Sunday, July 26, 2009

Only one week left! :(

Long time without blogging!!! We have had two teams since I last blogged. The large team of 40 went very smoothly, getting two houses built and making two families very happy. One of the house dedications, where we pray for the family and eat at the new house, ended up with the whole family crying and not knowing how to say thanks. It was beautiful. I got to help some young girls lead an extra vbs every day, which was a lot of work, but ended up being something the kids really enjoyed. About 20 showed up daily even though it was super hot (our crayolas on a table outside turned to soup one of the days!!!)

The last group we had was small, and most were young adults. We had a HUGE VBS while they were here. The theme was "Esther", and it was everyday, consuming about 6 hours a day. Each day we had about 150 kids!!! and we had about 20 local helpers. It was so cool to see the locals working together to actually LEAD it themselves. It really could have even been done without us americans. This was a good thing however, since the goal of missions is to EMPOWER the community, not try to do everything ourselves or pretend we are the only ones with something to offer.

My job for VBS consisted of making chocolate bananas with each group of kids (9 groups in total), and hanging out with the kids in their tribes. It was so much fun! Worship and dancing was probably the best part. Think of a big field of dirt in the hot sun. A huge tent that advertises beer set up right in the middle. A bunch of chairs that advertise the local beer company set out in numurous rows. And then the whole tent filled with eager kids wanting to dance and sing and worship. Beautiful. Jesus was definitely there.

And now it is my last week!!! I can not believe it at all. Tonight I have a bridal shower to go to for one of my really good friends here. Tomorrow we will be getting up early to go mud the walls of a house we didnt get finished last week. By about 3 something tomorrow our last group should be here (which consists of the leaders I had for my trip here in march, and my sister!). I will spend the week working with them, go to a quincenera on Saturday night (this is a girls 15th bday party. It is pretty much as big as a wedding party. You go to a womans house, and the two pictures on the wall are of her quincenera and her wedding!), and then leave with them on Sunday morning. My emotions have been all over lately. I really want to stay and yet I do miss home and school. I have a family here. The church that I've been going to has so graciously taken me in as their sister in Christ. I hang out with the youth so much... spending time talking about secrets and playing soccer and eating icecream :) It's been so fun! There will be alot of tears at the farewell...

Which brings me to my latest thoughts on missions in general and my future thoughts. Not much on it, but just a little heads up, I'm still in love with Mexico, even more now. And Croc... oh man. It has taken up a lot of space in my heart. I could totally see myself moving here right after college. I was just talking to the leaders here about how some sort of youth program would be so beneficial. VBS and afterschool programs get the little kids in, but it would be good to get the youth more involved. So i'm praying about being apart of this. Maybe I'll move here and get it started up ;) They really want long-time people to commit. More than just a month or a year. I really want to seak God and see if this would be for me. We will see... but for now I am praying!

Thanks for reading guys!!! This may be my last blog made in mexico!! ahh!

Prayer quests for now:

God to prepare my heart to leave. I do not want to leave these beautiful brothers and sisters that have become part of my family. Pray for our relationships to continue, and for the opportunities to return and visit them.

pray for the incoming team, that God would speak to them and stretch them. Teach them new things.

I really want God to speak to me more about my place in missions. I feel like what he is callling me into hasn't even barely surfaced yet. :) this excites me, and also scares me. I want to be ready, and want to be willing and able to push through all of the obstacles that come along.

Other staff here. Many are praying about how long they should be here, and when they should return home. Pray that God would strengthen them, and even renew their visions for this place.

I love you all!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

a breath of Beauty.

Have you ever seen something so beautiful and exhilerating that it makes you want to cry in delight? This week we went with a team from Orange City (yes, it blows my mind that orange citian people find their way out to here, Croc, Mexico!), and we went to Mantecanas... probably the most lovely of lovliest places I have been to. To be honest, I had been tired already the first day (tuesday) the team had arrived. I snuck little naps in before and after VBS, and prayed for the week to go fast. When the group of 8 dutch people from OC announced they were going to go do the river hike up Montecanas, I knew that that would put me over my limit and probably be anything but enjoyable.

I was wrong.

So, this place called montecanas... take a 2 hour drive from Croc all the way through Monterrey, the beautiful city life all around you, and then, as the business slowly dwindles and bumpy roads become bumpier (there are no smooth roads in MX), you start to twist and curve and bump and slide down and up the mountains. A river starts to grow on the side, promising an adventure that is soon to come later on ;)
Finally we arive to the base, where we get out and start to hike up the river. This includes rock climbing, skipping around on rocks, and full immersion in the water at times when the paths dissapear. after 2 hours of hiking and swiming and climbing up waterfalls, the rocks dissapear and the river gets deep. It is then swimming up curent and climbing up more waterfalls.

3 hours into it, you come to the most beautiful thing ive seen. A cave; the river running through it and reaching its deepest parts. It's a long cave, so it gets dark and you can't see or touch the bottom. water drips from the top. the temperature drops. I don't think i've ever been so cold in Mexico. and so you make your way through the cave, until you get to another waterfall, climb up it, and then climb up ANOTHEr huge waterfall, and then get to the part where i couldn't get up. Sorry, but my arms can not pull me up this 20 foot waterfall. But it was all so beautiful. Im sure I saw hundreds of butterflies, tadpoles, frogs, and lizards. The water became such a wonderful turquoise the deeper it got on the way up. AHHH... and to think we might return next week because we have the week off :)

So yes, our time spent with the team from the OC was fun and in the end, refreshing. although my body is sore, and i have realized i have muscles that I never knew I had!And now we get the whole weeek off. I'm very tired, so it's good. We will most likely go up into the mountains, where it is cooler and we can stop sweating for a bit. Sounds energizing already! But really, all has been well. Again, God is steady, and always sends spiritual rain when neeeded. I only have 4 more weeks here, and know i will miss it greatly. My relationships with the locals are becoming so wonderful and beautiful. Not only is my spanish growing, but my love for the people here. I'm seeing that relationships are the main vessels to impact a person. My question to the Holy Spirit is how can I let him lead me more in my conversations and time spent here. I want to bear much fruit.

Thanks for your faithful prayers. They are ever so needed! PLease continue to pray:

~week of rest (i need this so much. we are all pretty tired from the teams, the heat, and energy spent on relationships.)
~ upcoming team of 40 people! that they would be free to "flex and flow" (most famous quote here in Mx)
~ that I would learn what it means to be in FULL comunion with the Holy Spirit, and to let him guide me.

I love you all! I'm expecting to go on coffee dates with all of you after the summer, so make sure to remember all of the amazing and beautiful things of your summer and how God stretched and changed and challenged you :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

a constant God.

You know, everytime I do a blog, I always tell myself to make it short and sweet. It never does what's going on here justice though, and a lots going on. this blog might be more "journally", but I hope that if anyone reads it, they will be able to see more of the depths of what God is doing.

Personally, a lot has been going on in my heart and mind. Missions seems to be such an up and down, sweet and sour kind of adventure. You've got those good moments, where you could cry out of joy and delight, and then those days where you want to cry out of frustration, weariness, or lonliness. For example, last night I had such an amazing time going to a play put on by some girls that I know here. We went John Wesley, the seminary school, and met a bunch of sweet people, including a Pensylvanian family with an 8 yr old son who moved to the seminary to teach. The boy, Ryan, is fluent in both english and spanish, and honestly I was jealous ;) We then ate at Pollo loco, which was delicious. Our car ride home consisted of an amazing conversation with a local, Marco, about VBS, reaching the children, and even about the state of the church and how we have lost our delight in God. I went to my bed on the roof, saw a couple of shooting stars, and was so satisfied in the fact that I am here and surrounded by such beautiful people.

Today was different. one of the downs. We had our normal sunday bible study at 9:30, and all was peachy... I was even being a little extra bold by sharing my heart on what was being talked about and all (which I've been having trouble being open and real and sharing my thoughts here with staff). Then we closed in prayer, and all of a sudden the guy praying thanked God for the fathers, since it is, I guess, fathers day... which maybe I tried to forget what day that fell on this year, and was successful until this prayer. Ever since that moment, the day slowly has been given way to lonliness. With the passing of my dad last year, and fresh wounds that still are healing, fathers day is no fun really. especially in a different country without family. With people that still seem a lot like strangers. No one to really process through the day with. And then it just makes me think of how much I feel unknown. Which is probably a regular feeling of any missionary who leaves home and family and settles around all unknown, feeling unknown. Such an unenjoyable feeling. So there is one very current "down".

However, with all of the ups and downs, there is a steady God. I'm so thankful for that. Especially in missions. Not that it can't happen elsewhere, but it seems I've never been challenged and stretched as much in missions. It's so messy. So many relationships to deal with, staff and locals. and trying to open up to a random group of people that have been placed here for the summer by God. and then personal things going on in my heart and head that long for a listening ear. But it's beautiful. It really is. The tough moments make the sweet moments sweeter, and the presence of God stronger.

So that's a drip, and I mean a tad bit, of what is going on in me. a lot of questioning and stretching. Needing to know that God knows the depths of me. he knows me in and out. and he is my constant. haha constant is such a beautiful word to us missionaries i think. It seems nothing is constant here. but He is. I am so excited for this week, and the team that will be here in about 2 hours. I feel that God has something planned, and that he really wants to move and catalyze not only the group, but me too.

Please be praying!!!!
-new team this week
-staff that abides in Jesus, resulting in fruit.
- relationships. honestly, I do feel a bit lonely. I feel so intimidated at the thought of being real with people here. and yet, I think God really wants to move through this kind of openess.
-the relationships of us and our fathers (or lack thereof). My friend just lost her dad last week, my pastor's wife just lost her dad yesterday, and numerous other families, including mine, have lost fathers just recently. Pray for God to use our stories, especially in the lives of the broken like here in croc.
-BOLDNESS. pray against the spirit of fear.

I love you all tons, and pray you are all doing well!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

First team: Desperation Church

We just led our first team for the summer here in Croc!!! It went so quickly. So much fun though!

So the team consisted of 18 people, about half youth and half adults. A good mix. They arrived Sunday night later then planned because of issues at the border. We were so excited as staff to finally have people at the base. Our schedule looked a little like this:

prepare for VBS and English classes-9
English Class-10 to 11
VBS-1:30 to 3:30
More english classes-3:30 to 5:00
7:30-(m)game night (t)plaza/soccer (w)youth group (th)house visit (f)house dedication of the house that we built each week.
9:00-team meeting
11:00-sleep on the roof :) (this is the only time to cool off from the daily 108 degree weather).

Our first week of VBS was huge! we had over 70 kids show up, without doing registration or anything. The local staff of the afterschool program have it running super smoothly and I have been so impressed by them. Working along with them has been fun. The three of them, Joahna, Gris, and Marco have such beautiful hearts and a huge passion for the kids here. They know each kid by name, and have so much patience it's insane. I am in charge of leading the games and snack. This has been fun because after four different times explaining rules in spanish, my vocab grows in leaps and bounds.

I've also been helping with the English classes. It's so cute to see kids after their classes trying to say "how are you" and "hello" to us. It just makes them want to interact with us even more.

I have enjoyed the flex and flow of it all the most. Here in mexico time is nothing too important. Everything revolves around relationships. Almost nothing is on time, and usually plans change 20 times. However, the interactions are priceless, and usually happen during times that weren't planned. Whenever there is nothing to do, there are always locals just sitting outside of our base waiting to play or talk. It's so fun. Whenever we drive or walk anywhere, I see so many familiar faces... I pretty much know the whole village ;)

This week we have free because a team backed out. We will be going to a boy's (Juan's) bday party tonight and church tomorrow (I love the church... so many sweet people there). We'll continue VBS with the staff and also English classses. Our next team comes next Sunday.

I miss you guys tons! thanks for reading this :) Enjoy your weeks!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

love god. love people.

so this is going to be a more detailed update:

It's been a pretty long week. We have been having many meetings, mostly on different subjects such as poverty, immigration, theology, missions perspectives, an overview of the bible, politics, the economy, and more. All of these subjects stir up my heart everytime they come up, so it was so good to bounce issues and ideas off of each other. It's crazy how God encompasses all of these things and how he wants us to live out our WHOLE lives through him- every decision and idea saturated with who he is and what he's about.

Other than meetings, we eat at random people's houses almost every night. It's so so much fun. Think about big family reunions... that how every night ends up :) lots of tacos, salsa, and spanish!!! Last night we hung out with a youth group for a while, and played card games and ate hamburgers. I already feel like I'm best friends with half the village because of all of the fiestas!

and I'm having a continuous problem... I keep commenting on earings or bracelets that the girls where around, and they keep giving them to me. You see, here, when you comment on something, the person usually just takes it off and gives it to you. I feel so bad because you have to accept a gift, and yet they don't have much. haha, which brings up Jentry, one of the summer staff. She went to feed some dogs left-over spagetti and the girl just gave her the dog. GAVE it to her to keep forever. Later she found out we couldn't keep it and we all had to bring it back. The family was a little dissapointed.. :(

Prayer requests:
TEAMS come tomorrow!!! pray for unity, strength, and health. Pray that the hearts of the youth group teams would be gripped and transformed by God.
An abusive mother here with three troublesome kids that don't listen. Pray that the Holy Spirit would radically change their lives.
Health. My tummy is starting to hurt.

Our team is getting to know each other and finally talks. haha
Mexican people are beautiful :)
All finances have been raised!!!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

**travel and prep work**

Leaving Friday morning super early, me and 5 other new summer staff plus 3 leaders left from KC to Mexico. We traveled one of the longer more scenic routes, listening to country music, taking back roads with LOADS of wildflowers, and eating a BUNCH of yummy food like ribs.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon and rested a bit. The week so far has been a lot of hanging out with people, both staff and locals, building relationships, and preparing for the teams that come sunday. We eat at different local's homes almost daily, and are filling up on amazing mexican food ;) We were assigned jobs, mine is VBS coordinator... pretty much communicating between the local after-school staff and the incoming teams what needs to be done. I will also be leading a VBS every wednesday night, hopefully recruiting a bunch of youth from teams to help me!

Connecting with all the new people has been a great stretch. It seems that I always place myself in positions that really stretch me, and I wonder... "what was I thinking?" haha. BUt God always uses it, in crazy ways. It's kind of funny- I feel almost more comfortable hanging out with and talking with the locals here in Spanish then I do with all of the new people on staff. But that will change ;) I guess it just proves that I am truely mexican in my blood, and that it should come natural to hang with my mexican buddies!

I should go, but will update more in future posts. God is already stretching me in my faith. I wonder how he wants to use me and what great things he will do and continue to do through this ministry in Croc. It's crazy to see how placing yourself in vulnerable and uncomfortable situations throws so much oil into the flames of our hearts. It's in places like this where we realize how much we need God to work through us. We are nothing without him!

I love you guys and mISS you already!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

{filling UP to pour OUT}

you can't commend what you don't cherish... Missions is the overflow of our delight in God.

Well it's my second day in KC and I have been staying with a coupld friends in a house about five blocks from the House of Prayer. This prayer room is open 24/7 and has 2 hour sets of worship with the word and intercession. I am just now realizing how it is so necessary that I am here for two days seeking God, and getting a deeper understanding of his Love and Glory. Yesterday I spent the whole day there, thinking I would be lifting up the next two months in Mexico to Jesus, but he zoned in on my heart and my spiritual emptiness instead.

The quote that I put in this blog is from John Piper: Let the Nations Be Glad!- I just picked it up yesterday and the first two pages have already rocked my view of missions. Sometimes we go into missions and get so caught up in doing the work, sharing the gospel, and living the life of financial faith. Even though these are important, it's not the fuel. Worship is. The revelation of God's greatness. His mercy. His love. His grace. His Holiness. and so much more. If we ourselves are not set aflame by these revelations, then we have nothing to give. If we aren't madly in love and in pursuit of God, then the people we are reaching out to will not be impacted by us. The revolution starts in our own pursuit and knowledge and understanding of the crazy God we so blandly worship.

Jesus, I pray that you would give us a new revelation (actually, an old one that we keep forgetting) of your Glory. Show us who you are again. Unveil our eyes. Open our deaf ears. And soften our calloused hearts. I lift up all my friends going on summer missions trips Jesus. Before they even step foot on the field, stir up true worship in their hearts. Let them be fueled by your beauty and energized by your love.

I leave KC for Mexico tomorrow at 6:45am!!! Nos Vemos Pronto :) Chau!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

And so the adventure begins =]

Welcome to my new blog spot!!! I really hope to keep this updated weekly throughout the summer, but just fyi- my last blogspot ended up with one post, and then I forgot about it! haha.

As most of you know I will be spending 9 weeks, May 29th-August 4th ish in Croc, Mexico. This little village is about 30 minutes away from the big city of Monterrey (you will not find Croc on google map search, so if you want to see where I am, Monterrey is pretty close!) I got to visit Croc just this past spring break with a team from Sioux Center, and had an amazing time. Youthfront is the organization with which I am working through, and is based out of Kansas City, geared towards challenging and equiping youth (check out their vision at I look forward to seeing a lot of the croc kids and youth again that I was able to build relationships with. During this time I will be working with weekly teams from the states, helping them in different areas such as children's ministries, teaching English, home visits, and such. Each team will be challenged to reach out not only to the people in the village, but also to grow in their own faith.

I am leaving in less than 2 days for Kansas City and will stay with a friend until Friday. Friday at 6:45am I will get dropped off at the youthfront base, pack up the vans, and leave with 6 other summer staffers and a couple of leaders to Croc! We will arrive at the base on Saturday around dinner time, and then go through training for a week. After that, the teams come!

Prayer requests:
First off, please pray for all of us on staff. In past missions experiences, I have really seen how the relationships and unity of the team play a huge role in the fruit of the mission itself. Pray for unity, love, grace, and patience. Also, pray that God would open doors and give me wisdom and boldness to love and challenge the teams that come down, and to be a living witness to them. Pray that the people of Croc would continue to see the love coming from us and the mission, and that love itself through actions would draw them closer to God's heart. Please pray for saftey while traveling, crossing the border, and also for the stay.

Thank you all so much for supporting me, especially with the encouraging words. I love you all so so so much :) Hopefully next week I will be able to let you all know how my first couple of days go in Mexico! and remember, keep me up to date on your summers as well. I would love to hear from you.