Haiti.

We have arrived safely and have settled in just fine. My heart has been overwhelmed already by poverty. No one can tell you how to prepare to see orphaned children, disabled infants, or even nanys who are doing the job of mothers and fathers for those 120 children who are orphaned. I’m incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to be here, but as I’m here I can’t help but to continue asking why? Not in a bitter or abrasive way, but just why?

And then..tonight as my thoughts wandered off into the endless possibilities, I found myself attending a service with all of these orphaned children, who have been forgotten by the person who gave birth to them, but now have been rescued by the missionaries we are partnered with. As I sat in a service with children began singing songs of praise so loudly, my heart filled with joy and my eyes with tears. I know God is going to do something this week in my heart as we prepare to give out over 500 water filters, but I can’t help but to keep asking why I, of all people, have the opportunity to help. And then I simply remember Isaiahs heart and desire to go, and suddenly, I’m taken back by this desire to die to myself each moment and serve my brothers and sisters in Christ across the world. I’m sorry I don’t have much to say tonight, our team is just completely exhausted from lack of sleep. Keep updated to see how God uses us tomorrow and there will be a TON of pictures!
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I know these photo’s aren’t much. But today I was too overwhelmed to take pictures.
Thank you all for your support and love!!

Summer 2013.

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I’ve never been shaken of my faith so much. This summer has taken everything I thought I knew about Christ and His love for me, shattered it, and opened my heart to God. Not to interpret God and what I THINK or THOUGHT I knew about Him, but allowed Him to reveal Himself to me in such a new way.

To all of you who have taken time consistently to pray for me and the different teams I was a part of this summer, I thank you with an abundance of thanksgiving. My heart is overwhelmed and taken back by the power of prayer that you all have displayed for what God is doing through me.

I want to share with you what I learned, how things are going to be different this year, and what Got is currently doing in my heart. But I will be breaking it up so you’re not over-whelmed in reading

Nicaragua was very different from last year. Last year we left with promises of return and restored hearts for what God really wanted to use many of us for upon return. We learned humility as we walked along side people in villages that are not as wealthy financially as many of us in the States, but who are so rich in culture and love. People who  desire to show you the upmost hospitality and they don’t even know you. This year when we returned it wasn’t the same. By it, I mean my heart.

As many of you know, I have a huge heart for this country and what God did and is still doing there. But this year I actually had to try and seek the Lord. Last year things were so different in a sense of going and depending on God for the unknown. This year I knew what to expect and didn’t truly take everything in until about halfway through the trip. “When we meet with old friends, we forget about being intentional in relationships because we have to catch up and spend time together.” This is the mentality I had about returning to the village we would be reconnecting with from the previous year. I thought I could do everything on my own because we would be doing many things the same as last summer. Halfway through the trip, we spent hours of prayer in an upper room of a woman’s house who spent so much time in prayer on her knees her knees had calloused and blackened.  I began to pray with vulnerability for the first time in a long time. I prayed that God would reveal to  me what He wanted for my life. As many of you know, this doesn’t always just happen. I wanted answers for every detail. And God just spoke to me..this is what I heard and this is what I remind myself of often..

“You are my beloved child. My daughter. As much as I love you, I want you to not be so caught up in knowing all I have in store for you. If you knew everything I had for you, you could not possibly contain the joy for the work I’m going to be doing in your heart. But even if I did tell you, how is that fair? You would have nothing to look forward to, and you would feel you wouldn’t need me. You would miss communication with me. When would you ask me for guidance? When would you seek my approval before moving? For when would you have to be on your knees in prayer for brokenness and coming to me-when hope is right around the corner? I desire for your heart to be in oneness with me. In order for this to happen, you have to let go of your life. Surely you know I have what’s in your best interest, so trust me Carmen. Trust that I am a God of truth, but more than that..I am your father who desires for you to succeed…”

And it goes on.

But the point isn’t to tell you all God specifically told me, the point is that we question everything in our life, what path to take, who to date, when to call someone, where to go to school, where to work, what to wear, where to move, and so on. We get so caught up in asking all of these things that we miss it. We miss Him. We miss asking God the most important question, “God, what will you have me do?” We only have one shot. One shot at life. Lets stop putting so much pressure on ourselves. You are made right in His image and He will pull you through the desert. He will pull you through this season of unknown. As exciting or scary as it may be. But you have to trust. We have to learn to surrender before we take one more step.

I’ll write in a few days about my second trip went! Road trips and not just meeting people, but friendships forming.

The past few days

Have been a wee bit tough. I’ve had a hard time here, but in a good way. God is wrecking my ideas of all I thought I knew. We are leading Wisconsin tomorrow morning & hitting the road for Ohio. Be in prayer for our hearts as we prepare for more ministry.

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We helped out homeless ministry down on state street on Tuesday

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Playing ninja just in the parking lot

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Custard for days!

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Today youre meeting Kayla! Though I look really cray cray, I adore her in this photo. Kayla attends VSU. I adore her laugh more than words can say! Its so contagious. Kayla has been so encouraging to me on this trip just by keeping a smile on her face through each day. She is an incredible listener, too! Kayla has made so many connections since we have been here & always seems to see the upside in everything. She’s super creative and I could keep going on, and on, but what my biggest point I desire for you to know about her is the fact she really cares about everyone.

Today: ↓

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Ran into a group of students on campus who were creating art with chalk. I asked the lady, who seemed to be the leader,  what was going on..she explained to me that these were first generation high school students desiring college education who were minorities, and some troubled youth. She went on to tell me this was a high school program and if they did well, they could apply to University of Wisconsin..even beyond that, if they got accepted their college would be paid for. If you know me, you know my heart for students in high school.  The fact these students are striving for a better education and someone is helping them made my heart so happy. Reason being..this people group describes hope to a generation that is like me. So encouraged by today.

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I also decided I’m getting plugged into the atheists association on my campus,  and if there isn’t one, I’m getting involved in another religious group. Today I had lunch with an atheist & his view on Christians truly broke my heart. I didn’t feel like I fully met any of the problems he saw,  but then again,  I dont see myself in the light he did. I just want to encourage you to go beyond your comfort level, for me its getting involved in something else and befriending people. For no other reason other than to truly show them what it means to be a true Christ follower. Don’t consider this a project, but something I’m being called to. Be in prayer for this please, as fall approaches. Also, this is taken in front of the building where he and his group meet.

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Opera battles.

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Group photo!

Just for one.

(Blog written late→↓ written about Tuesday.)

Wisconsin is amazingly wonderful in many ways! Yesterday our team went and toured around University of Wisconsin. It was beautiful! We got to meet the church plant we are working with this week. Red Village church is a church who’s trusted God enough to come to Madison, Wisconsin and spread the gospel. They are collegiate reaching & so passionate about the gospel. Aaron is the head pastor & the moment you meet him you’re taken back by the passion and confidence he has In Christ. I’ve loved having the opportunity to be here for just one day.
We headed to state street to evangelize and grab lunch. It was really awesome going to another city and seeing the different people groups in Wisconsin. Becca, Esther, and I grouped together to grab lunch. Food trucks, restaurants, and small stands overwhelmed us as we journeyed to find something good. Becca and Esther got Israeli food from a food truck & I, on the other hand, went out on a limb to get Thai food. It was all so good!
Shortly after lunch we walked around in different small groups and just started seeing what people thought about church and the gospel. I was so nervous. Walking up to people comes naturally for me. But when it comes to having to asked them if they know the truth about Christ,  its terrifying. But it shouldn’t be. I say that because Jesus went out told complete strangers He was the son of God. Then He went beyond that and died, for our sins. He sacrificed every moment of His life, for us. So, why should I be scared? It doesn’t make sense. So, be in prayer for more confidence in Christ on my behalf.
When we asked people about religious background we got many responses. Some from, “there is no God” to “I love Christ with all I am”. One of my teammates was told by a young girl that she was Satan’s whore and laughed at the idea of the gospel. I’m not shocked by this. But I am incredibly burdened For those who don’t know Christ it makes complete sense why. No one is telling them,  much less..living out a christ like life.

Last night we broke some bread together, to sound cliche. Becca, Keith, and I all cooked dinner for our team. Of course this gave my heart so much joy.

Its incredibly hard to blog about this trip. Hard because I’m not somewhere building something or doing a vbs. Literally each day is different. Maybe similar set up, but each day is different. Conversations are hard when you have your beliefs and who you’re talking to has complete disbelief. Conversations are hard when you feel intrusive. Most people don’t want to hear the gospel because people are yet to show them with their actions what the gospel is. People just like throwing faith around like candy on Halloween. If it’s easy and someone is looking for it, we freely offer it in abundance. However, if we have to make an effort to tell people about it..well we’d just rather not deal with it to be blunt.


Becca, Russ, and Matt all joined with me for a run at 6 A.M. although the guys left us, it was refreshing.

Shopping for our group!

Got to visit University of Wisconsin in all it’s glory.

Food truck vibes.

Beccas Israeli food!

Lunch!

Thai food!

My dear friend Becca

Today you get to meet Taylor! She attends North Georgia college. Although she is more introverted than some teammates, she is one of the most wise & on fire people I’ve encountered since college. Taylor is someone so set free from this idealistic mentality of having to always lead everything and be the center of every ministry just to be effective. I’m learning from her that sometimes when you’re quite, it says a lot more than any words ever could. Taylor is truly a woman of God & it’s evident by the way she lives her life. When I’ve approached her, about anything, she’s filled with discernment and pur wisdom. I’m encouraged by her faith.
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Dinner with friends!

38 hours.

38 hours. 2, 280 minutes. 136, 800 seconds. This is how long it has taken us to be tucked in our rooms in Wisconsin. Our journey is just beginning. I cannot express the relationships that have been built with my teammates in this short amount of time. I was asked today, by a church plant we attended, how many years we had known each other. The person was shocked to hear a few days.
We are a team of 12 students and 2 men of God leading our team. Each day I will introduce to you a new teammate.
Our road trip began early Saturday morning. There was no timidity or awkwardness. Just a group of college students incredibly excited to have the opportunity to spread the gospel in different states over the next few weeks. (Especially my teammate Caleb, who feels called to plant and pastor a church.) Each individual has their own sense of humor that is so unique. If you know anything about me, you know I enjoy a good laugh. Relationships and bond are coming as a peace of cake. Our bus ride yesterday was about 11 hours filled with conversation, being coached by one of our leaders Chad,  sleep, food, sleep, and stopping at Metropolis ←home to superman and the daily planet. We had a smashing time! Our night ended and began in Illinois. The hotel was nice and we got to stop at Redeemer church. We learned such a truth that ive never thought of: “if you know what you’ve been rescued from-you’ll appreciate the rescue more.” I was so taken back by that! I mean, really think about that.
After Redeemer, I had an amazing conversation with a 24 year old lady about singleness. I cannot tell you how encouraged I left that conversation. Its insane to think of how God sets things up exactly when we need to be reminded of truth. Our team grabbed lunch, toured University of Illinois, talked with Chet (lead pastor of Redeemer church), and headed to Wisconsin. Chad took us to Culvers for dinner, and we headed back to where we are staying for devotion and testimony. Russ shared from Romans 8 on how the Holy Spirit pleads on our behalf when we don’t have words, and Lindsay shared amazing things God has done in her life.
I’m excited for this trip and how God will show us a new side of Him. We are patiently waiting for how He will use us tomorrow on campus. Be in prayer for us the next two weeks friends!

Here are photos from the trip:

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Meet Becca. She is who I’m introducing today! She grew up in Carrollton, so we have a lot of mutual friends, yet we never met prior to this trip. I’m so thankful for her calm, yet crazy spirit. She and I clicked the first time we met. I’m so encouraged by everything God has done in her life. She goes to Shorter, enjoys long walks on the beach, hiking, pitch perfect,  and… well my point is, she’s fabulous. I’m so thankful God placed her on this trip because I needed someone in my life who overflows joy. That’s Becca. I’m so encouraged to see someone still getting more excited about the gospel as each day passes, like Becca expresses.

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Prayer walking over Illinois

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Prayer before church

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Oldest corn field in the U.S.

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Gnome who travels with us.

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Silly Game thanks to Russ. We all made fools of ourselves.

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Custard ftw!

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Our devotion!

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Bedroom for the week!

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Oh yeah, here is Metropolis

Be in prayer for us this week!!

Siempre.

We left our friends in Nicaragua Thursday. My heart was filled with sadness at the idea we would be leaving, but I was also incredibly filled with joy at the thought we had come to do exactly what we were called to. We came to spread love and the news of the gospel to students. We helped share love to cancer patients younger than us simply by visiting with them and sharing Gods love. We took students on fieldtrips that many of them would have never thought they would have had the opportunity to do. We gave the teachers two weeks of our time and invested in the students that they spend so much time each year equipping for the next chapter of their lives. We honored God with our actions of love, more than building any building ever could. We helped medicate students so they don’t have to worry about parasites the for the next year. We built relationships between one another that helped mold who we are becoming. We saw a raw part of God in servanthood by washing one another’s feet. We prayed for one another each day. We laughed together in hammocks during porch talks. We got real, each day. But as I said, more than anything we did, we let God do what He wanted through us. I want this mentality to continue here in the states. April interviewed some women in the community and asked them What they wanted for their kids in life. A few moms responded with this, “I want my child to be a servant.” Could you imagine if we all had this mentality. To be servants. A servant to youe family who may have hurt you, a servant to those you’ve grown bitter towards, a servant towards the kids in your community to need hope, a servant to God? Let’s take the challenge and raise our expectations. Lets raise the bar of servanthood to the point its contagious. To the point we stop always talked about being followers of Christ and start acting like Him. John 13:35 says,”your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” So what if we began truly allowing God to work through us so much that the world can identify us as His followers?

Saying goodbye was harder, but knowing each of us gave all we had gives me peace. I know God will continue to work while we are gone, not only in their hearts, but in ours as well.. our last day was spent in the schools, then at the church. The kids put on a very wonderful dance and play for ua as gratitude. We got to face paint, habe one last vbs presenting the gospel, thanks to Ali. And just spent our day in laughter, tears, and reminiscing on what God has done over the past year and this trip. One last note: when we first got there, the older students were so sketchy. They watched from the outside of the church and school. They didn’t interact with any of us. By the end of the trip, thanks to the amazing leadership our guys had, the older guys were in the church, listening to vbs, interacting with the kids. I was inspired to see the older students break down their walls of defense and join us to furthering the kigdom in the younger students. Continue to pray that God works in their hearts as we are gone and they truly grow to be leaders of that community

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Bryan and his parasite medication!

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The kids preparing our skit

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Allison and the girls dancing !

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Ali, heather, and Rachel playing ball

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Elizabeth, Allison,  and Kayla!

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Kids play 🙂

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Angie being swamped with girls wanting their face painted

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Hailey and her crew

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Painted Allison’s face!!

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Madison and her boys!

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Liz and I leading hokey pokey!

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The community of Aduana Uno you have heard so much about. So thankful for each of them.

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A final hug before we left.

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Chase and chaz stealing my food

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Best photo of chase

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4 a.m. bus ride

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Goodbye Nicaragua!

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Thank you for your generous support everyone. Keep up with me as I journey to Wisconsin and Ohio the next few weeks. Youre all amazing!

The power of healing

Yesterday we head to a children’s cancer center in Managua. Lisa informed us that it was the only children’s cancer in all of Nicaragua. People could literally drive up to 24 hours, just for a doctor’s visit or chemotherapy treatment. Words are hard to pull together for the way my heart felt yesterday. Our team was absolutely incredible. Johnny, Elizabeth,  and Madison all met a 15 year old boy who was confined to a wheelchair because of his cancer. He was so intrigued by Johnny’s ability to play guitar that Johnny felt the need to go get him a guitar. Unfortunately Johnny and Chris couldn’t find one, so Johnny just gave it to the young guy. To describe the way his reaction was would be cutting the story short. Not in length, but in what truly happened. Afterwards, Angie and I had connected with one girl, Ilulexus. She is 12 and I believe she had leukemia. She had to miss school this past year because of cancer. She lives 3 hours away from the hospital,  so when she comes..her and her mom ride on a chicken bus for transportation. She has been in treatment the past 6 month’s.
Finally,  another little boy named Elmer told us how he had defeated cancer. He seemed to have been about 7 years old. But all of his hair had already come back! I loved getting to reminded that Gods hand is truly in every situation and He still has the power to heal. Here are just a few pictures. .

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Mínor is a young boy who has been attacked by cancer all over his body. Yesterday he was so upset when he got sick while we were there, but eventually he did all he could to handle the pain,  just to play with us.

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This is Elmer, the young guy who has been cancer free for the past 2 months.

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This little guy LOVED strumming along with Johnny.

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My friend Ilulexus and Angie crafting a flower!

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Shortly after Johnny,  Madison,  and Elizabeth gave away a guitar to this guy!

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This precious little guy has had his sight lost, due to cancer. As horrible and sad that may be, He had so much joy in His heart. I felt so connected to him and the love he radiated.

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