Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Year, New Adventure

Hi friends and family!  Hope everyone is doing well and not too busy (i.e. stressed) with all that the holidays hold!  I am looking forward to a different Christmas this year, one without the usual snow and cold, but thankfully will still involve my beloved family who will be here to visit me in just a few days!  Very excited for that! Well, since the new year is just around the corner, I wanted to take a minute to update everyone on where 2011 will be taking me!

Over the past several months I have felt a conviction and release to leave Belize and move back to the states.  At first I wasn't sure if this was just me missing home or what, so I started praying about what God desires for my next steps.  These prayers kept bringing me to the word "Tahoe," which was funny because since about the 2nd or 3rd week of my DTS (which started last January), that word had repeatedly come up at various times, through various conversations with various people and so on.  Each time it occurred, I wouldn't think much of it, but I did eventually start making notes in my journal when it would come up because it was starting to become really frequent!

I have heard that when God is trying to get your attention about something he'll continue to bring it up again and again until you pay attention and respond to what he's telling you.  So when I prayed and my mind went yet again to the word Tahoe, it finally dawned on me that God had been trying to get my attention about it all along. So I asked the question I should have asked months ago..."God, are you asking me to go to Lake Tahoe?"  and me being my needy self, I also added, "well if you are, you'll need to clearly confirm it...Today!" (I wouldn't recommend putting such ultimatums on God...thankfully he's gracious! :) Well sure enough, that very same day, a random couple walked up off the beach to the base and the man just so happened to be wearing a Lake Tahoe t-shirt!  Unfortunately I didn't get to talk to this couple so I don't know if they were from there or what,  but I definitely took it as confirmation that God really wants me to go to Tahoe.  After all, how random is it that someone wearing that shirt in Belize of all places would happen to come onto our property the same day I prayed that prayer?!

Faith and Obedience.  Two words I've thought a lot about this year, and really when all is said and done, who am I without faith, and why have faith in the first place if you are not going to be obedient to what it calls you to do?  So I'm going to Lake Tahoe out of obedience and faith that there is some purpose for me there, some reason why the God of the Universe went out of his way to get my attention about it.  One really cool and reassuring thing in all of this is that doors and opportunities are repeatedly opening for me as I move forth in planning and preparing to go; already I've been blessed with a place to stay when I get there, and several people who are networking for me and helping me to find jobs.   The rest I'm just leaving to God and trusting that he's got a plan for me once I get there! :)

So, the next few months look like this:  Spend Christmas in Belize with the family, leave Belize on the 29th and spend New Years with old pals in Chicago, move in with my parents in Michigan during the month of January, travel to Indianapolis and Atlanta to love on two of my best friends who are having babies in late January, and then pack up and move to Tahoe early February.  In the midst of all that I need to find a temp job of some sort to help me get back on my feet after this year, and to help me purchase a car since there isn't the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) in Tahoe.  Can you please be praying for me during all this transition?  Also if you know of anyone who is offering short-term employment or selling a trusty car on the cheap, please let me know.

It's going to be super hard leaving my DP family here in Belize but two things make it easier:  one is knowing that I will always be a part of the DP family and have a feeling this isn't the last time they'll see me, and two is the undeniable feeling of being ready to spread my wings and fly after this amazing year of transformation and renewal!  Everyone here has been so supportive of my decision to go to Tahoe and seriously that's what I love about the Body of Christ-just the love and acceptance received, no matter what.

I can't wait to see what this next year holds and am equally as excited to share it all with you!  My blog will continue on so you can be a part of my story as it unfolds in Lake Tahoe!

Love to each one of you and best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Abundant Blessings,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And then they were gone...

Blessed, ordained, spirit-filled, energetic, life-changing, revolutionary, hilarious, fun...
A few words that come to mind when I think back on my last few months here at DP.  I do want to apologize that this post has come so late but to be honest I’ve been super busy just living life with an amazing group of students who have blessed me far more than they will ever know.
My role here at DP is an interesting one because since I am administrative staff my job requires me to be more in the office and less engaged with students as the school staff members are.  However, at the beginning of this school I felt very strongly that God wanted me to be active and involved in these students lives, not just another face they see around the base from time to time.  Though I would need to be in the office a lot, I made a big effort to spend as much time with these guys as possible and really get to know them and encourage them while they were here.  When Anya asked me if I would like to be in her girls small group, I just knew that God had something up his sleeve...
Girls small group on their last morning in Belize!
Well three months have passed since then and quite honestly they have been some of the best months of my life.  God has shown me SO much of who he is through these students, and even though I set out to be a blessing and encouragement to them, I feel like I am the one who is walking away blessed and encouraged!  As my good friend Dina would say, my emotional bank account has been filled up!  It has been so life-giving just to be around them!  To see them be real and go deep, to watch their faces light up during their “A-ha” moments, to see them worship shamelessly, to catch a glimpse into their souls and all God is doing there, to hear about where they’ve been and where God is taking them, to sense their deep and passionate desire to know Him more, to laugh with them and see how creative and talented they are....all this has brought so much joy to my life!  It has been an honor that they would let me share a little piece of their journey!
Today they left for outreach and took a little piece of my heart along with them.  I am so sad to see them go but excited at the same time for what’s ahead.  They are off on their outreaches to Honduras and the Philippines so please be praying for them!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Falling into fall!

These past few weeks I have been missing fall soooo much!  I miss the crispness of the air, the turning leaves, getting to wear cute sweaters, boots, and scarves, changing my nail polish colors from the bright reds, pinks and corals of summer to the browns and deep colors of fall.  I miss Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Sunday football (even though I never watched football, I still miss the atmosphere of it! :)  I miss wearing sweatpants to bed at night, making vegetarian chili, the Farmer’s Market....I just miss it all!!!  In attempt to bring a touch of fall to my world here in Belize, I changed the background on my computer to a picture of some beautiful fall leaves and will most likely slap on a coat of OPI’s Lincoln Park after Dark in the next few days.  I’ve also been considering carving a watermelon jack-o-lantern since I am pretty sure pumpkins don’t grow around here.  Lately it’s been a little cooler than normal (although still in the high 70‘s!) and not so humid, so sometimes I close my eyes and try to pretend like I’m back in the midwest...I’m strolling in Lincoln Park on a cool autumn day, sipping my latte, kicking the leaves at my feet...and then I’m suddenly transported back to reality as a mosquito bites my leg, a bead of sweat drips from my forehead, and the tamale man rings the little bell on his bike as he rides down the beach... my daydreaming comes to an abrupt halt.  I’m not in Chicago anymore...
Even though I miss fall at home, life here in the eternal summer is amazing.  For one, there are 31 wonderful, eager, and fun new students here who are now in their 5th week of their DTS!  The school is going really well and God is moving in huge ways.  I have been powerfully encouraged and blessed by these students and have had the privilege of mentoring some of the girls.  It’s been so awesome to share and participate in this radical time in their lives and see God begin to bring about deep healing, restoration, and revelation.  Today outreach locations were announced and there will be a group going to Honduras and one to the Philippines.  About 20 of the students are going international and the other 11 are staying regional in Honduras.  
Secondly, I am working on getting my SCUBA Open Water diving certification, and am just about there!  Last weekend we had our written test, which I just barely passed, and this weekend we will have our last set of practical skills in the pool, and then I should be all set to explore the great deep in no time!  I’ve recently had a fixation with Miss Frizzle and the Magic School bus (remember that?)  When I’m diving I feel like Miss Frizzle. :) 
Work is moving right along, I finished up the project I was working on with collecting alumni information.  I sent out a newsletter and survey a few weeks ago and am currently working on analyzing survey results.  The marketing plan I’m working on is nearly done, goal is to have it finished this week!  I’ve also been helping with getting our website transitioned over to a new host site, and will be starting a promotional video for DP in the next few weeks!  All that, on top of being involved in girls small group, sitting in on lectures, and general community living, it’s been a busy season but SUCH A GOOD ONE!  
Some very exciting news to report is that I will be getting visitors in the months of November and December! Yessss! My friends Ali and Gretchen are coming from Chicago right around Thanksgiving time, and then my family is coming out for Christmas!  So excited for them to see and experience my life out here.

Last weekend we celebrated September birthdays with a “Book Club” themed birthday party where everyone dressed up as their fave book character.  Here are some pictures.  That’s me dressed up as Cruella Deville (not my fave, but I couldn’t get my original Miss Frizzle costume to work out, so this was a backup). 
Cruella Deville and "Max" from Where the Wild Things Are
Lining up to play musical chairs!

Captain Underpants and a Bible Character
(can't remember which)

As always, many thanks for standing with me and for the blessing you are to me!  I hope you are doing well!  I wanted to share a verse that has been speaking to me a lot lately, and I hope that it’s an encouragement to you too!  
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love.  He will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17
Abundant Blessings to you!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A New Season!

The past week has been a whirlwind here on the base as we have been getting everything ready for the September DTS students who arrive TODAY!  This is going to be DP’s biggest school yet:  18 students will be on base for the Diving/Adventure DTS and 14 students on the boats, plus 12 staff, the 5 Toney’s, and 3 long-term guests.  In just a few hours this place is going to be hoppin’ with new people!  I am SO excited to meet these students!  It’s exciting to think about how much they have ahead of them....and that 8 months ago I was in their position.  Crazy how fast those 8 months have gone by!  I’m excited for these students that they are just starting.  That there is nothing but endless possibility ahead of them.  When we were praying for the students the other day, for some reason it just hit me really hard that God has specifically chosen these specific people to come to this specific school at this specific time.  These students were handpicked by the God of the Universe to be here right now for such a time as this.  What big plans He has for them and I’m excited and privileged to be a part of their journey!

Me and some of my besties at the airport the night I left for DTS...8 months have FLOWN by!

Last week we got three new staff members, Jeremy (who I call Jaguar), Megan, and Allysen.  Also, Anya came back from the outreach in Guatemala and Louise came back from her holiday in England.  The past week has been SO fun getting to know the new staff.  There is such a good energy here now and I have this funny little feeling that this school is going to be epic :).  
Lately I’ve been working a lot on what I’ll call “alumni affairs.”  In my opinion, one of DP’s most valuable assets is their alumni.  There is no better voice than of someone who’s already been through DP and can tell potential students about their experience, or someone who can come back and staff a school, or provide an awesome internship opportunity, etc.  The relationships that we have with alumni are invaluable.  The past few weeks I have been working on tracking down the alumni contact information and organizing a database with their contact information.  I also put together a newsletter and will be sending it out to alumni soon!  Just another way for people tied to DP to stay in the loop...especially now that things are changing so fast!  
Once things settle in with the new school, I’m really going to crack down and finish up the Marketing Plan that I had started at the beginning of the summer.  I just have a few loose ends that I need to tie up on that and hopefully it should be good to go for DP to have and distribute to their board members.
Well, I need to go and help with last minute things before the students get here.  Thanks to all for your ongoing support and love, and for being a part of this awesome journey God has me on.  
With the Wind,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On Following my Bliss....

During my travels I’ve had many chances to meet and talk to some really interesting people.  Our lives have intersected during various points in their journeys and I’ve loved hearing their stories.  It’s gotten me thinking about the fact that most everyone I’ve met is, in some way or another, seeking something more than that which they already have;  whether it's an adventure in the Amazon, inner peace at an Ashram in India, plastic bags to weave into purses and sell in the streets of Bangkok, a college education in Belize City, or the love of their life in Chicago.  Knowledge, experience, relationship, necessity...these “things” are what propel them to move, what feed their energy in their everyday lives. Everyone in their own way is searching for “more;” following after their bliss by doing what leads to happiness and a sense of satisfaction. 
I’m in Chicago this week visiting friends and family and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked how long I’ll be in Belize and what I’m going to do next.  I wish I had a better answer but honestly I don’t know, and I am slowly coming to a place where I’m ok with not knowing.  For me, being willing to live in the unknowingness of life is my way of following after my own bliss, because it brings me closer to God.  Author Mike Erre says that we waste much our time trying to “find out God’s will for our lives,” while living in a constant state of worry that somehow, we might miss it.  Erre challenges his readers to quit worrying about finding out what God’s master plan is for our future, and instead being obedient to what he has called us to do today.  Putting others above ourselves through living and learning in love, being selfless in our actions, speaking less, listening more, and doing this all in humble adoration of God and His kingdom is His will for our lives; and we can start doing this right now.  For me, following after my bliss is being obedient to what God has called me to do today, so that I may fully understand His love for me and in turn be able to love and bless others.  And I know that I have grace to catch me when I stumble and fumble in the process.  
It brings a lot of peace to know that I’m smack dab in the middle of His perfect plan for my life, a plan that will prosper me, not harm me.  While I don’t know what all that plan entails, the joy that I have experienced through being intentional and obedient brings me hope.  It encourages me to keep living day-to-day and pushing forth even if there is no visible light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve learned sooo much this year and I am content in the season of life that I’m in.  I don’t know what bliss looks like to everyone, but what I’ve learned over the past seven months is what it looks like for me.  It’s waking up each day and dying to myself all over again.  Putting my wants and desires on the table and saying to the Lord, “take it.”  It’s trying my best to act out of love even though it may not be easy or come naturally.  It’s spending every day in the arms of a loving Father who will never leave me nor forsake me, and living in the comfort and hope that comes with that truth.  That, to me, is bliss.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Life these days...

Greetings from Central America!
Well I have been here almost exactly a month now...hard to Belize, huh?  :)  I'm located on an island called Ambergris Caye, which is a bit to the east of the mainland of Belize.  It's tiny slice of paradise in the Caribbean, which has (so-far) been clear of any hurricanes and overly dangerous tropical storms.  Look it up on a map sometime and start making plans to come visit me!  :)
I arrived on June 8th and spent that week settling in and getting reacquainted with life on the base.  I'm sharing a room with two other girls on staff, Alyssa and Louise.  The April school is already in week 11 of their lecture phase, so one more week and they'll be taking off for their outreach to Guatemala!  It's been really fun getting to know the new students and do life with them for the past few weeks.  Last week, I said goodbye to Kristin, or K2 as we called her, who became a very dear friend to me.  Kristin recently graduated with her masters in accounting from UT and was here for just a month volunteering at the base.  We hit it off almost instantly and had a blast hanging out.  I was sad to see her go.  :(
Now that I'm back on base as an intern, my official title is "Communications Coordinator." Basically I am involved in anything that someone may hear, read, or see regarding Destination Paradise.  Right now I'm working on a marketing plan, which involves a lot of research and strategy.  I'm having a lot of fun with it though and learning a ton of new stuff about social networking and marketing strategy.  A lot of people have asked what a typical day looks like, you go!  6:30 get up, 7:00 breakfast, 7:30 read, 8:00 worship and devos, 9:00 work on marketing stuff, 1:00 lunch, 2:00 work on marketing stuff or other projects, 4:30 workout, 6:30 dinner, after dinner hang out/read/watch movies/whatever and then bed.  Pretty typical schedule for a weekday, and then on the weekends I'll often go into town which is about 15 minutes away, or do something like ride bikes, kayak, relax by the pool, etc.  

This past Wednesday was my 26th birthday (thanks to everyone who sent me some love on FB!).  It was a great day.  I woke up to a sweet birthday poem and flowers from my lovely roommate, Louise.  My other roommate, Alyssa made me dirt pudding (YUM!)  and then at night we had a bonfire.  So fun!  It was a wonderful celebration of a wonderful 26 years!  Woo hoo!
I am definitely living the island life here, where things are a lot sloooower and I have much less of the daily grind I became accustomed to living in Chicago.  I'm actually still getting used to the pace of things here and the flexibility of my work and life right now.  For the first few weeks I was feeling stir crazy and anxious/antsy being here.  But it's starting to become more normal to me, even though I've had to very purposefully allow myself to take things down a notch or two.  I'm learning to enjoy the quiet, the solitude and simplicity of my life, and embrace the time to just be with God and in fellowship with other people.  
I don't want to make this too long but, I do want to send out a prayer request for my director Chris.    As many of you know already, Chris was involved in a horseback riding accident about 3 weeks ago.  He was thrown from the horse and suffered instantaneous head injuries causing his brain to swell and bleed.  He spent 2 1/2 weeks in the ICU in Belize City, and part of that time he was in a medically-induced coma.  Fortunately he was released from the hospital on Sunday after CAT scans came back normal, however he still has a long way to go in the recovery phase.  He still experiences confusion and agitation from time to time and is very restricted in his daily activities.  We are very much praising God for how well Chris is doing, especially since all the doctors that treated him said this should have been a fatal accident.  However he still has a ways to go and could definitely use prayers for a full and speedy recovery.  Also please keep his wife, Lynn, in your prayers as this has been an incredibly stressful and draining couple of weeks.  
Well...that's all I have for now.  I'm sure you noticed I changed the look of my blog, so I hope you like it.  I'd love to hear your comments, so let me know what you think!  Also, notice that there are now seperate pages for things like photos and stuff, which will all be coming soon!  Fancy, fancy, huh! :)
I love you all, and so appreciate your friendship and support!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Forever Ruined for the Ordinary

Hello and welcome back to my blog! Yes it’s been awhile and so much has happened so let me start where I left off... Delhi

After spending about 2 weeks at the orphanage in Pune, we took the train to Delhi and stayed in Pahar Ganj (a really crummy part of town) for a few days while we figured out our course of action for our next month in India. Going to Delhi was a bit of a “faith trip” in that we didn’t really have any set plans for once we got there, however we all felt very strongly that God was calling us to be there for that season. And in the end, everything worked out in such a way that we felt our decision to go there was very much affirmed.

Back in Pune during the last few days we were there, a young doctor named Ben came to visit from England. He had connections with the orphanage through his church at home. We had some great times with Ben during those last few days and he quickly became like another member of our team. He was set to leave Pune a day before us, fly up to Delhi and then catch his flight back to England. Well during our train ride to Delhi we got a message from Ben saying his flight had been cancelled due to the volcano in Iceland so we made plans to meet up with him once we got to Delhi. As it turns out, Ben was staying with a guy named Joshua David, who he had met during some conference back in Pune. Ben told Joshua all about our team and our ‘situation,’ and Joshua, being a former YWAMer himself, invited our whole team to stay with him and his family for the remainder of our trip!

Joshua is an anchor for a Christian television network in India called CBN and is very involved with the evangelism efforts of his church. He connected us with his church and before we knew it we were plugged into a wonderful church community and serving with them by teaching Sunday school classes and teaching in their slum schools. Apart from that we plugged into their college ministry and did some dramas and speaking at their weekly meetings.

We were so grateful for all the friends we made at the church and the wonderful opportunity we had to serve there. I never thought of myself as being gifted in the area of teaching but I and several others on the team soon found out that we had some hidden gifts in this area! Perhaps the best part about that entire experience was just getting to know Joshua and his family: wife Mae and sons John and Josh. They were so hospitable and just welcomed us into their family right away. It was also so encouraging just sitting and talking to Joshua each night around the dinner table. He is so wise. Truly a man after God’s own heart.

While in Delhi several of us had the opportunity to go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal! It was breathtaking and such a dream come true to actually be there live and in person. I was in awe of the magnificence of it. We had a great day!

Our time in India came to a close on May 18th and I decided to fly home to see friends and family (and surprise my mom on her birthday!) before heading back to Belize. India was a great experience but extremely challenging, both mentally and physically, and I was in need of a break. It has been absolutely wonderful being back at home. I’m enjoying the things that I have missed over the last five months: a hot shower, clean bed, my favorite foods, Starbucks, TV, my laptop and phone...all the luxuries, yes i said luxuries, that we so often taken for granted. I’ve never appreciated America more than I do now after seeing a bit of the world.

So what’s next?

I will be heading back to Belize on June 7 to begin my internship on base. They’ve given me the title of “Social Networkologist” which basically means that I will be in charge of communications for DP- Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Website, etc. Trying to boost enrollment and keep all people affiliated with DP connected. I’m really excited to be back on base and get back into the rhythm of things. I may be back in the Chicago area in early August for a wedding so please give me a shout if you will be around sometime around the 7th of August and would like to get together!

When I head back to Belize on Monday I am happy to say that I will be taking my laptop with me so I will be better connected and more available this time around. I look forward to keeping you updated with regular blog posts (check back often for updates-a new and improved blog is in the works!!!) and also being more accessible via email and Skype. I also am going to work on getting a Belize phone number so I will get that out to everyone when I get it figured out.

God is amazing and I am reminded of his love each and everyday. Lately I’ve been thinking about how so many of my dreams became reality when I made the decision to follow my heart and God’s leading. I’ve always wanted to learn how to sail...and not only did I learn, but I got to live on a boat for 3 months! Check. I’ve always wanted to go to Thailand...check. Always wanted to visit the Taj Mahal...check. Always wanted to do advertising/marketing in an arena where I could promote an experience or destination...check. When I stepped out in faith- quit my job, left my friends, family, and life in Chicago to learn about and grow closer to God- He blessed me in abundance and gave me all these desires of my heart! And I truly believe He wants that for each one of us. I challenge you this summer to think about an area in your life where you might be holding back. Are you passionate about something but are afraid to do it for fear of failure or what others might think? I say go for it! God is honored when we step out strongly and courageously and go forth in faith. He is the one who puts certain desires in our hearts and we shouldn’t be ashamed to follow them! You never will know the possibilities/blessings that may be waiting for you if you don’t go for it!

Anyways, I really do hope you all are doing well and enjoying the beginning of the summer!! Please let me know if I can be praying for you in a specific way. Thank you for reading!

Be Blessed,


Sunday, April 18, 2010


Wow, I am in India! I was thinking this morning about what I wanted to write in my blog and honestly it's so hard to even know where to begin or how to put into words our experience here, but I will try!!
Starting from the beginning...

We left Bangkok on April 7 and flew to Mumbai where we got our first taste of India. Busy and loud roads, people everywhere, smells of dust, human waste, garlic and spice, dirt, colors of all sorts...sensory overload to say the least. The streets are filled with motorbikes, rikshaws, and these teeny tiny cars (all the vehicles here are mini...don't worry-our group already popped the tires of a van after piling in one day! :) ) Anyways, traveling around on the streets of India is not for the faint of heart. There seems to be no traffic rules, but rather people just weave in and out, pass on both sides, and honk like crazy. Oddly enough though, this sort of organized chaos seems to work very well and I have yet to see an accident!

We were only in Mumbai one night. We stayed at a hostel and managed to venture out to a restaurant and order some food which was a challenge in and of itself. Indian people do not eat with silverware, they eat with their right hand. So you can imagine the stares we got when us white foreigners piled into this restaurant, struggled to order, and then actually used silverware to eat.

The next day we met Pete and Richie and the airport (they were not with us in Thailand-the had to go through Mexico City instead to get their visas). Afterwards we took a van about 5 hours southwest to a city called Pune. We were in Pune the last week and a half and were working at an orphanage called Hope of Glory. Right now it is about maxed out with 30 children. All the kids have been rescued from the streets and the majority of their mothers are involved in prostitution.

It was such a blessing to spend time with these kids and the staff at the orphanage. The kids are so loving and really were just craving all the attention we could give them. They taught us some Indian dances and loved to laugh at our feeble attempts at learning the moves. We had a lot of time to just play and hang out with the kids. When we weren't with the kids, we were helping the staff with the cooking and cleaning (never before have I cleaned so hard in my life!) We also did lice treatments for the kids and helped with their daily routines like showering, making beds, etc. One day we went out on the streets and were able to meet and talk with some of the mothers of the kids who are still living out on the streets.

The entire time we were in Pune we were stared at like celebrities everywhere we went. Very few tourists go to Pune so when white people come by it is quite an event! Here in Delhi there are many more backpackers so white people are not so foreign. Although, the other day some Indian girls stopped me on the street and asked if they could take pictures with me! :)

After spending almost two weeks in Pune at the orphanage, we said goodbye and travelled up to Delhi via a 27-hour train ride. Traveling the country of India by train is seriously one of those experiences you only have once in a life time. We had a sleeper car and had lots of fun sitting there and drinking our chai tea :). The guys in the group had no problems making friends and before long they were seriously the most peopular people on the train. It was hilarious watching them interact with all the locals!

Now that we are in Delhi we are staying in a backpackers hostel and meeting all kinds of people from all over the world. Tomorrow we are meeting with a pastor who may have some ministry opportunities for us.

So far we are all doing really well and except for a bit of dehydration, none of us have gotten sick. Praise God for that. It is extremely hot (around 130 degrees) and we stay in rooms with no air conditioning so you can imagine how important it is to drink lots and lots of water!

This entire experience has been very eye-opening in a multitude of ways. I have been thinking about my life back at home and realizing how much of my worries were self-created. I have never known what it's like to struggle and worry about things that seem so basic: food, water, shelter...yet for so many people here that is life. Now that is something to worry about. I know this sort of poverty exists everywhere, but never before has it hit me so hard. It's one thing to read news stories and watch reports on TV about places like this; but to actually be immersed in this life is entirely something else. I look into the eyes of people and see the hoplessness and my heart is just wrecked. I come from a place where opportunities are endless. Where so many of my problems and concerns come from having too many choices and opportunities and here I am with people who have virtually no opportunities and it really puts things into perspective. I am trying to remain positive but in so many cases I am overcome by the hopelessness of these people. And that's where I just have to trust God that he will take care of them because he is the ultimate source of hope and life...

Anyways, I have to run but here is a link if you'd like to check out some pictures of our trip so far! The first bit are from our time in Thailand and then in Pune at the orphanage.
I hope you all are doing well and my thoughts and prayers are with you. Thanks for reading and I'll try and write again soon!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Greetings from Thailand!

We are here in Bangkok Thailand waiting for our visas to be processed before heading to India for outreach! We started our trip on Tuesday March 23 where we traveled from Belize to Cancun and spent the next day there. On Thursday morning we flew from Cancun to Philly, Philly to New York, New York to Qatar, and Qatar to Bangkok! We didn't get to Bangkok until Saturday morning! Needless to say we were all exhausted but have finally gotten over the jet lag.

Bangkok has been wonderful. We have had some great opportunities to do some ministry activities here so we are making the most of our time. We have done work in the slums; working primarily with elderly people. Earlier this week we took a trip out to visit some of the Buddhist temples and did a lot of intercessory prayer there. Today we got our hands dirty and picked up trash outside of the YWAM base where we are staying.

The Thai culture is great. I have absolutely loved the SPICY food, the cheapness of everything, and the warm and hospitable people here. Among some of the more adventurous things I've done are eating a grasshopper (yum!), having fish suck on my feet to remove the dirt (Thai style pedicure), and getting a Thai style massage (they use their feet and everything). Today I went and got my hair cut which cost about $4.50 US. It's crazy!

Anyways, things are going really well and we are loving it here but are definitely excited to move on to India to begin our actual outreach. We've been doing a lot of prayer about our time in India and actually feel led to spend more time in Delhi as opposed to Pune, which was the original plan. So, we will leave Bangkok on Tuesday and head to Pune for about a week, then go up to Delhi. Our exact work there is still being determined but we are really praying into it and trusting that God will lead us!

That's all for now! Happy Easter to you!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Weeks 9, 10, 11

Hi All and Happy St. Patty's Day!! :)

I realize it's been awhile since I've written anything and I want to aplogize for the delay! The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of events it's hard to even know where to begin! As you know we are in Belize now so we've been spending time at the Destination Paradise Base in San Pedro. We've gotten to know the students in the Diver's DTS a lot more so it's been so fun having new people to hang out with. AND they have two dogs and two cats here so I'm in heaven :)
Things have been going really well and I cannot believe that this is our last full week in the lecture phase. Time has really flown! I have learned so much about myself, living in community, about God and his awesome character, and so much more. I know that I am going to continually be reminded of all that I've learned here and new revelations are going to continue to come even after I am officially done with this phase.

Here's some highlights of the past few months as the lecture phase comes to a close:

*"Team Awesome Takes a Faith Trip"- How do you develop and grow in faith? Well, you put yourself in a position where you have to have it! And that's exactly what we did. Two weeks ago, lectures started as usual on Monday morning, but one thing that was odd was that there were 6 white envelopes laying on the table with all of our names on them. Inside were letters from our staff, giving us a challenge. We had just spent the past few days studying faith and what it means to have faith and now we were being asked to put our faith to the test. Not knowing any details of what was to come, our staff asked each of us to go get a backpack, and pack our bibles, a journal, a change of underwear, and a toothbrush. We weren't allowed to pack any clothes other than what we were wearing, and we couldn't take any money or ID's. The staff then shuffled us off the boats and out to a van that was waiting for us, which then took us to the bus station in Belize City.
When we got to the bus station, we were split into two groups of three. Then, much to our surprise, the staff whisked us onto a bus, handed us two envelopes and a pocket bible, and waved goodbye! After we were on the bus, we opened up the envelope where we found out some more details of this trip. As it turned out, the bus we were on was heading to San Ignacio, which is about 3 hours from Belize City and 10 minutes from the Guatemala border. We were to stay there in San Ignacio for two days and two nights and put our trust in God that he would take care of our basic needs of food, accomodations, and a ride back to Belize City. We were also told to pray about building relationships with people there, specifically meeting someone we could give the pocket Bible to.
Well what happend over the next two days was probably one of the biggest lessons in grace and humility I've ever had! My mindset going into this whole thing was naturally geared towards myself. "How can I show the face of God to the people we meet?" "How can I bless these people?" "What great things can I do in San Ignacio?" Well as soon as we got there, it quickly became not so much about us blessing other people, but more about other people blessing us! I could go on and on about all the details of the trip, but for time's sake here are the highlights:
-Hanging out with an eclectic group consisting of Canadian Hippies, a rastafarian drummer named Jack Rambo, a Nicaraguan gypsy, and a wanderer named Darius* (*sidenote: after spending a lot of time with Darius and learning about his past and his quest for truth, meaning, LOVE, and purpose, we felt that he was the person we should give the Bible to. He was en route to the Amazon to find some sort of natural-growing hallucinogen and spend time there 'tripping out' with the natives. We thought the bible would be some good reading material for his trip down there. I pray that the seeds we planted in his life will continue to be watered and harvested, some way, some how).
-Meeting a local named Max who so graciously invited us to his home to spend the night with him and his family (His wife, their two young kids, his brother and his wife and their two kids were living together in a small 3 room house). I was so humbled at Max's generosity. Though he didn't have much and his house was modest, he invited us in with open arms and showed us amazing hospitality even though we didn't have anything to give him. After hearing our story and that we had no money, he even bought us breakfast and lunch the next day.
-Fortunately God totally provided a means for us to bless and give back to Max as we were able to help him make a really sweet flyer for his guided adventure tour business. We found an internet cafe and spent the afternoon of the 2nd day making him a flyer to hand out to people.
-Meeting a group of medical students from Michigan who were doing a short term medical mission with a group called Pro Belize. Through the med school students, we got connected with some local people who were affiliated with Pro Belize and Becky and Kara were able to share their personal testimonies with two of them. One guy we met named Jose graciously treated us to an Italian meal our second night, and another friend we met through Pro Belize put us up for the night. He gave up his bed for us girls and slept on the concrete floor. Also through the friends we made at Pro Belize, God provided a ride home because one of the people there had connections with the bus system and we were able to get a free bus ride.
There is so much that I could say about this trip and wish I could better articulate the experience we had. I think the biggest thing I learned is the power of grace. At first it was very hard for me to accept things from people knowing that I had nothing to offer in return. I realized that my pride was getting in the way, much as it's gotten in the way of recieving God's grace. I have been too proud to admit that I need grace and that I can't do everything on my own. Also, we've been so accustomed to the idea that NOTHING is free, so it makes it hard to grasp and accept the concept of grace. The people in San Ignacio showed us grace like no other, and so by humbling myself and openly accepting their generous gifts, I later realized that we were indeed blessing them by allowing them to bless us. Too, God showed his faithfulness and provision during that trip in an amazing way. Not only were our needs provided for, but they were provided in ABUNDANCE.
I realize this is quite an abbreviated story, but please email me or post a comment if you want to talk more about the experience! I'd love to answer any questions you have!

Class- Class has been going really well. We've had some amazing speakers over the weeks who have taught on topics ranging from The Father Heart of God, What is the Gospel?, Relationships, Biblical Worldview, Personality and Spiritual Gifts Assessments, Spiritual Warfare, and God's "Pinky Promises." Each speaker has a totally different teaching style and something completely unique to offer. It's been great learning from people who's lives are a testament to God's goodness.

Personal Growth- Growth and learning has been continuous since day one. Big revelations and "A-ha" moments have been fewer and far between than I thought they would be. Rather, I think most of the growth has been subtler and maybe even something I don't or won't recognize until later down the road. Without a doubt though, I know that I am not the same person I was three months ago.
Last week was hands down the best week I've had here in regards to personal growth. Our speaker last week was Tiffany Thompson who was speaking about what she called "God's Pinky Promises." (the Pinky promises are 5 specific Bible verses that have shaped her life, each one starting with the letters in PINKY). One thing that made the week so great was that everything in her teaching was centered around the color pink which made me extremely happy b/c it's my favorite! But really the discussions and her teachings just really opened up new revelation to the way that God sees me. For the first time in my life I felt God's LOVE in a way I haven't felt it before. I've always heard that God loves me, and before I got here I thought I believed it, but I have realized that I had bondages and things in my life that were keeping me from fully letting his love in.
That all changed last Friday, when I happened to get up extra early due to mosquitos biting me. Since I was up anyways, I decided to go out for a run. This run quickly became the best run of my life. As I was running along the beach as the sun was coming up, I felt God telling me just how much he loves me and how much he thinks of me! "Precious are your thoughts towards me, O God. If I were to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand." Psalm 139:17-18. Every sight that my eyes fell on, the flowers, the palm trees, the sparkling ocean, the sun, everything....I felt that God was telling me it was there just for me, like a gift, because he loves me. The pink flowers kept grabbing my attention and I felt God saying, "I got these for you, my beloved!" He kept telling me to just let him love me....quit striving and working so hard in my own strength, but just recieve and respond to his love! What a freeing thought that is! It's really hard to put into words the feelings that I felt but I can say for sure I've never been so aware of His presence. It was like I was seeing everything in a new light.
So later that morning, during worship and devos (keep in mind I hadn't told anyone about this amazing run yet), Tiffany came up behind me and handed me a beautiful pink flower, gave me a hug, and left without saying anything. I knew without a doubt that God had told her to give that to me just as a reminder of my "conversation" with him from earlier, and a symbol of his love. Then, after devos got over, we were waiting for class to begin and another speaker who was there for the divers (I hadn't talked to her a day in my life) came up out of the blue and asked if she could pray for me. She said she had this incredibly intense feeling, so intense that she felt she couldn't even start teaching class until she had the chance to talk to me. Well she started telling me that she kept seeing this absolutely beautiful room, and that God was was bekoning for me to come in, yet I was being hesitant. She said He just wanted me to RESPOND to the invitation to come in to his love! Again, He was wanting me to lay down everything that was keeping me from accepting His love and just come in...just let him lavish me with his love! Crazy, especially considering my morning so far!
But it wasn't over yet, because after class started another totally out-of-the-blue thing happend when Lynn' s dad (who is at the base visiting this week) came into the room, interrupts class, and handed me a chocolate covered banana from the little store down the road. For no apparent reason and with no explantion! Seriously it was like God was giving me a birthday and just surprising me again and again with one thing after the next! Things like that just kept happening all day and since then I haven't seen things in the same way. It's an amazing thing to finally experience the freedom and love of Christ--something that I had thought I knew a long time ago!
Like the faith trip, this is another thing that's really hard to put into words, so please contact me if you have questions or want to talk more!

Updates-Outreach begins a few days early due to travel schedules! We will be leaving Belize on Tuesday the 22nd and will head to Bangkok, Thailand. We'll be there for a few days in order to get our visas, and then will fly to Mumbai, India to officially start our outreach work! We have the first few weeks of the trip planned and then are leaving the second half in open hands to where God may call us. So for the first few weeks we will be in and around Mumbai and Pune and will be working in an orphanage and helping out with some church planting. After the first few weeks there are loose plans to go to Delhi, but again it's being held in an open hand. Internet availability will most likely be extremely limited during the outreach but I will try my best to keep you updated on what's going on!

Prayer Requests-Several of my team members are still working to raise support for the remainder of their DTS fees, please pray for financial provision for them. Please pray for our outreach leader, Louise who has been working tirelessly on getting all the travel arrangements and details worked out for outreach. Pray that last minute logistics would come together and the peices would fall into place. Please pray for my team's last few days together here on base (half the team is going to Nicaragua, half is going to India). Please pray that we would be encouraging to one another and enjoy our last days together! Please pray for safe travels to Nicaragua and India and to the stops between. And finally, please pray that both teams would go out in boldness, strength, and courage, knowing that they have authority in Jesus name for all that is to come!

Love and Blessings,

Friday, February 19, 2010

Weeks 7 & 8 Update!

Hello everyone!

Hope you are doing fantastic! It's been a big couple of weeks here so without delay here are some updates!!!

1. I'M IN BELIZE! What? Yea, that's right, Belize! If you recall, when I first signed up for this trip I originally was supposed to be here, but due to some governmental issues the boats were "kicked out" and thus ended up in Honduras which is where I've been for the past 2 months. Well, over the past few weeks Chris (the director of Destination Paradise) has been working really hard to settle the governmental dispute to get the boats back in Belize, and finally this week he did! So on Tuesday we made an 18 hour overnight sail from Honduras to Belize and will be spending the next month here. The sail up here was so amazing. The stars were out and it was just us and open ocean. Nothing like it!! When we woke up in the morning, there was a ton of dolphins swimming right in front of our boat, welcoming us to Belize!
We are currently docked at a marina near Belize City and will be here for the next few days. We then will be sailing north to the Destination Paradise base to meet the rest of the DP staff and the diver's DTS. So we are all really looking forward to that! Praise God that we were able to come back to Belize and that we got here safely!

2. I'M GOING TO INDIA! Yea!! Last week the staff announced the location of our outreach and India it is! So on March 26 we'll be leaving Belize and heading to India for two months. Many of the details are still being worked out, but we'll most likely be in Delhi. The work that we'll be doing is also still being determined, but the staff has some good contacts there in India and are working with them to get everything arranged. I never dreamed I'd be going to India but am SO excited! We have been praying so much for this country and for it's people and we are all really excited to be there and be a part of God's vision for this country! I know He is going to do huge things and I'm excited to see how His plans unfold. I'll definitely keep you all posted on the details of the trip as they are worked out!

3. I'M GOING ON STAFF WITH DESTINATION PARADISE IN BELIZE! Big news here! As you know, the program I am on is a 3-part program. The lecture phase is what I'm in currently. Outreach as I said will be for 2 months in India, and the last phase is called Internship. Destination Paradise has a huge network of people they know all over the world and do a great job of matching students up with various organizations to complete their 4-month internship. Last week I was talking to Chris and just discussing some options for my internship. I told him that while I truly love the hands on, service aspects of ministry, my true passions lie more on the business/administration side of things and would love to be paired up with an organization that could use some help in those areas. Later that day, as I'm sitting with my friend in her room, Chris comes bursting through the door, his eyes all wide and says "I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but DP needs someone like you to help with social networking, support raising, and promotions!" Sooo trying to make a long story short, after some more conversations with Chris about what this would all look like and stuff, I made the decision to return to the Destination Paradise base here in Belize after outreach, and join staff not only for the 4-month internship, but also for a long term position! Read: I am going to be calling Belize home!!!! While on staff I will also have the opportunity to lead outreaches in future schools, which will be an amazing opportunity to travel and serve abroad.

I know this is a huge chunk of news to swallow! I told you it has been a big couple of weeks! But honestly I am so at peace about all this and am SO incredibly excited about it. The position with Destination Paradise is like a dream come true. I am so excited to be able to use my experience in advertising/promotions to support this amazing ministry. God has completely knocked my socks off here and I am so excited to be able to share that experience with other people.

In other news, as I am writing this I am working on the FB picture upload. I've got about half my pictures up and will try to put up the rest later! But you can go on and see what's up there for now!

Also, I know I say it all the time, but I again want to express my sincerest THANKS to you all for your support, prayers, emails, and LOVE. I appreciate so much that you are reading and following my blog and all the comments and encouraging emails are such a blessing! The financial support and prayers are also amazing. I could not or would not be here without you. I really do hope that you feel like you are part of this amazing journey with me and know that your support is a blessing not only to me but also to the many people that I have or will be working with in India and beyond! So thank you!

God's blessings and my love to you all!!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weeks 5 & 6 Update!

Hi friends!

I'm tired as I'm writing this; we are just winding down from a busy week! On Monday, we sailed to a small group of islands about three hours from Roatan, called the Cayos Cuchinos, where we did some outreach work all week. The Cayos Cuchinos islands are inhabited primarily by a people group called the Garifuna who are decsendents of slaves in West Africa.

The Garifuna are a friendly and warm group of people. The vast majority of them in the Cayos Cuchinos speak no English and their ways of living are very primative. Very small villages, no electricity, huts made out of wood/thatch, one room name it. Just like what you would think of a remote island village. But insanely beautiful! While we were there, we assisted our missionary friend, Renee who is a doctor on the mainland of Honduras, with some medical clinics. We did baby weighing and Renee also trained many of them on basic health stuff like CPR. We also spent a lot of time teaching English to both the kids and adults, and playing with the kids. Our last day there, we had a church service in the village where we sang some songs, did a few dramas, and shared testimonies. Overall an awesome experience!

Also, on the sail over to the Cayos, we saw about 10-15 dolphins! They were swimming and jumping alongside our boat and then swam over to the bow and swam up in front for about 5 minutes! I literally was about 3 feet from them. AMAZING!

I'm going to wrap this up because I'm really tired, and I'm going to try and post some pictures of Facebook tonight, God willing!

God Bless!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weeks 3 & 4 Update

Hi everyone and happy February! Hope you are all doing well and for those in the midwest I hope you are staying warm!

The past few weeks here have been really good. In between classes, we've had more opportunities to get off the boats to explore the surroundings and interact with the people here. Last week we made a 21 mile sail (took about 6.5 hours!) to one of the other Bay Islands called Guanja. We spent one afternoon in town and as soon as we got off our dingy we were immediately welcomed. People here are so friendly and hospitible. One guy named Wilson who is a ferry driver on the island took us on a little tour. We took a hike up into the mountains and saw some beautiful views, and then he took us around the town where we got to chat with some of the locals, play with some of the kids, and really just soak up their culture and watch them going about their day. Here on Roatan, we've been able to venture out a bit during the weekends. This weekend we went to the Western End of the Island, called West Bay. It's a really nice area, mostly targeted to tourists. I've been able to get out and do some running which has been awesome. It's amazing how much "cabin fever" really rings true when living on a boat 24/7.

Classes are going really well. Last week we dove into learning about about some of the world's major religions-Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. I am so fascinated by this stuff; learning about other's belief systems and worldviews. For my next book report, I am reading a book called Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias. It's a pretty high-level book about the absolute truths/claims of Christianity and compares/contrasts Christianity with other world religions. Really great stuff if you've ever wondered WHY you believe what you believe. Two weeks ago our first book report was due. I read a book called Jesus of Suburbia by Mike Erre. I would HIGHLY recommend this book if you are looking for something new to read!

Next week we are going to be doing a "mini-outreach" and doing some work here in Roatan which should be awesome.

And now, here's a few tidbits about Honduras for you:

The main local food here is called Bailladas. Bailladas are delicious homemade tortillas with beans, cheese, eggs, and ham. Here on Roatan we have found a place that we go to a lot because the bailladas there are so amazing. Not to mention cheap. It's about $1 for one baillada and it's enough food to feed 2 or 3!

Honduras is the third poorest country in the western hemisphere after Haiti and Nicaragua. Here's something really really sweet though. The other day when I was at the market, I saw this poster hanging outside that read "Help Haiti" and listed some things like carwashes and other various fundraisers and stuff. How cool is it that these people, people living in the third poorest country in the western hemistphere, are willing to give what little they have away to Haiti? Amazing.

Ninety percent of the population is Mestizo, which is a mixture of Amerindian and European ancestry. About 7% belong to various indeginious groups, and about 2% are African American. The official language is spanish, although most people speak some, if not fluent English. White people like me are called Gringos :)

The main religion is Roman Catholic.

Roatan, the island where I'm at, is located along the second largest barrier reef in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef). This makes for some sweet snorkeling and scuba diving!

If you have any questions or would like to know more about what I'm doing, what I'm seeing, what I'm learning, Honduras, Roatan, or whatever please drop me an email! I love hearing from you and also want to keep up to date on what's happening back at home!!!

Please also let me know how I can pray for you. We've been doing a lot of intercessory prayer, which is praying on behalf of other people. I'd be honored to spend some time praying for you.

And since some of you have asked, a big prayer request for me this week is having PATIENCE and humbling myself before my team members. Living in such close quarters and spending every waking moment with the same 8 people can really start to take it's toll, so patience is definitely needed! :)

Thank you all for following up on me and for your love and encouragement. Miss you!

Blessings and love,

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week 2 Update

Well, as I am writing this there is some sort of tribal ceremony going on a few hundred feet away from me. Lots of tribal chanting and singing and a huge fire they are dancing around. I really am in Honduras!! :)

This was the 1st week of lectures and it was so great! Our speaker this week was Jon Peterson who came in from Washington. Jon is a retired pastor and teacher at Fuller Seminary. His lectures were focused on Biblical Studies-how and why we should ready and study our Bible. We were required to read the Gospel of John 5 times in 5 days. If you've never read one of the Gospels straight through, believe me, it takes some time! We read it straight through like a novel, read it out loud, backwards, and in sections. We also were tested on it and had to be able to correctly identify main points and the chapters in which they occurred.

I loved learning about best practices for being in the Word-making sure we understand the context and history surrounding the passage (the 'what'), learning about how to apply it to our lives (the 'so what') and the action we need to take (the 'now what'). So often I've tried to just open up my bible and read it from the beginning to end and always crash and burn somewhere around the book of Numbers. So it is awesome to have been given some guidance!

While we were learning about studying the Bible, we also talked a lot about the fact that while knowledge is important, it can't supercede a genuine love for Jesus. I often get really wrapped up in trying to know everything and having all the answers. But God doesn't call us to know everything, nor does he want us to have all the answers! He only calls us to LOVE him and each other. We were talking at dinner the other night how intelligence and being 'well-read' have become trendy...nowadays people seem to be in competition with each other about what and how much they know. I'm not saying that knowledge or book smarts is at all a bad thing, but the point that Jon was trying to make is that having all the facts straight and lots of knowledge doesn't substitute genuine love and faith in Jesus. God is revealing to me just how complicated I have made my life-when it doesn't need to be! He calls us to lead simple lives-lives that are not so focused on knowledge but more on simple things like love. I think we can more clearly see Him working through us when we aren't distracted by "stuff" of the world.

Each Monday afternoon we have a quiet time with God for 1 1/2 hours. No iPods, no books, no Bibles. At first this was weird to me because how often in life do we ever just stop and BE? Before I came here I would never have even considered such a thing! But I'm telling you-God really showed up in those moments of stillness and solitude! How awesome! Just me and God-letting it BE.

Anyways, in other news, it was a great weekend. I got in some great snorkeling and did some wakeboarding too. We also discovered this iguana farm right by where we are anchored. I've never seen so many iguanas in my life! They were huge and EVERYWHERE! I also got to play with some little monkeys :). Tonight one of the guys in the group was snorkeling around and found some HUGE starfish. I'll try to post some pictures and video soon!

My team continues to get more comfortable with each other. Lots of dance parties and silliness. I love it :).

I hope you are all doing well. Please be praying for the people of Haiti. I pray for healing and peace. May God show up in big ways for them.

Love to you!