Thursday, September 30, 2010

What God Brings Together...

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9:17 PM
Every week we have time set aside for an "outreach focus". This is a chance for us to pray for our outreach location, in my case South Africa, and get information about the country, the injustice, and the work we will be doing. This Tuesday was our first meeting, and I had the most incredible God moment in there and just had to share.

I knew we were working with the HIV/AIDS infected in South Africa, but really wasn't too sure of the ministry opportunities we would have. Well, as my team leader was sharing about her experiences in South Africa a few months, she spoke about a need that was very dear to her heart and much needed in the country...

A Bible study/teaching on sexual purity.

My mouth just fell open. I couldn't believe it. Of all the ministry opportunities we'd have in all the world, it just happens to be something I've been actively teaching for the past two and a half years. I raise my hand immediately to tell my leader, and she is just as surprised. God clearly knew what team He was placing me on and for which trip. I can be part of writing this study and teaching that could actually change the way the people of South Africa live.

Another speaker shared tonight on compassion, and our role as Christians. He was speaking specifically to our team about HIV/AIDS in Africa. He shared about an experience he had in Uganda. He had the opportunity to talk to the president of Uganda's wife, who just happens to be a believer. And she shared with him her burden for the people in her country suffering with HIV/AIDS. Her solution was to begin teaching a sexual purity curriculum in all schools. Within a few years, the AIDS population in Uganda dropped. Eventually, it became the lowest AIDS populated country in all of Africa.

This is what truth can do. My dream is to bring this to South Africa in just a few short months.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Starting Point.

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11:09 PM
Today kicked off our first official week of Discipleship Training School or DTS at YWAM Orlando. The past few days have been an adjustment to life in community, new rules, new faces, and expectations. But now, DTS life is in full swing.

We start each morning with a personal quiet time, from 7am – 7:45am. I groaned inwardly when my alarm went off, but I climbed down from my top bunk. I tried to keep a positive attitude as I made my bagel and coffee and shuffled to the couch. I kept thinking, how would I fill 45 minutes with God when I can’t even keep my eyes open or form a coherent thought this early? I turned on my iPod to my handy worship playlist, and just began to pray, asking God to keep me alert for this time with Him. We have several books we are required to read for our school, and I started the first one this morning. It’s written by the founder of YWAM, Loren Cunningham, called “Is That Really You, God? Hearing the Voice of God”. And surprisingly, I’m enjoying it so far! This whole week is focused on hearing the voice of God, so I was happy to have a book to make it a little more personal.

We have nine weeks total for lectures here in Orlando. Each week has a different topic and a different teacher. This week we are learning to Hear the Voice of God, but upcoming weeks include teachings on Biblical Restoration, Lordship, The Seven Mighty Nations, Nature & Character of God, Intimacy with God, Relationships, Evangelism, Maturing in Christ, Spiritual Warfare and Inductive Bible Study. If today’s lecture was any indicator of the teachings to come, I’m in for a great nine weeks here.

Other aspects of training include a time of worship & warfare, in which we sing and praise and have a time of intercession for our team, our outreach countries, and the upcoming ministry opportunity. We also have what’s called CR, or Community Responsibilities. This could be anything from meal prep, to mowing lawns, to answering phones to stacking chairs. These 10 hours each week are to continue to grow us in ministry opportunities and increase our servant’s hearts. Every Wednesday afternoon, the entire staff & students of YWAM Orlando drive out to the new 198-acre property that has just been purchased for the west campus. This base will allow YWAM Orlando to be in one spot, from staff to students, instead of spread out through the city, like we are now. So we have the opportunity to make this abandoned church camp facility beautiful and usable again.

There’s so much going on here every minute of the day, that its all I can do to stop and take it all in. I’m growing closer and closer to new friends each day, and am super excited to watch these bonds continue. I am so blessed and humbled to be a part of this ministry, and pray daily that God makes me worthy of the call He has placed on my life.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Joy

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9:02 PM
Nehemiah 8:10

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Home Sweet Orlando Home

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6:03 PM
The first phase of my training has officially started! This week I moved to Orlando and began my life as a YWAM missionary. It's exciting to be part of this huge, global family of missionaries. About 60 of us traveled from many states & countries to be part of this training experience. I'll take more time to blog about what we will be learning in training and the cool God moments to come, but for now I'll just post stuff about Orlando life!

We have all our classes in a church that donates space to YWAM. They have been so generous, allowing us to use their classrooms, sanctuary, and kitchen space. All the students stay in homes owned by YWAM Orlando. Each house has a different amount of space, and our home has three bedrooms. We have 2 sets of bunks in one room, so four of us DTSers stay in there. It's nice and cozy. 2 staff girls stay in another bedroom together, and a young married couple and their baby boy live in the other. We are one big happy family. In the cul-de-sac we live, there's about 3 or 4 YWAM homes, so people are constantly walking over and visiting at all times of the day. It's quite entertaining.

We've only been here a few days, but its been super fun to meet new people from new places and see friendships start to form. More memories to come!

Home sweet home!


My & roomies Jessica, Katie, Victoria

Our living space!

2 sets of bunks! Heck yeah!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sent.

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11:11 AM
Isaiah 6:8

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bonds of Bible Study

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12:10 PM
Back when I was in college, my friend Rachel invited to me to attend a Bible study with her called Bible Study Fellowship, or BSF. Both her and her mom had been doing BSF for years, and it sounded just like what I needed at the time. It's a year long study on a specific book of the Bible, complete with daily homework, discussion groups and lectures. I was usually one of the youngest in the class, but I just loved the opportunity to be mentored and encouraged by these older women. The first study I did was Acts of the Apostles, followed by Romans and some of Genesis. I came back for Matthew, and was even asked to be a discussion group leader for this study, which was a huge honor and I was humbled to fill the role. I was leading a group of women old enough to be my grandmothers, but they loved on me and it was a great year. I even got to go to a leadership conferences with thousands of BSF leadership from the surrounding states. I wasn't able to be part of the next 2 studies due to my work schedule, but I never forgot about it.

I missed it quite alot actually. So when I looked at my calendar for this year, I was so excited to see that I could be a part. I signed up for my local class here, and will be transferring to the Orlando class next week. If I can find one class close enough in South Africa while I'm there, I plan on attending, and then I can finish the study back here when I return in March. It sounds like alot of work, and I guess it kind of is, but it's something I very much want to be part of this year. First of all, we are studying Isaiah. So much of this book is what confirmed and encouraged my call into full time missions. God says such specific things to the oppressed, the broken and marginalized in this book, and I know its who I'm called to serve. My life verse is in this book, as well as some other great ones.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners," [61:1]

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood." [58:6-7]

"For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." [41:13]

"Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." [16-17]

I think its of no coincidence that this is the book I have the opportunity to study while preparing to be a full time missionary. Isaiah was a prophet with a heart and a message for his culture. I hope to learn from his example.

These past 2 weeks of study I have been overwhelmed with reconnecting. Women I haven't seen in 2 years are hugging my neck, and telling me they're praying for me. It feels like coming home in a way. These are women I would see only once or twice a week for only a few hours, and yet I feel more connected to them than anyone I went to high school or college with. I discovered that the bonds that God creates with people are stronger than the bonds we try to create with people. Some of my closest friends are those I met during bible studies, church groups, etc... These bonds are not easily broken. It was encouraging to think about all the dear friends I'm leaving behind from Watermark and other places, but to know that God forged these relationships and they will not be easily broken.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week's Thoughts...

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9:33 PM
I'm leaving this week for my DTS training in Orlando. Three months there, three months in South Africa and then I'm officially a YWAM missionary and will be able to move back to Cambodia as full-time staff for a year. A lot has been going on, and I haven't been blogging too much. But as I prepare to finally drive off and leave this week, here's some of the thoughts clouding my head...

- I really need to pack. Haven't even started.

- I'm going to miss my church, Watermark, desperately. Today was my last Sunday there, and I cried.

- Am I going to be the oldest one [28 next month!] at this training school??? Am I going to fit in with a bunch of kids younger than me? Sigh...

- I'm SO happy that I got my car paid off last week! I don't have to worry about car payments at all!

- Clean...shop...pack...organize...sleep...repeat.

- Saying goodbyes are hard. I know I'll see some of my friends again when I visit, but not all of them. There's a good chance I won't ever see some of these people again. That makes me sad.

That's just some of the stuff I've been mulling over lately. Some significant, some not. But that's where my head is. Bear with me.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Fading Flowers

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3:00 AM
Isaiah 40:8

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Theology & Good Works

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2:10 PM
Today was my penultimate Sunday at Watermark, my home church. Next Sunday will be my last week there before leaving as a full-time missionary. It’s bittersweet. I’m super excited about my missions journey, but I’m super bummed about leaving my church family. I adore Watermark and the people that make it home. This Sunday’s sermon was an exact reminder of why I love my church so much.

Tommy is preaching his way through the book of Hebrews [so disappointed to be missing this series!] and taught today on Hebrews 2:1-8:
"We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet."

As Tommy pointed out today, the book of Hebrews is a unique blend of theology and ethical living, whereas most books in Scripture are either one or the other. Using this passage, he talked about the correlation between theology and ethical living. And as a missionary about to step foot on the field, it really hit home.

As Christians, our ethical behavior [i.e. good works, feeding the poor, helping the hurting, etc…] is directly connected to our theological beliefs. If we don’t have a right view of God, our ethical behavior will ultimately fail. Think of it like polishing the brass on a sinking ship. What’s the point? Good works without the right theology is not sustainable. We have to believe that Christ as Lord is the only one who can and will renew this world, and whether or not we make the world a better place, is not on us. It’s on Him. Because as sinful, unholy, imperfect people, there’s nothing within our grasp we can ever “make right”. It’s a comfort in a way, as I begin to prepare my journey of a missionary. Knowing that in no way is the responsibility of fixing this world, or the problem of human trafficking in Cambodia, on me. I can’t do that. But God can. He can use me how He chooses. To provide comfort, to educate, to cause awareness. But righting the wrongs? That’s all Him. So what does our ethical living represent? Why do good works? Because, ultimately its worship. It’s just another facet of praising our God. How beautiful.

This sermon reminded me that as I venture off, to not only keep studying His Word, but to continue to increase my knowledge on theology. Because if I ever lost sight of that, all I’d be doing, accomplishing, would be pointless. As I prepare, I’m asking God to help me keep His perspective as I go about this new ministry. To not give up when it gets hard, when it seems impossible. Because in my strength it IS impossible, and only God can make the impossible possible. I love that I can attend a church that educates, convicts, encourages, and uplifts all in one sermon. I will miss this place.


This is the beautiful song that Tommy closed the service with. It's one of my favorites.


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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Art + Freedom

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6:51 PM
Had another great fundraiser last night! One of my favorite things about my awesome church is our love of arts and creativity. So a few months ago, when a couple approached me about putting together an art show and concert as a fundraiser for me, I thought it was a great idea. And Create:Freedom was born. We got together a group of people to get the vendors, the bands, the coffee, the food, and to help make the event a success. It wouldn’t have been possible without these people! They gathered several local vendors and crafters to come together and sell their art and merchandise, while donating a percentage to my cause as well. Dark Cycle Clothing, Heaven Rules, Got Mustard Seed?, Bijou Bloom, Merchline, Initiative Prints, and Cheyenne Christian Photography were just a few of the great vendors represented. And the bands that played were just fantastic. St. Pete’s The Sun Society started the night on a high note, with a sunny blend of folk and pop. Watermark’s own Preson Phillips played next, with their folk worship favorites. They rocked some of our Sunday morning classics, and even introduced a brand new song especially for last night’s event. Mr.Enc closed the night out, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay to hear him [darn that surgery recovery!], but I heard he was fantastic. Hundreds of people came through the doors to Create:Freedom, and its my hope that they walked away with some great art, some new music, and awareness about an issue that’s hurting our world. Thanks to everyone who came out and made it such a successful event!

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chapter Closed

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10:41 PM
This week, in the midst of continuing to recover from surgery, I am also finishing working for my job. Pre-surgery plans had me roadtripping over the next 2 weeks to see friends and family, but sadly that too has changed. Nonetheless, my final work date was set, and this week I had to say goodbye to job I had the privilege of doing for 2 ½ years. I worked for a non-profit, IMPACT, as a program coordinator. We are the prevention department collaboration of two local pregnancy resource centers. I was so lucky to work with not just one pregnancy resource center, but two amazing centers in our city. These centers are on the front lines of the battle for the lives of the unborn. I was in awe over the work they accomplish daily. But it was our department that got to speak to thousands of high school & middle school students yearly about making healthy life decisions. Everything from saying no to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco to why & how to wait until marriage to have sex. It hasn’t always been an easy job, that’s for sure. You try walking into a public high school health class and say the word abstinence with a straight face. It’s not a popular mindset to say the least. But I believed in the message, the presentation, and I knew this students needed to hear the truth. Even if they didn’t know it. The best part of my job was really the students. Because there were more than a few that whole-heartedly agreed with what we had to say. They made commitments, and we were able to encourage them in their lifestyle. These kids made the hard parts of my job worth it. The past 3 summers, I took a team of high schoolers out everyday to YMCA’s, Boys & Girls Clubs, and rec centers to talk to middle school students about these same life choices. It made for a LONG, yet rewarding summer. During the school year, I'd get to do monthly clubs, regular fun events [like Ugly Prom dances!], and retreats too. Sometimes it barely felt like work. Here’s a few of the faces that have made this job worth it…





I’ve loved this job, and this week, I’ve had to say goodbye. It’s a great cause, and a message that needs to be shared. But I knew in my heart of hearts, it wasn’t my passion. It wasn’t what kept me up at night and brought tears to my eyes. Now, as I close this beautiful chapter, a new one is about to open. One that aligns my faith, my gifts, my talents, and my passion. I’m so lucky…

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