Bekah's Heart, First Trinity, Haiti, Internship Highlights, Joy, Mission Work, NY Adventures, Random

I love my life! (And I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.)

At 11:45 this morning I passed this sign on my way back from helping run the ropes course for Operation Purple Camp at Pioneer Camp and Retreat Center: 

The crazy thing about this is that I drove past that same sign for the very first time exactly two years ago today at the end of a 1,200 miles journey to move here from Kansas.

When I passed the sign today, I found myself instantly breathless and in awe, recalling all that’s happened in the last two years.

I recalled the nervous excitement of pulling into this parking lot for the first time greeted by car-washing youth and my amazing teammates and I think about the one that will take place this coming Saturday in that very spot.

I think about the hard times, the good times, and the in-between times that have filled the last 730 days.

I’ve been stretched, comforted, challenged, pranked, loved, encouraged, invited, broken, healed, sick, healthy, prompted, cared for, listened to, led, followed, supported, …. changed.

And most importantly, I remember the countless amazing people I’ve gotten to experience each day of the last two years with.

Earlier today, a friend commented that I lead a very interesting and fascinating life. As I thought about her comment a little more, I decided it was really true…. I do have an awesome life.  Even in the midst of any struggles or hard times, I have a family who loves me, an awesome job with the best teammates, opportunities outside of work to explore and serve, a wonderful home, a healthy body, the freedom to worship my Savior, friends all over the country and world to share life with, and most of all, a God who created me, saved me, and sustains me each and everyday.

I love my life!  (And I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.)

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full!” (John 10:10)

God-Sighting Saturday, Haiti

God-Sighting Saturday

A new worship song penned by a high school youth boldly asking “Use me, God”! And He does!
God works through people.

Women gathered in a slightly older one’s home. Chocolate chip pancakes and an evening in the Word, in sharing, in tears, in joy.
God gives rest.

Beautiful peach roses delivered amazing new neighbors.
God brings joy.

Staff members gathered in prayer midday, back from Haiti, Colorado, Texas, beyond.
God goes with and God brings back.

Stories from Haiti from two beautiful young women. Passion, joy, excitement.
God makes alive.

A neighbor watching. Staffmates acting.
God protects and provides.

Walking with my neighbor-teammate and his daughter on a morning commute. Pure joy in a three year old’s voice as she tells me about “white” day in preschool.
God in simple things.

Same three year old removes her coat to show off her dress as bystanders tell her she’s beautiful … and she is. I look in her eyes and can tell she really believes it. Silent prayers lifted that she never forgets!
God reminds, we’re beautiful too.

Kari Jobe on repeat singing “I want to sit at your feet, drink from the cup in your hands, lay back against you and breathe, feel your heartbeat. This love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand. I melt in your peace, it’s overwhelming”. . Sleep comes.
God is near.

Where did you sight God this week?

20120128-203511.jpg

First Trinity, Haiti, Internship Highlights, Joy

Full Days Don’t Have to be Busy Days

Long days.

Packed schedules.

Event after event.

 

Haiti11 (187) Normally when we hear things like this, we assume things like “Life is crazy!” or “I’m just so busy.”  However, while in Haiti, I was reminded that this doesn’t have to be the case.  I was reminded that a full schedule doesn’t have to be a hurried life or a busy life.  As I think about our days, we sure packed a lot in… On Tuesday and Thursday of the week we worked on the cabin all morning, then would get cleaned up and head into town for a Vacation Bible School in the afternoon.  On Wednesday we did all of the following: walked down to the beach behind the orphanage, went to S.E.E.D. Ministries, took a tour of the hospital, had lunch and saw where the guesthouse/orphanage was pre-earthquake, shopped from Centre Lumiere - A Sewing/Crafting School and Ministry the vendors by the church, went to the market, visited Centre Lumiere (A ministry focused on Bible teaching, embroidery, crochet, sewing, cooking, and health), and made over 400 friendship bracelets as a team.    Friday we took a boat to Ile a vache to do a VBS at that church as well.   These days were packed! 

 

The one that stands out the most for me though as I think about this lesson I’m learning (that full doesn’t have to equal busy/hurried) was Saturday that we spent with Pastor Paul Touloute.  Our first stop was to a church in Bergeaud which also happened to be just down the street from Pastor Touloute’s home.  After doing VBS there we walked down to his home and stayed there for a while before heading back to the orphanage for lunch.  After lunch we visited the site of a church in Charlotte before he drove us out to the beach at Port Salut.  Another full day.  But this also didn’t count the fact that Pastor Touloute went to a neighbor’s funeral that morning and after dropping us off at the guest house for dinner around 5:30, was headed to a wedding with his wife.  A full day, but not a busy or hurried day. 

 

This day, like many of the days in Haiti just happened.  We of course tried to plan, but planned in the fact that our plans would change.  Here in America, our mentality in a day like this would have probably looked more like let’s see Haiti11 (386)how quickly we can get through everything so that we can get to the wedding on time, etc.  Most of us would have probably taken the way out when we told    Pastor Touloute it was okay if we didn’t make it to the beach.  But he insisted that there was plenty of time to do both.  He could have hurried us along so that we could get back earlier, but instead, he invited us into his home as he and his son went out hunting for a good 20 minutes to find coconuts that were the perfect ripeness to share with us.  Not only did they get us coconuts but a fruit called sweet sop and a species of bananas called ti toto bananas (which by the way were THE BEST banana any of us had ever had!).  He pointed out a cashew tree and Jean, his wife showed us around their home. 

 

This full day was never hurried (despite how much any of us Americans may have tried to push it along for his sake).  At one point Pastor Touloute got out the invitation for the wedding that evening and said, “Oh the wedding’s not until 4.  That means the bride probably won’t show up until at least 5.  If we get there by 6 we’ll be fine.”  Not exactly how things work here in America, huh?

 

As I said at the beginning of the post, my week in Haiti reminded me that a full life doesn’t have to be a busy or hurried life.  Even in this past week I’ve seen the difference it can make when we focus on just simply being wherever we are.  In reality as I look back at the past 7 days, I normally would have described my life as NUTS.  Got up at 2am Monday in order to catch the plane out of Haiti.  Got up at 3:15am Tuesday to catch the plane out of Florida.  Left the house at 9:15 am Wednesday and didn’t return until 10pm.  Worked 9-8 Thursday.  Had our first Young Adult event for church Friday after work and Saturday I had Youth Band, Rock Climbing with the high schoolers, church, and went to see the musical at Sweet Home High School.  It was a FULL week. 

 

It was also one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long time (though I’m not complaining that tomorrow is my day off 🙂 and as of right now, I have absolutely NOTHING specific planned!!!).  Having this full week follow being out of the country for a week could have been ridiculous, chaotic, and insane.  Instead, I was able to take what I learned from the people of Haiti and just focus on whatever needed to be done at any given moment.  In doing so, I think I’ve learned a little more of what he meant  when Jesus says in John 10:10 that he comes to give us “life to the full.” 

 

I also see more of how “the thief” described in the first part of that verse comes to “steal, kill, and destroy”.  It seems one of the best ways he does that in our culture is by making us busy.  He tries to get us to pack so much into our schedules and hurry from one thing to the next that we forget to enjoy what we’re doing.  It makes you kind of wonder… what are we hurrying too?  Am I going through life just to check each activity, task, conversation, or event off some list and move on or do I actually want to enjoy those things? Marsha doin' what she does best... lovin' on people!

 

Sometimes, a “full” life looks like the packed week I described above.  And other times, a full life means sitting down with some popcorn and reading a book or watching a movie.  Sometimes, a full life means doing the things we don’t really want to do, but need to get done and other times it’s creating extra space to do whatever we feel like doing.  No matter what, a full life seems to be about giving ourselves fully to whatever is happening at a current moment… to enjoy life even if it’s doing the dishes or the laundry… to refuse to let Satan steal, kill, and destroy our lives by getting us to move through everything so fast we don’t know what’s even happening. 

This is one lesson I’ve learned in Haiti and Uganda that I pray I would constantly be reminded of… again, and again, and again.  God does not call us to a hurried life… ever.   May He grant us the grace we need to live the full, abundant life He came to give!

Haiti11 (390)

 

[Jesus said,] “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy.  But I came to give life—life in all it’s fullness.” ~ John 10:10

Haiti, Mission Work

Think Like A Missionary

One of my favorite thing in Haiti this past week was hearing more stories about Haiti.  Stories of the peoples’ lives, stories of God at work, stories of past trips.  As Dan was sharing some stories one night from a previous trip he kept bringing up the phrase, “Think Like a Missionary.”  I loved this concept and have to say that as the week went on, there were multiple times “think like a missionary” popped into my head and forced me to think outside the box a little.   I thought I’d share a few examples:

The first situation that comes to mind is during our first VBS.  We had brought a craft to do with the kids that involved making an angel necklace out of Ideal clamp paperclips a bead and some string.  We debated back and forth whether to do it all at once to or to separate out groups of kids to go do it a few at a time.  We ended up trying it all together since it was such a simple craft.  This may have worked fine… if there were only 150 kids there.  We only brought half of the supplies the first day because we knew we had other churches to go to later in the week but forgot to count how many kids were there before starting the craft. Opps.  We very quickly realized, as kids were swarming us for more supplies, that there were MUCH more than 150 kids there!  While very exciting, we had a problem on our hands.  “Think like a missionary” popped into my head.  The end result was cutting some of the longer strings in half with Pastor Allen’s pocket knife and using some of the extra “heads” (beads) we had to give to those who did not get paperclips.  In the long run, it ended up with some kids only have heads and others having decapitated angels, but hey, the gospel was proclaimed and we chose to give God the glory and ask him to give us better wisdom to handle the next VBS in a better way.

400+ Bracelets... now on the wrists of children all over Haiti

The thing with going on a mission trip is that you plan and plan and plan… and then are flexible when plans change.  On the schedule we had, that first VBS on Tuesday did not exist.  This meant that we needed to figure out what we would do on Thursday when we were back at the same church, in Les Cayes, with some of the same kids, but also a lot MORE kids.  We already didn’t have enough supplies the first time for a craft so we needed to figure out what to do.  “THINK LIKE A MISSIONARY.”  Our first task was to figure out a skit.  Through prayer, a conglomeration of previous skit ideas, and some brainstorming sessions, God provided us with a fun way to present his saving grace in a way kids, who didn’t speak English (with missionaries that didn’t speak Creole), could understand. We also decided to make friendship bracelets for the kids because we had a ton of Embroidery Floss.  So Wednesday night we set out to make 400 bracelets (we wanted to make sure we had enough).  My camp experience had taught me the quickest, easiest way to make many bracelets in the shortest amount of time.  Wednesday we set at our task and made close to 200 in about 45 mintues.  But this wasn’t good enough for some of the guys on our team.  After dinner, Dan broke out the drill.  We perfected our system and before we knew it we had nearly 450 awesome bracelets ready to hand out to excited children the next day.  🙂  Now that’s what I call, thinking like a missionary. (Video of the process to come soon!)
The "Manly" way to make friendship bracelets

One last example is simply in communication.  We tried our best to learn some Creole before heading to Haiti, and some of the children have picked up some English here and there, but often, “communication” did not come in words.  I am reminded of passages in the New Testament where Paul talks about doing whatever it takes to communicate Christ to people.  Often on our trip, we were forced to “think like a missionary” and find new creative ways to communicate with the people we came in contact with.

The more I think about this, as I’ve written this post, I’ve realize how much I want to “think like a missionary” more and more in my everyday life.  So often we keep God in a little box, we do things the same way because, we’ve always done it that way before.  I am reminded again of the story that I talked about in my last post of the feeding of the 5,000.  Jesus wasn’t asking the disciples to do some impossible task by feeding this people, though that is how they felt.  Rather, he was challenging them to “think like a missionary” and turn to the one who has an abundance to give.  Did Jesus feed the 5,000 people in the ways the disciples were originally trying to solve the problem?  No, but there was enough food.   Did we have enough supplies to make the craft the way we originally intended? No, but we had enough beads and string to send the kids away with something to remind them that God is always with them.

What is it in your life, and in mine where we need to start thinking like missionaries and turn to the one who may not always do things as WE think best, but always has more than enough?!?

Africa, Bekah's Heart, First Trinity, Haiti, Poetry/Songs

An (Un)divided Heart

Wow! What a week!  I had an absolutely WONDERFUL time in Haiti with the FT team and plan to tell you all about it here (and hopefully in person) in the days to come.  What’s standing out to me most right now is best described in a comment a friend posted on my Facebook wall yesterday that read:

 

“How many places can you leave a piece of your heart?”

 

I am beginning to wonder this very question myself.  The comment was prompted by the fact that I had received an e-mail newsletter from Musana Children’s Home in Uganda, where I spent the month of June.  My week in Haiti brought up so many memories of that trip.  The other exciting connection between these two experiences is that the newsletter outlined all the building projects that have taken place and been completed in the months since I left Musana… new verandas for the cabins, a beautiful new church, a dining area, a kitchen and more.  To hear of how these things have come together so quickly gives hope for the process that has begun at the Children of Israel Orphanage in Torbeck, Haiti.

 

In this all though, I agree with my friend, that my heart can quickly become divided…and even broken.  Not only would I still rather be in the WARM weather wearing a skirt in Haiti, I would love to still be there loving on those children, twisting wires on the cabin that they will one day live in, learning new words in Creole in order to better be able to share the love of Christ with them. 

 

Yes, a portion of my heart remains today in Haiti.  And a portion of my heart still remains in Uganda.  And a portion of my heart is in Seward NE and Wichita KS and at camp and more.

 

When I stop to think about it, I start to wonder “REALLY… how many places CAN I leave a part of my heart?”  But earlier today I was reminded of a quote by Elisabeth Elliot that seems to fit this situation:

 

"One morning I was reading the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. The disciples could find only five loaves of bread and two fishes. ‘Let me have them,’ said Jesus. He asked for all.  He took them, said the blessing, and broke them before he gave them out. I remembered what a chapel speaker, Ruth Stull of Peru, had said: ‘If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces of me will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad.’"

 

If I experience brokenness in my life when I give all I am and have to Jesus, it’s really an okay thing.  It’s because pieces will feed many, whereas, if I prefer to keep up a mentality of self-preservation, I may not feel as broken or torn in moments like this, but I certainly, will not feel “whole.” 

 

Psalm 86:11 says “Teach me your way O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” 

 

THAT is where wholeness is found… in seeking the One and only truth and walking in His way.  Teach me that Way, O Lord! Back in June, God’s Way took me to Africa.  This past week, that Way took me to Haiti… and yes, those beautiful children in both places stole a little piece of my heart.  Today, though, God’s Way brings me back to New York.   When my prayer is to have an undivided heart, focused on Christ, I can rest in knowing that no matter how many places I leave pieces my heart, as I take each step in the the direction of God’s way, my heart will become more and more whole.

 

“If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces of me will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad.” ~ Ruth Stull

Haiti11 (373)

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(A song I wrote a few months ago that seems to fit with this post:)

 

Undivided

 

Teach me Your way, oh Lord,
and I will walk in Your truth.
Teach me to fear your name with an
undivided heart.

 

Teach me your peace, oh God,
which transcends all understanding.
In Jesus Christ please guard my heart; give me an
undivided mind.

 

Teach me to love, Oh Lord,
with all my heart, with all my mind,
with all my strength, with all I am, teach me
undivided love.

 

Undivided – perfect and true
Undistracted – focused on You
Undiminished – Constantly
Unswerving, whole hearted, giving glory to Thee

Teach me Your way, oh Lord,
Teach me Your peace
Teach me to love, Oh Lord, 
With an
undivided life.