Queda una semana??

I can’t believe I’m going into my last week here in Chile! I really mean it when I say that my time here has flown by! Even the days just seem to disappear here because the sun sets here around 530..winter time!
I regret not finding time to post more about my experience along the way, but I think school got the best of me! My classes were pretty challenging and for the past 5 weeks I have had two essays due each week..in spanish! I spent many beautiful and sunny afternoons inside our study abroad office or in a cute café wishing I was outside =) But I still found time to adventure in between essays!
I’m currently working on two final projects for both of my classes (taking a study break=D ), and both are essays so I’m going to stick to pictures here!

So special to have my family come visit!

So special to have my family come visit! We went to see the largest pool in the world!

Some neat street art in Valparaíso!

Some neat street art in Valparaíso!

My families meet!! =) New sweaters for mom, dad and garrett!

My families meet!! =) New sweaters for mom, dad and garrett!

mom, dad and garrett on an adventure down the coast!

mom, dad and garrett on an adventure down the coast!

A beautiful view from the hill next to my school overlooking the port.

A beautiful view from the hill next to my school overlooking the port.

In the bottom far left corner you can see my university with the palm trees sticking out! What a location..right in the heart of the city!

In the bottom far left corner you can see my university with the palm trees sticking out! What a location..right in the heart of the city!

Where the sand dunes meet the ocean! Adventuring with my family!

Where the sand dunes meet the ocean! Adventuring with my family!

The most beautiful, sunny day. I HAD to skip my second class to get out and enjoy it =)

The most beautiful, sunny day. I HAD to skip my second class to get out and enjoy it =)

 

Thank you for all of your prayers!!! See you all soon!!

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I just want a hug

Wow, it’s been a little over two weeks since I got to Chile! I am absolutely loving it here and not sure I’ll be ready to leave in two months. Thank you for all of your prayers!!!!!

I am living with a host family in downtown Viña del Mar. Outside my window is the hustle and bustle of city life and just a few blocks away is the ocean! There are at least three pastelerías (pastry shops..yikes), a couple book stores, quaint cafés, fruit stands and the metro station all within minutes of my apartment. It’s incredible!

The family that I live with is amazing. It is a full house ALL the time, so there is always something to do and someone to talk to. They are great about showing me the city and giving me impromptu tours when we walk by something neat. I can’t even count all the museums I’ve been to..everything from the bug museum to the immigrant museum to the naval museum. Information overload. They are so patient with me and excited to teach me about Chile and help me with Spanish.

Chilean culture is very warm and welcoming. I am always greeted with a kiss on the cheek from family members, friends, friends of friends and complete strangers. It was definitely weird at first. It is considered rude to not greet someone and a room of 20 people is not an exception. I’ve learned quickly that time is not important when you are with people (and that I need to leave 10 mins earlier for class so I have time to say bye to everybody in the morning). Now, its like second nature, but every once in a while I just want a big ‘ol hug like normal. 

Here are a few pictures: 

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The first picture is the sunset in Dallas as I took off to Chile. I “woke up” the next morning to the most beautiful sunrise..and you can even see the mountain peaks in the distance!!

 

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Walks with my host parents through Valparaíso!

 

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The family café/artisan shop. One of my favorite places! My host dad is an incredible artist and painted these murals. In the top picture is the most recent addition..its a “K” playing volleyball. They told me I’m part of the family now!

 

 

¡Bienvenidos!

Hello friends and family!

Wow, it has been two years since I began my “global journey” with all of you! I never thought I would enjoy putting my thoughts and experiences on the scary internet, but I truly loved getting to share stories and be encouraged by your comments and prayers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Honestly, it took me almost the full two years to just remember my password, but here we are. I realize you signed up for this thing several years ago–and this is a little unexpected! Feel free to unsubscribe, I will have no idea! 

In 4 days I head to Chile! FOUR?! Wow..It hit me the other day when I realized my milk would expire after I had already left! But yes, in just a few short days I will be in Chile. Home to the Andes mountains and the famous Patagonia (look it up, its beautiful!), the driest desert on earth, frequent earthquakes and the world’s largest swimming pool. Google is an extraordinary thing.    

I will be studying Spanish for the next two and a half months, and living with a family in downtown Viña del Mar, a town just outside of Valparaíso where I will be going to school. I’ve never taken summer school before so this will be a new adventure. However, it will be winter in Chile..and I think this past winter season has more than prepared me for some chilly weather. Hopefully!

I look forward to what I will learn both inside and out of the classroom. I look forward to becoming a part of a Chilean family and being taught by them. I look forward to saying “Repite, por favor” A LOT. Most of all, I would be foolish to think that God will not be working in my heart during this time. And I’m excited for what He’s going to do. 

I’m tearing up thinking about how much your prayers and encouragements meant to me two years ago, and still do. I would love to ask for your prayers again! Would you pray with me?

Thank you for being the Body of Christ in your faithful prayers! I will send an update again soon and hopefully some neat pictures along with it! Have a wonderful summer!!!

 

 

 

Corazon para Honduras

We found out in France that our contact in Honduras fell through and we were going to work with a new ministry. This meant we were going into the last leg of the trip having no idea what we were doing, where we were going, or who we would be working with. We adopted an even more flexible attitude than we had previously and headed to San Pedro Sula. When we arrived we were warmly welcomed by two Heart to Honduras staff. Two hours and several bumpy roads later, we made it to camp. We were given a driver, Leo, and a translator, Jose–both I constantly reminded they were just another part of our team for the week..amigos. 

 

We worked with two churches this week: La Cebieta and La Concepcion. We tilled gardens, laid concrete, played soccer with the kids, and of course painted. What’s a mission trip without painting? 
We spent a lot of time just doing odd jobs that the churches and community needed to be done. And we loved doing it. 

 

The majority of our time in Honduras was spent getting to know the staff I feel like. We spent a lot of time traveling so we got to know Leo and Jose really well. Leo was an incredible servant, father, husband, and friend. He never stopped serving us from the moment he met us. And every time we passed his house we stopped and he got out to give his wife and daughter a hug an kiss. He was a hoot too. He would go out of his way to try and hit chickens and other animals in the road just to hear us scream LEOOO! He loved messing with us. He’d also bring the car to a screeching halt as all of us holding on in the back were confused as to why we were stopping in the middle of nowhere. He’d make a phone call or two and then pretend like he meant to stop to explain how the coffee beans to our right were grown and made. He would go into tour guide mode sometimes. Leo also has a really big heart for Jesus and his surrounding community. He serves all day long and is so humble and ready to keep serving more. 

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Here’s a picture of the team and Leo wearing his new Global Journey shirt on our last day.

 

Jose was awesome too. One of the funniest things was when he would be translating and then the person would suddenly be able to say something in English, yet he would translate it back into Spanish for us. We cracked up every time as he gave us this embarrassed grin. He would always just be like, I’m translator, I translate, and then laugh as he realized what he did. 

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Here’s the team and Jose right before we said our goodbyes!

 

It was really great to get to know these two guys. I think I learned the most from them too. Just getting to hear their stories and understand how they got to where they’re at now was such a blessing. Neither of them had it easy growing up, yet by the grace of God they were able to become incredible and trustworthy examples in their community and as Heart to Honduras staff. 

As a group we have been going through a study that focuses on community. In France we were able to see a perfect example of community in the International Baptist Church, and God continued to show us what the body of Christ looks like while we were in Honduras. We all agreed that community was pretty much the theme of the trip. The churches we worked with in Honduras were so involved and invested in the surrounding community. One church sponsors 185 kids through Compassion International and another church helps teach kids from the area useful skills such as farming. The pastors reach out and invite anyone and everyone to their church and welcome them with open arms. Church isn’t just on Sundays for them either. It’s all day, every day, and for everyone. 

Honduras was an incredible country to end our journey! 

 

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These are two boys that hung out at the church all the time. Jose and I gave them and some other boys English lessons. Then they taught me some Spanish!

Au revoir France!

We were able to spend two days in Venice with the grey team this past weekend to debrief and rejuvenate for our last leg of the trip. It was really great to see them and hear their stories from Uganda and Slovenia. This time was especially rejuvenating for me because I was able to have some time to reflect and process the past few weeks, especially our time in France. It’s been hard to fit in extra time just to sit and think because it seems like we’re constantly going. But as I reflect I continue to see more and more that God is teaching me through our ministry in France.

On one of our last days in France we were able to pray over the country and then make and hand out sandwiches to the homeless. We had conversations with a few of the people, but the biggest obstacle we faced was the language barrier between us. Skyler and I were with one of the missionaries, Igor, who spoke some French, but most of the people we encountered were from foreign countries. We met people from Romania, Moldova, the Netherlands, and other places, so the few french phrases that we had memorized weren’t useful. It’s impossible to put into words the frustration that you feel when trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak your language. I want nothing more than to clearly communicate the gospel to them, but all I have is a sandwich and a limited supply of hand gestures. I had a hard time understanding why God would allow me to stand in front of someone who needed Jesus and still give me no meaningful words to speak. I was almost immediately reminded of the story of the Tower of Babel: As a result of their rebellion, God’s people were scattered speaking different languages, unable to communicate. That’s when it hit me. The language barrier I was frustrated with is a product of our sinful nature. I never thought of my inability to communicate as a result of my own sin until now. And only after these past couple months am I able to see the repercussions of my sin–and the difficulty this causes in sharing my faith in other cultures. In this moment I was also able to see the grace of God and how he intervenes in His perfect timing. Although my words were few and probably misunderstood, the smile and tears that I saw in their eyes as we handed them food confirmed that my God is big and He is good. Even though I felt powerless in that moment, God works in ways I won’t ever understand, and can speak to people’s hearts through our broken words.

We drove from Venice back to Nice to catch our flight out on the afternoon of the 16th. That morning we were able to go to the church and see a couple hours of VBS before we left. It was sad to leave and say bye to all the missionaries we were so blessed to have met. These men and women are true servants and are doing the work of the Lord in a place where it’s not easy. I’m so glad I got to see just a little bit of what they do on a day to day basis, and I hope our time there was as encouraging to them as it was to us.

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this is me and John Eric, one of the pastor’s sons at International Baptist Church, on our last day in France. I will miss that goofy face!

Endless baguettes

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Absolutely breathtaking. This is a picture of where we are right now in Nice, France. Such a beautiful, beautiful place. Hopefully I’ll be able to get up more pictures.

We are staying at a nearby campground that the International Church arranged for us and, it too, is so beautiful. The mountains that surround us are so unreal that it looks like someone set up a perfectly painted backdrop for us to look at.

We are working with the International Baptist Church (IBC) here in St. Paul and also in Nice. It has been such an experience already. We went out on a prayer walk in Vance and I was overwhelmed by the spiritual dryness of this place, despite the surrounding beauty of God’s creation. This place is naturally so breathtaking and yet so far from giving God any of the glory.

After talking with the missionaries here I now understand why France is such a difficult place to witness to. The people here, unlike the previous three countries we’ve been to, are not suffering physically. It is very similar to American culture in that people here live in abundance and excess. What seems to be life-giving is actually the very thing blinding this people of their need for a Savior. Its hard to find hope in Jesus when you’re able to put your hope in so many other things. I am reminded of something Jesus says in Mark 10:
“It is easier for the camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”
Jesus makes it so, so clear. And that’s where the battle is–against the comforts of the culture.

I’ve heard the missionaries here say they are in the enemy’s camp several times, and am starting to see what they mean. There is a spiritual battle going on here and it is plain to see. Satan only attacks what he feels threatened by and I know this church and group of people are under attack. God is at work in this community and I’m overwhelmed by the dedication of this congregation to the work of God here in France.

All week we have been setting up for Promise Island themed VBS that starts next week. The room looks great and is ready for the 50 kids that are signed up. Most of these kids will hear the gospel for the first time next week and will hopefully bring the Word of God home to their families. Be in prayer for VBS next week, that God will use the fun games and bible stories for His glory.

This summer is really flying by and I can’t believe in less than a week we’ll be in Honduras, our last country before final debrief in Florida. It is crazy how much has been packed into this past month and a half and I am so thankful for all that God is showing me in different places around the world.

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This is a picture of a life-size volcano made out of tissue paper and chicken wire. Just one of our many creations for VBS next week.

Mzungu in Uganda

We’re in Uganda and enjoying the beautiful weather here in Gulu. We’re working with a ministry called the Zion Project, who takes in and counsels women who have been displaced by the Lord’s Resistance Army as sex slaves or women who were forced into child prostitution in Uganda and surrounding countries.

There has been so much destruction in Uganda in the past, but in my short time here, I have really seen God at work in this city. There are countless rehabilitation centers and organizations specializing in building this city and this people back up. It is really cool to walk around and run into some Americans and find out that they’ve dedicated their lives to serving Christ in Uganda. And there are so many other people here from all over the world who’ve responded to the need and have committed their lives to serving this community.

The Zion Project is one of the many organizations here in Gulu and was established about 5 years ago by Sarita Hendricksen. We got to hear her story and how the ZP, the Children’s home, and the Imani beading business came about. She has been so gracious of her time and efforts to not only help these women and children but support them in numerous ways, including offering them a paying job with Imani.
Imani is a bead-making business that not only employs these women but keeps them off the streets and creates a community of living for them where they can worship Jesus. So much time and money goes into making the jewelry from scratch, a long process that we got to see, but the finished product is beautiful. This business is only a source of income for the Imani women right now but, as it progresses, will hopefully play a more profitable role for the ZP ministry in the future.

During our time here we have led morning devotions for the Imani women and staff, allowing us time to share our hearts and what we are learning in the Word. There is a language barrier but two of the women speak English and will help us translate. Most of them know Swahili, Lugandan, and the local Acholi language so they speak a unique language that combines all three.

We have also been able to spend a lot of time at the Children’s home. Its a place that will take in younger girls who have been displaced by the LRA or girls who were involved or are in danger of getting involved in prostitution. Many of the girls are child mothers or are products of rape by Ugandan soldiers and deemed unworthy in society’s eyes. But Sarita and the other house mothers love and care for them in a way that shows them their worth in Jesus. We have shared songs and bible stories, played games, made bracelets and balloon animals, washed feet and painted nails, and watched their tribal dances that they were so excited to show us.

We have also been spending a lot of time with the Imani women helping them make jewelry. I have a deeper respect for each one of them now because the bead-making is hard work. After just a few hours my back and neck hurt and I was ready to quit but they do this all day every day with smiles on their faces.

On Sunday we went to Gulu Bible
Community Church, where most of the women and children go. It was a really great service with lots of singing and dancing. African church services typically run longer than what we’re used to–we get out of church and go to lunch whereas they get out of church and go to dinner. But it’s so plain to see their desire for God, and they gladly give an entire day to the Lord–something I think we can learn from. Our ZP girls put on a performance at church too and it was awesome…everyone loved it and all the adult women in the audience got up and danced too. You could tell the girls felt like celebrities up there as everyone cheered and encouraged them. Ah, I hope those smiles never leave their faces because they deserve to feel like that all the time. They are so cherished by God!

We also took a walk through some villages called “the slums” to see if there was anyone we could pray for. There were a few women that were sick with typhoid fever, HIV, and malaria. We shared the gospel with them and all three came to know Jesus. That was the first time I had ever seen someone be led to Christ that had never heard the Gospel before. I was able to share my testimony with the woman suffering from typhoid fever. We also prayed healing over her life, and her smile afterwords said it all. God is so powerful and so at work in the lives of people we haven’t even met yet. And I love seeing him set up these divine appointments to bring his children back to Him.

It’s been an amazing week here and we’ve been able to be a part of so many different kinds of ministries. God really began breaking my heart for women involved in the sex industry and showing me the long-lasting effects it can have on a woman. I knew this evil existed and I knew it was hurting millions of people each year, but meeting face to face just one victim changes everything. It becomes a little bit closer to home and a lot more real. Something that used to be this lofty, blurred thought in my head now has a face and a name. And makes it harder to ignore.

Our time here is cut a little bit short, but so much was packed into so few days. And now we’re headed out for a surprise safari on the Nile river on the 2nd. The drive was a safari in itself; we saw all sorts of wildlife and the view was amazing. That night we got to our campsite and met a group from the states that was doing mission work in Uganda. We got to worship with them around a campfire overlooking the jungle with the Nile in the distance. That is something I will never forget. Hopefully I will be able to share some more safari pictures soon.

And now we’re on our way to France! Thank you for all your prayers and support. It is so encouraging to hear from some of you, and I hope your summer has been great!

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this is Justine, one of the Imani women, putting some final touches on the bracelets we helped them make

Bittersweet goodbyes

It was hard to leave all the kids at the Emmanuel orphanage that we grew to love so much in such a short amount of time. But it was bittersweet because we know that we have an incredible ministry in Uganda to look forward to.
I felt like we were in India for a long time even though it was just less than two weeks. The long days and endless free time with the kids, I think, makes it seem like we spent more time there with them. And we did I guess because we were really able get to know these kids on a more personal level. We got to hear their stories, testimonies, dreams, and just get to hang out with them. Some of the older kids really surprised (and challenged) me. Their love for Jesus and clear understanding of the gospel was something I wasn’t expecting, but these kids are seeking the lord with everything they have. Many of them plan on attending a Bible college after they finish school and hope to spread the gospel throughout India– a very dark place in need of jesus.

I want to share some sweet stories with y’all of a couple of kids at the orphanage…
We were able to take them to the amusement park one day. It was a lot of fun but a couple of the kids became really sick so I stayed with them. One boy who I had grown to know pretty well was sick and really needed some water. He kept saying “panne panne” which means water in Hindi but I had no water and no money to buy any. But there was this sort of water playing area in the park..similar to “the bucket” if you’ve ever been to splashtown or schliterbahn.. It’s basically an enclosed water area with water shooting at you in every direction and a huge bucket that fills up and then dumps tons of water on the people standing and waiting for
it below. This was the only free water I could think of, so we went and within seconds his face lit up. Whatever sickness he was feeling was instantly cured by the joy and the excitement of the experience. Seeing him running around laughing, absolutely soaking his clothes, as if nothing else in the world mattered just melted my heart.

One morning later that week, all the kids were preoccupied with Disney coloring books that the team brought, so I thought I would slip away for a quiet devotional. As I sat in complete solitude I sensed someone come and sit down next to me, and I opened my eyes to find a boy named Ravi two inches from my face smiling. With him was a coloring page and a bunch of markers that he set up shop with right beside me. He didn’t say or need anything, he just wanted me to smile and say “wow” when he occasionally glanced up at me for affirmation. I realized that he left the excitement of coloring with all his friends to come sit next to me and color quietly–just because he thought I was sitting by myself. What a sweet spirit he has. From that point on we were buds. He was never more than a few feet away and constantly jealous for my attention. His smile and laugh can easily brighten my day–even in the afternoon when it’s 115 degrees and I’m wondering how people survive this each day.
I will cherish the time i spent with these kids forever and take away so many beautiful memories. These kids all stole a piece of my heart that I willingly give to them. They are so precious and so loving, and I pray I will get to see them again one day before we are reunited with jesus.

Thank you all for the prayers for Segrive as well. He is on some medication for tuberculosis and is starting to look a lot better. He still has a long way to go but God is faithful and through prayers he can be healed.

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this is my sweet boy Ravi on our last day at the orphanage in India. It was hard to say goodbye to him and the other kids

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we went to visit the Taj Mahal while we were in India. It was so beautiful and interesting to hear the history.

Namaste from India!

Hearing “Aunty Aunty!!” is quickly becoming one of my favorite things. All the children refer to us as Aunty or Uncle.. and their accents and huge smiles make it even cuter. They constantly demand our attention by yelling Aunty! Aunty! and you can’t help but smile each time and laugh.

We’ve been at the Emmanual Orphanage in India for two days now and I already see myself not wanting to leave. These kids are smiling every second of the day and their joy is contagious. There’s about fifty of them…ranging from 2 months old to maybe 18 or 19. We play games, sing songs, and run around all day with the kids; but I think my favorite thing is when a kid just comes up and sits next to you. They just want to look at you, hold your hand and be near you.

At first the language barrier proved to be difficult, but as time passes it becomes easier just to be with them–to smile and show them love without using words. I’m picking up on a little bit of Hindi from listening to the kids but I’m still pretty clueless most of the time.

Each day we wake up at 530 AM and have prayer at the orphanage. Watching the children worship and recite Scripture is so incredible and their love for Jesus at such a young age is proof that God can use the “least of these” to do great things. They are all so small but their faith in Jesus is so, so great. They are the future of India and God is going to use them to change their country.

One boy at the orphanage, Segrive, is very sick with tuburculosis and is in a lot of pain. He has open sores on his skin and was taken to the hospital today and told to come back tonight to have surgery. Please keep him in your prayers and ask God to be with him and the doctors that will be doing the surgery. Pray for a successful surgery and a painless recovery for him.

I will keep you all updated on our time in India and how Segrive is doing. Thank you for praying!