Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas This Year

Christmas time!  How crazy is this?!  My first Christmas away from home....This has been a tough thought for me.  For a long time I let this thought get me down.  I was focusing on what I didn’t have, what I was missing, such as my family, friends, snow, Christmas goodies, and just the Christmas spirit in general.  Chile doesn’t commercialize Christmas like at all, which in a way has been super refreshing.  But at the same time, Christmas feels very small here.  I have just been missing Christmas trees, lights, music, getting gifts for people, snow, and festivities.  Like I said, I was just focusing on everything that I didn’t have.  But there is something that I have been realizing.  This might be the only different type of Christmas I will ever have.  It might be the only Christmas I experience out of the US.  Why am I focusing on the things that I will have most of my life, and not trying to sock up as much cultural spirit as possible?  Plus, when I think about it, I HAVE IT SO GOOD!

For instance, today I went to the post office and picked up a package from home!!!!  I AM SUPER STOKED TO OPEN IT!!  My family is the best for sure.  A piece of home is sitting on my bed.  AHHHH!  Seriously, it just makes me so happy.  And yesterday, we went to Petrohue.  Petrohue is a testimony to God’s greatness.  It’s a river rapid-y place that just screams, “God is huge and awesome!!”  Absolutely beautiful.  The water was so clear and the area was just….incredible.  Ahhh.  Actually, why don’t you take a look for yourself?  Haha.  The pictures don’t even capture the magnificence of it, but I will try to show you a glimpse.  Credit for these photos goes to Clay.  I, of course, forgot my camera.  It wasn’t in my purse like I thought it was.  FAILURE.

Incredible, huh?  Well, it definitely was.  And tonight, we are making cookies, watching a movie, and having a team Christmas night.  Gonna be so fun!  And tomorrow, I GET TO VIDEO CHAT MY FAMILY!!  MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ME :D And on Christmas day, I am going to an island.  Yup, an island.  WHAT?!  WHY AM I SAD ABOUT ANYTHING!???!  My life is so, so blessed.  I am so, so blessed.  And I have absolutely nothing to complain about at all.    
That is one of the big things that has been on my mind lately.  Why is it that it takes me so long to realize these things?  And this holiday is all about Jesus anyway!  He has been showing me more of Himself each day.  Why is it that I haven’t been remembering that the whole point of this holiday goes back to Him?  It’s ridiculous really.  His love is CRAZY.  I have so much to learn.  Thank goodness my God never gives up on me. 
Not very much has happened since last time I posted.  Basically, our normal day looks something like this:
-          8:00- 9:00- Breakfast and Group Devotional
-          9:00- 10:00- Spanish class
-          10:00- 12:00ish- Free time to do whatever
-          12:00ish- 1:30ish- Visit people around the community
-          1:30ish- 2:15ish- Lunch
-          2:15ish- 3:30ish- Run random errands or chill
-          3:30ish- whenever- Visit more people and eat bread :]
-          8:00ish or later- Supper

Now, this varies a little, but in general this is what has been happening for most of December.  After supper, we either have a Bible study with some people from the church or we just chill.  This month, as I think I mentioned before, is all about learning the culture and language.  It has been going really good! We are learning more Spanish every day.  I understand a lot more than I am able to speak, but it’s getting better, slowly but surely.  The people here are so hospitable.  Anywhere we go, we are almost always offered bread and coffee.  And they try to talk slower to us too, which definitely helps in the understanding process.  It’s just a very comfortable culture.  I like it a lot. 

Things have been going really well with our coordinator and his family.  This helps a lot with homesickness actually.  They have taken us in, and I feel like I have inherited 3 more siblings.  It’s really fun.  Just yesterday I got in a huge pillow fight with Nacho, and Jean had to come to my rescue.  We both got our butts kicked.  Yes, pathetic.  He did make my ear bleed though.  I think that is cause for disqualification.  :]

ALSO, another fun fact.  We got to watch Sherlock Holmes….in English!  Made me really, REALLY want to see the new one.  But I don’t think seeing it in Spanish the first time would do me much good :] 

I guess I don’t have very much to write about this time.  SHOCKING, I know.  But I do want to update everyone as much as possible.  I think after the holidays pass, I will have processed more and will have some stories to tell from our adventures.  Thanks again for taking the time to read this though!  You guys are amazing.  And, I have a Christmas present for all of you!  Listen to this song of the post and be blessed :]  It’s called Christmas This Year by Tobymac.  It just my favorite Christmas song to listen to right now.  Happy and upbeat. Enjoy!  God bless!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Can't Get Over You

First of all, I just wanna start out by saying, thank you guys so so much.  I normally end my posts in this way, but I feel that it is very appropriate to start this time.  I have felt so much support throughout this whole experience, but especially this week, you all have been SOOO GREAT in encouraging me.  Seriously, I got so much positive feedback, and it was so good.  I’ve been struggling with homesickness for a little bit now ( which I have been told over and over again is a good thing) and your comments have been so helpful.  To know people care enough to want to know what’s been going on and then to have you guys share how it’s been impacting you personally and your personal struggles.  I just can’t tell you how much it means.  THANK YOU. 

Also, in saying this, if you wish to reach me or just want to catch up and talk, I would LOVE to.  I really enjoy listening I have realized.  Throughout this whole REACH process, it has become more evident to me how much I like to listen to other people and hear about life.  So if you would like prayer for anything or just need to talk, I’d be more than willing to try and help.  Prayer is an area I would really like to grow in during this time too.  I feel like prayer has always been like a list of my problems to God.  And it’s not supposed to be like that.  So I’ve really been trying to grow in this area and stop focusing on how it sounds and just talk to Jesus, my best friend and hero.  ANYWHO.  All of that to say, if you would like to reach me, feel free to email me.  My address is my first and last name at  So if you know that information, feel free to email.  If you don’t know that information, you probably don’t want to email me.  I would prefer email over facebook messages because I am not going to be getting on Facebook nearly as often.  My internet time is limited and facebook is distracting, so I would rather spend most of my time talking to people, and emailing allows me to do that  most efficiently.  So yeah.  Email please.  Also, it may take me a bit to reply to you, but know that I enjoy hearing for you guys and am thinking of you even in the moments of waiting for response.

Also, I am very happy to report that you guys can now comment on my blogs.  Before, this was not possible, so this message is really for those who tried before and were unable.  Thank goodness a computer wiz, aka Beth Hale, taught me some stuff! :]  So yeah.  Feel free to comment!

And now, the song of the post.  I don’t really know why I have a song of the post, but I kinda like it.  Actually, I really like it.  Just a strange, semi-unique thing about my blog.  But anyway.  The song of the post is Can’t Get Over You by Anthem Lights.  Great song and my thoughts exactly recently.  I just can’t get over my big, big God who loves unconditionally.

Since my last post, my homesickness has grown I would say.  But.  It’s good.  I have come to the conclusion that the first month was going to be hard regardless.  New culture, away from home for the longest time of my life, adapting to newness.  Just a tough thing.  But missing Christmas with family has definitely intensified this “loneliness”.  It’s a lot harder than I anticipated.  But at the same time, I know it’s good.  I am being stretched and growing from it.  And along with this, I know that I appreciate my family a whole lot more now.  Although it will be hard throughout the whole stay here, I think it will be a lot easier after December passes. 

Even in my homesickness though, I have found so many things to be thankful for.  For one, TECHNOLOGY IS INCREDIBLE!  I mean.  Emails.  They take seconds to arrive at their destination.  CRAZY!  Secondly, (typing secondly made me think of Mr. Bean and for those of you who understand that, I miss you greatly :]) we have access to the internet pretty much whenever we want.  What a blessing!  And not only these things, but I have received a lot of videos from home.  I am EXTREMELY grateful for these.  It’s so so good to SEE things.  I mean really.  And if anything can top a video, its seeing the other side of the world live through a screen.  I have gotten to video chat twice back home, and it is truly…..I don’t even know.  Its just a blessing. 

So even though I am missing things like Christmas goodies and programs and such, I know that this is a time for me to cling to Jesus because He is really all I need.  And He has blessed me with the ability to communicate back home so easily.  What right do I have to complain about anything?

This week was a more normal week for us.  No trips, just hanging out in our base town.  It’s been really good.  December is the month for us to just really adapt to the culture and observe mainly.  Take everything in and learn the language as much as possible.  And although at sometimes it feels like we aren’t doing much, I keep reminding myself that we are only 2 weeks in and that God is still working.  It’s also a good time to relax for a bit.  In this not so busy time, I have had lots of time to think and process stuff.  This brings me to a new favorite pastime: READING. 

In the past two weeks I have read two books.  Both have been so good.  Really, really good.  And I have realized just how much I love reading.  During high school, I hardly read at all.  It made more sense to me to work ahead in my schoolwork and then I just fell out of the habit and felt I didn’t have time to sit down and read.  But I love it!  And I have found some great truths from reading good books.  The first book, which I think I might have mentioned in another post but I’m not sure, is called The Real Me by Natalie Grant.  So much to learn from it.  It’s about learning to see yourself as God does and the importance of it.  In the book, Natalie shares her own story and struggle with bulimia, but the book talks about a bunch of different struggles that girls especially face.  Self image and confidence is a difficult thing and something I struggle with, so the book was just so good for relating to and learning. 

The book I just finished is called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  Thank you so much Liz S for suggesting this book to me.  LOVED IT.  Couldn’t put it down.  Wow.  And this is the topic that I have been hit with this week.  God’s huge, vast, redeeming love and how I have an obligation and a need to offer this to other people.  Seriously, the book is very…hardcore.  The love that is demonstrated in this book is incredible.  But, I know that this love exists because I have seen it in action.  The love I am talking about is 
selfless and actually appears absurd at times.  It thinks of the other person completely and finds great joy in this.  At the hardest times, when the world would say to drop the person and move on, this love holds on and does the unthinkable.  It provides, cares for, comforts, and pursues.  PURSUES.
In life, when people hurt me and push me away, the last thing I want to do is pursue them and be kind to them.  I mean really, its their problem, right?  And what if they maliciously and intentionally do things to hurt me?  Why would I ever even think of showing love to these people?  It’s pretty simple really.  Jesus would. 

I have seen selfless love demonstrated my entire life.  My parents are a great example of this, and a lot of other adults that I really look up to do a fantastic job of displaying this as well.  Generosity is huge in showing love and compassion on the hurting is key.  But its different when the person is trying to make your life horrible, right?  Wrong.  The love is the same.  Do I show it?  Not a chance.  Do I need to?  DEFINITELY. 

I have seen this type of love in action though.  The person who has been demonstrating it to me probably has no idea she has.  But she is loving someone who honestly, but the world’s standards, doesn’t deserve love at all.  But she loves Jesus and continues to be a light to those around her by the way she lives her life and loves.  It’s truly incredible and supernatural. 

I have been very inspired by this demonstration and this book.  Love has been on my mind lately, and I desire to love in the best way possible.  1 Corinthians 13 sums it up.  So in my endeavor to grasp this love thing, I have decided to memorize this passage.  I want those words to be in my heart forever.  But it doesn’t stop with knowing the words.  I want to GIVE this love.  And it’s going to be a huge challenge, but it’s something that I’m willing and ready to fight for, because in the end, the greatest thing is LOVE. 
These are just a few of my thoughts recently.  Not much else to talk about.  We are getting used to life here.  Eating so much bread and drinking coffee and tea.  Listening to Christmas music on the beach while my skin burns.  Very different from home, but different isn’t necessarily bad.  Just….different :]

Here’s an interesting and totally awesome fact.  All around our little neighborhood, there are these little shops (mercados).  Seriously, like every road has at least one.  Very convenient.  And inside these littler mercados you can find all sorts of goodies.  A really popular thing around here is ice cream bars/popsicles.  You can find them everywhere.  And you can buy them from anywhere between 100-1,000 pesos, depending on the type.  The exchange rate for pesos is roughly 500 to $1.  So 100 pesos is like 20 cents.  STEAL OF A DEAL!  I can get a popsicle and 2 candy bars for a dollar.  And, like I said before, these mercados are everywhere which means easy access and you can go to a different one every time and avoid looking like a pig.  SCORE!  Heehee.  Needless to say, we have been to quite a few mercados :]

Yes, life here is different.  But I am enjoying it and learning so much each day.  So grateful to be here.  Thanks again for your prayers.  Love you guys and God bless!  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Big God

Glory to God.  He is so big.  My God is awesome.  And if you saw what I saw in the past two days, you would be crazy not to agree with me.  Let me back up just a little bit.  But first.  Song of the post is Beautiful Things by Gungor.  So great.  And so true.  Please listen.

But anywho.  On Wednesday afternoon, we (my team and our coordinator) piled into a little van thingy with a friend and his daughter.  So.  8 of us, in a little van made for 5.  2 seats in the front, a mattress in the middle, and a seat for 3 in the back.  And we were all going to a marriage conference that E (our coordinator) was going to speak at.  The conference was 8 hours away.  So as you can imagine, the ride was very interesting.  :]  It’s a time we won’t be forgetting very soon, that’s for sure.  I basically jammed to my Ipod for most of the ride.

We finally got to Concepcion (the town where the conference was) at around 1 in the morning.  Then we of course had bread and coffee with our hosts.  I probably crawled into bed at 210.  Then we had to be up and ready to go by 730.  Not much sleep :]  But, esta bien. 

Then we got to the church, and I expected to see a lot of married couples.  Nope.  Hardly any couples were there actually.  Mostly just young single people.  I was confused at this and so we asked why this was.  Most people who get married here are really young, and the church just wanted to help prepare those interested in getting married before the time came, which I think is very cool.  The only thing is, I couldn’t really understand anything.  Haha.  But, like I said.  I know E, and he is a very wise man.  And a lot of affirmations were coming from the people who did understand.  So whatever the message was, I’m sure it was good. 

Although I didn’t get much from the actual message part of the conference, I had a pretty big God encounter afterwards.  Everyone took away the chairs, and we all stood and prayed.  Some people were going around praying for others, and the pastor was praying the entire time up front.  At this point, I was kind of like, “Ok, God.  What are you trying to say to me?  I don’t know why I am at this marriage conference (especially with how ironic it is, seeing as to how no dating is firmly stressed while in REACH :]), but I know I can learn something from it.”  So as we all started praying, I just felt overwhelmed with God’s love for me.  I mean, I am in Chile.  I am safe.  I have a great family who loves me.  I have support all around.  I am so BLESSED!  And my whole life I have always known that I don’t need anyone else’s love other than God’s.  I mean duh.  But it wasn’t until that afternoon, praying amongst 20 other people who didn’t speak my language that I finally BELIEVED it.  You know?  Like, I finally understand and can buy that.  And its so true!  I don’t know why it has taken me this long. 

Basically, I have finally realized that it’s not about me being with someone who loves me.  It’s about me being someone who loves others.   It’s not about me finding someone who looks out for me and cares for me.  It’s about me finding others who need looked out for and cared for and doing that for them.  I don’t have to look for love any other place!  I have it all.  One of my favorite lyrics of all time is from the song Love is Here by Tenth Avenue North.  It says….Come to the Lover you who want, and you’ll want no more…  So very true!  I don’t know.  It just hit me so hard, and I finally just gave over my plans and desires to Him.  He is in control.

Also, the thing that had been holding me back from coming to REACH in the beginning was my future plans.  I have a little bit of scholarship money that only lasts for 2 years.  But the fact that it carries over is what actually spurred me on to do REACH first.  Otherwise, I highly doubt I would have applied for REACH.  In my head, that wouldn’t have made too much sense.  But with everything I have learned through REACH, I now realize how God doesn’t always make sense to me, but he ALWAYS know better than I do.  ALWAYS.  I am gonna go wherever and to whatever He calls me.  I declared that while praying in that same situation on that Thursday afternoon.  I’m ready to face the future with Jesus, in whatever He calls me to pursue. 

Now, with the fear of a crazy, weird future out of me, a new struggle has occurred.  It was really hard saying goodbye to my family for these 9 months.  And it hasn’t been the easiest on them either.  I don’t like having to miss their lives and not being able to experience things with them.  But I also know that this is where I am supposed to be, and God has been doing amazing things in me during this time.  And I had been thinking that it would only be for 9 months.  Then I would go to college.  That only made sense right?  Wrong.  What if God calls me to leave again next year?  What if He calls me to a place that takes me away from home again?  Yes, I am very willing to face that adventure and challenge with the One who will never leave me.  But now the struggle of missing family looms ahead.  At this point, I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for me.  I’ve been praying about it a LOT, but I think this is where God wants me right now.  Trusting Him to provide me with what I need, when I need it. 

I also don’t want to be praying selfishly.  I want the will of God to be done with my life.  I really do.  I just don’t know how to pray that when I really don’t wanna miss my sister’s senior year or anymore of Scamp’s bball games.  At the same time, there is no way I wanna do anything that God does not have planned.  I KNOW that the rewards are way greater when you follow God’s call.  I BELIEVE that with all my heart.  Honestly.  I guess I just really want to know what God’s plan is for me so I can prepare myself for whatever is coming my way.  But.  That isn’t happening. 

So yeah.  These are some of the thoughts I have been dealing with.  And now, how do I find satisfaction in all of this?  I mean, how can I be content in this?  I know God has my back.  I know He only wants what is best for me.  And I want what He wants.  I guess this is where TRUST comes into play.  FAITH that He will guide me and show me the path when He sees fit. 

Sorry.  This is kind of an all over the place post.  And a lot has just been moved from my brain onto this page.  Scary thought I know.  Just kinda spitting out my thoughts.  I’ve really appreciated the feedback so far, and if anyone has any thoughts on any of this, feel free to share :]  Also, continued prayer for courage, team unity, and the hearts of the people we are building relationships would be GREAT!  Very much appreciated. 

ANYWHO.  After the conference, we went back to our host’s house for a barbeque.  SO MUCH GOOD FOOD.  The meat was AMAZING.  Mmmmmm.  So delicious.  While we ate, we watched the Universidad de Chile and Ecuador’s Liga Team soccer game.  E is a very big fan of Universidad de Chile.  And me, being the stubborn, stupid kid I am who has been to Ecuador once, decided to cheer for Liga in this game, just to get on E’s nerves.  Brilliant, I know.  Well then, E decided to make it a bit more interesting and asked if I wanted to bet on the game.  If my team won, he would jump into the ocean with all of his clothes on, but if his team won, I would jump.  And guess what.  I accepted this pointless bet.  And guess what else.  Liga lost.  Sigh.  So, in the next week, I will be jumping into the ocean.  I’m sure pictures will be following as well. 

On Friday morning, we left to return to Alerce.  Unfortunately, my stomach decided to act up, and I felt pretty crummy.  But fortunately, we stopped to do something at the bank which took close to 2 hours.  I stayed in the van with Beth, and the others explored the city.  There was a free bathroom (rare here) in the parking garage, and it was very close to our parked tiny van thingy.  And God worked out the timing for me to get through the locked doors with other bathroom goers at just the right times.  It turns out that I threw up finally, which made me feel a lot better.  At that time, I really really missed my mom.  All I wanted was my bed and her, and I got a crammed vehicle and a public bathroom.  But.  I did definitely see ways in which God was providing for me during that time, and I am so thankful.  He has the best timing. 

Also, on this trip we stopped at two very awesome locations.  First, we went to the beach on Thursday night.  It was…GORGEOUS.  Really.  Unfortunately I didn’t have my hat or my camera (at either of the locations), but my teammates had the camera part covered.  There were mountains all around the coast of the ocean.  So beautiful.  We climbed up part of a rock formation, and the view was just incredible.  Honestly.  It’s hard for me to understand how you can’t believe in God when you see stuff like that.  Just totally incredible. 

Then, on the way back on Friday, we stopped at a waterfall.  It was incredible, too.  So powerful and captivating at the same time.  Beauty in a very intense form.  Pictures will also be coming from that I believe. 

When we finally got home after another 8 hours in the van, we ate dinner and then slept for a very long time.  It was wonderful.  :] 

OH!  And how could I forget.  Like I had mentioned before, us girls have our own apartment.  This means that we must build our own fire in our house which has proven to be very difficult because our house is kinda of damp and our wood is also.  AND we only have matches to work with right now.  Basically, we fight to get a fire started for about an hour and a half every time before it starts running good.  And then, we go to bed or leave and by the time we get back, its out again.  Sigh.  Endless struggle at this point.  By the time I come home, I will be a PRO at fires.  This I will make sure of.  Which reminds me.  Dad, we need to get a firepit :]  Anywho.  I helped in starting our very first fire in the house!  I was pretty dang excited.  My first fire ever actually.  How exciting I now. 

Again, this is pretty long.  And I’m sorry.  But the more I do this, the more I realize that I am just long winded and process better after throwing my thoughts out in front of me.  So this is probably how it’s going to be for the most part.  Just thought I should warn you.  Thanks so much for your feedback and prayers though.  Fuels me to keep posting and updating and really to just keep striving to learn.  I love you all.  And just so you know, I am mourning here in Chile over the loss that our Buckeyes took yesterday.  You are not alone!  :]  But I am.  My team does not share the same views on teams as me unfortunately.  Just thought I would throw that in here.  ANYWHO.  Thanks for supporting!  Much love.  Always.  God bless.

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Beginnings

Hemos llegado!  We have arrived.  Wow.  It has all gone so fast.  It’s really hard to believe that we have been here for 6 days, and at the same time in some ways it feels like it has been a lot longer that we have been here.  But before I get too far along, the song of the post is This is Your Life by Switchfoot.  It’s actually the perfect song for what I have been learning.  God is really speaking this into my life right now.  Hopefully it can speak to you too. 
We left for the airport at 230 on Tuesday afternoon.  The whole process of saying goodbye is sucky to begin with, and by the time Tuesday rolled around, it felt like that is all I had been doing for the past 3 days.  NOT. A. FAN.  It was especially hard to make the transition from saying goodbye to my family and being quite depressed from that and then being all cheery and talkative with my friends from the RIC 2 seconds later.  But the support and love I had felt over those past 3 days (and really the whole week of being home) was overwhelmingly wonderful.  I really don’t know how to thank you all enough for showing interest in my life and just not forgetting that I still exist on this earth.  It means more than my words can say to just hear from you people from back home.  Your letters, notes, facebook messages, and wall posts are so special to me.  I just really appreciate it.  Thanks so much.  ANYWHO.  With all this love I was feeling, it made it even more hard to say goodbye.  But, I know that this is where I am supposed to be, and I am just so blessed to have people like you guys in my life.  I’m sorry if I didn’t have much time to get to talk with you all or even see some of you.  My schedule was kind of hectic, but I really do love you all.  Thanks for loving me.  All of this rambling to say, goodbyes were really hard.  I am just now finding time to process through them all.  I feel like I am finally finding a healthy place of emotion through it all.  I had a moment to myself today while we were stuck in traffic on a bus, and it was just so good for me.  So although it may not have appeared to be that hard for me to leave, just know that it was and that I am very grateful for your friendship.  Tears say a lot….especially for me. 
Moving on.  So, our flight left at 530 from Columbus, and we got to Miami around 830 I believe.  Everything went very smoothly which was a definite answer to prayer.  Praise the Lord.  We had some Chinese, laughs, and fun while waiting for our next flight that left at around midnight.  Also, I got to see a bit of the OSU vs. Duke bball game so that was awesome :]  Then we boarded and were on that plane for about 11 hours.  Quite a long time but I was able to get a little sleep while sitting between Beth and Jean.  We arrived in Santiago, Chile on Wednesday morning and had a slight layover.  The timing for all our flights was perfect.  Jesus was definitely carrying us through our travels.  At about 230 on Wednesday we arrived in Puerto Montt, Chile.  DESTINATION REACHED! 
Through all of this, I was very excited to be on the way to what I had been waiting for for so long, but it didn’t actually hit me that I was beginning this adventure until about a day and a half of already being here.  It was all a bit like a dream and didn’t seem real for a little while.  ANYWHO.  We arrived, and E and two of his friends were there to meet us and drive us back to his house in Alerce.  The landscape of Chile is beautiful in a very countrified way.  For you guys at home, just to give you a little feel of how it is where I am, it is very hilly and mountainous.  Not jungle-like, but more of a farming feel.  It rains a lot, but not really in the stormy sense.  Just lots of rain.  Pretty breezy, but not too cold.  The mountains and volcanoes surrounding our area are beautiful.  I will hopefully be able to upload pictures soonish. 
E and his family are wonderful.  They are so hospitable and considerate.  And it is so evident that they love the Lord.  They have a lot of wisdom.  Although they speak very little English, we have been able to get by quite well in understanding each other.  As they help us with our Spanish, we are able to help them with English.  I like it a lot.  The kids are awesome.  Just a really great family.  It hasn’t even been a week, and I already feel like we are very accepted a part of a group with them.  They are just so sacrificial and loving.  Their house is not very big, but they still found a way to give us all a bed to sleep on while we (the girls) wait for our apartment.  Today we will move into that which makes me feel better.  Less intrusive and better for all the kids to be able to have some space.  I am super grateful for them though.  I cant wait to see what God has to teach us and me personally through them. 
Thursday we went into town and got some money exchanged and just did some necessary errands.  It was good to be able to see the area.  That night, some people from the church came over and welcomed us.  It was a lot of fun.  I love the culture here.  Everyone is so friendly, and they make you feel valuable even when you have just met.  As most of you know, I am not too fond of hugging and unnecessary touchiness between people.  It just isn’t my thing.  But, I have gotten SO much better with hugging after coming out of DTS.  Hugs are still not my favorite thing in the world, but I do appreciate them a lot more.  In saying this, it wont come as a shock to you to know that the whole “greeting each other with a kiss thingy” isn’t exactly my thing either.  But I will say, I really do love the intentional welcoming of everyone you meet.  It’s very refreshing and enlightening.
On Friday morning, Eduardo led the way for our team to travel to Chiloe and some smaller islands surrounding it.  And here is where the real ….experience…..begins. 
Before we even left, we were told that we would not be taking showers while we were there for the weekend.  Not a big deal, but this fact definitely plays into the rest of the weekend.  So anywho, we caught a bus around 10 that morning and headed towards Puerto Montt.  Then we walked to the local bus station and waited to board a much bigger bus.  2 decks!  That was fun.  And it was very comfortable.  We watched Just Go With It in Spanish (very funny to see Adam Sandler with a Spanish voice btw :]).  We were on that bus for about 4 hours.  Then we caught another bus that we rode for about an hour.  Finally we were dropped off and we walked for about 20 minutes on a gravel road to a small church in the mountains.  We only stayed there for a little bit and then left for a different house where we would be sleeping for the night.  To get to this house, we walked for about 30 minutes through the woods on a small trail.  It was a good little trek with all of our luggage and jackets on. 
The house we stayed at was small but homey.  We just chilled that night.  The next morning was when the fun began. 
The whole time we were preparing to come to Chile, we had heard that it rains a lot in this area of Chile.  But up until this point in our stay, we hadn’t experienced any rain.  That changed.  On Saturday morning, we had a delicious meal of chicken, potatoes and rice.  So good.  Then we got ready to leave for the other island.  During this time, it had been raining on and off…basically just a steady drizzle with random fits of actual rain.  So we began to walk.  We hiked for a bit through a small trail in the woods and then found the road that led to the dock.  This took us a little over an hour.  The whole time it was drizzling/raining, so very early on we all gave up on staying dry.  When we finally got to the dock, we were pretty wet.  Looking pretty good if I do say so myself.  Just kidding. 
At this point in my story, I feel the need to admit my wrong thinking to my father.  You were right, Dad.  You see, before I left, my dad was trying to get me to buy a covering for my backpack to protect it from rain.  Me, begin my stubborn self, very adamantly told him that I wouldn’t need it.  I was wrong.  My stuff was wet.  I should have never doubted you, Dad.  :] 
Anywho.  We finally got on to a small boat and rode it for about an hour to the small island we were going to stay at.  The funny thing is that the boat probably smelled better than me at this point.  Not a good thing.  Then we walked to a small Baptist church.  The whole point of this trip was to attend an all-night service of worship, preaching, and prayer.  They fed us, and while we waited for the service to start, we visited some friends of Eduardo and walked along the beach.  Also, I learned how to skip rocks on the water!  I’m terrible at it, but I know how and did it a couple of times :]  Thanks Jeano. 
The service was supposed to start at midnight and go until 6 in the morning, but instead, it started a little after 9.  There was lots of singing and prayer going on, but we couldn’t really understand any of it.  This fact also played into how the night went.  It was really cool to see the people get into the whole experience with loud singing, Amens, and clapping, but after about 2 hours, I was ready for bed.  Let me give you a quick recap of the situation:

1.       Traveling a lot the past 2 days….tired

2.       No shower…..very smelly

3.       Rain…..wet

4.       Everything in Spanish….hard to pay attention

Basically, we were greasy, gross and grimy…..all in one!  And not only did we look pretty gross, we didn’t smell good either.  Looking nasty is one thing.  Smelling nasty is not good for anyone, including the strangers around you.  And by the time 12 o’clock rolled around, I was just ready to go to bed.  There’s something about being tired for me that I just really have a hard time dealing with.  And then to throw in the fact that I couldn’t understand anything anyways, it felt pretty pointless for me to be awake at that point.  All I could think about was my desire to sleep.  I felt gross, and that isn’t fun to begin with.  Then throw in a lack of sleep, sore backs from hiking in the rain with a full backpack, and feeling like I am once again being disrespectful to the people around me, and you get a very grouchy girl.  Needless to say, I was dozing off by the end.  I tried to stay awake, but with my terrible attitude, there was no way I was going to be able to.  THEN, right after the service ended, we left to travel all the way back home.  I just had a terrible outlook on it.  3 days without showering, smelly, tired, cold, and grouchy.  Not a good combination. 

 I now realize how terrible of an attitude I had, and I really regret it.  You see, the day before all of this happened, I was writing in my journal and praying, and the thing that kept coming to my mind was just being content in every circumstance.  I just really prayed for that….just really desired it.  And you know what?  God gave me the opportunity to grab onto it and really take it to heart, and I failed.  While we were walking in the rain, I thought of it as a fun little challenge.  I felt “tough” and adventuresome.  Then we got to the boat, and it was cold and smelly, but still, I felt like it was an adventure and kinda exciting.  But as time went on and more things kept happening, my attitude got worse and worse.  My focus came off of serving Jesus and onto myself and my comfort.  And as I processed through some things on the bus, I realized how I had been given the perfect opportunity to be content in every circumstance and how I had wasted it.  Lessons in the process of being learned.  I feel so foolish now when I think back over it.  I mean, Paul, a true man of God, was beaten, imprisoned, and just facing every hardship you can think of, and he still praised God through it all.  And there I was, in a church service, feeling sorry for myself.  HOW PATHETIC!   

But thankfully, I serve a God of grace.  He never turns me away, no matter how bratty I am.  He works on us, and He redeems.  He brings challenges to grow us.  And for this, I am very blessed and grateful.  I continue to learn and have my eyes opened.  And my prayer is to change.  Not just act different, but BE different.  To be transformed from the inside out.  And I’m very excited to see how He chooses to bring about these changes.  I know its going to be challenging and difficult, but I want….NEED….the changes.  No more gunk.  I want to be clean and effective. 

This was a really long post, I realize.  And I’m sorry for all the detail. But you know, I found it wholesale in bulk at a really good price, so I figured why not? (thanks Clay for this input) But seriously, I just kept typing as my thoughts came.  Thanks again for all the support and love you guys have given.  And thank you so much for the prayers.  I can say with certainty that they are felt and work.  If you think about it, you can continue to pray for our time here.  The people here are wonderful.  Pray for open hearts and minds, team unity, and good attitudes through it all.  God is working.   

Also, if any of you wish to reach me personally, I would be more than happy to “talk”.  You can message me through facebook to get my email address.  Also, I know our address now so you can message me or EMAIL me if you want it.  I would love to keep up with all of you, and I will do my best, but it’s also good to hear from you guys to remind me.  I love hearing about home. 

And one more random thought.  THEY HAVE OREOS HERE!!!!  Seriously, I was so excited to find this out.  They taste a wee bit different and are a little bit smaller than Ohio Oreos, but they are Oreos just the same.  Makes me very happy.  A little taste of home…..literally.  :] 

Much love and God bless. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Wow.  It is my last night at home for 6 months.  The last night I will sleep in my house.  This is crazy, terrifying, sad, exciting, emotional, and exhilarating all at the same time.  At the moment, my mind is going a thousand different directions.  I still have a lot of little things to get done before I leave tomorrow.  So as a way of getting a grip on what's going on, I decided to share a short post and organize my thoughts.

Song of the post is Tears of the Saints by Leeland.  Been stuck in my head all day.  A song of passion for the lost.  Let's do something about it.  Let's lead them home.

Its been a wonderful, tough week.  I have LOVED being home.  It's been so good.   But now I realize that this feeling of being home does not even compare in the least to what it will feel like to be home eternally.  It's going to be....INCREDIBLE.  And it's our job to invite people to that home too.  We need to lead them home.  The home that we never have to leave.  The home where there is no saying goodbye.  The eternal home with my Father.

I hate goodbyes.

I'm also not a fan of crying.  It just isn't fun for me.  Some people say it makes them feel better.  And you know.  That might be true sometimes.  But a lot of times for me, it makes me wanna just sob some more and then sleep forever.  I hate being sad.  But I guess its a good thing I'm sad to be leaving.  Just so hard.  But its already started.  My little sister made sure of that.  The little pipsqueak had me crying while I did my hair this morning.  Not cool.

As I write this post, I find myself reflecting on all the good times I've had in the past 3 months.  With all the things I've learned and the amazing people I have gotten to know and then being able to come home and feel more love in 8 days than some people feel in a lifetime, I am overwhelmed by how blessed I am.  I don't know why I am this fortunate when so many other people are not.  It's something that I will never understand I guess.  But what I do know is that since I am so blessed, I can be a blessing.  That is my prayer.  That I could be a blessing to those I meet.  I want to help those around me and be moved with compassion to act. 

Today and tomorrow have been and will be emotional.  Tears will be shed, I have no doubt.  And its good, as much as I hate to do it.  But, I want to have tears, not only because I am saying goodbye for a little while, but because I am so passionate for the kingdom of God that it breaks my heart to see the lost.  Being sad is not a bad thing.  But the fact that I am dwelling on my sadness is a bad thing.  Yes, I am leaving for 6 months.  It feels like a long time if I compare it to days or weeks.  But really, in light of eternity, 6 months is nothing.  Really.  And as my soul is finding peace in all of this, I realize I have more courage to face what is coming.  6 months.  I can do this.  My team can do this.  God can do this.  And if God is for us, who can ever stop us? 

Thank you so much for your prayers.  I have felt them, and they work.  I honestly feel at peace right now, and I know there have been prayers going up for me.  Please pray for my family, boldness, unity, compassion, and for God's guidance in everything we do.  It's been quite the journey.  And as it continues, I'm buckling up for some adventure.  God bless. 

Monday, November 21, 2011


This is Home by Switchfoot.  Great song.  check it out.  I was obviously drawn to pick this song because I am home for the week, but its not talking about my earthly home.  Just a really good song that was picked as the song of this post because it sparked a desire to be home and feel loved.  .....Yeah. 

But yeah!  I can't believe DTS is already over.  In some ways the 3 months feel like I have been gone a really long time, but in other ways it feels like I shouldn't be leaving the RIC yet.  Just as my perception of time is all over the place, so are my emotions.  At this point, I don't even know what to think.  A BIG part of me is so so SO glad to be home.  Another part of me is sad to have left all my other friends that I have lived with for 3 months, especially knowing that I won't see most of them for very much longer in my life at all.  Terrible thought.  Another part of me is so super pumped for Chile and the adventure that awaits me.  And still another part is pretty nervous about being shipped off to Chile without my family and only knowing 4 other people.  My emotions are going crazy, and I'm really trying to not let that get me stressed out.  I want to enjoy my time at home. 

I love my family SO much.  And in just 2 days, I have felt SOOOOO loved and blessed beyond belief.  My family and friends are the greatest.  Quick shoutout to my sisters.  Kloe, you are my precious baby sister.  Yes, I made you sound like a newborn just now, but my time away from you has shown me how much you mean to me.  You are a mini me.  You make me so proud, Scamp.  I want you to know that.  And you are more aggressive on the bball court than me and Kaly combined.  Seriously, I can't wait to watch you on TV someday :]  I love you so much, Bud.  Always.  Keep working hard at everything you do and love Jesus and others always.  I miss you already, and I still have a week before I leave.  Kaley, you are my best friend.  No question.  You are one of the few people who can make me laugh no matter the situation.  You know me....really know me.  And you care about others more than yourself.  You are sweet, kind, beautiful, hilarious, clever, and just down right fun to be around.  Don't know what I would do without you, KK.  You inspire me.  Keep allowing God to mold you, and He's gonna take you on an adventure bigger than you ever dreamed of.  Love you always. 

Anyways.  DTS flew by.  The last week kinda feels like a dream actually.  Friday was especially crazy.  I had to pack all of my life up from the last 3 months.  And man, that was a job.  I have accumulated a lot of stuff since I arrived at the RIC.  It was crazy.  I was flying around, shoving things in my suitcases, until I got to the point of not being able to shove anymore in.  At this point, I resorted to grabbing trashbags and flinging random things into them.  Needless to say, I had to take multiple trips up the stairs with all of my junk.  And since I had so much stuff, I couldn't pack it all fast enough and had to do some major cleaning in the middle of it all.  Basically, I was flying around the entire morning, trying to get everything done as fast as possible.  CRAZINESS.  Then amidst a few random other events that took place in the afternoon, I found myself heading to the Commissioning service that evening.  SOOOO GOOD!  Worship was incredible and the message that followed aligned perfectly with it.  I just felt at peace during the whole thing.  And then we were all prayed over by the people that love us, and it was just so incredible.  I just felt like God was right there, holding my hand through the whole thing.  Goodbyes are a hard thing, and I'm really not looking forward to saying them anymore, but through it all, I know I have Jesus to cling to.  I never have to say goodbye to Him.  HALLELUJAH. 

Saturday=PHENOMENAL.  Basically, the whole day was a hugungous birthday present to me from my incredible sister.  Buckeye game with really good seats and a bunch of energy.  So fun.  Would have been a bit better if we had won, but, whatever.  Still had a blast.  Then right after, we walked to the Newport and witnessed a fanfreakingtastic concert by none other than TWENTYONE PILOTS.  Sold out show.  We were there.  WOOT.  Crazy, original, creative, spectacular.  Doesn't get much better than that.  Thanks so much, Mcblobbers.  For real.  You are the best.  :] Then some late night PB time with Miss Ash.  Pretty fabulous day if you ask me. 

Sunday.  A week before the sobbing fest.  One week.  Wow.  Its hard to get my mind around that.  Its like my head knows it, but my heart doesnt realize it yet.  Seems to be the case in a lot of areas of my life.  But I'm working on the heart part.  All I really know is that attending my own church felt SO good.  I really do miss Sunday mornings there.    The sermon was about being thankful, and it was really great.  I picked up so many good points from it that I think I will share some :]
- Love never fails.  God is love.  My God never fails. 
- I WILL cast my worries on Him because he CARES for ME.
- There are no big things for my ENORMOUS God.  A lot of times people wonder if God really cares about the "small" things in life.  Well, what do we think God considers "BIG"?  Nothing can stump or trip up my God.  He's GINORMOUS.  He cares about us.  That's all we need to know. 
- Philippians 4:6-7- do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
           *This really stuck out to me because I am finding myself being very anxious about things lately
- Rejoice in all circumstances.  God is good ALL the time.  Suffering is the megaphone to the world for what is really inside of me. 
- What am I broadcasting?  Thankfulness?
-God is love.  I believe that the Holy Spirit is joy then.  This is just a thought, and I may not technically be right, but in my mind at this point, I believe it to be true.  If we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, I believe we should be filled with joy.  If we are truly living out life in tune with the Holy Spirit, we should be filled with joy, no matter what.  Joy is not the same as happiness.  Its not based on the circumstance, but on Who I am living for.  I dont know.  Just some of my thoughts. 
- Often times, we put a lot of emphasis on and take a lot of pride in our family name.  We want our name to be honored and respected.  People say, "That's the (insert last name here) in you!" when you do something.  Well, we should be living in such a way that people say, "That's the JESUS in you!"  Great point, Rick. 

Just so many good things.  Felt so refreshing to be in a familiar place again.  A place called HOME.  A place filled with family and friends who love me and care about me.  GENUINELY care.  And it is so good for me to feel that and to know that although life is moving right along without me in it, I am still cared for. 

I got to see my sister ball it up all day too.  She is a BEAST.  The kid is so aggressive and quick.  She makes me so proud.  I'm so happy she has the opportunity to play the sport she loves at a young age to get GOOD.  I'm just sad that I won't be able to see her play for most of the season.  She's a baller. 

Now comes the time for shopping and packing for random necessities.  And the time to hang out with the people who have influenced me and made me the person I am today.  Family, friends, friends who are like family.  Everyone.  Time to laugh and not get stressed over the little things.  Time to drink in the fact that I am here now.  Time to prepare of the incredible adventure awaiting me.  Time to grab ahold of every opportunity.  Time to rejoice and be thankful.  And time to LOVE no matter what.  Prayers would be appreciated, not only for me, but also for my family.  Prayers for peace and courage and just a big trust in God for protection and comfort.  Love you all.  Thanks for everything.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sum Up

Ok.  So first off, this post is way overdue once again.  I'm just so bad at this.  I do love blogging, but when so much time has passed before I get around to it, it gets a little overwhelming.  So I think I will just do a little overview of what we have been taught.  Basically, I'll just post some quotes that have really stuck out to me in sessions.  Very cool concepts.

But first.  Song of the post......Boasting by Lecrae.  First time I heard it was today actually, and I loved it right away :]  Great message. Written by Lecrae.  Enough said.

Our session on discipleship was AWESOME:
- We don't make disciples; Jesus does.
- Jesus speaks to US.  Always the Word of God, but He knows what speaks to us personally.  He spoke fishing to the fisherman.  He will do the same for you and your interests.
- Jesus doesn't ask us to change the world.  He just asks us to do the little things, like going the extra mile.
*I was very challenged in this session.  The speaker was just so good.  His name was Bill, and he was just a really wise dude.  He said, "Don't lose your voice to the world because you settle for mediocre.  Be EXCELLENT." Challenging.

We've been learning a lot about different cultures and how we should approach and adapt to them.  It has been so eye-opening.  One thing that really stuck out to me was how the rest of the world views Christians.  We are seen as being very arrogant and ignorant.  These characteristics come across to people in the way that we go about ministering a lot of the time.  People say we don't try and learn about their culture, but that we just write off their beliefs without even seeing what they are about.  From one lady's experience, her Christian friends invited her to a Bible study, and she went, to see what it was all about.  But when she tried to  get them to come to the temple with her, they declined and didn't even try to see where she was coming from.  That was definitely a new perspective for me.  I needed to hear it.  I don't want to stunt God's work because I come across as rude and disrespectful.  Something to think about.

Another thing that was really eye-opening was World Awareness Week.  Monday- Thursday, we were only given rice and beans to eat at every meal, and we were not allowed to snack.  We could not use the internet and had to take cold bucket showers.  We had to do our laundry by hand, and on the last day, the electricity and our mattresses were taken away from us.  We ended the week with a meal where we had to play certain roles that were randomly picked.  There were 5 classes: high, middle, working low, nonworking low, and beggar.  And we got served based on our class.  I was in the working low class.  We ate on the floor and had  the standard rice and beans to eat with water to drink.  It was pretty intense.  The higher classes ignored us and fancy foods.  And the lower classes had dirty water, rice, or nothing at all.  The statistics that we heard throughout the week and that night were.......they were terrible.  It really hit me hard.  We are SO blessed and  so much of the time, we are the ungrateful ones.  I don't want to go back to my calloused heart.  I want to truly see the needs around me and share love with them...the True Love.

Man.  I just feel like so much has happened!  I've been really challenged recently though, to step out of my comfort zone and put myself out there.  I tend to be pretty quiet here, and while that is not a bad thing necessarily, I sometimes make it a hindrance to my testimony.  Like, I hide behind my shyness?  Yeah, thats the only way I know how to put it really.  I dont know.  I just want to be bold for Christ and to make that happen I need to be willing to set aside my fear of what others think and step out.  Be outgoing and friendly with people.  Just simple things like that that I can practice.  So yeah.  That's something that I am really working on right now.

God is not passive, for love is never passive, but always passionate; and passion always leads to action.  Just one of the many powerful lines from the book Soul Cravings by Erwin Raphael McManus.  Its a great book and I highly recommend it.  I'm reading it right now, and I'm learning so much.  Yes.  Go read it.

Throughout all this learning and growing, we have had some really fun times.  Especially this past weekend.  On Friday night we had the Thanksgiving Extravaganza.  We got all dressed up and fancy and had some really delicious food.  Good banquet.  Throughout the dinner, we played some games, and it was just really fun.  Then we took a GAZILLION pictures.  Not gonna lie.  It was probably a GAZILLION.  And after we had captured the moment of us being all spiffed up and stuff, we had a big picture/video scavenger hunt to complete the night.  Lots of laughs and funny moments.  Good times.  Saturday morning, the girls blessed the guys with a big breakfast/movie time in the big classroom.  Very chill, relaxing time.  Everyone left happy.  And then a bunch of us went to play sand volleyball.  I was in the cold for like 3 hours straight, but it was SO FUN.  Made me miss playing with my team back at home.  Miss and love you, girls!  You guys made me so proud this year.  Just wish I could have seen you play.

I dont know.  I just feel like so much is happening and going on right now that its hard for me to sum up things I've learned.  Just growing a lot in where I am placing my identity and really trying to step out in that.  I want to be seen as my own person.  Not just a tag along.  And just trying to find my place in that.  The book Soul Cravings is really helpful and thought-provoking, and I'm in the middle of that, so a lot of processing is going on in my head from that.  I am just really terrible at expressing myself. And I'm sorry.  Hopefully I improve.  Just a little insight into my life and whats been going on recently.

I come home in 4 days and leave for Chile in 15.  About ready to FREAK OUT!!!  In a good way tho.  I'm super stoked to come home and see my family and friends and just chill, but at the same time I am really not looking forward to ending my time here with these people that I have gotten so close to in the last 3 months.  It's hard to leave when its the last time I will get to hang out with most of the people here.  But at the same time I am SUPER STOKED to come home and be normal again.  My time at home will be crazy tho.  Its Thanksgiving, my birthday, I need to pack and buy things for Chile, and see all my friends and family.  Gonna be so busy and chaotic, and I can't wait :]  Bring it on, break.  Bring it on.  And.  I am super pumped for Chile as well.  Mostly just excitement but sort of nervous too.  Nervous because I know I'm gonna miss my family a lot.  I already miss them, and I'm 20 minutes away from home.  So that makes me a bit....nervous I guess.  Otherwise, I am so pumped to go!!  CHILE!!!!  YAY!

Also, some food for thought.  It's not about the number itself but how you view yourself when you look in the mirror.  That is all I will say on the matter.  It just sounded so wise coming from my mouth :]

Thanks for all the support, you guys.  Honestly, it has been crazy.  I got a lot of mail over these past few weeks, and it has been such an encouragement!  Just knowing that people back home care and want to know about what I have been doing and in return hearing about life at home has been the biggest blessing.  Also, I raised all of my support and I can't thank you guys enough!  You are so awesome.  Can't wait to see everyone on break and talk with everyone.  Gonna be such a good time.  Thanks again for caring.  Praying for ya.  God bless.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


This past week/ weekend has been......very different for me.  And its actually kinda hard to explain what all has been going on.  Nothing bad, just different.  And not really hard, just not easy.  So yeah.  Prepare for a little insight into the randomness and craziness of my brain :]

 But first!  Song of the post is Your Love Never Fails by Jesus Culture.  Amazing song.  Listen to it.  See.  I made it easy :]

Basically, God has just really been working on my heart and attitude.  I feel like He is asking me, "What are you thinking about, Kirsten?  What is important to you?" On Sunday night, we had a different sort of worship time then normal.  It was complete silence.  For an hour and a half, no one said anything to each other.  We were just supposed to pray and listen to what God was saying to us.  Very....different.  Hard and convicting, but good at the same time.  That's when God showed me where I was placing my focus and how I was worrying about things and thinking on unimportant things too much.  So that was on my mind a lot this week.  I'm growing. 

Monday and Tuesday our sessions were on spiritual warfare.  Our speaker, Conrad Eash, REALLY knows what he is talking about in this area.  It was crazy.  Some of the things he has experienced are just really crazy.  I guess I have not been around much spiritual warfare stuff, so it was just really really eye opening.  We were taught ways to fight it and just deal with it appropriately.  THEN, we had a time of praying for each other and for the different things that we were going through.  It was AWESOME.  I was praying for some other people and some really cool things were happening, and then Tina turned and said, "We need to pray for Kirsten.  I just really feel like we should pray for her."

So, they started praying for me.  And God was definitely speaking through them!  SO COOL.  Its like they saw right through me.  They prayed against depression on outreach and against worry and intimidation.  AHHHH.  It was just really awesome.  Exactly what I needed to hear.  And it was so awesome to see how God speaks through people. 

Today, we had a really good speaker as well.  His name is Galen Burkholder, and he is an incredible man of God.  He spoke on World Realities and compassion and stuff.  It really hit me.  Just hearing about different regions and cultures is really interesting for me.  And seeing how much we have in comparison with others really hits me hard.  I want to help.  I wanna make a difference.  It was just really inspiring.  Still processing through it obviously.  Hopefully talk more about it later.

This weekend we have Silent Retreat.  Basically, for a little over 24 hours, we must be silent and fast.  Its a time for us to just reflect on God's presence and relax.  We dont really have a schedule, and its just time to be with God.  I'm excited for it and at the same time I dont really know if I'm gonna like it.  It's weird.  But I think it will be really good.  Just pray that God will really speak during this time and that I get a lot of stuff accomplished and just refocus. 

So yeah.  I feel really rushed right now.  So I apologize for this rushed post.  But I wanted to fill you guys in before this weekend because I feel like I will have a lot to talk about after it from the retreat.  Thanks for all the support.  I have gotten a lot of treats and mail from good ol' Plain City this week and I cant tell you how much it means.  It just makes my day.  You guys are awesome.  God bless!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Take My Life (Here Am I)

Wow.  It has been SOOOOOO long!  Things have been pretty crazy.  Lots of busy schedules and things to do.  But it feels good to reminisce through all the memories now! 

The song of this post is Take My Life with Chris Tomlin's spin on it.  SO GOOD!  Yes, Mom.  Listen to this song.  :]  Love you by the way!  heehee.  But really.  The song has just really spoken to me over the past couple of weeks.  We did it for our chapel, and the lyrics are just so powerful.  I want my life to be all for Him.  Let God use it for whatever He wants.  Here's the link:

So, the last time I wrote, I believe I was just about ready to go home.  That feels like so long ago now!  I am really gonna try to update this at least once a week from now on tho, if at all possible.  Going back home was so great tho.  It was fantastic seeing a bunch of my friends and family again.  The time felt really short, but it was so good.  I just loved hearing about everyone's life and how things have gone for everyone.  I miss hearing about the normal things in life.  Well, the things that used to be really normal.  So, the time with people was really, REALLY good for me.  Loved it. 

Also, before I go any farther, just let me apologize for rambling and telling pointless details from life here.  Since it has been so long since I last posted (which I am very sorry for), I feel like the memories are going to come back to me very sporadically.

But anyway.  A LOT has happened since visitor's weekend.  I mean A LOT.  The week after that weekend all of our sessions were about figuring out our personalities and what our spiritual gifts are.  It was a pretty eye-opening week.  I learned so much about myself and how that affects how I interact with other people.  It was actually the beginning of me understanding how I needed to change my attitude and view of a lot of things.  Basically, it was a really challenging and insightful week.  Great information to take in right before we left for Practicum. 

Before I get to that part of the last 3 weeks though, I can not leave out one of the coolest nights I have experienced in a long time.....THE LECRAE CONCERT!!!!  Yes, it was incredible.  Honestly, it is in the top 3 concerts I have ever been to, and I don't even know what other concerts are in the top 3, but Lecrae's is definitely there.  SO FUN!  But basically some really awesome people (Jean, Maggie, Rachel, Derek and I) decided that hearing Lecrae live was definitely worth $23, so we went to the Newport.  While we were there, I got to see my cute little sister (heehee) and 7 other people from random places in my life.  It was really cool.  The concert was beast.  Canon, Andy Mineo, Trip Lee and Lecrae all in one concert.  SO GOOD.  And the best part is, every single one of those guys loves Jesus genuinely.  They all gave part of their testimony or talked about how God has changed their life in some way.  It was so cool.  Lecrae was especially awesome to hear talk.  He is so sold out for Christ, it is incredible.  He honestly wants no recognitoin for what he does but wants all the glory to directed towards God. 

While Lecrae was talking, something really awesome happened.  Basically, God used Lecrae to speak directly into my life, in a way that I am still trying to figure out.  It's a hard thing to explain, but if you want to know more about it, feel free to message me on facebook or something.  Nothing like it has happened to me before, so it was just really awesome.  God just used him as a tool for confirmation.  SO AWESOME. 

But now, back to regular life.  The concert happened on Thursday night and Friday morning we left for Practicum.  In short, Practicum is just a week where the teams get sent out to different unknown cities and kinda get a feel for what outreach is going to be like as a team.  Team Chile was sent to DETROIT!  Needless to say, me and Jean were SUPER pumped for this. 

Our team stayed at a Catholic parish (basically a lodging place that was connected to the church).  When we first got there, I will admit, I was kinda creeped out by the parish.  To me, it felt like the perfect location for a horror movie or something.  BUT, after a day there I realized I was being way overly dramatic.  The place had a lot of character though :] 

In Detroit, our main outreach location was a place called Focus: Hope.  Its a nonprofit organization that is basically fighting poverty and racism.  On Sunday, the FH had their biggest event of the year: a fundraiser walk.  So on Saturday, our job was to walk the 4 mile coarse and pass out flyers to people, houses, and businesses.  While we were walking, we got to talking to a lady and her 3 boys.  They told us about a "musical" that their church was going to put on that night.  Not having anything to do, we were like.....yeah!  We will go! In my mind, this musical sounded like an outdoor little performance put on by the congregation.  ........Nope.  Not what it was at all.  So, here is what I was expecting, which led to the approach and appearance I left the house with.  Basically, I looked like a bum dressed in red gym shorts and a t-shirt.  We pull up to the church, and I realized how off my expectations were.  As we parked, I saw two VERY NICELY dressed people exit their cars.  I'm talking decked out.  .....Yeah.  Not the greatest feeling for me.  As we walk into the church, we are directed to the FRONT ROW.  THE VERY FRONT.  Not only do I look like a hobo......but I am sitting IN THE FRONT OF THE ENTIRE CONGREGATION!  And another little tidbit......the church we were attending was solely African American.  So, just to remind you: red gym shorts, front row, Caucasian.  Not only was I taken offguard with all these details, but I looked like I was trying to be disrespectful.  Not a good feeling.  Also, the "musical" they kept talking about was not what I consider a musical in my head.  Basically, it was a talent show for amazing praise groups from around the area.  The music was fantastic.  The people who performed had serious skill in the area of singing and harmony and such.  But the term musical really did not give the service the right feel.  AND, since we were in the front row, we could not tell when other people sat down.  So on multiple occasions, we found ourselves to be like the only people standing and clapping away.  Then one of us would glance back and quickly sit down while trying to get the attention of the rest of the team as discretely and quickly as possible. 

Looking back, that story is very comical and funny.  But at the time, especially in the beginning, it was pretty uncomfortable for me.  It turned out to be a really awesome experience tho. 

Also, as I scan back over what I have already written, I realize this post is enormous.  So I have decided to briefly go over what we did and maybe include some stories if I think they are worthy of mentioning :]

So on Sunday, we had to be at Focus: Hope (FH) at 7am to help blow up balloons and kind of decorate the campus for the walk.  It was quite the operation, but we got done pretty quickly.  We set them up around the place and then did random odd jobs like fill trashcans with bags and set up tables and stuff.  As more volunteers arrived, our job became very......vague.  Basically, we spent more time locating people and asking them if they needed help then actually helping, but it was ok.  I've kind of come to the conclusion that God had us there to help tear down everything after the walk.  So that is what we did.  When the other volunteers were all leaving and going home, we stayed and carried chairs, tore down tables, picked up trash, and just any other thing that needed to be done.  Bill (the main coordinator we had at FH) was so happy for our help that he took us out for pizza afterwards.  It was a lot of fun.  Really good to talk to Bill and hear about his life and relax after a long day. 

Monday through Wednesday we were given random jobs around the campus of FH.  We packed up a whole room full of old VHS tapes according to the year they were recorded, loaded the boxes into a truck, then unloaded the truck, carried the boxes up a flight of stairs and stacked them into a tiny room/huge closet.  We worked out a warehouse and swept, loaded "buggies", made boxes, tore down boxes.  Lots of random things.  It felt really good to help out and do things that needed to get done. 

Along the way, we met a really phenomenal person.  His name is Denny, a 57 year old cancer survivor and lover of Jesus Christ.  The man is a BEAST.  His story is just so awesome.  It points to the total greatness of Jesus and His grace. He was such an inspiration to us.  Hard worker and totally sold out for Christ.  On the last day we had with him, he brought his guitar, and we found a small room in the warehouse and just worshipped Jesus together for probably 30-45 minutes.  It was incredible.  One of the coolest experiences of the whole trip.  Just a great guy. 

We also helped out around the parish a little.  We moved a bunch of donated clothes from the garage to the basement of another building and set up tables and moved furniture.  Just really odd jobs that needed to get done.  It was nice to talk to Paul and Larry while we worked. 

I dont know.  I feel like I am not doing the week justice in telling you what we did, but it really was a FANTASTIC week for my team and I.  We got so much closer as a unit and just really saw God working in some very cool ways.  So thankful for the opportunity to go there.

On the last day in Detroit, we had free time so we decided to go into downtown.  It was a lot of fun.  We walked around the city, along the river, and just kind of explored.  Took a tour of the Renaissance Center which is the headquarters of General Motors or something like that.  Got to see Bumblebee from the movie Transformers!!  And a bunch of random other cars that my teammates think are cool :]  As you can see, I dont share in their enthusiasm for cars and motors and engines and transmissions and rims and spark plugs and......

Also, I would just like to add one more little story from the trip.  I am happy to report that I fearlessly stood up for my Buckeyes on a packed bus in downtown Detroit.  One of the proudest moments of my life I would have to say.... :]  Ok so maybe not quite that fantastic....but it was still pretty great.  But what can I say?  I got the Buckeye pride in me :]

Its really hard to sum up everything that has been happening in the past couple of weeks into paragraphs and sentences.  And its even harder since so much has happened and so much time has gone by.  I will do my absolute best to not go this long without posting.  It actually is a little stressful to tell you the truth.  Sorry its so long.  I wouldnt even read it if I werent me, so if you get through the whole thing.....I commend you :]

Thank you all for your prayers and support!  God has been so faithful, and I have just been so blessed by everyone back home.  I love receiving letters and emails.  Its just good to hear about home and the lives of all you guys.  Thanks again!  Love and miss you all!  Praying for you all.  God bless!