Malawi, Africa 2017

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

“not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” -Philippians 2:4

I remember it like it was yesterday. My wife and I were at our church, Bethel Christian Fellowship. A young lady, Nicole, whom my wife was getting fairly close to, was sitting behind us when our pastor said there was a special last minute announcement. He asked Nicole to come up and share it. She said they were in a transitional period at an orphanage our church was helping to support through our missions giving. Nicole said they were putting a team together to go to Malawi, Africa and they needed people to come to help in many ways including loving on more than 50 kids.

My wife’s eyes lit up. I could see it. She has a passion for travel. We were “working” on a second child and coming up a little, well…short. God was moving in serious ways in our live’s. So I asked, “do you want to go?”. With her big beautiful smile and tears running down her face, she said “YES” as her head shook hard up and down.

Nicole sat back down and I told here Angelina would be joining the team. They both cried. I might have shed a tear.

The time spent leading up to that trip was interesting, to say the least. She had meetings, shots, meds, prayers, and shopping before going.  

I fasted for a week and on the last day broke my nose really bad which required some serious reconstructive surgery. The enemy was at work. I defeated him!

I can’t tell you what she must have been feeling, but I know I was nervous at my wife’s first long trip leaving my son and I alone. I NEVER feared for her. She was in God’s hands.

While she was away we spoke often, our son missed his mother, I missed my best friend and we had some unique challenges along the way. There was a 911 call, but that’s for another time.

We saw beautiful pictures of her trip. The kids looked so happy. My wife seemed to have a peace I haven’t seen in awhile. Everything was good…except that 911 call. My mother in law helped. The church checked on me. I told no one of the 911 call. He was fine for the record.

She came home and we had an adjustment period. There is a lot that goes into a trip like this and even more to readjust from doing His work.

I heard stories and lessons. All of God’s work and miracles. She explained that He gave her back over $1000 of the money we set aside for the trip. She wanted to set up a bank account for missions and when the next trip came along we agreed I would be going.

My opportunity came and I told my pastor if he was going I would go. I thought, well he’s too busy to go. He runs a church. Well, come to find out, pastors don’t actually run the church. So he agreed and we were going.

Now it was my turn. I had to get the shots. Meet the team. Get the bug spray. Read the books. Take the meds. Pray. Pray. Pray.

I was ready! Let’s do this!! I was pumped. Ready to hit the road. Get to Africa and do my thing. Which I insisted was lifting heavy things and reaching high places.

Then….

The traveling began. I kissed my family goodbye. Said some more prayers. And then traveled for what seemed like FOREVER! I sat in some form of transportation for almost 36 hours straight. Not. Fun.

After a short, 6 hour drive from the airport, we arrived at Upendo Children’s Village.

We were greeted by 60 plus children and caretakers with songs and dancing. It was something special! Really, really special. We made it and “it” was beautiful.

We spent the next week fixing, playing, reading, praying, learning, loving and serving. The children were amazing. Always busy. Always happy.

Gogo, our house mother was one special lady. She spends 3 months there and 3 months in America, back and forth for years. We couldn’t have made it without her. The kids loved her so much. The community respected her. Most importantly, God anointed her. What a blessing.

The children all had different personalities and boy did you see it. They all had high, if not the highest, grades in their schools. They were loved and they loved in return.

Pastor David and I spent much of our time on ladders or digging ditches. I didn’t mind. Someone had to do it and it gave us a unique perspective.

Before you knew it, our time was up. I have to be honest. At first, I wasn’t sure I should go. I felt like an outsider. Not yet matured in my faith, our business needed me, my family needed me and had obligations. All lame excuses of course. By the end, I wasn’t sure I needed to come back. I thought maybe my family could just come here.

And then… we were off. 36 more hours of travel. This time it didn’t seem so bad. I had time to reflect. I saw through new eyes. Plus they had “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” playing.

God moved in so many ways from the beginning. I won’t get into all the details but from a business perspective, I will tell you this. Our business was struggling before I went. At one point I literally did not have the money to go. I stepped out in faith and wrote the check anyway. God not only made sure the money came back to me, he increased it. We now have had more business than ever before. I have been at this for almost 2 decades. We have never had so many clients at one time.

I have written about how putting God’s will and word in the workplace can propel you, but I never really witnessed it until then. I had faith but no action.

Now, as God said, I test him in my giving as often as I can.

Hilton Advisory is rooted in God’s grace on so many levels. I can only hope we can do more to honor it.

All the praise and glory in Him.