Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Mom is Going to TANZANIA!!!!!!

You may remember that my mom traveled to Ghana for the first time last December 2010 with Jake and some others on one of our trips. When she got home from that trip she was left asking herself and God….WHAT NOW?!?!?! This response is actually the main reason why Jake and I love to take anyone and everyone on our trips….even if they don’t feel like they know their purpose for going in the first place. Because once you SEE, your heart is stirred to take action. From there you just have to figure out specifically what it is that God would have you to do with what He has shown you. There is a verse in Proverbs that seems to explain this pull to action perfectly….

"...once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." ~Proverbs 24:12~

Yep, that’s right where my mom found herself early last year after her trip.

There was one little boy my mom met in Cape Coast named Edward…

Her heart was full of compassion for this little guy, and in the days after returning from Ghana she thought about him all the time. She wondered if he had a family, if he was an orphan, if he had enough money to go to school, and to eat. She wondered about his parents and if they were alive and whether they had jobs. She pondered where Edward might live in Cape Coast….probably one of the tiny little shacks that lined the shore line. As her heart continued to run through these things she decided that she would look into sponsorship programs. She would love to sponsor a young child just like Edward to be able to give him financial support for education and for his daily needs to be met. She began weighing the many options of sponsorship programs and thought that perhaps this was the action step God was leading her to take.

There was something else that had been in the back of my mom’s mind. Back in early 2010 my mom felt that God had placed it on her heart to renew her nursing license (you can read more about how that came up here). A looonnggg time ago my mom used to be an RN. But she had not been active in the nursing practice for years and years. She decided to start taking credits to get renewed. She wouldn’t be changing her day job (research & data collection on cancer for the University of Iowa), but as she wrote about in the post I linked to above, this nudge to renew her nursing license kept coming up. So she went for it and in September 2010 she started taking the credits that she needed. This of course was all before my mom’s December trip to Ghana and before we knew we would be building a medical clinic for the village of Asikuma! When plans for the clinic began to churn on our March 2011 trip earlier this year my mom got so excited! She thought that with her license renewal almost complete she could definitely serve at the medical clinic once it was all up and running! Not only that, but while Jake and I were on the trip, my mom’s employer (The University of Iowa) published the following article about a medical team that had just returned from a 5 week missions trip in Ghana!


God continued to ignite this idea of medical missions in my mom’s heart. So, she decided to start looking around online for ‘village nursing courses’ to ready herself to serve in this capacity should the opportunity come up. On March 25th of this year my mom emailed me this:

Right now I’m looking for classes to find some type of instruction on remote village nursing care. I found an awesome study abroad class this summer through Michigan State Univ, but you have to be a student there :). There are a lot of ‘companies’ that have Ghana trips for internships, etc. My friend Carolyn has a sis/bro-in-law who live in Minneapolis. He is a doc and he does Doctors w/o Borders. There are even Mercy Ships/cruiselines that go to various countries and I found a group last night that works out of Takoradi.

I just want to learn more about Ghana health care and their health needs. Been reading lots of stuff. I know that God is up to something and I’m just open right now to what He has in mind. I feel strongly that if I serve more than a week here and there it needs to be health care related. Or maybe I need to become a midwife :).

And God was up to something. For over a month there on my nightstand had been sitting a packet of information and newsletter from an organization called STEMM which is based out of Sioux City, IA. Doug Vander Weide (a regular attendee on our Ghana trips) had given it to me to look over before our March Ghana trip. He had wanted me to see how a well-run missions organization was set up and how they communicated their trip accomplishments and fundraising needs. Being the self-admitted procrastinator that I am, I hadn’t even glanced at it. I had set it on my nightstand for the night when I had a little extra time to read before bed (yeah right!) and had literally forgotten about it. Stranger still, the night before my mom sent me the above email, I had come across the packet while cleaning and stuck it in my purse so I could read it over during Justice’s taekwondo practice. I figured it would give me something to do. So, what does STEMM have to do with my mom’s email? Well, STEMM stands for Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries - they do MEDICAL MISSIONS TRIPS, and they do them well!!!!!!!!!!!!! What timing to have finally picked up this packet of info, read through it, only to get my mom’s email the next morning expressing that she was wanting to find a medical missions class! Heck, why not get the class with the trip all in one?!?!?! Immediately after reading my mom’s email I felt God speaking. I knew I had to get this information to her ASAP! I emailed her right away sending her the link to the organization's website (http://www.stemm.org/). That same day my mom contacted the organization’s coordinator. Here’s an email excerpt from their phone conversation:

Just got off the phone with Gail from STEMM! She talked to me for a long time. Wow, do they have a program! I can’t begin to tell you all the stuff they are doing, but she did talk about their work with Hospice and the HIV/AIDS people. I’ve been toying around with the Hospice volunteer program that the Hospice house in Marshalltown offers but the dates haven’t worked out for me. But I know now why I’ve been toying with it :). The AIDS/HIV has been a focus for me since I read The Price of Stones book and the orphans because of “Slim” deaths, as they call it.

Anyway, with the little girl on your blog today who needs surgery – STEMM is orthopedic focused. Not sure what they could do for this little gal, but they are doing surgery in Tanzania and have even done joint replacements. In that area of Africa there is fluoride that comes down the mountain in the water and makes their bones brittle, so they need osteotomies to straighten their legs. They are very cultural based, have a lot of government officials on board and someone from Parliament is on their executive board. She was very interesting to talk to.

Their trips are usually 2 weeks long and they do a 3-day safari in the middle of the trip for people to regroup and relax before digging back in. They also are getting children bibles translated into Swahili and doing bible studies with them, building chicken houses, and they have an orphanage where people work besides doing the medial trips.

WOW WOW WOW! This just seemed like the perfect opportunity….exactly what my mom was looking for to take the next step into answering “what now?” So, this was back in March of this year. This may all look like it was completely clear, but let me tell you that the idea of going on this entire trip was practically working my mom into cold sweats! Fear of the unknown can be so paralyzing, but little by little God gave my mom personal stepping stones into giving her the courage and confirmation from Him that He really was leading her to this trip. You can read more about how God led her to say YES to this trip in her mission’s story on her blog here: http://odlemountain.blogspot.com/p/my-mission-story.html

A major part of the ‘cold sweats’ was coming from the impending cost of this trip. Two installments of $2500 to be exact. My mom does not have the money to go on this trip which is coming up in June 2012. But, she too trusts that if we ‘bring what we have’ God will work in supernatural ways to multiply it and provide. If you feel led to donate to my mom’s trip fund there are many ways you can do so, starting at just $5:

1) My mom is the all-time homemade salsa maker in these parts. She has whipped up a bunch of jars from her summer tomatoes and is currently using them as a fundraiser – minimum donation of $5 gets you one yummy jar! She can’t ship these but she has contacts around Iowa in which she can hand deliver you a jar if you make a donation. (to order, email her by using the contact form on the sidebar of her blog).

2) My mom also does scenic photography. She has turned some of her best photos into note cards….perfect for sending an encouraging word or a little note through the mail or as a card with a gift. These cards will be an assortment of seasonal photography, 8 cards for $12 (envelopes included), blank on the inside. She can ship these if requested. (to order, email her by using the contact form on the sidebar of her blog).

3) Pampered Chef Open House & Fundraiser. You can purchase items as usual and her rewards will be turned into cash by the consultant to put towards her trip. All items are guaranteed by Christmas. To browse the online catalog and place an order online go here: http://www.pamperedchef.biz/jeriskitchen and click ‘shop online’. You will be prompted to enter my mom’s name (Lori Odle) so that your purchase goes towards her show.

4) Lastly, if you would like to just make a general donation without purchasing anything, you can go to my mom’s blog http://odlemountain.blogspot.com/ and donate via pay pal which is on her side bar.

Way to go mom!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so excited that you are taking this step of faith! Who can fathom what God will choose to do through you on this trip?!?!?!

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