Wednesday, December 28, 2011
As I mentioned in my last blog post I had the opportunity to spend the weekend, and Christmas, in a village. This village is completely Buddhist and my team and I had the privilege of presenting the story of Jesus’ birth to them for the first time- it was such an honor.
Friday morning we all packed up and set out to the village. But first I was able to Skype with my family. It was hard knowing that I wouldn’t be there to spend Christmas with them- they all looked so cute and it made me miss them a lot. But I had to keep reminding myself that it’s just one Christmas. After a 3 hour car ride we made it to the village. We met our host mom and settled in. I slept next to BMK and I must say that girl is crazy (in the best way possible). I love her to death; we had so much fun together the whole weekend.
Friday night we had worship as a team and I got really frustrated with myself and with God. I asked Him to give me a revelation of His love; I really wanted to know that He loved me. And then I got so mad that He wasn’t telling me His plan for my life. I am such a planner and I want to know what my future holds so I continually worry about it. Awhile after I told that to God, JM walked over to me and started giving me a hug and it sounded like she was laughing. I asked her why she was laughing and she said that she was crying. And she proceeded to say over and over “He loves you. He loves you. He loves you.” And of course, I started crying; a lot. She then said, “He has such a beautiful plan for you. Stop worrying. He has a plan.” God is so amazing. All the time.
On Saturday morning we were able to work in the rice fields. We didn’t realize until we got there that women don’t work so most of the girls sat in hut and prayed over the village. But not me :) Our job was to repair the walkways in between each field. Needless to say it was a very muddy job. I loved it! I had so much fun playing in the mud and spending time with my friends... And I only fell twice!
That afternoon BMK and I took a nap and when I woke up I felt sick. While the rest of the team practiced our Christmas program I continued to take a nap. I felt a little better and had dinner with the team. That night I realized that it was Christmas Eve and as some of you know, I’m ALWAYS sick on Christmas Eve, in some form.
And then Christmas! Oh man, it did not feel like Christmas. But we did have a Christmas miracle. The house I stayed at had 12 little piglets in the morning! We were so excited for our mom; they were adorable! After hanging out with the piglets, we cleaned up one of the houses in the village and spent the rest of the afternoon playing with the kids.
Those kids, man, they stole my heart. There is one little girl there, Praywah, who is beautiful. She seriously made my heart so happy every time she hugged me. I pray for her all the time, that she have an opportunity for education and a good life, that’s all I want for her. The boys were precious too. I brought coloring books with me from the States and at first they didn’t want to color but by the end of the afternoon they were all coloring.
We practiced again that afternoon, had dinner, and then had a Christmas celebration as a team. That afternoon some of us went to the 7/11 in town and got some treats to share. I was so happy to be together as a family with Christmas music, enjoying the day. It was a great way to end the night.
Monday we again went to the fields, this time one closer to our home. And once again, we didn’t do much. I spent some time praying for the fields and the village. It was a nice morning. We had our final practice for that night after lunch. It brought me back to practicing for Church Christmas programs. :) TB and I hung out after practice and had a good talk on the basketball court. I am so glad that she is our team leader- she is so wonderful!
After dinner we all gathered on the basketball court, ready to present our final product. It was kind of an awkward situation because there had been a death in the village that day so we couldn’t be too loud while playing with the kids and such. We played duck duck goose with the kids and it was hilarious! They were getting so sassy with each other and us; it was adorable. Our presentation of the Christmas story went really well! It was so exciting to be a part of; this was the first time these people had heard of this story!
It was hard saying goodbye to the kids that night; I don’t think they realized that we were leaving. I started crying when thinking of leaving Praywah. But I just kept praying that God protect her and her family; and all the kids for that fact. God has such beautiful plans for each one of them; I’m so excited to see where He takes them all.
So Monday we spent the day packing and saying our goodbyes. I was sad to leave but I knew that it was time to get into ministry in the city. I’m excited to start working with the orphanage.
And here is where I leave you, excited to spend the next few hours with a book and sunshine.
I love you all, happy holidays from Thailand!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday we had another day of flood relief. I was really excited again because I love practically helping people (I think I said in my last post too). We split into teams again and were on our way. My team and I went to an elderly man’s house in Bangkok. The water line in his house was as tall as me. The water had been there for 45 days and just left last week Tuesday. It still blows my mind that there was that much water all around the city for that long. All of this man’s possessions were ruined on the first floor. It was a mess (I will post picture soon). BH and I worked in the backyard cleaning up trash. It was really hard at one point when we found a little boy’s shoes. It was heartbreaking to think of little children being so affected by this flood.
The rest of the day the whole team worked on the inside of the house, cleaning everything out and then scrubbing the walls and floors. When we left, the house looked amazing! I will get before and after pictures so y’all can see the transformation. And this was just one day of work. It’s amazing what you can do with 10 people and some hard work!
Tuesday was kind of a chill day again. We spent the morning packing up and cleaning our rooms. After lunch we started to plan our Christmas program that we’re going to put on. I kept thinking back to Church Christmas programs and how much I disliked being in them. This year will be different though, I’m really excited. We closed our time in Bangkok with prayer and worship. We were so blessed to have a week in that city. I pray that God reaches more and more people through the people we worked with.
Then Tuesday night we left Bangkok to go north. The ride was 12 hours long on a bus and I can honestly say I would LOVE to take that bus again. This was no ordinary bus my friends. We had reclining seats, foot rests, chicken for dinner, coke, MASSAGES IN THE SEATS, pillows, blankets, and so much more. And all for the low, low price of 15 euro a person. I am so excited to go back to Bangkok :)
The only downside to that is that we got to Chang Mai in the morning. Luckily we had until 12 to sleep. We then had lunch and orientation at a University Café that we’re going to work with. I am really excited to see what God is going to do through these people.
Ok, so I know that I said I would write everyday and then post my blog on Sunday but this week will be an exception. We’re going to stay in a village until Tuesday next week so I won’t have my computer to write while I’m there but I’m taking my journal. I will make a special blog post for that and leave this one here.
I miss you all so much. It’s hard being away during Christmas time but I need to keep reminding myself that this is such a beautiful way to spend my Christmas, glorifying God with my YWAM family.
I love you all,
Saturday, December 17, 2011
After over 24 hours of traveling, I am finally in Thailand. It’s crazy to me that I’m actually here. It doesn’t feel like it at all!
So we left Monday morning. (I had to say goodbye to EB and CK and I’m so proud of myself that I didn’t cry!) We then took a train to Munich where we departed for Dubai! You should all go Google picture of Dubai- it’s insane! Sadly we didn’t have a chance to go explore outside of the airport but I was content to stay and rest.
TANGENT: I decided I have a love/hate relationship with flying. There are times (mostly when I fly during the day) that I LOVE flying; and I know that I love it because of the movies I get to watch. I watched Crazy, Stupid, Love (part of it at least), The Help, and The Glee movie. And then there are times where I HATE flying. And those times are when I fly at night. I hate having to sit between people that you don’t know too well and trying to sleep, it’s the worst. The first flight to Dubai was during the night and the flight to Bangkok was during the day. Needless to say, I loved the flight to Bangkok. And another wonderful thing about flying is the games you get to play. I flew with 6 other people on Emirates airline. Everyone should go Google Emirates airline to see how legit they are.
Back to Tuesday night: Thankfully everyone got through security and got their luggage. We then drove 30 minutes to where we would be staying for the next week; we literally road in the back of pickups- on the highway. It was so fun. We were all freaking out and so excited, it was the perfect way to travel through Bangkok.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, we started out our Wednesday morning with orientation. It’s so interesting to discover another culture besides your own. Asian culture is so different that western culture but it’s so beautiful at the same time.
For lunch we had our first Thai meal. PR- here is where you start reading about all the food I have eaten :) And don’t worry, I’m trying everything. I had cashew chicken and red curry chicken. And I actually enjoyed it. (for those of you who don’t know, I do not enjoy Asian Cuisine) I am promising you all now that I will try what is in front of me.
After lunch our team went on a scavenger hunt around the area. One of the things we needed to find was fruit and desserts that we had never had before. My team and I got Mangos, Dragon Fruit, and this brightly colored dessert. And for the record, we didn’t know the mango was a mango; it was green so we thought we had never had it before but then we were told it was just unripe! The Dragon Fruit was good, a little tasteless but still good! The brightly colored dessert honestly tasted like I was eating strips of flower petals dipped in sugar. BMK loved it; me, not so much. Another team brought back a bag full of fried crickets. It was hilarious watching everyone eat them. (no, I did not eat one) I have a feeling that I will be trying a lot of new things on this trip. And not just new things, gross things.
Thursday was a beautiful day. My team and I went on a prayer walk through Bangkok. We had certain landmarks that we went to see and pray for (picture coming soon, promise). I feel like after Thursday I have now taken all forms of travel in Thailand. We took a bus another place in Bangkok, I honestly have no idea where, and then took a train to a boat tour. It was a lot of fun being able to ride down a river that runs through the city. There were temples all around, it was breath taking.
Our first stop was Wat Po and The Reclining Buddha. Wat Po is a beautiful compound that has multiple towers, chapels, and The Reclining Buddha which is its shining glory. This Buddha is 46 meters long. It is HUGE. It’s crazy to me that someone (more like a lot of people) would make something like this. And I know they believe that their god is the true god but it still blows my mind that someone would dedicate themselves to all of the intricacy involved in this compound.
Our second stop (after lunch!) was Wat Saket and the Temple of the Golden Mount. After climbing 318 steps to the top we walked around and were able to take in the city of Bangkok. It was amazing to stand on top of that hill and see all that God has made. Sadly this was our last stop due to transportation problems. But all in all, it was a beautiful day to see all that God has planned for this city. God loves this city so much; all He wants is to have them love Him back. I know that He will win their hearts; it’s all a matter of His time.
Thursday night I stayed up late talking with BMK and AB. I love being around people with whom I can have meaningful conversations with all the time. I have been blessed with such an amazing team!
Friday we had the opportunity to spend the day doing some practical work by helping out with flood relief. I was really excited about this because I love psychically helping those in need that can’t afford to do it themselves. We have so much to offer; if we just step back out of ourselves to sacrifice a part of our day, our worlds will start to change. We split up into two teams and my team went to help an elderly couple that couldn’t afford the money to clean up after the flood.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I got there. I have helped with Katrina relief in grade 10 but that was awhile after Katrina hit. It was such an honor to be able to help contribute to the cause so early after it happened. We worked on cleaning out their porch area first. There are pallets, furniture, and random things all over the place. Not to mention the inch or so of standing water mixed with mud. The morning before lunch was spent taking out all the mud and cleaning the floor and the walls. It was so exciting to see how different and clean it was.
We had lunch prepared for us which was such a blessing. The woman we were helping prepared chicken with rice and sea food. And yeah, I ate the chicken and rice :) I’m just not a fan of the sea food. But it was a wonderful meal none the less.
The afternoon was spent scrubbing the walls inside and all around cleaning up their house. The top half of the wall was white and the bottom half was stained brown from the flood waters. It was crazy to be able to see that line- that is how high the waters were. I couldn’t imagine waking up to half my house filled with water. The flood destroyed everything for some people; I couldn’t begin to imagine that. All of it really makes me thankful for the home that I have back in the mitten.
At the end of the day we had the opportunity to pray for the couple that we helped. Their pastor was there to help us as well. They were so happy and thankful for the work that we did. And it literally only took us a day. Imagine if groups from all over came and helped clean one house, one day. There would be so many grateful people in Bangkok.
Today (Saturday) we had the opportunity to go do ministry on the streets. A group of us decided to go to a gas station because someone got a vision of one. We took the bus and went to a gas station and played music for a while and then we noticed a group of young guys playing guitar so we went over and played with them. They didn’t speak any English so we just sat with them and played music. We’re pretty sure they were just laughing at us the whole time but we still had fun :)
After that we took another bus to a mall and played music outside for awhile. We didn’t have anybody come up and talk to us but it was nice to just play music. I prayed for people as they walked by and such but nothing big happened.
BMK, BMH, AB, and our translator Pang went into the mall to shop for awhile after that. Yes, we shopped. And it was GREAT. They have a movie theater at the mall (this mall is 5 stories tall) so we decided to go back tomorrow on our day off and see the new Twilight movie. I cannot wait! We decided to make it out Christmas present to ourselves :)
So Monday we will do more flood relief and then we will travel north. I cannot wait to play with a child, that’s all I have wanted since I got here!
Prayer requests: Our team is still in need of money. If anyone feels led to donate let me know!
I love you all!!
Friday, December 9, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Here starts week 10- I only have 3 weeks until I leave for outreach. That just blows my mind. Time has flown by lately!
In my last blog post I talked about our generosity day. Another gift God blessed me with was a trip to Prague, Czech Republic. CS told me that she felt like God was telling her to bless me with a trip somewhere that weekend and said they had an extra seat if I wanted to go to Prague with them. And of course, I said yes (who wouldn’t?!). It was an amazing day- a very long, but extraordinary day. Everyone should go Google pictures of Prague right now to see how beautiful it is. I was blessed so much that weekend- not only with the trip itself but with a French press (I have been wanting one for ages!) which is AWESOME. Ahhh, such a wonderful day!
The last three weeks we have had speakers on worldview, minding the gap, and principles of outreach. Tim spoke on minding the gap. All around us there are gaps- gaps between cultures, people groups, and communities. It’s our job as Christians to mind those gaps. It was amazing to hear that put in a different perspective. Sean spoke on the principles of outreach which was really informative and practical- it all comes back to abiding in Christ. If you abide in Christ, everything else will come together.
I guess I should update everyone on photography- that is a huge part of my time here. First off- I’m sorry that I haven’t uploaded many pictures- we do not have a good internet connection here and I have limited internet time. I am taking pictures- I promise. We have assignments every two weeks and they remind me SO much of what I had to do in Photography 101. That has been a struggle. I haven’t been very inspired by those assignments. But, I have been very proud of my pictures. And I will post them soon!
I have been missing home a lot lately; mostly my family. I talk about my cousin’s kids a lot and not being with them is one of the hardest things about this trip. KN posted pictures of them on Halloween and I wanted to cry! They are precious and they look SO much older. It’s hard being so far away when they are growing up so fast! I know that I’m supposed to be here, but it doesn’t make being away any easier. KN and SA- make sure they don’t forget me! And my parents; oh man, I have been missing them a lot too. I got closer to my mom this summer and it was really hard to leave her. And then I hear about all the fun things she’s doing with my sister and that makes me even more sad. BUT, I know that it will be ok; I’m planning fun things for when I come home :)
I gave away another iPod. I have come to the conclusion that I probably won’t own an iPod for more than a month. So, God had been telling me for a couple weeks to give my iPod to a fellow student. And I told Him no, that I didn’t want to give it away. Over those couple of weeks He kept bringing it up and I kept saying no. Well, on Tuesday, NS came over and said that God had been telling her for a couple weeks to give me her iPod. And then God said, “Give your iPod to ZI.” And I thought, “hm, this iPod I’ve just been given is technically MY iPod.” So I gave that one to ZI, thinking I’d outsmarted God. Ha, outsmart God, yeah right. The speaker that day talked about the Holy Spirit and how if you’re not hearing Him it’s because you probably haven’t done what He previously told you to do. I think God was laughing at this point because He knew that I hadn’t outsmarted Him. After lecture I went back up to ZI and said that she could have my iPod touch if she wanted. Her face immediately light up. She told me that she had been dreaming about an iPod touch. Her smile was all I needed to know that I did the right thing. God is a funny guy sometimes.
Our last two lecture weeks in Herrnhut are being spent with David Gava. Leading up to these weeks everyone was telling me- just wait, wait until you have David, he’s going to blow your mind. And yes, they were right. This week we have talked about The Holy Spirit and Spiritual warfare. I haven’t had a lot of teaching on these two things so I was excited to hear more about them. The Holy Spirit… it’s so hard to put description to Him. If you read the above paragraph you know that he MIGHT tell you to give away iPods. And He’ll keep telling you to give away iPods if you don’t listen to Him. The Holy Spirit moves in amazing ways! And spiritual warfare! There are SO many way the enemy can get into your life. And this breaks my heart (I’m sorry LVW!!!) but I don’t know how many scary movies I’ll be watching when I get home. I didn’t realize the hold that they had on my life. I think they ok to a certain extent. But they cross that line when you can’t get the image of a demon out of your head. That’s not good stuff. You really have to be aware of what you’re watching and reading because it will attach to your spirit. Ah, such a good week.
These last two weeks will be filled with preparation for outreach. My team and I are leaving probably the 5th or 6th of December. I will let everyone know the specific date. Prayers would be appreciated as we still need money and as we finalize our plans. Cool, thanks :)
Missing and loving you all.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
**Sorry for the length of this post- there is just so much good stuff. Please read to the end, I promise, you won’t be upset that you did :) **
And here we are at week 6. It is crazy to me how fast time goes. KV, you were right, these are going to be the fastest 7 months of my life. I already don’t want to leave this place. This community is the best. I probably talk about that a lot but I can’t help it, it’s so freaking wonderful.
I absolutely love number 7. I am blessed with some of the best roommates ever. I live in the middle of number 7 and it couldn’t be more perfect for me. I have been blessed with a WONDERFUL roommate- and only one! It has been such a blessing to be able to get to know her more and have honest hour with someone again. (TM- makes me miss you a lot!) The rest of the girls that are in number 7 are just wonderful. I love each and everyone. I know that I can go to anyone of them and they will be there for me and pray for me. That is such an encouragement.
And the staff- oh man, I am so happy that I have been getting to know them more. We have some amazing people here to encourage and support us through our walk. I’m so glad to know each of them. I spent this past Saturday with KH. It was great to get out of the apartment and spend the morning like I would back home. We had coffee and took a walk around Herrnhut. It was refreshing to relax and not feel like I had to be somewhere in 5 minutes, like I frequently do.
That night we had a love feast- SO GOOD. I think everyone should have a love feast every day. Love feasts were started in YWAM to come together and talk about God’s blessings and be thankful for all that we have. Everyone got dressed up, we had AMAZING food, and celebrated God. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday.
Sunday was a little stressful (at first). We have a portrait project for photography that I shot that day. It was nerve wracking just because I HATE taking pictures of people and because we had to use a VERY expensive lighting system. But I didn’t need to be nervous because it went so well! I had the pleasure of shooting a mobile DTS student, Hannah. Yup, she has the same name, first and middle, as me! She is such a gem. I loved hanging out with her, she was so easy to get along with and shoot.
AND THEN I got to see my parents!! And KN and her children. Oh my heart, I was so happy. It was exactly what I needed at that time. I talked with my parents once since I left and it was a horrible connection. I am so so happy that I got to talk with them. And then the kids! Oh my goodness I have missed their little voices so much. AJ looked adorable in her skinny jeans- she needs to learn my name though ;) And CJ! He is already so much bigger. It kills me that I’m not able to be there, to watch him play soccer and hear all about school. (I expect pictures!!) But it’s ok, because I’ll see him soon enough! It was good to talk to my BFF/second mom too. I have missed getting coffee and hanging out with her and the kids. I’m glad that we got to catch up and talk for a little, even though it’s not like our usual hang outs :) (I miss lifetime movies!!)
And so the official week begins. Our teacher this week is Dan Bouman. He has some AMAZING stories and he’s hilarious- the perfect combination! He spent 9 weeks in prison in Iran and still he can laugh at it. It’s amazing how much God has worked through him. He has told us so many stories of how God provides, it’s such an encouragement. Wednesday we talked about passion and what it looks like to be passionate for God. Passion is all consuming, suffering, unstoppable, and contagious. That’s just one thought that resonated with me. All of it was so amazing. God has the perfect way of saying just what I need to hear.
On a side note- Tuesday I fell down the stairs. Yup, I still fall even though I’m in Germany. My tailbone is sufficiently bruised. Oh and I rolled my foot last week and I think it’s sprained. Sweet, I love my life. hahaha
Wednesday night we had our first critique night. All the students had to hang up photos, read their stories, display their art, or play a song. It was amazing to see how much talent our school has. I seriously love being around so many artists. It is such a testament to God. He created each and every person here with such beautiful talents, and everyone is unique in their talents. SO COOL.
God is continually showing me that this is where I am supposed to be. I am so happy where I am. (Mom you can stop worrying :) ) I know that if I had stayed at CC, I wouldn’t have been happy. It would have probably been horrible; I would have been horrible to everyone. I am sorry to all those that I have hurt over the years with my words and actions, from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I know now that my actions were not what was right or good. I know that I could have avoided many fights and hurt words if I had watched what I said. Again and forever, I am sorry.
And I need to say another sorry to my friends and family back home (aka everyone reading this); I am sorry that I have sucked at staying in contact. Please know that it’s nothing against you personally, I really haven’t talked to anyone since I left. I am working so hard on my relationship with God right now that it’s hard to keep in contact with those that are miles away, let alone right next door (not to mention the internet SUCKS). I have not forgotten anyone; I will never forget you all. I promise to work harder at keeping in contact, promise!
Please let me know if there is anything that I can pray for. I am trying really had to be a better intercessor. Prayer is something I have always struggled with so I figured the best way to fix that is to do it more! Feel free to email me with any requests you have! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to pray for anything, whether it is big or small, let me know :)
**Disclaimer. I wrote the above a week ago. And then failed to put on my blog. So here starts week 7!**
The end of last week was good. Dan was amazing until the very last minute. I was so blessed to hear of how he was encouraged in every aspect of his life. Friday was KC’s birthday! It was so great to be able to spend part of the day with her. She is such a blessing to me; I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her :) Saturday we spent the day in Bautzen with the photography track. Our assignment was to take pictures of people we didn’t know. PERFECT, exactly how I wanted to spend my Saturday (Sarcastic). But it turned out to be a great day. I spent it with JM and CS. Those two are so great. I love spending time with them. I met a man on the street named Erwin. He is a street artist in Bautzen. He was so nice and thankfully spoke a little English. That day in general was awesome. We got away from Herrnhut and were able to experience Germany in its finest.
Sunday I didn’t do anything. Of course. :) It was a good day to just chill and not worry about things to do and people to see. Monday was an art day. AKA nap time for Hannah. I was so tired, EB and I went back to the apartment, had a wonderful chat, and slept. It was good. I honestly can’t remember what I did that night- must not have been too important :)
AND Tuesday. Wow. So the day started out as a normal day, as extraordinary days often do, and quickly became amazing. We had a time for generosity. That is a huge theme of this school. Our school leaders are really trying to instill a sense of generosity within us. And I have taken them up on that challenge. So we had a time to pray and be silent and people started getting up and giving each other possessions, money, or words from God. I heard God tell me to give away my iPod. Mind you, I have only had this iPod for a week and it’s brand new. I told God no, that I didn’t want to give it up and kept praying. God asked me if I was ready to give everything away for Him. And I came to a point where, yes, I would give it all for Him. If He gave me someone specific, I would give away my prized possessions: my iPod, computer, and camera. And then I went on praying. A little while later I heard God say, “Give your iPod to Alisa, give it to her. You know where the reset button (on the iPod) is, give it to Alisa.” And I was like, crap, ok I guess. So I got up, tears in my eyes, walked over to my backpack and got my iPod. Walking over to Alisa, I reset the iPod and immediately started crying when it handed it to her. She said no, I can’t. And I said yes, you have to, it’s brand new and I just reset it, take it. We hugged, I cried, and I sat back down.
After I sat down I felt good. I realized that this iPod was a huge distraction in my life. It was taking me away from good conversation with God. And then another iPod fell into my lap, literally. JW graciously gave me her iPod touch because she felt like God told her to. Wow. He works in crazy ways people! Her story is amazing, if you want to hear it, let me know and I will tell you but for length’s sake, I won’t write it :) The whole day was amazing. It was so great to hear all the stories from everyone. I love generosity; it does crazy things to people (in a good way). God does crazy things. I am realizing His role in my life more and more each day. He is present in everything I do and I love that. He provides in amazing ways and surprises me in even more ways. I love hearing His voice and his plan for my life. I don't know what I’m going to do after DTS (I will be coming home, promise) and that is ok.
Tuesday we found out our possible outreach locations!! YES. We have been waiting patiently for weeks to find out where we might go- and Tuesday was the day! Our DTS is doing outreach a little different. Usually there are multiple locations presented, specific places, and then the students have usually an hour to pray about it and come back with a choice. But not ours! We have two outreach “locations” to choose (or rather give a preference for) from: Southeast Asia or southeast Europe. Yup, we don’t know exactly where in these two regions we will go; we’re leaning on God for that. It’s crazy to think of spending 10 weeks in one of these locations- I can’t wait to see where God leads me. And here’s where you readers come in: I am not sure where I should go. I put down one region (I’m not going to tell you which) that I would like to go, but I have a heart for both. Well, I’m open to both. I’m trying to lean on God and put my trust on Him. If you could all pray about this for me, that would be great.
And if you really, really, REALLY want to know what region I put down you can message me :)
Love from Germany,
Prayer request time! (I’m adding this to all my posts. I need more prayer in my life.)
-The burden on my school loans is on my shoulders. When I went to Calvin, I racked up some serious loans. Realizing that I might lead a life of a missionary, those loans keep popping up in my mind. I don’t want to have this hold me back in any way. If you could pray that this burden is lifted from me- that would be great. I know that God will provide, but it’s still a big worry. And I’m a worrier, so it’s hard for me to let go of that.
-I have been praying for a new computer for a bit now and I would appreciate prayers for that too. I know that it seems silly but I know that if I’m going to really put my all into my art, I need to get the right equipment to do that. And my computer is lame. Half of the time it doesn’t connect to the internet and the other half of the time it doesn’t read my photos. SO, it would be super to have a new (or used) computer. God works in crazy ways people :)
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Well, here I find myself at week four. I can’t believe it. It’s almost been a month since I’ve been here. And so much has changed.
Before I got here, I didn’t fully believe in God’s love, his love for me. Today, I can say with so much joy and happiness, that God loves me. I fully believe that he loves me and cares for me more than anyone ever has. I seriously smile every time I think of that. I had always let my past control me as well. It was something that I always let hold me back. That isn’t the case anymore. I am completely free from my past. I’m not saying that I won’t struggle with it anymore but it no longer holds me back from moving forward. There is a lot that I will have to deal with, but I don’t have to deal with it alone. God is always walking with me; he will catch me when I fall. Ahhh I love that!
This week we have the privilege of having Donna Jordan with us. She is amazing; hands down my favorite so far. She is from Canada and says eh a lot. I love it! She is speaking to us about hearing God’s voice. This is also something that I have struggled with. I could never distinguish his voice from my own or the enemies- I think that will always be a struggle, trying to hear his voice and plan for me rather than hearing my wants. God will show me his plan, it will not be on my time but his and it will be in his voice. Yesterday, I felt like I heard some of what he has planned for me. And that makes me so excited! I want God to confirm it though, I’ve asked for signs that this is his voice, and not just what I want to hear in my life. I just need to keep reminding myself that it is all in his time, everything is in his time not mine.
I am ready to hear what God has planned for my life. And I am ready to go where he sends me.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
That is what God is. He is continually showing himself to me in that way and I love it. Today we started our day with prayer as we do every Thursday. We usually pray for something specific and today we prayed for the Justice DTS teams. The Justice DTS has been in Herrnhut for about 2 months, focusing on injustices and such like that. They are currently finishing up their plans for outreach. One team is leaving this Saturday to go to Kenya and work with the Somalian refugees. We stared out praying for the individual teams and finances were a big part of each team’s prayer requests.
KT then told us we would have a time of quiet reflection and then a time of giving. We were urged to listen for God’s voice and discern if he wanted us to give at all. They had written down all the names of the students who still needed support and how much they needed. Some students still needed to pay for their lecture fees as well. So we all prayed and people started to give. And give, and give, and give some more. There were 16 names on the board, close to 20,000 Euros that were needed to cover everyone’s fees. God provided the full amounts for every student and then some.
Wow. In just an hour God provided these three teams with the full amount of money needed. They are going to bless so many people in Cambodia, Kenya, and Nepal. I am so excited to see the things that God does through them.
This morning was such a great time for me, probably the best way to start my day. It was such a great feeling of love and blessing in that room. So many people were moved to give; it was such a beautiful testament to how faithful God is.
Monday, September 19, 2011
This past Wednesday the staff here at Herrnhut sent everyone out on a faith walk. We were put into groups of 4 or 5 (one German in each group) and given 1 euro each. They told us we could go anywhere in Germany or even outside Germany but we were not to stay in Herrnhut.
What a way to start off a Wednesday. So, I freaked out, of course. I was so terrified. I have no idea why, probably because I was scared to sleep outside somewhere not in Herrnhut. And I cried. Yes, I will admit to being the one person to cry. I was that scared. But, after talking with LH and the girls in my group I decided to go. I didn't have peace about staying, I knew I would miss out, so I went.
We packed any warm clothes we had, a sleeping bag, and our cameras. And we stated walking. My group and I decided to go outside of Germany because we all had our passports. We ended up getting a ride from Herrnhut to Zittau. That was our first blessing. If we had not hitchhiked there, we would have been walking for three and a half hours. In Zittau, BN and TM played on the streets for a while, trying to get money. We didn't get much and decided to keep walking so we could get into the Czech Republic before nightfall. From Zittau we walked through Poland into the Czech Republic, ending up in Hradek for the night. By the time we got there everything was closed except for the restaurants and some bars. We walked for an hour trying to find food and place to sleep. By this time it was getting darker and colder and we just wanted to sleep.
In our last ditch effort, we stopped at Camelot, a restaurant in Hradek that was still open. God then provided the best meal I've had since I got to Germany. The woman that was working there called her boss and told us that she had a soup that we could have. We sat down and she brought over sparkling orange juice and a basket FULL of bread. We were all blow away by how generous she was being. Later she brought out the soup and it was fantastic. By the time we were all finished, we were happy and full.
And then we walked outside and realized, we don’t have anywhere to sleep. That night we ended up sleeping in a playground. It was so cold. TP, JC, and I all snuggled together under our sleeping bags and it still wasn't warm enough. I personally was terrified that the police were going to come and take us to jail. (Overreaction, I know) But thankfully they didn't and that morning we woke up and started walking.
We decided not to stay in Hradek and to keep walking. The guys wanted to walk to Liberec but by this time I had the worst blisters ever that I couldn't walk any longer. We stopped by the side of the road to try to get a ride and rest for a bit. TM went off to try to find a ride. After a bit he came back and told us we had a place to stay. IN A CASTLE. No joke, it was a legit castle. It was absolutely beautiful. We were all smiling so big and so thankful that we didn't have to sleep outside. The family that works and stays at the castle said that we could stay there if we wanted to help them out with some work. He even took TP and I to the market to buy food for the two days we were staying there.
God provides in the most unsuspecting ways. He didn't need to provide a castle for us; He could have had us sleep outside. But instead, He provided us with this beautiful place to stay, some amazing food, and some wonderful people to minister to. I keep looking back at our time in the Czech Republic and I’m pretty sure it was a dream. I cannot explain how much this trip restored my faith in God. He provided so much more than any of us needed.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Well, hopefully I will be able to keep up on this blog more now that I feel like I have a schedule. We will have a lot of free time in the afternoon which is great and lame at the same time. Great because I have more time to write and take pictures but bad because if I don’t have anything to do I will just sit around or go to Penny and eat. I’m hoping I can find more stuff to do around here.
So we had our first normal weekend in Herrnhut and we all did our own thing. Saturday I sort of slept in. Around 10:45 a group of us went on a photo adventure. There is an abandoned ware house 15 minutes away from town and it was beautiful. I love that God can create something so beautiful out of something so broken. It was so good to walk around and explore. I spent an hour and half there and then walked back to town to just hang out. I cleaned the room, organized a little bit, and did my laundry. It was such a great feeling to have my laundry done- my refugee camp clothes did not smell too great :) The rest of the day I spent at the apartment and I watched Harry Potter (thank goodness BH loves HP as much as I do!)
Sunday I woke up and hung out with Joyce in the room and listened to a podcast from Mars Hill. I’m glad they have them available even though it makes me miss home. I then walked to the castle and waited patiently for my mom to get on Skype ;) FINALLY she did and even though the connection sucked, it was great to talk to her. I’m hopefully going to get internet at home soon so I can Skype in the comforts of my own room. Here’s to hoping! After skyping I had dinner and walked back home because I was feeling sick. A lot of people at the castle and the apartment are sick. Makes me miss my mom, even though she never made me soup when I was sick ;)
And then starts week two. I can’t believe I’ve only been here for a week, it seems like it’s been forever since I’ve got here. For lecture today we listened to a story from one of our school leaders and a past student. They spoke about their DTS outreach experience in Ethiopia. They and their team went to Ethiopia to help a native tribe leader and his tribe. They practiced an age old custom concerning a ‘witch craft’ practice called mingee. When a child has mingee they are killed. There are three ways a child can have mingee: they were born out of wedlock, their parents didn’t tell the tribe they were trying to have a child and then conceived, and when a toddler’s teeth came in the bottom first, not the top. They then would either throw the baby in the river for the alligators to eat, lock them in a hut until they died, or (in the case of toddlers) tied them to a tree for a wild animal to eat. Wow, what a way to start out a story. My heart immediately broke for the children and their parents. I couldn’t imagine standing by as tribe leaders left kids out in the wild to be eaten. KT told us that more than 300 children were killed in a year. Is your heart broken yet? Because mine crumbled when she said that.
Her and her team then felt the Lord telling them that they needed to go and help this tribe because a child was going to die in the next two days. Long story short, they saved this child from being killed. Along with a total of 5 children just that trip. They also set up an orphanage while they were there for the children rescued from this horrifying practice. In three years 25 children have been saved. Even more wonderful is that the hearts of the tribe have started to change. They are starting to realize that maybe this practice isn’t the best. Unfortunately, a church from California came in for a mission trip and ended up taking over the orphanage the YWAM team started. A lot of things can be accomplished when you have money. The church ended up leaving the orphanage and since then KT and a couple of people from that original team have been trying to re-establish that trust they had.
These stories make me want to go out and do great things. I guess that's what is supposed to happen, right?
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Well, I’ve been here for almost a week and it seems like it’s been months! I’ll just start from the beginning.
I flew out of Grand Rapids on Thursday and the flights went ok. We were delayed in Chicago and had to rush to get boarding tickets in Munich and made it 6 minutes before the plane was boarding. I was so glad KC was with me. She has been such a blessing this whole trip. So we got to Dresden and then had to take a train to Lobau. We met up with BN and KL which was SO good. We all had no idea where we were going and got lost. Yup, one day in Germany (not even) and this girl was lost. BUT good news, I made it. We arrived in Herrnhut around 3ish. We went to the castle and met some of the staff and found out where we were going to live. KC, KL, and I are all in the apartments, even though I’m on another floor. I’m in a room with only one other girl which I thought would annoy me but now I’m really happy for it. I was alone the first night which was kind of overwhelming. I had just traveled for almost 24 hours, I was out of my element, and all alone (JC wasn’t there yet). Looking back I know that is a God send. I needed time to myself to relax and just breathe for a second.
And that was good considering what was ahead of me. I had read blogs from the past MOTA and had seen that they slept in boxes the first official night of DTS. So, when they told us to pack warm clothes I had expected the same thing. I’ll get to that later. So we had a welcome bbq (Peg, here’s the menu: Chicken, pasta, and potatoes. Nothing too exciting :) ) And then we had a welcome ceremony where they presented all the staff and all the tracks. It was cool to see what we would be doing in the next coming months. OH and I met my roommate. She’s wonderful; crazy, but still so wonderful :)
Here is where the warm clothes come in. We found out that we would be building a refugee camp. There has been a lot of unrest and Somalia and all the citizens are moving to Kenya. There are more than 400,000 thousand people living in one refugee camp in Kenya. We were provided 2 posts, a couple of sticks, and a tarp to build our selves and tent for the night. Thank goodness JW was in my tent, it was nice to have someone that I knew with me. We decided to nix the idea on building a tent and just wrap ourselves in the tarp. And that was good. We were warm with all our layers and the tarp; until we woke up during the night. It was FREEZING. Oh my goodness it was so cold. I didn’t sleep well at all that night but finally the sun came up.
The rest of the morning we didn’t really know what was going. That afternoon we all gathered together and were told we were going for a walk. Great, its 100 degrees out and we’re going for a walk. SUPER. I had a horrible attitude about it but looking back I had nothing to complain about. We were walking to experience what it is like to walk to get the water you need. I can’t imagine walking in weather that is much hotter than it was, without shoes, and with no idea if there is even water there. God has been showing me how much I truly have. It’s been such a blessing to be able to experience a “refugee camp”. So we continued on with the simulation and had to share a food bowl which was fine; the no utensil thing, not the greatest. It’s hard to eat past and salad without a fork. But again, we have so much to be thankful for. We had an opportunity to discuss our thoughts about the refugees and that was a good time to think and pray for those that are actually going through the things we are but to an whole other extent. Earlier that day we had a chance to rebuild out tent so that night we went home to a much better equipped tent. But that didn’t matter considering it started storming half way through the night. I woke up around who knows when to our tent thrashing in the wind. It was lightening like crazy!! It was around 4 in the morning when they let us come inside. I think everyone was pretty thankful for that.
Monday was filled with orientation and rules and such. We found out that night that we were going to stop the simulation because rain was predicted the rest of the week. Honestly, I was a little sad. DH told us everything that was going to happen and I think that it would have been a great learning experience to encounter all the challenges that he had planned. I was mentally prepared to face another night of rain. I was ready. But I can understand where they were coming from. They didn’t want to endanger our health or mental well being. So, some girls that live in the apartment and I walked pack to our home. In the dark. And the rain. And the mud. I was so dirty and tired that I just wanted to go home. Oh, I forgot to mention that this whole time we didn’t have showers. Yup, I didn’t shower from Thursday to Monday night.
I know this is a long post but just hang in there; it’s worth it I promise. J
So Tuesday we walked back up to the castle for our first days of lecture. We started the day with a time for prayer. Every Tuesday and Thursday we will have a half an hour or an hour (I can’t remember) to pray. We prayed for the refugees. We got into groups of three and had to pray out loud. I don’t really like praying out loud but when the time came it wasn't bad at all. I’m really learning how important it is to talk with God on a regular basis. After prayer we had fruit break- my favorite part of the day! And then we started lecture. Our speaker this week is Mike, he and his wife have been involved with YWAM for 31 years. They have such a great story, I loved hearing about all the things he has done. He then spoke about the father heart of God. He made so many points where I was like, yup, that applies to me. One thing that stood out to be that our God is a faithful God. He will never leave us. He knows we are guilty yet He stands by our side. I can’t wait to hear him speak again.
I will write more when I have the chance!
PS Peg if you’re reading this: I haven’t had the opportunity to eat authentic German food. We pretty much have sandwiches for breakfast, cereal in the morning, and potatoes at night. I know, super exciting J
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Well everyone, I leave tomorrow! In less than 24 hours I will begin my journey to Germany. I am so thankful for everyone's prayers and encouragment! I would love to keep in contact so here is my information. I am going to have little internet access so I promise to keep in contact when I can!
JMEM / DTS
Untere Dorfstr. 56
Ruppersdorf, Germany 02747
I can't believe I have come this far. I can't wait to experience all that God has planned for me. I am all packed and ready to go.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Prayers would be greatly appreciated as I spend my last 3 days with friends and family. There are going to be some really tough goodbyes, pray for strength. Thank you all for your support and love!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Well my friends, this blog post is about a wedding, not about my travels. Despite that, please keep reading to hear about this fantastic love story.
Here's a back story of my beautiful friends:
Blake and I went to high school together, good ole' CCHS!, but didn't really connect until my sophomore year. He became my "father" when we went on a church mission trip together. Oh the memories from that trip. We kept in contact throughout the years but drifted apart a little when Blake went to Calvin. We talked more when I went to Calvin which was wonderful. I will never forget the time when Blake pretty much wrote my first philosophy paper for Corcoran's class. I mean, when he "helped" me write my paper! Oh, and the times at the Beltline Manor. Despite the HORRIBLE wallpaper and carpet, their house was a great place to spend time to hang out with Blake and the roommates. Blake will always mean so much to me- he's been such a great mentor, friend, and "dad" :)
And when I first found out Blake was dating Hana I immediately went to Facebook. Because, come on, I had to see this girl that got Blake's heart! I didn't get to meet her right away because he was in Hilton Head, but he eventually brought her to church so everyone could meet her. And I am so glad that he did. Hana and I have spent many days together since then. We like to refer to ourselves as Han(n)a(h) :) Some of my favorite nights this past year have been when Hana and I went to Logan's Sunday night for some late night dinner and girl time. After many long talks, a couple of wonderful sleepovers, and trips to her parent's house, I can happily say that Hana is one of my best friends.
So I was overjoyed when Blake asked for my help with his proposal! I was so excited to be a part of such a special moment for them. So after much planning (and sadly a scheduling problem with the ring), I was ready to capture this special moment for them. I told Hana that I had some family problems that I needed to talk to her about and asked if we could meet at the new biggby out by Grand Valley (knowing full well that it wasn't open yet!) and then suggested we move to Johnson park. On the way we talked about my "family problems" and when we drove up to the park she finally realized what was going on. The pictures tell the rest of the story:
They were both so happy that day, it was so great to see their smiles. The last picture is my favorite by far! AH, there's just nothing left to say, it was a wonderful day!
Over the next year Blake and Hana went through months of long distance relationships. Through the distance, they planned their wedding for June 24, 2011. With the help of family (Mainly Dana and Nene who did SUCH a great job with everything) and friends, the plans fell into place. Part of those plans were Engagement photos which I had the pleasure of taking! Here are a few of our favorites:
They have such a pure, beautiful love; I can’t help but smile remembering their wedding. It was such a beautiful day to spend with loved ones! I was able to spend time with Hana and her bridesmides before the wedding. We helped Hana get into her dress (after figuring out what was going wrong :) ) , took fun pictures, and got more and more excited as 5 o’clock rolled around. The pictures say it all: