Monday, April 30, 2007

South Africa meetings and plane tickets

It's always quite exciting when another piece of this trip falls into place!

I had a good meeting last Tuesday with some of the folks I'll be working with in South Africa. Roland, the South African head of Africa Upper Room Ministries, has been in the States for a few weeks, so I met with him, Renny (hr/finance person for Africa Upper Room) and Dale (the State-side AUR coordinator). We continued a conversation Dale and I began a few weeks ago, filling in a few more of the details of which stories they'd like for me to cover.

Currently, it looks like I may spend about a week in four different South Africa locations on both the east and west South African coasts. I'll also likely end up working with a media guy there on some video projects telling the story of some of the folks AUR gets to work with. I'll be the script writer. There's some possibility that all of my travel in South Africa will not be by plane, allowing me actually to see the country instead of just flying over the top of it from one spot to another.

In addition to filling in more details, the meeting was also a nice chance to meet folks I'll be connecting with on the other side of the Atlantic...instead of having to wait until I climb off the plane into a crowded airport. :-)

I still don't have plane tickets. They're in the works, but my itinerary is quite intensive (probably the travel agent version of those terrible math word problems: if Train A leaves Nairobi at 10 am traveling 80 km/hour, what time will it cross under the airplane carrying Kami and hopefully her luggage, too, to Kampala at a speed of whatever speed airplanes go?), so it's apparently taking some time to work out. And my sister Erin and I are trying to go to Ghana at the same time as everyone else in the world who's heading there for Ghana's big celebrations. So, prayers for all that ticketing to come together for as low a price as possible are appreciated. That might include praying for the poor travel agent on the other end of the itinerary. May he be rewarded with a big bowl of ice cream or his favorite candy bar or something once he gets it all worked out. :-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

the plan, as it currently stands

Time for the grand unveiling! There are many, many details still to be filled in, but here is the basic outline. I imagine that some details will only fall into place once I'm on the ground in Africa, so I probably won't know what all I'll be doing until I get back and can tell about what I did. But, then, that's how life really is anyway; we just pretend that we can plan it. :-)

I'll be leaving Nashville on July 27 or 28 and returning at the very end of November or very beginning of December. I'm working on finalizing my plane tickets and will post the exact dates when I have them.
  1. Two weeks in Ghana with the Joseph Alliance, an organization that encourages African Americans to be involved in missions. I've been doing some publicity work for them since last fall, so I'm excited to be part of this missions trip with them. We'll also be participating in Ghana's 50th anniversary celebration of their independence and 200th anniversary celebration of the end of the slave trade. AND a bonus is that it looks like my sister Erin will be joining the group for 1 week of their mission trip!! yippee!
  2. Approximately 5 weeks in Kenya, connecting with old family friends Andy and Jodi Keller, missionary pilots serving with AIM, and partnering with some still-to-be determined organizations.
  3. Approximately 4 weeks in Uganda, connecting with Pam and Simon Wunderli, missionary pilots with MAF, and working with some other organizations that are yet-to-be-nailed-down.
  4. Approximately 2 weeks in Zimbabwe, primarily working with Africa University, a private, Pan-African and United Methodist-related university.
  5. Approximately 5 weeks in South Africa, doing some writing work for Africa Upper Room Ministries and possibly some other organizations; connecting with some of my South African relatives (my Grandpa Rice grew up here; one of his brothers stayed in South Africa, so some of my dad's first cousins are South African, and I've never met most of them); and wrapping up the four months with some retreat time somewhere in South Africa.

In order to complete this undertaking, I'm going to need your help. This isn't a one woman show. It's a group effort.

I'll need people to be praying with me along the way. See the prayer requests I've posted in the column on the right of this page to get started. If you'd like to be part of my core prayer team, email me (khakiface(at) My goal is to send out a little prayer update message to the prayer team every week or every other week. So, let me know if you'd like to be added to the list.

I'll also need folks to join my financial support team. Since I'll be working in Africa with non-profit organizations who are themselves dependent on donations, I'm raising my own financial support in order to make this trip possible and donate my time to these organizations. New Hope International Ministries, a small missions organization that specializes in short-term trips and in "loaning" folks out to other mission organizations, will be overseeing my trip. It's been a big item of praise to get to be connected to them and the resources they've offered my way. New Hope is connected with Asbury College, my alma mater, and is helping coordinate all of my travel arrangements and my support raising.

I'm still working on finalizing the budget for this trip. With so many facets to the trip, exact numbers are difficult to nail down. My current fundraising goal is $10,000. I'll be making every effort to keep expenses as low as possible. My hope is that funds from your donations will be left over after my expenses are covered. While I'm in Africa, I'll be praying as I meet people, watching and listening for the best way to pass on some of what you've donated for this trip. With any leftover funds, I'd love to, say, buy a sewing machine for a woman who will use it to start a business or do something similarly sustainable for/with other people I meet. Additionally, leftover funds can be passed on to organizations I connect with while I'm in Africa or to African churches I interact with.

So, if you'd like to join my financial support team, please email me (khakiface(at), and I'll get more info to you. You can also check out New Hope's address in the column to the right. And don't be're welcome to be part of both teams, prayer and financial...the more the merrier for sure! :-)

Thanks, friends, for joining me in this journey. I'm eager to see how God works through all of us and to discover what He wants us all to learn through being part of this together.

Monday, April 16, 2007

how it all began

It seems the right time and the right way have finally presented themselves.

I've had a long-standing interest in things international--perhaps more specifically in people and cultures and languages--for about as long as I can remember. Though my family never lived outside the States, courtesy of my dad's job training missionary pilots I grew up around many people whose families did. I was disappointed the year my parents ended up declining an offer to take our family to Botswana for the summer and a little envious of the friends who moved to Indonesia for a couple years in junior high. The Kenyan pen pal I "met" in 8th grade happened to have the same birthday as me. I relished receiving her letters, containing such treasures as flamingo feathers and stories from her everyday, normal life as a Kenyan schoolgirl who was exactly two years older than me.

I was eager to be a high school sophomore because that was the year I could finally start studying another language. On my first trip to Brazil and Colombia after my junior year of high school, I enjoyed heading off alone with some of the Brazilian youth group girls on bike rides or other jaunts around town, getting a break from the insulation of our group of 22 Americans. When the mother of our American missionary host family told me I'd make a great missionary, I felt it to be a great compliment.

I loved life in DC after college partly because of the internationalness of the city. I loved sitting on the Metro listening to any number of languages being spoken around me. Each day held interaction with people from all over the globe. Once I was eating lunch in a crowded food court and ended up sitting with a Paskistani doctor and his family. The doctor was in DC to compete in the World Scrabble Championship! Who knew such things as World Scrabble Championships existed?

While my first post-college job ended up leaving much to be desired (to put mildly the lessons I learned while in that position), one of its few saving graces was the opportunity it offered for interacting with people from around the world. My plan in accepting the admin assistant job with a non-profit that was offering training to broadcasting and telecommunications professionals from developing countries was that it would offer a bridge from my communications background to my hoped-for work in international relations or development work or something. Even though I spent hours surfing the Peace Corps web site and looking up info on various graduate degrees in international things, my bridge job obviously didn't prove to be the bridge I was hoping for.

God's been generous in connecting me to many friends--American and otherwise--who live and work outside America. I am immensely thankful for the way knowing them has changed and shifted my perspective on so many things. For someone who's spent as little time outside the U.S. as I have (something like 30 days spread over 3 trips), I feel like I've lived more internationally than my passports attest...because as I've soaked in details and experiences from others, I've imagined the places and people they describe and learned from them.

Sometime during my high school or college years, some missionary speaker told a group I was part of that if you were at all willing "to go," you should, because so many people were unwilling. I've long taken issue with that statement. I've been so willing to go and checked into so many options for doing that, but they have never been right. It has never been what I'm supposed to do at that time. To have gone would have perhaps even been disobedient.

And, so, over time, I've tried to let go of my desire "to go." I've tried not to be envious of my friends who get to go. I've tried to trust that for some reason it seems God has wired me this way, and then I've hoped that he's wired me this way for some reason other than just that I connect well with the international customers in our Starbucks line. I've tried to trust his purposes for that wiring.

So, that's part of the reason this trip to Africa is so exciting. I've waited a long time for it. During that waiting time, during all that time of wishing to go and not going, I've become a writer. If I had traveled outside the States for an extended period of time all those other times I've wanted to, I would not have been going as a writer. And there is a great sense of rightness about going this way. I can't know what the days in Africa will hold, but I hope I'll go humbly and listen and learn and be available to and for what God's taking me there for.