In 2006, I packed 4 suitcases and boarded a plan to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. So young and naive, I had never booked a plane ticket and here I was MOVING to a foreign land. Everyone thought I was insane. My Granddad kept asking “Isn’t there a war happening there?” And “why would you want to move THERE?! It’s not safe for a woman to go there!”
Well, I did it. It was one of the gutsiest things I have ever done and I never in my whole life could have imagined how that trip would have changed my life. You can’t know that kind of stuff going into it. And some how years later, I feel moments, experiences, from that trip still changing me.
I moved to Vietnam because I heard God say “I have prepared a place for you there” BEFORE I had even set foot in that country. Sometimes you just have one word to hold onto and it’s like the view finder you gaze through. When I was on a mission trip to Vietnam a few months before I moved there, it felt more impossible for me to NOT live there than to actually live there. It just felt like every moment was made for me. And so I moved to Vietnam because everything in me knew it was set up by God.
The land was magical and extreme. The noises were foreign and loud and constant. The people were strange and beautiful and warm and curious. It wasn’t long before I felt love growing in my heart for these people who were so different than me.
As you can imagine, every day was ALIVE and fast and full of adventure. I was encountering God at every turn. But after 6 months I was looking for some new challenges. I was working for a ministry that helped kids get off the streets by employing them in a cafe. We loved them, ate their yummy food and taught them English and about Jesus. We also taught conversational English to university students …like HUNDREDS of them every week! I was burned out and really wanted to find something I was more passionate about. So we decided to develop an outreach program to places like leper colonies, AIDS hospices, homes for sexually abused kids and orphanages. I was upset with my team mates for NOT choosing the scary places and leaving them for me. LIKE REALLY UPSET!
So, I “got stuck” with the leper colony and the AIDS hospice. Let me be be super clear, I HAVE NEVER SEEN OR KNOWN ANYONE WITH LEPROSY OR AIDS. (I had only read stories about Mother Theresa) I had NO idea what to expect….And I had NO idea that God chose those places to birth a dream in my heart.
They just couldn’t contain their affection…
My team and I raised a bunch of money to buy rice for the leper colony. A big gift for our first time to this facility. Also perhaps a bribe to let us through the gate. We were allowed in to deliver the rice and talk with the lepers. The big scary guard happened to be gone when we arrived (JESUS:)) so we had access!
After a half hour of chatting with the lepers, I noticed a brick wall at the back of the property. I was curious what was back there, so I asked if we could go and see what was behind the wall. As my translator explained what I wanted to do, the nurse in charge had a look of terror on her face. She just kept saying “No..no..no..” and then words in Vietnamese that I assume meant “No, the white girl is not allowed back there” To that I said “Oh we are definitely going back there!” After 10 minutes of back and forth with the nurse, she finally gave in. She would give us 10 minutes. And if her boss came back and caught us, she would deny she knew anything. (If I got caught, I was looking at jail time and deportation.)
I never in my entire life could have imagined what was behind that wall. Nothing could prepare me. My Vietnamese friend (who admitted she was arrested at this very facility AS WE ARE ROUNDING THE CORNER!) held my hand as we walked to the door. As I walked in I just froze. Stiff. Silent. Taking in everything and trying to sort everything all at the same time. Bodies…left to dye. Cursed with AIDS. They were so young. So alone. Bones with skin on them. Some of them were chained to the beds because they were convicted criminals. In the back corner, a priest was reading the last rights over a man I am sure couldn’t have been older than 22. I have never felt so helpless in my whole life. I had no words. No emotions except for this ache deep inside of me that someone has to do something for these people. Why is no one helping them??!!
My friend Bao moved around the room touching each frail person …praying for them. Telling them about Jesus. Just talking to them. They had no one. Every single person in the place had been abandoned by their families and banished to the back of this property to die. They had no one.
That day I was silent for hours. (If you know me, you know this is NOT me!) I went home and locked myself in my room and cried for hours. Trying to sort out what had just happened. My thoughts would just SPIN because I couldn’t think of a solution. All that would come out was “Jesus, someone has to help them!”
Little did I know that He was posing a question by plopping me smack dab in the middle of a scenario I had no idea how to problem solve. I was saying “Jesus, someone has to help them!” and He was asking “Will you be the one that helps them?”
When you walk with God closely, it often feels like there are more riddles and questions than answers and solutions. It is all to draw us closer to His heart so He can show us how to partner with Him because He really does believe ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. I am starting to understand that when we trust Him and take crazy risks (like moving to a foreign land when everyone in your world thinks your insane), He births dreams and passions that maybe wouldn’t happen journaling by a peaceful lake. (PS-I love journaling by peaceful lakes!) I’m also starting to understand the difference in a good idea and a passion or dream that you would give your life for. That day at the Leper Colony, destiny happened. It rattled me to my core. I knew I could never be the same after that.
I kept going back to that hospice. Each time praying for people. Grieving with them. Crying with them. Laughing with them. And each time I felt more confident that God had a magnificent plan even though I had no clue what it was. I just knew in my bones that before the foundations of the world, when God was creating little me, that He was whispering about the days I was living in and the dreams that one day I would walk in.
I don’t have any pictures of the people at the AIDS hospice. For obvious reasons. However, I ended up finding out about another AIDS hospice that took in kids that either had HIV or their parents died of AIDS. It was and still is one of my FAVORITE places on the planet. I would often imagine living there. Most of my thoughts and time was spent organizing trips to see the kids. It was MAGICAL!
My sweet friend Bao and the kids RUNNING to greet us..
Each time we would leave, my heart would be in turmoil. “What we are doing isn’t enough! Why are they dying? They are so young! It’s not fair.” My sweet friend told me just to talk to Jesus about it because she had the same questions…and no answers. Just that love compelled her to go back again and again to these places for the dying and destitute.
I moved back to America a few months later. We told the kids that I was going on an airplane ride and wouldn’t be coming back anymore. None of them seemed to really understand because none of them had ever been on an airplane. The little girls only asked if I would come back for their weddings one day. They were no older than 10. Of course I said YES!!!!!! HOPE FOR THAT!!!!
As I adjusted back to life in America after living a VERY different life in Vietnam, my heart ached and stirred. I had questions I didn’t even know I had. It was a holy frustration. And the only things that bubbled up in my heart were “Someone has to help them! They are so young! There has to be more to the story than just telling them about Jesus and then they die. It’s not fair that they don’t get to live out their destinies!” God will let those things stir until you are ready to stop and listen…ready to embrace His plan.
About 2 months after I returned to the states, my former pastors called me to let me know that they found out Jesus heals people. Like He heals people. Today. Now. It’s really real. If I hadn’t been through the past 8 months of questions with God, I am not sure I would have been ready for that conversation. But sometimes your heart knows something your mind can’t understand. At the end of that conversation with my pastor, i knew that she was telling me the truth and I knew that Jesus wanted to heal those that the world has abandoned and left to die. Those that are diagnosed incurable.
This is Dung (pronounced Zung). He was my little man He taught me about joy and laughter. Dung was Cambodian/Vietnamese. Both his parent died of AIDS. He had HIV.
This is what he was like every time we saw each other! SO MUCH JOY!
He became very ill a week after I left Vietnam. I told him before I left that I would one day come back for him. I sincerely believed that I would. He died a few weeks later. In 2010, I got to go back to the AIDS hospice and see his little picture on a box containing his ashes. I weeped and weeped. It felt like I had dreamed the whole thing.
So I set out to learn everything I could about healing and miracles and Jesus. He birthed something in me during that season in Vietnam and I made a decision to radically pursue Jesus and the gifts and healing FOR THOSE PEOPLE. And at the core of it all, my heart is to introduce people ..all people… to the love of an Amazing Father, to my best friend Jesus and to the comforter Holy Spirit.
Someone said to me a few months after I was back in America and I was looking back with alot of questions…..”Sometimes God will take you half way around the world to teach you how to hear His voice.” Yep… and birth a dream. And prove His love. And set you on the course of your destiny.
In 3.5 weeks, I depart for Thailand and Cambodia. We will be ministering to those the world has cast aside. The dying. The destitute. The lonely and broken. Our message is the extravagant love of a really good Father. SE Asia is a magical land that God is so in love with. They have a beautiful destiny. And I am excited to be part of it.
I would love for you to be part of this journey… it’s just one more chapter in this beautiful love story. Your support means EVERYTHING TO ME! It is one thing to be called. It’s quite another to GO!
God is FAITHFUL!!!! He always supplies my every need! Thank you for all your support and love and prayers and prophetic words and encouragement! I am a lucky girl to have such amazing friends! Stay tuned here for updates and pictures:))
Friday Aug 15, $1200 is due to Global Celebrations to complete my trip costs.
Friday Aug 15 $2000 is due for a plane ticket.
There are multiple ways to give:
(Please email me if you give online so I will know you gave)
CHECKS–please email me for address info