Grace Hartmann knew her life would be one spent with the Lord, doing the Lord’s work. As a child, she told the women’s director at her Christian Athletic camp, that she would one day replace her. She carried that dream with her through college until the summer of 2008. When the camp closed due to the economy, Hartmann had to re-evaluate her dream.
So, what led Hartmann to become a missionary? After returning to college that fall, Hartmann found herself singing a song about the nations in church and it was then she thought of Africa. She went online to research and sent out support letters requesting donations to go to Africa independently. In the summer of 2009, Hartmann went to Uganda, Africa with a college friend, where she spent 11 weeks at an orphanage that resolutely changed the way she saw the world. "Part of me died in Uganda that summer, buried deep in that red clay. The part of me that was comfortable and thought life was easy." wrote Hartmann in her blog "Love by Action" at www.gracehartmann.theworldrace.org.
In Uganda, Hartmann witnessed first-hand what life was like for a people struggling with AIDS and malnutrition. "147 million orphans is only an overwhelming statistic until you know their stories. Their faces. Their names." Hartman wrote in her blog. She has returned to Uganda four times. "And I can never get enough. I truly believe I’ll die there. It’s what I want. My life and ministry to be so intertwined that I never retire… Never finish." wrote Hartmann.
After graduation from college, Hartman wanted to return to Uganda, but had to decide whether going to Uganda was about herself or about serving God. The World Race helped her make that decision. Hartmann did missionary work in the World Race from January 2012 through December 2012.
In the race, Hartmann teamed up with Candace Breaux of Spring, TX, Hannah Carden of Griffin, GA, Marie McCollum of Augusta, GA, Molly Brandenburgh of Columbus, GA, Rachel Williams of Littleton, Colorado, Sarah Shirlen of Taylor, MI in G unit. Together they traveled to 11 countries in 11 months teaching the word of God and learning by experiencing the different cultures along the way.
During the race Hartmann visited the Dominican Republic and Haiti on the island of Hispaniola, Romania and Moldova in Europe, Mozambique and Swaziland in South Africa, India, Nepal, and China in Asia, and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
In Haiti, she helped to build a school and orphanage without work gloves. In Romania, she prepared a summer camp for the season. In Moldova, she assisted in an after school program. In Swaziland, she remembered attempting to say the children’s names she worked with. Their language involves clicks during pronunciation. In India, she did village evangelism where she and another racer got very sick. Do to unique beliefs as to why they were sick, they were fed plate after plate of food. Hartmann could not refuse the food because it would offend the ladies feeding her. In addition to the food, the ladies would rub oil in their hair. At one point, she was told she may have to go to the hospital, which she did not want to go to. She remembered the hospital as being outside, with IV bags hanging from trees and an operation theatre, where the public could watch actual operations through a window. In Nepal, she spoke of seeing Everest and working with a small Nepal group learning discipleship. In the Philippines, she got to choose her ministry and chose to work in a pregnancy center, a slum, and an orphanage. "That’s my biggest passion, the orphan crisis. I love working with kids that are orphans." said Hartmann.
To read more about Hartmann’s ministries, visit her blog at www.gracehartmann.theworldrace.org. In her blog Hartmann relates her experiences with thought provoking passion. One such experience in China, Hartmann speaks of the Tibetan people, who do not believe in violence, protesting their oppression by China in such a way it drags the reader from their comfort zone and leaves them solidly astonished.
For now, Hartmann intends to return to Uganda on Wednesday April 17 for a six month stay. Before leaving, she wanted to impart to our readers this, "Life is exciting. It can be exciting. There’s things that are worth taking risks for and worth venturing out of your comfort zone. We have one shot here, one opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives. You can’t help everyone, but you can help one person. You can help that one person that i