Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blessings, Compassion, and Justice....and a little update too

I just feel really blessed, folks.  That is what I have been overwhelmed with for quite some time now…..blessing.  I am just surrounded by so many good people in my life…’s truly incredible.  I find it hard to keep up with everyone because I just have so much support.  So let me first start off by apologizing if you are reading this and I have either not gotten back to your email or have not reached out to you to email in the first place.  I am truly sorry.  Please be patient with me.  It is not because I am ignoring you….it is simply because I have very little time to sit down and type.  You are in my thoughts and prayers though.  So thanks for your patience and your love.  You have no idea what an impact it has made in my life and this journey. 

Speaking of good people in my life, have you all met the people I get to share this experience with?  I hope so.  They are awesome.  These girls are really some of the best out there.  I love them so much, and I don’t know what I would do without them.   They bless me so often with little things and just love me so well.  They have become so much more than teammates.  I count them as friends and sisters.  So thank you Bri, Nicky, and Latte.  I love you so much. 

Random things that I love about my team:

-          They all admit to saying “yo” and “also” and “dangit” because of me.  I am especially proud of the “yo” that I have incorporated into their language :] The dangit….not so much. 

-          I am also making them fat……:D (I eat chocolate a lot and then they follow in my wise footsteps.)

-          The truth is…….we are a bunch of goofs.  Some of us have taken longer to show the goofiness inside of us, but its there.  And I love it. 

-          Nicky is the master of terrible puns.  Actually, to be honest, she makes up some really good ones at times, but mostly, they are terrible. 

-          Briana is a crocheting wizard.  And she is going to teach me to become one as well…..I hope.  But seriously.  The girl is amazing with a hook and yarn.  And she reads while her hands are flying all around!  I don’t know how she does it.  Also, she randomly falls off the bed.  Haha too funny. 

-          Latte is always surprising me with her random bursts of spontaneity.  Yeah….random bursts of spontaneity.  Lol go figure.  But seriously.  She will random do the weirdest things… eat a whole clove of garlic because someone dared her to.  Lol Cracks me up. 

-          They push me to think and challenge me more than they realize.  Their hearts are so strong for the Lord.  I love hearing their different perspectives and what God is doing in their lives.  It is a good growing experience for myself. 

And there is another woman that I have just been blown away by with all the love I receive from her.  Although our taste in things doesn’t always agree, she knows me SO well.  Anytime I wear anything cute that gets me a compliment, my team knows that I am going to tell them that she has picked it out for me and bought it.  She is the woman that knows how I am going to react in practically every situation.  And she loves me even though we argue about little things.  She sacrifices so much time for me.  She really is just the best.  So Mom, I’m sorry that I say stupid things at times that hurt you.  You really do mean the world to me.  I don’t know what I would do without you.  Thanks for putting up with me and all my ridiculousness.  Your patience with me is incredible.  And just so the whole world knows, it is not my mother’s fault that I cooked my first egg at the age of 21.  That would be my stubborn hate of the kitchen that got me in that predicament.  I love you, Mom.  So much. 

Now, there are plenty more people that love me well, but these are the ones that just stick out to me right now.  And I just felt like these declarations of love needed to be shared :]

So this week was Christmas.  And you know… really didn’t feel much like it.  And you know what else?  I am glad that it didn’t.  For one, having it not really seem like Christmas made it easier to not be as homesick.  Christmas is a time spent with family.  It is a time of tradition, and if you know me, you know I am a big fan of traditions.  I love the fact that you can count on traditions and that they are loaded with memories.  So by not having this Christmasy feel all around, it was easier to not take part in those traditions and be around family.  Another reason that I am glad that it didn’t feel like Christmas is because it gave me an opportunity to step back and evaluate what I have made of Christmas in my life.  Actually, it was Tasha that brought this thought into my head.  She asked, “Does Christmas only feel like Christmas if we are surrounded by our traditions and family?  Have we made Christmas more about being together and having a good time than remembering that this is the day we celebrate the Savior of the world’s birth as a human?”  And it really made me think.  Do we really take in the significance of what Jesus did for us?  I don’t know.  It was just really good this Christmas to take a step back and really let that thought sink deep into me.  The humility of our Savior is beyond compare.  And His compassion for and us is ridiculous.  If we could all just embrace a sliver of His compassion, the world would be a completely different place.  In Matthew 14, it talks about how Jesus had just found out about his cousin John’s death.  I imagine from their relationship that Him and John were pretty good friends as well.  So He finds out that his good friend just got his head chopped off in a very unjust way, and He tries to go be by Himself, which makes perfect sense.  If I found out that my cousin’s head just got chopped off by a hateful woman, I would want to be alone for a very long time.  But then this crowd follows Him and gives Him no privacy.  And what does He do?  He has COMPASSION on them and starts healing their sick.  WHAT?!  I mean just put yourself in that situation for a second and ask yourself if that is how you would have reacted to a mob of people disturbing your mourning and alone time.  It just struck me very hard.  The Jman is ridiculously compassionate.   I want that for my own life. 

Also, another challenging thought that has been buzzing around in my head for the last couple of days.  Does my life lead justice to victory?  Is that what I am about?  In Matthew 12:20, it talks about Jesus leading justice to victory.  I love that!  That’s what I want to be about!  So does my life display that?  What are things that I can do to improve this?  Do I have compassion on the less fortunate?  Do I take time out of my day to listen to others and be there for the hurting?  Or do I spend my time thinking about things that I can do to be more comfortable?  What are the things that I spend money on?  Are they things for pleasure, or are they things to help better the lives of those around me?  Do I help break the chains of injustice for the poor and powerless?  Am I living as Isaiah 58 and 61 talk about, or do I live for the comforts of Kirsten?  Whew.  I feel like I could get up and preach a sermon right now.  I feel God tugging on my heart in this area especially, and it is making me very passionate about it.  I wanna live like He did.  I want to give of myself.  I don’t need as much as I think I do.  And I want to walk by faith on the path that leads justice to victory.  That has become my prayer….that I can lean on Him for my guidance as I seek to bring Hope and Justice in this world.  And I want to do it with uncontainable JOY!  Ok…..I’m stepping off of the soapbox for now. 

Wow.  I don’t really know how I got from the topic of Christmas to this rant on justice.  But I suppose that it is alright.  I will tell you guys a little bit about what our week looked like though.  It has been a pretty slow one since pretty much everything we have been doing up to this point has stopped due to the holidays.  But that is ok.  It has given us all time to get some things done and just enjoy each other’s company :]

On Monday the 23rd, we went to our friends Becca and Gaby’s house for breakfast.  They live in a little town outside of the city….very quaint.  It was delicious!  We had French toast and eggs and coffee.  YUM.  And, they had this cream cheese icing that I put on each of my pieces of French toast….oh my word.  Way too good.  And it was just really nice to talk to them and get to know them more.  Becca is from the states and Gaby is from Venezuela, and this was really the first time that we got to really interact with them.  Just very good.  Then later that night, we headed back up to the same area and helped our British friend Tonia play some games with her 3 students and then we went Christmas caroling to each of their families.  And we just had a really great night.  Because I am so good at winning at games, I ate a TON of chocolate (this was part of the game).  My team is a little bitter that I always seem to win at everything we play together, but they will get over it eventually.  (Just kidding.  But I really did win at this one.) And it was just a whole lot of fun.  I don’t know if I have talked about Tonia before, but she is the lady that puts on the intercambios that we go to.  So it was just a great day of seeing where she lives and hanging out with her for awhile. 

Christmas eve was a team day.  And it was wonderful.  Seriously, I love these girls so much, and together we had a fantastically chill day.  We slept in and then started the 2.5 hour process of making cinnamon rolls.  It took a little longer than we were anticipating.  Turns out that its really hard to make dough rise when it isn’t warm.  But it was all good.  They tasted really, really good with the icing especially.  They just weren’t as fluffy as normal.  And then we watched Elf, because it is the perfect movie to get you into the Christmas spirit :] and we made some homemade pizza for dinner.  Definitely my favorite thing that we have made so far.  We have decided that it will happen at least once a month.  MMMMMM.. And then we also watched The Rundown for some laughs and ended the night with exchanging gifts.  I got Oreos and milk, just like I did in Chile.  Pretty much the best gift ever.  And some more tokens of love from Nicky….she had my name.  It was just a lot of fun.  So thankful for them. 

And Christmas day was spent at Mr. P and Mrs. J’s house.  We were there for 13 hours, and it was just great.  Basically, we ate delicious food all day long……seriously.  We had little meat and cheese slices with olives and pomegranates for tapas.  Then Mrs. J had ham, cheesy scalloped potatoes, sweet potato casserole, salad, peas, and bread for us to dive into.  Then throughout the night there were cookies that we had made earlier to eat and chocolates.  Then at night we had grilled cheese and soup!  WAY too much food, but o so scrumptious.  We also had a time of worship……singing and prayer.  It was so good.  And we just talked and had a good time with them.  They got us each a scarf, and we gave them their gifts as well.  I just love them a whole lot.  Great people who have so much to teach each of us. 

That is the most interesting stuff.  As you can see, its been very laid back this last week.  On Thursday, we had nothing going on and I was in my zebra onesy (yup, you guessed it.  Its ONEderful :] (Nicky actually came up with that pun…)) until 3 in the afternoon, just reading Leviticus.  I can let you all know how to perform a burnt offering correctly.  And if you want to know if your weird skin rash is making you unclean, I can check that out too :]  Riveting stuff I tell you.  But actually a lot more interesting than I thought it would be.  And it showed me that I will NEVER be able to understand our God completely.  He is SO big and SO creative.  Blows my mind. 

Also, as some of you know, in Chile we had a stove named Ben.  Seriously, we never referred to him as a stove; He was Ben, and he was terrible but we loved him.  Well now, the Spain team has Ralph.  They have these handy dandy heaters that they put under their tables with a long, thick table cloth hanging down to the floor.  You then lift up the said table cloth and drape it over your legs.  Then, you just let Ralph the Roaster do his thang.  He is wonderful.  We love when we have the opportunity to turn him on…….teehee.  And we have this magnificent little toaster oven thing.  Its just a small little guy, but he can make quite the fire inside.  His name is Melvin the Machine, and he has blessed us with some delicious treats recently, such as the previously mentioned cinnamon rolls and homemade pizza.  Just a note though: Do NOT place a laptop with the recipe you are trying to make on top of a working Melvin.  This is a terrible idea….

Ok.  This is again getting long.  But I have more thoughts.  I will post them next week, and take more time to write them out, versus furiously flying through my brain, trying to spit out all the thoughts in my head.  I would encourage you all to read the book Speaking Of Jesus by Carl Medearis though.  I am going to be talking about it in my next post.  It is SUCH a challenging book and filled with so much truth.  Points out a lot of things that Christians need to hear and take to heart.  I just thoroughly enjoyed it.  And I’d also like to share about where I feel that God is leading my heart, and what He has spoken to me throughout DTS.  I realized I never told you all about the really cool Angel story that I have from DTS, and it has been pretty significant in my life.  So I will start on that for next week, and leave you all with one last challenge.  Take this week and intentionally focus on walking in His compassion.  Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and really pray about it.  And see what He does.  And when He comes through and you follow, you can tell me all about it via email :]

Thanks for reading and caring about my life.  Means a lot.  And thanks for all the emails and prayers.  We appreciate it so much.  Actually, I would really love if you would take some time to pray for Nicky’s dad, Nathan.  He has been in the hospital for the past two weeks, and it has been very serious and scary.  He had an infection in his bloodstream and brain and now he has fluid in his chest that is making it hard to breathe.  And the doctors can’t do a whole lot for him because his liver is basically failing.  So it’s just been really hard on all of us, but especially Nicky.  Pray for her and her family and for wisdom on our part in what to do and how to love and comfort best.  And you can continue to pray for our small acquaintances to grow into stronger friendships.  Thanks again and God bless!

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