Ancora Imparo

IMG_4193 As many of you know, I have had the amazing privilege to go and travel down to Siguatepeque, Honduras for the third time on an adventure with Jesus. I continue to be amazed at this country, the people, the atmosphere, the food and everything else that comes alongside. My team and I have returned for about two weeks now and have been making the transition back into our lives here in California. As I have been processing this trip and everything I have experienced, there was really only one word or phrase that summed it up for myself.

There is a pretty famous guy named Michelangelo, maybe you have heard of him. When he was 87 years old he said the words "ancora imparo". This phrase is so simple, yet so incredibly powerful. "I am still learning." For some people that might just mean in school, maybe at their job or with their family, but for myself this phrases encompasses life. In every aspect of my journey, I am still learning, and there will never be a time when I am not learning.

In order to learn, I have needed to fail. In order to learn grace, I have needed to fail. In order to learn forgiveness, I have needed to fail. Missions trips are hard, they are difficult, frustrating at times, incredibly rewarding, joyful, and even confusing. They are a time to stretch and to grow in learning who we are as a person and who we are in Christ. When you spend almost a month with nine people 24/7 things start to happen. Laughter can be uncontrollable, feelings can get hurt, inside joked begin, buttons get pushed and the real comes out. I have always struggled with a serious perfectionist side of my life. On the outside I can be completely cool, chill, and calm but on the inside I am tearing myself apart.  Fun fact, we are not perfect, and never will be. Guys, that's refreshing, because if we were perfect, where would Jesus fit in? Heck, I don't want to be perfect, that would be boring. I want to be a mess,  because being a mess means I get to be me, the person that God has created me to be. I screwed up while I was in Honduras, I made countless number of mistakes, said the wrong things, was negative, mean and just downright ugly sometimes. It wasn't until a while into the trip that I realized something was wrong and began to see the affects it was having on relationships and the team. It is because of the grace, love and forgiveness that my team has shown me that I get to see a small glimpse of the grace, love and forgiveness of God that I so often at times forget. We can do two things when we figure out our mistakes, the first being recognize it and ignore it or the second, recognize it, take hold of it and learn from it. A few days after our return I had the chance to go to lunch with my mom and as we were sitting and talking it was my chance to show her the grace, love and forgiveness that I have been shown by friends, teammates and God.

I will never stop learning. I am constantly in awe of the work that God is doing in not only my life but in others around me. To see the faithfulness of God and prayers become answered in unexplainable ways is work that only comes with surrendering to the Father and accepting his teachings. If you are like me, I can get really focused on one specific thing, it is hard for me to see the big picture sometimes. A few nights ago I was out to dinner with some friends and as I was watching my niece color on every inch of the paper with giant lines and scribbles that she called boats, it occurred to me that for her, the picture inside the lines didn't matter, the entire paper was worthy to be drawn on. So often we forget that the lines that are drawn are just a suggestion, but because our culture has taught us perfection we focus on precision instead of creation.

Recruitment

Since I was in high school, I always had this amazing fascination with the military. I don't know where it came from or even how it sparked but it never went away. Maybe it was my grandpa that always talked about the Marine Core, or the other handful of uncles that decided to join some branch of the military. It seemed it was just a part of the family. I recently had an encounter with a recruit from the Army, we got to talking and next thing I know I was sitting in his office talking about the reserves and enlisting. That friday morning was probably one of the most terrifying yet exciting moments I have had in a while. I left the recruitment office in a chaotic mess with thoughts bouncing from one side of my brain to the other. This was an opportunity I had dreamed about, had prayed about, and it was finally here. However, my heart was crying. As much as I would have loved to be able to go and to serve with the Army and work with the soldiers, that was not where I belong. God is my recruiter, and he had the sweetest deal. I have been recruited to serve Gods children. "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

I have had such a privilege to get to know some pretty amazing people with my time here at Jessup so far. There has been one person in particular recently who has really made a big impact on my life. I have been able to watch her put so much commitment into her project over the last few weeks, that it has been a huge eyeopener for me to see someone so dedicated to finish something, as hard as it is to complete and push through. Her project has been about orphanages and adoption, and as I have been able to sit and drink coffee and sing Frozen and laugh till 2am, I have also been able to think about my future and where I am going to be when I am in her seat working on my own senior paper. I have found that God has really strange ways of talking to me. I have always struggled with the idea of being still, it's just not how I function. I see God through watching people and listening to people. Kind of creepy sounding I know. I have always had this passion to want to constantly know people, to understand them and hear their stories, it's through those that I am truly able to see and hear God. It's a strange and complicated mysterious way that I am still trying to grasp and understand. But I have never been more excited to continue to dig deeper and go further.

In approximately 29 days, I will be on a plane headed to Central American for the second time. I was recruited by God to serve on this mission team, I have made a commitment to follow and accept the plans God has for me.

Be sure to continue to check back for more updates and info!

Check out http://www.jessup.edu/missions/honduras-summer2014/ for more information as well or to make a donation!

Shaken Faith

When I first started writing today, I was on a whole other topic, and about half way through I got the words "Shaken Faith" in my head. Extremely confused and a bit irritated, I just wrote the words in the title and stared for a minute...I then proceeded to erase everything. That's kind of how God likes to work in my life. You see, I really like to have control, however one thing I have recently learned and been working on is this idea of "being still" and "letting God take control", for some this may be an easy concept, but for myself it has been one of the hardest points to grasp. Margaret Butler said, “There are seasons when to be still demands immeasurably higher strength than to act” and this has never been more accurate to me than now.

This past weekend, William Jessups summer mission teams gathered together as a community for a missions retreat. Going into this trip I was in a really rough place with God. I didn't want to go, I didn't want to spend the weekend with a bunch of people I barely knew, basically I started out with a really bad view. I had been feeling really distant from God, I didn't feel Him in my life, I was in a long dry season. We got to our camp on friday afternoon and it's still processing in my mind, but how quickly my attitude changed from just being their for maybe an hour. A complete 360 degree turn around. I was stoked to be there, I was ready to get my weekend on and enjoy this feeling of relaxation and easiness that I haven't felt in probably almost 2 years. That night we gathered together and sang worship together and one of the leaders had given a devotional, and I can remember looking around and just seeing people crying, laughing, and just praising Jesus. It was only the first night! The next day was when things really became real to me. We had gone through about 5 intense sessions that day of all topics that became really personal for everyone. I got to a point where God just broke me, He saw the facade I had been putting on and He knew how to get the realness out. I left the room to go get some air and a few minutes later, one of my teammates had found me and immediately new something was up (psychology major problems). I was still feeling really far from God and just not able to figure out why. We talked, we cried, we laughed, we became family. Was everything great the next day? No, and it was okay. I was okay. You see, this idea of shaken faith is complicated. At one point, I can be on fire for God and furthering His Kingdom, but I also have my bad days, when I get a little lost. And when that happens, I have people their to get me back on the right trail. 

When we came back from our retreat on sunday, things were great, I was happy, our team bonded like peanut butter goes to jelly...yeah that good. However, that night I got news that a friend from back home had taken his life. And there goes the paved trail, hello woods. This wasn't the first time I had to deal with the death of a friend, but it doesn't make it easier. I was frustrated, confused, hurt, sad, everything. My faith was shaken. God, what? No, no, you must be wrong, things are good, this is just an april fools joke. Yeah, it wasn't. It's crazy how one thing can lead into a huge spiral of chaos. It's now thursday, and I can say my God is a God of Love. I have been blessed with some of the most amazing people in my life that love me. I honestly don't think I could have gotten through this last week without them, I was a mess, mean and distant and they still were their to comfort me and encourage me. And that my friends is God's good work and timing. I tried taking things into my own hands and dealing with them my way, I wanted to keep the control, keep the good feelings. But I learned that if I was to stay like that, I would never grow and it would just be fake, our faith must be tested. This world is broken, I am broken, I need to continually work on myself and my relationship with God, specifically on being still in situations and giving them over to Him.

That is my prayer, to be still. To listen to God, and to start seeing the work that He is constantly doing in my life, even in the times when I don't think He is there. I pray that if this is something someone else is struggling with that, they can realize how normal it is to go through a shaken faith episode. That it's okay to question things, but at the same time to talk to the people God has placed in their life for purposes like these. We are called to be in community with each other constantly and to keep each other accountable. I am excited to continue my journey through this week, it's hard at times but I know I'm not alone.

   

Step 1

That first step tends to be the hardest. We get nervous, start reenacting every situation or scenario in our head. My first step, writing our mission letter. Usually I tend to do very well with talking to people and letting them know what has been going on and exciting things happening in life. Although there is something terrifying about writing it in a letter. Maybe it is just me, but it scares me to death. Especially when it involves asking people for support. I keep wondering if this really is what I am supposed to be doing, if this really is what God wants me to be doing. As I started writing, I couldn't stop. I began just rambling on and on about the past trip I went on and wanting everyone to know every exact detail and that's when it hit me. I know I am supposed to go back. I need to go back. Something I have been learning lately is about how I hear God, and I may not hear the actual voice of God but I hear and see him through people. When I came back from this summer, I was a changed person because of my team and the kids, I truly believe I am supposed to go back. I am getting so excited to start sending these letters out and seeing God work and see his Kingdom grow! I hope everyone has been having a great holiday season, start checking your mailboxes soon for a letter! If anyone would like one please feel free to shoot me a message with their address and I'll make sure to get one out to you, but as always prayer is always encouraged and greatly needed.

God Bless and Merry Christmas!