Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Monday, January 28, 2013

Missions Quotes

I think of many of you at Stone Creek when I read these quotes. Your hearts for missions and helping those in need is astounding and always a challenge to me to see others in a more loving way. Thank you for modeling Christ centered lives for me and living out the Great Commission all over the world. Here are some things to encourage and challenge you even further from the “Pathlights” missions course:

“Do not bring us the Gospel as a potted plant. Bring us the seed of the Gospel and plant it in our own soil.” -Mr. Murthi, Indian Evangelist

“If the gospel is universal, prayer cannot restrict itself to being local.”

“The study of culture is fascinating. Cultures not only present barriers to overcome, they also represent the source of enriching insight, beauty, and variety. Each culture needs a unique presentation of His story. As each is welcomed into the Kingdom, we can anticipate a dazzling array of praise from redeemed peoples, tribes, and languages before the throne of the Lamb.”

Ministry

I find I blog about my personal growth/challenges a lot more than I blog about my ministry life. Granted, these lives are all under the same umbrella of my life in Christ but I feel a big aspect of what I do down here gets lost in my typing. One reason for this is the fact that I work with people who are on their own journeys and therefore am not able to share many stories since they are not mine to tell. Another reason is that most things happen in the blink of an eye and those that don’t are often hard to spot until the big picture spans nine months and becomes too complicated to explain. It is much easier to talk about my own story as it happens.

I do not, however, want to neglect the people God has placed me here with... So here they are:

Micah (staff kid), David from Temecula, Ashley (staff), Me, Taylor from Bakersfield, Jessica from Washington, Landon from SLO, Tim from SF, Carlee from Bakersfield, and Brock in the front (staff kid).
This is the lovely staff team I am so blessed, and challenged, by: Doug, Carrie, Me, and Ashley.

Part of the reason I am writing this post is to explain how what started out as a year of six students in this picture is now only four... Upon returning to Ventana in January one of our students, Tim, decided he did not want to return and opted to remain at home. I know God has plans for him there that are beyond my knowledge and I pray for his journey often. I miss having him here. Carlee on the other hand returned with us in January but because of a few decisions she made and desires she had, we asked her to continue her journey at home a couple of weeks ago. She is still working through her relationship with the Lord and I know that God also has her in his hands and is creating a beautiful work in her that he will be faithful to bring to completion. Your prayers for both of these students is greatly appreciated as well. I love both of them and am blessed to be a co-journer with them as they learn from the Lord.

Though it is not a glamourous thing to tell you we went from six to four students this year, it is ministry life. I have realized that we have to remain faithful to God’s plans and calling on our lives no matter how messy or hard it gets and maybe that’s why I like it. I know going into it that I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to be available. Though I could work on that as well...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Roasting Missionary Style

One night Ashley and I wanted dessert and we didn't have anything sweet. Except for some marshmallows and one bag of hot coco mix... That didn't stop us! We also had two candles...

Ingenuity at work...
We knew we were ghetto before we even started.
Nice and toasty!
I perfected the art of roasting with the big candle... just the right amount of heat.

La Veterinaria

I have been in Mexico long enough now that it takes a special event to remind me that I live in a foreign country. One of these opportunities came when our black lab, Chance, sliced his lip open trying to chew his way into the guy’s house when the New Year’s fireworks went off in town. To the vet we went!

The drive there meant Chance got to hang his big head out the window with his lips flapping in the wind. Once there it was just a quick turn around the saddles, a short walk past the case of cock fighting spurs, and into the little tiled room in the back. A quick glance revealed a few framed vet licenses on the wall, a cabinet full of medicine, a small fridge with a Santa Maria Strawberries magnet, and a metal table the size of a large dog. 
Our vet was a young woman who loves animals enough to pet dirty ole’ Chance yet she wasted no time shooting anesthesia in his rear end. After succumbing unwillingly to the medicine he was lifted onto the table by another employee of the store. Knocked out dogs aren’t much different than bags of feed right? 

I didn’t think could watch but I witnessed the entire surgery and saw the dirt and dead skin be replaced with fresh blood and antiseptic. It was fascinating actually. After some stitches (and shiny silver spray to keep them in) Chance was a new man. We asked if we should be feeding him more since his ribs were showing through his saggy old man skin the whole time. The vet said he was perfect and looked at us like we were crazy. It dawned on us later that for a dog in Mexico Chance is doing just fine with his two meals a day.
Chance was ready to go back to the car but this time it took two employees to carry his anesthetized body to the car. How, you might ask? On an empty feed sack. With his head flopping off to one side and his tongue sticking out. Poor Chances. 
We paid on top of the prize fighting rooster accessories case and were on out way... antibiotics and worm pills for the other dogs in tow. We discussed if we should be taking worm pills with all the tacos we eat and started for home. Carrie remembered we needed gas about 5 minutes down the road. As she completed her u-turn she pealed out in the dirt for a bit of excitement, completely forgetting the dog in the trunk. When we got the the gas station he was crammed up against one side of the car, his eyes still closed. I moved his feed sack back to the middle and he was fine.

He didn’t wake up until we were almost home and wasn’t able to get out of the car for three more hours. Brock (age 6) asserted that he was still crossed eyed when he checked on him. Two weeks later I sat with my sharp fabric scissors and pulled out the stitches while Carrie held his head. 

Chance is now a new man with a re-newed face. He still mopes around campus like Eeyore and though he will never remember his trip to the vet I will not. It was truly Mexican and I loved every second of it. I love this little town... vet and all.

A Challenge

Romans 3:31 
"Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law."

Whatever the commandment, “Look at the commandment and reply, ‘Ah! commandment, Christ hath fulfilled thee already - I have no need, therefore, to fulfill thee for my salvation, but I rejoice to yield obedience to thee because God is my Father now and He has a claim upon me, which I would not dispute.” - Charles Spurgeon

We follow God’s law not because we are forced to, to obtain salvation, but because we want to as a result of out love for our Savior. What are you doing in light of this love?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Wonderful Winter Break

For those who didn’t know what I did over break let me give a quick rundown of my November/December vacation...

Came home from Mexico for two days.
Drove to SLO for Thanksgiving with my grandparents.
Came home on that Saturday.
Flew to London that Sunday.
Spent 3 1/2 weeks in Europe.
Came home the week of Christmas.
Spent Christmas with my family.
Spent a week or so in Temecula.
Came back to Mexico.

Now let me explain a couple things about this list...
 On top of the windy Cuesta Grade.

 On Calvin's farm in Templeton.
 The sisters at Avila Valley Barn in SLO.
 My adorable and incredibly encouraging grandparents.
 Farmer Kenny driving us around.

Thanksgiving was an amazing time of seeing Kimberly be the SLOcal (San Luis Obispo Local) instead of me, connecting with my great friend Juli for an afternoon walk, seeing my grandparents, hiking up the Cuesta grade and subsequently almost getting blown off, and being rejuvenated after a hard couple weeks of work in Mexico. I dearly love my grandparents and family and was so blessed to have another thanksgiving with them.

Europe was a decision I had made as I realized I will probably never have the chance again. Also, so many things worked out to make it possible: leftover college savings, having friends to visit, having a huge 7 week break, and being supported by my family to just do it. I planned a lot of my trip using the slow, frustrating internet in Mexico but eventually just decided the little details could wait until my arrival. I ended up going to Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. I saw my friend's lives there and traveled to some other places alone and got to experience so much of my bucket list. It was a fantastic blessing from God that I could go. I will be posting videos of each country in later posts.

Christmas was great this year as the christmas lights and snow of Europe really had me in the mood for the holidays. I was able to buy my family presents in Europe and had a great time handing them out and was so grateful to have that time to see friends and church family. After traveling solo for a month it was nice to not have any responsibilities and nothing productive to do for a couple weeks. Though it made it that much harder to come back to work. =)

Thank you to everyone who made Europe possible (including those I visited), who sought me out over break, and who gave me hugs and love. You were all so encouraging to me!

Vamos a Mexicali!

Last week our director came to me to ask if he could take the guy students to the Baja Missions Conference. I could easily change the schedule to make it possible and gave him the ok with a smile and sassy remark about how he should take the guys, and me. He said he would if I was a boy. No luck there.

So I changed the schedule, informed the students, and continued wishing I could go. Reasons: Culiac├ín friends would be there, I love missions, I can finally understand the Spanish, and I had never been through the mountains to Mexicali. I told my roommate about it and she wanted to go too. Who doesn’t want to road-trip to Mexicali for a missions conference for Baja California? Answer: No body. 

That night, at game night with the students, I was snarky and kept telling them they should bring me since I wanted to go so badly. Bad form I know. I could have been likened to a pouting five year old but I was incredibly tired and not thinking of how crazy I looked. Jessica told me at one point that God obviously didn’t want me to go. You know it’s bad when your student calls you out and is right. Anyway, I still couldn’t go. Playing Jungle Speed didn’t turn me into a dude.

The next morning I was over it and preparing to write encouraging notes to our boys about “how God could really impact them through the conference and how I was glad they had the chance to go.” Then we had a meeting and Doug informed the guys that the Holy Spirit told him to open the trip up to everyone... but it was up to the guys to decide to cancel male bonding and bring the girls along. Their reasoning on both sides was well thought out but through their practice of exhortation and discernment (and looking at my smile) we were invited to come. My sense of how ridiculous my pouting had been almost outweighed my excitement. Almost. A few hours later we were on the road to Mexicali, after doubling back for my passport. Oops.

From there we stopped for photo ops every half hour and it resulted in many spontaneous/fun bonding moments. It was such a great time for all of us to be a family. (see pictures below)

The conference itself was such a blessing. The worship was incredible and I saw friends from Culiac├ín that I haven't seen in a year. The theme was "New Wineskins" and covered the idea of how missions in evolving from the mere preaching of the past to cultural relativism today. I got to be reminded of why I want to serve God in this field and how God has a specific call for me in missions. It was a great weekend and I felt refreshed upon returning to Porvenir. God is so good to provide things like this to keep us going and to encourage us...

 And we're off!
 I got hit twice by snow... in Mexico! Who would have thought...
 My girls.
 The drive was gorgeous! I have never seen so many rocks in one place.
 Windy roads in a huge 14 passenger van? Yes!
 A distant view of Borego Springs, CA.
"With wet pavement, drive with precaution." There was some ice...
 Being U2... no biggie.
 A stop at the salt flats on the way home was worth the sketchy U-turn to get there.
We tried eating the salt... it was saltier than salt if that is possible.
Cracked and ready for some rain.
On top of staying in a hotel with a heater (a novel concept for us) we got amazing Chinese food... which apparently Mexicali is famous for. El Dragon for the win!

Hobbits

In celebration of the “The Hobbit” coming out, the students and young staff watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy before going on break in November. It was very entertaining to see the hard core fans mixed with the people who knew nothing of Middle Earth. Especially when one student corrected her peer by saying, “It’s not Aragon... It’s Ar-a-gor-an...” She was also wrong. Another student, upon reaching the climax of the movie, yelled out “It’s the fire of Gorgon!” I corrected her, “Mordor.” And she yelled out once more, as enthusiastically as before, “It’s the fire of Mordor!” I love my students.

As for the long awaited release of “The Hobbit” part one (don’t get me started on my opinion of the unnecessary “second LOTR trilogy”...) I was very excited to find out that it was coming out when I was going to be in Switzerland. I knew my friend Rahel would be just as excited as I to see it, so to the Swiss movie theatre we went! She had to translate for me the German subtitles for Ork and Elvish but I thought it was fantastic anyway. I knew the answers to the riddles before they guessed them (I have read the books too many times), bawled when Gollum lost the ring, and growled at Saruman when he lied to sweet Gandalf. We both felt that it deserved a second viewing when we got back to Mexico but have yet to plan when we can go.

My dad took Kimberly and I to see it again on Christmas. He went all out and we saw it in Imax. It was even better the second time! Other than the fact that Peter Jackson created the white Ork, I think he did a fantastic job. I checked the facial expressions of my family often and though Harry Potter is Kimberly’s book/movie love I was pleased to see that she connected with me on mine. I also felt bonded with my dad over our love for Gollum and his laughter was fun to hear. All in all, it was a good afternoon. And “The Hobbit” continues to be a wonderful experience as I get to talk with others who have seen it... Thank you J.R.R. Tolkien!

Amor.

Being picky aside, I have realized there are some things that I really really love. I don’t mean love in the way that I love tuna sandwiches, the color teal, or bats. I mean love in the way that I love the silence of a cold starry night, understanding a sermon in Spanish, and feeling connected with people who love God like I do. This kind of loves run deeper into my appreciation for people and God. This love makes me thankful to be alive and living the life that I do. A good grilled cheese does not do that for me in the same way. So here are my discoveries:
  1. Favorite Sounds: My dad’s laugh (no other laugh tops it, it makes everything brighter) and my mom’s sewing machine (the hum of the needle every night is comforting and a sign that all is well... when she couldn’t sew after heart surgery something in our house felt wrong).
  2. Favorite Words: “You have impacted me” (I wish everyone could say this positively, so I can know God has worked through me, but I also hear this negatively when I have not represented Christ in which case it helps me grow).
  3. Favorite Place: Where God has placed me. (Traveling made me want to see more of the world but made me realize how much I still love having a home, or two, to come back to.)
  4. Favorite Verse: John 16:33 (Good for every situation.)
  5. Favorite Quote: “Not all those who wander are lost.” -Tolkien (Whether it’s hobbits or the Israelites or us, we can rest secure in the fact that though we may feel we are wandering we are never lost in Christ’s plans.)