Recent Reflections

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I recently traveled to Greece for a missions trip with my church. Our purpose was to lead an English camp for youth in the community, and to visit with Syrian Refugees. Yes, we did accomplish these things, but we also completed so much more! We established relationships through conversation with the community, church members, campers, and refugees. Check out some of my fun stories and pictures below!


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Matthew (a BFA student) and Katerina (a student at the camp)

We had the opportunity to meet and work alongside students from Black Forest Academy in Germany. Many of these students are MK’s (Missionary Kids), and have lived in many different countries, and in difficult circumstances. I admire their passion and commitment, and their desire to serve the Lord at such young ages. (Lol, I’m 18 you guys). Matthew and Katerina were the people I got closest to on this trip, and this picture captures their instant connection. They both have absolutely precious souls, and I love and miss them so much!


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Emily (left) and Mahsa (right)

One of my favorite parts of this trip was getting to meet and interact with the refugees. Mahsa was a refugee, and was completely quiet and shut down until the last day of camp. Suddenly she sprang alive and started sharing all these stories, and asking tons of questions. Even though I only spent three days with her, it was a beautiful transformation to witness within her. She became social, independent, and chatty.

The refugees shared so many stories that shared the darkness from which they have fled from. Some boys in the camp showed us a bullet grazing on their neck from when they were shot at as they fled Syria. Others told stories of their ships sinking along with all of their possessions, and being stranded in the ocean. We heard about families being separated due to certain countries closing their borders to refugees, and not being able to contact one another.

These stories that I have been hearing in the news suddenly became real, with real names, real faces, real fears, and real needs. My heart tore open wide, and I discovered a passion for these people.


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Colossians 1:13, “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Going to Greece permanently opened my eyes to the joy that is possible in Christ. I rediscovered love for life, passion for people, and zeal for serving others. I realized that when I lock myself up, stay behind closed doors, and refrain from exploring the world, I leave myself cut off from discovering the fullness of God’s plan for me. I have re-allowed myself to dream big. For so long, I have told myself “no”. “No”, I can’t serve as a missionary full time. “No”, I am not capable of loving the children of God. “No”, I have to be perfect and have my act together to represent anyone. “No”, “No”, “No”. But I’m ready to say “yes”. Why not? I want to fuel my big dreams! Sure, desire to work with refugees locally. Yeah, pursue serving as a full-time missionary in Germany. Heck yes, embrace the unique individual I’ve always wanted to be!

Philippians 4:6, “Do not worry about anything instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done!” Amen, amen, amen! That is the attitude I want to live with. God is at work within me, using his mighty power to complete a good work that will come to fruition.


Germany Reflection

Yes, I am aware that I’ve been back in the states for almost 2 months. It has been 2 months full of crazy busy school stuff, so I’m giving myself grace as I just now am allowing myself to reflect on this summer. Below I’ve included images that my mind keeps recalling as I am missing Europe more and more.

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I miss hammocking, reading my (life giving) books, and gazing at the views.

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I miss leaning out my window watching storms roll in, allowing the fresh air to wash over me.

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I miss exploring new towns with castles and neatly organized vineyards.

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I miss going for walks in my quaint town and admiring the (ancient) architecture.

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I miss being able to pick wildflowers from anywhere I could reach them.

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I miss being able to drive only two hours to be in a new country and admire the Swiss Alps.

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I miss walking back to my house after church and smelling flowers from overgrown gardens.

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I miss my room with its white walls, exposed beams, and constant income of wildflowers. jgd4r2lUSKeEVeeogmh0Rw.jpg

I miss being so in tune with nature and the creatures God created.

 

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I was able to add all these new pins each representing a country whose culture I’ve fallen in love with and experienced. I’m not sure what’s next for me, but I’m thankful for the opportunity of a heart that hurts because of loving and missing something so much. I hope that God calls me back to Europe, but for now I am being asked to care for the people in Phoenix, in my classes, my dorm, and in lunch lines.

A Week Away…

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Last week I had the opportunity to visit some GEM missionaries in Skopje, Macedonia. They were putting on a fun English camp for 70 students who just completed another school year. They asked me to be the teacher of the 5th grade students and help in the crafts station. Their camp was drenched in a Medieval theme, and it was a beautiful vision to see these children being called what they truly are: Princes and Princesses.

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It was a week of learning, growing, smiles, laughter, and encouraging. One of my favorite things to do when partnering with other missionaries, is to join them in their daily life. Play with their children, wash their dishes, cook (eat) their food, meet their friends, visit their church, and listen to their journey. What a joy to be a part of someone’s life and ministry. I am thankful for these opportunities that remind me how small I am, and how big my God is. And yet, even in my small state, I will never know what it feel like to be alone or without love. Wow. Thank you Jesus.

Germany Update!

I embarked on this journey exactly two weeks ago. If this were any of my previous trips, this is the point where I would get back on a plane and head home. So far, my time in Germany has not been like any of my other trips, and that has kept life exciting.

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I spent most of week one unpacking, buying groceries, going into the office, and trying to reset my body’s clock. I live in a large house with four other missionaries (pictured above). We have had a good time getting to know each other through cooking, playing games, and going on hikes to castles (also pictured above). My house mates have all been here for a couple years and have been very gracious in helping me learn the differences in culture and how to adjust smoothly. Fun fact: There are like 7 different trash cans in our house and everything must be separated appropriately… this has been a fun system to learn 😉

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We have a lot of holidays here in Germany, which has given me the opportunity to do some traveling and sightseeing! This past weekend the Michelle and Dustin took myself and another intern to France and Switzerland! It was absolutely breathtaking and I stood in awe of the creativity of God.

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I am so thankful for Dustin and Michelle. They have made me feel so at home and answered my every question and concern with great patience. They have allowed me to eat at their table, taken me shopping for necessities, laughed with me, and allowed me to dream and create a vision. I am so thankful for their ministry here and the way they live their life in such a graceful manner. They have already taught me a different view on living overseas. It doesn’t have to be some big production or a camp with children everyday… It can be as simple as living your normal life, building relationships with your neighbors and community, and participating in the work of the organization. That fact has brought me a lot of peace and excitement for the coming months and years as I continue to look ahead into a future of missions overseas.

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I have been in the office this week working on writing lesson plans for future TEFL camps. It is fun being on this end of the work building, creating, designing, and praying over the people this curriculum will touch. Next week I will continue organizing and working in building this TEFL program.

Prayer Requests

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  • This weekend we had Halle (pictured above), an intern who lived in France for the last 4 months, stay with us for her debriefing before going home. I got to spend a couple days with her, and just loved her! She is so sweet and encouraging, and I miss her so much! Please join me in praying for her as she continues to adjust to American culture, starts a new job, and processes her time in France.
  • We have another intern coming next week! Caleb will be one of my housemates and also work in the office doing graphic design work. Please be praying for him as he prepares to join us and for his first few weeks as he adjusts physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • I am finally adjusted to the time here and have loved learning about German culture. Pray that I continue to invest by asking questions, trying new things, and embracing change. I keep feeling the beginnings of a cold, but have not yet caught it. Pray that it goes far far away and that I continue to remain healthy.

I am so thankful for all of your prayer, support, and encouragement.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

 

 

Germany Support Opportunity

IMG_7758My Dear Friends, Family, and Community,

This year has been a complete whirlwind, in which much has been accomplished. In the spring, I was able to travel with my church to Athens, Greece to teach at an English camp for kids, and also visit with Syrian refugees. It was a wonderful experience that taught me so much about deepening my heart for people, and furthering my gift of hospitality. I graduated from Turlock Christian High School, and dove into summer break. In July, I had the opportunity to revisit Costa Rica with Students International.  It was a sweet time, where I got to encourage the full-time staff, and continue deepening relationships with the community. Summer came to an end, I packed up, and am now writing you from my new home in Phoenix, Arizona! I am attending Grand Canyon University studying Elementary Education with an emphasis in English Second Language. I am so excited to use this degree wherever God calls me around the world.

I have been connected to an organization by the name of “Greater Europe Mission”. GEM’s goal is to reach Europe for Christ by making disciples and growing the church. Please visit gemission.org to learn more about the organization that I will be serving with. I will be placed in Kandern, Germany working to develop English curriculum and teach English to refugees. My trip will begin May 1st, and finish July 29th.  During these three months I will be interning in the Education side of the program. I am so excited to use my specific passions in a dark country. Though Europe is filled with many old churches, they are completely void of the living gospel. A huge part of my work is developing relationships with people to introduce the Gospel to their hearts.

I am eager to be a part of sharing God’s love and hope with people in Germany, but I cannot do this alone. I am in need of people to partner with me, to be praying for both me and the people I will be serving. Additionally, I am in need of financial giving to cover the cost of this internship.  The total cost will be around $7,000.  I need to raise this amount by March 30, 2018.   This will include airfare, room and board, and ministry related costs.  I have an account set up with GEM and all donations will be set aside for the cost of my internship. If you would like to support me and the work God is doing in Germany, you can go online to http://www.gemission.org/donate, and search my name in the search bar. That will bring you to my page where you can choose an amount to donate.

Please pray for me in these ways:

  • Health and safety in travels
  • Smooth transition and adjustment to culture
  • Growth in language and communication
  • Confidence in sharing the Gospel

I so appreciate the love and support that you have lavished upon me, and the way that you continue to bless me. May God, in turn, bless you for your help in supporting the kingdom of God.

 

Past, Future, Present

Yes. I realize that this is not the typical order for this phrase. But my thoughts are kinda jumbled around these 3 topics anyway. I think I am in one of those phases in life, where I realize the power my mind has, and it freaks me out a little bit. Or maybe I’m just in a big transitional phase and my brain is still trying to figure out what is going on. Anyone with me?

Sometimes I get stuck on the past.

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I start reminiscing on fond memories, and lose myself in the joy of childhood. I remember working on homework that only lasted half an hour, playing outside for hours on end (without getting out of breath), and not having to pay for groceries. Those are some beautiful things, and I find myself longing for that simplicity of life again. Life goes on. maty walk

When not recalling my past, I am often more prone to be dreaming about my future. I have some crazy wild dreams for my future that include graduating college, getting a (real) job, getting married, raising a family, becoming a missionary, and adopting. Those are some of my deep, personal, dreams. And I find myself so focused on making these future dreams come true, that I don’t even realize how out of step I am with God’s guiding hand on my life. I can’t hear his voice anymore, because I’m too busy trying to convince him of how perfect my planned future is. And you know what, all my dreams are pretty great. None of them are bad things. But when I take a second to slow down and breathe, I remember that God has promised me HIS good and pleasing will in accordance to my life.

1 Peter 1:3-4 “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust.”

When I dream about the future, I am desiring things that are not God. I have to surrender my hopes and dreams, and trust that God is going to work within me, and that He has better plans for my life than I ever will. I don’t know what my future looks like, but  I know that if I relax and continually invite God to participate in my present circumstances, my future will be exactly as God planned it to be.

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So now I’m here. In college, paying for my groceries, staying up all night working on papers, and meeting new people every 7 minutes. This is my present reality. I’m rooting myself to God, and asking Him to guide my heart as I continue in this stage of life. I ask Jesus that when my heart yearns for my future plans, to draw me back to him. To listen to his voice and direction. To lean on Him. When I desire the simplicity of my past, to teach my mind the simplicity of the present. Do I still have hopes and dreams for my future? Sure. But I also wake up each morning and ask that God would speak to me and impress His plans for my day, week, and month, upon my heart. I want Him to create a heart of willingness and freedom within me. That  when he says, “Go”, I move. When He says “Look here”, I see what he pointing me towards. I’m surrendering my past, future, and present, and focusing on the work God has for me in this moment.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
― Mother Theresa

Let us begin friends.

 

 

 

 

Tico Time

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These are my people. We did life together for two amazing weeks this summer in Costa Rica. Here, we snapped a picture on our last day together at the Tutoring Center. Each person brought a different gift to the center each day, and in my opinion, we made a wonderful team. We were like-minded in our goal to love and lavish the Father’s love upon each child and adult we came into contact with. With that goal uniting us as a team, we had the most chaotic, blissful, challenging two weeks.

Last summer when I traveled with a group from my school to Costa Rica, I entered the Tutoring Center ready to work with the kids. They were in Exams week, which meant we had to keep them focused, disciplined, and on task to get the marks they needed to pass their grade. Or at least that’s what I thought my purpose was… until I returned this year. The two weeks that I selected to serve in Costa Rica this summer, happened to be the two weeks that the students are on vacation. I was able to see both ends of the spectrum in just the two quick trips I made with Students International. Reflecting on the differences between my two trips, it makes me sad to think that I totally missed the point last summer! I was so focused on making sure the kids were studying for their exams, that I forgot to give them my heart. Instead of loving and laughing with them, I scolded and refocused them.

I quickly became humbled and struggled against feelings of shame and remorse, and fighting the regrets I felt toward my previous trip. The “Man, I wish I would’ve…” or  “I should’ve done this differently…” filled my head on day 1 of this summer’s trip, and I felt frustrated. However, I realized that I was given a second chance! God had allowed me to return to this country that I love, and given me another opportunity to love the kids more fiercely than the last! Friends, I didn’t waste my opportunity.

We took a hike, danced in the rain, made pizza and brownies, played card games, dominated in 4-square, laughed our heads off, sang songs, and hugged tightly. Although leaving is always the worst part of the trip, I left in confidence knowing I loved those kids with my whole heart, and held nothing back from them. Now, as I am left to reflect on the blessing of this trip, I soak myself in peace. I know that my life, and my missions travels  rest in the hands of the creator of the world. Nothing is too big or grand for those hands, and that’s where I find my strength and comfort.

The Power of the Dinner Table

Growing up, my family was serious about dinner. If we were out with friends, we had to be home by dinner time. It was the way of life. I remember getting together with other families from our church or community and the joy I found in sharing a meal with them. Over time I have realized that the joy lies not in the food we are sharing (although that does bring me great joy), but in the people who sit around the table. I have shared many meals in my life, some around my own dinner table, some on picnic tables, a few on the ground, and many as a guest around the world. Sharing a meal is one of my favorite things in the world. Period.

Now, we can’t ignore the obvious awkward times that come with having company and sharing food, so let’s just discuss those things quickly. Sometimes (in my case) there is a language barrier. So….kinda hard to have that dinnertime conversation, right?? Right. Sometimes the food on your plate looks (and smells) oh so interesting. And not the good kind. And other times you are a newbie to a group of friends and just feel plain awkward. Whew. So now that that’s out of the way… Let’s talk about our job and duty to the dinner table!

My mom has always been a great example of how to do dinnertime right (in my opinion at least). There is always an “icebreaker” type question or discussion topic for us to mull over. We have gone through different books ( a few favorites being “Hero’s for my Son” and “101 Things You Should Do Before You Leave Home”), verses, “favorites” questions, and so much more. I feel that participating in these activities have helped me prepare for all the different people and conversations I would have around various dinner tables. I think, as Christians, we are to invite not just our friends, but the poor, crippled, lame, and blind.

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“And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Now, I don’t think this verse is saying to never invite over some friends or family, but instead to train our minds to think of sharing with the ones without a table. My favorite meals and best conversations have been shared over tables like the one seen in the picture above. This was in Greece with a family who had been at our English camp, and lived in a Refugee Camp that we had the opportunity to visit. We had come from lunch completely stuffed, when we were suddenly at the beautiful hospitality of a woman who prepared a huge feast for us (think My Big Fat Greek Wedding family party feast). We were completely overwhelmed, humbled, and so grateful. Her English was weak, but her love and appreciation was sincere. She was so thankful that we had taken the time to visit her home. We ended up staying some two hours, laughing, smiling, and speaking across barriers. It was a dinnertime conversation I will never forget.

There are so many stories in the Bible of Jesus sharing meals with others, that the importance of it finally caught my attention. Hello! If Jesus was doing it… we should be doing it too! So friends, I leave you with this. Embrace the uncomfortable, sit in the awkward differences, eat the interesting food, share deep conversation, laugh freely, and love your neighbors well. It is oh so rewarding.