Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Unpacking Africa

It's been a busy summer and it's hard to describe everything I have seen and done.  As I begin to unpack Africa, I find myself reflecting on everything that happened. It was in many ways what I expected, but also so incredibly different. I found myself and lost myself in East Africa. Come along with me on this journey as I begin to unpack the month I spent in Tanzania. 

I will be sharing the images I took and short stories. I hope you enjoy.

This was the view outside the house I stayed in. It's hard to believe that I got a chance to live in the Lion King for a whole month. This view never got old for me and I often found myself humming "Circle of Life". I started with a sunset image, because it's funny how there is always a sunset before things get worse. As I blog about this, I start with saying all my expectations about Tanzania were beautiful and innocent. Much like this sunset. However, I had no idea what things lurked in the darkness in the days to come. But it was the sunset and the beauty of life that kept me going.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Team Tanzania Fixes Bikes

Hello friends! 
Next month I leave for Africa. We are at the 34 day mark. I can not believe where the time has gone. It feels like these months have flown by. However, I am getting so excited for the adventures ahead.  

Last week, Team Tanzania had the opportunity to go to ACT labs in Long Beach.  At ACT, my team and I learned how to assemble bikes and fix them. This proved to be a crash course in all bike things. We had a fun time learning about how these bikes will play into our trip. As well as, the opportunities it will provide with the local government and the relationships we will build. 

This will be an amazing outreach and create amazing moments to build lasting friendships. 

With less than 34 days left until we leave, my team is in need of funds. We have around 11,000 dollars to raise. I believe that God will provide for us. However, that doesn't mean I am not getting nervous. Please pray that God will provide for the rest of my team. 

 If you would like to make a donation you can give online:  Click Here. When filling out the form,  Make sure to select Team Tanzania and fill out name: Danielle Ernest.

Thank you all for your continued support. I appreciate all of the love and encouragement I have received.  



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Leading Alone

Several of people keep asking how Team Tanzania doing. I would have to say that we have had our ups and downs. Earlier this week, my co-leader left the team. I would not say this was a huge shock to the entire team, but it has left me feeling very alone. Amidst this frustration, God has done some amazing things in my team. Even though we lost a leader, our unity still remains intact.  I find this to be the biggest blessing of all.
A few weeks ago, my team and I went down to San Diego to work with homeless. There I saw my team come together in ways that I never dreamed. We washed homeless feet and fed them breakfast. It made my heart joyful to see them work together and serve those in need. There was something incredibly special about watching them bestow worth on those society has forgotten.  This gives me hope for this summer and makes me extremely excited for what God will do. We also had the privilege to help package food for Tanzania. We ended up packing around 4,000 meals! We will be passing out these packages in less than 50 days. I can barely believe it. 

We have a few fundraisers planned for the future. But, the team is in desperate need of funds. So if you could pray and donate, that would be appreciated. I believe that we will reach our goal. We currently have 42% percent raised and we need 100% by May 15th. Thankfully, we had enough funds to book our flights. We got an amazing deal that will take us through Dubai and flying into Dar Salam. The only downside about that cheap airfare is the 9 hour bus ride from Dar Salam to our village. However, God blessed us with an incredible price- so I am very thankful. 

If you would like to make a donation you can give online:  Click Here. When filling out the form,  Make sure to select Team Tanzania and fill out name: Danielle Ernest.

Prayer Requests 
  • Please continue to pray for team unity and that God will continue to bring us together. 
  • Next week we are meeting with the Long Beach bike company. We will be learning more about this bike project that we will be doing. 
  • Pray that all of us will finish this semester strong. We are about 4 weeks away from school being done. (Hurray!) 
  • Continue to pray for the people of Tanzania and those we will come in contact with this summer. 
  • Pray that I will be able to handle the stress of leading alone and that God will provide help along the way. 
  • Pray that our fundraisers will be successful and bring in funds for the team.  
  • Pray that God will be given glory through all things that Team Tanzania comes into contact with. 

Thank you all for you support.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Confessions of a Leader

We are about 7 weeks away from embarking on this glorious journey. My heart is beyond excited and I can barely contain my joy. I cannot wait to have my feet touch that red African dirt and to see the beautiful smiles of strangers.  Africa won my heart many years ago, and I am going back to visit that part of me. It is truly exuberating and renders me to wake up motivated every day and thinking “one day closer”.

Yet, with this joy there has been struggle- the struggle to digest the undertaking and the leadership..  the impact and the ripple effect. I am a thinker, so I like to analyze and think about all of the outcomes. I love the African people and my team so much that as a Communication major, I am trying to figure out the dynamics between the two. How will they interact? How will the team absorb the information? How can I be the best facilitator, while my team has this cross cultural experience? These are just some of the things that keep me awake at night. Mostly, because I have come to the conclusion that I will not have to the answers to all of these. That is where faith comes into play. I am walking in faith that God will provide those answers when needed. I think being in college for so long has made me loose a bit of that childlike faith and morphed me into an intellectual. (Which isn't a bad thing… but all of life does not have to make sense). I think it is important to recognize that this trip is stretching me mentally, relationally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I think often times leaders never confess how hard of a job it is to lead, but by GOLLY it is tough. I know that God chose me for this, which makes tough days easier. Yet, I still feel like Peter walking out on the water to meet Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33). Some days, I lose sight of Jesus and start to sink into the water. I let the stress, anxiety, and sheer overwhelming task take over. I lose my "faith" and doubt if I can really do this. I do not keep my eyes on the goal- on my savior, my Jesus. Yet every single time, he is there to pick up me. He reaches down from on high and takes hold of me and he draws me out of deep waters.

I know that following Jesus does not mean that I have to be qualified or that it will simple. In fact, following Jesus means dropping everything and reorienting my entire life. He is calling me and I must respond to this journey. It is my goal to be with him and to show others his love. Even if that means, just feeding them and giving them clean water. I may not have all it takes, but He will equip me for all things. This is what I whole heartly believe.  

So I leave you with this. My prayer for me, my team, and Tanzania. 

Please continue to pray for: finances for my team, unity, trip preparation, conflict, stress, and the lives of the people we will encounter in Tanzania. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

This I Believe

For few months or so, people have been asking me, “Isn’t it going to be hard to leave everything behind?” I guess my response has pretty indifferent all along. It isn’t that I don’t think there will be any sacrifice involved. It isn’t that I think that it’s not a big deal—to leave your family, friends, country, and culture. Maybe it’s just too big of a deal, too big to understand, to digest, and to feel all at once. Well, I am about 60 days from leaving and I am beginning to feel it. From the time until we leave, will be how long we will be in Tanzania. My mind is starting to picture the goodbyes- goodbye to familiarity, goodbye to culture, goodbye to instagram, and goodbye to those things I find so crucial.   Yet as I replay all the things I will miss, I come back to this essential thought- it’s only when you miss something and when it hurts that it really becomes a sacrifice. Otherwise, it’s a change or an adjustment or a self-serving choice. It’s not a sacrifice until you feel it. Sacrifice is a sign of love. You give up something for someone else. You put that person ahead of yourself. God could not have sacrificed more than He did by becoming human and going to the cross. I’m only following His lead. I’m telling God that I love Him more than I love anything in the world when my heart hurts. I won’t turn around or give up His call because it hurts a lot. I’ll just give it to Him as a humble gift, as an offering. King David said, “I will not…sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” Over and over, God tells us that He really starts to work when we hurt for Him, when we want what He wants more than anything. And that’s where I am and that’s why I know He’s about to get to work. There is excitement in this pain, therefore, because the Creator of the universe is about to sit down at the piano and make Mozart look like a monkey. My life will be His score. This I believe.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tanzania Tee

As part of a fundraiser and to spread the word about what we are doing this summer, Team Tanzania are selling these tees. The water can and bike represent what we are doing this summer and the words at the bottom are our team motto. The shirts are only 12 dollars or more if you feel like donating.  

Please click here to connect to my email. Let me know what size you would like and we can discuss shipping and payment. 

Thank you for your support of Team Tanzania! 

Also check out our shirt manufacturers on twitter Fund the Nations. As well as a special thanks to Jordan Walsh for helping us create the design. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Don't Bother Going, They Are Going To Die Anyway".

As I sit in my comfortable chair in a small cafe have an overwhelming sense of discouragement.  It seems to me the trend lately is to criticize and condemn mission trips. Everywhere I look there is an article about: “Why I do not go on missions anymore”, “Mission trip < new profile picture”, or “The Problem With Little White Girls and Boys: Why I Stopped Being A Voluntourist”. Before I go further, the authors of those articles are respected by me for their opinions. This post is only to offer a humble rebuttal from someone who has a passion for other people and a small understanding of Interpersonal Intercultural Communication (mouthful I know).

This is my perspective without any Biblical backup, there will eventually be an entire post about why mission are important.I did this because not everyone agrees on the validity of the Bible.This is rebuttal is looking  at the articles above through a Communication lense.

While I have been preparing to leave for Tanzania,  people have told me how I will negatively impact the economy and society (long term). This is due to the fact this is not a yearlong mission trip, only 2 months.  I understand from a communication perspective the impact on the economy, society, and the potential relationship issues.  I understand that if too many people visit a certain area, people will develop attachment issues. I recognize the importance of stability and diversity. I even recognize how the money could be spent elsewhere. However, I know that no one should ever underestimate the power of a good deed. 

One needs to understand the ripple effects created from going on one of these trips.  The ripple effect that can occur because one person chooses to go on the trip can change the world. On my trip, we are feeding children and giving them clean water. Who knows what those children will go on to do with their lives, but by helping we are giving them more opportunities. By no means am I claiming to be these children's Savior or "America Superhero", I do not believe that if I Americanize them that I will save them. I am merely a humble servant. A servant who understands that if I do not go help, who will? 

I understand that I will make relationships with these people, get back on a plane, and return to my life. However, does that mean it was not worth my time? I believe that it is such the "american mindset" to think that if I do not get anything out of this, then why invest or why waste my time? Truth is: I may never see those children again. But was installing a water filter that will last 150 years worth it? You tell me. If I make relationships with them, give them hope, and give them resources that help  them have "normal" life ..... is that time wasted? 

One of my biggest frustrations is the judgment from other people when it comes to short term missions trips. Just because the mission trip is short and the team did not see an outcome, does not mean they did not have an impact. I find that in American society of instant gratification, we want to see results ASAP. We have this mentality that if we do not see an immediate outcome then it does not count. Sometimes the fruit of hard labor does not come until years later. It is foolish and prideful to think one needs to see an immediate action. 

Going on trip like this can open your eyes to those around you and give you a passion for the world. I often find those who are cynical have had their heart broken by the poverty. Poverty is a huge undertaking and is overwhelming. There are many days that I would love to bury my head into social media to forget the pain. The pain is so real because the faces now have names, I hear their laughter, and I see their smiles. As much as I want to, I can no longer turn my eyes away.  Missions will break your heart, because they expose you the harsh realities outside the U.S. and make you question everything. Often times people experience “reverse culture shock”, when they return home and this causes them to shut down. Reverse culture shock is like a slap in the face, because you really realize that you have changed. What used to be normal, now feels unusual. In fact, when entering back into American culture one is almost in shock, because of the excess. Aside from reverse culture shock, many people struggle with guilt. This is due to falling short of their own expectations or over sensitive conscience. Since consciences are learned in culture, one may feel guilty for many thing that have nothing to do with sin. If these things are not dealt with properly, then one will become derisive and pessimistic. Those realities will shape your view on missions and ultimately decide if you take another trip. 

Mission trips are not to be dealt with lightly and that is something we can all agree on. However, I do not believe we should all 
abandon going. Going on a mission trip is more than just a profile picture change and a few vaccinations—it’s more about what will 
you do when you come home. Will that mission trip change you 
forever? Will you become an advocate? Will you think twice before you throw away that extra food?  Will return back to life as if you never went? How will that trip alter your life? If you do not change, then it is all in vain and everything those people wrote is true. Create a ripple effect. 

Everyone Matters. 

"Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end"
-Scott Adams