A week of reflection

This week I was reminded of how fast time passes when you aren't looking and how far God brings us...all the details that are worked out and all the plans He has for us that I, personally, cannot even dream up.  This last week marked one year since a little boy (Dino) I had the privilege of knowing, loving, and serving left this harsh world and leapt into the arms of Jesus.  I'd be lying if I didn't say that this made for a hard week....a week of questions, reflection, praying, and lots of reminiscing.  Dino was this amazing little toddler that so embodied Christ's love and was such a beautiful picture of redemption.  And while I'll never really fully understand why God decided it was time for him to leave earth, I'll always stand firm in completely knowing and believing that God used that little boy in a mighty powerful way while he was living and walking on this earth and has continued using him over and over since his passing to bring glory to God's kingdom.  So I spent the week rereading the blogs I had written during Jan and into March when his death was quickly followed by sweet Gracinha's passing and how broken I had been in those moments.  Oh how much perspective we gain when we aren't in the midst of situations.  The situation was confounded by the fact that during that time period we were severely short-handed in the nursing world, I was way overworked, overstressed, and emotional/physically/spiritually beyond exhaustion.  I was processing a new calling that God had been speaking to me about-going back to the States, starting grad school, and returning to Moz in a very different capacity in a much more rural part of the country.  And I was attempting to come to grips with the end of my time in Zimpeto and all the goodbyes that would bring-to children that I had seen be transformed from brokeness to LIFE, that held pieces of my heart; missionaries that had walked life with me and become such close friends; Mozambicans that I had poured into for 2 years, watched grow in their faith, knowledge, and character, women that had become my friends; a country and culture that I loved and had become so much a part of me with all it's good, bad, and everything in between; and a language that sometimes has me confused when I attempt to switch back to English and sometimes makes a bit more sense with it's lyrical sound.  So Dino was kinda the final straw.

But this week as I talked with friends on different continents that have walked this same journey with me, held hands with me, prayed with and for me, offered their shoulders, and ignored my anger, sadness, tears, and frustration while simultaneously celebrating the joy and victory at the same time I realized a few things.....how much I miss Moz daily and how ready I am to be back there (and this one fact I kinda wrestle with daily, but I think I'm getting really good at putting it on the back burner and semi ignoring it most days), but in the exact same breathe how much I want my return to be in the exact perfect timing of God, in the right situation, right location, and right job with the right ministry. and that moment is not right now.  and you know what?  I don't think I could say any of these things with a lot of certainty or truthfulness if God hadn't been doing so much in my life since a year ago but most importantly over the last 7 months since I've been home.  I think most of you knew from emails, phone calls, newsletters, and perhaps even through blogs, how right the timing was for me to be back home.....I so much needed the time for rest, healing, and to simply be blessed by God.....which, when I struggle the most with being home and the timing of it all, is when God reminds me of how right it was and is and how much He is using this time I'm home to do something new in my life....how much I need this time of preparation (spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually) before I return back to the mission field.  I'm truly overwhelmed by it and thankful for it most days.  I see it in all the details He has laid out for me before I came home, and daily since I've been here.  

And in case I don't say it enough to ya'll in person......I am truly thankful for each of you that continue to stand by me through this entire journey no matter how crazy it all seems....for those of you that simply sit quietly and listen to me vent and speak my heart even though I know you don't really have the words to make it right...know that just  your willingness to sit with me is more than enough and means a lot to me....for those of you that continue to pray with me and for me during this time and for the future that God has for me....and for those of you that encourage me and give me wisdom, speaking the truth into my life even when I might not want to hear it!  Ya'll are all awesome and I am truly blessed that God has brought you into my life and alongside me for this journey.  Thanks.

You are good, You are good
When there's nothing good in me
You are love, You are love
On display for all to see

You are light, You are light
When the darkness closes in
You are hope, You are hope
You have covered all my sin

You are peace, You are peace
When my fear is crippling
You are true, You are true
Even in my wandering

You are joy, You are joy
You're the reason that I sing
You are life, You are life
In You death has lost its sting

Oh, I'm running to Your arms, I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say
You are Lord, You are Lord
All creation will proclaim

You are here, You are here
In Your presence I'm made whole
You are God, You are God
Of all else I'm letting go

Oh, I'm running to Your arms, I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

My heart will sing no other name
Jesus, Jesus
My heart will sing no other name
Jesus, Jesus

Oh, I'm running to Your arms, I'm running to Your arms
The riches of Your love will always be enough
Nothing compares to Your embrace
Light of the world forever reign

-Lyrics by Jason Ingram & Ruben Morgan


Mozambique Video

I'm excited to let ya'll finally view the video I mentioned months ago since most everyone that needed to see it in person during my visits have seen in.......so here it is.  It's 12.5 minutes.  I'm pretty sure it is worth the wait for the few of you that have been waiting in intense anticipation since I first mentioned it.  I hope it blesses you and really reminds you of how much this journey is just not me and God's.....but belongs to each of you as well.  Thank you so much for each and every single you have spent praying for me, writing emails, thinking of me, sending me encouragement, wisdom, and truth, as well as finances, goody packages, and long skype conversations (especially those that had 5000 dropped calls in like 10 min and yet you still stuck with me).  Thanks for the hugs and shoulders (virtual and real), for bearing through the tears and hard times and most definately for celebrating with me and God on all the victories.  Myself, the children I served, and the Mozambicans and other missionaries I served with have been eternally changed-in this life and forever.  I really cannot repay you or tell you thanks enough.  Enjoy!

Mozambique: Changing Statistics 2008-2010 from Erin Welton on Vimeo.

Well past time for an update

I'm not even going to make excuses. If you get my monthly updates (which clearly haven't been so montly lately) nothing's new or different cept for the pictures. Let's see.....we shall start in November.

Grad school finished up (UAB’s program runs for 9 weeks and very intensively at that) and by the end of that time I had written 34 papers for 4 different classes. I managed to squeak out all A’s…I have no clue how. I attended a Christian Global Missions Conference in Louisville, KY for 3 days where I was able to network with other current and future missionaries, talk about the realities of missions, get information on some cool opportunities with different organizations/projects, and just worship God together as about 1000 people with a heart to serve the Lord both here at home and abroad. It was an amazing time. Then, I headed up to Cleveland, OH to speak at 3 services of one of my supporter churches-Stow Presbyterian Church, while getting the chance to spend time with my dad’s side of the family and my grandmother. I was also able to have brunch with a young girl who’s just working through her heart for missions God’s been speaking to her about, as well as visit with 2 of my dear friends I worked with in Maputo, Mozambique who are off the mission field for the time being and living in and around Cleveland/Akron, OH. Immediate and extended family came to my place over Thanksgiving in Nashville and it was really a blessing.


I celebrated my 30th birthday with some close friends in Nashville. I was blessed to spend 7 days back in New Orleans with family for an early Christmas as well as another cousin’s wedding. Auburn won the SEC championship in football (very important stuff) and it was decided they would play for the national championship (even more important stuff). I found out that University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had accepted me into their graduate certificate program in Maternal and Child Health (online) through their public health college. My trusty car died and could not be resurrected for less than 5,500 dollars, so the decision was made to sell it and I’m not borrowing a car from my parents until I leave again. I worked through Christmas here in Nashville, but was able to get home for 5 days right after that to celebrate Christmas late with my immediate family and then ring in the New Year. During that time, I got to see and hold one of my high school gal’s first baby and visit with my dear friend and fellow nurse, Meghann for 24 hours who was home on respite from Mozambique. That’s the stuff I miss when I’m over in Mozambique.

This first week of Jan may be coming to a close but it’s already been full. I drove up to UNC for a 3.5 day intensive leadership seminar/graduate program orientation. It’s the only time I’ll have to be on campus for the 2 semester program. I met the girls I’ll be chatting and working on group projects online with over these next 2 semesters, learned a lot about myself through the personality and leadership development tools we did, and found out how the program works. I’m so excited about this opportunity. And now after what feels like an eternity of being away from Nashville, I’m back here….filling ya’ll in and getting ready to start semester #2-3 graduate classes (2 thru UNC and 1 thru UAB) on Monday. The assignments are already looming before me.

The future.....So most of ya’ll are probably wondering where I’m headed and what all this means…..good question.  My heart is still burning to be back in Mozambique and I can’t wait for the moment I get to stop off that plane and back into the sticky heat and humidity of the African continent.  I think about it and pray about it all the time.  On the grad school front, both certificate programs-UAB and UNC (all 26 hours worth) will be finished up in a total of 3 semesters (at the end of this coming August).  I’m hoping and yearning to be back on the field in Mozambique as early as September, but I know that a-this may not be the exact perfect timing for God and b-realistically grad school costs have gone up and those costs have to be paid off before I return and c-the holidays will be coming up, school will have literally finished, and I might need a bit of a break before I hit the ground running again-allowing me to see all of ya’ll again and continue working to pay off the rest of grad school costs.  Leaving in Jan would allow me to get on a schedule of being gone for 10 months and home for 2 at the holidays.  At this point, I’m still praying through and searching for the ministry God is calling me to work with when I return to Mozambique.  I feel like it will be a 3-5 year commitment and that requires a lot of prayer and thought for a decision like that.  Our God is big and prayers in this area are much needed and appreciated.  As much as I want to be back on the field, I know it has to be with the right project and in His right timing or it’s all doomed.  Please pray with me.

Finances are an area God is really continuing to bless me in through all of you.  At this point I’m living off about ½ the amount of monthly support I had coming in compared to when I was on the field.  This covers medical insurance, rent/utilities, and food.  Everything from my part-time job is covering grad school and so far it’s worked out to the penny every month.  The first semester of grad school has been paid off and I’m just hoping that I can keep up with that as it was only ¼ of what I’m going to have to pay over the entire 3 semesters.  I’ve been getting cancelled at work lately due to my unit’s low census and while that, at times, makes me a little nervous to cover everything…..it has all completely worked out-Praise to God and all of you who sent me the extra donations you didn’t know I needed and on which I wasn’t counting.  Ya’ll have truly blessed me.  

Super Important Changes in HOW to donate to me
 A few changes have been made and I wanted to let everyone know that Fellowship Bible Church in Nashville, TN will no longer be able to accept donations for me through their website or by check.  If you are a regular monthly supporter, you will be getting an email shortly with more details and what to do from here on out as well as how this affects us both.  In the meantime, if anyone would like to donate, please contact me by email (weltoem@msn.com) for the best way to do so (you have a few options).  Thanks again for continuously sharing with me what God has blessed you with!  I am always overwhelmed by your generosity!