Thrown into a Pit with a Lion

Spiritual warfare has hit me quite hard this past week, and it takes
away some of the enjoyment of all the wonderful things around me.  I
didn’t even want to go to lead my Lifegroup last night, it was having
quite the impact on me.  But I was reviewing what we were talking about
in our Chase the Lion
book and God very promptly reminded me that it’s through the tough
times that He causes me to grow, not the easy times.  It’s by choosing
to "face my lion"-the one that I seemed to have fallen into a pit with-that I push through and grow stronger.  So I PUSHed
(pray until something happens kind of thing) and I knew that I could go
on to lead in the grace that I should readily depend on anyway.  He was
so awesome! 

One of my LifeGroupies even offered to open in prayer!
After 3 1/2 months, I finally had someone offer to pray (without any
prompting at all from me!  woo hoo!)  If there was nothing else to
encourage me last night, that would’ve been enough.  Plus, God really lead
our discussion well.  So glad He lets me partner with Him.

Manos de Jesus

Manos de Jesus-Hands of Jesus.  That’s the organization that we’re working with Dsc03495 here.

One of the key aspects to the organization is the feeding program.  They feed over 1500 kids a couple times a week, but before the kids eat they get experience kids’ church…it’s a whole lot of fun!  I’m definitely missing my students, so this was a great relief to hang out with kids-really cute kids:) 

We sang several songs, all in Spanish of course.  And we did many, many, many motions.  The kids were cracking up at me because I kept trying to get the motions down.  The words, notsomuch, but the motions connected them with me.  It’s amazing how much kids love you more when you’re willing to make a fool out of yourself.  This is a trait that God is still perfecting in me.  Jesus put himself in a position to look like a fool for the sake of people.  I’m usually okay with putting myself out there; I’m usually okay with laughing at myself.  Take my word for it-you don’t need to test me on this:)

To be the hands of Jesus is to be Jesus incarnate.  It seems like that keeps coming up through many people…how fitting.

Reflections From Saturday

Okay, so today was hilarious.  Looking back, I have to laugh at the adventure of it all. 
First of all, you can check out the video post below to see a snipet of what it was like for us to get to the locations to build.  Up and down the mountains we venture, all in the back of pickup trucks.  Yesterday all 6 of us in the truck were fortunate enough to stand, while only about half the people in the other truck were able to stand.  Take a second and think about what it would feel like to sit in the back of a pickup truck for 45 minutes, going up and down mountains, around curves that were kind of like u-turns, and driving on crazy, dirt roads…you only got a snipet of a paved road…I had to hold on with both hands once we hit the dirt roads, due to the bumpiness, so no video footage could be captured at that time. 🙂
Anywho, I went on the other truck today, so I sat the whole way to our site…that was the first part of my adventure.  Going up and down, and airborn several times.  So then we get to our site…well, we couldn’t actually drive to our site.  It was a bit remote…and quite uphill🙂  Have you ever seen movies, or TV shows, where they’ve got some fugitive who goes into hiding in massive forestry mountainous areas?  Well, I kind of felt like I was in one of those places.  We had paths though, so I knew if something happened to me, Jack Bauer would be able to find me by tracking my footprints.  I was so out of breath once I reached the top and the whole rest of the time I kept thinking about the trek back.  Okay, it was only about a half mile-that was the guess from a couple teammates-but that was, by far, the toughest half mile I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. 
It got even more fun when it started raining.  Thankfully it didn’t downpour before we left our site, but the dirt did get a bit muddier for our way back down the hill.  My legs hurt:)  It’s a good hurt-although I have to admit that I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle our 5K a few days after we get back. 
Honestly, I drilled a lot more and hit a lot more nails today.  And I realized that this is definitely not my calling in life:)  I’ve watched a few people who do this construction stuff very well…I am not one of them.  I actually messed up a few times today (imagine that!) and it really messed with my pride…yep, the P word.  It really bothered me that all my measurements were off, and one of the walls was even a little messed up because of me!  Yeah, the teacher who teaches kids how to use rulers…boy will this be a great illustration next year of why accuracy in measurement is important!  My mistakes really had more to do with my lack of understanding in how to use the tool I was using.  It’s a simple tool, but it was old and rusty, and I clearly missed something on how to use it.  I know that I found the 8.5 inch mark each time!  Oh well…grace was shown to me today, and God reminded me of why He brought me here.
See…Last year, as God helped me to process life a little more by cleaning out the rooms of my heart.  Then I got to do that practically, by gutting out houses in Lousiana.  He prompted me to go on this trip because we were going to be building.  He reminded me that He’s doing that in me and that I need to do that practically.  Construction is simply not my forte, nor have I ever had any desire to that…or this kind of missions trip.  But because God’s always right, I wanted to obey him in this venture as well.  It’s kind of tough agreeing to do something that you know, right off the bat, that you aren’t going to be very good at.  It would be like my friend, Katie, playing on a sports team to raise money for missions…it would be way out of her comfort zone, but I’m sure she’d obey if God called her to go;)  I digress.  So here I was today, screwing up (as I’ve also done in God’s building process in my life-it’s called sin) and after I felt stupid, confessed that it was my fault, I sensed in such an amazing way, how big God’s grace is. 
Okay, I could write all night, but I’m really sleepy.  My real, Guatemalan coffee isn’t even keeping up:)  Did I mention it’s 9.37 on Saturday night?  That’s alright.  I wake up at 5…without even trying.  I sit by the fire, drink my coffee, read my Bible, and journal. 
It’s a good time.

Home Sweet Home

Today (Friday) was amazing.  I’m tired, but it was amazing.  I hit a hammer into wood for the first time today.  Knowing that this was not going to be my specialty, I mostly held wood for others to pound nails into, but a few nails I did drive home:)  (I was kind of a girly girl today, I guess you could say)

Take a second and think of what the word home means to you.  Think of what your home looks like; how big it is, how cozy it is, how cool/warm it is, how much stuff you have in it, the paint on the walls, the pictures hung…I’m a spoiled brat.

Here are a few pictures of one of the homes that my team built today, for a widow and her five children.

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Think about the word home again.  Don’t you feel kinda spoiled?  We don’t have to feel bad about our blessings, but it’s nice to recognize that we have so much, in order to give.  After all, in the reality of the Cross, we don’t deserve anything, and we haven’t earned anything. 

This widow, and her kids, were so grateful for our small kindness.  I’m pretty sure that it meant the world to them.  We got to share blessing with someone that desperately needed it. 

Withdrawal

I’m a fan of many things including:

  1. my church
  2. ministry
  3. my pastor’s preaching
  4. my friends
  5. blogging
  6. jogging
  7. teaching 4th grade
  8. Hanley International Academy
  9. my family
  10. caribou coffee

…and I’m going through withdrawal of several of those things.  Can you tell on #5?  This is my 4th post tonight!  up until today i went through withdrawal of #10.  i feel like i haven’t been at #1 in forever…and i always miss #3 when i’m gone (good thing I can get the podcast;)…to the #4’s who read my blog, let’s do coffee when I get back…and i already can’t wait to get back to school the Monday after i get back (isn’t that insane?)…i miss #7 for the moment…and as for #9, i got a quick fix this weekend, but i definitely miss my boys in chicago.

12 Hours

In 12 Hours (and a few minutes) my plane will take off from the Detroit MetrGuatemalao Airport and I will be on my
way to Chichicastenango, Guatemala.  I’m quite excited and a little nervous.  I’m going away with mostly people that I don’t really know…and I’m going out of the country.  I haven’t been out of the country since I went to Mexico with my youth group, in ’96.  I really pray that we are open to being used and that God will change us forever, through changing the lives of the people that we’ll minister to.

Building homes for women and kids will definitely have its rewards…and I hope there’s more.  I want to pray prayers that seem so impossible and ridiculous to pray…and actually see God’s hand move.  Let’s pray for that.

I just posted three times this evening…because I’ve been dying to post.  I finally had the chance to sit down and not be quite as stressed about getting everything done.  My life is so blessed-so rich.  May God humble my heart this week.

It’s funny because I finally decided not to take my digital SLR, and settle for using my little digital camera, thanks to a good friend who helped me go for the "below par" pictures over risking the loss of ‘my baby’.   (Thanks, friend:)  Even in this one thing, I’m already feeling humbled! 

I think I already ready for bed!

Sent to Detroit

I love to tell the story of how I came to be where I am now.  Walking through a chain of events thatDetroit_1
God gracefully orchestrated has been a fantastic experience.

People will ask me where I’m from.  My response is usually something like this:  "Well, I’m from Philadelphia, but I went to college in Minneapolis, and now I live here!"  Others usually respond with a raised eyebrow and, "What brought you here?"  At this point I love to share the simple story of how God sent me here.  Until recently I didn’t fully get the concept of that, but now I feel like I have a better understanding of God’s plan.

***Allow me to interject the short story…I moved here to live with a friend, who was doing an internship, after graduation from NCU, but I was only going to stay for the summer.  My plans were to move back to Minneapolis in August but God directed my heart to stay.  It felt kind of crazy.  I didn’t have a job or a permanent place to live…what on earth was I going to do in Michigan?  I knew a few people and I had a great church, but what were they really going to do for me?  I still wasn’t going to be close to my family or any of my best friends…they all stayed in Minneapolis, where I was going to be.  God took me out of the comfort zone of the city I’d come to love, the college-life I’d become so distinctly apart of, and my large circle of close friends to be…in Detroit***

We’ve been talking about Jonah at Church of the King these past few weeks.  We’ve been looking at how Jonah was sent by God to a sin-filled place called Ninevah (yeah, yeah, yeah, a big whale…heard that story in Sunday School when I was 5).  But the perspective that Jonah was a missionary who lacked compassion for a city that needed God’s grace, just as much as he did, is not one I had the comprehension for as a five-year-old.  God sent Jonah (and he eventually went).  God sent Jesus.  God has sent me…to Detroit.

We’ve been talking about how God is sending us from our homes into our neighborhoods, our families, our jobs, our supermarkets, our malls-everywhere in our city-to be disciples in the most Jesus-like fashion we can.  I guess the funny thing is that I began to realize, a few weeks ago as I was telling my story once again, that God sent me from Philly, via Minneapolis, to Detroit. 

It almost seems silly that I didn’t get it before, after having told that story a hundred times, but it has finally hit me.  I am a missionary who left my family to go to an unfamiliar place, by myself, to see a city transformed in the name of Jesus. 

You know, I asked Jesus to be the Leader of my life when I was 7, during a missions convention at my church.  There were missionaries from Tunisia, whose son was dressed as a camel :), who prayed with me that night.  Until my recent years, when I thought of missionaries I thought of people like them.  Missionaries, to me, were people that travelled to other countries, ate scary food, learned to speak another language and dressed up in camel costumes!  Fortunately, God has expanded my thoughts of missionaries to look like people with red hair and freckles, who live in Southfield, Michigan and work in Hamtramck.

Perspective is a good thing.  I’m glad that Jesus is sharing more and more of His perspective with me about my life and my purpose these days.  I’m called to Metro-Detroit and unless He says, "Move," I’m here to stay.  I’m called to my church and I want to see it grow and mature.  I’m called to be a part of church planting here, however God chooses to use me in that.  I’m called to teach and I desire to see transformation happen through my students as they grow up to be future leaders in our city (that’s what I pray for them!).  I’m called to live in Southfield-I know that because I look different than everyone that lives around me and I love that:)

Temptation to leave comes , but I just won’t listen, because I know that I’m called here…voices tell me about things like better paying jobs, "nicer" city, better schools, lower taxes, bigger churches…but they simply don’t compare to being exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. 🙂  It’s truly amazing!