God, please don’t ever make me go to Africa.

Posted: March 15, 2022 by dbeville in African School, C.A.R.E. Africa, Child Sponsorship, Egbe Nigeria, Miles In Missions, Mission Trips, Missionaries, Nigeria, Sponsorship, Volunteers

I remember sitting in church as a kid in the early 90s, listening to a missionary discuss their life in Africa while flipping through a slide reel of pictures. I don’t remember anything they said, just the feeling of fear and dread that God wanted to punish me enough that one day I would have to go to Africa. That night and for years to follow, I begged God to never make me go to Africa. I’d do anything else.

Then in the spring of 2014, I felt the wind blow in a different direction. The Miles had sold all their stuff and moved to Nigeria six months prior. I felt my curiosity suddenly outweighing my fear. It now seemed as if maybe God had a gift waiting for me rather than a punishment. I wanted to visit friends. But I also felt a new and unfamiliar tug. An exciting invitation. A “just you wait and see…”

Since that first trip with Stephen in 2014, I’ve traveled back to Nigeria 3 more times, with another trip scheduled for later this year. I am now eager for each next chance to go to Africa.

When C.A.R.E. Africa first began, Patrice asked if I would attempt to sell some jewelry participants had made. Having no experience in sales, marketing, promotion, or distribution, I said, “Sure!” We bought a tent and tables. Stephen’s sister used sharpies to draw a poster board sign, and we began vending at farmer’s markets in Louisville, KY.

C.A.R.E. grew into a full-blown ministry in Nigeria with many facets, including a seamstress training program that creates numerous products including clothing, handbags, jewelry, and aprons. Our garage transformed into an “Amazon Fulfillment Center,” stocked with shelves of sorted boxes of products, market display items (many built by Patrice’s stepdad), and shipping supplies.

Miraculously those early days of stumbling through the unknowns have grown into a vibrant display, a band of faithful volunteers, return-shoppers at markets, a requested presence in missions conferences, an Etsy store, and $20k in sales for 2021.

I found my passion and purpose in that vendor booth. I could not sell just anything. But I have the incredible luck to showcase vibrant products which tell a beautiful story that I believe in with my whole heart. And I love the human element of a market: crowds of unique characters with personalities as varied as the fabric prints. It helps open my heart to the patchwork of people required to build a solid community.

As if my life managing product sales wasn’t charmed enough, in 2021 I was offered employment with C.A.R.E. as the Sponsorship Coordinator. I am having so much fun getting to know the kids and sponsors more. It is an honor to facilitate communication and relationship internationally! Sponsors are partnering with C.A.R.E. to educate, disciple, and nurture more than 70 kids in Nigeria. I update sponsors on life in Egbe including new pictures, report cards, home life, plans for college, and achievements. I also relay communication from sponsors back to Egbe staff and students.

Other facets of this role include advocating for sponsorship and monitoring financial transactions. After an end-of-year audit, we verified that 99% of child sponsorship donor dollars go directly to care and supplies for the children and their families!! Around every turn, I continue to find the efficacy and integrity of this organization are top tier.

What a thrill ride I’m on. I’d like to go back to tell little Diana she doesn’t need to be afraid; there’s so much to look forward to.

ADVOCATE * INVEST * EMPOWER * SERVE

Comments
  1. Wendy Polsgrove says:

    This moved me to tears. Such a wonderful post!

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