Nicaragua

We’ve landed on US soil! I can’t believe we’re back… It’s incomprehensible for my brain to process the fact that these two months are coming to an end.

Nicaragua was a great finale. 🙂 It was such a pleasure to experience yet another new culture and see How God is working so specifically within the unique ministries. We worked at Nicaragua Christian Academy throughout the week. I had fun being in another classroom setting, working with more children, and seeing how God provided so many opportunities to use each one of my GJ team-members skills to serve Him well. We also got to do a little painting at a local church, Comunidad Vida. The people at the church were such a gift! We all learned a lot from them and left after each interaction inspired and touched by the Holy Spirit. They are doing a wonderful job in listening closely to the will of the Lord and have built a strong foundation of fellowship and discipleship through the community. I can’t wait to see how much more the Lord equips them to accomplish in His name!

As our time wrapped up, I felt a pull from God to focus my heart and spend some extra time in reflective prayer these past few days. He is up to some BIG things and I can feel him refining my soul. He has ever so gently been attuning my will to His. My personal hope throughout this experience has been that God would make clear how He plans to use me in this next chapter.

There are so many emotions rattling around in my heart… so many thoughts and lessons revealed… so much truth to share… and yet where do I start? The intimacy I’ve experienced with The Lord in these past two months has transformed and deepened my understanding of who He is and how He uses us. The words escape me, and I am often left speechless (hard to believe, I know ;)) trying to express to others the ways in which He has worked so flawlessly to pull me closer to Him. I will have to leave you with my feeble attempt at finding words to capture the most profound truths He has helped me learn to trust …

1 – We live in a beautiful world. Every country we’ve been to has had its own allure and charm. He truly is the master artist. When I think about how intricately designed our universe is, I am amazed at how our God can be seen in even the smallest or most desolate places.
“For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and, and in him all things hold together” Colossians 1:16-17

2 – He is good, He has a plan, and He is working all things for His glory. There is nothing that He cannot use to bring others closer to him. If we allow Him, He can bring peace and hope to the most tragic situations.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

3 – I am broken, and He loves and uses me anyway.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2

4 – He is a good Father… ever so patient with me when I fail Him. I see my need for him every day. I am forever so grateful for His gift of salvation, and I continue to yearn to be closer to Him, to love Him well, and to witness others rest in His peace.

“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:6

Whatever He has planned for me in this next chapter, I will do my best to honor His will, no matter how much I may fear; “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18

Thank you for walking in this journey with me. Love you all!
Xoxo
Alicia

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France

Overwhelmed with Gratitude

On the way:
During a quiet moment on our flight from Uganda to France I glanced out the window and realized we were flying over the Mediterranean Sea. The water was the bluest I’d ever seen and the view captured my full attention. I started following our location on the in-flight map and couldn’t look away as we flew alongside the Italian coast. The reality of where we were in the world took my breath away and tears welled in my eyes. The Holy Spirit took hold of my heart, and it began to swell in a sense of overwhelming gratitude. I became fully aware of the fact that He made this global journey possible through all of YOU.

I have often sat in amazement in the reality that God aligned my path with this organization, laid it on my heart to serve, and then completely took over in the process of fundraising and planning by speaking to each one of you, my supporters. I can recall when I first entertained the idea, I was terrified of many aspects of being on mission in this capacity. Most of all I struggled in trusting that The Lord would help others to see and believe that He would equip me to be successful in sharing the gospel and loving others in a grandiose way that would steal their attention and bring them straight to the cross. I wasn’t even sure I believed it, so I feared immensely that others wouldn’t see that potential in me either. It wasn’t until I accepted the fact that God doesn’t call us to be successful, He only calls us to be faithful that I finally gave it all to Him in surrender and sat back in awe as He prepared the way.

Before I could go any further on this adventure I had to make sure all of you that have and continue to support this mission financially and through prayer knew how grateful I am for each of you. You need to know that you are with me and are serving alongside me in every moment. I have not forgotten how much you all gave to support The Lord’s call, and I am honored you trusted me with such a task in carrying the truth to the nations. I am grateful to all my friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers for obeying the nudge from The spirit and choosing to partner with me in what has been the most transformative and impressionable experience of my time on this planet. You are loved SO VERY MUCH!

Upon arrival:
When we arrived in France the excitement and wonder I felt on the plane didn’t stop. Every view we saw was a photo-op! We all starred with mouths agape pointing at every new scene. It was so unlike anything most of had ever seen that it felt as if our eyes just weren’t big enough to take it all in! Beauty was found in the view of the ocean, the hills and mountains, the architecture, the art, the people…. Literally everywhere I looked my senses were enthralled!

However, it also didn’t take long to start to feel a shift. Amidst the excitement and beauty there was an underlying change in our team dynamic and soon in my heart. When we got to our campsite and began unloading, I felt myself getting frustrated at the tiniest things. I felt an irritation that wasn’t present previously. I could see it in each of my team members as well. We blamed it on sleep… on transitions… on missing home… but it didn’t take long to realize something spiritually oppressive was lingering. A dark presence had joined us and was using every “excuse” to distract us from the real issue. The enemy was angry at our presence in France and was determined to cause conflict and division. By acknowledging what was happening, I was able to invite The Holy Spirit to claim authority over my heart and interactions. I dismantled his attacks with the word of God and was reminded of The Lord’s truth and why I was sent here. I was sent to France to present the love of Jesus in its fullness! Through my discomfort I became increasingly aware of the specific need in this country. Although stunning and physically breath-taking, it is also a country struggling to break free from the bondage and lies of the enemy. Jesus is needed everywhere. He is the Hope. He is the living water, and without Him there is no peace. I am grateful He allowed us to feel what it is like to walk through the gorgeous streets of Nice and still feel empty due to spiritual warfare. He gifted me the wisdom to know how to pray and to be fully aware of the battle that is ever-present and very much real.

While in France:
On Monday we started the Vacation Bible School with the International Baptist Church in Saint Paul de Vence. It was SO good to be around children and enjoy their vibrant energy and enthusiasm. There were 68 campers present, ages 4-12, all from differing religious backgrounds ranging from atheist to Bahai and Muslim. Most parents were excited to be able to send their children to a bilingual camp to practice their skills in English.
As the week progressed and I heard the compliments sent from parents regarding the children’s exceptional behavior and genuine desire and excitement to return each day, I realized how impactful this camp and our time in France really was. We were planting and nurturing seeds that will, by the grace of God, transform hearts and families to give them a hope and future! These families were seeing and feeling something different than they had before and they wanted more! The director of the camp and long-term missionary, Jill, said that by midweek she was receiving calls from other parents begging her to let their kids join the camp for the remaining few days because they had heard such wonderful things from all the already participating families!

On Friday, our final day of camp, we had a big show planned for the parents. The campers had prepared various presentations to wow their parents, including; dance, music-rhythm, drama, and martial arts. The families poured into the church and excitement consumed the room. Through all the excitement, there was a darkness once again trying to steal the goodness of the day…

The morning was unexpectedly difficult after we were notified about the terrorist attack at the Beach in Nice the night before (Thursday). After hearing about the attack, we all were pretty distracted and caught up in our own “what ifs” as we struggled to wrap our minds around the atrocity that occurred so very close and that stole so much from the lovely people of Nice. Our Global Journey team, and the team we served alongside from Denton Bible Church, had all spent Tuesday night in fellowship down at the promenade in the area that the attack happened. We had eaten together and swam carelessly through the Mediterranean just 2 days before the attack took place. We had planned to return again on Thursday night to watch fireworks and celebrate Bastille Day. We would have all been in the exact location that the terrorism occurred had we not all been distracted by other situations including tiredness and some mild health issues. Everyone  decided to stay “home” and rest for our final day at camp. The reality of how God used the unexpected to keep us away from evil was overwhelming!
To be at camp on Friday in a room exploding with joyful children was such a relief and needed reminder of hope to all present. I looked up after a prayer was spoken over the families at the beginning of the show to see a mother of one of children in tears on her knees. The Holy Spirit met us all in those moments and gratitude filled the space. The children performed with heart and enthusiasm, and the parents beamed in peace and pride.

I am confident the final few minutes of our show will be the ones that reside in my soul forever. We invited everyone to stand and sing along in worship to a few songs we had taught the kids throughout the week. To see the families working to overcome such heartbreak to stand together to praise Jesus and celebrate life with smiles and dancing, left me in a state of utter peace. Our God is our healer and our ever present help in time of need.

Saying goodbye:
I learned a lot in France; a lot about myself, God, and gratitude. I leave with a full heart and greater understanding of how to pray against spiritual warfare. I encourage everyone to see past the physical realm and pay close attention to what abides in your heart, for there is where the Spirit dwells and where His desire for relationship with you becomes tangible.

Nicaragua here we come!

Please pray for-

Stamina and energy – That we finish strong!
Team dynamics and unity
For the abounding love of The Spirit to overflow in every interaction
Joy and peace that passes understanding
Health and wellness – Physical and Emotional
For miracles to occur and our faith to be increased

Thank you for loving me so well,
Alicia

Uganda – The Pearl of Africa

A week and a half in this beautiful county is never enough… And to have to wait a year before returning feels far, far too long! I can’t even begin to put into words how much this country has taken ahold of my heart. Uganda was the first place I knew The Lord was calling me many years ago. I dreamed of working with children in Africa. However, I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like until the opportunity arrived for me to travel with an organization, Books are the Beginning, created and led by a couple from my church, to Lulwanda Children’s Home in the summer of 2015. I can remember vividly the drive back to the airport at the end of our time at Lulwanda last summer. I was overwhelmed with emotions and struggled to process what this new-found love meant for my life. I feared not being able to ever fully explain and share how special this country is, and doubted my ability to find the words to inspire others to see its charm, potential, and this unique call to serve. As I sit here, having to say goodbye once again, knowing I will leave a giant portion of my soul behind, I experience the same heartbreaking fear.

I love Uganda. I love Uganda in a way that at first feels so much more than that one word could convey. I have asked myself repeatedly what makes this country pull so intensely on my heart strings. Why do I “love” this country so much? While searching my soul for the answer to this question, the words “God is love” has continued to radiate through me. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. – 1 John 4:16b” I have come to the conclusion that when in Uganda I see and feel God move in ways I simply don’t anywhere else. His love becomes so incredibly tangible to me in this place. I see Him in every smile, red dirt road, and mud hut. I feel Him in every embrace and greeting. The people here are filled with such faith and strength it leaves me in awe and desire for more interactions.

Over the past week and a half, I have been completely taken aback by God’s faithfulness. Every single prayer I have prayed down to the smallest requests and more have been handed to me. It’s as if He gift-wrapped this portion of the trip and delivered it to me on a silver platter (a beautiful metaphor I heard the first time from Natalie Rolfe – a local missionary. It is such a perfect way to describe how giving our God is!). After fighting sickness in Thailand, it was such a comfort to land in Uganda feeling much stronger. Within two hours of arriving, the Thrasher team also arrived. It was such a blessing to be surrounded by some of my familiar church family and Books are the Beginning friends I bonded with last year.

That night, we were surprised to learn it had been arranged for our team and the Thrasher team to stop at our half way point and spend the night in Jinja before continuing the long journey to Mbale. The next morning, we got to take a boat on to Lake Victoria and explore the source of the Nile River! It was all more than I could have imagined or planned myself. We laughed at monkeys swaying in trees along the banks and starred in amazement at all the different birds and flowers that surrounded us. It was perfect. Simply perfect.

 

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The day only continued to get better and better! We went straight from Jinja to Lulwanda where we were greeted by the children with signs, singing, and TONS of hugs! Again, it was perfect. I fought tears of pure Joy seeing all the children I have prayed for all year and longed to see and hold again. They had grown so much and all looked healthy and happy. Joyce was shy at first, but quickly became herself again. My heart felt complete in the peace of seeing how faithful The Lord has been in bringing me back to her and all the little ones that have captured my heart. Throughout the week, each time that I felt I hadn’t had enough time with a specific child(ren), I would pray and ask God to provide some time in the schedule for me to interact and bond with them again, and by the end of the day The Lord always made a way.

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It was a true honor this year to be invited to spend a majority of my time here in either professional development sessions with the teachers at Lulwanda or in an actual classroom teaching and modeling lessons with the P7 (7th grade) students. I wasn’t a part of the very in-depth planning the Thrasher team did before coming to Uganda this summer. They worked alongside Purdue University in creating a curriculum aligned to the Ugandan standards and brought amazing inquiry based lessons to these very hungry and eager teachers. Even though I was not a part of the planning, the Thrasher team knew my giftings and were happy to utilize my experience in the classroom. It was quite convicting to see how excited the Lulwanda teachers were to see a new approach to teaching. It made me realize how much I take my education, engrained skills, and professional development for granted in America. I can’t wait to see how much these new strategies affect the academic performance and critical thinking skills of their students. The teachers asked for more, and I’m quite excited to be a part of it all next year, by the grace of God!

Before church on Sunday, I prayed God would bring a little village girl I had met the year before back again. She had “chosen me” last year, and sat on my lap throughout the entire service. She would randomly turn around, take my face within her hands, and smile the brightest little grin you could imagine! I had only one picture of her that I made the background on my phone throughout this past year in hope of never forgetting her face. I feared never seeing her again because she is not one of the children that lives at or attends school at Lulwanda.

As church filled up this past Sunday, I felt myself unable to relax and be still. I kept scanning each child’s face as they entered the one room church building. Finally, when it seemed as though I would have to live with only memories of her, I saw her tiny little body shuffle on past me through the aisle. She was holding her baby brother in her arms and looking for a place to sit. My heart stopped and I told the person in front of me to get her attention. As she turned around and our eyes met, that smile I had dreamed and prayed about seeing again spread across her face. She came straight to me! I hugged her and her baby brother so tight in that moment, and thanked God with every ounce of my being for allowing me the blessing and peace of mind in seeing her again. She shared her time on my lap this year with her little brother. Her doting love and care for him was incredible. Being only around 4 or 5 years old herself, to witness her selflessness left me convicted and inspired. She would bring him little snacks, wipe his mouth clean, carry him as if he was her own, and even let him hold the offering she so proudly shared with the small church.

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Please continue to pray with me for little Ida. I pray that her giving and faithful heart continue to be as reflective of Lord’s as it is today. I pray that no sickness or schemes of the enemy attack her and her family. I pray that she always has plenty to eat, a healthy mother to care for her, and a roof over her head. I pray that her siblings also grow to be the carriers of God’s truth and that their testimonies bring others to their knees in wonder and surrender.

Leaving Lulwanda yesterday was the hardest goodbye to date. My girl, Joyce, and a few others have contracted Malaria. To see Joyce in bed, smile diminished, brought me to tears. I felt cheated at first, that we wouldn’t get to spend our last days together in a state of joyful bliss. But soon I had the privilege of holding her, praying over her, and reminding her of her identity in Christ. I got to sit with her, rub her back, and tell her how God had chosen her for me to sponsor. I told her the story of how when I got home last year I prayed for almost two months asking God which child He wanted me to personally invest in, and how He told me over and over it was her. To hold her and cry for her gave me a time to exercise a mother’s heart for her and to be awakened to new ways to pray for her and her brothers and sisters at Lulwanda.

Oh how I will miss these kids. I will miss the smell of the air in this stunning country. I will miss the accents, the word Mzungu (white person ;)) being shouted from village children as they run toward us waving, and the dancing! Oh the dancing! I will miss the greetings, the swarms of Lulwanda children reaching and fighting to hold my hands. I will miss the proud laughter as they plaster their faces with stickers. I will miss the food (Oh the mangoes and GIANT avocados). I miss the view of Mount Wanale. I will miss so much.

Until next year, Uganda, you will be in my prayers, and I hope to visit you in my dreams often.

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Thailand

My team and I have been incredibly blessed with the opportunity to invest ourselves in many different ministry projects while in Thailand. Each day has been filled with experiences and lessons from The Lord that I wouldn’t exchange for all the riches in the world! From the minute we arrived, we were greeted with warm smiles, hugs, and Jasmine lays! The hospitality and pure-hearted kindness hasn’t stopped the entire time we have been here.

We have had the privilege of staying in Bill and Susie Antolec’s home (head of Shoulder to Shoulder Ministry and Acorn 2 Oaks Ministry). Being in their home has given us an upfront view of the family they have “built” in Thailand, and what it looks like to share in daily life with the 11 students (ages 16-24) that call this their home. We all quickly fell in love with the “kids” and enjoyed sharing testimonies with them, playing games, and working together.

Some of the projects we were able to jump into included a few maintenance/beautification projects around the Shoulder to Shoulder home. We laid some new grass-sod patches around the perimeter of the home and moved some of the red, thick Thai dirt/clay to a new location to enhance the instructional integrity of a wall and create an avenue for rain water to fall. Although the work was tiresome and Thailand is HOT, The Lord was faithful and we actually had one work day filled with lots of shade and breeze!

We also got to bring food and prayer up to some of the tribal mountain-top villages where many of the Kids here are from! This was one of the most eye-opening experiences of our time in Thailand. Being able to put into perspective where these kids started out and what Bill and Susie are able to provide for them now by the grace of God, was inspirational. It helped me to realize what an influence a Christian home can make in planting seeds that further The Lord’s Kingdom. Many of the kids now embrace the opportunity to share with their loved ones back in the villages the truth about Jesus and who He is. They share with full, grateful hearts, sound doctrine and are making a difference in the lives they serve!

One of my absolute favorite things to be a part of while serving here was getting to travel to the homes of families affected by HIV. Praying over them and joining them in tearful worship was an absolutely humbling experience. The Holy Spirit is close to the broken hearted, and His presence was ever so apparent! We had an intimate prayer session with one very elderly and frail man. He could not hear or speak, let alone sit up, but as his hands reached out to grasp each one of ours, the moments stopped. We all left clearly changed; his face forever engrained in our minds.
Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

This afternoon, before leaving for the airport, our team was informed that the elderly man passed away yesterday. His daughter said that before he passed she found him crying. No one in his family can recall a time when they had ever seen him do so before. Soon after that, he was peaceful for a time before letting go of this world. I rest in faith that Jesus met him in those final moments, consumed his heart, and escorted him into his forever home within the pearly gates. What an honor we all shared getting to pray and worship the King of all Kings with a man in need of Jesus, mere days before he died. To witness the way The Lord reaches for each of us until our very final moments brought me to my knees in awe of His love for us. Please join me in continuing to pray for his family while they grieve the loss of their dear loved one.

Our time is Thailand has also continued to grow my love for my GJ team. I have been reminded regularly that God chose these specific people to be my “family” throughout this adventure. I’m so grateful He always has such a flawless plan! We have grown quite close, and it amazes me how much I am falling in love with them already! I became very sick on Friday night with intense stomach issues. I cried through the night, unable to keep even a few sips of water down. When the team woke up in the morning and became aware of my condition, they instantly came to my side in prayer. Not one shied away in fear of “catching” something. They loved on me and cared for me with incredible servant hearts.

I was unable to join them Saturday in painting a local family’s home and struggled with being so far from my own home, loved ones, and the comfort of my fluffy bed. However, it was extremely comforting to have Susie and one of the “kids,” Jaruwan, who is studying nursing, take excellent and doting care of me. They checked on me regularly, kept me as hydrated as possible, and continued to pray over me. Later Saturday night, Bill and my teammate, Joanna, brought me to the hospital. After a blood test, I was found to have a “small infection” (Praise Jesus!) and had been able to control my symptoms so we headed back to the house.

I’m feeling better now (not completely myself, but Oh So Much Better!) I am so grateful for the way The Lord humbled me and showed me such sincere love from my teammates and new found Thai friends! He works in the most mysterious ways!
As we head off to Uganda, I sit in awe of how great our Lord is. I have come to the realization that the greatest gifts from my time here will be the ability to share all that He is doing with these people in all these wonderful places around this world He loves so much. I can’t wait to get home and tell of all the remarkable opportunities available to serve God’s people and bring more children home to The Father! My prayer is that He works in the hearts of those of you reading this, and that you feel the call to know Him better and take joy in serving the ones He loves.

Prayer requests for Uganda:

Health and Safety – No more stomach problems of any kind and that He restores me back to myself 100%. That no one else suffers from illness.

Unity – That our team continues to grow in finding ways to love one another well.

Relationship with The Lord – That He continues to reveal Himself to us in ways we never imagined.

Connection with those we will meet and serve – I CANNOT wait to see some of my wonderful teammates from last year on the Books are the Beginning team and all the kids at Lulwanda – especially Joyce! Pray we are all utilized well and that we stay energized, effective, and teachable.

Thank you all for your support and prayers!

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Hong Kong!

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth. ”Psalm 4:10

When we first arrived here in Hong Kong the only word I could have used to describe it was overwhelming. I was taken aback by all the people, new smells, sounds, high rises, and stunningly beautiful rolling mountains… Everywhere I turned there was something new that caught my eye. The public transportation system was wildly “overwhelming,” and I noticed myself fighting the urge to stare in wonder at all the new sites because my focus had to remain on not being pushed or shoved aside by the locals. There were so many people in what seemed like a very intense rush to get where they were going, and the stimulation left me frustrated and well, overwhelmed. 🙂

Through all the excitement, I became increasingly grateful for my GJ team and the quick yet anchoring bonds we’ve already been blessed with. I was also so very thankful for the onsite missionaries that poured their love and passion out before us. They took us under their wings, gave us some tips, and showed us the ropes. Their obedience to the call to serve in this ministry was inspiring.

The most overwhelming realization when we first arrived was the number of people and the shortage of The Word. To be honest, our first two days here I had thoughts like, “I could never live here…” and “Could we ever make a difference with so many people?” The Lord quickly convicted me of my attitude, and I began asking Him to change my heart. I prayed that I would see His presence and will for this nation.

The next morning, while waiting in yet another line, I glanced over to see a young girl, around the age of 5, dancing and spinning in circles. A smile as bright as the sun made her precious round cheeks swell in pure joy, and I instantly felt love for her. My heart expanded, and I all of a sudden had a deep desire to protect and pray over her. I was increasingly aware that The Lord had given me a glimpse of His heart for her. I felt Him call out to me … “For I created their inmost being; I knit them together in their mother’s womb – psalm 139.” I knew instantly that that was how He sees each and every one of us. I knew that He would not be satisfied until ALL His children return back to Him. I saw a mother’s heart for her children and how if even one of them were to be taken from her how she would fight for as long as necessary until they returned back to her arms.

Because His love for us, I now had a new deep love for these people, as well. I became aware that none of what we are doing here is done in vain, and that as long as we continue to be obedient, He will multiply our works to benefit His kingdom. Ah, to rest in His truth! What a lovely place to be.
From that point forward, I noticed His presence everywhere! Fountains, flowers, butterflies, and happy babies seemed to appear at nearly every turn. The pushing, although still aggressive, didn’t seem to bother me as much.

“Examine everything and hold fast to what is good.”

I was reminded constantly of all the lessons I had learned in the past few months before beginning this adventure.

“To love someone well, is to get to know them first.” I remembered my pastor Joel Lowry saying in a sermon, “You need to be a student to a culture before you can bring anything to a culture.”

The Holy Spirit helped me to set aside my own agenda to simply observe and enjoy His people and His plan.

As we pack up to head off to our next nation, I sit in awe at the great honor it has already been to be used by our King. My father in heaven has chosen to use me even in my weakness. Oh, how He loves us!

Please continue to pray for my team as we serve. Pray that our relationships strengthen and that we can extend each other grace in moments of discomfort. Pray that we stay healthy, strong, and energetic. Pray that we have The Lord’s heart for all we encounter and that no schemes of the enemy prevail.
I love you all and am forever grateful for your support!
xoxo

Finally!

What’s happening:
It’s finally time to take the leap and GO! Tomorrow my team and I will leave for our adventure serving in Hong Kong, Thailand, Uganda, France, and Nicaragua! It’s a pretty surreal feeling to actually be meeting my whole team and to discuss details of what to expect while abroad.

Feelings:
There has been so much prep, planning, and prayer leading to this point.
I have to admit it’s been overwhelming to try and process all of my emotions to put them into words. When people have asked how I’m feeling I usually respond with “Excited! … And a bit nervous, too.” That response is true, but there’s also a lot behind those words. I’m excited to fall in love with people and cultures I’ve never known before. I’m excited to bond with my team, to see friends from last year, to hug the children at Lulwanda that I’ve prayed for and missed for a year, to be surrounded by God’s glorious creation and to be drawn closer to Him throughout our experience, and so much more.

I’m nervous, too. The spiritual warfare I’ve been praying through over the past few months has been some of the most intense I’ve experienced in a long time. To be honest, I stopped posting much on my mission Facebook page because I recognized the enemy was using it as a way to cause anxiety and insecurity about the trip. I had to put a filter on what I decided to share in preparation. But even that decision was used to make me feel guilty.
I used the analogy of a spiritual bootcamp to explain the abundance of lessons I feel I’ve either learned or been reminded of lately. Having to fend off spiritual attacks has already helped me to remember to rest in Him and His truth in moments of struggle over the next two months. I’ve craved quiet time with Him, and have felt peace about all my fears when I’ve come into His presence. I love that He is such a good father and scoops us up to guard our hearts with His armor when nothing else will suffice.

Tying up loose ends:
I dropped my dog off with a friend for his summer doggy-vacay 😉 in Abilene on Friday evening. Home is where my dog is so instantly felt like I was no longer at home. In addition to having moved my apartment into a 10×10 storage unit, I relocated my entire classroom to a new room and grade level for the next school year. When I dropped my pup off, all the emotions I’d suppressed with to-do lists and tasks finally came out. I started to bawl. As I drove away, my stomach twisted into knots, and the tears came with a vengeance. I called out to God… Looked to my left, and arching over gorgeous green hills was a perfect, bright rainbow. I heard God say, “Remember my promises.” All the anxiety melted away and peace in my soul was restored. Our God is so big and yet so gentle. I’m so grateful I’ll be traveling with Him as my protector, and I’m also so relieved I get to leave behind the ones I love under His covering.

How you can help:
Prayers are powerful. We’ve seen over and over the divine power in prayer. I ask that you continue to partner with my team and I as we embrace this journey God has prepared. The support I have received from so many of you really fed my confidence and secured my faith that this journey was meant to be. I could never thank each of you enough. As we embark on this adventure, I ask for prayers regarding the health, safety, and unity of my team. I ask for prayers regarding simple logistics and a peaceful travel experience. I ask for covering and healing for my back, and that no pain hinders my ability to serve and give the most I possibly can. Most importantly, please pray for clear direction from the Holy Spirit, as well as bold, obedient, discerning hearts for each team member. My personal prayer is that the Lord will give me His heart for those we encounter. Please pray that I lovingly serve my team, the long term missionaries, and of course the people we are blessed to come in contact with in each country.

You all mean so much to me! I’ll keep you all updated with as much information as possible through this blog. I’ll be posting in each country and can’t wait to share all the good God is doing!

Psalm 46:10
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”