Friday, September 4, 2009

Afruca Bound Part 1


Our journey toward Africa began when we hooked up our little camper trailer and headed for warmer weather in California on Dec 27, 2008.

We met Donna and Barry Woodbridge, at Eden, Utah when we attended the Square Foot Gardening classes. Wayne had been visiting with Barry via e-mail and he and Donna invited us to the Rose bowl Parade. We accepted their invitation and it was wonderful to experience the warm weather and so many flowers. I LOVE FLOWERS, maybe I AM A FLOWER JUNKIE.

We had a wonderful time with Donna and Barry. They treated us like old friends and they took us to many wonderful places that we would never experienced without them. Donna included me in her circle of friends and she became very dear to me. She is always helping someone, they have an outreach to the homeless through their church that she heads up.

One night Barry and Donna invited friends over for dinner and showed the movie, “Faith Like Potatoes” that we had bought while in South Africa. We handed out Salmon River Pumpkin Seeds from Mt.

Barry had helped a team from Saddleback Church that had gone to Rwanda so one Sat. night we went together to church. We fell in love with Saddleback Church and Rick Warren’s messages. It truly is a Purpose Driven Church and they practice loving people very well!!!!! Their outreach is truly amazing.

After service we went to the Soup Plantation where we met Roc and Denis Paez, Donna Mchaffey, Carri, Lori. They were so warm and showed us their Rwanda Photos from their mission trip through Saddleback. Almost immediately, they asked us if we would want to join their next trip to Rwanda.

We were amazed!!!! We knew it was a God Thing, which made it very exciting and humbling.

Before we knew it, we were living in Rancho Santa Margarita, Ca, with Donna Mchaffey. The first night as I lay in bed, I pinched myself wondering if it was a dream.
Donna and I became fast friends. She was such a sweet, giving person, always laughing or loving. She hosted most of the team meetings and it was always so great.

Denis and Roc were just as wonderful. Wayne enjoyed them so much. Roc even treated Wayne to a men’s retreat that he really enjoyed. He and Denis went to Foundations class and men’s bible studies, THE HERD (grooooowl.) I don’t know if Wayne’s ever had such a good time being with those great God-loving guys. I watched him grow in the Lord!

We did everything we could at Saddleback to prepare to go to Rwanda. We attended a Peace conference, first aide classes, 101 classes etc. It was a very special time for us.

We watched sadly as plans changed for people in our team. I really didn’t want to go without our dear friends, Donna & Denis but Wayne was bursting with an urgency to go asap and before long our team consisted of Roc and Mary, me and Wayne. We continued to meet with them via internet and phone until our departure in August. Russ Carter met with us weekly as our coach and he helped us all so much.

In Montana, Wayne put together a gardening booklet and we started receiving invitations to give talks to many organizations, churches and groups just as we had in California. God definitely surrounded us with His favor as people would buy the booklet and give donation toward our trip to Africa. We earned enough for one airline ticket, a huge blessing.

In June, Donna and Denis came to visit us in Montana all the way from Southern California. They helped us with a portable garden which was hauled to a parade in Fishtail, Montana. We called this effort “Have Garden - Will Travel” -Help us take these ideas to Africa. Our time with them was full of fun.

As our departure date to Africa grew closer, I felt more and more inadequate. One day I told my friend, Cricket that I didn’t know why God would allow me to go to Africa? I couldn’t sing, dance, play a guitar, sew, etc. What did I have to offer? She so sweetly said, “But the greatest of these is love, and you love people well.” I was so blessed and encouraged by her words.

I had been telling Jesus the same things and I asked Him if he could help me find something special that I could share with the African people. He answered in the most unusual way.

On a trip home from Iowa where Wayne had given a series of workshops, we were in Yonkers S.D. I saw this park full of people and thought it was a Farmers Market. We went to investigate and found that it was a huge outreach to Native Americans. I walked over to a booth that had a banner that said, ‘Need Prayer’. As I watched, I saw a lady ask a couple of boys if she could share the Good News bracelet with them. In a few minutes, she told them the meaning of the 5 beads, which was the salvation message. She put the bracelets on them and gave them a tract with scriptures and deeper revelation.

I became so excited that I was jumping up and down inside knowing that God had blessed me with this simple idea to spread His love across Africa. It was just as if Jesus had given me a million dollars.

I found out the name of the lady that had made them. She lived in Florida and I contacted her, Lisa Williams, to ask if I could duplicate the bracelets and the tract. We had a nice visit and she said she would send me the tract through the computer on Word.

Instead ten days later, I received a box from Florida full of Good News Bracelets and tracts in little plastic bags. I was so surprised and blessed and again very humbled. It was Lisa and her family’s gift to take to the African people. Some people are just too nice for this world. I know God will richly bless them for this amazing gift. Proverbs 11:25 “A generous person will prosper; he who refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Thank you so much Lisa and family or in Kinyarwanda, mwakoze cyane in Rwanda. In Malawi the language is called Chichewa and thank you is Zikomo, anyway we say it, it would never be enough.

If the good Lord is willing, we will spend 90 days in Rwanda teaching gardening and helping in any way that He leads.

In Dec. we plan to go to Ethiopia to partner with our dear friends/adopted family, Matt and Amanda DeSarro. They have an outreach to orphans through a non-profit they organized called, “Look Development. Take a look at their Web site to learn more.
We want to stay there 90 days and start gardens with these kids so they can become sustainable, raising enough veggies to feed themselves, others and also to sell.

Saddleback Church stresses that everyone needs to be in a small group that meets weekly. Rick Warren says he knows people will grow and become healthy in a small group. Matt and Amanda and their 4 beautiful children became our small group. We did the series, “40 days of Love”. We learned so much and enjoyed the fellowship and fun with the DeSarro family.

Stay tuned for the rest of the STORIES


  1. hello!!! hope everything is going well for you guys! Its going pretty good here I just started school and am enjoying all of my classes. Im taking photography and JMG (which stands for Jobs for Montana Grads.) You get to make coffees and cream sodas... haha Im loving it. I really like my job and i got my first paycheck last week. Almost 200 dollars! We're moved out of our house and currently living up at Dan's but its only temporary. We found some really nice apartments but they don't have any openings until October... So keep in touch and behave yourselves!!

  2. Hi Connie,
    I just started to peruse your blog this morning, so excited to hear you both speak tonight at Africa Nights at Saddleback and this blog entry just struck me... I'm a bit teary now (but I cry at Hallmark commercials) I was so moved by your story about not feeling worthy of God's blessings in the ministry he brings you. I have felt the exact same way, my husband is an attorney and we are busy with our justice ministry at church. All these amazingly talented legal professionals are part of our group and I have no legal expertise, Im a graphic artist/painter. And on our trip to Rwanda in 2006 I couldn't think of how God could possibly use me, but he did... In odd ways but I felt very vital to the trip.