adult service) – San Diego, CA
- Sunday, March 15, 5:00pm: People’s Church San Diego – San Diego, CA
- Sunday, March 22, 9:40am: Full Life Christian Assembly – Oxnard, CA
- Sunday, March 29, 10:30am: Southport Christian Center – National City, CA
- Sunday, April 19, 10:30am: Praise Center Church (main service/youth class) – Denver, CO
- April 29-May 3: Orchard Road Christian Center (2015 Missions Conference) – Greenwood Village, CO
If you are one of my monthly/recurring supporters, I would like to inform you of some recent changes to the donation system that receipts your gifts. A new donation system was put into place the end of last year, and during the conversion, you may have noticed that donations made through your auto bank deductions or credit cards weren’t processed/charged for a couple of months. This was a result of the system conversion. The issue has been corrected and your regular donations should have processed normally last month. I apologize for any inconvenience, and your patience during this change is much appreciated. If you have any questions regarding the system conversion, or if you are interested in making up any donations lost in the transition, please contact Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your ongoing support!
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