{an upcoming trip to… TANZANIA! + an amazing book}

Helloooooo, Monday!

So — CRAZY news Zack + I are traveling with Compassion in May to Tanzania! {Click here to read more about what Compassion Bloggers do.} I figured I’d share that part first, then go into details about how all of this came about ;]

I’ve had an insanely awesome, but also insanely interesting, week. {And I feel totally weird writing that, but I trust you aren’t going to take that the wrong way ;) } Last week I came home from Nashville after being at Blissdom for a handful of days, then Angie + Todd’s for a couple more. And a couple of really crazy things happened all at the same time. Which basically means I have a story to tell —

Blissdom was fantastic last week and was filled with friends {that live all over the country}, but just like I shared with Angie ~ it’s super hard to go home and not have them come with me. And just like the rest of ’em, Angie confidently told me it’s time Zack and I find a church, one that would help me to have the deeper friendships I’ve been craving. I took some time to process this once I got home and finally one evening I pulled all my thoughts together and wrote this post. I asked Zack to read it and if there was anything wrong with it and I SHOULDN’T publish it, I asked Zack to simply tell me “not now, Maggie”. I was feeling really raw and didn’t think I could handle the details of his opinion.

But Zack said, “it’s perfect”, so I bravely did.

The Lord has used that post to bless so many of us in such a unique way and I’m excited to share more about that with you.

In the meantime, Zack + I had been processing something else that involved being brave: a trip to Tanzania with Compassion. While at Blissdom last week I met Shaun Groves + Keely Scott. We chit chatted about the handmade market and pups {Willis + Bauer = puplove forever!} and then they were off to say hello to others…

Shortly after, I received an email from Shaun ~ would I be interested in traveling with Compassion to Tanzania? Then he mentioned a local tribe known for their handmade fabrics ~ maybe we could bring some fabric back and turn those raw materials into something to sell to support Compassion?! Ohhhhh, he had me at handmade fabrics ;]

ummmm, can we just travel by boat?!

Pretty early into my blogging career I heard about Compassion International and the trips they’d take each year, and the longer I blogged the more I became to recognize and/or personally know the bloggers traveling. Since then I felt the most challenging thing I could do would be to go on one of these trips. In fact, I was pretty terrified that the Lord would call me to do this and I wasn’t sure if I could say yes.

ALSO during this time Zack + I had been praying for an opportunity to go on a vacation together. We’ve “traveled” a lot throughout our marriage but it’s mostly been back + forth to our parent’s houses. Moving 600 miles away does that to you, I suppose. I’d been quietly praying that God would use Gussy Sews to bless our family, but in a much bigger ways than He already has.

Once I read Shaun’s email I thought, “The only way I can go to Tanzania is if Zack comes with…”

I’m going to be traveling a lot this spring, via airplane, which is a miracle in itself. February. March. April…and now maybe May, too?

At this point I’m thinking, “Ohhhhhh God you are so funny. Making me face my fear four months in a row… that’s NOT what I call love.” And then I giggled, hoping God knew I was joking ~ and just so you know Lord I know you love me and may it be of interest to you to show me that by NOT making this trip happen?

Except that’s not at all what God did. In fact, He heard me ask Shaun on the phone if there was any way for the hubbster to come with and Shaun said, “Yep, we need someone to man the video camera.”

So there ya go.

Zack + I are going to Tanzania in May.

PS. Did you see who else is traveling with Compassion to Tanzania in May? The Nester, one of my blogging mentors, is a lovely friend of mine. And I’m super excited to see how our friendship is transformed once we journey together on this trip.

And if any of you lovely people find my mind please return it to Minneapolis… I seem to have lost it ;)

Take a minute to review the past week: what has changed and how do you feel?

* * *

Have you seen this book, From Blah To Awe by Jenna Lucado Bishop? It was published just last month and is beautifully written for teenage girls, although there’s nothing stopping you from reading it, too ;] While reading through the book I noticed every few pages Jenna provides space to for the reader to journal. She mixes personal + Biblical stories, plus adds supporting scripture to encourage young girls in their faith, how they can “shake up a boring faith”. Jenna also tours with Revolve ~ click here for tour dates. I remember traveling as a young Gus to events like this and I LOVED them! What a fantastic way for your daughter and her friends to connect in an inspiring, raw way.

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  1. 1


    I am beyond thrilled that you and Zack are going~I love your point of view, I love your observations and I lover your heart~and I am so glad I get to do this with you two. And the fabric idea? Brilliant.

    However, I sure wish you wouldn’t have done that map with the big arrow and big ocean. Did you distort that?

  2. 4


    I know what you mean about being brave about these kinds of things. I felt exactly the way you feel when I made my decision to accept a job offer abroad. Super scary, but I know it will be worth it, and that it happened for a reason! Eeek!

  3. 14


    Oh, this is so exciting! God is such an amazing god. :) God will use you and teach you and grow you. You won’t be the same and it’ll be awesome! I love Compassion… have had my kid in Ethiopia for 2+ years now. Such a wonderful organization!

  4. 16

    Evie from St. Paul says

    Yay!! So happy for you – more stretching :) There is nothing like seeing those God loves in another culture! We will be praying for you and if you could just sneak in one yard of fabric for me I would be thrilled!

  5. 18


    I have been reading tweets mentioning Tanzania all weekend and was wondering when I was going to get the bigger picture. This is an amazing undertaking Maggie! I am so excited for your [and proud of you, is that weird to say? Oh well you’re facing your fear and doing something fantastic so I’m proud of you.]

  6. 19


    I don’t think you need to worry about God knowing you were joking, it sounds like he has a sense of humor too! It is always interesting the difference between our thoughts on how a prayer will be answered and how God actually does it. I was determined to change what family meant to me, I wanted to change my name, be MY own person…I went to get the papers from a friend hat worked at the state…guess what? That is the DAY I met Rob. Yep, God said ” okay girly, you want a name change, you want to design a family…here you go! All you have to do is trust me.”
    I think he thinks when we are joking, too many times we are worried, or scared or in need…He loves us regardless. I know I get joy when my kiddos say funny things. :0)
    Can’t wait to he more.

  7. 20


    this was awesome to read and it seems that not only are you so stinkin’ adorable and amazingly crafty but your heart is starting to take the cake for me. This was encouraging to read and love when I see God working through others to bring lory to Him. man this is going to be a good week!

  8. 21


    we sponsor a little boy through compassion in Tanzania!! I wonder if you will be near him!! Oh I wish I could go too and love on him!!! You are going to have an amazing time – it will be life changing!! I hate flying too – it’s my greatest fear… in the last calendar year I boarded a plane 14 times (!!!!) after not flying for several years! That’s what God does! We flew to Ethiopia twice, Illinois, Georgia (all by myself) and now we’ll be flying to Ghana… twice… sometime in the next year! Are we crazy? Yes. Are we following God? Yup. Wouldn’t have it any other way! ;)

  9. 27


    Amazing news, Maggie! And the fabric part gave me goosebumps. Seriously, how awesome is our God?

    I hope you find a church home soon.

    My daughter went to Botswana when she was a senior in high school. Changed her life forever. She was able to hand out Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes while there too, which was a huge surprise and blessing since she’s packed those things since she was 10 and worked in the warehouse in NC. She and her husband sponsor two Compassion children.

    Africa is a long way, but it’s going to be so worth it.

  10. 28

    Cindy says

    Isn’t this going to be a trip of a lifetime! I’ll pray for you guys!!
    About the book~ sounds like it might be just what my 15 year old (16 in April) stepdaughter needs and might just love. I’m going to buy it for her for her Sweet 16. Thanks!!!

  11. 29


    I can’t wait to travel with you and Nester. I’m kind of hoping that your crafty awesomeness rubs off on me a little, although given the fact that I can’t sew a button on a shirt (not an exaggeration) (I shouldn’t admit that publicly), there’s a good chance I’m a lost cause. HOWEVER, I look forward to gleaning a lot more from your lovely ladies as I just love your hearts ( or lover them…that IS funny ).

    I feel like I can so identify where you are right now as we are seven months out from a big move and man are we struggling. Can’t find a church. Can’t find friends. Feel isolated and alone and frustrated and…

    I’m praying for all of us as we prepare to embark on this adventure that the Lord has laid before us. Not to our glory but to His! :)

    • 30

      Lisa McGriff says

      I’m 5 1/2 weeks from the biggest move of my life, Dothan, AL to Valparaiso, IN…. I’ll be praying for you and please be praying for us. I’ve never lived anywhere but Dothan, so this is 820 miles of MAJOR! But through this sweet precious blog I’ve already been lead to one sweet lady whom I hope to one day call my “friend”.

      • 31


        Of course, Lisa! Moving is hard. It doesn’t seem like it should be, but it really is. But I will say that despite all the struggles and heartache, God has been so faithful in both little and big ways and my husband and I are constantly in awe at how He loves us.

        Prayers for you as you prepare to move. :)

  12. 35


    Maggie and Zack, God knows all of our hopes, dreams, shortcomings and fears and he loves us anyway!!!! It is coming up on one year since our trip across the world (14 1/2 hour flight! ) to the Philippines, it was never on my list to go somewhere like that, but when he made it crystal clear we were to go, I knew it wasn’t up for discussion.
    What an honor to be chosen by God to use your talents to glorify him. I can hardly wait to see all that he has in store for you both.
    Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ
    Jesus. Love you both dearly. Mom

  13. 36


    I am SO excited for you. This trip to Tanzania will be one of those landmarks in your life, something you look back on as a life changer in such an awesome way. I went on a trip last summer to Guatemala with Compassion. As a sponsor and an employee, I can honestly say God has 100% changed my life through Compassion. I can’t wait to hear all about your trip as you process on the blog!

  14. 37


    You know I’m one of your biggest fans! And I this makes me an even bigger one. I know you are nervous, but I know you can do this and take so much away from it! I’m proud of you!!

    Like I told you the other day, the two weeks I spent in South Africa changed my life and I know this will change yours too.

    • 38


      ::oh the tears::

      this is just so sweet of a comment… you are amazing and it’s helped so much to have supportive friends say, “YOU MUST GO!” ~ you made it easier to say yes :)

  15. 39


    Oh I am so excited for your upcoming trip, that is such an amazing opportunity! I can’t wait to hear all about it. Oh, and can I make an early request? If you pick up some of that handmade fabric….I would love a wristlet made out of it… perfect for summer, right? ;) Thanks!! Haha!

  16. 40

    Sarah W says

    Oh Maggie, my heart did a little leap when I read you’ll be coming to Africa in May! I’ve served as a missionary in Botswana (Southern Africa) for the past 8 years with my husband. We will be leaving Africa in next month as the Lord is calling us to some work in Asia, but my heart will forever be buried in the soil of this great continent. And let me tell you……you’re life will never be the same. This place is so special that it grabs hearts and never lets them go. My heart hurts in deep places knowing that we’re not coming back to Africa for awhile. :( I am thrilled that you and Zac get to experience that together. I look forward to following your journey!

    As for that LONG plane ride……well I will say it’s no fun but you’ll get through it. Like I tell people….eat, movies, rest, eat, movies, rest and boom 24 hrs later your there! :) ha! I think sometimes it’s those shorter ones that seem like they take forever to me now…..the long ones I just settle in and know I am not going anywhere for awhile. Again, you’ll have Zac there too. I’ll be praying for you both as you prepare for your trip…..no doubt it’s going to be amazing!!!! Big Hugs from Botswana……way on the other side of the “pond”. :) Sarah :)

  17. 41


    That is so incredible! Do you want to hear something amazing??? Our church has a group of men going to Haiti to build a church. You see last October at our missions conference a missionary we support from Haiti spoke. One of the needs was for a bit of property for a church building. Soon afterwards we were informed that an anonymous person in our church purchased a parcel of land plus building supplies and donated them. The only request was that we supply the work crew. My husband wanted to go but we found out it was going to be during the school year (April/May time frame) & the finances were just NOT there. Do you know what happened? A claim for damaged household goods was deposited into our account. It covers the purchase of the trip!! We had no idea it would come anywhere near the amount!!! And we have lived two years without the damaged items without missing them… Isn’t God good!!!

  18. 44

    Lisa McGriff says

    I’m 5 1/2 weeks from the biggest move of my life, Dothan, AL to Valparaiso, IN…. I’ll be praying for you and please be praying for us. I’ve never lived anywhere but Dothan, so this is 820 miles of MAJOR! But through this sweet precious blog I’ve already been lead to one sweet lady whom I hope to one day call my “friend”.

  19. 47


    I opened up your post on Google Reader and saw the word, “Tanzania” and being a reader of Shaun’s blog knew immediately what that meant. So excited for you. So excited your husband can go too. Thrilled to see how God uses this experience in your lives and your marriage. Congrats on hearing the call, albeit a scary and hard one, and saying yes. YIPPEE.

  20. 48


    So Awesome!! I just love seeing what God does in our lives when we really open ourselves up to Him. I cannot wait to see the fruit of this trip. You’re amazing. :)

  21. 50


    This is beyond Wonderful! Really – what an incredible opportunity for you! My husband has been to Africa 3 times and his life was forever changed. I can’t wait to follow your story – will you be able to post and update while you’re there?

    • 51


      yes yes yes! we’ll be blogging every afternoon, zack will be making videos and sharing them here as well :) we’re going for an entire week — yay! can’t wait!!! :)

  22. 52


    Oh my friend. I’ve been living in an online quiet and when I step gingerly back over to check up on all of my people, this is what greets me. And so I let my eyes fill because I know this is huge and I know it’s wonderful and you will be forever more beautiful because of what it does to your heart, and subsequently, in ours. I love you so.

  23. 54


    this story just made my day a million times better. i love the Lord’s sense of humor, and wow, what a perfect story he is weaving.
    it just doesn’t get any more perfect! i know that the flying part scares you; we have you covered in the “praying for that” department.
    lots of love. admire your willingness to obey. ROCKSTAR GIRLIE FOR JESUS! woop woop!

  24. 55

    Elizabeth says

    Maggie, what amazing news! I am SO excited to see what God has planned for you in this trip! Doesn’t it feel like it is His *perfect* timing that just when you recently posted about friendships and feelings of loneliness {which I have been meaning to email you about!} that this piece of the puzzle will play a big part in your journey?! Eeek, I am truly excited for you and will pray for your trip, your safety and for you to be both blessed and a blessing to others!! Oh and how exciting is the possible fabric opportunity?! Wow, God is good!! You are amazing and a total inspiration!!
    Lots of LOVE! Xoxo

  25. 56


    absolute coolness! I sponsor a little girl in Burkina Faso through Compassion – it would be amazing to go and see her one day =) hope your trip is a blessing to you and those you minister to!

  26. 57

    Nadir@StitchSense says

    How exciting! I’m so happy for you & proud that you’re not only obeying the call to go but facing your fear too. That takes GUTS girl! I’m sure it’ll be the trip of a lifetime! Good thing is you have a few months to be prayed up before you go :-) Also have you looked into a Vineyard church? I’ve been going to one for the last 4 years & it has *changed my life*, I’d highly recommend trying one out.

  27. 58


    wanting to wish you the best on your trip. we’ve actually sponsored a little girl from Tanzania. I do hope to get there some day, but in the meantime, I am looking forward to living vicariously through your experiences. XOXO

  28. 59


    I’ve been following your blog for quite some time. As a young (or at least I think I am) christian, business woman, it totally warms my heart when you share your faith through your business. So many others are being reached by Jesus through your posts. Cannot wait to follow along as you and your hubby take this journey together. God is moving in such an awesome way!
    Best of everything!!!

  29. 61


    I LOVE that you’re going to explore the option of using your business to help others, in such a specialized and targeted way.
    Also, I do hope that you have a wonderful trip. It is sure to be exciting, inspiring, and also just refreshing! I always return from travels more inspired in regards to my business, even if the trip has nothing to do with work.

  30. 62


    so I totally know this is late and old knews, but oh man! That is so awesome! THAT IS MY DREAM! is to go to Africa and help the kids there, in any way I can!

  31. 63


    This is wonderful Ali and I will post you all over foocbeak,.. get ready to have an increase of viewers.. its high time we began seeing the OTHER side of Africa, other than poor starving skinny kids.. Gosh, who knew Africans have Gold, Ice Cream and 5 star hotels?.. Big UP man.. and oh, by the way, I’m girl and i think you are very handsome.. If you ever visit the US, hit me up.. (OK fine, the last part was a joke, but almost all of my friend think u r HAWT! but still GOOD JOB ON THE VID!


  1. […] If you were here last year you might remember me talking about the trip my sister took with Compassion and other bloggers to The Philipines.  Many of my (in)courage friends have gone in the past and for this trip, there are some amazing writers that I’m so honored to get to travel with, one of which is my dear friend, Maggie Whitley from Gussy Sews. […]

  2. […] here’s what my schedule looks like right now: sewing, blogging, general biz management, project plan with cambria, fabric shop, scheduling more time to meet with friends, walk + play with bauer, family time {zack + alyssa [our cuz lives with us, yay!]}, cook dinner, sleep. prepare for tanzania. […]

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