My World

One Church

Writing is a deeply personal thing for me. I made my roommate read the blog post I wrote below before sending it to my organization’s marketing department for scrutiny. My hands were shaking as I clicked send and my heart is racing as I do the same for this post.

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As a logistics coordinator for short-term missions, I am constantly encouraged by the faith of the missionaries I work with. Most times I feel like they have more to teach me than I can teach them! Recently, a short-term missionary I have been working with came to me with one of the most beautiful questions I’ve been asked during my time with TEAM: “How can I bless my home church through my mission trip?”

My heart soared. What an example of Christ’s love for his unified body! Here at TEAM, one of our highest values is the church—engaging churches both in our hometowns and those reaching the ends of the earth to foster communities where the gospel is known and spread. It is encouraging to know our short-term missionaries are just as passionate about raising up the church as we are.

Together we brainstormed the ways this short-term missionary could bless her church in Canada with her time serving in Mexico. As we dreamed, I realized this is something all missionaries could strive for—especially those going short-term who want their trip’s impact to spread beyond their return back home.

So if you are preparing to serve overseas (or would like to know how to encourage your local church in general), I challenge you to consider a few of these ideas to bless your home church with your international mission trip:

  1. Commit to prayer

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14

When was the last time you prayed for your home church? For the pastors to be strengthened in their marriages or the nonbelievers who visit to be touched by the gospel? This is a practice that is important at any time, but can be especially life-giving when following the Lord in his plan for you with missions. As you gather prayer support from your church family, ask how you can pray for them in return. Set aside time to pray specifically for these requests as part of your ministry before even entering your international ministry area.

  1. Engage others

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4-5

Let’s say you are going to France for a few months as part of a sports outreach with teenagers who desperately need someone to walk alongside them in discipleship. While you are excited to fill this role, you are worried that your two years of high school French classes won’t cut it when trying to have meaningful conversations with the students. At your home church one Sunday, you meet a woman who lived in France for years and is fluent in the language! Asking if she could help tutor you in French could not only bless you and your ministry in France, but also is a practical way for your new friend to use her gifts to further the kingdom.

God has given each of his children specific gifts and talents to be used for his glory and advancement of the kingdom. This could be a great way for people to practically support your ministry who are not able to financially contribute. Your mission trip can be more than an opportunity for your own gifts to be utilized, but a way to engage other members of your local church to put their God-given gifts into practice.

  1. Share your story

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. Daniel 4:2

Just as your ministry starts before you jump on the airplane, it also doesn’t have to end when you get home. God loves to use time we set aside in service for his kingdom to teach, challenge, and inspire his children and it is the word of our testimony that conquers the enemy. Don’t be afraid to ask to stand before your church to share the way God has changed lives through your service. Boldly start conversation with supporters about the provision he granted in ways you didn’t even ask for. God will use these experiences to influence your heart, but could also have more plans for your stories than you could expect. Ask the Lord for opportunities to share the stories he has given you through your mission trip to multiply the impact of his work in your life.

  1. Foster a partnership

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 1 Corinthians 1:10

The body of Christ is a single unit that cannot be divided by cultural, language, or geographical differences. In God’s sovereignty, it is entirely possible he is using you, short-term missionary, to provide a bridge between two churches to partner together in providing for each other’s needs. Perhaps through your time serving alongside missionaries in Guatemala, a need is expressed that someone in your church back home is the perfect fit to fulfill. Keep your eyes open for God’s prompting or opportunities to be a vessel uniting his people in one thought or purpose.

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My Brain

Benedictus

I’ve never been the type of girl who plans the intricate details of her wedding. I remember one time in particular as a little girl acting out my wedding, but I didn’t focused on details rather than the big picture. I have only ever had 2 details planned: in high school, I decided that my youth pastor will be the officiant at the ceremony. This detail will never change, no matter what. He has been one of the biggest influences in my life and I want him to be part of that day. The second detail I thought of just a year or so ago: I wanted the song towards the end of Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy walked across the field to Elizabeth to be playing while I walk down the aisle.

Well, at least that’s what I thought I wanted. It has since changed in the last 24 hours.

You know how there are certain bands or songs you are obsessed with for a while but then life and other music gets in the way and you forget about it until you’re reintroduced to it all over again?

For me, that’s 2Cellos. I became obsessed with them again last night. Luka and Stjepan are two cellists from Croatia who are absolutely phenomenal. They played for Sean and Catherine’s Bachelor wedding last night, were on an episode of Glee a few years ago, and became hugely popular these last couple years. My friend and I traveled from Denver to Dallas last year to see them live in concert and BOY was that the best concert I have EVER seen!!! We literally watched all of their YouTube videos in one night and bought concert and plane tickets to see them right then. These two guys absolutely rock out with their cellos as much as, or perhaps more than Jimi Hendricks or any other rock star. They shred their bows in the course of five songs and Stjepan even headbangs while playing on numerous occassions. Then during the slower, classical pieces Luka seems on the verge of tears, still moved by the songs he has undoubtedly played over one hundred times. The passion they have for their music is phenomenal. If you have yet to experience 2Cellos, do it RIGHT NOW.

So last night as I listened to 2Cellos on Spotify for several hours, the song Benedictus literally brought me to tears and I decided that will be my processional song. I can’t seem to find the original lyrics of the song if they exist, but I did look up what “benedictus” means: Latin hymn from Luke: a Latin hymn from the Bible beginning “Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini” (“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” Luke 1:68-79). At first the song seems a little too melancholy, especially for a wedding celebration but the more I listened to it, the more I began to understand the song–or at least added my own personal meaning to it. The song to me highlights reverence to life and its fleeting nature. I can picture scenes in my head of the world in slow motion as people are staring at their loved ones, wishing for time to slow or stop to live in the moment for eternity. Or of a sunrise over the mountains where the music is reveling in the pure beauty of the moment. It is the musical portrayal of one’s spirit groaning for time to stretch so we may have even one more moment to appreciate life and love. I can think of nothing more beautiful or fitting for such a sacred event. My husband and I will come in the name of the Lord and that moment will live on for eternity.

My Books, My Brain, My World

Welcome to my world

I’m not good staying in one spot. If I have a day off with nothing to do, it frustrates me to death if I spent it inside with nothing to show for it. I live for adventures, all the way from exploring new foreign cities to finding a cool coffee shop I never knew existed. When I decided to study abroad, I chose Semester at Sea because you don’t simply stay in one country all summer/semester but rather eight or ten! That’s my kind of study abroad.

I think this stemmed from my love for reading. Growing up, my family had a tradition: almost every Friday night, my parents would take my sister and I out for dinner (usually Tia’s, a Mexican restaurant that has since closed, but gave kids tortilla dough to play with instead of coloring pages–a better alternative if you ask me!) then across the street to Borders Bookstore (now closing as well… how depressing). I loved wandering the maze of bookshelves, trying to decide which story I should delve into next. The few times I couldn’t decide on a book, or even find one that I wanted, I would be so frustrated. I couldn’t stand the idea of leaving a bookstore and NOT finding a book!

To this day, I find comfort in bookstores. While traveling abroad, I would find bookshops in almost every country and feel at home again. I bought my copy of The Great Gatsby from Pisa, Italy and I absolutely love it. I’ve met people who have never read a book for fun in their lives and it baffles me. Never??? I can’t even fathom life without my precious books! Sometimes I just sit in front of my bookcase and stare at them… A new adventure awaits me within each page. I can spend hours sitting on my couch but feel as though I’ve just journeyed to Hogwarts and fought alongside Harry and Hermione or followed Ray Bradbury to the future foretold within the tattoos of a strange fellow. I may be in the waiting room of a doctor’s office but feel as though I’ve been locked inside a room with Jack and his mom or escaped to Neverland with Peter and Tinkerbell. It’s always a new adventure, no matter how many times I read it.

Then there’s my journals. I have a large stack of them of various colors and shapes that I consider some of my most prized possessions. I’ve kept a consistent journal since 9th grade and now can’t image in how I would function without one. I always have something to jot down, mainly because I communicate best through writing. I’ll try to explain something to you and it just comes out as a confused mess. When I write something down, however, suddenly my brain comes out from hiding and pours onto the page.

When I write, I explore the recesses of my mind. It’s an interesting place up there… silly brain. Writing helps me discover what exactly has been going through my head and what thoughts have creeped in there lately. It’s not always pleasant, but it’s always an adventure.

As much as I love exploring lands that don’t exist or my own mind, having actual tangible adventures are my favorite. I rode a camel in Marrakech, Morocco, straddled two continents at once in Istanbul, Turkey, and backpacked my way through Italy for a week. I’ve spent a week living with a local family in central Mexico, playing Pictionary with the two daughters as a way to learn Spanish. I’ve spent 10 hours on a smelly Greyhound bus from Atlanta to Orlando, sitting among men who openly discussed their recent time in prison.

I like adventures. They make for great stories and keep my life from being stagnant. Journey with me as I embark on adventures of all sorts.