Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Big Apple's Core

      I am still grappling for the words to describe what I saw, smelt, and experienced in New York City last week. It is a world all of its own, a city like no other. A bustle of activity, horns blowing, people talking, pizza drifting out into the street, buildings and lights so bright you are unsure of the time of day-it is a sense overload. While in the city we rode the subway...A LOT-and looking at these people I was both awed into silence and broken down to tears by what I saw. Every person in the city is so unique, different heights, eye colors, nationalities, styles, hopes, and dreams and yet they are all a bright and perfect reflection of the amazing, mighty God I serve. Genesis 1:27 "So God created man in His own image; HE CREATED THEM IN THE IMAGE OF GOD, male and female he created them" [emphasis added].  They are all made in His image, they are all the reason He suffered and died, they are all loved more than they could ever comprehend. But, I also saw a city full of lonely people. People crammed on the subway that did not even seem to notice other human beings on board with them-they jumped on and jumped off, stared into space or at their cell phone and rarely smiled. This city needs God, needs love, more than they could ever know or comprehend. New York City is home to over 22 million people and yet it has one of the highest suicide rates for lonely people-to be alone among 22 million must be the worst feeling in the world. And yet, they aren't alone! God is watching them and God cares-He just needs His hands and feet reaching out to the world around them.
     NYC is home to 22 million people, of these people 4 million come from what the International Mission Board considers "unreached people groups" meaning they come from a place where less than 1% of the population are believers. If you reach these people, if you reach New York, you literally reach the world. On Saturday, in the freezing snow, we stood on a corner and passed out free coats to people in the city. As I handed a coat and a Jesus DVD to one woman tears rolled down her cheeks literally freezing as they hit the pavement. She told me how she had been laid off three years earlier, how she was hopeless, and how today was the day she was planning on leaving this Earth, but for the first time in a long time, through a simple coat (something I have a closet full of), she finally saw that someone cared. SHE WASN'T ALONE! I wish I could tell you of a miraculous salvation however she did not accept Christ, but for the first time she had a tiny taste of this love. It is time for us to stop living inside of our comfortable little lives, reaching out to those who look nice and fit our image of a "good christian" and start reaching to the outcast, reaching to the untouchable, reaching the lonely, reaching the lost, reaching those 7 billion we share this planet with that are all made in the image of God.
      I am very guilty of looking around at the people around me and thinking "he looks like he will make fun of me if I tell him about God, but she looks very nice" and walking over to the person in my comfort zone, the one I think I can relate with. But, the fact is I cannot see their hearts and in my own selfish ways I could be walking straight past a heart that is completely ready for the message of a loving Savior. I am done picking who looks ready to receive Christ and I am ready to proclaim from the rooftops what my God has done for EVERYONE. Who am I to judge the heart? I am no one, a dirty sinner that was bound for hell until someone took the time to share with me, it is time for me to stop hoarding that gift, to shout it, to LIVE it, to be that light.
     The last, and most valuable lesson I learned in NY was that I cannot always just stand there and preach to someone-that can be a major turnoff to people, but I can always live my life the way God has called me to live. My life might be the only glimpse of Heaven people have ever seen and it is time for me to live the way I am called, not with words but with actions, deeds and sincere love. I will return to the city someday, I will ride the subway again, and I will love the lonely without my own personal prejudice-I will love the city through the eyes of the Cross.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Her Secret

      The Christmas Season in a traditional church is one that is filled with Lottie Moone, Christmas Music, and lots of fellowship meals. Last night we started off the Christmas Cantanta Season with our Senior Adult Program. The lights dimmed and I slouched down in my seat along the front pew with the rest of my family. The show began with a few of the most beloved Christmas songs sang by the matriarchs and patriarchs of our church. Men and Women that taught Sunday School to my Sunday School teacher, the one's that grew the church out of nothing, the one's who paved the way for people like me.
       One particular lady on the front row of the choir caught my eye. I do not know her name, only the nickname that men and women in the church call her, but I see her there every Sunday Morning, Sunday Night, and Wednesday Night-rain, snow, or sun-faithfully in her pew second from the front. At 92 years old she has seen generations come and go, mission doors open and close in multiple countries, history unfold before her eyes. As the piano began the old familiar chords of "Tell me the story of Jesus" tears welled in her eyes. As she opened her mouth to sing this beautiful woman began to sob, looking to the wooden cross on the back wall. The emotions unfold in her face and her posture-revealing a deep, unending love. Oh to be so in love with Jesus!
       This woman has found the secret that so many long to uncover. The secret of eternal life with a Savior whose love has no beginning or end: He is not only the author of love, not only the creator of love, He IS LOVE. I long for this kind of relationship with my Savior. Some days it is easier than others. Some days I can glimpse Heaven. I remember that this life is just a fleeting moment but that my soul will spend forever with my loving Creator. I remember that man can do nothing for me or to me. But, most days, if we are being honest it is difficult to keep my eyes on the other side of eternity. I get so caught up in final exams, my weight, the stupid joke the guy made that hurt my feelings, college-transfer applications, lunch appointments, preschool choir performance coming up, that paper that's due, my sisters surgery, my best friends boy problems and so much more that I completely lose sight of the love and grace that I am literally swimming in every single day.
       This year I hope to slow down my crazy life for a while, to smell the Christmas tree, to watch the lights twinkle, and to hear the old angels proclaim "Glory to God in the highest." I want this love for my Savior. I want to know the Secret that this woman in my church knows, the secret that makes people look into the eyes of those who want to harm them with love and compassion, the secret that opens the door to the small glimpse of Heaven on Earth in my life every day.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas-not a plan B

So, First I would like to apologize for not posting anything in so long-assuming anyone is still following this blog.
     God has rocked my world in the past few weeks. My heart is in shambles, and yet down here from the dust I cannot get enough of His love and grace. It's as if I am being newly formed and He is breathing life into my body-just as he did at the beginning of time with Adam. I am such an awkward person, really have about a fifteen minute conversation with me and you'll get that, but God totally digs that about me. He loves it: he knows my obsession with Toms, Coffee, and good literature is totally unhealthy and yet He smiles down and says "She's so beautifully and wonderfully made."  I am sitting here ready to cry. In case you missed that last sentence allow me to explain. THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, THE GOD WHO CREATED MUSIC, AND LOVE, AND ART, AND TREES, AND THE SPIDERMONKEY TOTALLY DIGS YOU-HE THINKS YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! If that doesn't get you excited, maybe you need to be reminded that this is the season of hope.
      This time of year it is so easy for me to get distracted: to love the lights, the music, the family, the food (aka peppermint mocha from Starbucks) and in the chaos and beauty I lose sight of the hope, the joy, the love, the peace, that started in a manger. As a human, it is easy for me to say that the Christmas story began when human kind began. That God's plan of redemption starts with the prophets of old that proclaim of a coming Messiah. But, the story does not begin there. The story begins in John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the word WAS GOD." The story of love, the story of redemption, begins in the beginning-before time, the Earth, or Space existed-when it was just God and the expanses. Jesus was not God's plan B. Jesus was not an afterthought. Jesus was and is the Way.
      So, knowing that Christmas was not an accident, how do you change the way you live? You live with intention. Telling God that He can have anything can and will be the most difficult, rewarding, and confusing prayer you will ever have. God's anything could be a new life of wealth so you can give to others, it could be poverty, it could be the relationship of your dreams, it could be singleness, but it will always be full of Hope. Because, I promise, that when you are walking in the light of eternity, when you taste and see that the Lord is good, even your worst days aren't that bad. And then you walk throughout this season with love for your fellow man. You walk day after day reminding yourself that this was not an accident and that the hope that happens at Christmas can be shared all year round.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meet the Family (Continued)

Boys will be boys:
        Chris, like a big brother in the group. Chris has a deep passion to disciple those he comes in contact with and loves to see the name of God lifted high. There is nothing he likes more than worshiping and being alone with his creator. It is not unusual for us to find Chris sitting alone on the back porch, bible open in his lap, eagerly scanning the pages for more truths of God's word. An introvert by nature that has been forced to be an extrovert it has been fun to watch him come out of his shell and reach out in ministry to those around him. Chris has a serious demeanor yet a charismatic personality underneath, you just have to dig a little below the surface to get there.
         David, well...it's David. David's family is from Nigeria where he attended two years of high school. He loves a good laugh and you can often hear his all over the house: booming down the halls and bouncing off the walls. David has a passion for God and is highly energetic and can attract people just about anywhere we go. David loves to laugh and every conversation he has seems to point to God. He has a deep desire to see people know God personally and reaches out to everyone we meet.
         Sean, very sarcastic yet highly hilarious. Sean has a sense of humor and ease that he never seems to lose. When talking to him one can easily get confused as to being serious or joking around, but that is part of the reason we love him. Sean has a great way of connecting to older kids when he tells Bible stories and he never seems to shy away from the deep truths of scripture, no matter how difficult they may be to relate. Even when things appear to be going wrong Sean's wit stays firmly in place and seems to pull him out the other side.
          Brian, hilarious hilarious Brian. Brian is one of those people that others are naturally attracted too and love being around. He has the ability to make just about anyone laugh and have a good time. Brian tries not to take life too seriously and makes sure that those around him do the same. He is a great missionary in reaching out to kids who do not understand love and longs to help them see what it truly means. He is a nursing major, which fits his nurturing yet comforting attitude perfectly and I honestly believe he will go very far in life.
           Nick, very laid back. That pretty much sums him up. I've never seen Nick stress out about anything, but rather is always prepared for the ministry task ahead. Even though he only works with us on weekends his passion for Christ is very evident in the way he carries himself. He is a level headed leader on our team on the weekends and a compassionate friend all the time. He has the ability to make anyone feel at ease or comforted in their time of need and is very encouraging to those he meets. I believe he has the ability to change this community around for Christ and I cannot wait to see him do it.
        Nate and Alicia, our boss and his wife. Both of which have beautiful hearts for God. They will bend over backwards to make sure our needs are met and that we have what we need to minister. I don't think either of them ever rest but rather they continuously move forward in the face of opposition to reach a darkened world with the glorious truths.
        Zach and Eli, precious little boys. At ages 3 and 6 the world is full of wonder and excitement. I cannot wait to see how they turn out when they get older because currently they are both hilarious. They make everyone feel like a part of the family with their arms open wide to us everyday once we wake up or walk in from a long day at work.
         This is my summer family and I love them all dearly. I am so blessed to have each and everyone of them in my life.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Meet The Family

     I was sitting in devotion this morning with my team, laughing at everything that has happened this summer, crying together over hardships back home, praying and worshiping when suddenly it hit me. I have not introduced my summer family to everyone back home. I know I cannot do justice to each and everyone of these unique individuals but I shall honestly try.
     Let's start off with the girls:
     Lindsey, the attitude of our family. Lindsey is a beautiful and incredibly smart girl who just recently graduated with a four year in psychology. She has a laugh that can make anyone want to laugh right along but she also has a tough as nails attitude. We are constantly joking with each other in the house that we are going to get a "Lindsey look" (a glaring look that makes you feel instantly dumb). Even though she has an attitude to boot this little blonde haired green eyed beauty has the most genuine heart of most people I have ever met. She has a contagious passion for God, she has the ability to make anyone relax, have fun and dance, and she has a desire to reach out in new and unique ways to lost, forgotten, and abused people. This girl has taught me so much about standing up for myself and my faith but also about forgiveness and growth.
     Nikki, crazy Nikki. She has a four year in photo journalism and she has a true eye for beauty: not only for God's outward creations but for the heart of those she comes in contact with. Nikki tends to be our mediator when we have problems in the family and she seems to easily mend bonds by not taking sides but rather loving everyone equally. She has easily fallen into a big sister role and can talk to anyone and everyone whether through tears or smiles. This girl has a true talent for showing what love without favoritism is and is an inspiration to those she comes in contact with.
      Mary Jenn, our residential meteorologist. MJ is studying the weather quite literally. MJ has a true servants heart. She tends to be an introverted person but when you break through the outer shell you find a heart of pure gold. You find the heart of a girl that would literally bend over backwards to help anyone and everyone within her reach. Whenever we need the dishes done or sweet tea made she is the first to jump on the task without being asked or asking for any kind of recognition. She has taught me a lot about the heart of God and what it means to work behind the scenes and I have loved the opportunity to get to know her.
      Christina, Cray-cray Christina. This is our mother of the group. She has the most hilarious (yet sarcastic personality). Christina loves to reach out to those around her. She has an extremely and naturally comforting presence about her that makes one feel loved and safe around her. Whenever someone is going through a hard time she tends to be the one we turn to for solid advice. She has a love that reaches beyond words and goes straight to her actions. She has a deep love for Christ that manifest in the way she leads daycamps, the way she communicates with those on our team, and the way she lives her life in general. But, she is not your typical mother because she can light up a room with her crazy personality and constant ability to make a joke about anything and everything. This girl has taught me what it is like to enjoy Christ and to enjoy the circumstances he has put us in and I love her to death.
        Sara Beth, the beautiful one and only. Sara Beth is a social work major in hopes of going to grad school to be an adoption agent. Sara Beth's heart is beautiful and never full. She can always find space for someone else that she comes in contact with and never turns anyone away. She has a childlike attitude: one of wonder for the Creator and His creation. She has taught me what it means to stand in awe of God and to truly love. She has never met a stranger and has a way that makes everyone feel at ease around her. Everyone is her best friend because of her bubbly and warm personality and I truly believe that she will start a love revolution that will cross the globe. I am honored to call this girl my soul sisters. Those big brown eyes of her always look for the good and beautiful and those around her and she always seems to be able to see it, a skill that I am trying to learn everyday. Such an inspiration.
      It is time for work I would love to introduce everyone to the guys later.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Two worlds, One family

      "Being a summer missionary is..." Go ahead, finish the sentence in your own mind. Maybe you completed the sentence with the words unique, difficult, weird, fun, crazy, hard, impossible, exciting, or any other adjective you could think of to place there. I'll tell you that just about every word you could put in the sentence would be an accurate one. This life is hard, unique, difficult, weird, fun and crazy all at the same time. No two days are exactly alike (although many of them share many similarities). It is hard to get out of bed every day and constantly remind myself that it is a new day, it is a new day to love, it is a new day to work, it is a new day to teach, it is a new day to be present, it is entirely new. The Bible tells us that God's mercies are new every day (see Lamentations 3:23) and that means that every day we need to serve, work, love, be present with everything we have. Our hearts should be renewed everyday to serve, even in a world we do not understand. Every emotion, every tear, every laugh, every hug, every prayer, everything is new for that moment and I have to be extra careful to not miss it.
        The world I live and work in is one entirely different from my comfortable suburb life back home. Yes, I am still in America, yes I am still working with Americans, and yes I understand the traditional customs, but nothing about living here is the same as being at home. I work in an inner city housing community-a world light years away from my own. I see gangs huddled in the corners, I hear girls as young as eight talk about what has been taken from them, I see broken beer bottles smashed against the concrete, hungry children, fighting adults, houses that seem to be falling apart around the inhabitants. All of this only twelve hours from the comfort of my own home. How could this be? Does God love these people less? Did they commit some type of terrible sin to deserve all of this? The answer is a deep and emphatic NO! NO, God does not love these people any less-but maybe God's children do not love enough. NO, they did not (mostly) commit some terrible sin to deserve living like this-they were born into this life, just as I was born into mine. And, unfortunately, too many people write them off from a very young age, saying they will never be more than drug dealers or living off welfare and they do not try to invest in them. It absolutely breaks my heart. Maybe I am old fashioned but I believe in John 3:16 "for God so loved THE WORLD". NOT GOD SO LOVED THE WEALTHY, THE PRIVILEGED, OR THE EDUCATED BUT THE WORLD! So, what has gone wrong you might ask. Why do people have to live like that if there is a God who loves them so deeply. Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers, but what I can tell you is that he didn't create the world and then turn away. He is still actively involved in what happens here, He left his children here on earth to reach out and show love to a forgotten and hopeless world. I am so guilty of sitting on my rear at home, satisfied with what I have, but that life is empty, and it is a life I never want to revert to. I want to love with abandon, I want to serve until I don't have the energy to stand, I want to teach until my voice is gone, I want to see God back in his rightful place as Lord of my heart that controls my life.
         So, how could this be? How could a a nineteen year old girl reach out and make any kind of difference? Only through him. I wake up every day and realize that even if the kids I work with do not look like me, talk like me, or think like me they are still God's creations and He still longs to know them. That means we are one family. So, even if their world seems light years away from mine we belong to the same Father, and when I learn to function inside of that realization my life becomes so much easier.      
      I greatly appreciate your prayers, as does my team. Specifically we would appreciate prayers for energy, safety, and boldness as we are reaching the end of our journey.
In His Love and Service.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My God

      My God is beginning and end, He is the creator of the world and the author of my faith, He is loving and just, He is all knowing, He is beautiful and powerful, HE JUST IS! I have been blown away in the past few weeks as I have seen God move in this resort area. God is not like a human: He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He does not have favorites, He doesn't have a selfish agenda, He doesn't run out of love. Sometimes as Christians, especially Christians in America, it is easy to overlook how powerful God is. We live in a country where we can go hours, days, even weeks without acknowledging our Loving Father, without even so much as stopping to say a ten minute prayer, because we have everything we need to "survive". But, we do not have everything we need to truly live, we do not have what we need for true happiness, we have what we need for a life that leads to sorrow and death.
       As a summer missionary I have seen God do crazy things that I could not even imagine: I have seen Him answer prayers for healing as my team members heal from various accidents,heartaches and illnesses, I have seen Him break through hearts of stone on the beach, in daycamps, in the government housing community, and in the very lives of the people I work with, I have seen Him provide for our team, I have seen miracles. This week alone we have had seven salvations (I do not know the overall number for the summer but I know it is more than this). Every salvation has been an absolutely amazing: seeing a person walk from darkness in a world of hopelessness into a world of new life and joy, A LIFE OF FREEDOM is a breathtaking experience. We had three little boys saved in day camps in the mornings and four people saved on the beach (two of which were a fifty-four year old and her daughter). I assure you that nothing that has happened this week has been from ANYONE on our team: we have not done anything except be willing to be God's hands and feet. We have been praying for boldness and it has been granted, not in our power, but in God's and we are so honored and amazed to be a small part in this huge story of what He is doing on Earth.
       I will never again say that the God doesn't do miracles the way He used to or change lives because the SAME GOD that rescued the Israelites out of Eygpt, the same God who called Paul, the same God who fed an entire nation with falling mana, the same God who crumbled the walls of Jericho with trumpets and shouts, the same God who sent his very Son to Die on the cross and then rose him from the grave in three days CONQUERING HELL, DEATH, AND SATAN HIMSELF....THAT IS MY GOD! My God is amazing and all powerful, my God does not know limits, and my God is the same God now that He was then and not only can he still do these miraculous things He actually does them every single day. Unfortunately in America we have forgotten to look for Him. But, after what I have seen Him do this week I will never forget to look again.
        We still appreciate the prayers, we need prayers for protection and boldness as we go throughout our days.
Thank you!
In His Love.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Love That Last a Lifetime

 Jeremiah 31:3 "I have loved you with an everlasting love and I have drawn you in with my loving kindness."

         This verse has continually spoken into my life: since I was 15 years old and first heard it at a girl's "Pink Princess" event, but hearing it and understanding it are completely different things. It is one thing for me to hear that the divine Orchestrater, beautiful Aavior, and loving King longs to know me personally but to fully wrap my mnd around that concept is a very different thing. Love in our world seems so fluid, a word aimlessly tossed around, a word that has almost become void with carelessness, yet it is one of the most powerful words we find in scripture. What would cause the All Powerful God to send his only son to earth to be beaten, spat upon, and murdered? Nothing but an all consuming, never ending love (see John 3:16). To hear about this love is one thing-to experience, well that is entirely different.
         In the government housing community I am working in it is not unusual for me to say the same kids day after day after day. But, what is semi unusual is to see my precious children from last year. Last Friday started off like any other day. I was sitting in the gym officiating a game of knockout when a small boy skipped into the gym. I turned to look but quickly found myself doing a double and a triple take he was one of my children from last year and I felt the tears automatically sting my eyes. I cautiously walked over to him (he is only 5 after all) and got down on my knees so I would be eye level "J* (name changed for privacy purposes) do you remember me?" I wasn't expecting an answer-I had passed in and out of these children's lives in the past year and so much had changed. What happened took my breath away-"MS. MEGAN!" He screamed and jumped into my arms, knocking me flat on the back in the process. He giggled and wrapped his arms around my neck as I struggled to sit back up. "I LOVE YOU" he exclaimed proudly. My breath caught in my throat, my eyes stung with tears, and my stomach churned. How could one so young remember something from a full year ago? And then it hit me-a love with an action will make an everlasting impact. But, a love without action will leave a void-it is a void for it is not true love. I spent the rest of the day carrying little J all over the gym, laughing at the things he laughed at, making sure he had food, and most importantly lots of hugs. He had stolen my heart and he still remembered it.
          What is love without action? It is simply a word. Jesus never simply said "I love you" he fed his people, he taught them, he healed them, he provided, and he sacrificed. However, we long for a glamorous love in this life. One where perfect people cuddle on the couch after a long day, children all eat and stand in a single file line for their food, and everyone is thankful, but that is not real life. That is a fantasy. Love is acting even when you long to sit down and rest, love is serving when everyone is pushing and shoving for food, love is continuing to provide as best as you can when people grab and push and complain. I want to live a life of love-even when it is not a glamorous one. And this is a lesson God is continuously teaching me.
          For those of you who do not know me very well you might not know (although I will enlighten you) the fact that I HATE FEET. I am not very fond of mine (I appreciate them very much I just don't like to look at them) and I especially do not like other peoples. The other day at a block party a little girl got sand-spurs all in her feet (if you have never experienced a sand-spur you are very lucky because they are very painful and from Satan himself I swear). "Help her" I felt it in my heart but I felt sick thinking about it."God she is 5 years old she can do it herself" I heard myself argue back. "You are 19 and I still help you" was the soft reply. Talk about a smack to the face. So I gently scooped this little girl into my arms, gently set her onto the table and quietly began removing each and every spur, even the ones buried deep. By the time I was done I had removed about 25 from her little feet but I had built an opportunity to talk to her about the love of our Savior. After she walked away I still hated feet-but I had more of an understanding how my loving Father Scoops me up and sets me down to remove all the aches and pains that I have. He looks into my nasty mess of a heart and quietly removes the ouchies and he never complains, he never says "this is too much" or "she can do it herself" and I am so thankful.
         Thank you for the love and support we have received while being here. My team and myself continue to covet your prayers for safety and for people's hearts as we try to minister and love.
All my Love!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My life has been wrecked

Before I begin I would like to apologize for not posting. Our Internet has been down the past few weeks-much to the frustration of all of those involved. I should be much more consistent now in my post-I great appreciate the thoughts and prayers.

        Exhausted. A word I have loosely thrown around my entire life, yet a word that has becomes insanely real in the past few weeks. We have easily fallen into our routine. Get up, eat breakfast, go to lead day camps in the RV Parks, eat lunch on the go, work in the government housing community, eat dinner, throw a block party, plan for the next day. Our days frequently range from 8-8 and the sheer emotional toll is draining. Yet, in the midst of this I am more joyful than I have ever been. God is using my fatigue, my human emotions, and my stubbornness to change some lives.
          The days are long but our moments are sweet. The other night I was at a block party we were hosting, my job was simple-sit inside and make sure the kids don't kill each other. As I'm sitting in the corner of the bounce this precious little blond two year old girl climbs I'm, walks over to me, stops in front of me and stares. My initial reaction was to scoot away but every time I tried she scooted closer. Eventually she giggled and went down the slide, but this routine repeated itself about 9 times. Over the roar of the pump I heard her grandmother tell her the night was over and she needed to go home-she quickly ran around the corner only to reemerge and jump back inside the bounce house. This time our routine changed-she ran over to me, put a new plucked flower behind my ear, smiled and went down the slide. My heart immediately melted. No matter how tired I am I know people still notice-we are still touching lives, we still matter.
            Our phrase this summer is "God wrecked my life". Usually when you have your life wrecked it is a horrific incident, one that leaves you forever changed. But, when God wrecks your life he leaves you abundantly joyful, in constant anticipation, and with a powerful persistence. I have played a million games of knockout, I have been cussed at, hit, kissed, hugged, loved, and hated. I have danced like a fool as the only white girl in a gym, I have given piggy back rides until I thought my back would break and yet I cannot wait to wake up every morning and do it again. The beautiful children that play with my hair, the girls that cry telling me how it feels to be unloved, the boys who cave into hugs even though they are "too old" for them. They have wrecked my life, stolen my heart and changed my life forever.
          If this is exhaustion I cannot get enough of it. My team as well as myself appreciates your prayers as we were reminded yesterday of just how dangerous our jobs can be. We had an accident at our ministry location and one of our boys has fractured three bones in his face-we returned to the work sight without him today to some very confused and concerned kids. There is no doubt we are in the center of God's will because satan is fighting back hard.
Love and kisses :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My Little World Just Got a Whole Lot Bigger...

Before I begin writing this entry I would like to apologize for not posting on here since last week. It is my intention for the rest of the summer to post every other day but last week we were under some unusual circumstances that simply did not accommodate writing.

My life in Alabama is a very unique one and I am most certainly not immune to that fact. Yesterday, after a week of tedious repair work, we finally moved into the missions house we will be calling home for the next ten weeks. People slowly trickled in arriving by all different modes of transportation, from all walks of life, with all types of personalities but with one common goal: to love people and serve God. I sit in the living room in awed silence at how quickly complete strangers become like old friends finally coming back together after a long time away-all on seperate journeys but merging together for a single summer. My little family has grown to a home filled with nine brothers and sisters. As I talk with everyone of them I realize that everyone has their own struggles, their own triumphs, their own special story that God has given them. Each person has a special life to live that God has blessed them with and what causes me to remain even more amazed is that each person is choosing not to waste this life but rather to live it to the fullest by giving it away. My mind flashes to an old verse that I have heard my whole life Matthew 16: 25 "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." This summer all ten of us are living lives totally contradictory to what the world says we should do to find happiness: we are not making a ton of money, we have no free time, no relationships, no partying, nothing that "college kids normally do" but what we do have is a budget we live on, days packed with worship and serving, friendships that will last a life time, and more joy and love than we could ever contain within ourselves. I am quickly finding that happiness isn't found within two suitcases but rather it is found in trying to walk daily with my Savior. After my church service today I was spending a few spare moments sitting on the beach. As looked out across the horizon I saw the sun, I saw the mighty waves crashing along the soft, white sand beachs and I felt my breath catch within my throat. My God made this for me, for you, for enjoyment. He is simply trying to draw us back to Him. What I realized sitting on that beach is that whether on a beach in North Carolina, Alabama, California, Dominican Republic, Europe, Africa, or Eastern Asia my God is the same God, He loves all of the peoples staring at whatever ocean they are staring at the same, and He wants to dote on and love them all everyday in every way that He can. And suddenly as I sat realizing this my little world that was all about me suddenly got a whole lot bigger.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hey There Mister Tough Guy

Landing back here was like coming home: the sights, the sounds, the smells, the laughters, the friendships so much is the same, but so much more has changed. Life seems pretty typical here almost as if I were made for this job. Prepare the missions house, love people, serve God that's what my life is all about right now. What sounds like a simple job description can be much more trying than I could have ever truly imagined. Today was my first day back in the Government Housing Community I will be calling home for the next few months and what I saw upon my return hit a place in my heart that hasn't been stirred in months. The hatred that has hardened these kids heart is deeper than any emotion or pain that I personally have ever felt. An attempt to hug a child was met by a smack in the face, the eyes set on the face of a six year old child looked back at you with wisdom and pain wise beyond their years, "I love you's" was retaliated with harsh and piercing "I hate you's". Sitting in the gym with thirty people (completely overwhelmed) I was watching the basketball games and dance parties when a fight broke out among some of the middle school boys. I have never seen fist thrown with such vigor nor have I seen such looks of intense hatred in ones eyes as they looked at another human. Myself and a few of the workers rushed to break up the fight and (fortunately) the physical damage was rather minor, but what really caught my eye was the boy involved. He walked away, tears in his eyes, but trying his best to fight them back-holding on to his pride with everything he had. I wanted to take him into my arms and explain to him "you don't always have to be the tough guy" or maybe "it's ok to cry" anything to ease the pain-a pain that wasn't caused by a few swings in a gym but rather a pain that was caused by years of having to be that tough guy to fit in around a neighborhood where that was not just the norm, but the expectation. Why am I here? The question crossed my mind more than once today: it crossed my mind when I was slapped, it crossed my mind when I was yelled at, it crossed my arm when I was ignored-but the resounding answer from my Savior crossed my mind even more "Because, when you "slapp", yell, and ignore me I still love you." I am here for a purpose, to love these kids and their parents, and let them know they have not been forgotten. I go through my life sinning ("slapping" God in the face), I yell at God with my actions when I diliberately walk the other way, I ignore him constantly-forgetting to say thank you for blessings and little things that bring happiness along the way. But, the amazing thing? He never says "Fine, I've had enough" and walks away; which is why I know that quitting is not an option for this summer. I have a mission and I have a purpose: to love unconditionally just to give these kids a little taste of the love and forgiveness that has been showered on me.

Friday, May 17, 2013

My Whole Life Fits In a Suitcase.

I feel like I have lost my mind. What would cause a ninteen year old to travel 667 miles, 11 hours away from home, alone and without a schedule of what my life will look like for the next three months? Only the love of an all powerful and all knowing Savior I assure you. I started the tedious packing project last night-4 hours in total when you calculate all of the shopping we had to do-and afterwards I had a terrifying realization; MY ENTIRE LIFE FITS IN TWO LITTLE SUITCASES. I feel a little ridiculous as I shut my closet door (still completely full of clothes) and look around at my bedroom (still fully furnished), what does all this stuff mean in the long run? Absolutely nothing, it is just that-STUFF. If all of this was gone what would my life be, what would it all mean? Life is so much more than books on the bookshelf or cute clothes to wear around campus; it is about people, living, breathing, laughing, crying humans made in the image of God. People have asked me all week "Aren't you afraid?" "You will be all alone, doesn't that terrify you?" the answer is YES that absolutely scares me to death. But, I am much, much more afraid of complacency. I am more afraid of settling down in this little town to a comfortable life and missing the beautiful and perfect plan that God has for me somewhere beyond the bounds of my wildest dreams. So here I am: terrified and about to embark with my two little suitcases, a heart full of love, and a journey ahead.