Well, I guess if you're here then you're probably wondering how I got here!
It all started in 1982...
Just kidding, we're not starting there...that's much too far back...
Basically, I grew up in Chattanooga always in church/youth group/Bible study/etc. I went off to college to Savannah, Ga in 2000 to get a degree in Computer Art from Savannah College of Art & Design. I worked with the college ministry there and met people that had major impacts on my life, although I didn't know it back then. After graduating and living in Savannah for another 2 years, I decided to move back home and I started working for the family business, Yerbey Concrete. Since I'd grown up and done my own thing for so long, I decided I needed to find my own church, which is how I came to be at Calvary Chapel in April of 2006. Ok, so that's how I got to Chattanooga...now on to Africa!
In 2007 I reconnected with a friend from college, Nathan, who'd grown up as a missionary kid in West Africa. After talking about always wanting to visit Africa, my best friend, Casey and I packed up and in 3 months after that conversation, the day after Christmas 2007, we headed off on the adventure of a lifetime! It was a New Year I will never forget!
Later, in fall of 2008, Calvary Chapel Chattanooga announced a mission trip heading to Zimbabwe and after the INCREDIBLE time I had in Senegal, I decided to go on my first ever mission trip! That first mission trip literally changed my life in a way I can't describe and only the people on the trip truly know what I'm talking about.
I was hooked.
I then went on the same trip in 2009 and saw the impact that Calvary was starting to have by coming to the same places every year. The people remembered us from year to year, asked us questions about things I don't even know how they remembered and were becoming comfortable with our group and opening up more. It was amazing to see. It was amazing to have people 8,000 miles away KNOW you!
In 2010 the Zimbabwe trip was sadly cancelled because of a lack of interest, so I took that opportunity to go with the church to Israel. It's hard to cram all the years of studying God's word and hearing the stories and seeing it all into just 2 weeks, but we did our best and had an incredible trip, but the one major thing I took away from that trip was that...I missed Zimbabwe...it wasn't the travel I loved, it was the people, the culture and the country.
In 2011 I had the great fortune of visiting my best friend, Amarilys, in her 'new' hometown of Chengdu, China where she had been living with her husband and son for 3 years. I figured out quickly, Asia may not be my 'thing', but I wouldn't trade that time with Amarilys and seeing the city through the eyes of a local for anything.
Well, that finally brings us to 2012, when I went on my 3rd trip to Zim. For lack of a better description, I felt like I was going home. I was teary-eyed when I first laid eyes on Alistair & Shelley Croudace and they gave me huge hugs and asked where I'd been, and it was even more of an ordeal to say goodbye to them. I have not only fallen in love with the country over the years, but the Croudace's, who own Lasting Impressions camp where I will be working.
On the 2012 trip I had a few random conversations with different people on the trip about what would make me happier than anything in the world and the only answer I could come up with was 'moving to Zimbabwe' to which they replied "Then why don't you do that?". The only answer I could come up with for that question was that I didn't deserve that kind of happiness. Who was I to get the thing that made my heart sing when others didn't? It was this simple & complicated question that I began praying over when I got back to the states and found that God's answer to me was His passion for giving me the desires of my heart...a concept I've always had trouble believing.
In summer 2013 (#4) I took that leap of faith and spent 6 months living in Zim (including my very first Zimbabwe Christmas...in a tank top!) and I'm here to say, I would not trade a single minute of it! Of course there were hard times when I missed my friends and family, but the time just seemed to fly by!
2015 (#5) brought on a whole new challenge that I never saw coming...living in Zim WITHOUT the Croudaces for 10 weeks while they came to the States to visit friends & family. This was by far my biggest challenge yet, but I knew that if I didn't jump in, head first, I would regret not taking God's amazing opportunity. As the days got closer to the family leaving and I was making peace (still nervous though) with being alone at camp, God did something amazing...he sent me the Chirume family (Valentine, Allison & Isobel) to come and live with me for the 10 weeks while they built their home in Kadoma. They literally decided to stay 2 days before the Croudaces left and, although still hard, it was the best 10 weeks!
2016 (#6) gave me the chance to lead a trip from Calvary Chapel and then stay to go on the most amazing safari I'd been on with people I am so lucky to have gotten to know better on that trip.
2017 trip (#7) brought my Dad with it and a visit to Victoria Falls to show him the beauty of this country before he got to experience the love I have for LI and the family I leave there every year.
2018 (#8) was exceptional mostly because not only did we take the biggest team since 2009 (15 people), but we had the chance the help the Croudaces prepare for their eldest daughters wedding, which I had the opportunity to stay for and be a bridesmaid in! What a whirlwind of activity that year!
Thank you to all who have made this life God has given me possible through your prayers and financial support all these years.
Blessings to you all!