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The Big Day Is Finally Here (and we’d love your prayers!)


Today’s the big day! In just a few hours, I’ll be boarding a plane for an 18-hour flight to South Africa.

I’m going with Lisa-Jo and her 9-year-old son, Jackson (both who were born in South Africa), and my friend and business manager, Joy.

The past two weeks, I experienced quite a few moments where I felt anxious — anxious over the unknowns, anxious over how I would survive such a long flight, anxious over stepping outside my comfort zone, anxious over flying internationally without my husband, anxious about jet lag, anxious about cultural differences.

Overwhelmed By the What Ifs

I had a few nights where I struggled to sleep because I pictured myself cooped up on an airplane for 18 hours and I started to consider all the what ifs.

What if I start feeling claustrophobic just a few hours into the flight?

What if I can’t sleep at all on the flight and arrive in South Africa an exhausted, irritable mess?

What if the airplane has mechanical failure?

What if I get terribly sick from something I eat or drink in South Africa?

What if…? What if…? What if…?

Some people people crave adventure and adrenaline rush; I prefer familiarity and sameness. I have irrational fears involving meeting new people, being in new situations, and not having a set plan in place. What ifs and unknowns can make me stressed and anxious. Enough to feel like I might hyperventilate.

So I’ve had many moments where I’ve wondered what I was thinking when I signed up for this trip. But I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that I’m supposed to go on this trip. And I really feel like it’s going to impact my life in big ways for years to come.

From Fear To Excitement

Also, in the last few days, I’ve felt such a peace about the whole trip. In fact, I’ve started to get really excited about it.

I’m excited about the opportunity to experience a new culture, learn about the struggles South Africans face, see the hope they have, hear about their victories, and get a better grasp on their needs and how we can come alongside and partner with them.

I’m also really thrilled to get to update you in person about the community center, veggie garden, playground, and laundry center many of you helped build in Maubane!

Thank You So Much For Being Our Cheerleaders

So many of you have mentioned that you are praying for me and I just want to tell you thank you so much. I truly feel your prayers. I feel such peace and calmness and excitement about this trip — and I know that that is every bit a result of your prayers and the grace of God.

I have to tell you, I woke up this morning to an outpouring of texts and emails and tweets and Instagram messages from you all with words of encouragement. With so many needs and to-do’s, the fact that you all would care enough to take time to pray and share words of encouragement is a very humbling thing for me.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for praying and cheering for us in this. We feel so loved and supported.

Meet Our 4-Person Team

We wanted to introduce you to our little team and share some specific prayer requests for those of you who want to be praying for us. Here are some of the specific prayer requests from each of the four members of our team who will be spending 18 hours together in row 58 seats D, E, F, & G:


Been doing this trip between continents for two decades now
Will be staying at her parents’ house
Her brother and sister-in-law in South Africa are expecting their first baby the same week

You can follow her here on Instagram this week.

Bakers at home

Lisa-Jo’s Prayer Requests:

  1. That I would be a generous host, conscious of the needs of my fellow travelers and quick to encourage them.
  2. That even though we have so few days in country it would be enough time for South Africa to burrow deep into the hearts of our team
  3. For safety and for courage and for hope in the midst of what others might see as poverty and despair. That we would find the joy and be faithful tellers of those stories for each of you.
  4. For special times of bonding with my first born, my South African son, Jackson
  5. For peace and health and hopefully managing just fine without us for my husband Peter and precious Micah and Zoe.


Been doing this trip since he was born
On his second passport
Seasoned traveler who is most excited about watching movies for 18 hours straight.

(this is him hugging Lisa-Jo’s little brother good-bye last time they were home –a year ago).


Jackson’s Prayer Requests:

  1. That we would be safe on the long flight.
  2. That I have lots of time to catch up with my big brother, Karabo.
  3. That me and my mom have fun.
  4. That my brother and little sister are OK without me.


First time flying longer than a 5-hour trip
Her 3 kids and husband will spend the week doing historical trips in DC while she’s away
Nervous but excited to get another stamp in her passport!

Crystal's family

You can follow me here on Instagram this week.

My Prayer Requests:

  1. A calm spirit during both flights and the ability to sleep on both flights so that I can arrive in South Africa and then back home to my family feeling rested, cheerful, and energetic instead of exhausted and drained.
  2. An open heart to whatever God wants to teach me through this trip — that my heart would never be the same as a result of this trip.
  3. That I would be a blessing and an encouragement to each person I am with on the trip.


Fly by the seat of her pants extrovert
Helps Crystal manage her blog and business
Mom to 4 kiddos
Bringing her Go-Pro camera with her so we can document the trip for you all!


You can follow her here on Instagram this week.

Joy’s Prayer Requests:

  1. Pray for my husband and four kiddos at home. Eight nights is a long time for mama to be gone and Africa is a long way away.
  2. Pray for my mind to settle and for any anxiousness to be gone, so that I can focus on this experience and soak up every bit of it without being distracted.
  3. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be unleashed to do a mighty mighty work through this team and in my own heart. God is up to something and it’s a HUGE blessing to get to be a small part of it.

And now I’m off to wash my hair, double-check all my luggage to make sure I have everything on my list, and head to the airport!

Next time you hear from me, I’ll be in sunny and hot South Africa! I can hardly believe it!

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  • Jen Morris says:

    Safe travels, friends!

  • Jessica says:

    Best wishes to all of you!

  • Diane says:

    Great idea to offer specific prayer requests for each of you. I can feel your excitement, and I eagerly await reports on your amazing trip. Hugs & blessings to you!

  • Crystal,

    You all will be fine. My home country is 24 hours away. You can imagine the hours we spend in the flight.

    Below are few things we do to kill the time:
    Watch movies
    Short walk within the flight
    Read books
    Work on pending things
    Take a nap (we normally skip the night sleep before we travel. That way we spend most of our time sleeping in the flight)

    To avoid jet lag:
    – Don’t hit the bed right after you reach there; Wait till their night time to hit the bed
    – Maintain the same schedule in the next couple of days

  • Swapna says:

    Good luck! And Have Fun! I’m sure it’s going to be so worth it!

  • Stephanie says:

    I wish you all a safe flight and an awesome time while you are learning about all the things happening in South Africa. I cannot wait to see updates on the site.

  • Melissa H says:

    Praying for God’s hand to be upon you, to comfort, for joy and strength, and to move you closer to HIm and His desires.

  • I’m thinking about you and praying for you. What a great step of faith you are taking. I have no doubt God will open your eyes while you are there.

  • perfect love casts out all fear! Claim that. Just claim it.

  • Victoria says:

    So excited for you! I will be praying for the travel.

  • Diane says:

    I prayed for you this morning . I’ll keep praying . Excited for you !

  • Vickie says:

    So glad you felt peace before you left. My prayers will be with you.

  • Alfreda Williams says:

    I have prayed for each prayer request and feel that God’s is going to do a mighty work through your team. I feel that everyone is going to be blessed, Your team as well as the people of South Africa. I pray for changed lives as well as good reports when you all return. God Bless

  • Kathi says:

    Prayed for all 3! He will be with you every step of the way!!! Enjoy!!!

  • My prayers are with you! I especially loved your #2 prayer request. As I prepare for my own trip to Africa, that is my prayer as well! I am SOOO excited to hear your updates.

  • cwaltz says:

    Deep breaths……I took a 19 hour MAC flight to the Philippines when I was 18. I remember getting off the flight and being disoriented a bit. I actually thought they had psychics because it never occurred to me that the military would send somebody to greet me when sending me to a new region. LOL My stay overseas was by far one of my most soul growing experiences. It was sometimes hard to see how hard others have it but it made me determined to try and make a little difference in the world.

  • Kim Hall says:

    So Exciting ! Praying for the safe travel of your group- Hope the experience is life-changing for you and those you meet along the way.

  • Emily Moye says:

    Praying for safe travels and for new opportunities!

  • Jennifr Bittel says:

    I am so happy for you and confident that as you fly you will feel peace and sleep when you need to. You will sleep when you need to on the way home as well. You will be so excited to get there and so excited to come home to your loved ones-its even OK if you can’t sleep at all! God has an amazing plan for you. You are doing His work and following His lead. God bless you. You will get more than you know from this amazing journey!

  • Kathy says:

    I would be having the EXACT same worries and ‘what ifs’ if I was in your situation! I’m glad to hear that you’ve felt peace about it. When you feel that, you know you’re doing the right thing. Have a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to read all about it!

  • denise says:

    So excited for you! Can’t wait to read your stories and see the pics! You’re sure to leave a piece of your heart there!

  • SO excited for you and will be praying for you and your family! I can’t wait to see glimpses of your time there. Sending prayers!

  • andrea says:

    Best wishes to you all – I look forward to following your adventure!!! (PS – Joy – love the photo. One of my favorite places in the world!!)

  • Praying for you and your group, Crystal. May God bless you and keep you safe. You will surely come back a different lady. I can’t wait to hear about your trip. 🙂

  • So exciting! Keeping y’all in my prayers. Have a very fun, safe, and sunny travel! 🙂

  • Christine says:

    Have Fun! Prayers for all!

  • Jennifer C. says:

    praying for you now!

  • This makes me so excited (and a little jealous).

    When you arrive in South Africa and discover the beauty of the country and the people, that dreaded long flight will fade into the background. We’ve made the trip there 5 times, including once with a 6 month old, once with a 2 year old, and once with a 6, 4, and newly adopted 14 month old.

    My husband Matt and I first traveled to South Africa in spring of 2002 and fell in love with the culture and the people. We spent a year in South Africa (Jan 2004 to Jan 2005) living and working at Tshepo Ya Bana (I think you’ve been in contact with my friend Jonna). We’ve been back to visit on 3 occasions, including our 7 week trip in Jan 2013 to bring home our daughter Lindiwe. South Africa is in our hearts. Have a wonderful trip and soak in that South African sunshine for me.

  • Melinda says:

    Traveling abroad can be scary and inevitably there will be bumps in the road but you’ll work through them. Excited for your opportunity – enjoy it 🙂

  • Ashley says:

    After having flown with my baby and toddler a few times, I feel like an 18-hour flight would be nothing if I were by myself.

  • Steve Kobrin says:

    May you go and reap many blessings. Perhaps we shuld add to our prayers that you will return home safely. Or is that thinking too far ahead?

  • Dena says:

    Thank you for sharing all the emotions you are experiencing. I will be taking a similar journey at the end of March to Mbale, Uganda. This will be my first international mission trip and the first time I have been away from my family for more than a couple of days. A precious young girl that I sponsor has been left homeless after the orphanage she lived in was demolished. It would take an entire week of blog posts to share all the miraculous things that have taken place since I shared the burden God had placed on my heart for these children with my church family. The short version is God answered my prayer and has provided enough funding to do more than I ever dreamed. I simply prayed for some type of housing and a bed for my Patience and God has supplied land, a safety fence around perimeter of the property, a fresh water well, latrine, two 40×60 revival tents, an outdoor kitchen and 35 beds. I am blessed to be able to join the team that will erect the tents on the new property. My emotions have been on a roller coaster ride. One day I am full of fear and the next day filled with excitement and joy. You can’t imagine what a comfort and encouragement it has been to read your posts. I will be praying for you!

    • This is beautiful! God is going before you in this and I know He’s going to give you the confidence and strength to follow in obedience and go on this trip. I just prayed for peace and courage for you today.

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