Torrential rains and blazing sun, stampeding wildlife and swarming insects, vast deserts and impenetrable jungles, exotic plants and peculiar foods. The distant rumble of drums, intricately painted bodies, and nighttime war chants. Witch doctors, cannibalism, and child sacrifice. This is what many Americans imagine when they consider Africa. For some people this is precisely the Africa to which they are attracted, while others are decidedly repelled.
Africa has an allure to adventurous people like me, but that isn’t why I went. In November of 2008 my husband of almost 20 years died unexpectedly. After the first year of some very difficult grief work—my husband was also my best friend—I spent the second year pursuing God’s plan for my continued healing and growth. The purpose of that year was to break down walls, build compassion, and show the grace God had shown me, and I pursued that purpose through a series of five short-term mission trips. The whole year and all that went with it—grieving, healing, and ministry—is chronicled at My Second Year.
Reflecting on the work of My Second Year I recognized some very specific passions threaded throughout the experience. These passions arose from the ministry I shared in, as well as the East African people I came to know and love. God affirmed his call that I continue serving in East Africa and that I use these passions for his Kingdom. And thus, Surprised by Hope was born.