How This Journey Began

By Savannah Swanner | Jun 27, 2012

Sophomore year in college, my psychology professor began talking about attachment theories.  I learned that if infants are not held, then they do not learn to form attachments.  This becomes a huge problem the older the child becomes, because relationships are what we are designed to form and these children do not know how to form them.  I began researching infant orphanages around the world and found one in Tanzania, hoping I could go there one day. 

As time passed by, life happened.  I began nursing school, other opportunities arose, and my dream of going to serve was put away.  However, God had different plans.  My senior year, I began to think about what I was going to do when I graduated.  There were so many options, but going to do mission work didn't seem like it was one of those options. Mission work was what "those" people who were "called" did, and I was just me.  But my boyfriend found out about my long, lost dream and started pushing me to go.  Believe me, I had many reasons and excuses of why I couldn't go.  To start, I thought it was impossible.  David thought this was even a better reason to go. 

Through David's encouragement and through what I was learning God called me as a Christian to do, in October, I sent several emails to different places around the world.  I got three response.  After thinking and praying, I began the process to go to an orphanage in Haiti.  The communication was slow going and it definitely tried my patience.  After several months (it was now almost February) of praying and waiting for things to work out in Haiti, it was the wise words of my mom that God used to reveal to me that maybe Haiti was not where He intended me to go.  So I began the process again with another orphanage in Tanzania, Africa.  During this time, God showed me that I was holding onto several fears I needed to let go of.  My biggest fear being, traveling alone to Africa.  I realized and continue to remind myself that He is my God and He can protect me.  As long as I follow Him, His will will be done and that is what I desire for my life...His will. 

Therefore, my journey changed to Africa.  The director of the orphanage welcomed me to come.  I began the process of filling out paperwork to obtain a visa and buying plane tickets.  Everything was going smoothly unit the second week in April.  The director had recently moved back to the orphanage and was living with her family in the volunteer housing.  She regrettably informed me that I would no longer have housing at the orphanage and would need to find some.  Dismayed at the thought of going to Africa with no place to live, I panicked for about an hour then began praying.  Not once did I think during this time that maybe God did not want me to go.  Instead, I asked what it was God was trying to teach me.

I continued thinking and praying, but could not seem to get another orphanage in Tanzania out of my head.  I found out about this orphanage months prior, when I shared my testimony at church.  After the service a couple came up to me and told me their daughter was in Tanzania at an orphanage called the Angel House.  Wondering if the Angel House might be an option where I could serve, I began researching.  After several phone calls and many prayers, I spoke to two amazing people who welcomed me with open arms to come to the Angel House.  This orphanage and fellow believers felt so right in my heart. 

Now, I am days away from graduating then traveling to South Dakota for training.  The Angel House is part of the Grass Roots Ministries under the United Methodist Church.  Under the church is this amazing program called Individual Volunteers.  It is through this program that I am now going to serve at Angel House.  Individual Volunteers helps to facilitate sending those who desire to serve our God around the world.

One of my main goals for going on this journey is to put myself in a position where I have to rely on God's planning not my own.  In my mind, I thought that this would happen when I got to Africa.  Little did I know, God had plans to start the day I decided to follow His command to "love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" (John 13:34).  Perhaps my plans will change again (I hope they don't), but I know the all God requires of me is to step out in faith and see what He will do with my life.

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