Back to India

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“But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before they left.” -Matthew 19:14-15

I was told that it gets harder to leave the more you go back. After the week I just had, I can say that is definitely the case. For those who don’t know, I spent time at an orphanage in New Delhi, India this past summer where The Lord taught me more than I could imagine in just 10 days. I fell in love with those children and came back from my trip around the world praying that God would send me back to India. As the semester unfolded, a trip was being made to go back to the orphanage January 1-10th to deliver Christmas presents and spend sweet time with the kids. Praise God, He allowed me to return to a place that has now become a second home to me.

This past week was more than I could have hoped for. The relationships I made this past summer deepened. New relationships were formed. Once again The Lord showed me that He is SO good and SO worthy of praise. I see Jesus in everyone and everything at the orphanage. The simplicity of the lives of the kids and staff there is beautiful. Jesus is all they have and He is all they need. I have never met anyone like these Indian believers. 5 year old children grasp the gospel. 15 year old children shepherd the young children. They center their lives around Christ and don’t just fit Him in their schedules. They pray at 5:30am. They pray after lunch. They pray before dinner. They love each other. They serve each other. They love us and they serve us. They get three meals a day and view life as a gift from God. They live like Jesus. Although they are physically poor, they are rich in spirit and theirs is the kingdom (Matthew 5:3). Once you get to be a part of something so wonderful, there is no way you won’t change.

I knew what to expect with the physical conditions, so that part was not as difficult this time around. We spent time just being. Being with the kids and being with Jesus. We watched them be so joyful and thankful for gifts of new socks, new underwear, toothbrushes, small toys, and candy. We got to take them to KFC again and you would have thought they just ate at a five star restaurant. Mostly we just played, braided hair, held kids, and worshiped our perfect Creator. I am convinced it does not get any better than that.

I was talking to my friend Hannah who traveled with me this summer and returned to India with me this Christmas break, and we came to the conclusion that we can’t stop coming back now. We are hooked. These people are our family. Another one of my team mates, Bonnie Grace, said something so true. She said that these children see us the way Jesus sees us. They see no flaw in us and love and serve us endlessly. They breathe grace in and out.

In a little orphanage in Chhwala Village, New Delhi, India, I have found my little piece of heaven on earth. My heart was pained to leave my friends there. I was not excited to be back in America, but The Lord reminded me of His faithfulness. He took care of them before we arrived and He will continue to take care of them now that we are gone. He also will take care of me back in America.

As I am back home and being challenged to live in the present, my prayer is that I can be in America but not live like an American. My prayer is that I will trust my faithful Father to bring me back to India someday and while I wait, trust He will sustain me like He promises. My prayer is that when I go back to school in two days I can trust that He has me there for a reason.

As a new season comes there may be moments when we go through hardships and begin to doubt His goodness or His faithfulness or His provision. If that happens, just go take a hot shower, open your refrigerator, or sleep in a warm bed. Our God is way too good to us. All the time. What an incredible One to serve.

“For the Lord is good. His unfailing love endures forever, and he is faithful through all generations.” -Psalm 100:5

To Him be the glory.

 

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Nicaragua

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It’s hard to even comprehend that our team is back in the US for debrief and our journey around the world has come to a close. Our final stop on our trip was Nicaragua, where our team has just spent the last nine days. Although Nicaragua was a more restful place, it flew by just like all the rest.

When I reflect on our time in Nicaragua I think that it was a great last stop to end our journey. Honestly when we were headed to Nicaragua I was feeling pretty run down, as was the rest of the team, and felt a major need for rest. Our team was traveling on next to no sleep  from the past few days and I knew Jesus was the only thing that would renew us and keep us strong. Praise the Lord, when we got there that night we got almost 12 hours of sleep before we had to start our week of ministry and it could not have been more of a blessing. We also were joined by five other team members who gave us energy and fresh hands and feet ready to share the gospel. All of that combined was just what we needed.

Unlike all the other countries, our time in Nicaragua was very spontaneous. We worked with a church in Somoto, doing ministry with and through them, but never knowing what would come next. Our contact, the pastor, only spoke Spanish, and although we had translators, lots of the time we did not know what was going on. It was pretty fun actually. Our team learned to just go with the flow and do whatever the Pastor needs of us for that day. We went to nursing homes, disabled children’s homes, did prayer walks, played with children in what they called “the ghetto”, and lead and participated in many church services throughout the week. Every day was different and totally unexpected, but it always felt like a party. These people know how to do church, lemme tell ya. There were horns being blown, dancing, shouting, singing, skits, testimonies, talks, and every other form of worship you could think of! These people love Jesus and like to show that so outwardly and I love it. Not only are they so genuine and fun, but they are so servant-hearted as well. Some of us stayed in the Pastor’s home and the Pastor and his family slept in the church so we could have their house. They washed our clothes, cooked us food, and cleaned for us; all with such joyful hearts! They know what biblical hospitality looks like and it was so humbling and convicting to be served by them.

Although it is a very energetic place, it is also part of their culture to have “ciestas” or naps which would give us lots of down time in the day to rest, spend time with the Lord, and hangout with our team. It was so wonderful to have the mix of both spontaneous fun but also rest. I especially needed that as I got sick pretty badly in the middle of our time in Nicaragua. I was worried I would not get better in time to finish the rest of the trip, but the Lord, in his mercy, allowed me to finish out the last two days. It was difficult being sick when I wanted to finish strong. It was frustrating for sure, but the Lord taught me lessons in being sick, just like He will in every situation if we seek Him. I was blessed by the team caring for me and also knowing that God’s work was still being done and I got to finish out the trip being a part of it.

Just like every place, it was hard to say goodbye. I left really loving Nicaragua, the culture, the people, and the beauty of it. I loved how Spirit lead our time there was and how we had to step up with sharing our testimonies, sharing encouragement and prayer with people on the spot, and just watching the Lord show up and move during our time there.

As I write this, there is so much more I want to say, but am just so overwhelmed with this trip and all the Lord has done during our time traveling the world, that it is hard to process and put it into words. Thankfully our team has the next four days in Orlando to debrief as a team and take time to process, rest, and prepare to enter back into our lives at home knowing God has changed us. I am so thankful that I was able to go on this journey this summer and cant wait keep sharing about all God is doing all over the world. Thank you all for following my blog on our trip and for your support and prayers. As my team and I return back to our lives here in America, we have all said this is just our 6th country and our mission doesn’t stop here. When my life ends I want to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7). So, no matter where we are we should look at our lives as a mission field, and I can’t wait to get home and see what the Lord will have in store next!

France

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the team at the Med. Sea

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I can’t believe I’m writing about our fourth out of five countries. Time keeps going by faster and faster and I wish it would slow down! That’s how it always happens I guess…

 
Well France was quite the change from being in third world countries previously. It felt like being back in America in some ways which was weird to adjust to at first. Not only was that part a big change, but when we arrived at the airport in Nice we were surprised by Ryan, a guy who did the trip last year, who would be with us for the rest of our journey! It was such a great surprise.  We already knew we were getting a new guy leader, Paul,  because Curt had to go back home to take his youth kids to camp. So our team dynamic changed quite a bit and its been awesome now in a different way. 
 
My first thought as we drove from the airport into Nice and St. Paul was how beautiful it was. They cities are built into the bright green mountains bordering the coast of the bright blue Mediterranean Sea. It was incredible. We stayed at a camp site for the week, and at first I didn’t know what to expect for camping all week but it was really nice and we had everything we needed. 
 
During our time there, we were working with the International Baptist Church that was a church plant from Denton Bible Church in Texas. So there were American people and families that are missionaries there, who were incredible by the way, and it was a nice comfort to work with them. 
 
They have two church campuses in the area that we alternated working at. One is in St. Paul and the other in Nice, which is like 10 or 15 minutes away. When we arrived the first night we went to the church in St. Paul, where we primarily stayed, and met our contacts and got to know them which was fun. As for the rest of the week we did a variety of different things. The first few days we did prayer walks around the village of St. Paul, passed out tracks to people, and gave food to and prayed for homeless people in Nice. We also had a day of prayer in which we gathered with the missionaries and prayed for the nations which was a really neat experience. Also, we got to invite people to a beach party where we got to swim in the Med. Sea, talk with people and share with everyone about our trip and what the Lord has been doing in the past three countries.  That day was one of my favorites for sure. One night we got to babysit the missionaries’ kids too and that was also a lot of fun. Finally,  the last few days we helped the St. Paul church get ready for their VBS that would be happening the next week which was a lot of work. We were at the church all day decorating different things. The theme was Medieval and the decorations were awesome. We painted banners, made fake weapons and shields, created a huge tree and a dragon that hung from the ceiling and lots more. It was tons of fun! It was really cool to see it complete right before we left. 
 
As we spent time in France we realized the spiritual state there is very dry. Although spiritual darkness was more tangible in our previous countries, France has the same darkness just hidden through materialism and hopelessness. The people in Nice and St. Paul are very well off and don’t see a need for God. We found out France has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. It’s crazy because underneath all the striking beauty and wealth are very lost and desperate people.  I didn’t see really any church buildings other than the ones we worked at. It parallels America is lots of ways but still different. It’s more in your face than America. It was almost like when we walked around the people never smiled, seemed pushy, and kept to themselves.  There is also a heavy population of Muslims as well. So, God may be understood by some but the knowledge of Jesus Christ is very sparse. Realizing all of this we understood the need for all the praying. All the time. We also are now studying the book of James in bible study and the bible studies have been really great, challenging, and encouraging during everything around us and a good reminder that our God is a God of hope and he is working mightily there. 
 
 I think our team also felt attacked in many ways as well. Although it was really fun, it was really difficult spiritually. I think there were many moments of tension and lots of random frustrating situations that seemed to be happening whether it was traveling difficulties or small things, it seemed consistent throughout our time there. Although it was difficult and challenging, The Lord turned those moments into awesome opportunities to grow when we can’t control our circumstances. It was easy to get discouraged, but He says to me, “”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
 
What an incredible thing to rest in. God gives us just enough grace for each day and looking back at France, He has taught me so much. We are guaranteed hardships and Satan will try to tear us down, but the power of Christ in stronger and He uses all of the trials. He taught me so much about patience, trust, and going to Him with my faults and frustrations. France was definitely unexpected but just like everywhere else, God has been so faithful. 
 
As we transition to our last country, I pray that we have renewed energy and finish the race strong. We are in NYC for the night and tomorrow morning on to Nicaragua. I’m so excited for our final destination and I can’t wait to see what The Lord has in store next! 

Uganda

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As we have ended our time in Africa and are now in France, we are a little over half way done with our Global Journey. I cannot believe it has been over a month since we left the States and now we are in our fourth country! Looking back at our time in Uganda, it feels like there is so much to share.

Uganda is referred to as the “Pearl of Africa”, and after spending time in this country I definitely know why. Uganda is so incredibly beautiful. There is so much green contrasted with the red dirt roads. There are beautiful mountains and hills and everywhere you stand there is an amazing view. The weather there is also perfect. It is warm in the day and cool at night which is so different from being in India. Although the physical aspects of being in Uganda were nice, it was a hard transition leaving India and coming to Uganda. I have missed the children and staff at the orphanage very much and it was a challenge for sure, but the Lord has blessed that time in different ways.

As we arrived in Entebbe, Uganda we had to make a five hour drive to the city of Mbale. When we arrived, we went to the house of our missionary contact, Natalie. That is where our team stayed for our time here in Uganda. It was very nice to be in a house and the food was really good too! We were also blessed to be with Natalie and her wonderful roommates who were so loving and encouraging to us.

As for the work our team would be doing in Mbale, we were working at a children’s home called Lulwanda. We also worked with another team that was from Texas. The Texas team was made up of 12 older adults who made us feel at home with their southern accents. The team was so welcoming and I feel like they were parental figures in some ways and it was nice to follow their leadership

Every morning our team would ride with the Texas team to the children’s home where we split up doing various things. The first day that we pulled into the children’s home, I was sort of shocked at how much nicer the conditions were for the kids there than in India. They have real classrooms and dorms and meeting halls. The children that stay there are orphans, but village kids can go to Lulwanda for school as well. School was in session for the time that we were there and our team helped teach the children because their teachers were being trained by the other team on how to be better teachers for the kids. I was placed in a first grade classroom, then second, then third as the days continued. It was exciting to work with the children in that setting because I want to teach those ages of children in the future. Other members of my team worked with the nursery, older kids, and some did construction projects too. The days were definitely busy but it was really fun. We ate lunch at the school and after both teams got to do various activities with the children, like tie-dye, cooking, crafts, and games. we left Lulwanda around 4 or 5 in the afternoons and would go back to Natalie’s house for time of rest, dinner, showers, games, and bible studies. When I think about our time at Lulwanda and the work we did there, it felt like a job in some ways and there were a lot more Americanish comforts than I expected. It was interesting to adjust to that type of ministry which was so different than the past two countries. We did have some variety with the weekend being in between our time at Lulwanda. On Saturday we participated in what was called “buckets of hope”. Both teams and the children and staff at Lulwanda packed buckets full of food, mosquito nets, bibles, and more to take to people in the villages. I really loved this experience because we got to see what life is like for most of the people in the country. The people live in huts and the poverty is so evident yet through this project we got to be a part of sharing the hope of Jesus and sharing his love. It was humbling and I was thankful to see where most of the Lulwanda children came from and how their lives have been tranformed. We then got to go to church at Lulwanda where the surrounding villages come and it was so lively. There were shouts of joy and praise abuntantly throughout the service and even though it was 2 and a half hours long, they could have gone on all day!

With everything we did during our time there, it was easy to get caught up in the business and our team was reminded that we needed time to rest in Jesus. There was a lot of strain emotionally during our time here and I think we were all challenged to live in the present and love and serve whole-heartedly all the time. Our team just saw so much of spiritual warfare in our time there and it was hard to handle. Darkness manifests itself there in very different ways than it does in America. We heard stories of witch craft and demons.

We heard a personal story of a guy whose parent was a witch doctor. It is something that seems so abstract to us, yet this is their “normal”. Although Satan is evident, the power of Jesus is constantly winning. That man I talked about was supposed to inherit the job of the witch doctor yet he found Christ and now lives a life in abandon to Him. Knowing that spiritual warfare is very real causes an incredible urgency to love. The way we defeat the darkness is to love like Jesus and even though we look around and see so much brokenness, our job is to be faithful to what The Lord puts in front of us and trust Him to take care of the rest. I have seen despair in Uganda but I have also seen hope, redemption, and love through Lulwanda and through all the people we have worked with there. Reflecting on our time in Uganda there are so many words that come into my mind. It was beautiful, fun, challenging and stretching but I am thankful for all The Lord has taught my team and myself during our time there. It flew by and we are already on to new things is France, but I praise God for His faithfulness in Uganda.

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To say that time is flying by would be an understatement. We are almost done with our time in India and it seems like just yesterday we were in Hong Kong. So crazy! 
 
Going back to Hong Kong, The last three days there went very well. We did bible runs all day those days and got all our bibles across with no stops. We were told  that during our time there our team and the leaders carried over 12,000 bibles into China and they will be distributed all over the nation. In comparison to the population in China, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but over 12,000 believers will now have their own copy of God’s Word! The Lord blessed our time working with this ministry and we are so thankful. It was such a great experience to serve behind the scenes and  understand the impact that ministry has. 
 
After our time in HK was up, we began our next leg of the trip to New Delhi, India. It was a long travel day for the team. We got up at 4:30am, had a layover in the Malaysia airport, and arrived in New Delhi around 9pm that night and drove to the orphanage where we would be for the next 7 days. The taxi drive was quite the experience. There was a lot of weaving and  no use of blinkers or lanes. I wouldn’t make it driving in that traffic that’s for sure! We made it safety though. 🙂 
 
The orphanage, Emmanuel Children’s Home, is in the slums of New Delhi. At first glance some would pity the conditions. It’s a place surrounded by Hinduism outside its walls. However, It is a place where God’s love is shown more clearly than anywhere I have seen. It is a place where needs are met,  protection is provided for the children, and a place where they can learn about Jesus. It is a place with incredible staff members who love and serve the children. It is a place that has stolen my heart. 
 
I had reservations about how our time in India would go, but man did The Lord turn my world upside down. The Lord gave us blessings abundantly even though we are undeserving. The week before we arrived it had been 115 degrees and He made it rain for 4 of the days we were there and it cooled it down a lot. Sleeping was not difficult like I thought it would be! The kids alone were the biggest blessing. I learned the beauty of living life in simplicity with no distractions and that was a wonderful  Blessing. The Lord knows how to give the best gifts. 
 
It was the children’s summer break while we were there and there were only about 40 children there because some go on summer vacation and come back when school starts. Some of the kids aren’t true orphans but stay at the orphanage during the year because their families cannot provide for them. Because there isn’t school taking up the day there is lots of free time. We would wake up every morning at 6am for prayer to start the day. Later in the morning our team would lead them in songs and games which were so fun. Lunch is around 1pm followed by afternoon prayer then free time until evening prayer at 7pm and dinner at 8pm. That is pretty much how every day goes. We also had church there sunday and it is ROCKIN too. There was so much joy and fun in that service and I wish worship was like that in the US. 
 
We also got to take them to KFC one day and to a water park another day which they LOVED.  It was fun to take them out of the orphanage and interesting to see the culture. I can now say without a doubt conservative in the US is NOTHING like conservative in India. Being in public and being American causes lots of stares, let me tell you! Although we would feel uncomfortable at times, watching those kids experience things that we take for granted in America made it so worth it. 
 
Now let me tell you about the kids. These kids are the most loving, servant-hearted kids I have ever met. They call us “Aunti” and “Uncle” (it is so cute!!) and want to serve us unconditionally. Some speak English, some only understand it, and some don’t speak it at all.. but love is universal. They love us not based on how we look but because they simply  love like Jesus. As much as we loved on them, played with them, held them, and carried them, THEY loved us more. THEY taught me way more than we taught them. They know what it looks like to live and act like Jesus. They are precious, adorable, funny, and unforgettable. I made bonds with these children that I will never forget and saying goodbye was so incredibly hard. Those children and the staff will always be in my heart and I am praying that I can come back and see those sweet faces again…
 
Now we are in the city of Agra for today and tomorrow morning. We saw the Taj Mahal and spent time seeing the culture today. Tomorrow morning we head back to New Delhi until we fly to Africa on the 24th. It will be hard to say goodbye to this country, but I know God has great things planned ahead. I thank God for India. I thank God for Emmanuel Children’s Home and I thank God for showing Himself to me so clearly during our time in this country. 
 
 
 

India

Hong Kong

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Our real Chinese food!

Our real Chinese food!

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Wow. We have officially been in Hong Kong for 5 days now and I feel like its been a whirlwind. It’s 13 hours ahead here, so that has been an interesting adjustment! We got in Wednesday night and woke up Thursday morning to go straight to debrief for the work we would be doing here. We learned all about the state of Christianity in China. In China, Christianity is no longer illegal, just severely restricted. There are only a few registered churches and many underground churches. Also, there is only one bible printing company in all of China and they aren’t meeting the needs of the registered church, let alone the underground church. Many Christians have never had a bible in their lifetime. So, this is why it is crucial to get bibles into China in hopes that every Christian in China can have their own copy of God’s Word. Because Hong Kong still has their own government and does not have restricted Christianity, they can help with this problem.

My team and I, over the past few days, have been able to be a part of this ministry of taking God’s Word into China, which has been so incredible! Taking bibles into China is not illegal, but anything in bulk that is taken through customs is not allowed. So, if the customs officials pull anyone over, they can scan the bags,take your items from you and make you pay a fine. And when there are Americans taking bibles over, it is easy to get stopped. However, the Lord has been so faithful in our bible trips to China. We have taken bibles over Thursday and Friday doing two runs a day with hundreds of bibles and its been just shy of perfection. It is so cool to see the power of prayer and watch the Lord blind the eyes of customs officials as we pass through customs. Only Curt has gotten pulled over and the Lord used even that. One of the officials asked him if bibles were in the suitcase. He said yes and the customs officer allowed him to go. The Lord has been so faithful and with the power of the Spirit, many bibles have made their way into China. It has been so neat to do “behind the scenes” ministry and know that every single bible that crosses the border will be cherished by Chinese believers! Praise God!

After two full days of bible runs, our team got to have Saturday and Sunday to explore Hong Kong and China and experience the culture here. It was a great two days of team bonding as well! I can say that I have officially tried real Chinese food using only chop sticks as utensils (I know the Chinese people think we look ridiculous using them too!) I was weary of what I might experience but it was pretty good! We also have become very familiar with the metro system and have learned how to bargain shop. Kind of… There are also more skyscrapers here than I’ve ever seen! Its really cool, especially with the island mountains surrounding everything. Also, on Sunday morning we went to a little Baptist Church and it was such an awesome experience. The service was in English (sort of :)) and the people there were SO welcoming! It was wonderful to experience worship in this nation. It’s been very fun experiencing this culture for sure!

Today we will return to our bible runs until we fly to India on Thursday! Be praying that the Lord would continue to allow us to take all the bibles into China, and if not, His will be done and hopefully the customs officals can experience Christ through us being stopped. I think that is all for now!

Blessings!