miércoles, 26 de abril de 2017

Adventure Awaits: When God Calls You Somewhere New

In February, when I came to Guatemala to visit the family, I was struggling so much with why God has called me to live so far away from the family. I began poring out my heart to God and praying for understanding. In that moment I felt Him remind me of the specific things he had called me to... First was to care for children with disabilities and second was to go to Uganda "until I call you somewhere new." I always assumed that those two would go hand in hand for years to come, but I felt as though God was telling me that things were maybe going to change very soon. Naturally my first thought and hope was "Guatemala!!!" and even though I am here right now.... He had a different idea starting in 2018. That night I started to pray that if He had something else planed for me that he would show my dad, so I would know that it was not from my own desires but His. Three days after I began praying about this, my dad asked if my mom and I could go to his office with him to talk for a few minutes. He proceeded to tell me of an opportunity in Liberia where I could oversee the opening of a community of homes for children with special needs. Over the next few weeks we all prayed and talked about it a lot, and we all feel at peace and that this is what the next step is for me. I do not know how long I will be in Liberia, I will be heading there in January of 2018 and will be there for at least a couple years, I am going to go and we will figure it out one step at a time. I may be there for 2 years, then back in Guatemala, or head back to Uganda, or somewhere else, or maybe I will be in Liberia for 15 years... I don't know, but God has called and I am walking.

The plan is to have a large property that we will build individual homes on. In each home there will be a mama or a married couple who looks after 5 or 6 kids. There will also be a community center on the property that will consist of space for everyone to come together for some meals and a therapy area. For all of this Hope for Home Liberia will be teaming up with two other existing ministries in Liberia to further the kingdom of God. My dad will be doing his own blog post before too long explaining the logistics of the ministries and some of the details a bit more, so stay posted for that.

My life in Liberia will be very different from any experience I have had. All things considered I have lived a fairly comfortable missionary life. In Uganda I experienced comfortable living situations but was on my own and had to figure everything out myself. In Liberia I will be joining existing projects so they will be able to show me around and help me navigate life there, but my living situation will be a stretch for me... I will be living in more of a village setting (as opposed to city or small town) and I will be living in a house that has no electricity and no water. This will be super new to me and will be a huge adjustment but I am following the call.

Below is a picture of my new prayer card. On my next blog update I will add a PDF for anyone who would like to print of my prayer card.

Prayer requests:
1. That God will continue to have his hand on the ministry that I am presently doing here in Guatemala.
2. That this time here will be a way to even better prepare for Liberia.
3. That He will help me as the move approaches... It is still months away, but this will be a huge change for me and will need extra help as those changes get closer.

Thank you to everyone who is praying for me and supporting me financially, I need you all now more than ever. God bless.

jueves, 6 de abril de 2017

Sudden move to Guatemala and all the insanity that comes with it...

I am so sorry that I did not get this done earlier, the past couple weeks have been insane. As many of you know, I am now living in Guatemala (again). Before I get into the details of the last 2 ½ weeks I want to take a moment to explain that this move is not me ignoring Gods call on my life. I always said that I was going to live in Uganda until God called me somewhere else, I imagined (and lived as if) that would be for years and years, but back in February, well…. He called me somewhere else (more on that coming very soon). So temporarily, I am in Guatemala to help with my parent’s ministry.

So, here is the breakdown of the past couple weeks….

Because of the orphan crisis going on in Guatemala, Hogar de la Esperanza received permission to open up a second home under the first home’s license. So on March 19th my parents asked Taryn and I if we would consider heading back to Guatemala earlier than expected to help get the second home started up (because of my experience with the first home, I am ready to jump right, if someone else were to open the home they would require extensive training). We spend the next 20 or so hours praying about it and we felt like that is where God wanted us, so we started preparations. Mom changed our tickets and we got busy with selling stuff, packing everything else, frantic goodbyes…. Lots of insanity. 8 days later (the 28th) we were on a plane. We landed in DC the following day and spent 2 days with my grandparents (the trip from Uganda to Guatemala can be around 50 hours, so being able to break it up a bit is super helpful), but then on the 31st we were back on a plane heading to Guatemala. We got here that evening and hit the ground running. We have spent the past few days unpacking and doing any other preparations on the home that can be done. 

Monday, the 27th, the ministry received the key to our new house. While we were doing last minute things in Uganda and traveling home, everyone in the ministry was kicking butt and getting all kinds of work done on the house.... it looks amazing! Here are some pictures of what it is looking like now, doors and windows will be installed (hopefully) today, plumbing was finished yesterday and a fridge was installed. Once the doors are installed will begin setting up the rooms a little better, getting everything in place. Now, we are only waiting to receive kids... Until then, we are continuing to make little changes and adjustments to the house to make transition as smooth as possible. 

Courtyard/ ministry parking

Kitchen (a.k.a my favorite room in the house)
Living room

This will be the dining room and (on the other side of the curtain)
 the changing room/laundry room 

From our roof you can see Hogar de la Esperanza (#1) and on the
other side of our house is Brittney and Joel's place
Mine and Taryn's bedroom
Intern room that is being used as storage right now

Boy's bedroom
Play room
Girl's bedroom
So this is where we are do far, working hard and getting stuff done. Hoping and praying that we will revived kids in the next couple days before the insanity of Semana Santa (Holy week) sets it.

For all my supporters, I know that I am not where I had planed, but I am still doing the work that was planned. If you would be willing to continue supporting me, that would be greatly appreciated. This role that I am taking on is not a paid position so I could really use the continued support. As always, I still need lots of prayer and emotional support, thank you to everyone who is continuing to stand by me as a prayer partner, financial partner, or both. God bless. 

miércoles, 8 de febrero de 2017

Back in Guatemala

I am so sorry that it has taken this long to do a blog post, it has been a crazy couple weeks! Not only that, but this is now my 3rd attempt at writing a post but my computer has had some issues and keeps deleting it.

As some of you may have seen, Taryn and I are back in Guatemala for a month. I am going to try to make a long, confusing story as simple as possible.... for visa proposes when we entered Uganda we had to have a ticket showing we were going to leave within the next 6 months. Well, because of the high fee for changing our tickets on top of the price it would be to visit a nearby country to renew our visa, it was actually cheaper (by three hundred dollars each) to keep our original ticket and go home for a bit.

On January 9th, I got a Skype call from my mom and my sister, Krishauna. I called Taryn in the room and my mom said, "I have good and bad news. The bad news is it is going to be really expensive to change your tickets. The good news is, that means it is cheaper for you to come all the way here. So, we will see you guys on the 26th!" The next 2 1/2 weeks was crazy difficult to keep it a secret. 

So, January 25th we left our apartment.... about 42 hours later we were greeted by our parents (and some family friends) at the airport in Guatemala. We drove home and got to surprise some of the family (the kids were in bed, so we didn't get to see them yet). Early Friday morning, we headed to San Pablo to surprise Joel, Brittney and our future nephew. We also got to help them move into their new house. We again got home late again, so the weekend was basically all spending time loving on the kiddos! I got to meet the 4 kids that have joined the home since I was gone, and we got to welcome Genesis to the family as well.

In addition to all that, on the 3rd, we got to welcome a new baby into the family, Christopher Caleb. It has been so nice being able to be here with the family during all of this (considering when we found out Brittney was pregnant we never expected to get to be a part of this). God has the best timing, this has been exactly what both Taryn and I have needed. 

Taryn and I will be heading back to Uganda on the 23rd. Please pray for finances.  Even though we saved money by coming home instead of paying the change fee, it still all cost far more than we had budgeted for visa renewal. Also, please pray for the continued guidance and timing of God for the upcoming months and years. Thank you for your continued prayer and support. 

martes, 13 de diciembre de 2016

The battle of Joy and Sadness

When I sat down two weeks ago to try to write a blog post I had one post in mind, Choose thankfulness, choose Joy. But over the past two weeks, every time I sit down to write God changes my thoughts, my words and eventually my entire blog post little by little. So what started out as a post about choosing Joy had now turned into a blog about the inward battle between the life we wanted and the life we were given and the affects it has on us emotionally..... the battle of Joy and Sadness.

The past few months have been amazing and really difficult all at the same time, a real roller coaster of emotions.... a constant battle of joy and sadness.
On "Joys" side we have:
Cubs win the World Series
Christmas season begin
My favorite time of the year!!!
On "Sadness'" side:
I didn't get to celebrate the World Series with my dad.
I have to celebrate all this fun stuff away from most of my family.
This is all making me incredibly homesick and there is nothing I can do about that.

It's actually really interesting to look at how you expected your life and compare it to how it is turning out...
How I had imagined my life 10 years ago (more or less): I would go to collage and get a degree in Physical Therapy. I would meet someone early in my years at university, we would fall in love, get married, live in a small place and get a dog. A few years down the road we would have kids and move into a house and eventually I would become a stay at home mom with a bunch of little kids running around. I imagined the stereotypical, white picket fence, american dream. Perfect.
At THAT moment, I think God laughed at me, picked me up, whispered "I love you, trust me", and threw me into a tornado.
Now: 23, living in Kampala, Uganda (an over populated, way too crowded city that I just don't care for). I am trying to get a ministry started and feeling (lets be honest) completely clueless and lost. I have no collage degree, no car, no husband, no kids.... not even a dog because the apartment I am in is too small. And I am CONSTANTLY homesick.

The harder things get here the more I desire the "american dream". I want a simple, "normal", American life. I want to be able to bake chocolate chip cookies and not worry about my very limited stash of chocolate chips are going down too quickly. I want to be able to step out of the house in shorts and not offend people because 4 inches of my thighs are showing. I want to not have people constantly trying to rip me off because I am white and they assume I am rich. I want to watch a Cubs game with my dad (at a normal hour of the day) and have a cup of coffee with my mom. I want to live down the road from my niece, nephews and younger siblings getting to spoil them and see them grow up. I want snow and a Christmas with the whole family in one place.  I just want to be in the same country as my family, even if that would mean a 12 hour drive. Well, at this point, I would even just love to be able to afford to go home once a year to see my family.

~ Disclaimer: Don't get me wrong, I realize I am so, very blessed. I thank God regularly for the things he has given me and that is something He is putting on my heart a lot recently, I am really working on it. But I need to be honest.... this life, being so far away from my family and closest friends is incredibly hard (that's all even before I have really started ministry stuff here) ~

The battle between joy and sadness is a very difficult one. You are happy one minute and a very small thing (like a picture or a memory) can send you into extreme sadness, sometimes even depression. Often, just like in the movie Inside Out (if you have not yet seen it, seriously, it's a must) I often feel obligated to try to push away all negative feelings. Anytime I am sad, I try to just get over it. When I am homesick I try to distract myself. When I desire a different life or a different calling I try my best to just drown out my feelings. "Joy" always tries to kick out "sadness", but that is not always the answer.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie everyone turns to Joy for help, but she has different plans:
Joy- "Sadness, its up to you."
Sadness- "Me?!?"..."I cant, Joy."
Joy- "Yes, you can. Riley needs you."

Sadness then steps up, stops Riley from running away and invites Joy to join her at the control console and they work together to fix the whole situation. Sometimes, sadness has its place in our lives.

I so often wrestle with myself, feeling guilty for the fact that I do not yet like the life God has called me to. But sometimes God calls us to hard places so we can prove to Him where our trust really lies. Trials come with sadness.... often lots of sadness, but God will lead us through. God will eventually bring us to a point of eternal joy.

Now and always, I choose trust God. Sometimes that means choosing joy and sometimes that means accepting the sadness, but trust is the key. I have wept. I have grieved. It is time to wash my face. It is time to embrace the life I have. It is time to choose to look to God for the small joys in life.

 It is time to trust.

martes, 18 de octubre de 2016

When God Chooses Not to Heal

Over and over again we see these amazing articles online and hear of these awesome stories of how people were miraculously healed of sicknesses, decease, disabilities, and even brought back from near death experiences. I love hearing these stories: the hope and excitement, the details of how God chooses to heal people, it's incredible! But... what happens when God chooses NOT to heal?

Back in April I was at a friends house for a bible study but it was a unique week and it ended up being me and just two other girls. We ended up watching a video by Angie Smith. It was the story of when Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac, a story I have heard countless times growing up in the church but she brought a new light to it.... and it changed my view of life.

You know the story (Genesis 22). God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his one and only son, as a burnt offering to the Lord. They go to the mountain and Isaac (not knowing what was about to go down) starts asking questions about where the lamb is for the offering. Abraham tells Isaac that God will provide the lamb. They continue to the top, built the alter and bound Isaac, placing him on the altar. Last minute an angel of the Lord tells him to stop and not hurt his son. It was a test of loyalty to see his willingness to sacrifice what he loved most. God was pleased and in turn blessed Abraham. God then provides a ram for he burn offering and Abraham and Isaac return home... happy ending. But what if there wasn't a happy ending?

If you notice in verse 8, Abraham says to Isaac, "God himself will provide the LAMB for the burnt offering, my son." But then in verse 13, "Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a RAM caught by its horns...." Abraham was promised a lamb but in that moment God provided a ram. I never really paid attention to this because Isaac lived and they had been provided for (like I said, happy ending). However, God could have still fulfilled his promise to Abraham and it would not have seemed like a happy ending. Years down the road, God would send a lamb to save all mankind (Jesus, which would fulfill the promise)... So that day, there on the mountain, with Isaac tied up and ready as an offering, God could have let Abraham go through with it. He could have sacrificed Isaac and returned home childless and God still would have provided just as he said. If that had been the outcome, would that place have still been called "The Lord provides"?

I have stood on the mountain "The Lord provides" many times. In some of those situations he has chosen to provide the ram and we returned home happy and with full hearts, but some of those situations he asked us for the Lamb to be enough. However, it is in NO way easy...

It is so difficult to get the call that your little sister that you said goodbye to less than 24 hours earlier (as you left the country for who knows how long) has just passed and call it "The Lord provides". It is so, incredibly hard to stand between the graves of your 8 month old sister and your 2 month old brother and call it "The Lord provides." It is nearly impossible to be outside a hospital, collapsed on the sidewalk, sobbing from the loss of the little girl you loved as your own and still call it "The Lord provides."

But not just in death. What about sicknesses? Diseases? Disabilities? What happens when you are called to a life of physical pain and difficulties and you just don't understand why the ram is not being provided? About 5 years ago, while doing physical therapy with Kimmie (my younger sister) and she told me, "Sometimes I wish I didn't have Cerebral Palsy, but if I didn't maybe I would not have been adopted by you guys and the family I would be with in Korea might not know Jesus." At (about) the age of 8 she understood that God has the ultimate plan in mind and because of that plan, He has chosen to not heal Kimmie. We have a home full of kids in Guatemala that have not been healed. I know countless individuals who are struggling with the difficulties of the life God has chosen for them, but in all things, the Lord provides. (I do want to make something very clear, each and every one of the individuals that I know have lives just as meaningful as anyone else's. I am in no way claiming that they are suffering through life with no purpose, God has just chosen to give each of as a different kind of difficulty)

So this is what I want to leave you with, whether healed or struggling, whether you have a home full of kids or you are standing over a grave (or multiple) and feel as though there is no reason to keep going, whether he has provided the ram or has asked you to be content with only the Lamb... the truth has always been the same "The Lord provides", we just need to rely on him for the strength each step of the way.

martes, 20 de septiembre de 2016

His Grace is Sufficient for Me

I have known for about 2 weeks now that I have really needed to do a blog update. I have had plenty of time, that was not what was keeping me from it, but it was my lack of content that was preventing me from writing. I don’t really have any updates on my work here (because I am still having trouble getting the appropriate information) and to be honest, its making me very discouraged and making me feel like a failure. So I have just been keeping my mind open to what God might have me write about next…. But yesterday, as I was going about my day, He made it quite clear.

So I have been slowly working through a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free. Today for my devotions I was reading a small section titled “God’s grace is sufficient for me”…

A few weeks ago, we were at a book store and remembering that I am nearing the end of my prayer journal, I bought a new one. As I was cleaning this afternoon, I came across it…

I think God is trying to get something past my thick skull.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I am weak. I make mistakes. I am a failure at time. But I will always rejoice because in those moments he is still perfect! He uses the worst of my moments to prove his grace....
His grace is sufficient.
His grace is infinite.
His grace is perfect.
His grace is made for me.

viernes, 19 de agosto de 2016

The Happenings.... Part 2 (The important, Uganda stuff)

Okay, I am so sorry that it has been so long since I have given a real update. If I am being honest it was because I had such a good time in the United States that I so did not want to think about (let alone return to) Uganda. As most of you know, my time here in Uganda has been lonely, boring and discouraging, but I have said it before and I will say it 100,000 more times.... I have no doubt that this is exactly where God has called me, so I have returned and I also know that God is going to do some great things in me through this! My trust in fully in God and that is exactly where it is going to stay. So, again, I am sorry for my horrible communication, I will be working very hard to improve.

Well, with that out of the way, let me get going with th Uganda portion of the blog update....

On Wednesday, August 3rd Taryn and I hopped on a plane and were in Uganda the following night….
Only to realize I did not have access to my apartment. Come to find, someone tried to break in while I was gone, so a neighbor added an extra pad lock to the door. She was at work so we could not get the key from her. Luckily a friend of mine allowed us to crash at her place that night. The next morning everything was worked out, got in the apartment, nothing missing, all is good…. Praise God! We spent the next few days cleaning, doing some unpacking, recovering from jet lag and introducing Taryn to Uganda.... food, transportation, grocery shopping, the basics :)

Monday was my birthday so we hung out all lazy like, went out for lunch and saw Suicide Squad (a movie that I have been looking forward to for like 2 years since I first found out it was in the making). Tuesday was Taryn’s birthday (we are 5 years, 8 hours and 30 minutes apart) so we were lazy again, hung out for a while, went out for coffee and a nice, fancy (for us) desert and then went to see Jason Bourne (we are both a little obsessed with the Bourne series so that was super exciting as well).

Now we are getting to work. Contacting more ministries for Taryn’s time here, I am working on catching up on computer work, contacts and things like that. We will be working more on getting settled in, figuring out what needs to be changed and tweaked in the apartment with an additional person in the place. 

Now the interesting things are coming up. This is where I need your prayer and your help.
First of all, I was planning on starting the licensing process to open up the home, but I was recently informed that the Ugandan government is shut down for the month of August. So now I shall start house hunting. The one problem with that, my finances are in no place to move into a larger (and in turn more expensive) place, especially considering that also means I will have to hire a guard. But I have no doubt that God will provide in his timing. So I am hoping to start house hunting very soon and I will keep you all posted on that.

Other prayer requests....
The main thing is, I really need prayer for emotional and mental reasons. The way my mind works is very interesting and often very frustrating. I have a lot of trouble focusing on tasks and getting stuff done, no matter how hard I try. It will hopefully be a little better now that I have Taryn around to keep me accountable. But prayers would be greatly appreciated. Also, I am not bad at setting up house, grocery shopping, cooking, hands on work like that.... but paperwork and computer work, all the legal work is very much out of my comfort zone. These are things that need to be done and I am the only one to do it, but I need prayer for wisdom, discernment and perseverance seeing as I have a LOT of it coming up.

Thank you so much for your prayers!