Saturday, January 31, 2015

Missions- God's timing

Many of my friends are pondering if God is calling them to the mission field to serve for a year. There are always many questions and concerns when considering taking time off from college to go to a third world or second world country to preach the name of Jesus. 

Am I ready?
Am I called?
Am I qualified?
Is this the right time to go?

This is my story about God's perfect timing in calling me to the mission field. I pray it may encourage you and give you direction if you are unsure about when to serve.

During my freshman year in college when I was 19 years old I decided I wanted to go to the mission field.
I had waited to be a missionary for a long time and when I was younger, I had always heard that if I wanted to go in college, sophomore year was a great time to go. Funny though because as sophomore year approached, and I began to think about going, friends and family began to discourage me and tell me junior year or senior year were really the better years to go. I thought I would receive support from telling my friends and family that I wanted to serve but instead I received forceful opposition.

“You are too young.” “You need to take more classes at school.” “We don't have that kind of money.” “You are not mature enough” were all lies I heard and took to heart. Honestly it hurt. I was shocked and surprised, a little taken back. Did God not want me to go serve Him across the world? Did God want me to wait? Was God not big enough to take care of all their concerns about money, schooling, or me being unprepared? If God was calling me would He not provide?

I had this childlike wonder at the idea of being a missionary. Yes it may seem cliché but I truly wanted to save the children and make a sacrifice for Christ. Many of my friends asked me if I was afraid of disease or dying or getting raped. But I wasn't afraid of those things. The Holy Spirit blessed my heart with child like faith and perfect peace as I waited and hoped to follow God in this new adventure.

As I prayed and prayed more about going, I didn't hear God saying no. In fact, the more I prayed and read my Bible, the more my heart wanted to go. Sadly though, my friends and family didn’t seem to receive the same spirits of confirmation. They questioned whether my call was really from God.

Around the middle of my freshman year, my school hosted a convocation where different mission organizations came to recruit volunteers. I walked around and looked for orphanages I could help in but when I talked to the organizations with orphanages I didn’t feel a particular calling to any of them. I was interested in one organization at the convocation named AMOR Projects that was based in the Amazon River Basin in Peru although it was primarily a medical facility.

The medical part threw me off quite a bit because I hated doctors and wasn’t planning on doing anything medically related. I was terrified at the idea of giving people shots or pulling teeth. For some weird reason though, I felt God calling me to AMOR's organization.

After the convocation, I called my parents with excitement and asked them what they thought about me going as a missionary the following year. To my disappointment, they told me I should keep waiting and not go as a missionary until I was older. I was disappointing and conflicted because I didn't want to disobey my parents or go against their will, but I really wanted to go serve.

 I continued to wait and pray and as deadlines began to approach I decided to participate in the Daniel Fast with the intention of discovering if God really wanted me to go or not. I also did something I have never done before, I asked God for three signs- a fleece. I asked Him for a friend that would be going to the same location as me without me having to convince her, my parent’s approval, and a shooting star up in the dark blue clouds.

To my utter amazement God answered all three of my requests at different times leaving me with a heart of peace and full confidence that I should go serve Him in Peru. 

After asking my parents for multiple months, I called them one day and they said yes. Looking up into the stars, I saw not just one but three shooting stars fall high above me. And I met a friend on a short term mission trip to the Dominican Republic who told me she was going to Peru the following year. I was so amazed because I had never known that God could answer prayer so clearly before.

As I told my friends I was going to serve, I didn't get the answer i was expecting. My friends were kind but they weren't overly into it. They said they would miss me or that it would be good for me. They asked me if I was sure I was ready or if I was afraid.

Sometimes when God calls you to do something, people you love and trust the most won't always understand. It's hard at these times to continue to do what God is calling. But you have to trust God and you have to know that He is going to be your best friend that is with you even if everyone else leaves you.

I went to the mission field not knowing what to expect. After all, I was traveling to an organization in Peru that was medically focused and I was scared of the medical field. I had always wanted to work at an orphanage, but for some reason I didn't believe God was answering that part of the prayer. So I followed God to Peru and the best and hardest year of my life begun.

God showed me that through Him I could overcome my fears of the medical field. My friends back home never thought that I would be able to give shots or take blood sugar levels, but God gave me courage to do the things that I was most afraid of. He even helped me overcome my fear of snakes so that I could hold this huge boa constrictor- that was really a God thing for me and Him. 

God also showed me that He had a clear purpose for bringing me to Peru. When I got there, I realized that there was a swimming pool nearby and hundreds of Peruvian children who had never learned how to swim. I LOVE to swim and was able to start teaching classes to many kids living in the slums who would have never been able to learn. I got to balance out the medical stuff which made me very nervous at times with swimming (my favorite hobby) and I met beautiful kids with total faith as they trusted my lack of Spanish speaking abilities and followed me to the swimming pool. Around 100 kids learned how to swim that year.

God also surprised me by providing an orphanage that happened to need alot of help just thirty minutes away from our medical clinic. My friends and I were able to raise enough money to bring all the kids Christmas presents and tell them the Christmas story. We also started a program for their girls called the Sisterhood Project to teach the girls to  be women of God. I even got to live at the orphanage for three weeks which was a total dream come true! The kids there changed my life in so many ways.

I really fell in love with AMOR Projects, Peru, the orphans and kids, as well as the people I was working with. I learned so much from the AMOR leaders and the fellow missionaries. I was so encouraged by their majority and hard work ethics. Many of them were a few years older than me and pre-med students. A few of them were already nurses. They taught me so much.

As the year went on, I felt God calling me to commit to Him my entire life in service. I began to question physical therapy because of the practicality of the mission field. I really wanted to work at an orphanage and be able to take care of the kids and provide for their medical needs. I went back and forth a bajillion times with possible majors and minors and different possibilities. 

Finally God told me the career that I had most AVOIDED my entire life: Nursing. The thing I had never wanted to do: Christ said to do for Him. And after I stopped whining about it and making excuses and choosing different career possibilities.. it finally made sense why nursing would be so perfect to serve God in the mission field and in the hospitals in America even.

If I hadn't gone to Peru right after my freshman year in college (when all my friend and family had told me I was too young) I would have wasted more years in school. If I had gone to an orphanage where I had wanted to go, instead of going to a medical place where I was afraid, I would have never learned that taking care of others in their times of sickness is beautiful. Missions changed my life in so many ways and it changed my relationship with God.

If you are considering following God to the mission field, I encourage you to pray and to trust His timing. When He says go and where He says go- You follow Him- and He will bless your life and mess up your life and make it more beautiful for His glory.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Does your love do?

How do you show that you love God? How do you show God that you love Him?
How do you show someone that you love them?

- You don't avoid them. Don't lie to them. Don't disobey them. Don't steal, don't murder, don't put other things before them. Don't..... When you tell someone what a Seventh Day Adventist is? What is your answer?

It's easy to catch yourself saying "I don't eat this kind of meat. I don't dance or go watch those kinds of movies. I don't take advantage of guys and I don't have premarital sex."

But what do you DO?
What does walking with God really look like?

When we compare ourselves to others we find ourselves justifying our spiritual life saying "I'm better off than them. I'm doing ok at least I don't do that. But Christ calls us to LIVE in Him, not just follow His rules, but to live a life of love in His footsteps.

Diligence in doing small things.
Perseverance in never giving up on other people.
Being the friend that gives more than they receive
Loving the awkward and the ugly
Giving money even though you don't have enough for school
Being kind to your teachers
Serving others instead of spending time with your friends
Forgiving friends who hurt you
Being persecuted for doing the right thing
Not getting the credit you deserve for a job extraordinarily done
Spending time on your knees in prayer
Going somewhere private to read your Bible when you are all alone
Asking the Holy Spirit every day to come into your heart and transform you

I want to challenge you "What has God done for you this week? And What have you done for God to demonstrate your love for Him?"

A great place to start is to open His Word.





Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wherever

I talked to one of my friends who was serving with me in Peru today. He told me he was in Uganda. I was just so blown away with jealousy and wonder. He has been serving for two years in a row! And I asked God why can't I go back and do missions right now? Why can't I travel the world and take care of orphans or especially go visit Africa?

I changed the name of this blog to follower because that's what I want to be (I pray you do too). I don't want to be a wanderer, or a leader, or someone who just chases their dreams in the wind. I want to follow Christ's footsteps wherever that may be (in a nursing home, in a school, in a hospital, or in the mission field).

It's easy to look at somebody else's life and say "that looks like fun" or "if only I had that" my relationship with God would be great. It's harder to remember that God has put you where He wants you- and our job is to serve Him with everything we have.

In college it's interesting because the hot question is "What are you studying?" and it can either be looked upon with excitement as an opportunity to brag ex: "I'm a pre-med biophysiology major with a minor in French and Spanish..." or just a mundane answer such as I'm studying construction or I'm becoming a nurse. But I think the more important question is Why? Why are you doing that?

Not just what classes, what extracurriculars, and what job are you working but WHY do you do that? Why are you living for that? Why are you striving to become that? Why are you working so hard? Who are you serving?

Sometimes I think we have to slow down our day and remember WHY because it's easy to forget.

As my teacher told our class today "Obstacles are what happen when your eyes lose track of the goal."

May we follow Jesus with eyes looking above unwavering wherever He puts us.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

On top of the world

There are some days when you feel on top of the world.
There are others when you have no idea why you're breathing.
I think it's important to remember that both are normal aspects of life.
We should praise God when life seems to be going well and praise Him when we feel like we're flat on our face.

There's so many things in life to reach for, constant goals, trips and places to travel, things to check off the bucket list, more people to meet, more money to make. Sometimes we have to slow down on the "let's do more" and stop and say Thank YOU LORD BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN MERCIFUL AND YOU HAVE BEEN GOOD TO ME.

Do you ever stop and feel overwhelmed by the presence of God in your life?
That presence can be distinguished from self because you see things that you know are not of your own character nor your own strength nor abilities and you say Wow God I know that wasn't me so that had to be you.

Tonight I'm just so amazed at how much God loves me and some ways He's change my life and character. He has sustained me across the world, He has changed my major to something totally out of my comfort zone, because of Him I'm teaching a fitness class, and He alone has provided me some of the sweetest most beautiful friends in the world. God has been so good to me.

I just want to leave with you this challenge Let God use you this week. Let God do something in you that isn't of yourself or your own character. When He does you will kneel humbled and know THAT HE IS GOD.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"I love you"

"I love you"- three short words that can make people do crazy things. I have this really funny habit of always telling my friends and family when I talk to them on the phone that I love them. Like no matter what the conversation, when it's time to say goodbye I always find it so hard and I have to get in the last words "I love you". And then when they say I love you too.Goodbye. I say Bye love you again just so that I can say it last.

It's funny because often as humans we misunderstand or misuse the word love. One of my favorite definitions of love is doing the best thing for someone else without thinking of yourself. Agape love is selfless, unconditional love- the love that Christ has for us and asks us to strive to love others with. Often when we think about the word love we think about Christ's sacrifice on the cross- the ultimate demonstration- of agape. Sometimes we forget that the Bible is also an amazing book of love.

It's easy to fall into a cycle of thinking about the Bible as a textbook that we must study and memorize because we need too or out of obligation. Or sometimes we think of the Bible as a bunch of rules that we must follow in order to get to heaven. But Christ- the ultimate author- must feel a little sad and disheartened when we take His book to mean so little because ultimately the Bible is a book of love.

Christ uses every excuse and opportunity to tell us once again "I love you." "I agape you."

John 15:15 says  No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I heard from my Father, I have made known unto you.

Have you ever had a guy or girl you like write you letters? Not just the everyday informational writings but letters full of character, full of emotion, thought, feeling, and passion. While you wait for the next letter to be delivered, you are just so full of anticipation and when you read the letter you just have this feeling of joy-- that's how the Bible should be for us. It should be life changing and it should bring us joy and show us the love of Christ =)

Dear God, where are you

Where are you in the chaos?
Where are you in the pain?
Where are you when I'm running 'round and round?
Where are you in diseases?
Where are you in the rain?
Where are you when my life's just pounding down?

I am with you in the storm.
I am here just listen in
I am calling out your name
I have a plan for you
I love you just the same
I can't wait until
I will take you home

Where are you in my classes
Where are you in the caf
Where are you when my teachers going on and on
Where are you when I'm lonely
When I'm full of emptiness
When I thought I found you
Guess I lost you again

Jesus I'm calling out your name
I feel like it's been just too long
Jesus don't let me go again
Cuz I know I can't do this on my own

I walk right beside you
I know more than your name
I love the way you smile when you sing
I've written a beautiful story
I know you'll find the way
I will never leave you
I will always love you
I will always hold you if you trust in me.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Short term missions- is it worth it?

Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.

A short term mission trip may cost anywhere between $600 and $6000 depending on if you want to travel to Africa, China, or Mexico. Normally they last between 8 and 14 days. Sometimes you fly to another country and build a church or build a structure for an orphanage. Other times you may volunteer at an orphanage, hospital, or school.

I have traveled on four short term mission trips. The first two were in Mexico and cost me $600. Our team drove to Mexico and built a church for the community. My third mission trip was to an orphanage in Honduras where we did manual labor at an orphanage and played with the kids. That trip cost $1400. My fourth mission trip was a gymnastic drug- prevention trip to the Dominican Republic and cost $800.

The cost of those four trips combined was $3400 and the duration of the trips combined was five weeks of service. These four trips were very reasonably priced compared to other short term mission trips offered at my school that easily want $3400 for just one trip. That is alot of money. If $3400 were to be donated to ADRA's gift catalog, 97 children could be saved from sexual exploitation, 22 children could be educated, or 68 babies could receive proper nourishment. That money could do alot of good!

Short term mission trips are expensive and because of this I think it's important for students to have the right frame of mind when going on a short term trip and to go on the right kind of trip. The right trip should be God and service focused- not just an opportunity to travel- and I also believe the more time you spend with people, and developing relationships with the people of another country- it will be a much better investment- instead of simply manual labor. A trip to an orphanage,a trip to preach the Word, and a construction trip are three totally different things.

Yes it's expensive, but there can be no value placed on relationships and life lessons that are established through service, experiencing poverty, seeing the world around you, and learning to live by faith.

For me, some of my greatest spiritual growth came after going on a mission trip. It was then that I began to develop compassion and I realized that I could help other people. For children or students with low self esteem, this can totally change their life. Often so much more of the blessings with short term mission trips come to the participants of the trips. Participants take a break from a selfish lifestyle and learn the joy of helping others. Participants can also see how God wants to use them not just in another country but in their home town.

I know for myself, I would have never wanted to be a student missionary if I hadn't experienced short term mission trips. And if I wouldn't have been a student missionary, I wouldn't value missions so highly and want to spend a career serving God abroad.

Yes mission trips are expensive, but I believe they are worth it. Mission trips do make a difference in the lives of the people who attend and often they will be things that won't be forgotten for a lifetime. No they won't change your life like a magic trick. But yes they will make a difference in the way participants see the world.

So many of my friends are trying to raise money for mission trips this year. They are expensive. I encourage you to consider donating and helping them out. It can be daunting to have so much money to raise and you can often feel bad or selfish asking other people for their money, but God calls us to deliver the message of hope around the world. Let's give our friends hope to go on short term mission trips this year =)









Thursday, January 1, 2015

A new year

Ezekiel 36:25-27
"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command.

When will our hearts be filled with God's love and His Holy Spirit?
When will His longings be ours and our soul be completely full and satisfied with Him alone?

Every year we have the chance to look back at our year.
And remember what God has done for us.

Not what we have done. Because everything good and perfect has only been because of His glory.
For we on our own our all sinful. We all fall short

But God says 
I love you so much.
I sent my son to save you.
I created you in my image.
And I have a plan for you.
I'm proud of you.
And I'm not giving up on you.

Let's not forget how God's working in us. Let's be patient with our self and forgive ourself for our shortcomings just as Christ has done.

We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way

the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history- Ellen G White



2014- the story of last year





Fell in love with some Peruvian kids
Struggled with depression and an eating disorder
Lived in an orphanage and realized I want to be an orphan mommy
Went back to America
Became heartbroken and depressed
God delivers me (pretty much every day)
Made some bad grades
Made some good grades
Got to visit kids in the hospital
Changed my major to nursing
Lost 10 pounds
And life goes on.. yada yada yada