Saturday, August 9, 2014

Until then...

If you're reading this then we're in the air somewhere and our season in Africa has come to an end for this year. It's bittersweet to leave. Actually, I don't want to. Africa has a way of getting under your skin and into your heart. Really, it was probably always there because God put it there.

The things I've seen and experienced I'm still processing. God has done amazing things in the past three months. Not only in the lives of the people we've met but in our lives individually as well.

I can't possibly describe to you the love that God gives you for people you've just met. They are nothing like you and yet it doesn't matter. People who know little to nothing about Him. A love I've never known before. It's all encompassing. I couldn't help but hug many of the women after we left to go to the next village.

I didn't expect it to be so hard to leave.

It is though.

At the same time I'm excited to go home. I'm looking forward to seeing loved ones and having the comforts of home.

We feel like we know what steps God has next for us. Then we'll back.

So, until then Africa, I'll be missing you.


In His Love, 
Jennis

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Somehow It Felt Like Home

When your from Florida you become an expert on things like sunshine, rain, flip flops, beaches, theme parks, fishing, etc. At least in my opinion...

For instance, during the spring and summer months you can expect rain at 3:00 in the afternoon. We generally have summer all year long. We expect rain all year. Sometimes seasons like "winter" in Florida are a sprinkling of cold days or weeks over three months, if that.

Seasons in Zambia go something like this from April to October it's dry and cold and November to March is hot and rainy. So one thing that NEVER happens in Zambia during dry season is rain. If you hear rain during dry season it's probably a baboon urinating on your tent.

I never expected to miss rain. Until, you go to a place where there isn't any rain for six moths out of the year.


I have rain withdrawals. I may or may not miss home a bit. Just sayin'...


When we went to Victoria Falls the other day the mist from this thunderous waterfall was amazing! For the first time in a few months there was green everywhere I looked! It was humid! We had on rain jackets and we were drenched! Kendall and I danced in the mist! It felt very similar to a torrential downpour it certain spots. Joe and Kendall jumped in puddles! We spied more rainbows then we could count. We loved every second! You never realize how much you miss something until it's not there anymore. I enjoyed the view and the mist so much I walked through it numerous times.

Somehow it felt like home...


In His Love,
Jennis


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fallin'

We had the absolute pleasure of going to Victoria Falls a few weekends ago. To say it was amazing would somehow be an understatement. It was gorgeous!


And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. Ezekiel 43:2



His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. Revelation 1:15



It was a beautiful sight! I'm so excited that I could share it with you! God is such an amazing artist! I hope you enjoyed the "view"! 


In His Love,
Jennis

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Come Back Alive


So imagine yourself just finishing a hard week at work, there is a sense of accomplishment, a satisfaction to all that has been done and now you are ready to rest and reflect when all of a sudden something major happens. This is how it was for us who are here serving the Lord in Zambia. We had just finished up a major welding project as well as leadership training when our instructor informed us that we had 5 minutes to run to our tents and grab 1 personal item. What we had thought was that we were going to have a cookout and reflect on our week but in reality it was the next test in our time here. 


Overland provides a unique aspect of hands on training in the field in the case of emergencies. The time was now, we huddled as a team and discussed what the 1 thing we each needed to grab and returned within the 5 minutes. When we got back, our leader informed us that now we had to condense these items down to 4, so we went from 17 to 4. What do we need in order to SURVIVE AND COME BACK ALIVE!!!??? 

We were handed a GPS and our journey started. We had to follow our coordinates to our camping site in the middle of the bush. We had an axe, string, matches, knife, and headlamp, our instructor showed us GRACE in giving us 1 more item. We had an 1 hour and 30 minutes til sundown. We got to camp, gathered upon ourselves the things of the creation and built a shelter for the night, it could fit about 8 people and we got a fire started. (It is in the 30’ s-40 at night) 

After this was done, our leaders came to us and instructed us that we needed to go meet someone who was going to give us some more supplies. It turns out that it was our food: nshima, water (20 liters), and a live goat, no utensils just the knife that we had. So we had to kill our dinner as this goat is yelping out, conserve our water, and eat the local nshima. So we proceeded to kill our goat, his name was Bob. We have to cut the skin and pull it off, hang it up, drain the blood, and then take out the insides and cut it into pieces. (Doing this with the supplies that we have) We washed it down and then cooked it over an open fire. As well as our nshima, which used water, remember we have to conserve. The food came out great as we have goat on a stick. 

The big test was passed now it was on to the night. We have 12 hours to withstand the weather, which is freezing with what we had on. We slept outside the shelter because it was warmer near the fire. We used rocks for pillows and soft brush for some comfort. It was extremely difficult for even those who did this back at home during hunting season. Conditions were the way it would have been if we had gotten stuck out in the wilderness and we have to know what to do. I ended up with 1 hour of sleep that night and couldn’t wait 'til morning. We passed the test and walked back to base, completed our task with hope of never having to do it again. 

Living out Faith in real life!!!      

In Christ,

Joe Hennis

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes


From the time our daughter Kendall was born she was at church.


We made it a priority that as a family we were in church.
  •         When she was 10 months old we dedicated her to the Lord.
  •         When she turned 1 we started disciplining her using scripture.
  •         When she was 2 Joe and I went on our first mission trip.
  •         At 3 she was memorizing scripture.
  •         At 4 she was praying actively for those she loved when they were sick or needed prayer. Many times reminding us to pray for them.
I don’t say any of this to boast in us or in her for that matter. I say it to boast in the Lord. When Joe and I dedicated Kendall to the Lord in the spring of 2009, we took it seriously. We didn’t want to raise her in church but in Christ.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

The day before we left for Africa Kendall prayed to receive Christ. Joe told her she had to pray on her own and she did.


She did excellent traveling to Africa. The first couple weeks and over the first expedition Kendall was ready to go home. She wanted to eat garlic bread at Sonny’s, rangoons at Panda, quiche from Caffe Chocolat, sleep in her own bed, and play with her dog. It was a normal adjustment for an American kid. Life was drastically different for her. There were times she loved what we were doing and she would tell us bible stories while she sat in a tree. Then at other moments she would say absolutely nothing to anyone.

The adjustment has been slow. After the first month she stopped saying she wanted to go home. Now she just tells us everyone she misses. At the top of her list is our dog Gracie, her cousins, and her grandparents.

While we were in Sekute we watched as Kendall came out of her shell for the first time in a while. If you want to reach Kendall’s heart you do it through music. She just loves it. She doesn’t really discriminate to any music style, yet. If she can dance or sing to it she’s happy. We watched her open up as she led worship with our translator Concilia. Trying her best to pronounce all the Tsonga words.

Then in the last village of Manono, for our last bible study that day, Kendall shared the Gospel with 30 women and even more children from my lap. There are no words to describe that feeling. I only wish I had been able to record it for Joe. Telling him in words will never be enough.

  •        At 5 she was sharing the Gospel in remote African villages and helping to lead worship. 
In case you feel we’re putting ourselves on a pedestal I’ll also share here that when Joe preached at the first Jesus film she whispered loudly for him to not preach too long. She’s a pastor’s daughter for certain…

I’m amazed at all that God has done with this precious girl in her short time on Earth. I am humbled that God chose us to be her parents. I can’t wait to see what God has for her. She is God’s girl.

When you share God’s Word with anyone it never returns void.

Love knows no bounds.

In His Love,
Jennis



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Princess Kendall Vanellope


Today we are celebrating our self proclaimed Princess Kendall Vanellope turning 6! This is the third year we've done this interview. It's always fun to see how she answers her questions. I end up laughing all the way through. I love that she answered in mostly complete sentences this year! You can compare with last years answers here. :)




How old are you? 6

What makes you happy? Um, presents, movies, soda, and playing!

What is your favorite animal? My favorite animal is a cheetah.

What is your favorite thing to eat? Let me think. I would guess, chicken nuggets!

What is your least favorite thing to eat? I do not like peppers!

What is your favorite thing to do? Play and drink soda!

What is your favorite TV show? Pirates!

What are you really good at? I’m really good at arting!

What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie is Wreck it Ralph and Ratatouille.

What is your favorite color? My favorite color is golden with yellow.

What is your favorite song? My favorite song is Can’t Shut Up by Anthem Lights.

Who is your best friend? Kya, Sahara, Sunda, Keiro, and Danielle.

What do you and your mom do together? Um, we play with my ponies at home in Florida.

What do you and your dad do together? Um, we watch movies and have girl time.

What is your favorite sport? Basketball.

What is your favorite team? The Gators.

Where is your favorite place to go? McDonalds! Oh, I mean Universal and Disney World.

What is your favorite book? Green Eggs and Ham

What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a parent!


It's been an amazing adventure these past 6 years. She is such an amazing little girl. Her insight and simplicity in situations that should stop her. She's funny, loves music, and art. I can't wait to see what God has for her! I pray that she chases God and the dream He has placed in her heart all the days of her life. Thank you for this sweet girl Lord! We are forever grateful! 






In His Amazing Love, 
Joe and Jennis




Saturday, July 5, 2014

Round We Go

Every time we got to a new village I asked God the same question. What should I share with these ladies?

Every time I got the same answer- share your testimony and 1 John 3:16.

By the second day, I was a little frustrated. We were doing eight bible studies that week.

“God, why do you want me to keep sharing my testimony and that verse? Can’t I share on something else?”

Silence.

So at every village when I was introduced I shared the shorthand of our testimony. It went something like this minus the pausing for the interpreter:

“I’m married to Big Joe. Our first year of marriage was very bad. Joe drank a lot and did a lot of drugs. I didn’t respect him because he did those things. Joe didn’t love me the way I thought I should be loved, because I didn’t respect him. It was a very bad cycle. After our daughter was born (at this point Kendall would usually smile really big and point at herself) Joe and I separated for a period of time. It was during that time that Joe tried to kill himself. When you try to hurt yourself in the states many times they send you to a hospital. They also send a very big truck called an ambulance to pick you up. The driver of the ambulance was on a very busy road and while driving asked Joe if he knew Jesus. You see we had gone to church many times, but we just listened and never applied it to our lives. It’s what you call pew potatoes. So, when the driver asked Joe if he had heard of Jesus- we had. We just never understood in our hearts. The driver asked Joe if he’d like to accept Christ right then, pulled off the side of the road, jumped into the back with Joe, and he accepted Christ right then! During the time we were apart I also accepted Christ. Nothing about our lives were the same after that. We didn’t walk the same, we didn’t talk the same, our lives were different. You see for the first time in our lives we understood what true love was. When you understand and receive God’s love it changes everything. God restored our marriage! Joe and I could love each other right for the first time as well as others. It’s that love that compelled us to fly for three days in a big airplane to be here with you. So that we could share with you how much God loves you and what He can do in your lives. I also would like to share a verse with you it’s 1 John 3:16, By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

Not a bad thing to share, but I was tired of talking about myself.

It wasn’t about me though.

What I would later find out is that these women understood husbands that drank a lot, because many of them have one.

Alcoholism is a problem here. Drinking in Zambia is not the same as in the states. It doesn’t taste good. It’s straight up alcohol. So the only reason to drink here is to get drunk.

At one of the bible studies I got to pray for a young girl named Mercy who was married to such a husband. She had a baby on her hip and one in her belly. Mercy was ready to go back home to her parents’ village because she was not happy with her husband.

Very humbling.

On Friday of that same week a man went up to Joe at a leaders meeting and told him that my testimony was very encouraging to his wife.

God knew exactly what those women needed to hear. He already knew that they could relate. All I needed to do was be obedient to what He told me.

All I needed to do was share my love story with God- with others.

I encourage you to do the same when God prompts you.

In His Love,
Jennis