Monday, July 29, 2013

He Fulfills My Desires

Yet another week has already gone by and we are now in the last week of summer camp! It is hard to believe how quickly things are going. God hasn't ceased to amaze me in the ways he chooses to reveal himself to me. He is giving me things that I didn't even know I needed--like a lot of solitude with him that I would have never gotten at home. In this solitude he has been teaching me more about myself, convicting me, and revealing how great He is. 

Have you ever thought about the pleasures that you get from your senses? The joy you get from tasting your favorite food, smelling a beautiful fragrance, hearing a perfect song or the voice of a loved one? The joy you get from feeling the touch of a gentle breeze when the sun is blistering, or seeing a beautiful sunset? All of these senses, and desires to touch, taste, see, feel, and hear different things all were created by God. They often give us indescribable emotions. Just one smell can make us feel excited, relaxed, or happy. Isn't that an amazing way that God designed us? He wants us to have joy and gave us those desires so that we may have joy through them. I think that is pretty awesome. It also gives me the opportunity to praise Him all throughout my day, every time I get pleasure from one of these senses, because it came from Him. 

What an awesome God I serve! 

Another way I feel this joy is through SEEING the kids at camp learn more about their savior and HEARING them answer questions and LISTENING to them sing songs about Jesus. This past week we studied the story of Jesus calming the storm and the kids got to dramatize the story. The older ones did the acting while the littler ones created the storm. It was a great way to experience the story and reflect on God's awesome power--enough to calm any storm. 


God has also given me extreme joy in getting to live with and share time with these amazing people. How could you not love faces like this?

I will end my post tonight with some more pictures...some of them silly...of this past weekend with my family here. We got to take Joseph and Adriana bowling for the first time and we had so much fun! I love seeing them try new things with joy and not get discouraged even if they aren't great at it! They are such a blessing to me.

Blessings to you and thanks for your love, prayers, and support.

"Take delight in the Lord,
      and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Feeling EXTREMELY Blessed.

Wow, time is flying by! I have now been out of school for the summer for almost 3 months, and have been here in the D.R. for three weeks already! Looking at how fast things are going, 3 more weeks doesn't seem like near enough time here. I think it's safe to say I will be crying when I have to leave. God is doing some amazing things here with this ministry and I am so blessed and honored to be a part of it.

This past week has been filled with tons of fun with the kids at summer camp. We got to "travel" to the island of Madagascar and learn a lot about it, including an African dance. We also got to study the story of Jonah, a great reminder of God's compassion for us when we disobey Him and even when we are angry with Him. 

All in all this week went really well! I even got to spend time Saturday at a pool with some awesome Dominican families and children. I had a great time in fellowship with them, even if I did get a little (O.K., a LOT) sunburnt. 

I'm going to keep this post brief and finish it with some pictures I promised of this week at camp for you all. Thank you again for your support.


Here are the kids answering questions about the Bible story we studied this week.

"Madame Fadoo" and "Captain Juan" came to us all the way from Madagascar to tell us about their experiences.

The boat was a little bit too big for the church.

And they hit a storm on the way back to the D.R. so their boat got a little damaged...

Madame Fadoo was nice enough to tell us about what she saw in Madagascar.

And she even taught us an African dance she learned on her trip.

And we attempted it...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What am I so afraid of?

I expected my next blog post, as I wrote in the previous one, to be filled with stories about the kids from summer school and some pictures as well. But God is putting something different on my heart tonight that I want to share with you all. 

Tonight I heard the song "Here I Go Again" by Casting Crowns for probably the third or fourth time, but tonight was the first time I actually listened to the words and they struck me. The song is a guy talking to God about his friend who he wants to tell about God, but he lets fear get in the way. The chorus goes like this:

"So maybe this time I'll speak the words of life
With Your fire in my eyes
But that old familiar fear is tearing at my words
What am I so afraid of?

'Cause here I go again
Talking' bout the rain
And mulling over things that won't live past today
And as I dance around the truth
Time is not his friend
This might be my last chance to tell him that
You love him
But here I go again,
Here I go again."

I thought about how often I have the chance to talk to people about God that I let slip away. An atheist named Penn Jillette said,  

“I’ve always said, I don’t respect people who don’t proselytise. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life, whatever, and you think, ‘it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward,’…how much do you have to hate somebody to not  proselytise? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming to hit you and you didn’t believe it, that that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more than that.”

...this is coming from someone who doesn't believe in God. So what am I so afraid of? I believe in God and that those who believe in Him have eternal life. Don't I want everyone to have that? Don't I want to spend eternity with all of the people I love? With the way I act, (or don't act for that matter,) one would think that I wanted to keep my salvation for myself and let others figure it out for themselves. Why do something that might upset people, right? Why make awkward situations and ruin your friendships?

My other fear, like he says in the song, "But how then will he know what he has never heard...Lord he has never seen mirrored in my life," is that people will just tell me I'm a hypocrite because many times my life doesn't mirror a life of someone who loves God and follows him. 

I know that the devil likes to tell me lies that I start believe are the truth: that my sins scar me forever, that I can't be a witness because of the way I often live my life, that I should have guilt, that telling others about God isn't worth the suffering. 

But these fears that I have are irrational because I believe in God. I believe that HE has the power to do all things, and that HE can work through me to reach people if it is HIS will. I don't have to have fear of rejection or anything else because God's word will accomplish what it was sent out to do. And Jesus never said following him would be easy, but He sacrificed everything for me...I think I can survive a little bit of awkwardness and some criticism. 

I hope I'm not the only one who feels this way...that would be awkward...oh wait, that's the point. 

Seriously, thank you for reading this and supporting me. I know the main point of this blog is to let my supporters of my mission trip know how things are going here, but God really put this on my heart tonight to share. So more updates soon to come...


"For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him." Philippians 1:29 (NLT)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Always in His Presence

It is now my fourth day here in Santiago and God has already revealed things to me, whether it be about myself or His people, or His world. Although we have been busy planning things for summer school which starts on Monday, God made his presence known. So far I have felt many different emotions. I have felt loved, happy, frustrated, excited, sad, convicted, and called.

It is almost impossible not to see God in the home that I am living in. I live with a woman (Eladia), her daughter (Susan), and her two grandchildren (Joseph and Adriana). Eladia is one of the most patient and caring people that I have ever met. She considers herself a mother to me, and is always making sure I have everything I need. When I came home yesterday she had put a laundry basket in my room and a mirror on my dresser for me. She is also extremely patient with me and my Spanish. She speaks slower to me and repeats things or explains them in a different way when I need it. I am honored to be able to spend these next five weeks getting to know her and her beautiful family.

Adriana (5) and Joseph (9) are really sweet kids as well. I can tell that Eladia is their grandmother through their acts of kindness to me, even though they are so young. They alone revealed to me that what Paul said to Timothy is true, not to let anyone look down on him because he was young, but to set an example..and they are an example to me of God's love and kindness. I am fortunate to spend time with these children as well because even they are teaching me things about myself. They look to others first before themselves, which is not true of most children their ages, and I think that is something very significant.

This evening Eladia brought me with to her Bible study and we discussed the Christian life and what it looks like to be a true Christian. We read a passage from the book of Job, which happens to be one of my favorite people in the Bible. I always loved his story because Job lost everything he had,
including his family, and he still praised God. In the bible study we read Job 19: 25-27 which says:

"I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!"

This verse made me think about the future and what it will be like to see God. It is impossible to wrap my mind around, but I don't need to because I will see Him one day. It made me think about how what happens in this life should not concern me so much because God is here now, and I will spend eternity with him. I have that confidence in Christ. I know my redeemer lives. 

The Bible study leader said tonight that we are always in His presence, and therefore we need to be
careful. I have also heard it said once that we are citizens of heaven on earth. When I heard that I began thinking about what that looks like, or should look like. If I am a citizen of heaven, constantly in God's presence, that changes how I think, talk, and act. I should strive to have nothing depart from me unless it is in love. No thoughts, words, or actions without meaning or love. What I would do when I see God face to face should be what I am doing here on earth, because I am already in his presence, and I am a citizen of heaven on earth, awaiting His return. 

I am glad that God showed this to me again early in my trip here because I now have a better idea of how to interact with the people here. Although many times I am not completely sure what they are saying to me or how to say something back to them properly in Spanish, God can use me to show his love to His children, just as Joseph, Adriana, and Eladia show me.

I am excited about the week to come with summer school starting! I am a little nervous, but excited to teach Bible stories to the kids, along with organizing their crafts. I am also looking forward to working with the staff and getting to know them. 

My next post will probably be filled with stories about the kids at summer school...and hopefully some pictures for you all to see what I'm talking about. Thank you for taking the time to read this...I will try to get better at writing these things! 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Is this really happening?

As I sit on my computer this morning, trying to prepare for the trip of a lifetime, I can't help but think "Is this really happening?" God has been working on changing my heart before I have even left for my mission trip to the Dominican Republic. 

It all started some months ago when I was away at school, thinking about what this summer would look like and where I would be able to work, if I could even find a job. I also had the people from my previous trips to the D.R. on my mind, saddened at the thought that I may not ever have the opportunity to go there again for various reasons. I prayed and asked God to give me peace and wisdom about what I would do in the upcoming summer. 

I went to bed and the very next morning I received an email asking me to be a volunteer summer school teacher in the D.R. for about 5 weeks! I immediately wanted to respond and say "YES I'D LOVE TO COME!" but then I thought that maybe this is just what I wanted, and maybe not exactly where God wanted me to be, (although I thought that this was a pretty big sign--I needed a blimp.) So I decided to talk to my parents about it first, thinking that they would probably tell me that I should stay home and work so that I will have some money for the next school year. Once I talked to them about it, I found out that they could not have been more supportive of me going! That was my confirmation that God did open up this opportunity for me to take it. 

So now it is months later, two months into my summer, and I am getting ready to leave in TWO days! God has shown me so much in these past few months alone. I had some nervousness about raising support for my trip, although I knew if God wanted me to go, then he would provide for it. As time before my trip grew shorter I was still in need of a lot of financial support, which made me a little anxious, even though I kept telling myself to trust in Him. I kept thinking that God is just letting me worry a bit just so I get a little slap in the face when it's all over saying "SEE? STOP WORRYING, I'M ALWAYS IN CONTROL. I PROVIDE ALL OF YOUR NEEDS." And He did. He provided, (sign #3).

I love the subtle ways that God shows His power. I am weak and distraught and doubtful, but there is so much beauty in that because my weakness reveals His strength and majesty.

So here I am. Awaiting whatever there is in store for me in these next six weeks, wondering how God will choose to show me more of his character next!

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7