Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What's Up With Culiacan?

You might be wondering... what is Culiacan? Why is Stephanie going for five weeks? What is she even talking about? I hope to clear it all up in the shortest amount of words as possible.
Who: our Ventana team combined with teams of Mexican nationals to create Proyecto Culiacan (Project Culiacan)
Were: an agricultural area and city in central Mexico that encompasses a lot of other cities (like Los Angeles)
When: the next five weeks till the end of February
What: A mission trip to the agriculture work camps in Culiacan to evangelize to the workers and families that come from all over southern Mexico to work for the season. Our basic ministry involves assessing each person's indigenous language (there are hundreds in Mexico) and providing them with the gospel and bible stories on a CD in their language. We also show the Jesus film, children's films, and host VBS for kids in the family camps.
Why: To reach the indigenous tribes of Mexico with the gospel. This ministry plants seeds that can grow and be spread exponentially when the workers scatter and return home.

Prayer Needs:
1. Safety. We are operating out of a drug cartel center of Mexico and while we know much of the Christian side of the cartel's family we still need prayer for being the only white people in the area.
2. Protection. We also need prayer for the spiritual warfare going on around us. The indigenous people practice demon worship in their religion and the battle is fierce as we share God's love in these areas.
3. Stamina. We go from 6am to 11pm everyday of the week and I know that I at least don't function on 7 hours of sleep. Time to rely on the Holy Spirit's strength!
4. Language. No one speaks English in Culiacan so hopefully the barriers of language will be broken easily and we will learn quickly.
5. Soft Hearts. The people in these camps may have already interacted with the gospel in past Proyecto Culiacan years but still don't know the Lord. Pray for everyone's hearts to be opened to the gospel.
6. Anything else God lays on your heart!!! Let the Spirit guide you too! =)

Wedding Wonderfulness

My sister got married this week!!! And I have never been happier for her or just this excited in general. We lost a Johnson, but gained Kenny and the entire wonderful Fietz family. =) It was an amazing day full of laughter and celebration as well as tears and celebration for how wonderful Kenny and Amanda are. The whole wedding was absolutely perfect and everyone was so supportive and proud of the bride and groom. Great job mom on making the wedding happen. And great job Kenny on picking the most amazing girl ever!

My sister and new brother turned out to be models:

And my mom once again proved herself to be the most creative woman on the planet:


It took me a few days in Mexico to not automatically reach for my cell phone before leaving the house but I am now back in the swing of things here at Ventana. I have mostly forgotten my cell phone and accessible internet and adapted to not having those things. I have played soccer already, communicated in and butchered Spanish, handed out some soccer balls (thank you Lori and Peggy for giving me those!), and biked across town. I have already worshipped in Spanish at church, visited the internet cafĂ© to see friends, and written goals for this next quarter. I have experienced joy in being back, happiness at seeing the student’s return, and frustration as I am already thrown into spiritual warfare down here. God has been faithful to guide me through it and is at work on my heart to battle with me against Satan’s attacks.
I have already reconnected with my amazing friend Rachel, who is an intern at the local orphanage, and met some of her new roommates (two incredible ladies from Switzerland and Oregon). I have had pillow talk with Monique, my wonderful roommate and partner in crime, and I have had good quality time with the Vomsteegs. I have practiced my banjo (that’s for you dad) and made my bed (that’s for you mom) everyday since getting back. I have also rearranged my room and am adjusting to having my bed not against the wall. I have worn shorts and a t-shirt during the day and bundles up at night. Oh, desert winters. =)

I have prayed and read and listened to worship and Satan has prodded and poked my defenses. I have become discouraged by Satan’s successes and lifted up by God’s. I have discovered powerful verses that impact my heart and change my perspective and God has shown me the power of prayer in these few days. I have rebuked Satan and God has challenged me to rely on His power more. I has been a full, but not jammed packed, four days, and I am so grateful for the growth God has given me.

Here are few verses that have really encouraged me (I recommend looking them up!):
James 1:2+3, 12, 17+18
Joshua 1:9
Psalm 61:2+3
Isaiah 43:1+2
1st Corinthians 1:25

Muscle Memory

I have done a few things this week that made me realize I have some very un-used muscles after 6 weeks of break. We made an above ground garden bed yesterday and I dug the holes to anchor it down with a post hole digger. My shoulders and arms were burning to say the least. I have also played soccer three times this week and my legs and lungs are slow to remember the stamina I had before break. My fingers and hands cramp up when I play my banjo since I didn’t even play my guitar at home. And lastly, the bottoms of my feet hurt when I walk around campus because my feet went back to not being used to walking barefoot.

I didn’t think that my body could change so much in six weeks. I also didn’t think my body would get back in the swing of things so quickly either. This made me think of muscle memory and the power we have in our bodies to enact change and accomplish things. I pray that my spiritual muscle memory is just as quick to bounce back when I need it to. But I pray even more that I won’t neglect my walk with the Lord enough to need muscle memory to get back on track. I know I will mess up and fall away at times but I really want to have more discipline in all areas of my life such as: practicing soccer, regular quiet times, playing my banjo, and speaking Spanish. As I learn more about the nature of God and see Him active in my life I hope that I will always be growing more and not falling backward. I also pray that even in the dry times that I will follow the Lord with my whole heart. I have not been too great at that in the past but I pray my spiritual muscles will remember the darkness and heartache that comes from not seeking the Lord.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Back to Mexico

This break has flown by even though I have been home for a month and a half. I had three goals this break: to get better at soccer, practice spanish, and spend time with God. I failed at the first two but feel like God and I have connected a lot over break and since that is really the only thing that matters, I am content with my time at home especially since...
1. I got to see my family a lot and see how much it means to have them supporting me. They were amazing this break, thank you Fam Bam!
2. I caught up on some reading and decided that with the limited reading time that I have (now that I am out of school) I am going to be picky with what I read. Only the best! =) Which means a lot more of the Bible and a lot more Sci-Fi... good sci-fi. It feels good to get rid of books I will never read and are not worth my time. I've never done that before!
3. I exhausted my creative juices for the first time in a while making a lot of canvas projects and presents for Amanda's new house. I feel less scattered not having all those ideas in my head anymore.
4. I learned how to spend time with God in a more personal way and walk in His Spirit.
5. I got a banjo and am starting to see how even that can be worshipful. Also, I just love it. =)
6. I am more grateful for friends and where God has me in life. I am so glad that God has me in Mexico and has plans for me afterward even though I don't know what those are. I am just glad to be where he wants me. =)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Worship

My wonderful friend Kristin recently blessed me with money to buy new worship music. I didn't realize how much was out that that speaks directly to me. So I wanted to share a few of my new songs so you could be lead closer to the Lord in praise too. =)

This is a song written by my friend Jockii (she is singing in the video too). I was so pleased to find out it was her song we were singing in church! I love this song so much and have been so blessed by it in so many ways:

This song is from Jesus Culture and I wish it was more my heart than it is right now:

This song is glorious and I love it so much! It is so worshipful of the Lord. It is from Bethel church and I feel like this is also where God wants my heart to be:

I will be posting more later since I can't post the entire CD's I just bought. So for now, these are three of my favorites. I hope they bless you!

Digging In: Galatians 2:17-21

Contextual Verses: Galatians 2:17-21
Memory Verse: Galatians 2:20 -- "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Digging In: This is a heavy passage even if you look solely at just verse 17... to take advantage of God's grace and live a deliberately sinful life, knowing you will just be forgiven, is making Christ the minister of sin. This not only disgraces God but makes him into a joke in our lives. This convicted me of a few things to say the least. Now look at verse 20 above. God's grace cannot stand on man's merit, it must be freely given in every way. So while we live in the flesh, we should not live after the flesh. Think about your sinful ways and realize it was not possible for you to be ransomed in any other way than through Christ's death. That is how weighty our sins are.
This quote by Matthew Henry's commentary on this passage really stuck out to me: "The more simply the believer relies on Christ for everything, the more devotedly does he walk before Him in all His ordinances and commandments. [...] Thus he neither abuses the grace of God, nor makes it in vain."

My Meditations: My pride is dead after reading these verses (or at least it should be, it keeps roaring its ugly head) because the depravity of my situation without Christ's freely given grace is deplorable at best. Nothing I can do will save me. I have a desire to live the devoted life to Christ talked about in the quote above, to fully appreciate God's grace by being obedient to Him. Once again, I needs God's help to do that and I know I will fail in my flesh. How much I need the Lord!

Becoming Equipped

I have been absent from my blog these past few weeks. Hello Blog. I missed you. But not as much as I have been missing God and not even knowing it. Not until I realized I am heading into a tough season in my life where I need to be relying on the Lord. So I have been talking with him more lately and seeking his word more. And in a way I never have, I feel transformed by the Holy Spirit.

So what am I preparing for? Culiacan, Mexico. Six weeks of daily evangelism and service in a Mexican city filled with people who have never heard the gospel. And I can tell you with conviction that Satan is going to hate it. So I am anticipating spiritual warfare but am also so excited to see God move. He has been giving me scripture and promises and words that speak to me so strongly to my heart and I feel truly blessed. I feel a renewed and new desire to seek God throughout my day and read my bible over other books I have on my list.

The warfare inside and outside of me is already starting and I have been discouraged this week as well as increibly blessed. To see God come through powerfully and faithfully makes the discouragement worth it. It is worth is to grow in Christ and to rely on him for literally everything in my life. This verse just came to my mind: James 1:2-4 - "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing"

Here is a map to help you visualize where we are going. The top heart is where I live in Porvenir, Baja California. The bottom heart is where we are traveling to for six weeks in Culiacan, Mexico. This will the be the farthest south I have ever been in Mexico! First however, I have two weeks of prep in Mexico, a week of Amanda's wedding stateside, and then my flight to meet my team in Culiacan!