Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mi Nueva Familia - Staff

I want to introduce my new family since they are the people you will be hearing a lot about from now on, not to mention I have already talked about some of them. Sorry I don't have pictures for all of them.

Doug – our fearless leader and teacher who makes everything a hilarious adventure
Carrie – the organized half of the head team with a heart for service and people
Brock – the five year old with more cute facial expressions than I can count who loves to talk about his passions (below in grey)
Micah – the intelligent older brother who loves to be involved and is very attuned to what goes on around him (below in red)

Jason – the gracious returning intern who knows everything about Ventana but is patient with my many questions and joyful always
Monique – (known also as Charlotte and Megan and Monica) my adventurous, yet grounded roommate who has a huge heart for India and people in need

Allison – the caring, organized mom who loves her family to death and who is more than willing to serve others
Kevin – a great dad who makes you feel safe with a passion for getting things done combined with a tender heart
Kaylee, Zach, and Andrew – the trio of Whitted kids who I can already tell are troopers, servants, and outgoing loving individuals

Almost the whole crew of staff and students (with Oliver and Diego):

An Ensenada Must Visit

There are moments when you are away from home that make you feel like you belong here. Seeing how the landscape around our town looks like Haiti was one of those moments. Entering ‘Caffe Italia’ was another.

This coffee shop could fit into SLO in 5.3 seconds and do quite well. Three doors down from the Starbucks in Ensenada (note that there is only one Starbucks there, unlike the five found just on Temecula Parkway) it is a little haven for missionaries and coffee lovers. The owner is a Christian and gave us some free drinks and cookies both times we went in there this week. She makes a mean strawberry banana smoothie and has some amazing pastries. If you are in Ensenada please walk down the road to this place instead of going to Starbucks. It is tucked back off the road right in front of the movie theatre. You won’t be sorry. =)

You might be wondering how this place could fit in so well in hipster coffee shop central. Let me take you on a tour with pictures:
 The bathroom is up this flight of crazy spiral stairs on a small platform. Sketchy but so wonderfully Mexico.
 There is art everywhere... oh and ignore Jason's creeper pose.
 My favorite nut cookies... the owner gives me a free one everytime. =)

 Local artist who uses a really interesting combination of watercolor and pen.
 Monique and Jason at the coffee shop. A lot of art and fun drinks!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our Home

Apparently our trailer has looked the same for the past six years. This means that no one ever took it upon themselves to rearrange the furniture from the corners of the room or decorate. This year Monique and I took our casa by storm and decorated like crazy and this week the girls moved the furniture around to make our living room more like home. I love the change even though our house is still so missionary. Here are some pictures of our digs. =)

 This is something Monique and I really want the girls to learn this year. God is all they need to be complete and all that will ever make them complete.

Grito De Delores

It was Mexico’s Independence Day this week while we were in Ensenada so we got to experience Mexican culture first hand by attending a Grito De Delores Festival. This occurs the night before La Dia de Indepencia and is a huge celebration (occurring in every major town and city) that signifies the yell (Grito) given before Mexico fought for their independence. We were the only gringos I saw there but with our tiny Mexican flags and huge sombreros I think be fit in quite well. Ok, we didn’t fit in one bit but we yelled for independence all the same. “Viva Mexico!,” said the Mayor of Ensenada. “VIVA!!!” shouted everyone else. It was inspiring to say the least. Next Fourth of July I will be leading all of you in a Grito of our own... be ready. 

PS: I am making a video of the event. So if you want to experience it second hand keep your eyes open for that post. =)
Mark's (from Michigan) very first tamale ever... it unfortunately wasn't a very good one.
 The people kept coming and coming and coming.
 So American, I mean... completely authentic.
 My fellow leaders.
 The students.
 Like I said, we rarely know what we are doing. =)
The smoke is from the "Viva Mexico" fireworks lights that went off. Unfortunately only some worked so it spelled "Viva Mex..o"

Ensenada Beach House

It is high time that you see some pictures of what is going on down here instead of just hearing me blab on and on about things. For starters, we went to our pastor’s beach house in Ensenada this week for three days. Who said being a missionary had to be all work? =) Here are some pictures of the beach and our excursions to Ensenada.
 Across the street from the beach house. =)
 Jason and our amazing Empanadas! I got cheese and chili strips in mine. Yes Please!
 Some of the men... hungry men.
 My women!!!... also very hungry.

 Downtown Ensenada at El Parque de Revolucion.
I am always on the lookout for mustaches.
 Robbie and my roomie Monique.

 We may be in charge but we rarely know what we are doing. =)
 Creepy large Mexican bird.
Long day in Ensenada for Jason...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Prayer Requests for Kick off

1. Stamina as the students arrive on campus and we get to know 6 new people. It could be a challenge to integrate them into our already established staff group but I want them to feel totally welcome.
2. Willingness to dig into the word and spend time with God daily. He knows I need to recharge more often. =)
3. Softened heart all around that are willing to serve, me included!

More of God's Love

They Shall Be My People; I Will Be Their God
“I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.’”
Jeremiah 32:36-41

God has been reminding me of his covenant promises this week. My last post was revealed to my today but this verse is something I discovered a few days ago. Think about this passage for a second... read it over a few times... have you let it sink in yet? If not, do it now... I will wait. If you have digested these verses for yourself a little bit, let me tell you how powerful it was for me.

Earlier in this chapter God's people are shown as having thoughts and actions that were blatantly against God and all that He has done for them. They defiled his name and ignored his love. So God gently rebukes their behavior and exiles them to a life of misery... Sounds fitting right? But God doesn't do that. Instead of misery all they get is a gentle rebuke and then blessings beyond imagining. In their years of rejecting God they were friendless, so God have them citizenship in his family. They were also homeless and lost, so God gave them land and safety. But above all of these incredible provisions God gave them this: His entire heart and soul dedicated to doing them good. 

Can you imagine all of God's heart and soul? How big and wonderful that is? How all encompassing that is of his greatness? It blows my mind that the creator of everything we know of and everything we have yet to know, offered all of himself for our good. OUR GOOD! And He does it with rejoicing! I don't even rejoice about loving my mom sometimes and I love her more than I could express. But God, with all of his wisdom of our faults and sins, covenant promises that he will care for us with ALL that he is. I'll leave you now to bask in that truth.

Assurance of God's Love

"Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at the appointed time, than also my covenant with David my servant may be broken..."
Jeremiah 33:20+21 
(see vs. 25 too)

Think of how strong God's covenants are if he has a covenant with the solar system to act as it does, and it follows this contract. God made another covenant with us to give us salvation. Our salvation and His love for us are as sure as the sun rising tomorrow morning. Amazing! How weak are our attempts and promises to love in comparison?

That's So Missionary...

I used to tell people I wanted to be a missionary pilot in Peru. Then I changed to Paupa New Guinea (what I thought was a more exotic and impressive choice). After going through some other interesting, albeit less obscure, careers I came back to being a missionary again, this time to anywhere. But it didn't fully sink in that I am actually a missionary in a foreign country now till the power went out on us this week and someone came up with our new catch phrase, "That is so Missionary!"

As you all know there was a power outage this week that spanned from Arizona to LA to our little town of Porvenir. Most of what we do, including our water pump, involves electricity. So we had some interesting challenges to work through, most of which were humorous. While Allison was running around campus with a bag of raw, marinating chicken, and no way to cook it, we realized, this is such a missionary problem. When Doug got down and dirty in our water tank to fill buckets so we could flush the toilets we thought, this is so missionary. While I was scooping water into our toilet tank, I knew I had arrived in the missionary world. When we managed to get the propane BBQ running and dinner cooked we thought, we are such missionaries, and accomplished ones at that! When all the food from our fridges and freezers were packed into ice chests and when we ran to get melting ice cream (hoping it was on sale) we said, this is so missionary. The ice cream was still full price at 10 pesos, but for only a dollar I got two scoops and it was great.

We have ran our new catch phrase into the ground over the past few days but it makes you realize how many things you just deal with or don't even notice when you have the 'living-in-Mexico' mindset. Cold shower or no shower, you just roll with the punches. And guess what? We were rewarded for our good attitudes with a lovely cool fog the next morning. It felt so nice to be cold... which is just 'so missionary.' =)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Slowly Melting

Right now all of us staff members are hiding out in a coffee shop trying to soak in every ounce of colder-ish air. It is the only air conditioning we have, unless of course we wanted to drive up and down the street in the car, and with the high today being 107 degrees (that we know of) we are melting. Our trailers act a lot like saunas so no matter where we go we just seem to be dripping from head to toe. So we are in the air conditioned-ish coffee shop surfing the web and sucking up some oreo frappes. Yum! The comforts of home are not too far away. Ah, the life of a missionary...

The First 24 Hours

Within one day of arriving in Mexico I have already been stretched, fallen in love, and grown. God is not wasting his time here!

First is Brock, the director’s five year old boy with beautiful blue eyes and a firecracker personality. Yesterday he insisted that he had the movie “Pistachio” at home. “You know, the movie where the boy’s nose grows really big?” (note added later: I didn’t realize he was talking about the Veggie Tales version of Pinocchio, in which case he was right. He was still adorable though.) He also insisted that, after losing two races around the campus on bikes, I needed to have a head start. I refused (of course) and continued losing on my bike made for a 6 year old. I awarded his wins with a crown of glow sticks and his joy was contagious. I felt right at home talking to him about his dinosaur toy, how cool the glow sticks were, and how awesome his penguin game was.

Second is the local Taco Stand complete with flies and purely Spanish speaking owners. I went from apprehensive to in love in five minutes. I almost ordered a quesadilla but decided if I am going to ever get used to the meat here, my first meal was going to have to be it. Ordering those tacos, getting past the visual of the fat being chopped up alongside the meat, and consuming two tacos, complete with guacamole and salsa Kenny would be proud of, made me realize that I can do this! I can eat what is put on front of me this year and enjoy it. I can be stretched and come out ok. And I can fit in here and get a hang of living in Mexico.

Third is the landscape. Driving to our location, nestled in a valley of farms and vineyards and succulent dotted hills, reminded me so much of Haiti that I knew instantly God wanted me here. I became excited and peaceful in that moment. I have entered my training ground for life with God. Not to mention there were bees walking around on the ground last night. Brock’s mom wasn’t too keen on me letting one walk around on his hand but he thought it was cool!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Being Nobody

I wanted to share this article with you because it is one that I will probably re-read for the rest of my life. I do struggle with giving up my own American Dream and I wrestle with giving God everything I have because I know the sacrifices that can entail. On the other hand, I often forget the peace and strength that God replaces my possessions and dreams with. Reading this article I saw many parts of my heart be spoken about and then revealed as the un-trusting thoughts they are. Basically, this article is the reminder I need of what is truly important and what I am called to do. I love it. (the red are my favorite quotes)

Many people leave college with the goal to “be somebody.” And this usually means getting a good job, making good money, buying a nice house, driving a nice car, attaining some important position, and helping your kids to do the same. For the Christian, “being somebody” usually means all of that and faithfully going to church on Sundays and Bible study during the week.
But I believe that Jesus is calling for people to be a nobody for him — people who would forsake the “American dream” to be a part of bringing gospel hope to the nations. People who don’t mind if they are not recognized, respected, praised, or promoted — as long as the name of Jesus is cherished, exalted, and adored. People who understand that Jesus didn’t come to this world and die on a cross so that we could have a comfortable suburban life and enjoy going to our local church's corporate gathering on Sundays.

Jesus Is Calling Gifted Nobodies

Jesus is calling people who could compete in the corporate rat race (and win) — but either choose not to so that they can share the gospel with the neediest in Thailand or choose yes so that by excelling in their profession they can give gobs of money away for God's global cause (something their co-workers wouldn't understand). I believe that Jesus Christ is calling for well-trained, well-educated, godly, capable, wise, talented nobodies.

John Piper reminds us that we have three choices – go, send, or disobey. And it’s my hope and prayer that the very best of this generation will go — young people who could be somebody in this world choosing to be nobodies for Jesus. And that doesn’t mean that you have to be a preacher.  There's hardly a job or profession that you can have in America that you can’t do in the mission field. 

You can be a musician, a physician, a professor, a dog catcher, a secretary, an actuary, a bartender, a mixed martial arts fighter (it doesn't matter). My point is that missions is simply doing what the Lord has gifted and called you to do — where there are few or no Christians — so that those who cannot be saved without believing in the gospel would hear the life-giving good news of Jesus through you. It’s choosing to forsake the comforts and glory of the American dream to live in an African jungle, or any foreign land, and speaking in a foreign tongue, choosing to be slightly uncomfortable and really need God so that he might have have the glory he is worthy to receive.

But Why Make This Choice?

Why choose to be a nobody when you could be a somebody? Because life is not about us. It’s not about how much money you can make; it’s not about how secure and comfortable you can be; it’s not even about living a quiet life and being a consistent church attender. And not only is it not about us, it’s also not even about the nations that are lost without the gospel. Ultimately it really is about God. God is worthy to hear from each of his servants for whom he died – "Lord I would go anywhere for you. Lord, I would do anything for you."

We must realize that we have absolutely no right to tell God, “I’ll do this for you, but not that.” We must understand how globally worthy he is to be loved and adored, how incredibly hard the task of making him known is, and how great are the sacrifices needed to see that happen. This is how much we want to see Jesus worshiped by every tribe, language, people, and nation — we are willing to be nobodies to see it happen. 

He must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30).