by Wendy Bodnar
Since my first mission trip in 2002 as a part of an Orthodox Chirstian Mission Center (OCMC) Mission Team to Guatemala, I was praying for another Team opportunity. I have felt the call to Africa for seven years, but life always got in the way. This year, God had a plan for me and for the members of this small but well-orchestrated Team. We have all heard the saying that ‘God works in mysterious ways.’ Well, I would like to re-coin the phrase as ‘God works in purposeful ways!’
When I applied for a 2009 Team with OCMC, I had chosen to serve in Tanzania first, due to other friends who had participated. Nigeria was my second choice, and South Korea was my third. I quickly heard back from OCMC that Tanzania had been filled, so Nigeria would be my calling. I was thrilled; this was to be the first ever OCMC Team experience in Nigeria. There were two other team members from my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Who would have thought that three Canadians would be the ambassadors to Nigeria for a North American Mission Team? I had some reservations as we had no priest or team leader, but we were assured that as long as the Bishop was okay with it, OCMC was okay with it. My supporters were visibly concerned about the safety of Nigeria, but I knew that if it was God’s will we would be under His complete protection.
After the half-way mark of my fundraising for Nigeria, we were asked to provide documents for the visa necessary to enter the country. We made sure that all was completed properly to fulfill our commitment. Unfortunately, we learned that since our visa application was for a religious purpose we would have to receive approval from the Nigerian immigration office in Nigeria; the process would take months. I was disheartened, as the Bishop there was organizing many opportunities for us to share Orthodoxy with various groups. But God had another plan for us: Zimbabwe.
Who would have known? A new plan was set, and a similar focus of teaching was prepared. This Mission Team would also be a first for the OCMC. There was a small contingent set: a team leader, Father Michael Miklos (who had been to various parts of Africa), along with Clark Wilson (who had been with Father Michael in Tanzania the previous year), and the original three Canadians, Kevin and AmandaEve Wigglesworth and me. This felt right, and the journey to Zimbabwe began.