Question/Answer with Storyteller Missions Team Leader, Jennifer Danford
Have you had that distant thought somewhere inside that thinks about taking a short-term mission trip, but you quickly dismiss it as impractical–too many reasons you cannot, or should not, go?
The post below was written by Jennifer Danford, who will be leading our last 2015 Storyteller Mission trip to Ethiopia in December. Jennifer has careful responded to the many questions she has received about taking a short-term mission trip to Ethiopia.
It is not too late to join this team! Talk to your friends and family, and join Jennifer and her Storyteller Missions team in December.
â€œThere is no way I could ever get on a plane.â€
â€œGod hasnâ€™t called me to go overseas.â€
These are just a few reasons that I have heard over the years, in sharing about my experiences on various mission trips. What I love is when I get to help other people see that no matter the skill set, God longs to incorporate us into His work going on in other places. I get a rush explaining to non-fliers that 1) their doctor can give them something to help them sleep 2) sometimes we have to remember that God doesnâ€™t call us to things that are easy and 3) that God isnâ€™t a Father of fear, but One who equips us as He calls us and He will give us supernatural courage! (see 2 Timothy 1:7) The last is my favoriteâ€¦..He doesnâ€™t call all believers to move overseas but He pretty much tells all of us to GO to the ends of the earth, not just the end of our street. So many people say, â€œTHIS is my mission field.â€ I am in agreement. We are all to be sharing Jesus wherever we are. The incredible thing about international missions is that you find yourself doing things in another country that you can do back home. It may look a bit different but God is so good to â€œtranslateâ€ it into a relevant opportunity when you return home. Stepping out of our norm, our comfort, and walking into the middle of what God is doing halfway around the world affords us time with God and experiencing aspects of His character that we often miss because of our busy, American lives.
â€œDo you really think that spending only a few hours with a child in an orphanage makes a difference?â€
Then we have this question; such a valid one and one I enjoy answering because I get to share my thoughts as a team leader and an adoptive momma! What many people donâ€™t realize is that when an infant is abandoned, within hours of that abandonment his/her brain begins to carve out paths of survival. And even in the most loving of orphanages, critical needs for growing and developing are lacking–things such as lack of touch, lack of eye contact, inadequate nutrition for growing and developing bodies, and fewer opportunities for physical activity and fun. These things keep the brains of these precious children from developing into trusting, care-seeking people. But we get to make an impact, even in the short-term. Holding an infant for 2 solid hours, as we pray Scripture over them, sing to them; blowing bubbles while toddlers try to catch them, playing checkers with the teenagers and them finding great joy in beating you. What does any of that matter? Our team breaks up the monotony of their day. We bring new conversations to the nanniesâ€¦.sometimes with us, sometimes about us. We supply fresh energy for the kids as we play and just have fun, if only for a day. We help with future connections to forever families by adding diversity to the faces the kids see; from different shades of skin, to freckles, green eyes, menâ€™s voices (because most of the orphanage workers are females), different languagesâ€¦it all matters.
â€œI donâ€™t have that money in my bank account.â€
God is always fun to watch, as He tells us to step out and then paves the way for us to walk. He never leaves us. He is constantly showing us how He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, providing what we need in order to do what He is leading us to do. Last year I had a team member who literally had less than $1 in her checking account. She knew that she was supposed to go to Ethiopia and within a couple weeks of signing up, her entire trip was paid for by people God used and she never expected!
Why not? It has been said that in the adoption world, Ethiopia is the new China, with the wait time growing longer and longer. As families have to wait longer for their paperwork to be processed and finally paired with their child, children grow older. My December 2015 team, along with all Storyteller Missions Teams, will be messengers of hope, reminding these children that they are loved, valued and not forgotten. We will get to share Jesus with them, as well as the orphanage workers and even families that have America World-sponsored children. Once we return home, we will continue watching God work as we advocate for specific children who have been waiting for their forever family for such a long time. My team from last year had the awesome opportunity to see at least 7 children for whom we advocated get matched and are now home.
My FAVORITE question of all! Just go to www.awaa.org/storytellermissions/trips.aspx, click on the December 10-19, 2015 trip and complete the online application! Iâ€™ll contact you soon after and give you the latest on fundraising and other team info.
â€œWho are you anyway?â€
I am Jennifer Danford, a wife to my husband for 19 years, a mom to three daughters (13, 7 and 6.5), an adoptive mom who gets super passionate when talking about adoption, orphan care and my Jesus. Iâ€™ve been on mission in 7 states and 4 countries, watching God blow my mind with His greatness and desire for others to know Jesus.