|Thinking about my little namesake, |
Darlenne, over in Rwanda today....
Praying for you, little Darlenne....
TURNING MY TRIALS INTO TRIUMPHS
by Darlene McComis O'Lena March 26, 2016
Rwanda, Africa. Called “the land of a thousand hills,” it is a small country on the east side of Africa. A country full of extreme poverty. A country that lost thousands of people in the Rwandan Genocide in the 1990’s. But, it is also a country of people that are full of God’s love and aren’t afraid to show it.
The idea of me going on a mission trip started 20 years ago. Friends of ours had gone on a trip and told my husband, Chuck, and me about it. That very Sunday, pastor gave a sermon on missions and asked people to step forward if they wanted to go on a missions trip sometime during their life. Chuck and I went forward, as did many others. But shortly after that Chuck got sick and a few years later, passed away. The mission trip idea was put on the back burner.
Now, jump ahead 20 years. I was sitting at my kitchen table doing my Bible study one summer night last year. As I sat there, my mind strayed to looking back on my life. It seemed to me that I had never done anything significant regarding sharing the message of the Gospel. I found myself saying that night “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” Little did I know what I was saying to God at that point would come true.
I had heard about a mission in Rwanda, Africa at my church. I had always thought about Africa. One of my favorite movies as a child was “Stanley and Livingston,” about a missionary doctor in Africa. As I listened to Pastor Jay at church talk about “Love Alive International” in Africa, I thought “I should check out their website.” When I got home that Sunday, I went on the Internet and found the website. ( www.lovealiveinternational.com ) It showed how you could sponsor a child’s education in Rwanda for $35 a year. Gee, I could spend that amount just going out to dinner. OK, I’ll sponsor one child. Then on the website, I saw that there were sewing classes for the Rwandan women so that they can learn to make clothing, purses, etc. to sell at the market. This would provide money for their family. When they graduated from the sewing class, they would receive their very own sewing machine. These sewing machines would be purchased from people that would sponsor them, once again, on the website. OK, that sounded like a good thing, so I sponsored one sewing student. A couple of weeks later, I got thinking about the Rwandan children and sponsored three more.
I received an email later from Laura, the woman who had started Love Alive International three years ago. She thanked me for my donations and said “If you’d ever like to come visit us, we would be glad to have you.” (As a side note, Laura later said that it must have been a “God thing”, because she had never said that to someone before). Visit Africa? Me? That was quite an idea! I thought about it again and again after that. Driving to work one morning, I found myself talking to God about it. The conversation went something like this:
Me: But God, where would I get the money to go?
God: Just trust Me on that one.
Me: But God, what about the innoculations? You know my health isn’t the best and I always have reactions to stuff.
God: Just trust Me on that one too.
Me: But God…..
God: Are you willing to “step out” for what I am asking you to do?
Well, He had me on that one. A couple of days later, I was driving home from work. I turned on the radio and tried channel after channel for something to listen to. All of a sudden, I turned to a radio station and a voice said “You know that missionary trip you’ve always wanted to go on? Go do it.” It sure sounded like God speaking to me. (It turned out to be a Joel Osteen station). Well, I had my answer. I was going to Africa.
It started with raising the money for the trip. I figured I’d need about $2500 to go. I sent out ONE donation letter to friends and church members. I thought, “Well, Lord, if you REALLY want me to go, the money will have to come in.” Within a short time, $2600 had been raised. Hmmmm……
Next came the innoculations. I held my breath when the doctor injected me with shots for Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever. He also gave me Malaria pills to take. No adverse reactions to any of it.
It was coming down to the wire now as the date of March 10th, my chosen date for my trip, got closer. Satan started messing with me now. I would find myself doubting my going and what could God possibly use me for? I had no skills to teach anything. I couldn’t think of anything that I could do there. I took a test to see what my spiritual gifts were and it came back “Compassion and Mercy.” What could I do with that? Oh, but God had a chosen plan for me!
Share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter —when you see the naked, to clothe them….Spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs. Isaiah 58:7, 10, 11