here’s my heart, Lord. dented and cracked.

let thy grace now, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.

I am a wanderer, Lord. I will stray away from You, time and time and time again. I will walk away from Your love, Your goodness, Your promises.

I don’t want to, Abba. I don’t want to leave Your presence, don’t want to tuck You into the back corner of my mind. Hide You in a little box on the shelf of my closet, put You away like the winter sweaters as soon as summer peeks her head out.

But without it – without the wandering – I would all too easily forget that I need You.

I can remember to love You, and trust You. To believe in You, hope in You, to have faith and strength and courage.

But I forget that I need You.

Need You in a way that is desperate, crying out from the depths of my being. Raw and real and vulnerable, my heart needs You. My soul needs You. My brokenness needs You.

I forget that I’m broken.

One would think I could remember that. Notice that. Notice that I’m walking around every day with a great big crack down the middle of my heart, put there by the harsh world. People telling me to be prettier, thinner, smarter, better. Beating again and again at my identity, taking a baseball bat to all of me until my heart dents. But eventually I don’t notice anymore, the crack just becomes part of me and I’m numb to the pain, and all that’s left is a dull ache to remind me.

That’s why I need You, Lord.

I need You because I hurt. Because I fail, because I sin. Because I am just one girl and I can’t take on this big world by mself.

I know that now. That I need You today, I need You tomorrow, I need You always.

So I’m done wandering. I’m ready for that crack to be mended and I can’t take anymore beatings to my heart.

here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.


Africa or bust.

this summer, I’ll be spending a month in East Africa with Adventures in Missions on the World Race Exposure trip. through this brief series, I’ll be explaining the crazy circumstances that took me from being dead set against missions to ridiculously excited to go to Africa, over the course of one month. you can catch up with the previous part here.

Sometimes, I still can’t believe that this is really happening. That I am truly going to Africa this summer. Me. Me who has always said she doesn’t want to do missions, isn’t called to missions, has no desire to go to other countries and love on babies (seriously, though, ask any of my friends. They’ll tell you: it’s true).

And yet here I am. In one month, one short month, I went from a girl who swore she wasn’t called into missions work to being incredibly pumped about spending a month – a whole month! – in East Africa.

Guys, Jesus does crazy things. He turns water into wine, He raises people from the dead, He sends me to Africa and completely changes my perspective on missions.

Over the past month, the Lord has been sharing His heart for the nations with me. I’ve realized, if only a little bit, how much He loves the world, how much He loves every single person. Since this whole process started, I’ve already learned so much about His love, His goodness, His provision. I’m having to learn very quickly to surrender my plans and my will, to trust in His plans and His power. To set aside fear and worry, and to rest in His promises. If this is how much the Lord can change my heart while I’m in the midst of college homework, midterms, and distractions – I’m beyond excited to spend a month simply serving Him and pursuing Him.

The trip I’m going on is called Exposure: East Africa. During my time in Africa, I’ll be working with a World Race team and joining them in whatever ministry they’re doing. I don’t know where I’ll be going (most likely Kenya, Uganda, or Tanzania) or what I’ll be doing. I really don’t know what exactly I’m getting myself into, but I can’t wait to find out.

However, to make this all possible, I need some help.

First and foremost, I’m gonna need prayer. Lots of it. If you’ve got a heart for the world, care about me, want to see God’s name glorified in all the nations, or heck, even have some free time and don’t know what to do with it: please, please pray for me. This trip is going to be a crazy adventure and I’d love to know that you’ve all got my back and that I’m covered in prayer throughout the entire process leading up to, during, and after the trip.

Specifically, please be praying:

  • That I will continue to trust the Lord and not experience anxiety, fear, or stress about this trip.
  • That logistically, everything will work out: I’m going to be leaving for Africa very soon after I return from Malta. And by ‘very soon’, I  mean that it’s possible I’ll have only a few days at home, which means I’ll need to be dealing with paperwork, travel plans, and immunizations while studying abroad.
  • That I will be able to surrender myself to the Lord and let Him use me to be a light to the world, however He chooses to do so, and that He will use this time to draw me closer to Him and grow my faith.
  • For the World Race team I will be working with: for health, safe travel, strong relationships, and closeness with the Lord.
  • For anyone I will encounter while in Africa: for the Lord’s presence to be known, for healing, and for the relationships I will develop.
  • That the Lord will provide everything I need for this trip, because….

I need to raise $3, 995 to fund this trip. That’s a lot of money, but I trust that God will provide. The total amount isn’t due until two weeks before the trip, but I do have some deadlines to meet before then, one of which is next Thursday. I need to have a $100 deposit made by October 25 in order to secure my place on the trip.

Would you be willing to partner with me financially on this trip? Please prayerfully consider supporting me as I follow God’s call. By helping to fund my trip, you’re joining me in serving the people of East Africa, in being God’s hands and feet to the nations, in sharing His love and making His name known. Your prayers and any amount you are able and willing to donate, no matter how small, give you and I the opportunity to help bring God’s kingdom to earth.

If you’re feeling led to support me financially: it’s really easy!

  1. You can donate online by clicking here or going to the Adventures in Missions website (, clicking the “Donate” tab, and selecting “Mission Trip Participant”. From there, select “The Passport” under Program Name and enter my full name (Hannah Boning) for Participant Name. (Note that when donating online, AIM is charged fees by the credit card and transaction processing companies. To cover these costs, 3% is removed from donations made by credit or debit card or 2% by bank draft (electronic check) before being credited to the participant or project.)
  2. You can donate by check. Please clearly indicate the purpose of the check (for Hannah Boning/The Passport). Mail checks to:

Adventures In Missions
P.O. Box 534470
Atlanta, GA 30353-4470

side note: Adventures In Missions, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and a long-time member of ECFA. Your donations are tax deductible (yay!) based on the policies and principles detailed at

I’m unbelievably excited for this trip. I can’t wait to see how God is going to work through us in Africa. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve others, to be used by God to further His kingdom, to love people with God’s love. Mostly, I’m excited to experience God in a new way. I’m ready to get out of my comfort zone, to see His glory revealed, to learn more about His heart for His people. I have no clue what I’m going to be doing, who I’m going to be doing it with, or where I’m going to be doing it. But this I know: God will be there.

“Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10

one month.

this summer, I’ll be spending a month in East Africa with Adventures in Missions on the World Race Exposure trip. through this brief series, I’ll be explaining the crazy circumstances that took me from being dead set against missions to ridiculously excited to go to Africa, over the course of one month. you can catch up with the previous part here.

That night, I create my profile on the AIM page, entering my name, email, telephone number, and the trip I’m interested in.

Later, I sit down with my journal and thumb through past entries. I find pages in September that ask God if I’m called into missions, ask Him what He wants to do with my life. Pages full of prayers for God’s will to be done in my life, surrendering my desires and plans to His use. Offering up my empty hands and my broken soul, knowing that they’re not good for much but knowing He can use them to His glory. Pages placing all I have at God’s throne, giving up the things I cling to and asking Him to move in my life.

As it turns out, Jesus does answer prayer. Apparently, sometimes His answer is “Go to Africa.”

The next few days I’m a ball of emotions. I go back and forth from excited about the trip, to terrified, to thrilled, to doubting. I tell myself that this is crazy, this is ridiculous, this is not in my plan.

I tell myself every day that this is in God’s plan. I write it each day in my journal, stare at the ink and paper to reassure myself that what I am doing is right.

And I start praying. Praying desperately for faith and trust, for strength and courage. For acceptance onto the trip, for the money that I will need to raise, for all the fears and worries I have regarding this trip to go away.

On Tuesday, I get a call from an AIM staff member. I can’t answer my phone and try to call her back, but it turns out that the only times I’m free, she’s not. We play phone tag for a few days until she finally reaches me. She asks if I have any questions about the application process. I say no.

I finish the application later that week, submit it, schedule my interview for 3:30 the next Wednesday.

By the scheduled interview time, I’m a nervous wreck. I don’t really like talking on the phone anyway, and now I have to talk to a stranger about my life, my testimony, my struggles and shortcomings. I’m worried that I might accidentally blurt out a swear word or panic and say something stupid. As soon as my class ends, I bolt back to my room and sit at my desk nervously, waiting for the phone to ring.

It doesn’t.

At 3:31, I text Sarah and tell her that no one had called. She tells me to wait.

At 3:35, I stare anxiously at my phone, not sure if I’m more nervous that it will ring or that it won’t.

At 3:45, I’m terrified.

At 3:55, I call the number AIM had sent to me in an email, the number to call in case your interviewer didn’t call.

I reached the interview coordinator, who discovered that my interviewer was sick and supposed to be working from home, but for some reason didn’t call me. It was a fluke, a random mistake, and she rescheduled my interview for the next morning.

Really? I thought. I’ve been freaking out about this for a week and I have to wait another day.

Thursday morning, I wake up at 7 as usual. I go to yoga, go to ballet, go back to my room and wait.

When the phone rings, I answer it and a woman named Stacy introduces herself, tells me she’s going to be doing my interview, and then starts to pray over the interview. She asks the Lord to calm any fears and anxieties I might have about the interview.

Okay, Jesus, I get it. You’ve got this.

She asks why this trip, why I became interested in it and why I want to go. I tell her that Jesus wants me to go, explain Sarah and Cookout and the Traveling Team and Oswald.

When she hears this, she laughs and tells me she had the same experience. She’s going to be leading a World Race team in January – not because she wants to, but because the Lord called her too.

The interview goes well. I’ve never really felt comfortable sharing about my story and my testimony even with people I know, but somehow I feel no hesitation about talking with this stranger about my failures and sins. When it’s over, she says that someone from AIM will contact me in a week to a week and a half regarding my acceptance.

I spend the next week waiting. What happens if I’m not accepted? I can’t imagine that happening. I make lists of truths in my journal everyday, reassuring myself that God asked me to do this, and God is in control. If it’s His will, He’ll get me on this trip.

Six days after the interview, I’m ten minutes into Principles of Database Systems when I see my phone, sitting in my pencil case, light up. I glance down, immediately recognize the number, and proceed to spend the next hour and five minutes of class freaking out about the fact that AIM called and I couldn’t answer the phone. As soon as our teacher lets us go, I listen to the voicemail and dial the number I’m told to call. It’s the same person who called me before.

No one answers. I try again, and again. After four tries I give up and just leave a message, hoping she’ll call back and this won’t be another days-long game of phone tag.

The next day, I’m in the middle of a class when I hear my phone vibrate. I count the number of vibrations: three means it’s a text. When it doesn’t stop after three, I grab my phone and sprint out of the classroom. No way am I missing this phone call again.

On October 11, exactly one month after the Traveling Team came to Cru, I’m accepted for the World Race Exposure trip. It’s official.

I’m going to Africa.


you can read the next part here.

famous last words.

this summer, I’ll be spending a month in East Africa with Adventures in Missions on the World Race Exposure trip. through this brief series, I’ll be explaining the crazy circumstances that took me from being dead set against missions to ridiculously excited to go to Africa, over the course of one month. you can catch up with the first part here.

Despite my stubborn declaration that I am never ever going to Africa, the next day I can’t get the thought out of my head. Sarah sends me a link to the trip information, which I click despite the fact that I don’t need to know anything about the trip, because I’m not going. Might as well see what it’s about, even though there’s no point.

I can’t shake the feeling that God is up to something.

It’s a rather uncomfortable feeling, especially when God is up to something that you are dead set against.

The next night, Sarah ends up in my room and keeps giving me this you’re-going-to-Africa-but-don’t-know-it-yet look. It’s a very smug look. I tell her that fine, here’s the deal: I’ll go on this trip if God makes it blatantly obvious that I need to be involved in missions. We’re talking lighting-bolt-strikes-a-tree obvious here. I’m pretty confident that it’s not going to happen, because stuff like that doesn’t happen to me.

Famous last words.

Two nights later, the Traveling Team shows up at Cru. This four-person team is traveling around the country, speaking to college campuses about the Biblical basis for missions, God’s heart for the world, and why college students should get involved with missions work.

The whole talk was what my friends and I like to fondly call a Jesus slap: a truth zapped straight to your heart with all the subtlety and comfort of a smack upside the head.

As soon as the Cru meeting ends, Sarah and I make eye contact. This time, she gives me a you’re-going-to-Africa-and-now-I-think-you-know-it look. I’m pretty sure I gave her a look that translated to “HMMPH”. I walked down to where she was standing, and by this point she was laughing out loud. “Well.” I said, “I think I’m gonna go talk to Jesus about Africa.”

After making a quick pit stop to purchase a copy of Operation World from the Traveling Team crew, I headed over to the University Center meditation room, where the Lord continued to slap me in the face with some painful truths.

You see, I’ve grown up in the church. Sometimes the basic facts of Christianity have been repeated and heard so many times that they become rote. The concepts of being sent to the ends of the earth and making disciples of all nations and being salt and light are hardly new concepts to me . But they’re always been abstract in my mind. The ‘nations’ and the ‘world’ existed in a little, separate bubble. I’m here, they’re there.

Except God began to reveal His heart for the world to me, and it hit me. The world is not an abstract thing. The nations are not just names and places. No, this is a whole big world full of people. Full of people that are just like me, people that are broken and hurting and in need of healing and love. Every single person that exists, that ever has existed, ever will exist – He loves them all so, so much.

Do you realize how amazing that is? How ridiculous, mind-blowing, crazy? Do you realize how BIG our God is? Every one – each and every one of us – He loves us all individually, personally, passionately. He wants to see every single person know who He is. He wants to know them and love them and bring them into His family.

And if He wants to use me to help do that – how can I say no?

Well, in a turn of events that is shocking to absolutely no one who knows me, I am a stubborn person.

Even though that Tuesday night God began to change my heart towards the nations, towards missions, I still fought. I fought so hard. I still didn’t want to go to Africa. I knew that if I went on this trip, it would change my perspective and change my life – and I wasn’t really sure I wanted that. I didn’t want to give up my comfortable life, give up my plans. I didn’t want to care so much about the world, because caring about the world hurts. But I continued to tell the Lord that if was what He really wanted, if this was really His plan, I would go to Africa.

He continued to tell me to go to Africa.

Throughout the week, I read, as I usually do, Oswald Chamber’s daily devotions in My Utmost for His Highest. These devotions have a rather uncanny knack of being relevant to my life, and this week was no exception. The devotions for this particular week were on preparing for missions through daily life, going through spiritual confusion, and surrendering your will to God. Subtle, Jesus.

My favorite, though, was the devotion for September 14, titled “Arguments or Obedience?”, which contained this lovely little sentence: “If there is something in your life upon which God has put His pressure, then obey Him in that matter.”

So, let’s recap:

Saturday, Sarah suggest a month-long mission trip to East Africa. I refuse to go to Africa.

Sunday, I tell God that I’ll go on the trip if He makes it obvious that I need to.

Tuesday, a group of speakers show up at my student ministry and proceed to discuss God’s call to the world. I still refuse to go to Africa.

Thursday, my devotion tells me to shut up and obey the Lord. I – surprise – still refuse to go to Africa.

The next Sunday, the Traveling Team is doing another presentation on the history of college students in missions. In the middle of their presentation, they read us this quote from J. Hudson Taylor:

“It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China [or the world]. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.”

With that, I metaphorically threw my hands in the air in surrender. There’s no point fighting something when it’s God’s plan, because He is seriously never. going. to. let. it. go.

Later that night, I speak out loud something that I knew was true since Sarah first brought up the trip: I’m going to Africa.


read the next part here.

it’s all downhill from here.

It all started innocently enough.

One Saturday night, my friend Caitlin mentioned in passing that she knew this guy, and we would be cute together, and oh by the way “he’s called to Africa, so you’d have to be willing to move there.”

Yeah, whatever. I’m not called into missions, I don’t want to go into missions, there’s no way I’m going to marry a missionary and move to Africa.

However. This is not the first time that I’ve heard the “I know this guy….but he’s going into missions” sentence structure from one of my friends. For some reason, the guys that my friends think I could date are going to be missionaries. Which is ridiculous, because, you know, I’m never going into missions.

When I tell this to Caitlin, she says that maybe God’s trying to tell me something. I laugh it off and move on, because please, God doesn’t tell me that I’m called to Africa by dropping hints that I should date a missionary boy.

Later that night, I make a Cookout run with Sarah. We’re sitting in the parking lot at 11:30 pm, drinking our milkshakes and talking through life, when I mention the conversation I had with Caitlin.

It’s funny, because this has been the joke my entire life. My friends joke that I’ll get married young, move to Africa, have and adopt a bunch of kids, homeschool them, and spend my days loving on orphans – none of which are part of my plan. I don’t want to do any of those things. And yet, friends keep mentioning that I should meet this guy (but he’s going to be a missionary).

Sarah laughs when she hears this, says “well hey, maybe you should go to Africa”, and we carry on.

(side note: Sarah, by the way, is no stranger to international missions. She’s been on two trips with Adventures in Missions (AIM), led a high school trip to Uganda this past summer, and will be launching for the World Race in July). 

Somehow, through a lot of laughter and tangents, we end up talking about this summer. I’ve been planning for the past two years to find an internship or do an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates… gotta build up that resume, yo). What I hadn’t taken into account is the fact that I’m going to be studying abroad in the spring, and the semester at University of Malta runs February through June. My summer will be lasting around 6 weeks – not enough time for an REU, not enough time for an internship. Who is going to hire the student that can work for a month when another student can work for three?

All of a sudden, Sarah puts down her milkshake. She sits up straight and looks at me, eyes wide. She’s as excited about something as Chris Traeger is about organic protein shakes, and I have no idea why (by the way, if you didn’t get that reference, just substitute “as a kid in a candy shop” and that’ll work as well). Luckily (or unluckily) for me, I find out right away.


Me: Ha. Ha.


Of course, being the mature, adult, wise, here-I-am-send-me kind of person that I am, I respond in the best way possible by yelling “NO! I’M NOT GOING TO AFRICA!”

(spoiler alert: I’m going to Africa.)

Despite my best efforts to throw every excuse to not go to Africa I can find at Sarah (I need to work. I can’t raise the money for Africa. I can’t come home from five months abroad and then leave right away for Africa. I don’t want to. I hate bugs), she persists in telling me about the trip, telling me that I should go, telling me that God would provide the money.

I refuse to listen.

Eventually, we drive back to campus and she drops me off at my dorm. Before I get out of the car, I look at her and declare, one more time, that I am not going to Africa, I am not called into missions, I am never going to go to Africa. She just laughs at me as I realize that I should know better than to tell God what  I won’t do.

I climb out of her car, yell to the night sky “IT’S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE”, slam the door, and head inside.

this summer, I’ll be spending a month in East Africa with Adventures in Missions on the World Race Exposure trip. over the next few days, I’ll be explaining the crazy circumstances that took me from being dead set against missions to ridiculously excited to go to Africa, over the course of one month. you can read the next part here.

to my one-day, some-day daughter.

an open letter to a girl who does not yet exist, and to every girl who does.

Dearest one,

I am 20. I am single. I am in the midst of college midterms and papers and stress, and you – you are not yet alive. I don’t even know if you will ever be alive. Marriage and motherhood are so far away on my horizon that they’re basically off it.

But tonight, you are heavy on my heart.

My darling, the world you are born into is a hard place. It is harsh and cruel, and it will hurt you. This I know. But this I know, too: that there is beauty in the world. That there is joy, and laughter, and quiet mornings and starry skies. I know that you will discover all the beauty this world offers, and I hope you never stop searching for it. Wake up every morning with your eyes full of wonder, with your heart full of love, with your mind full of curiosity, and your life will be full.

There are things I want you to know, my precious child. Things that are true, and good, things that you need to hold onto. I will try my best to tell them to you, every day, to speak truth into your little ears when you are too young to remember it in hope that you will never forget.

You are beautiful. You are so, so beautiful. You with your eyes full of life, your mouth full of smiles. You are beautiful because you were created by the One who defines beauty, the One who declares what beauty is, and He defined you and He declared you beautiful. Let no one take this beauty from you. Your skin will break out, and your hair will frizz, and you will lament the size of your hips, your waist, your thighs. You’ll want longer legs and straighter hair and thinner everything, but my darling – you are perfect the way you are. So claim those legs and thighs and waist and those wild, unruly curls, and live in them and with them instead of against them. Trust me, it’s so much easier to love your body instead of always fighting it. Your body will help you do great things; be sure to love it, to thank it.

You are beautiful, but you are also so much more than that. My child, you have intelligence, wit, curiosity. Use them. Learn as much as you can, about whatever interests you. You have the capability to be so much, to do so much. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a girl, and so you can’t be a scientist or doctor or engineer or astronaut or president. You can be anything – anything, darling! The world is full of possibilities, so open your hands and take them all in. Wrap your fingers around those opportunities and hold them tight. They are yours to claim; make the most of them.

My love, there will people be that will try to hurt you, try to tell you lies, try to take away your you-ness. They will say that you are not pretty enough, not smart enough, not good enough, not enough.

You are enough.

You are valued. You are worthy. You are precious, you are cherished, you are loved more than you can ever believe or imagine or dream. I will love you, always, but I am just a person and I have been hurt by this world, too, so I can’t love you perfectly. But I know someone who can, and His love will never, never fail you.

So many things I want to teach you, to tell you, to make sure you know. But most importantly, above all, darling, know this: there is one who knows you, all of you, inside and out. Good and bad. Everything you have done, will ever do.

He loves you, with a love that I cannot describe because it is not a love that I can comprehend. But it is a love that is good, pure, perfect.

Cling to it. Hold onto it, pursue it above all else. Run to Him, always, child, when the world is harsh and you are lost, because He knows who You are. When you cannot seem to find yourself, seek out Him, and I promise that in His love, you will find all that you are meant to be.

Love, your one-day, some-day mother.

there is grace enough.

o happiness, there is grace enough for us & the whole human race.

I confess that one the reasons I’ve always pushed away the thought of missions, of evangelism, of outreach is that I know how broken I am.

I am acutely aware of the fact that I am a mess. Some days my heart feels like it’s held together with Scotch tape. All the broken pieces taped together like a third-grader’s art project, cracks snaking their way around the entirety of the thing, threatening to shatter into a million shards if you hold it the wrong way.

I doubt. I fear. I worry. I run away from the Lord when I need Him most, put on a brave face so no one will notice the messy heart. Some days I question every single thing I know, including basics that I had covered by the time I was five. Jesus loves me, this I know.

Some days I don’t know.

How am I supposed to tell people about Jesus when I don’t even know who He is, really? I’ve only seen glimpses of Him. It’s like when you’re working on a puzzle and missing one piece, except I’ve only got the one puzzle piece out of the thousand that make up the picture. I don’t know where that piece fits, what the picture makes, and I’m frantically searching the floor for the other thousand pieces in an attempt to make some sense of the blur of colors on my one piece.

I am in need of healing, of faith, of hope.

How on earth am I supposed to be God’s light to the world when I can barely see His light sometimes? How am I supposed to bring His healing, His hope, His love when I need them so desperately for myself?

I’m selfish, I’m proud. My love is flawed. There is little in me that points to God. I’m not good with words; I can’t talk about my faith, my journey, my love for the Lord without lots of tangents and hand gestures and “I don’t know”s. What good am I? Of what use can I be to Him?

These were the thoughts on repeat in my head the other night during a run, words looping circles in my mind as I pounded circles around the track. Lord, what good am I? What can I do?

let’s risk the ocean, there’s only grace.

The words slid into my brain and stopped my thoughts in their tracks. Only grace. Risk the ocean; there is only grace.

Grace to cover my sins, grace to cover my brokenness. Grace enough to make me clean and whole again, grace that is strong enough to take me and make me new and present me as spotless before the throne of God. Grace to heal my heart, grace to forgive all I’ve ever done and ever will do.

That grace is big enough to use me. That grace is big enough to let people see through me to God, to put His words in my mouth and His love in my heart.

My love may be flawed, my words may be a jumble. My heart is taped together but God holds it in His hands, and by grace it is becoming new. By grace, He is putting His treasure in this jar of clay. By grace, He can use my hands and my heart and my words, He can use my life.

I’m risking the ocean. I’m taking all I have, all I hold onto, and letting it go. Plunging in. There’s only grace.