Another Summer is Over.

***Be sure not to miss the video clip at the end!***

Summer 2012 is over! It is so surreal to me! I can not believe my second summer of full time ministry with Students International is complete. At the same time, I am so relieved to finally get a chance to catch my breath! I know all of us on SI staff are ready for a break. Thankfully, we get one week off to rest and recuperate. Praise the Lord for a summer full of exciting blessings in ministry with the help of hundreds of outreach participants from the US and Canada and 13 incredible summer staff. It has been a summer full of highs and lows, exciting accomplishments, and heartbreaking challenges.

Having now finished my second summer with SI, I am definitely starting to think about what will happen at the end of my initial two year commitment. These first 15 months have been full of surprises and have been such a blessing to me. I can see the ways that God has been using this experience to grow and stretch me and challenge me to do things that I never knew I was capable of doing. Let me tell you about one specific experience I had in the past month:

We hadn’t heard from or seen one of the ladies in our women’s group in quite a while. We already knew about a lot of the problems Carolina has been dealing with, and how incredibly busy she was trying to provide for her girls when her husband preferred to let his daughters go hungry than to let himself go without alcohol. So when we had a free day, we decided to swing by for a visit. Carolina did the normal, invite us into the front room and sit us down to chat for a while. But as we were talking and she was mentioning how desperate she was feeling, I could tell that something was different. She told us that she was considering leaving her girls and husband behind and running away to start anew. She told us about how much pain she was having because of her hernia (which she is in line to get operated on hopefully in November) and about how far behind she was falling in her domestic duties because she has been so busy. Since we had the day free, I asked if my student participants would mind helping Carolina get her house into order. Carolina was really surprised by our offer to help her wash some of her family’s clothes that had been piling up. But I could tell it was something very new and pretty uncomfortable for her to open up that private part of her life to us. But when she let me walk back into the second room of her house, she collapsed into tears as I saw the reality of her situation. She just kept saying over and over again that she didn’t want me to see her like this, but I just let her cry in my arms and told her that this is what the Body of Christ is all about. After all the times that she told us that she was tired of fighting on her own, I told her she is NOT alone. Since her house had no water, we hauled piles of dirty clothes out to the public pila in multiple trips and began to wash. With each trip back that I made to get more clothes, I saw Carolina getting more and more comfortable with me entering into her private suffering. After hand washing clothes for hours, we had only made a dent. But Carolina was so touched by our humble service to her and our student participants were equally touched by the opportunity to participate in the reality of so many women in Magdalena. I believe this was the most beautiful experience I have had here in Guatemala. Although I felt pretty inadequate to encourage Carolina verbally because I had no idea what it might be like to experience any of the things she is going through, I was able to live out my faith in actions. Each outreach group that comes every two weeks has been studying the book of James as their morning devotional. What a blessing to study these words and then put them into practice: “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  James 2:14-17

When we saw her again a week later, Carolina had gone out of town as planned to look for opportunity elsewhere, but came home unsuccessful. I just pray that God would show her a way that she can escape the prison in which she is suffering, even if it means not leaving home at all. And I pray for her three girls that God would protect them through this whole ordeal.

What a busy, exciting, challenging, and surprising summer it has been! I am going to miss having all the excitement of our summer groups that come down to participate in ministry with us. But I look forward to taking a little more time to encounter God in my own personal life and to seek His calling for my future. I am excited to let you guys know that I will be starting an online masters program this fall through the University of Illinois! I will be participating in the Educational Policy, Organization, and Leadership masters program with an emphasis in Global Studies in Education. I am excited to see how this will help me encourage our students that we receive to reexamine their lives and reprioritize so that they are living a radical faith as they return home or go out to serve abroad.

I am also planning a trip home sometime in December. I don’t have any details yet, but I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible! God bless! Don’t forget to check my updated prayer list and please let me know what’s new in your lives as well!

The summer at a glance:

May 21-June 2: Intervarsity Canada, Intervarsity Sonoma

June 4-June 16: Immanuel, Central Valley Christian High School

June 18-June23: Walton, Bidwell

June 25-July 7: Grace Community Church, Trinity Baptist Church

July 9- July 21: Reedly, Chico CA, Christian Heritage School

July 23- August 4: St Andrews, Alma Heights, Riverlakes

August 6-18: Downey First Christian Church

Our media site puts together a video at the end of each outreach. Here is an example of what one complete outreach with SI Guatemala looks like:

Grace Community Church, Trinity Baptist Church video 

 

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maurine
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 20:46:26

    Thanks for sharing this story. It brings HOPE to hear how our good God is reaching out in concrete ways to folks like Carolina. It’s evident that He MUST love her SO much!

    He MUST really dig you too…to you use you as his instrument of love & have you receive so much in doing so 🙂

    Miss you friend,
    Maurine

    Reply

  2. Katie P
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 05:25:14

    Britney!! So encouraging to read your post. Thanks for sharing your story, your heart, and your life. Have a good week of REST! Blessings, love, hugs, and prayers, Katie

    Reply

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