Week 5: The Least of These and Being vs. Doing

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Sannu, friends!

I hope this blog post finds you well! I wanted to write to update you about my past week back in Jos, following the Kano trip. Since returning to Jos, I have had several incredible opportunities for medical and community/ministry outreach, and I can’t wait to share with you about the lessons I have been learning in this time!

First, I began shadowing at Faith Alive last week, and it has been an incredible experience overall. It is an entirely free hospital, but also incorporates social and educational measures to encourage empowerment and liberation from poverty. Attached to the hospital compound is a variety of vocational training centers, counseling sites, and transition housing for those in need of a place to stay. I highly, highly recommend checking out their website (faithalivenigeria.org)! Shadowing in the hospital in Faith Alive was an absolutely incredible experience. As a facility that is run entirely on donations and without access to many of the “essentials” of care found in the United States, Faith Alive still manages to provide inpatient and outpatient care, specialist consultations (ophthalmology, OBGYN, psychiatry, etc.), and surgery completely free of charge to all patients. While shadowing at Faith Alive, I had the opportunity to meet the founder, Dr. Chris Oogoegbunem Ischei. He is an incredible man filled with a passion for providing medical care for underserved populations in order to show the love of Christ. While shadowing at Faith Alive so far, I had the opportunity to shadow (and even assist) in surgery, as well as learn from a family medicine doctor and a pediatrician as they consulted with patients. I was so incredibly impressed with Dr. Chris’ vision and story of God’s faithfulness to fulfill the dream of Faith Alive, and I absolutely cannot wait to spend more time shadowing there!

Assisting in surgery at Faith Alive and a photo with Faith Alive’s founder, Dr. Chris!

Last week, I also got the opportunity to tour Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), a government-funded public hospital. It was valuable to compare this hospital to the other mission hospitals and free clinics I have visited so far. JUTH has far more resources, facilities, and patients than the other facilities I have shadowed at so far in Nigeria. Comparatively, they are able to provide a much higher level of care to patients. However, the hospital is not without its problems, as strikes and high costs often make it inaccessible to many patients. While touring JUTH, I was reminded also of the need to continue praying for the ongoing crisis in villages outside of Jos, which recently made international news. Even though the maximal period of violence was several weeks ago, JUTH still saw severely injured patients arriving for care last week. Please, dear friends, be praying for peace and healing in Plateau State.

Also last week was the Fourth of July! Even though I wasn’t home in the US, myself and the other American missionaries made sure to celebrate with food, a homemade slip and slide, and homemade sparklers (which thankfully did not light anything or anyone on fire). It was a slightly surreal experience to play the national anthem and other patriotic songs in Nigeria, and to celebrate with Nigerians, a Brit, and a German as well as with my fellow countrymen! But nonetheless it was a wonderful time of celebration and community.

This week, I have had the wonderful opportunity to explore other ministries that are ongoing in Jos that do not involve medical care. I was able to visit several orphanages associated with City Ministries, an organization in Jos. It was wonderful to see how this organization seeks to protect and invest in the lives of vulnerable children, and to help grow them into skilled, educated adults who love the Lord. Of particular impact to me personally was the Girls’ Transition Home in Bassa, a home for girls in the equivalent of middle and high school. The home at Bassa houses about forty girls, who work together to farm (with a goal of complete self-sustainability), cook, and care for each other. In talking with the missionary whose ministry focus is this home, I was absolutely blown away to hear the ways in which God is answering prayer and providing for these girls. From everything to financial provision to buy the current site of the home to ridding the farmland of an invasive worm to provision to start a secondary school (high school) for the girls, God has proven Himself faithful.

I also had the opportunity to visit Open Doors, a school and vocational training center for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. The disabled are a highly neglected and marginalized section of society in Nigeria, so it was absolutely wonderful to see this ministry and its emphasis on empowering these individuals. I had the opportunity to observe and participate in the physical therapy provided to those students in need of it, as well as to talk with some of the staff about their work. I was amazed by the workers’ dedication to serve these students, as they quoted Scripture about serving these children as they would Christ.

This week was also my second time participating in the street boys’ outreach. The formal title for the particular children this outreach targets is the almajiri. The almajiri system is an incredibly broken and oppressive system present throughout northern Nigeria and in Jos that makes beggars out of Muslim boys as young as four or five years old. I recommend checking out these articles to learn more about it (https://m.guardian.ng/new/the-almajiri-abused-neglectedhttp://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/01/07/nigeria.children.radicalization/index.html).

This week, the outreach showed an animated film about stealing and forgiveness that incorporated a gospel message in Hausa. It was so rewarding to see that the boys began to engage with the film, and were able to vocalize lessons that they learned such as that stealing is bad and being honest is good. Perhaps most exciting was that one of the boys indicated to a leader that he was interested in following Jesus. My friends, please be lifting this precious boy up! Conversion from Islam to Christianity is so incredibly challenging here, so please just pray that God will continue to draw this child to Himself and that no intimidation or harassment would keep him from seeking Jesus.

This past week and a half has been an incredible time of learning about the ministries present here in Jos as well as learning several lessons the Lord has been revealing to me. Over the course of several conversations and some time spent in thinking, I have been pondering over the question “Where would Jesus work if He was a physician?” My friends, I think that my time spent here in Nigeria has impressed on me that He would not work among the wealthy, or where there is easy access to medical care. Rather, I think Jesus would work among those without access to medical care, be they the poor in a country with poor health infrastructure, or even among the poor and uninsured in developed countries like the United States. My friends, what an opportunity there is to love and to show value for those who are marginalized and in need by providing medical care. While I have read Matthew 25:31-40 many times, the Lord has shown me in a new way how I can show love to the “least of these” by dedicating my time and whatever skills He has blessed me with to pour into those who are marginalized, poor, and needy.

Second, something the Lord has been teaching me (although I am hesitant to learn) is that He is glorified by our obedience, even when our plans for ministry do not work as we would like. While I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Nigeria thus far, in retrospect I can see many moments earlier in my time here where I could have done more ministry had I known about it. Looking now to the remaining weeks I have in Nigeria, it is so easy for me to feel disappointed that I have will not be able to do all the ministry I have wanted to do. Yet the Lord is teaching me that ministering and representing Him does not equate to accomplishing all of the ministry tasks I have on my to-do list. Rather, He is glorified by my obedience to follow Him here to Nigeria and by my efforts to show the love of Christ to those I encounter while I am here. While ministry does involve real service (and I don’t intend to discount that ministry should be active and intentional), I think that the Western cultural mindset which is obsessive about task management and accomplishment often hinders us as ministers. It is so easy to judge the value of ministry (or our personal faith journey) by the milestones or tasks we accomplish. But ministry and faith are not about a series of check marks and trying to do “enough” good deeds to feel satisfied at the end of the day. Rather, both ministry and faith are irretrievably tied to dwelling in the Lord and seeking to obey and honor Him. Faith and ministry are as much (perhaps even more) about being as they are about doing. While this is a challenging lesson to learn for a type-A perfectionist, I am hoping that it may be encouraging to you as well.

To summarize, friends: God is faithful. He is working in the hearts of these precious people in Nigeria. I absolutely love it here, and while I cannot wait to see you all back home, I know I will be leaving part of my heart here. I am so thankful for all the opportunities I have had thus far and the lessons I am learning along the way. And I am so very thankful for all of you, for your prayers and your support! As I mentioned earlier, please just be praying for peace in Nigeria and in the Middle Belt region in light of the recent violence as well as for the street boy who is seeking Jesus. Blessings, dear friends!

Sai anjima!

Julianna

“‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.’” John 15:4-5

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Nigeria Weeks 3-4

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Sannu, friends!

I apologize for the delay in updating you all about my Nigerian experience, but these past two weeks have been very busy and I’m just now finding the time to write about them! These past few weeks have been a wonderful time of learning new lessons from the Lord and experiencing new things, and I can’t wait to share some of them with you!

Almost two weeks ago, I had my home stay weekend with a Nigerian family. SIM partners with local families who enjoy hosting foreigners in their home to teach them about Nigerian culture. I had the opportunity to stay with a reverend and his family, which was an incredible experience. They were incredibly kind and hospitable, and I enjoyed everything from eating together to watching the World Cup to learning more about their daughter’s school. The family I stayed with was definitely a more “Western” family, as they spent several years living in the United States before returning to Nigeria. I enjoyed learning about their habits as a family, as well as experiencing their hospitality. I truly believe that Nigerians have a unique and wonderful sense of hospitality and welcoming that I had not encountered before this trip that continues to amaze me.

This past week, from June 27thto July 2nd, I was part of a ministry exposure trip to Kano, a city that is about five to six hours’ drive north of Jos. Kano is a city of six million that is approximately ninety-eight percent Muslim. It is an area which SIM wishes to expand into, as there is great need. While in Kano, I had the opportunity to take a day to tour the “Old City,” a portion of the city that is at least six hundred years old. During that day, I visited the Emir’s Palace, which is the home of the traditional ruler of the region (similar in role to the Queen of England). I also visited the Kano dye pits, which were once part of the Sahara trade routes and which are known for their indigo dye. We were able to learn about the dyeing process, which has been handed down through families for generations, as well as see the end product of the process. We also had the opportunity to visit a traditional Hausa home, which had been handed down through the family who lived there for generations. Hausa is both a language and a people group, and the Hausa people are found all throughout the northern part of Nigeria. I also visited the central market, which was a mazelike array of merchants selling a variety of goods from beads and jewelry to prayer mats, food items, and medicines. In the afternoon, we hiked to the top of Dala Hill, which provides a view of the urban sprawl of Kano city. Dala Hill was the first Kano settlement from almost one thousand years ago, although none of the original structures remain.

Throughout the tour day, I found myself encountering in a new and challenging way the realities of urban life in a predominantly Muslim city. Poverty is present in many areas of Nigeria, but it is a visceral and pronounced reality in Kano. It is a heartrending issue to confront, yet nevertheless I find myself drawn to service in an area like Kano. After the tour of the Old City, when we had free time in the afternoon, we went to a mall. I was expecting it to be very Nigerian and perhaps somewhat like the market, but it was virtually identical to an American mall. As I walked into a store that was very similar to a Costco, I remember feeling incredibly disoriented, as if I’d stepped onto another planet. It was challenging and is still challenging to wrap my mind around the extremes of poverty and wealth seen in cities like Kano.

The following day, we had a tour of the ECWA compound, in the small Christian district of Kano. There is a large and well-equipped eye hospital which sees patients from all over Nigeria. It was an impressive facility, and I enjoyed learning about the types of care they provide– there is a small maternity clinic and a general clinic in addition to the main eye hospital. Additionally, we toured Gospel Centre church and talked with the head pastor. It was a fascinating conversation that emphasized the same points as conversations I had with a few of the missionaries presently stationed in Kano– that it is a difficult field of ministry, and that Muslim ministry presents both unique challenges and unique opportunities. Following the church visit, we visited the girls’ hostel, a two-room living facility for eighty-seven Nigerian girls. Originally, ECWA missionaries who went to serve in rural communities would house their daughters at the hostel so they could attend better schools in Kano. Over time, the hostel has opened to the general public, with many girls from rural villages living there in order to receive a better education in Kano. One matron manages the entire hostel, and the girls there are independent in buying food, cooking, and doing laundry.

On Saturday, we had the opportunity to partner with Gospel Centre church in doing a medical outreach in a village about an hour outside of Kano. Due to heavy rains the night before, I and the rest of the team had to hike the last mile or more on foot. We forded a small creek and trekked through the mud, but eventually made it! At the clinic, I had the chance to assist the Nigerian physicians who were seeing patients by taking blood pressures. The medical outreach mainly served women and children, as most men were working in the fields while we were there. There were a number of people from the village we set up in and the surrounding villages, as well as some Fulani people. The Fulani are an itinerant cattle-herding people group. It was interesting to be involved in the medical clinic and to observe the common complaints being treated. I definitely enjoyed the village outreach experience, as it allowed me to see and begin to understand (to a very limited degree) what village life is like in comparison to the more urban lifestyle I have seen among Nigerians living in Jos and Kano.

Sunday was a wonderful opportunity to observe and learn about Nigerian church. We attended a portion of a Hausa-language church that meets outdoors due to having its building burned down nine years ago. It was beautiful to see the worship of such a vibrant and resilient people, who are faithful to serve God when their society pressures them not to. Additionally, we also attended a portion of Gospel Centre’s service, which was wonderful. In reflecting on both churches, I was reminded of the passionate beauty of African worship and of the sense of welcoming present in this culture. It was so encouraging to fellowship with part of the global Body of Christ, and to be reminded of the grandeur of God’s vision for the nations and His glory.

In the past few weeks, I think one of the biggest lessons God has been showing me is the value of community. For the first three weeks of my time here, I was living on a different compound than the majority of the short-termers. As an introvert, I initially wasn’t at all concerned and thought I would appreciate the time to myself. I began to feel quite lonely after a bit, and having these past two weeks (plus a change in living situation) has been an incredible reminder of the value of having community and fellowship with other believers. It was a humbling reminder that I am not an island, nor should I try to be. I am so grateful for these past two weeks as an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of God’s heart for the millions of people in northern Nigeria who are searching, yet need someone to tell them the truth. So excited to share more with you in the weeks to come!

My friends, I am so grateful for all the ways in which you are supporting me. In the next weeks, please be praying that I am faithful and sensitive to God’s leading in the ministries I find myself in. Additionally, please pray for Nigeria in light of the recent violence against Christians in Plateau state. And as always, please reach out via Facebook messenger or email if there is any way at all that I can be praying for you or your family!

Sai anjima!

Julianna

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:19-23

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Nigeria Week 2: New Places, New Faces

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Sannu, friends!

I’ve been meaning to write to update you all about my experience in Nigeria. I have been in-country for about two and a half weeks, and feel I have experienced much in this short time! This past week has been primarily the transition from cultural orientation at the SIM Nigeria office into shadowing/volunteering at Bingham University Teaching Hospital. I have had the opportunity to observe surgery several days in the VVF center, which has been fascinating. VVF is an abbreviation for vesicovaginal fistula, a condition that occurs frequently here. Women who experience prolonged periods of labor (over several days) are at risk of developing the condition, which produces incontinence. The VVF center works with these women to determine the exact cause of their incontinence and provides surgical repair of fistulas and other procedures repairing other gynecological/urological issues caused by prolonged labor.

I have also had the opportunity to shadow several other procedures. One day, I shadowed a pediatric surgeon who was performing umbilical hernia repairs on children between three-five years old. On another day, I shadowed several surgeons who were performing Cesarean sections. That day was incredibly fun because I got to go back to the maternity ward after the surgery and see one of the newborns!

One of the things that has struck me in my time shadowing in the hospital so far is the ingenuity of those working there to provide care. There is significantly less access to many of the commodities and materials that are considered essentials of Western medical care, yet the staff works incredibly hard to provide quality care for their patients. While some things I have observed have been altogether different to the standards of care I have been accustomed to back home, I nonetheless have great respect for the staff of Bingham University Teaching Hospital.

Outside of shadowing at the hospital, I have also had several opportunities to spend time with some of the other short-termers serving in Nigeria and to explore more of the city of Jos and the surrounding areas. I have enjoyed weekly game nights at one of the missionary’s homes with all of the short-termers. I have learned several fun card games, which I can’t wait to bring back home with me to the States! I have also had the opportunity to visit the Jos Zoo as well as the Jos artists’ district. The artists’ district is absolutely incredible, offering everything from paintings to wood carvings to wax-dyed fabrics. Meeting many of the artists was such a wonderful experience, as they were all incredibly friendly and had absolutely stunning work.

I also had the opportunity to take a day trip to Yankari, a nature preserve that is about three hours’ drive from Jos. I went with a group of short-termers, and we had the opportunity to go on a safari and swim in the warm springs. The safari was fun, as we saw a variety of local animals. Perhaps most interesting of the animals we encountered were the baboons. I was warned that they are aggressive, but they were truly something else! The warm springs were the highlight of the trip. They are absolutely gorgeous, and the water temperature is consistently in the seventies. I love swimming, and it was such a nice chance to spend time relaxing with friends. The day ended with a drive home in the pouring rain. I, like many others, had heard the lyrics to Togo’s “Africa,” but I fully began to understand the concept of rains down in Africa during that storm! It absolutely poured, to the extent to which we could see fields flooding as we drove past.

While I am still trying to find my place here for the summer, I am enjoying the things I have had the privilege of experiencing so far. I am looking forward to continuing to learn about medical missions in Nigeria. I am also thankful to report that I am finally feeling better after about a week and a half of gastrointestinal distress. I think my body is finally beginning to adjust fully to living here, which is a welcome change.

I am so very thankful for the support of all my friends and family, it truly means the world to me. There are a few areas in which I would greatly appreciate prayer support. First, I am wrestling with feelings of loneliness as it has been difficult to build relationships due to my living situation. Second, I am working to tweak my ministry schedule so that I can be more directly involved in serving the community. Just be praying that I would be wise in trying to plan my schedule, and that the right service opportunities would present themselves. As always, I don’t want prayer support to be a one-way street! If there is anything I can be praying for you about, or supporting you with, please reach out via Facebook messenger or email (specifically, my Liberty address).

May God bless you abundantly, my friends!

Julianna

 

 

Traveling/Nigeria Week 1: You Are Welcome

Sannu, dear friends and family!

(Sannu is the Hausa word for hello). I’ve been meaning to take some time to write to update you all as to my experience thus far in Nigeria. It’s only been six days since we arrived in Nigeria, but it has almost seemed like more with everything we’ve been busy with!

Traveling to Nigeria went smoothly, although I and my traveling/internship companion Joanne were thoroughly exhausted by the time we arrived. We had a twelve-hour layover in the London Heathrow airport, which felt like forever. But eventually we made it! I am pleased to report that both Joanne and I made it through immigration and customs at the Abuja airport without difficulty, and that we arrived safely in Jos after a four-hour car ride. Thanks to all who were praying; the traveling was exhausting but I am so thankful that we did not run into issues along the way!

Since getting settled in last Wednesday, I have been busy with unpacking, getting to know my neighbors, starting cultural orientation, and receiving additional training as part of preparation for beginning with shadowing this week. I have also had the opportunity to begin to get to know the city of Jos, where I will be living and doing ministry for the majority of my time in Nigeria. I have had the opportunity to take a short hike (called The 100 Steps) to see the city from a higher elevation, which was incredible. Jos is a much larger city than I anticipated, with a skyline that spread out for miles and miles. Additionally, I have been able to spend some time walking around and shopping in the central market district of Jos. That has been a fun and exciting experience, as the market offers everything from produce to live chickens to fabrics and used clothing. It has been interesting to learn about purchasing in a market setting, especially in learning about how to barter well. On Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend an ECWA church. ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All) is a major denomination in Nigeria that is SIM’s primary ministry partner. I enjoyed the service, as it was encouraging and inspiring to see the passionate worship of the Nigerian church. Along the way, I have also been trying to pick up a few phrases in Hausa, a major language in this region (among several hundred found in Nigeria).

In this week, I have also had the opportunity to get to know my neighbors as well as many of the SIM missionaries. Getting to know and spend time with them has been wonderful. Additionally, I have gotten the opportunity to spend time with some of the other short-termers at SIM, most of whom are living on a different compound than I am. It has been fun to get to know everyone and fellowship! I have been struck by the ways in which SIM missionaries work to support each other. Everyone I have met has been incredibly warm and welcoming, offering a listening ear and support for any struggles I have been experiencing with transitioning into living in Nigeria. It is wonderful to be working with people who are compassionate, supportive, encouraging, and passionate about making Jesus’ name great in Nigeria.

While it is difficult to summarize the differences between Nigerian and American culture, one thing struck me that I thought might be interesting/beneficial to share. Nigerian culture differs from American culture in that greetings and welcoming are given very high importance. In the United States, we may greet one another by saying hello and asking how the other person is. In Nigeria, greetings involve asking how the morning is going, how someone’s family is, how someone’s work is, and many other questions. These greetings are exceptionally important, as they are part of esteeming another person’s worth. The sense of welcome present in Nigerian culture can perhaps best be summed up with the Hausa phrase “Sannu da zuwa,” meaning “You are welcome.” This phrase is different than the American “You’re welcome,” which we say after someone thanks us for doing something. Many Nigerians I have met, from coworkers in the SIM/ECWA office to security officers to gardeners have said “Sannu da zuwa” when I explained that I have come to Nigeria as a missionary. It is a statement of openness and hospitality, that they are glad that I am here and that I have come to live and work among them. Nigerians are truly one of the most welcoming people I have ever met, and I am so incredibly excited to be living and learning here for the next two months.

My friends, I think that there is a lesson to be learned here from my Nigerian friends. I once heard it said that there are elements in every culture which point to God’s character, and elements which represent humanity’s sinfulness. I think that the hospitality and welcoming shown in Nigerian culture is an incredible example of how God is open and warm to us. He is inviting, and draws us into relationship with Himself. I know that in this last week, I have been critically reflecting on my own ability to be welcoming. How often do I ask someone how they are doing, not caring about their answer? Or how often do I avoid talking to someone I see in passing because it would be inconvenient or uncomfortable? I know that I have been guilty many times of not valuing people and welcoming them enough, and I hope that I can capture just a bit of the Nigerian sense of welcome to take home with me at the end of this summer.

Thank you to all who have been supporting and praying for me so far! I have a few more requests to share. First, pray for myself and for the other short-termers who have recently come to the field for physical adjustment to the differences in climate, food, etc. Second, pray that I would be wise in planning my schedule so that I can daily set aside time to spend in the Word and in prayer. Third, pray that I will be able to begin building relationships with Nigerians as I begin shadowing in the hospital this week. But I really don’t want this prayer thing to be a one-way street! If there is anything that you could use prayer support in, please feel free to reach out via Facebook messenger or email (I’ll be checking my Liberty address).

Below is a passage that I felt really summed up the sense of welcoming that God shows to us through Christ:

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands–remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13

May God bless you abundantly, my friends!

Julianna

Orientation: A Lesson in Dependence

Hi friends and family!

I am writing after reflecting on nearly a full week of orientation in preparation for my time in Nigeria. I actually will be leaving on my first flight heading towards Nigeria this evening, which seems so incredibly unreal to say!

My week with SIM at orientation has been wonderful, stretching, and so very encouraging. I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful new people, brothers and sisters with whom I have shared sweet fellowship and challenging training sessions. Many have already departed to fields of service all over the world. One thing that has struck me in my time spent here is how easily and how quickly deep friendships form between those who share a common passion. In this orientation group, we have all shared the passion of serving God and making Him known. I think now, more so than many times in my life, I have understood what Peter meant when he wrote of the “unity of mind” that is desirable among believers (1 Peter 3:8). It has been so evident to me that despite being in the midst of a diverse group of people from many walks of life from all over this country (and even outside the United States), we all share a unified mind that seeks to glorify the Lord among the nations. It has been incredible to see a group of nearly twenty strangers so quickly become dear friends, and I am so grateful for this time. I will miss their fellowship on the field in Nigeria, and look forward to hearing updates from SIM’s “darn millennials!”

I am also incredibly grateful for the wisdom that was shared with me this week in orientation, as veteran missionaries took time to mentor and patiently teach us lessons about evangelism, servanthood, cultural adaptation, and many other topics pertinent to missions work. Those I worked with this week were encouraging, willing to answer many questions, and persistent in promoting thoughtful reflection on what we were learning. Many of those we worked with told stories of their time spent serving in other countries, and I was fascinated with their stories of the challenges and blessings of learning new cultures and of God’s provision in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances. It was so encouraging to hear stories of God’s faithfulness played out in these missionaries’ lives, and to have great hope for how He will show His faithfulness in my own life this summer.

In reflecting on my orientation experience, the concept that kept coming back to my mind was dependence. Dependence was the topic of the first devotion we shared during morning chapel, and it was a concept that the Lord continued to impress on me and convict me with during my week here. It is so easy in my comfortable, regular routine to operate on a functional autopilot that almost entirely excludes God from participation. It is so easy to allow my pride to make an idol out of my own self-sufficiency. Yet in the lessons I have worked through this week, I have been awed by the immensity of the task of missions. It is not something that can merely be added to one’s schedule, or done by sheer force of will. It is a colossal task that requires a greater degree of maturity, servanthood, patience, and intelligence than I can possess in my own strength. The solution, then, is not to seek sufficiency, but rather to seek dependency. Only in Christ can I find the ability to work faithfully to complete the task of sharing God’s glory among the nations. It seems paradoxical to find peace in recognizing my own inability, but I have been reminded that this is the way we honor the Lord. Not by seeking to become capable, confident Christians, but rather by recognizing our abject failure and inability before a holy and perfect God. Dependence is a scary word, and often our society makes it into a bad word. Yet there is nothing more beautiful or fitting to our Savior to see us entrusting our lives and depending on Him to fulfill the good work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

I am so very grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow so much within a week, and for the rich community and fellowship I have shared. My friends, I cannot wait to share with you in the future all the ways in which the Lord demonstrates His greatness and faithfulness in Nigeria this summer. But in the meantime, I would ask for prayer as I prepare to travel today. Just ask that God will work to provide safety for myself and my fellow intern (Joanne) as we travel, and that He will grant us favor with customs officials as we enter Nigeria. May God bless you, friends!

Nigeria 2018: He is Faithful

Hi friends and family!

I am delighted to inform those of you who may not already know that I will be traveling to Nigeria for June and July of this summer. I will be participating in a medical missions internship through SIM (a missions sending agency), and will be learning directly from missionaries who are serving long-term in Nigeria. I cannot express how excited I am for this opportunity to learn and serve. I cannot wait to update you all about what I experience while in Nigeria this summer!

While I cannot wait to be on the field serving this summer, I would be lying if I said that I had not encountered challenges along the way in preparing for my internship. The first and largest obstacle that I encountered was the issue of finances. As a college student who makes minimum wage working at my school, the idea of raising almost $7000 seemed like a long shot. But I sent out support letters and tried not to worry as I waited for the Lord to provide. And He did, slowly but surely. At the same time, I was wading through a difficult and busy schedule for college, and often felt overwhelmed by trying to find a balance in managing classes, extracurriculars, and preparation for this internship. On one of my hardest days, I received incredible news, completely out of the blue– I had won a missions scholarship through a local missions organization called Above & Beyond that would more than cover the remainder of my expenses! I had applied for the scholarship more than a month ago, and had basically given up hope that I would win it. Yet through this scholarship (and through the support of all my friends and family), the Lord showed His willingness to provide for me as I seek to follow His will this summer.

A second major area of challenge I encountered was in applying for my Nigerian visa. New procedures meant that I and the other interns traveling to Nigeria this summer were guinea pigs, and I ran into challenges throughout the application process. The most persistent issue, however, was in submitting payment online for my visa application. I spent much of my time calling customer support and nearly tearing my hair out, worried that if I was not able to submit payment prior to my visa appointment, my application would be denied. Fortunately, however, the Lord worked out another opportunity that allowed me to handle the payment process. And beyond just providing for the payment process, He allowed for my visa application to be approved in spite of the hiccups along the way.

This entire internship preparation process has been a whirlwind of tasks to accomplish, and most of it occurred during my most challenging and busy semester of college thus far. However, in all that I experienced, both in terms of preparing for this internship and in finishing out my junior year of college, I could see that the Lord was so very present and faithful to provide for all my needs. I know that this internship will be a means for the Lord to teach me many lessons, but the first that I have already seen demonstrated is this: God is faithful. He is present in our circumstances and works them out for His glory and our good. All praise be to Him!

I will continue to update this blog throughout the summer as I finish preparing for the internship and while I am serving in Nigeria. I am hopeful to post on a near-weekly basis, but this will also depend on my ability to access the internet while I am in Nigeria. Looking forward to communicating with you all and sharing about what the Lord is doing in and through me and in the people of Nigeria this summer!

Blessings,

Julianna

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23