Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My African Adventure is About to Begin!

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6:23 PM
Outreach officially begins tomorrow. Tomorrow I arrive back in Orlando, FL and reunite with my team. I’ve really enjoyed this break, but I’ve missed them too. It will be so great to see them again. Then Friday we take off for North Carolina. We will be doing “mobile teams”, which we drive to various team members’ home churches to talk about what we will be doing overseas, promote YWAM Orlando, etc… So we will caravanning up to Greensboro, NC for about a week and a half, and ministering with 2 churches over there! Then we head back to Orlando on January 10th, where we have one day to regroup for AFRICA! January 12th we fly out of Orlando, with a quick stop in Atlanta, and then straight on to Johannesburg, South Africa! No big, just a 17 hour flight. Glad I have that Kindle! From Johannesburg, we drive about 2 hours north to Rustenburg, which is our first stop. We will be there for about 2 weeks, working with YWAM Rustenburg. Here we will be doing VBS, feeding programs, HIV/AIDS education, purity teachings, hospice visits, and more. Then we head to Labotse, Botswana, where our team splits in two. We will be doing everything from VBS & kids ministry, to teaching and door to door evangelism. We reunite 10 days later and head back to Rustenburg. After another 2 weeks in Rustenburg, we then east to White River, South Africa, located on the beautiful Kruger National Park. Here we will also be doing kids ministry, purity education, and working with Ten Thousands Homes, who provide homes for orphans. We will also have a time of debrief/reflection at the Kruger base to wrap up our entire outreach time. We arrive back in Orlando on March 9th!

I can’t believe the time for South Africa is finally here! I have been totally blessed by my time at home. I’ve connected with friends and family, and its been amazing. I’m so grateful for the network of support I have here at home, and the prayers that will be lifted up on my behalf.

My internet connection will be quite limited, so don’t be alarmed if there are not regular blog posts while I’m away. I will be typing up blogs regularly to be sure I capture everything, but I may not be able to post them all right away! Check out the YWAM Orlando website, as they will be posting updates from my trip as well.

Prayers requests would include safety, health, flexibility & adaptability, and for our team to just be effective tools for God’s work. I’m especially excited about being part of the purity/abstinence education. Please pray that we are able to clearly communicate this message and that it is embraced!

Thank you so much, and be looking out for my next update from SOUTH AFRICA! Send me an email if you’d like to join my email update list at joy2theworld82@gmail.com

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Very Missionary Christmas

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10:41 PM

I had a pretty unique Christmas this year! Since I'm a missionary in training and I'm about to leave the country for 8 weeks to live in South Africa and Botswana, and the usual lotions, DVDs, shoes, and electronics weren't on my list this year. I asked for a clothesline to dry my clothes on...a microfiber towel that will dry super fast and pack nicely....hand sanitizer & wet naps so I can attempt to remain germ free...Ziploc baggies for efficient packing...Downy wrinkle release for those clothes that just came out of my bag...Bananagrams game for those plane rides and long waits. So, yeah, not my normal Christmas list, but I have to admit, I was excited to get all this stuff. This is the lifestyle I'm going to be living from now on, and I'm so glad to start stocking up on some of this stuff! Of course, my family did get me some fun stuff too...Amazon & iTunes gift cards, and other goodies.

In addition to new Christmas traditions, since I didn't really have a new toy to play with today, I decided it was the perfect day to sew a messenger bag that I designed for Africa. So, I made that happen today, and I'm quite pleased with the outcome.


So, that was my 2010 Christmas! It was a small Christmas for me [my sister got a Wii, and I got a clothesline], but it was the perfect Christmas for me. Hope yours was as blessed and satisfying as mine!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmastime is Here

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3:29 PM
Christmastime is here! You can hear it on the radio, in the stores, and even in the air. In my 28 years of celebrating Christmas, I’ve had many different emotions surrounding this holiday. As a child, I remember being excited and feeling the “magic of Christmas”. I’d go to bed and the next morning, our living room would be brimming with gifts. I remember knowing about Santa Claus, but also knowing the true meaning of Christmas was the birth of Jesus. We celebrated both in my house. It was a joyful time. My little brother died when I was 10, holidays became a little less joyful for awhile. Our first Christmas after his death, we went to Disney World as a way to completely change the holiday for us. [Disney on Christmas, by the way, was waaaay too crowded!] It worked. Eventually though, Christmas regained its joy. Throughout my teen years, I associated the holiday with family coming in town I didn’t always want to see, and getting gifts I didn’t really want. [Typically angsty teen, I suppose!] In the last couple years, I’ve had even more mixed emotions. As I began traveling as a missionary 5 years ago, and visiting the poorest of the poor, I became disgusted with the amount of wealth and consumerism of Americans during Christmas. For 2 years in a row, I refused to buy gifts, but made them instead. One year, I bought only handmade items. And one year, I gave everyone cards that said instead of giving them a gift, I donated the money I would have used to building wells in Africa. [It went over surprisingly well!] And now here I am again, at Christmastime.

I was watching some of my favorite Christmas movie classics [Love Actually, Elf, White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas] and some of my favorite TV shows Christmas episodes [The Office, Glee, Community, Seinfeld, Friends] and I began to notice something. Amidst the shopping and the humor, the wacky traditions and the cheesy songs, I saw how the world sees Christmas. It’s a time to tell the people in your life that you love them. It’s a time to forgive each other and let go of past grudges. It’s a time to come together and help make your friend’s dreams come true. It’s a chance to believe in something bigger than yourselves. It’s seeing the positive in the world around you. It’s a time to give…not just gifts, but to your community too. It’s the one time of year that the world ceases to act like the world, but longs to live in the kingdom of God.

So for me this year isn’t about avoiding stores and boycotting malls, and its not about ignoring family traditions or trying to preach simplicity. It’s about embracing the world’s desire to live in the kingdom, even if just for a season. And to hopefully show them how they can live as though its Christmas everyday…with the love and knowledge of a Savior who was born this very time of year.

This video does a great job of explaining the world’s system vs. the kingdom of heaven’s system through the lens of Christmas. It’s a few minutes long, but worth the watch.


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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Letters, Love and Prayers Vol.7

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4:12 PM
Dear Family and Friends!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s the end of 2010 already! I don’t know about you, but this year has just flown by! I’m home in Tampa for just a few short days to celebrate Christmas with the family before heading off to South Africa soon. I finished the 12 week Lesson Phase of my Discipleship Training School recently, and I have to say, it was the most life changing 12 weeks of my life. If you haven’t been on my blog lately, check out the video recap I posted as well! But here’s just a glimpse of what God has been doing in me the past 3 months…
• Challenging His Lordship in my life. I went into this training with my own thoughts, plans, ideas and during this week on Lordship, God really challenged me to make Him Lord over all. I found so much freedom this week.
• Rich Hodge from Kruger, South Africa came in and taught our class and his week was pretty phenomenal. He talked about the importance of heart change, if we ever want to see any change in thoughts, emotions or behaviors. A good lesson not only for the people we will be ministering to in South Africa, but in our own lives too!
• I love how maturing in my relationship with Christ is a never-ending process. In a week with Steve Shamblin, he walked us through what a babe in Christ, a child of God, and a young man/woman of God looked like. I was humbled to realize how much further I have to go. But excited to press into God and reach new depths with Him!
• Dean Sherman, a YWAM big gun, came and spoke a week on Spiritual Warfare. Ironically, the truth that stuck with me from that didn’t have too much to do with spiritual warfare at all! Dean talked about the realms that are at work right now…the physical world and the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is not a place, but a lifestyle. Living as Christ did, living as though we have a King, is bringing the kingdom of heaven to the physical world. And it attracts people to God. Our lifestyle is our biggest witness.

So those are just a few nuggets I walked away from DTS with. I have so much more that I’m still processing and attempting to apply. I hope you know how much your prayers and support have meant to me during this time. It was so revolutionary!

Now what’s next? Well, South Africa! We leave January 12th for Rustenburg, where we will spend time doing children’s ministry, feeding programs, and hospice care. From Rustenburg, we will travel to Botswana, where our team will split into two. One group will do prayer walks and Vacation Bible Schools for the children. The other team [mine!] will travel another 4 hours and be doing door to door evangelism and teaching. After Botswana, we will be back in Rustenburg for a few more weeks, then head over to Kruger, South Africa. We will spend the remainder of our time here. We will be doing more children’s ministry, some light construction, and more feedings. We arrive back in the States on March 9th. It sounds like a long time, but I know already that it will fly by!

Here’s a few prayer needs for the upcoming months…
1. Safety & Health. Please lift up our travel to and throughout South Africa/Botswana. Also, please pray for the health of our team.
2. Team Finances. Several of my team members are still needing their outreach funds in the next few weeks. Please pray that God provides and they are able to ask the right people while home for Christmas break.
3. Ministry. We have several great ministry opportunities planned, but ultimately, we want to be sensitive to what God is telling us to do in these locations. Please pray for our planned ministry and the unplanned ministry. Pray for changed lives!
4. Personal Finances. My training costs are completely covered [yay God!], but I’m still needing a smaller amount to cover my bills while I am in South Africa. Please pray that God provides on my behalf as well, as He always does.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support. I am humbled that you are walking this journey with me. I’d love to hear from you, so please email me back or give me a call to catch up as well. Without my incredible network of prayer warriors and supporters, I couldn’t be living this amazing life God has called me to. THANK YOU!! I pray that you and your family are blessed this holiday season. Be looking for my next update from SOUTH AFRICA!!!



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Sunday, December 19, 2010

DTS Lesson Phase Recap Video!

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11:05 PM
video

Check out this totally awesome video I made recapping the last 12 weeks spent living and learning at YWAM Orlando!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Muted

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11:15 AM
I haven't blogged in weeks. Not for a lack of interesting events, circumstances or moments, but just...because. I don't really know why. I'm nearing the end of the lecture phase of my DTS here at YWAM Orlando. I really can't believe how fast that came upon me. God is showing up in real and practical ways in my life. And He's asking some tough things of me. I've seen my faith go to new places. I've experienced growth in areas I didn't realize needed growth. I've made lifelong friends, and this is still the beginning of our journey together. But mainly I just feel like I'm trying to drink from a fire hydrant. So much is being thrown at me, spiritually, intellectually, socially, personally, that it is all I can do to catch it. So forgive my muted silence. The words will come again.

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