Heather and I met in 2012, working at a summer camp. Since then, we’ve backpacked the Grand Canyon rim to rim together, met for coffee in the London International Airport on my layover back from South Africa and gone on many other adventures. Heather just left to serve in Niger, Africa for 2 years. She was an E.R. Nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital and just spent a year in France studying the language. I was so excited to be able to capture her heart days before she embarked on her journey around the world.
How does your culture shape your perception of strength? We as women from the United States, we have a vast array of opportunities. We have freedom and liberty that can only be dreamed about in other parts of the world. However, there is also an expectation of independence and strength that I think is unique to our culture. Growing up, I was taught that strength is measured by a person’s successes in life and their ability to accomplish things independently. As a result, I was a very independent young woman and I did not want to ask for help, even if I needed it. More recently, I have had to re-frame my thinking to get rid of these perceptions. I now think that it takes much more strength to recognize our own limitations and ask for help when needed, as opposed to attempting to handle everything independently.
How have your trials made you stronger? Each of the trials that I have experienced made me realize that my strength really comes from God. As I evaluated the difficult things I was living through, I decided that I did not want to be a victim. I wanted to put in the time and effort to heal emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually from the wounds of my past. I wanted to become a woman that has faced adversity, but is still whole hearted and flourishing in spite of the things I had survived. As I was more and more willing to allow God to bring healing and restorations into the broken areas of my life, I discovered new strength each day that allowed me to keep pushing forward.
*If you want to learn more about Heather’s story serving in Africa, she’d be happy to hear from you and you can send her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Heather’s Intentional Acts of Kindness
How did you use your $100?
$70.20 For Mending the Soul student edition books, olive branch rings, and cards for two teenage girls who had recently been sexually assaulted. I understand that something like this has the power to completely derail their relationships with God, or the power to strengthen it. I really hope that the books and small gifts are an encouragement to those young ladies.
5,000 CFA = $8.64 To send a widow to a Christian women’s retreat. She works very hard to provide for her children and has such a hunger to grow in her relationship with the Lord and to share His love with others. I see so much strength in her! I had complete peace about helping her to go to this retreat where she will be able to flourish in her faith and become better equipped to share her story.
4,000 CFA = $6.91 For material to make a portable baby scale for Galmi Hospital. I will be able to give medical care to critically ill infants even faster. This will decrease mortality and morbidity rates and help put children back in their parents’ arms.
2,000 CFA = $3.46 Donated to a small struggling church in an unreached community in Niger. The pastor is a very strong Christian and loves the Lord very much. He has had this small church for over twenty years in this town and he continues to persevere even though it is just his family and one or two young boys from the community that attend. I know that these funds will be used to bless this church and enable the pastor’s family to continue to work in this area for years to come.
6,244 CFA = $10.79 Bought supplies to make a meal for a single female missionary with a bunch of food allergies that has been feeling isolated and burned out. She has been robbed 3 times in the past 9 months and is very discouraged at the moment. I felt that making her a meal and sending it home with her would speak to her love language and help her to experience some refreshment.
What was the "Intentional Act of Kindness" process like for you? I was shocked how far the money went. I was able to bless so many more people that I imaged was possible with just $100 dollars. It was a wonderful experience. It made me much more aware of the needs of others around me. I really enjoyed getting to be creative and personalize the “blessing” to the person receiving it. When I was purchasing cards for the two girls, I got a pack with extra cards, so I am looking forward to waiting and watching for the right time to use them and continue to do “Intentional Acts of Kindness.”