A Little Bit of a Soapbox: I Love Learning!

I was asked recently to reflect on my time at Greenville College (specifically in the Spanish department) and how my time there has prepared me and eventually brought me to work in Guatemala. My three and a half years at Greenville was such a formative time for me, essential in making me who I am today. I had no idea that my Spanish studies would take me so many places and expose me to so many different things! It was never just about learning the Spanish language, but was about discovering how mastering Spanish, partnered with an expanded worldview, could be used to seek and glorify God in diverse contexts. I enjoyed my classes because of how engaging and challenging they were and I really appreciated the way my professors invested immensely in developing my character. My study abroad experience in Costa Rica was also an essential part of my education because it helped me to solidify some of my beliefs and passions. Now that I am in Guatemala, I love interacting with the students we receive and helping them fully engage in this challenging setting of exploring justice issues and seeing God in the hard places. Using Spanish is second nature to me now, and I can’t really imagine myself not using it on a daily basis ever again. If you would have asked me even into my last couple of years at Greenville, I would have never told you that I expected to live abroad, working as a full time missionary. I did not think I was capable or qualified or brave enough, but God equipped me and clearly called me. Now I am trying to discern His will for my life in the next steps that I will take and understand how my time here in Guatemala is forming me to serve God in incredible ways: Maybe ways I would have never anticipated.

I’m not sure I told all of you clearly about the masters program I began the last week of August. It is a two year program and is completely online. We have class sessions once a week for each class (I’m in two classes right now) and the rest is outside work. Each class is very interactive because we are able to raise our hands and talk and hear each other. It is more of a discussion than anything. And I loooove my classmates. They all come from different backgrounds and are working in very exciting fields, some even on the level of dealing with international policy (like the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement). It is so exciting to be in a cohort with professional educators and policy makers! I am learning so much! Let me tell you a little about my classes and what we’ve been learning. (JUST A LITTLE!)

Tuesday nights: Education, Diversity, and Critical Citizenship.

This is quite the interesting elective class! There are only 13 of us, and we are discussing what citizenship means and how do you teach civic curriculum in the classroom. We talk about:

–         cosmopolitan citizenship (being a “citizen of the world” and what our responsibilities to humanity are, and do these trump our national loyalties?).

–         Idolatrous patriotism, vs. morally apt patriotism,

–         Emphasizing human rights education in the classroom, rather than just citizenship rights.

–         Non-citizen rights- such as non-citizen voting on a local level. Does that take away from our rights as citizens, or do non-citizens have the right to elect school board members when their kids are in school? Etc.

–         Social-Justice Oriented Citizenship- What is our responsibility as citizens concerning justice at home and abroad?

–         Countersocialization, reconceptualizing civic education

–         Agonistic cosmopolitics- embracing differing perspectives and encouraging debate in the classroom… sounds dicey right? 😉

Wednesday nights Globalization and Educational Policy

This class is a little bit bigger. It is a COR class for my program, basically the starting level intro class. There are 23 students in this class, but some of them are not in the Global studies concentration, but other branches in the Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership department. We talk about:

–         Globalization- what does it mean to be in a globalized world? How does this affect educational perspectives?

–         Allocation of values in determining policy. What are the goals behind policies instated by the state, local, and national level? How do these policies demonstrate values such as learning for the sake of learning, verses learning as a commodity?

–         Intergovernmental Organizations, transnational policies, OECD, UNESCO, PISA, IEA, GATS, … Sometimes I forget if I’m speaking English.

–         Curriculum reform, pedagogy,

–         Evaluation- What is the reason for evaluation at different levels? How can we evaluate critical thinking? Do our evaluations lead to material memorization instead of engaging in material?

–         Marketization of education, audit culture, knowledge economy, self-capitalizing practices, NEOLIBERALISM

I’m sorry. I said that would be a little. But I just want you to get as excited about this as I am.

It’s a lot of homework; I feel like that’s ALL I do in my free time. And there is always more that I could be doing. I love what I’m learning, so I wish I HAD time to do more research and learn more. And I love the idea of “mastering” something. I want to know everything in this field, and master this beast!

This past Friday, I was blessed with the opportunity to be able to go to a conference held in Antigua, given by the president of Christian Ministries International, Jason Carlson. Jason presents on Christian apologetics and a Christian response to cults and false philosophies. The three areas of focus for this conference were creationism vs. evolution, a Christian response to post-modernism, and how to reach out to Mormons. It was certainly an interesting conference and I enjoyed the opportunity to learn from a very knowledgeable person who is very passionate about his perspective. I can’t say that I was in agreement with all that he said, but it was so fun and engaging to be thinking critically about these tings and be challenged to revisit where I stand on these issues. I always appreciate the intellectual stimulation!

I have been reflecting, too, on the idea of seeing every situation as an opportunity to learn. Especially living in a foreign culture, I will ALWAYS have more to learn. Am I asking questions and engaging and learning everyday? I try to encourage our students to submerge in the reality of the people we are serving in Magdalena: Entering in to live with them, incarnationally, and always asking questions and engaging. But I think that should apply to all of us, everywhere! (That’s a big statement, I know.) Never be complacent or apathetic or unengaged! We should all be life-long learners and explore new issues, perspectives, and concepts everyday. Why wouldn’t you want to fully engage in this beautiful life we are given? Yes, even when they are tough, uncomfortable issues. That’s where grace and mercy come in. Let us engage fully and take advantage of every opportunity: “suck the marrow out of life,” as Henry David Thoreau puts it. How are you living to the fullest?

SPU in ministry sites:

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A Unique Month

Ministry this month has been extremely out of the ordinary for me. It just goes to show: God always has exciting new things up His sleeve to keep us on our toes and looking to Him constantly.

Students International

Mission: Bringing students and the poor together cross-culturally, to encounter God, share the Good News, disciple and serve others in occupational ministries.

Vission: To see students and the poor transformed into the likeness of Christ and discover their true calling.

Probably the most defining change this month has been my newly increased focus on the students in our ministry. The catalyzing agent has been my enrollment and participation in an online masters program in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership with an emphasis in Global Studies in Education through the University of Illinois. My classes began at the end of August and I have thoroughly enjoyed them! This is material that really gets me fired up. Check out this quote from one of my assigned readings:

“At a time when concerns over global security and order take on fresh meaning and urgency, embracing cultural diversity as a resource rather than a problem has considerable potential to enrich both educational endeavours and the conduct of international relations—to shed their western, mono-cultural and hegemonic foundations in favour of practice that is inclusive, democratic and empowering.”           Phillip Jones from “Education and World Order”

Our Seattle Pacific University study abroad program students arrived in Guatemala on September 6th and I have taken on a much more hands-on role with them. The most formative times in my life were my abroad experiences, where I was able to participate in a reality different than my own and discover God’s heart for His diverse people. Obviously my life track was significantly impacted by my experiences abroad; I wouldn’t be here if God hadn’t opened my eyes through my international studies. That is why I am so excited to be able to help facilitate our students in having their world rocked through their time in Guatemala!

Since I have been so involved with the students, I have hardly had time to get up to Magdalena to work in the clinic. However, I was able to squeeze in some time to help with our first ever jornada (special medical event) in the neighboring town of Buena Vista! We set up shop in the public school and were able to see about 60 patients in two days.

One of the activities with which I got to help the SPU students was a trip to the Ecofiltro factory just outside of Antigua. This is an incredible social enterprise that uses commercial business strategies to make an amazing impact in their social goals to provide safe drinking water to impoverished populations. It was so cool to talk with the CEO and see how passionate he is, believing that this truly is the sustainable solution to the global water crisis. Check it out!

http://www.ecofiltro.org/en

http://www.infodev.org/en/Article.823.html

The SPU troop

Making the filters out of a carbon/clay mixture. (this is what we use in my house for our water)

Another trip on which I accompanied our students was to the Compassion International site in the Guatemala City dump. I think it was great for the students to be able to see a variety of humanitarian aid efforts/ministries to compare effectiveness and holism and to start thinking about how they want to make a difference in the world.

I was blessed with the opportunity to accompany the SPU students as a chaperone (more or less) to a Christian retreat center on the Carribean side of Guatemala. This is the same place where we took our staff retreat last December. I was so happy they had some time to rest and relax after a couple of really busy and intense weeks in Guatemala.

I was so blessed with the opportunity to travel to a nearby rambutan farm with my friends at El Faro! What a beautiful and amazing place! Surreal!

I got my fill from gleaning at the farm, but I bought some to take back to share with our students.

This past weekend I squeezed in a trip to Mexico to renew my visa. I found a great deal on a flight to Mexico City and a really cheap (but very nice) hotel very close to the historic district. I had a great time doing a little bit of exploring, but tried to force myself to get as much school work done as possible.  I also squeezed in a trip out to Teotihuacan!

Mexico City, Centro Historico

The Sun pyramid at Teotihuacan, which I climbed!

The Zocalo

Bearing Fruit

I wanted to tell you guys about a woman in our discipleship group who has been so inspirational and is just a shining light as a testimony of God’s redemptive work. I am so encouraged by her enthusiasm and thirst for the Lord and I love seeing her faith grow in leaps and bounds! Her name is Flori and she lives with her husband and three daughters just behind the community center outside of El Gorrión. Flori was our first patient to accept Christ in the clinic, actually before I arrived in Guatemala. She has stepped up to be a leader in our women’s group, constantly encouraging the other ladies and challenging them in their walk. I was talking with her the other day and she just kept going on and on about how much God has blessed her despite the problems she’s had with her husband. She continues to pray for unity in her home and that God would touch her husband’s heart. She has recently participated in our baking classes for women at the center and she was telling me all about how God has just been blessing her business selling cakes! She was beaming! She is such a hard worker and I think a great example for so many women here who are struggling with similar problems as she is.

She has recently been volunteering for us, helping us out in the clinic by preparing the Incaparina that we serve to our patients. Again, this is a warm, vitamin-rich drink that we give our patients because many of them have been waiting in line for a number since very early in the morning and have not eaten anything all day. It is so exciting to have her join our team of three to pray in the morning before we start seeing patients and then to see her get to work serving her own community. And her desire to contribute and help those around her is so humbling. It is easy for us to see ourselves as missionaries to be something special or unique, bringing blessings to the impoverished and lost. But, it is so cool to see one of those people we are serving step up and say “Hey, I can serve too!” The other day she was chatting with us and made sure we knew that if we ever go out on a special medical event, she wants to come with us to help. Little did she know that we are in the final planning stage for a medical outreach to our neighboring town, Buena Vista. Her help couldn’t come at a better time! Whenever I talk with her and thank her for her help, she says “I’m just so happy to be serving the Lord!” What an inspiration! I just can not say enough about how happy I am to see this woman’s faith come to life and give fruit. Praise the Lord!

I’m sure many of you have heard about the volcano eruption only 8 miles from where I live. Things have “simmered” down by now, however 11,000 people were evacuated due to falling ash. No one has been killed, but the ash was blown over some very poor areas, so please keep them in your prayers.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-19594481

 

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 

 

Psalm 51:10-13

Having fun serving with the veterinary team!

This past month has gone by so fast! I have been extremely busy with a number of different things… and unfortunately I am still very busy and do not have time to give the kind of detailed update I would love to share with you!

July 4th weekend

This was the busiest, most stressful week that I have had here in Guatemala. This was the transition week in which Maurine handed over her responsibilities as summer staff coordinator to me, before her family moved back to the States on the 14th. This is also the week of transition from summer staff session 1 to summer staff session 2. Therefore we had a lot of interns to keep track of and supervise the debrief and exiting of session 1 staff and the orientation and entering of session 2 staff. I had been anticipating that week for sooo long for all of the work that it would be and for the huge landmark that it marked in my ministry. Up until that time, Maurine had been mentoring me and training me on how to do her job as summer staff supervisor. I knew I had HUGE shoes to fill and I was so overwhelmed when the time arrived to “hand off the baton.” Besides all of the additional stress from the extra work, I was so incredibly overwhelmed by the fact that the Bekaerts were leaving and this was one of their major steps in phasing out. I am very excited for this new opportunity I have in ministry, working with the summer staff. I think this is such a unique opportunity to disciple, support, and develop some amazing future Christian leaders. I remember what a formative experience it was for me when I was summer staff with SI and I can only hope to help our summer staff experience such a transformational summer.

Our 99 year old patient Raymunda CRACKS ME UP! She is such a blessing to me!

Our students led one of the women’s meetings.

Praise the Lord for my awesome summer staff, Amber Brown!

And things have not slowed down since then. I am still working as the clinic site director full time in the health clinic with students, but I have many more additional responsibilities that I am passionate about and put a lot of time into. Our staff meeting on the 11th, the last meeting with Nic and Maurine present, was incredibly emotional for me. The extra stress of the week and the dreaded goodbyes to Nic and Maurine made me quite emotional. Luckily I had the support and love of my good staff friends to just let me cry it off a little bit. I have been burning the candle at both ends and feeling quite burnt out. I know I am not the only SI staff who feels this way as the summer season is always extremely busy for us. This last week I worked 12 hours every day except on Thursday when I did not go home at all but did a night shift in the hospital NICU with two of our summer staff.

… and then I go and do something that takes up so much more time and energy on top of all that. I ran my first ever half marathon in Antigua on the 15th! I am happy I did it, but definitely still recovering my energy.

I would appreciate your prayers as I am feeling extremely exhausted. But praise God for sustaining me and giving me joy in all that I do here in Guatemala. I am so blessed.

Psalm 51:10-13 Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.

I love you and miss you already, Bekaerts!

Wake Up, O Sleeper

It’s been a trying last month. I have a lot on my mind. I have tried to articulate it a couple times but can’t quite seem to communicate what I am thinking/feeling correctly. I know God is working in my heart and revealing Himself more and more to me every day. I guess I am just rediscovering my desperation for Christ’s redemptive power in my life. I have been brought to my knees multiple times, humbled by my desperate need for Christ. I want to know God. I am seeking Him with all that I am. I have been challenged a lot this past month by different things and I think I need this blog post for its therapeutic value for me more than anything. But I would appreciate it if you would pray these verses over me and the people I serve as well.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

John 8:36

So if the Son sets you free, you will be FREE INDEED.

Romans 6:5-14

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore DO NOT LET SIN REIGN in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under GRACE.


Romans 8:1-17

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God DID by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is LIFE and PEACE. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are NOT in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spiritif indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

1 Corinthians 15:56-58

 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firmLet nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12

 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is FROM GOD and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

1 John 1:5-7

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness,we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Ephesians 5:13-14

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “WAKE UP, O SLEEPER, RISE FROM THE DEAD, AND CHRIST WILL SHINE ON YOU.

One Year Later…

 

 

 

Dear Supporters,

Last week (on May 12th) I hit my one year mark of living and working with Students International in Guatemala. I have been here for ONE YEAR already! It is amazing how fast time flies; I feel like I was just at home, visiting all of you and telling you about how God was calling me to full time ministry in Guatemala. I very vividly remember visiting your homes or your small groups and presenting our ministry at SI with you. Thank you for letting me share my excitement with you and taking interest in what God is doing in other areas of the world! Having already interned with SI for three summers at that time, I thought I new exactly what I was getting myself into. I was so excited to get back to this place I loved because I knew that God was calling me to do big things here. I just didn’t realize how much my expectations would be blown away! He has blessed me in so many unanticipated ways over the past year with experiences that have amazed, encouraged, and challenged me. My first year of ministry has changed my life, who I am, and I am so thankful for how God has been growing me, stretching my heart, and revealing Himself more and more to me.

Some ways I have changed:

–         I am putting more priority on relationships. Remembering more peoples’ names, following up with people, becoming very invested in other peoples’ very messy, heartbreaking situations.

–         I have learned to live with things not being 100% efficient. I am still a person that really desires efficiency and effectiveness, but I have had to adjust to accept it when others show up late or don’t work in a completely effective way. That is just how life is here, and it is just fine.

–         I am an intense person. I think I became this way in my college years, but it has been amped up through my time here, and I realize that I am not like most others. I need to learn to be patient with others when they give me that “just simmer down” look because I may be super passionate about something, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be too. But I also enjoy sharing my passions with others and get them excited about new things too!

Some things I am learning about God

–         God is FAITHFUL. I am constantly blown away by the way God provides at the exact right time. Even when His provisions come in unexpected ways, I can see His hand covering all of our needs in the clinic and my personal needs.

–         God can redeem any situation. No matter how broken, corrupted, and horrific someone’s life is, God’s mercy can cover and renew it. His grace is sufficient. I have seen His miraculous redemption in the lives of so many of our patients.

–         I am starting to be able to see God more and more through new eyes, or at least realizing how my cultural lenses affect the way I see God. My perception of God from a different perspective is broadening my understanding so that He is not so limited by my US cultural ability to perceive. A diversified perspective allows us to receive a more complete view of God.

Thank you for your support over the past year! I praise God for your faithfulness and courage in your sacrificial giving and I pray that He would bless you in miraculous ways to recompense your faithful offering. I am so blessed to know that I have you guys back at home praying for me, thinking of me, and supporting me. I really could not do ministry without you!

I ask that you would join me in prayer as I continue to seek God’s direction for my life. I am praying over where He is leading me once I finish my initial two year commitment, one year from now. Before I came down toGuatemala, I knew that I was committing to serve at least two years. And I knew that I would need to feel it out, reevaluate after a while, and see if God is calling me to stay longer, or if He is using this experience to prepare me for something else. Please join me in prayer over discerning God’s will for my life and please pray over the possibility of extending your financial support if I continue in ministry beyond two years. I hope that you will intentionally lift this up in prayer and evaluate for yourselves if the sacrifices you have been making this past year to be able to support me are sustainable beyond a two year commitment. Or maybe you realize that your support is a little easier than expected and you feel that you could realistically increase your monthly amount! Please prayerfully consider the possibilities and let me know if God has given you any words to share with me in discerning His will. I would love to hear how God is speaking to you.

I am still the kind of person that really wants to be in control, but I have already learned that God’s plans for my life are always better than anything I concoct myself. So I have learned to take things slowly, waiting to hear God’s whisper and trusting in His guidance.

Thank you for your support in my first year of ministry. It has been a very blessed year for me. As difficult as it was for me at first to accept this undeniable call to missions, I can now easily see how God has always intended to bless me through His perfect plan.

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