Thursday, November 4, 2010

Long overdue

I realize this entry is long overdue, like that library book you find at the bottom of your bag at the end of a semester, but here I ago any way. 

The past two months have been a whirlwind and I can't believe that I have been home from Costa Rica this long. After finishing my incredible 18 day trip with my dad through Central America, I arrived home in Pittsboro, Indiana. It was here that I was to work and wait as God brought together the pieces for my next place of ministry. I had Training at EBM, trips with family and visits to friends to occupy the waiting. Still, the unknown has hung over my head like a single lightbulb swings back and forth in a dark interrogation room. OK, maybe a bit dramatic, but it was a bit un-nerving. I began working part time and then volunteering the rest of my time at my home church, Bethesda. It was here that things began to take off into areas never expected and one thing was finally completed after a long time of waiting. 
Let me explain the one thing. Over 2 years ago, while completing my final year at Moody, I began to reflect on the journey in which God had brought me on to Himself and the amazing faithfulness He had shown. Though my heart was (and still can be) wicked and wanted (and some times still wants) nothing to do with Him, He drew me to salvation in Jesus Christ. For most of my life I thought that I was saved at a young age, because of a prayer prayed and a good life lived in the church. I was even baptized in grade school and made a re-dedication in middle school. My better understanding of salvation and what the bible teaches on how a person is saved, led me to the realization I wasn't saved at a young age. Actually, I was given salvation from sins when I was in middle school. This realization changed very little in my every day life, except a better understanding of my relationship with Jesus Christ and more passion for Him. However, soon I realized I had never proclaimed my true salvation to my home church by following the obedience of baptism. While in Costa Rica I decided that this was something I needed to follow through with, in obedience to the Bible. However, I really wanted to do it at my home church, Bethesda, which was a really long ways aways. So I waited. Well, 2 sundays ago, on the 24th of October the waiting ended and I was baptized!!!! It was such a joyful experience of obedience and fellowship with fellow believers. 
The unexpected, will have to wait for another time. I promise to tell you of God’s faithfulness in that as well. 
Now, I am just a week and half away from my trip to Puebla, Mexico. It thrills me to take the time to reflect back on all the things God has done in my life. He refines, He draws near and He strengthens those He has called to Himself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The End with a Beginning

Today I graduated from my spanish language school, I even gave the speech on behalf on the graduating class in spanish. I said my final goodbyes to classmates and teachers, only crying a little bit. Then it was good bye to the missionary families that I have worked with for the past year. I was able to have one last meal with the Woolfords and then in my goodbyes I held in the tears until the drove away and then I lost it. But with all these goodbyes comes the beginning of my Dad and I's big adventure through Central America. We leave in an hour and half to spend 17 days traveling to the Panama Canal and then to Chitza Nitza, Mexico all over land. Its over a thousands miles and a lot spanish practice. I am sure it will be an amazing time. Look for updates of the trip on facebook along the way.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The beginning of Goodbyes

I have begun saying goodbye to the people I love. Sunday was my final service at my Costa Rican home church, Roca Viva. It has been a wonder place to learn and serve with such amazing people. I feel privileged to have had the chance to know these people, share life with them and grow closer to the Lord together. Graduation is friday, which means I have to say goodbye to all the friends that I have made at the language school. When I came to Costa Rican I never thought that I would leave with friends all over the world, but now I will. There are so many people that have become such dear friends it will be hard to say goodbye, many of whom I consider more like family.  Here are a few photos of those that will be missed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Change In Plans

You know how you set off to do something only to find yourself in the middle of it doing something completely different than what you thought it would be? Well, thats what has happened to me. God has taken a hold of my plans and changed them. I am so excited to share with you the amazing things He has been doing in my life over the past 2 months to bring me to this change. Back in May I began to pray whether or not God might be leading me to serve for another year after my year of ministry in Costa Rica. After praying for a while I decided to seek some counsel for a potential possibility and the two people came back to me suggesting the same idea, coincidence? So I thought I would test the waters and look into the opportunity all the while praying to make sure this was the right thing for me. The opportunity, which is still in the works and not official, opened my eyes and heart the potential for longer term ministry in Latin America. As I began to talk with my director at EBM it was clear that the Holy Spirit was tugging at my heart to commit to a longer and more full time ministry. After discussions with family, friends, pastors and the missionaries I am and was going to work with here in Costa Rica, I have decided to reapply to EBM as a 2 year missionary, with the possibility of making it a career choice at the end of those 2 years. I will not be returning to Costa Rica after I leave next month, but will pursue a long term position through EBM. It will be hard to say goodbye to the many friends that I have made here, especially at Roca Viva church. They have been a wonderful family to worship and grow alongside for the last year and I will miss them so dearly. Its a big step out into the faithfulness of God, but I am excited to see where it will lead. When I return to the States in September I will be finishing the process of applying as a missionary with EBM, finalizing a ministry location and be interviewed for confirmation sometime in the beginning of November. Once all that is done, I will begin my support raising with the goal of being on the field in early 2011. I know its absolutely crazy, but I know its the right thing for me to pursue and grow through. I hope that you will pray with me as I follow God's leading as to where I will serve and its my prayer that you will be encouraged to step out there into His faithfulness.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Today was the day

Today was the day that I have been working for since embarking on my spanish learning adventure. My Goal in learning spanish was to gain the ability to teach and preach in spanish. Though I am no where near fluency, I taught a 15 minute lesson on the beginning of the church from the book of Acts. I will continue the series on the History of the Church, for the next few weeks. It was extremely nerve racking, but the people were encouraging and very gracious. I had all my notes prepared and ready to go, but the questions was wether the spanish would come out. It did and pretty good as reported to me from members of the church and the missionary families. For me, it was such a humbling experience to be so very dependent on the few things that God has given me in spanish to communicate really important principles. It was a lesson on trust, that if I did my small part, the Holy Spirit would take it the goal. It was such an exciting experience for me and I wanted to share it with all of you. Plus, after all these world cup matches, my spanish announcer voice is getting really good, just thought I would throw that in there.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Libre Gluten

As many of you know I was diagnosed with Celiacs disease a year ago, right after graduating college. It was a hard transition to living with a gluten free diet, but it was worth to not be sick any more. I can't believe its been a year and how much I have learned, I am a pretty good cook now (even my mom thinks so.) About 8 years of unexplained sickness is now over and I feel better than ever before. I have so much more energy, I know that might be hard to imagine. The transition to Costa Rica was difficult, the family I lived with a hard time understanding the problem, but since living on my own its been great. With exercise I have lost 45 lbs. since the diagnoses and my immune system is building back up. I am very thankful that it's something that I can control with diet and most of the damage can be reversed with time. I meet with my doctor while I am home in September and will get a full check on my progress. This is just another one of the many things that God has been so faithful with in my life. He has given me friends here who have celiacs to swap food and recipes, and understanding friends who help me find foods that I can eat. All of these adventures must be in preparation to write my book some day, "God, Girls and Gluten." (Title courtesy of Pastor Barry)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Friends, Buses & Headaches

The past month and a half have been busy. It has been packed with so many amazing adventures and trials. Since moving into my new apartment I have developed some amazing new friendships that are a blessing from God. My new roommate and I are quickly becoming great friends through up lifting conversations and great coffee (Costa Rica has amazing coffee, if you didn't know.) We live in an apartment complex with a family from our language school, they too have quickly become dear friends. They are just a few years older than me and have lived in Australia for the past several years. Our conversations over afternoon coffee are an challenging, encouraging and a blessing to me on a weekly bases. They will be working in Peru when they finish with language school, establishing a YWAM base in Cusco.

I am spending a lot of my time these days on buses traveling to and from ParaĆ­so, where my church is. From where I live in San Jose, it takes about an hour by bus. It is actually very pleasant and I enjoy the time to think or listen to my pastor's messages (sermons in english are a necessity, I still don't feel completely fed from a message in spanish.) On Mondays I am out there from 10am to 10pm, mostly teaching english classes & visiting local school's english classes building contacts for the church. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays I am spending time in the homes of people from the church, just having conversations in spanish. If you were wondering, this is where the headaches come in. After 4 hours of only speaking in spanish my head feels like it is going to explode. The worst right now is teaching english in spanish, talk about a brain smoothie. With all that said, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Though I might complain and be completely exhausted at the end, it has been so much fun. Its been exciting to expand my spanish and to deepen my relationships with the people from church. Though I am still in classes at the Institute in the mornings, I am beginning to transition into my full time ministry.

I am currently making a lot of decisions and filling out a lot of paper work with EBM, but I have just been cleared to start raising support. So the next month I will be getting that under way. It has been such a joy working with EBM and partnering with them in ministry. I can really see the possibility of some future ministry bloom out of my relationship with them. Though I would love prayer for all the things that are going on in my life, please pray specifically over the next few weeks as I work out more specifics of my ministry with the Local Latin American Church for the next few years. It truly is amazing to be serving God, though the trials get thick and refiners fire gets a little warm He remains faithful and loving.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Directoral Debut

I am must first start by thanking everyone who has ever directed me in a production. I have always been thankful for all the hard work they put into the experience, but never could I have understood it completely, until now. This was an amazing experience that God gave me. It has been two and half weeks since we wrapped, but its still fresh in my mind. There were 16 students in the cast, 4 crew and dozens more working in other areas. None of this would have been possible with out of the help of three teachers from the school, Tricia, Kate and Erin. These three worked so hard in different areas to bring the play to life. It was a great time to teach in english, you can't imagine the joy of not struggling for every word. One of my favorites was teaching the kids how to engage story from a biblical worldview (whether its a play, music, books or movies) and then to see them actually begin to pick apart the story of the play as maturing believers. Directing was such a rich experience that has taught me so much about leadership and organization that I know will be helpful in ministry. On top of that, the encouragement to Missionary Kids who have given up many aspects of a normal education to serve with there parents was amazing to be apart off and the encouragement the excitement was to their parents. Theater is a desire of my heart that I learned a while ago to give over to God, and He just keeps bringing it back around.

Here is a picture of the play in action and a group shot of me and all my students. 

Friday, April 30, 2010

Could some one tell me where April is?

This month has been such an action packed ride. I have been home, directed my first play, finished my second semester, traveled through Costa Rica with a good friend from the states and I am now a short term missionary with EBM. Yes!! I just received news that I am now with Evangelical Baptist Mission ( I still have a lot ahead of me, but this is a huge step that I am so excited to be apart of. EBM is an amazing organization with a biblical approach to missions and great people to help you in your ministry. I still need to finish some paper work and finalize my mission plan. Then I will begin raising support to be here for another year. I am on my way now to a men's retreat with my church here and have already begun a head start of some of the ministries I will be doing for that year. English ministries and discipleship being some of the more major, but I am working my way towards my first sermon in spanish by the end of the summer. At the beginning of the services for the next few months I will be doing short lessons on church history. There are great things ahead and great things behind. I hope to have pictures and stories from the play up in a few day, plus some from my travels these past few days. Thanks for all the prayers and I look forward to here from each of you.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

'Play'ing around

Sorry that it has been a while since my last post. I have been a little busy for the past few weeks. After I made my surprise visit back to the states for my mom's birthday, I came back with two weeks till the play that I have been directing. Now, tonight we have our full dress rehearsal and performances are Friday and Saturday. This has been such an amazing journey full of fun, excitement and of course stress. I hope to have some pictures up in the next few days to let you see my students and all that I have been up to. I know it will be mixed emotions when its all done, but right now I am just enjoying every moment.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The End of My 23rd Year of Life

I remember when I graduated from High School I received the quintessential gift, Dr. Suess's "Oh the places you will go!" Its so true, especially when God's turning the pages. This was my second birthday celebrated out of the US while serving God. He has taken me places unimaginable and humbling. This year I celebrated with classmates at Wendy's conversing in a new language and my students for the play I am directing threw me a little party before practice with a gluten free cake. Then my english students wanted to learn the Happy Birthday song so they could sing it to me, so I taught them and then they sang it to me. So many little joys that make distance from family and friends bearable. God always gives me what I need to get through what He leads me to. I can't wait to see Oh the places He will take me in this 24th year.

Monday, March 8, 2010

In the midst of it all

Friday was the half way point of my official spanish education. At my school you sit down with each of your teachers and they tell you what you are doing good and what you need to work on. I was a bit concerned about this, because I have been on a plateau of learning recently. However, it ended up being a big encouragement and what I need to start climbing up the mountain of spanish once again. Many people say, "it's not how much you know, but how well you say what you know." It's not worth knowing a lot of spanish words if you pronounce them so bad they can't even understand you, so my goal has always been to speak spanish with out an accent. One of my teachers told me that when I am speaking with words I am really familiar with I speak like a native, the goal my teachers have placed in front of me, is to increase my vocabulary. So here I go, eating words, hoping they will stick in my brain.

Update: I am in the second stage of application with EBM, the mission I hope to go with. Also, starting to look around Paraiso, the town my church is in, for possible places to live. On top of all that, had a great sunday with the guy who is leading the youth group, discussing the philosophy of ministry for the group. Then we had a great turn out for youth group with good interaction from the students. Praise the Lord for small steps of growth.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One step at a time......

I have realized the rather large gap in time since my last post. I reported my completion of my first semester in spanish and my return home. Which I must say, was a huge blessing. To spend time with Family and close friends was just what I needed. I had missed everyone so much. But so much has happened since then that I want to fill you in on. I am back in San Jose, Costa Rica studying spanish in my 2nd of 3 semesters. If all goes to plan I should finish my schooling in the beginning of August. School is going great, extremely hard, but a joy. We are diving deeper into the more intricate parts of spanish, so more headaches. However, I have moved into a house with 2 other single guys from school and have been able to get my gluten-free diet under control and I am feeling so much better. This semester has a lot of extra-curricular activities in store. I will be teaching an english course at my church for 4 weeks starting next week and I am currently directing the spring play for the MK school at my language school. It's an amazing group of students and such a joy to be using drama in ministry. We will be working on the production until April 16th and 17th, our show dates.

  As I was getting ready to leave Costa Rica, back in November, the missionary that I had been helping started to pick my brain about staying. He was encouraging me to stay in a spanish speaking country for at least another year to get the spanish down a bit more. Then He opened up some ideas about staying and helping out at our church, Roca Viva. At first, I must say, I was a little apprehensive. I had a rough start to my time here in Costa Rica and a big culture shock. However, with no set plans for the next year I had been telling God to just open up a door and I will go for it. So with this idea planted I thought it might be my open door for the next year. I took the idea home with me over break and began to mull it over in my head. After lots of prayer and discussions, I decided to move ahead and explore to idea of staying for another year. After having a great meeting with the two missionaries here, I have decided to stay in Costa Rica for another year. I will be living closer to the church and spending the majority of my time working amongst its members in discipleship and leadership training. I hope to also use this time to expound my language training for future ministry. I would appreciate your prayers as I am interviewing with agencies and choosing right now which would be the best for this experience. Also, pray for the approaching mountain of raising $8,000 dollars for 650 dollars a month to live on for the year. Right now the plan is to come home after school finishes to finalize everything and be back in Costa Rica by the beginning of October 2010 till October 2011. This will be an amazing opportunity for ministry experience and growth. Please pray as some many things are still coming together and other people are coming into this process. I look forward to future updates, more frequent ones, that will fill you in on all the God is doing in my life. He certainly has great things on the horizon for us all. I hope that you have a wonderful day and if you are cold enjoy some of the Costa Rican warmth I am attaching to this post :)