Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No puedo esperar para Guate!!

I can't wait for Guatemala. For those of you that don't know, I'm going with The Village to Guatemala this September. Words can't begin to tell you how excited I am. I have been wanting (and trying) to go to Guatemala for.....about 3 years now. People keep asking me why that specific country. I honestly don't know why. When I was at DBU I hung out with my Japanese girls constantly. Because I love Japan, people expect me to go back there. Although I do love Japan and the Japanese people, and going back would be great, that's not where my heart is. I've never been one to have a passion for a specific people group. God gave me the gift of compassion, so naturally, if I hear about a need, I want to go there. But there are needs EVERYWHERE. Down the street and around the corner, there are 60 children whose needs have to be met by people other than their parents. If I walked down the street about 6 blocks, there are more than 34,000 people who are looking to anything from drugs and alcohol to boyfriends and girlfriends to meet their needs. People here and overseas are living on less than $1 a day, fighting for survival. In Japan there are well over 34 million people worshipping over 8 million different gods, looking for their needs to be met. In Guatemala, about 2/3 of the population lives in poverty, and unfortunately there is a very controversial baby-selling business that has been going on for several years now (I found this after I had to write a 20 page paper over interracial adoption). In Mexico, thousands are being robbed and murdered and the entire country is being turned upside down and run by drug cartel. There are needs EVERYWHERE.

So I have been asked, why Guatemala? Why do you need to go there when there are needs right here in America? Well, this is true. There are needs in America. It really wasn't until I moved to Denton that I realized this. I am so thankful to go to a church that pushes and challenges its body to live missionally ( because it's biblical). Because of my good friend and pastor at the Denton campus, Beau, he really challenges us to love our city, to have broken hearts for our city, and to meet the needs of our city because God has placed us here as missionaries. Every week after we take the Lord's Supper, we are always told, "Go out as missionaries this week." Although I've been frustrated at first for the past three summers because I've wanted to go to Guate, God told me differently. I want you to be a missionary here. But I'm here ALL the time. I want to go somewhere else. But everytime He was faithful to continue to break my heart for the city He placed me in, to love and meet needs here. And I have so loved and enjoyed my summers here. I wouldn't change that. And I know He has used these summers to prepare me for September now. And now I understand why He wants me to go in September. It's a long story but some things have changed with our church and the connections we had in one city in Guate. Used to, they went and worked in the orphanage all day and then went back to wherever they were staying. But guess what? Now, we are going to be living at the orphanage for a week. Eating, sleeping, laughing, loving, teaching, playing, with them 24/7. And on top of that, I get to meet my little girl AND her parents that I sponsor through Compassion. We've been writing letters back and forth and I can't wait to meet her!! I don't know why He broke my heart for Guatemala. It was so random to me too. Some of us are senders (support financially), some of us are prayer warriors, some of us are connectors (linking and partnering overseas), and some of us are goers. I don't know why He asked me to be a goer. I didn't ask to be one. In fact, I distintcly remember being about 7 years old and hearing a missionary family in church (the way it was presented was not good) and telling God, "I will never do that. I will never go anywhere." I can just hear Him going Haha. Oh really. We'll just have to see about that. And I remember sitting in the Rainbow service at Super Summer when I was 15 and feeling that calling to go somewhere, and fighting it saying, "But I can't eat weird food. And I've never been so far away from my family before. And I can't speak their language. No, surely you're not asking me. I told you I didn't want to do it. Please don't make me." And He made me. And now I'm hooked. I think because of the love I have for orphans and traveling internationally, in some way, I will always be a goer. But I've been blessed to see friends go and me stay, and although that was hard and different, I really loved both sides. So pray for me and my team of 12 as we prepare for Guate. Go out as missionaries this week.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy Birthday!

So today was one of my best friend's 21st birthday! Miss Grace, although I did not get to see her, is officially legal. Although she was a little disappointed she could not enjoy her first alcoholic beverage, I think she had a good day (She can't drink because she has been accepted to be a journeyman with the IMB in Naples, Italy for the next two years....yeah she's suffering for Jesus). I'll get to see her tomorrow when she becomes our fourth roommate for the summer :) It's going to be weird when she leaves in August...I'm doing this whole someone special to me is going overseas thing once again (although differently this time) so I know it won't actually hit me until I hug her goodbye and she excitedly gets on the plane. Two years...I know it will go by so fast, but it's bitter sweet for both of us I think. It's funny to think we shared our first mission trip together in Japan four years ago now! The longest either one of us has been overseas is 2 weeks. Even in that short time you go through so many things. Spiritual warefare seems so much more real and present because you are in a very dark place that is significantly different from the bible belt we grew up in. You can't just walk around the corner and go to church because there aren't any. It's difficult to find solid Christian friends because most of the locals have never even heard the name of Christ spoken before in their lives. It's not like here. She is going to experience times of excitement, frustration, loneliness and homesickness, silliness, and unspeakable joy. But every moment is worth it. I know she's excited and I am so excited for her...but I'll miss my best friend. Thank God for technology and the invention of skype! We even use that now when we're only an hour from each other so it will definitely come in handy when she's in Italy. Even though it won't be the same, at least I'll get to see her face and hear her voice. I can't wait to hear all of her stories. I know God is going to use her greatly and grow her in unthinkable ways. Happy 21st birthday Grace! Love you!

Today was kind of a rough day for me in another way. Today was also the birthday of the little boy I used to mentor at the Nelson Center (my most recent one that is). I cannot mention his name, but for those of you that talk to me often, you know what his name is (and if not you can ask me later). He turned 9 years old today! This one was harder for me because I really had no closure. His caseworker decided to take him earlier than they thought so I had no chance to say goodbye to him. It really broke my heart. I spent several months with him and it was so good to watch him grow. I'm so proud of him and the progress he made. He went from so much anger to just a little gentleman and a leader on his unit. I will never forget the first time I met him. He came barreling down the hall with excitement and gave me the biggest, tightest hug I've ever gotten from a kid. Then he told me, "When I squeeze you, that means I love you." I got lots of those over the last few months. Lots of "Miss Christa, you're beautiful," "Miss Christa, I stayed on smiley face so I could see you today," To which I would always respond, "I'm so proud of you!" Always trying to give him as much verbal affirmation as I could because I know it is something he grew up without and because of the abuse his self esteem was not good. The hardest part about mentoring these kids is definitely not the process or the behavior (which with their mentors is mostly good, I've only had a few incidents) it's most definitely the goodbyes. You grow such an attachment to each other and I'm not allowed to keep up with them when they leave. I wish so badly I could've at least sent him a card today, just to let him know I will always love him and think about him. I think about my kids often...and I call them "my kids" because for the time that I have them, I treat them as such. Although they are not allowed to call me "mom," I know that I am very much a mother figure to them. So when you get the chance, please pray for my little boy. Pray that he was able to go with a foster family who loves the Lord and will love him unconditionally and continue to help him grow. Pray that God stirs salvation in his heart. Pray that he does well in public school, makes good friends who will have a good influence on him, teachers who will be patient and helpful. Pray that he is able to use his talents of singing, dancing, and sports. And please pray that he will believe the truth that God works all things for his good, even the bad situations he's had to suffer through. It is hard for my kids to believe that God is good when they have seen and suffered more horrible things than most of us will ever know in their short little lifetimes. But He does work all things for our good and He can heal the most broken hearted, and redeem what is so bent to sin. Pray that he learns, believes, trusts, hopes, and that God will use him. And now, you can pray for my new girl I get to meet on Thursday. Although we already know each other, I am excited to be able to really spend time with her and invest in her life. Happy birthday little buddy! Miss Christa loves and misses you!