Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fundraising for Thailand

     I finally got my funding account up and running for when I leave Korea.  Please check it out and support me in whatever way possible. (Financially, prayerfully, send me snail-mail, e-mail, facebook messages, iMessages, KaTalk messages, etc.)  I'm super excited!!!!  =)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

From 2014 to 2015: What a Difference a Year Makes


Every year since 2007 I have chosen a word for the year.  It’s something that my pastor in Orlando, David Uth, encouraged the congregation to do.  We would pray for a word before the New Year and through prayer and meditation we would be given one.

Without fail, that word ended up playing an important role in my joys and sorrows during that year. Throughout the year God would supply me with scripture and words of wisdom related to that word.  When things were tough it would remind me that God was with me.  By the end of that year I had noticed that I had grown in that particular area of my life.  For example if my word was love, by the end of the year I was loving more.

Reflection of 2014:

For some reason I didn’t choose a word for 2014.  I could really feel a difference.  Looking back on 2014 I believe the word God would have given me would have been “endurance.” This year has been really difficult for me.  I haven’t been to America in almost 2 years and I miss it.  God has really opened my eyes to the needs in North Korea and SE Asia and I have begun to develop a heart of love for them. Here is what’s been going on with me this year.

·                   For 2 years I’ve been teaching in Korea, with a Korean company, and the work they demand has been so stressful. The only reason I signed another year contract was because I knew 2014 would be crucial in my preparation for missions and deciding where God may take me.
·                   I went through a 7 month Long Term Missions training which was also a lot of work and I wanted to quit so many times but each night I left feeling so blessed and more aware of God’s love and purpose for all people.
·                   I did outreaches in Red Light Districts as well as rescue shelters for trafficked women. Hearing their stories was such an eye opener for me, helping me to recognize the importance and lack of awareness and prevention for this issue.  I have developed some really close bonds with some of my sisters from the Philippines and hope to visit them soon.
·                   Thousands of miles away from me my dad was diagnosed with cancer in the middle of the year and I’m happy to say he got his results back this week and kicked cancers @$$ J. 
·                   I started learning Korean and as soon as I started getting the hang of it I had to start learning Thai. 
·                   Since August a large part of my close circle of friends began leaving, one after the other and I began to feel like I had to start over again.  Feeling conflicted I wondered if it would be worth it when I would be leaving in 6 months. God has since been blessing me with friends I’ve known since being in Korea but haven’t really cultivated.
·                   I have also been working with the youth at my church this year and for the first time in 16 years of youth ministry found myself unsure how to reach these teens.  Their struggles are so different than teens in America.  Suicide due to failure in academics, or disappointing parents, and identity crisis issues are among the most prevalent of issues they battle with. One thing I have learned through working with them though is the importance of just listening.  They don’t want my advice.  They get enough advice as it is from other foreigners who have no idea and can’t relate. They just want someone to listen to them and not judge them or tell them what to do and so that’s what I’ve been doing. 

A heart that was on fire for the work of God began to turn into a heart of spiritual apathy.  It was difficult for me to experience the presence of God and the more apathetic I grew the less I made time for God.  Everywhere I turned I was becoming aware of issues and they broke my heart even more.  I tried to search for an answer to the question why and a solution to the problem but started to get overwhelmed and found myself wanting to quit many times.

What’s to come in 2015:

With all the uncertainty in front of me as I start 2015 I decided I needed to pick a “word for the year” and get my perspective and heart back in check.  I went to church for a New Years Eve service and rang in 2015 praying for God’s grace and forgiveness to cleanse my apathetic heart.  As I began to pray for a word for 2015 God gave it to me before I even finished praying about it. Like he literally interrupted my prayer about getting a word and gave me a word before I was finished.  I was thinking “God, is this really from you?” and I heard it again.  Then I was like “OK God I just want to check, is this my word?” and He said it again. 

So, my word for 2015 is “trust” and I’m pretty sure I know why.  My contract finishes the end of February and I’m supposed to go to Thailand following that.  I have no idea what I’m going to do there and some things about it are still so unclear to me.  There are so many uncertainties about this decision I find myself feeling overwhelmed just thinking about it while at the same time feeling super excited to be back in this same position I’ve been in before.  I just know I need to go to Thailand and then figure it out when I get there (like I did when I moved to Florida at age 21, back to Nashville in 2010, and Korea 2 years ago).  In all of those moves God has done some pretty crazy, unexplainable, freakishly miraculous things.  Things I cannot write about in this blog because the details are novel worthy.

I just can’t escape the fact that the need for salvation in Thailand far exceeds other places I desire to be.  In America and the Hispanic countries I adore, there are already so many well established church communities. It’s the responsibility of the Christians who choose to remain in those countries to witness and aid with the need.  God has given me a heart for the nations and while I miss America, I know it’s not where I belong and have known from a very young age.

So I start 2015 completely unsure of how it will end, totally excited about the adventure before me, and full of hope and confidence knowing that I am putting my trust in a God that never fails.  This year I will also be turning 33 and I decided to call it my Jesus year.  I believe great things are in store for this year and I’m fully content with the unknown direction it’s going.   

Prayer Request:

Please pray for me. 

*Provision: I’m going to be living off my savings account so pray that it goes a long way and I spend my money wisely. I’m trying to figure out ways to get financial support while I’m there as well as deciding which sending missions organization will be best for me.
*Wisdom: Pray that God will reveal His purpose for me as my heart continues to grow for the nation of Thailand.  That God will open my eyes to the things unseen while showing me how to love people the way He loves people.
*Armor of God: Pray that my heart will be guarded from distraction and that Satan wouldn’t be able to discourage me.
*Persistence: Pray that all the details get worked out and I don’t procrastinate and miss something.
*Righteousness: Pray that I pursue righteousness in all my words and deeds.

The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.  ~Psalm 138:8

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~Isaiah 41:10

Vanesa and I preparing snacks for ladies in the RLD
My 11th grade students at OEM youth! They are awesome!

My co-workers at Avalon English. We won the best campus photo contest.

One of our visits to the RLD in Daegu, S. Korea.

The OEM youth leaders

My church at a summer retreat

These are the people I will be joining in Thailand

A photo from my vision trip to Thailand in October of this year.

Some of my cutie pie students at Avalon English.

Pastor Eddie's last HBR meeting with OEM. We were all sad to see him go but God has an amazing plan for him I have no doubt.

My crazy Long Term Missions group! It was a great 7 months!