Hi - HWFA Foundation friends. My name is Teresa Pompa and I will be posting to this new blog on a weekly basis. I hope you will join me on this journey. I will be sharing news about HFWA Foundation projects and updates on how our partners in Africa (Faith Alive in Jos and the Anawim Home in Abuja) are doing. I also hope to include and share some of my and others' stories of serving in Nigeria as missionaries.
I am a parishioner of The Church of the Nativity. In the spring of 2008, I felt a call from God to go on a mission trip to Nigeria that our church was organizing. I went to Faith Alive in 2008 and returned in 2009. I was also blessed to spend a day at the Anawim Home during my 2009 trip. During this time I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Bill and Diane Blattner, who were the first among us to travel to Nigeria. Their love of Nigeria and their mission to serve ignited what today is the HFWA Foundation.
Earlier this summer, Diane (co-founder of the HFWA Foundation) asked me to join its Board as the Communications Director. I met the Blattners' son Matt, who serves as the HFWA Foundation website administrator. A photo taken at that initial meeting is posted. We discussed the HFWA future blog and the Foundation Facebook page that I also direct.
I can tell you that I have agonized over what to write for this first post. There are many new exciting projects that I will be telling you about. To catch up on some of them, please see the Facebook page. I wrote for the Nativity Nigeria blog in the past. I thought that journey was behind me...but I guess God has another plan.
Part of me missed going back to Nigeria this year. Just at the time when the Nativity team was there this past August, I was asked to attend Fr. Abel's last mass celebration at St. Cecilia's. I knew Fr. Abel, who is from Nigeria, from the times he helped serve at Nativity. I did not know that the St. Cecilia community is largely Nigerian. What a wonderful celebration! Many of the women were dressed in full African wardrobe. The choir sang, the young people danced and three children were baptized! The church was filled with the Holy Spirit. Fr. Abel is a very gifted speaker. He spoke of how we must answer God's call when we hear it. We know when we are called. We know when we feel that pinch, but sometimes we we say no out of fear. He told of how four years earlier he did not want to leave Nigeria to come to the U.S. He did not want to leave his family. But he knew he was being called. And now four years later he was sad to leave this country! He told us all of what he learned. He learned that we will be blessed when we answer God's call and that blessing will come when we least expect it. We know this because suddenly there we are, surrounded by God's love and grace, and we can feel it.
The HFWA Board is busy now preparing for Dr. Chris's visit to the U.S. this week. We are all very excited to see him again. He usually visits the U.S. in the spring, but the civil unrest in Nigeria postponed his visit until now. I am honored to be on the HFWA Board. It is a blessing to serve such wonderful people as Dr. Chris, Faith Alive and all the staff and patients there and also Sr. Oreseo at the Anawim Home and all of those children and young moms. I would like to tell you more about these places and give you some personal insight in future stories. I know I can speak for all of us on the Board who have served there when I say we were blessed in many ways by our experiences and yes it was when we least expected it. We all went there yearning to serve. But we received so much more than we could possibly give from the Nigerian people. They are extraordinary people who live in extraordinarily difficult circumstances every day of their lives. Yet they live their lives with hope and dignity. Our brochure states "God alone can provide hope. God works through you".
Thanks to all who support our efforts. God is working through you. You are helping to save lives - whether it is helping to feed and clothe the poor or helping with medical and social needs.
"Training your body helps you in some ways, but serving God helps you in every way, by bringing you blessings in this life and in the future life, too."
1 Timothy 4:8 (NCV)