Abby Elam Prepares for Mission Work in Uganda

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Abby Elam Prepares for Mission Work in Uganda

Abby Elam is making bracelets from flattened pennies in order to help finance her mission work in Uganda.

Abby Elam is making bracelets from flattened pennies in order to help finance her mission work in Uganda.

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Abby Elam is making bracelets from flattened pennies in order to help finance her mission work in Uganda.

Submitted

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Abby Elam is making bracelets from flattened pennies in order to help finance her mission work in Uganda.

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During the last months of their high school careers, the majority of seniors find themselves preparing for college or applying to jobs as they take the next steps into life ahead of them. However, senior Abby Elam seems to be taking steps in a different direction than her peers. Instead of starting on the traditional four year college route, Abby will be attending the University of Cumberlands in the fall, and taking the spring semester of 2020 off to go on mission in Uganda and fulfill her desire to take the gospel to the nations.

She first became interested in the idea of an extended mission trip when she went on a mission trip to Guatemala the summer of her freshman year, as she was already aware of the passion God placed in her heart for international missions.

“Me going on that trip was 100% orchestrated by God, and He knew that it was foundational in order for me to get to this point in my journey,” she explained. As Abby continued through high school, her eagerness to serve others only grew.

“Many days I found myself overwhelmed by the fact that everything in me was telling me that college was not the next step,” explained Abby. “It wasn’t until the end of my junior year that I accepted the fact that I was about to do something abnormal.” It was then that Abby began pursuing what it would look like to take a gap year, and she began planning the next steps of her future.

“Fear was my initial response,” said Abby’s mom, Nancy Elam. As Nancy prepares herself for Abby’s departure, she finds peace in prayer and time with God. “God has a way of calming me down, and reminding me that she actually belongs to him, and we were all put on this earth to simply love Him and love others,” she explained. “Abby’s walk with the Lord is so real, I knew in my heart that this was the Lord’s calling on her life, and I certainly don’t ever want to stand in the way of God’s plan for her.” 

Many days I found myself overwhelmed by the fact that everything in me was telling me that college was not the next step. It wasn’t until the end of my junior year that I accepted the fact that I was about to do something abnormal.”

— Abby Elam, senior

Through her church, Grace Christian, Abby was connected with two young women, Allison and Nzinga, who are in there mid twenties and started a ministry in Uganda called Kairos a few years back. The focus of the ministry is to mentor young adults who have advanced out of orphanages nearby, offering them classes teaching professional skills and helping to connect them with programs that can meet any specific needs they may have.

“The heart of Kairos is to create a world where all young adults, regardless of their circumstances, are shown the love of Jesus and are given the tools to realize their God-given potential,” said Abby.

She will be traveling alongside her friend and current SCHS senior Ashlynn Trevino, as they will both be living in Kampala, Uganda, and working as interns for the ministry. Abby will assume responsibility over the media management, involvement and organization of community engagement projects, and partnering with other ministries to build connections between Kairos and other organizations. She will also be responsible for gathering stories from students and staff members to share with others and spread their message of the ministry.

In order to raise money for her trip, Abby has started a small business called Pennies + Promises in which she makes and sells bracelets made from flattened pennies. Once she has flattened the pennies, she uses a hand held engraver pen to engrave any word the customer wants, finishing it off with some black ink and couple of holes to tie the strings of the bracelet into. She was inspired by an idea off of Etsy, as she was brainstorming ways to raise money for a trip the previous summer. She plans to do much more fundraising this summer, including partnering with local restaurants, selling personal items, and making more bracelets.

As Abby goes about preparing for her trip, she shared her biggest excitements going forward, anticipating the opportunity to serve God with no distractions for an extended period of time.

“I want to learn how to apply that to my everyday life no matter where I am, and I know this experience is going to build me up to serve more intentionally when I’m not on a so-called ‘mission trip.’” she explained. Abby is also excited to witness God’s faithfulness and grow closer in her relationship with him, as well as obedience. With this, she tells some of her worries and nerves of the pending journey, seeing as one of the biggest challenges for her is being away from her family and friends for the seven month span. 

Allowing her to make the decision to not follow the traditional path that most kids follow after high school graduation has been a stretch for us and we really had to climb out of ‘the box’ to remind ourselves that God didn’t create us all to take the same path.”

— Nancy Elam, parent of Abby Elam

“I often fear that I have made the wrong choice, and I ask myself ‘what if God actually doesn’t want me to go?’” said Abby.  However this question is unavoidable for such a huge decision. The important part is how she approaches these doubts and prepares herself for the trip ahead of her, not only financially but mentally as well. The biggest way in which Abby prepares is through much prayer, as it has been the ultimate source of comfort in response to her doubts.

“We plan to support Abby through prayer, love, encouragement – and of course, money!” said Abby’s mother. “Allowing her to make the decision to not follow the traditional path that most kids follow after high school graduation has been a stretch for us and we really had to climb out of ‘the box’ to remind ourselves that God didn’t create us all to take the same path.” But, as they continued to pray and seek God’s wisdom, they were able to put aside their worries and just stand beside Abby with excitement and support.

“It is so easy to second guess myself and question whether or not I’m making the right decision,” Abby said. “God is the only one who can reassure me, and I know that if I am doing what he’s asked me to do then I am okay with whatever follows.” Another way she prepares is spending time with God everyday, and trusting that, even in the little things, He is preparing her for something much greater.

Even as Abby thinks about her future beyond Uganda, and considers what she wants to accomplish through college, she places all trust in God who she knows will guide her to the right place.

“Who knows, the Lord’s good at wrecking our plans for the sake of showing others his love and mercy!”

Follow Abby’s Instagram or Facebook accounts at Pennies.Promises to keep updated on her journey. If you are interested in supporting Abby and purchasing a handmade bracelet from her, you can message her through these accounts.