Rebecca Howlett, from Ballarat VIC, is currently participating in Orientation Training with Hands at Work in Africa. We asked her to tell us how she made the decision to spend 6 months volunteering with Hands at Work. Keep an eye out for more her stories over the next few months…
As I write this, I am sitting at the Hands at Work village in South Africa. I left Australia in May, with 19 other Australians, and went to Zambia for 2 weeks. We did some community visits and a weeklong camp for vulnerable children. Then on the 19th May I left my team and flew to South Africa and began my 4-week orientation into the Hands at Work family. It is challenging but I am really, really loving it.
My African journey began in 2008, when I travelled to Kenya and visited a children’s home. This 3-week trip changed my life. I had been asking God for two things, firstly, to give me purpose for His will to be done in my life, and to break my heart for the things that broke His – influenced by the lyrics of “Hosanna” by Hillsong United. And He did answer these prayers, while sitting with orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa. I sat looking at these children and felt like God was saying, “These children are My heart, while they are forgotten and lost, My heart breaks”. And my heart broke for these beautiful children.
I came home to Australia about to complete my 2-year Diploma Children Services and had a sense that I would be going back to Africa one day. I just didn’t know when! I had a vision that I would work in Child Care for 2 years then begin to get ready to go to Africa. And guess what?? It ended up happening like that!
I work for 2 years, and then felt that God was asking me to spend a year trusting Him for finances and getting focussed on Africa and overseas mission. Even though I knew it was a huge step, I knew I needed to do this. I joined a local small group focused on overseas missions, called “Mission Next” and met other people who loved overseas missions. It was at one of these Mission Next meetings that I first considered Hands at Work in Africa. I knew 2 people in the group who had been on a trip with Hands at Work, and I had been talking to them about a team trip they were planning. I spoke to Ben one night and he said, “Hi Bec, Did you know we are taking a trip to Africa next year? You’re coming, right?” I think I stood there for a while dumbfounded saying, “Um.....Yep” :D
During this conversation Ben joked about leaving me in Africa and coming home to explain to my parents. We laughed then, but I knew somehow that, that would become a reality. That night I sat down and looked at the Hands at Work website and I wept. I had been waiting for 2-3years for God to take me back to Africa and I had check out so many organisation and had so many connections. But finally looking at the Hands website, I just knew this is it. I felt like a puzzle piece that slot into a bigger picture, and I noticed they took volunteers short term (3 months) or longer term (6 months) and 6 months jumped out at me. I asked God, “6 months is a long time! Surely 3 months is long enough?” But 6 months still grabbed me and I couldn’t shake it and I prayfully considered it and then applied for 6 months.
Stay tuned for Bec’s next update…