Monday, July 30, 2007

Being Content...

So I know you're probably wanting to read something that summarizes my time from The Philippines. Well... right now, I just can't write about that. My time there was great, but I simply have not had all the freedom to freely process the way I need to. I've been consumed with my fund raising situation.

God is good. Incredibly good. I learned a lot this summer about His sovereignty. We experience circumstances that we don't understand. The crazy thing is, we instead turn to God and yell at Him about how this is not the situation we wanted to be in. At least that's something I do regularly. I ask and I don't receive in the way I believe I should. Then I quickly turn into some what of a petulant child and throw a hissy fit, telling God, (The Almighty Creator of the Universe) how He should be acting in my life. Craziness. That is probably one of the most ridiculous things I could ever do. God is God and He knows what He is doing.

In the book of Job, we can read about how his faith is tested to unbelievable levels. I mean he's lost his house, children, livelihood... everything. Not to mention he develops boils on his body and has a wife who isn't necessarily standing behind him. He responds to her saying, "You are talking like a foolish woman; Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?" (Job 2:10) When I first read that passage, it made me truly think about God and how He uses both the good and bad in our lives to help us see His glory and walk even closer with Him. Well now I will pray that I will be content in all circumstances. I have no idea what's going on with my funding situation. "Should I stay or should I go now?" Please pray for me. Raising funds is probably one of the hardest aspects of the job that I've fallen so deeply in love with.

Not only do I ask you to pray for me, but please pray for the A.S.U Nav Staff. We need it. We need to know how to be content in every circumstance. Last night, I read in Mark what seems impossible for man, is possible with God. I truly do believe He delights in the seemingly impossible. I would love to be fully funded. I would love for my staff to be fully funded. I would love for all of us to be focused solely on the ministry and not how our accounts are doing. But above all of that, I would love for God to be glorified. Pray that throughout all of our challenges and struggles that God would still receive the glory and that we would continue to always bring Him praise.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for praying.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

God's grace is so incredibly good.

"I took you from the ends of the earth; from its farthest corners I have called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen y ou and have not rejected you. 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 41:9-10

My favorite bible verse. Well, one of them at least. I was thinking about my life today and all that God has done for me. Its crazy to know that God has chosen me and brought me around the world specifically for His purposes. I know I will never truly understand who I've impacted and how I've made a difference on their lives. I am excited for that day in heaven when I realize how I've impacted specific people around the world. Anyway, I've been having a lot of personal realizations. Its crazy that sometimes we pray for God to make us better in one area or to take control over an aspect in our lives, and when we backslide we seem to think that God isn't doing anything. Or we think that we will never be healed or never change. At least that's always my thought process. Well I was praying through some things last night and I realized that I'm still struggling with them. My first reaction was to cry out "God, why won't I ever change? Why am I still the same, doing the same things and never making any improvements??" God quickly reminded me that I'm imperfect and always will be until that day I'm with Him in paradise. All I can do is see where I need work and continue to rely on Him. He promises in Isaiah that He will strengthen and help us. He will uphold us with his righteous right hand. I used to only pray that for my ministry. Now I'm praying that for my life.

We are going to have times of struggle and difficulty. God calls us to rely on and trust in Him. He never tells us that the one time we seek Him all of our problems would be solved and we would be incredible perfect people. I do believe that God has the power to heal and drastically change us once we ask him. But I also believe that there are specific areas He allows us to struggle with so that we can continue to see His grace and understand more of Him.

Anyway, with all that being said... I'm thankful for the times I screw up. God isn't finished with me and now I'm beginning to see His grace all the more in my life.

This is just one of my many lessons I'm learing in my time here. I'm glad God had to take me completely out of my element just to reveal more of His truth to me. Be encouraged. God isn't finished with you yet. You will slip up and make mistakes... He uses them to teach us lessons.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for praying. Miss you. Love you.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Finish Strong

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.--> Hebrews 12:1

I'm trying to finish strong. I need to persevere. Its hard... I'm beginning to remember all of the things I miss from home. I miss my own room, my own bed, DRIVING... but I'm also doing plenty of things that I can and never will do in the States. As gross as they are and can be, I LOVE riding in the jeepneys. I love that I can start up spiritual conversations with anyone on campus. I love that I have experienced extremely difficult things in my life and God is using them as ways to connect with people.

This past week was s challenging one. I last wrote about how I was sick and incredibly exhausted. I look back on all the things I was able to do, and I'm amazed. Monday was awesome. Laura and I gave our testimonies in front of a 4th year Food Sciences class. They paid attention and actually engaged with us after we were finished speaking. To know that we have to the freedom to speak about the Lord in a classroom is still something I don't think I've fully processed.

All I can think about right now is how good God truly is. I'm excited to come home and truly realize all that I've experienced and how I've grown. A friend of mine encouraged me this morning with the story of Jesus and Peter walking on water. He reminded me that Peter probably didn't realize how awesome his experience was until he got back into the boat. I'm excited to look back and see how much further along I am in this crazy but incredibly wonderful journey with Christ. I think that's all I got for right now. I'm tired, yet I have to get my day started. I will hopefully update again soon. Thanks for reading. Thanks for praying. See you in the states soon.

PS Please continue to pray for me. I need the encouragement to finish strong. I want to persevere but its beginning to get hard.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Lord's plans are not always mine...

Being sick is not the best way to start off Week 3.

I have finally caught a cold out here in Manila. But I am planning on pressing on despite of how crappy I feel right now. Today, I have been yet again amazed by the people God has surrounded me with. I had a prayer meeting with Ate Jean, Ate Luce, Laura and Abby(a staffer who is leaving her ministry position at University of the Philippines). All of these women are incredible. Watching their faith has encouraged me greatly. As I listened to them pray, I noticed that each one of them began to cry a little as they poured out their hearts to our amazing Heavenly Father. Just watching them become real with God challenged me in my prayer life. Why don't I pray with such emotion? It was incredibly evident that they believed God hears their words and answers their prayers. I love it. I am truly surrounded by prayer warriors.

This past weekend is just another testimony to how God's plans are not my own. Friday we did not expect many students to attend our high school meeting. Over 30 12-14 year olds came and hung out with us for hours. I shared my testimony in front of the large group, and then we had small group time to discuss important parts of my story... I was hoping they would see how I met the Lord and hopefully apply certain parts of that to their lives... but many of them (if they paid attention), focused on how I lost my mother at a young age...etc. Anyway, we had our discussion time, I was a bit discouraged when I realized that these students were all about living a life of rituals and did not care about having a true faith. I will continue to pray for them because God is infinitely bigger than rituals and has the power to impact lives...even when I think its impossible.

Saturday, we had planned on having three different groups of students over for fellowship times... and that definitely didn't happen. Just when we were giving up on the day, a girl named Sheril from PUP texts me and says she's bringing 8 of her friends with her from class. Our time together started out as games and fun and quickly turned into complete openness about our lives and the hard stuff we have to face. We then talked about how to deal with extremely hard circumstances. I was able to share about my life and how I've seen God's faithfulness throughout everything. It was an incredible time. I am amazed how these girls didn't know us and became very honest about their lives with us. We cried and prayed together. It was incredible. I hope and long for times like these among my friends in the States.

Pray for tonight. I am getting ready to go to PUP tonight and we will be meeting up with students all day. Also we have been asked to share our testimonies and the gospel in front of a 4th year nutrition science class. Pray for me as I am not feeling well but going to campus because this opportunity doesn't happen often.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for praying. Love and Miss you.

Friday, July 6, 2007

It Breaks My Heart...

I wish that everyone would see and believe that God is not this "thing" that is far away and removed from our lives... He's personal and did EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to have a relationship with us. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."

The Philippines is a country with 80-90% Christian faith.... and by that I mean its about 80-90% Catholic. That sounds awesome...but after having spiritual conversations with people, my heart is completely broken. There are huge barriers between those who are Catholic and those who are Protestant. Those who follow the Catholic faith do not get along with Protestants. It is extremely looked down upon to be "Born Again"..aka, Protestant. Many believe that Protestants are here to convert people and change their way of life. Not so. I love that this country is Catholic. I just wish people took their faith personally and not just as a religion they assume they are apart of because of tradition. Many people do the whole church thing because its how they are raised. They have heard about Christ, and how we are saved because of His amazing sacrifice on the cross. What they don't understand is having faith... not just religion. Many believe in God, but do not have faith in Him. Confusing, I know...but simply believing in God is not enough.

1John 5:11-12 says, "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." I talked about this verse with a few high school students the other day, and they honestly couldn't tell me if they believed had eternal life. Going to church and participating in traditions eludes them to believe they are saved. They have no faith. They just go through the motions. I shared my testimony at high school youth group last night. I shared with them how I would just go through the motions. I thought that was how you were a good person and a good Christian. My "faith" at that time was void. Once I gave my life to Christ and truly believed in Him, I started to understand why I went to church, why I prayed, why I read my bible, etc... There's more to church than sitting in a building and reciting prayers that mean nothing to you. Thats all these students do. They don't understand what they do and have no real motives for doing it. I asked them why but they had no answer for me. It makes me so sad to know that people will blindly do something because its what they have been told to do. They won't explore it and truly fall in love with it.

Please continue to pray for the Filipino students I am encountering. Pray that they won't continue to live in the motions and have a faith that is void. Pray that they will let Christ not only be their Savior, but Lord of their lives. Pray for me as well because I'm facing a lot of fatigue. Meeting people is amazing, but trying to communicate through a language barrier becomes very challenging and tiring. I love what I do and I love all the people I meet. The Filipinos are very warm and inviting. They will talk to you about almost anything. Praise God.

Jeremiah 31:33b "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people." He is ours and we are His.

Thanks for reading & praying. Love you. Miss you.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Wanna Pray?

Here's how...

-Pray that Laura and I would continue to adjust well to Filipino culture.
-Pray that we would be seeking strength and courage from the Lord and NOT ourselves.
-Pray for boldness in sharing the gospel on campus.
-Pray for me to reach out and disciple one girl while I'm here. Even if I get only one, this entire trip was completely worth it.
A few praises:
-Neither one of us are suffering from stomach issues!! Even though the food is quite different from what we are used to, it isn't making us sick.
-Ate Jean and Kuyo Bobot are amazing. They asked if we could extend our trip longer than the end of July/beginning of August. They have had short-time missionaries come through on this trip for 10 years and have only asked if one other person could stay longer.
-The students are excited to meet us. They basically flock towards us every time we are on campus, or whenever we bring out our cameras.

Thanks for praying. And if you don't pray, thanks for keeping me in your thoughts. You are amazing.

Happy Filipino American Friendship Day!!

Be warned... this is long.

So, its a little hard to be out of the country and want to celebrate the 4th of July. I'll just celebrate the fact that I'm in another country for a month and I'm sharing the best message anyone could ever hear.

Here's whats up so far...

This week was ABSOLUTELY NUTS!!! And the best part is, its only half-way over. I have no idea what all I wrote about, so if this a repeat...just read on until it stops being repeated information. On Monday, Ate Jean (pronounced like ah-teh, and is a title of respect for anyone woman who is older than you are), Ate Los, Laura and I prayed together from 8:00-11:00. It was one of the most encouraging times for me. We prayed for the leaders of the Philippines and America, all the students we were going to meet with, all the short-term missionaries and finally ourselves. To watch these women pray in a language that is not their primary language was absolutely beautiful. They have a passion about Christ that I don't think I could explain. Their faith is amazing. Anyway, after our prayer session, we got ready and rode the JEEPNEY to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (P.U.P) campus. Being at P.U.P was eye opening. This is a school where the tuition is extremely low so that all who pass entrance exams will be able to afford it. The campus does not compare to anything in the US. There is only one class building, and it holds 16 majors!! It is 6 stories high and has 4 different wings. I'll post pics later. Anyway, we felt like celebs as we walked around on campus. Since we obviously look different, we are definitely noticed. And as I've mentioned before, people will stop what they are doing to take note of our presence. Everyone watched as we walked by. Kuyo (a respectful term for any man who is older than you, it means brother) Bobot brought us to a group of information technology students and introduced us. Then we sat down, began talking with them and Kuyo Bobot left us hanging! We had to bridge the language barrier and converse with these students who were incredibly shy. Apparently, whenever someone forgets their English or simply cannot speak in English very well, they call it a "nose bleed". Gross, I know. Anyway, these student kept having "nose bleeds" and would giggle because they couldn't talk to us. Throughout our time with them,we were able to share the Bridge illustration and have a deep spiritual conversation. Things went very well. If it impacted anyone's life... I'm sure I'll find out later. The rest of our time at P.U.P was spent sitting with groups of students, having a little conversation, taking pictures and getting email addresses. All the students we met were really happy to talk with us. I'm excited to keep going to campus.

Tuesday was pretty similar to Monday. We went out to campus early in the morning and spent a good part of the day there. We met large groups of students and toured the campus. The first group of students we met were so excited about us, they took Laura, Lisa and I to class. They wanted to show off their "new American friends" to the rest of their class. It was awesome.

Today, we went down the high school where Ate Jean and Kuyo Bobot's daughter attends. High school goes from age 12-16. College age is 16-20. Again, very different from the US. Anyway, I thought being at the college was crazy... then I went to high school. I always wondered when I was going to be popular in high school... I guess it takes growing up and going to a country where you look completely different. Wish I had known that when I was 15... I probably would have saved myself from doing a lot of stupid things. Anyway, we had 13 year olds SWARMING us. We walked into the cafeteria (known as a canteen) and the place erupted. The few high school students we had previously met went crazy introducing us to their friends. After we ate lunch, they toured (rather grabbed us by the hand and dragged) us from classroom to classroom showing us off to their classmates. We would stop here and there to take random but amazing pictures around the campus. I guess all schools are built the same. They take a building and add around 4-5 stories on top, then cram 4,0000-6.000 students into one school. So we ran around and met plenty of people. It was great.

Thank goodness for days of rest. Thursdays are our day off. So hopefully it'll be restful and fun. A few of the other short-timers will hopefully come back to Quezon City and hang out with us for our day off. I think a trip to the mall and probably the movies will happen. BTW, movies cost under 3 bucks. Thats an evening show. I doubt they have matnees here. Anyway, I apologize for how long this was. I have so much to share and not really a lot of Americans to share it with. If you read this entire thing, you're a champ... and you probably don't have much else to do. :) Thanks for reading and thanks for praying.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Send me, I'll go.

So it looks like I am finally starting what I've been sent here to do. Tomorrow starts my time of ministry out here in Manila. It looks like every day (except Thursdays) are going to be extremely busy. On Mondays, we have prayer meetings that start 7am and last until noon. Then we head out to our college campus, P.U.P where we start our ministry. Hopefully, we will be able to meet up with a few of the girls we have already met. Tuesday and Wednesdays are spent at P.U.P and Thursdays are our day off. Fridays, we prepare snacks, help out with the high school bible study and then meet up with the Young Professional bible study afterwards. Saturdays, we have people over ALL DAY, then the YP's come back for their dance ministry. Yep, every Saturday, I get to dance the night away on the rooftop!! Perfect for me!!! This past Saturday, we did the Tango and a bit of Salsa. I have no idea whats in store for next weekend, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

So far, things are good, but a bit overwhelming. I'm realizing again how shy I actually can be. I am definitely stepping out of my comfort zone by reaching out to people who are a completely different culture from me. Not only that, there can be a language barrier at times. Pray that I can adjust soon and be excited to work with the Filipinos I will be encountering.

In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul talks about how he did not come boldly to share the gospel. He came only because of the strength of Christ. He realizes that nothing else matters but Christ crucified. Our "catch phrase" here is "Pure Gospel". Simply put, its the simple and amazing fact that Christ came as our Savior. He gave up His perfect life to save our imperfect lives by dying on the cross. Not only that, He defeated death, and rose again. Nothing else matters. If Paul could resolve that nothing else mattered, than I guess I can as well. Pray for me. Pray that I would resolve to know nothing else but the Pure Gospel. Its a beautiful love story that completely changed my life. It set me free from the bondage of sin. Pray that I boldly spread that message of Christ. Pray that the power of God would work so powerfully in me. If He has the power to do all that He has, then He can and will work powerfully through me. Thank you for reading. I'll update again really soon.