10 Places That Shaped My Heart

I’ve been contemplating writing a post like this for a long time… for myself more than anything. My childhood was spent growing up on a farm in the middle of rural midwestern America. No crazy adventures, just good old country life with both biological family and neighbors that felt the same.

It was in my teen years that I began to travel. It started slow, but then I had the wonderful opportunities to travel the world to spread the Gospel. These were some of the most transformational years of my life so far.

Now I’m back where I grew up. My years of adventures sent me back to my homeland to the man that I love… a safe place to raise my babies. I have fully embraced this life the Lord has given me, but it’s always amazing to look back and remember how and where He shaped me to ready me for life I have now.

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Avon, Illinois

The place I was born.

The place I grew up with my 7 siblings on the countryside.

The place where I tried to figure out who I was and what I believed.

The place where I did a lot of falling in and out of “love” and felt a little bit out of place, like there was something missing.

The place where almost all of my extended family lives.

The place I still call home.

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Grenada, West Indies

The place where I went on my first missions trip at age 13.

The place where I first got a heart for missions and sharing the Gospel.

The place where I was first pushed outside of my comfort zone.

The first place where I saw the ocean.

The place I returned to 5 times over the course of my teen years because I was just so in love.

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Cluj, Romania

The first place that I learned a foreign language well enough to converse with them.

The first place I felt that I truly belonged.

The first place I went to that was trans-continental.

The first overseas location where I made lasting friendships.

Pentru prietenii mei: mi-e dor toate de tine.Β 

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Madison, Wisconsin

The first place I lived long-term besides my hometown.

The place where I learned to be truly independent.

The place where I turned my life over to Jesus.

The place where I felt free to explore who I really was, without the pressures of the people I grew up with.

The place where I met a huge portion of my closest friends.

The place where my relationships changed me from the inside out.

The place where I studied the Word of God in depth and learned so much about what I believe.

The second place my GPS ever automatically labelled as HOME.

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Gaziantep, Turkey

The place where I learned new things about myself.

The place where I cultivated a fresh and real relationship with The Creator of the Universe.

The place where I met real live terrorists and realized that they are people too that are in need of a Savior.

The place where I came face to face with the spiritual realm.

The place where uncomfortable obedience to God resulted in the salvation of someone near and dear to my heart.

The place where I learned how truly different people can be, yet how similar we all are deep down.

The place where I witnessed multiple miracles that can be explained in no other way but GOD.

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Tiraspol, Transistria

The only place I’ve ever been to that claims to be it’s own country but really isn’t.

The only place I’ve ever been that I have no pictures of to prove it.

The only place I’ve ever been where I was given the ability to speak in tongues and communicate with someone who spoke Russian, of which I have no ability or understanding of whatsoever.

The place where God grabbed ahold of my heart and completely broke me and shifted my priorities.

The place where I walked over 10 miles daily in the snow and learned to like the cold.

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Glodeni, Moldova

The place where I was able to see God’s hand in my life as I was able to use my Romanian language skills to communicate with the people.

The place where I gained a lot of weight because the bread and potatoes were SO darn good.

The place where I met a lot of beautiful people.

The place where a bitter and hardened relationship blossomed into something sweet and full of brotherly-love.

The place where I began to see restoration and healing of my past brokenness.

The place where I was able to tell my testimony for the first time in public.

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Jinja, Uganda

The first trip I took that I didn’t want to go on.

The place that I probably missed a lot of cool things because I was angry and bitter at God.

The place where I got box braids and felt totally BA.

The place where God revealed tons of immaturity and selfishness in my heart.

The place where my musical abilities flourished, out of boredom and necessity.

The place where I went on my first safari.

The place where I swam in the Nile.

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Poko, Democratic Republic of the Congo

The first place I could actually see myself living in permanently.

The place where God 100% completely transformed my heart.

The place where I learned another foreign language and wanted to stay forever.

The place where I totally lost myself and became part of the culture.

The place where I taught pastors and the governor of Poko about the Bible.

The place where I ate grubs for breakfast.

The place where I tried so many new foods and LIKED them.

The place where I climbed a volcano.

The place where I began to get a vision of God’s call on my life.

Nolingi mingee bino, baninga nazalaka.

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Morogoro, Tanzania

The place where God shows me how deeply he loves us.

The place where I grew a deep, lifelong friendship with this girl.

The place where I realized I was ready to go HOME…

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Today… this is my HOME.

Right back where I started.

Who knows. Maybe someday this list will continue.

But for today, I know where God has called me.

My mission field is sitting beside me as I write this, pointing at these old pictures saying “mama?”

I can’t wait to someday tell him these stories… to tell him about how God redeemed me. To tell him about the miracles I have witnessed and about the amazing people I have met.

But today, I’ll just hold him in my arms and wait for the next thing God will teach me on this mission called LIFE.

 

 

 

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