I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.


africa :: part three

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
Matthew 9:37

I’d like to ask for prayer for myself, Brenda and Heather as we make this trip to Africa.  But first, some details …

A Friend in Need {AFIN} co-founders, Brenda Rebro and Heather Bliss … and me.

February 26 – March 11 … two weeks.

Kapunga, Swaziland.  Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world.  The average life expectancy is just 32 years.  With a population of about one million, this New Jersey-sized country is home to over 63,000 orphans.  This means a generation of children has been left to care for themselves.

AFIN’s Story
AFIN is providing more than a one-time handout.  They will provide a multi-purpose building that will keep on giving.  The building will serve as a safe haven and gathering place for the orphans.  Sewing machines have been donated and will be used to sew and generate income to buy food for the orphans.

Here are some some images from a fundraiser I did with AFIN last summer.  We took contrasting images and put them together.  I know the underlying type is small, but I hope you’re able to read it … it really makes an impact.

How I Got Involved
I first wrote about AFIN here and here … and as I mentioned yesterday, I just feel God has laid missions … getting outside of my own little world … on my heart.

My Story
I received a year-end donation letter from AFIN and started to throw it in my recycling bin.  Oh yes I did!  Then God stopped me.  And I put it on my desk instead.  I left it there a couple of weeks, just letting God talk to me.

And He did.  “Empty your {tsj} photography bank account,” He told me.  And so I did.  And donated it to AFIN.  Around this time, CJ had asked me what I’d like for Christmas … I asked him to make a donation to AFIN in lieu of a gift to me.  And so he did.

Now this next confession may seem incredibly presumptuous … and I guess because, frankly … it is!

I just assumed that if I made the donations, I’d be going to Africa with them.  An important disclosure here … basically, other than meeting them for the fundraiser … I really don’t know them from Adam.  {yeah, not sure where that saying came from}.

But the thing is … I just felt I was being obedient to God, and therefore … He had a ticket for me.  You know?  I honestly didn’t think of it any other way.

Anyway.  Brenda sent a thank you email and told me when they’d be going … and honestly, if I recall right … it really wasn’t even an invitation for me to go.  Anyway, the dates didn’t work with my calendar.  Or the fact that I was pretty sure God was telling me {whatever trip I took}, we’d be going in the Fall.  So yeah.

There’s a celebration in South Africa the end of March and those were the dates they were going.  I’ll be on spring break with my girls at that time, so I won’t be going.

I felt disappointed.  Mostly in myself in that I wasn’t hearing God the right way.  Self-doubt and all that.  But I rallied, and figured “oh well … He must have something else in the works for me.”

And then …

Another email from Brenda.  She’d been praying on it {wait just a minute! have I mentioned what incredible Christian women and prayer warriors these two are?!  no?  well they are!} so … Brenda had been praying on it and felt God telling her it was much more important for me to come with them, than it was for them to go to the celebration.

Ohmyword!  Are you kidding me?  When are we going?  In less than two months.  Visualize Tracie spitting out her diet coke!  Um, God serious?  Cuz I thought we were going in the Fall.  :)

So okay … the rest is history and here I am writing these posts!

Great Works
Have you heard?  Or better yet, have you experienced?  God moves in incredible ways!  During all of the above, I’d been talking with a couple of friends to join a Good Morning Girls group … we’d be studying James.  Brenda and Heather also wanted to do a study leading up to the trip and guess what God put on Brenda’s heart?  James.

Yes!  I speak the truth … I’m somewhat apprehensive about the trip.  My health {I won’t go into details, but I’m just not at my finest}; my schedule {I won’t go into details, but this trip with my overbooked schedule, has me out-of-town until early April}; leaving my girls {I haven’t told them yet}; and just this desperate desire to be His hands and feet, while at the same time, making sure I’m listening and doing His will.

I believe I am.  With everything that’s happened and led to this point.  I believe He’s been in, and will continue to be … in control.

This post is almost over, I promise!

Can I ask that you stand in prayer with us?  We’ve already experienced some spiritual warfare surrounding this journey.  Ultimately … this building that’ll be erected will end up being a place of worship for the people of Swaziland.  It’s just the way it works.  And the enemy would love nothing more than to put a stop to it.

Ha! unfortunately for him … he’s up against three very strong and determined women {not to mention all of the AFIN volunteers and supporters}, who serve an incredible God and who will continue on until we see God’s work {and will} done in Swaziland!

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Posted in africa, missions, prayers

10 Responses to “africa :: part three”

  1. karen says:

    I’m so over the top excited for you! You will be a powerful force for good down there. I cannot wait to see the pictures & hear about the trip when you finally get to go!

  2. Amy says:

    So excited for you Tracie! I am sure that this trip will be life changing for you. Love seeing God at work through you. praying.

  3. Rachel says:

    wow! how exciting!! I have a friend who just finished a Peace Corps tour in Swaziland. Your work is so very necessary for the people there. Godspeed!

  4. LobotoME says:

    I am so proud of you for going and so inspired by the work you will be doing there!!!! Wish I could go with you… next time? xox, J :)

  5. Lisa Mahnke says:

    So excited and proud of you! I believe God will give you good health on this trip, and I will be praying for you all.

  6. cyndi says:

    TRACIE!! I have tears rolling down my face as I type this. I’ve wanted to comment on your last two posts but couldn’t find the words to tell you just how amazing I think you are. I know I tell you this often (and, quite honestly, you’re probably getting sick of it) but you are a true inspiration to me. Because of you I feel God working more within me. I haven’t learned how to totally hear him yet but I hope that one day I will. You, Tracie Stier-Johnson, are a blessing & a gift to everyone you come into contact with. I thank God often for your friendship and the two amazing souls you also brought into my life (Heather & Leslie). I will never be able to repay you for all you’ve done for me.

    I will absolutely lift you and AFIN up in prayer. You are doing something that will change lives & I cannot properly put into words how profound that is. Maybe one day, if I’m really lucky, I’ll be 1/4 of the person you are.

    Love you so much my sweet friend!

  7. heather says:

    this is quite the incredible journey you’ve been on already (and the trip hasn’t even happened yet)! :-)

    as you know, orphans of the world need our help so badly! thank you for taking care of some of them through this trip…i know the 3 of you will be as blessed as the children!

    love you!

  8. Melissa says:

    my heart is overwhelmed for you in all the right ways…God has already prepared the land. He is camped there, waiting to guide you through the journey He chose you for. I will absolutely be praying!!! I know He will be high and lifted up in a mighty way!

  9. From the moment you shared this about journey I’ve been on your cheerleading and prayer team!!! God is working in mighty ways. It is so exciting to go along this journey with you.

  10. Cathy says:

    I’m in total awe, Tracie. There aren’t capable words to describe what a gift you give to others every day with your kindness, your words, your humility. The people you’ll come across during your journey will forever be changed because of you and AFIN’s work. Powerful, amazing, inspiring. We’re lifting our prayers high for safe travels and good health!

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