Haiti: Day 2.

As I begin to write tonight I would like to thank you for the following: your prayers for strength and your encouragement. I’m so overwhelmed by the love I feel and have felt today, so again I say thank you.

Today was our first full day and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend it. This morning we went to an orphanage that New Life (the orphanage we are staying at) used to be partnered with. As we arrived we found ourselves being directed to enter the church service many of the children from the orphanage were attending. As we entered there were these girls singing so beautifully in Creole and I soon found myself in complete awe of their beautiful unity. I could feel God’s presence in the small room/building/class room were were attending service in.
Not long after we all found ourselves adventuring around the orphanage, learning the building. (Photos are posted below.) As heart breaking as this was, I was reminded that these children all had somewhere to sleep, and they have each other. There are so many children here dying of starvation because their parents don’t have the funds to provide. Or some have Daniels story, which was a little boy April held today. A few days ago the orphanage heard a noise happening in a trash can out of their gate-which they discovered to be a baby that was abandoned by a parent who didn’t have a way to provide for this 6 day old baby. Luckily, Daniel was found, but the unfortunate thing is there are many children like this left undiscovered.
Afterwards we came back to New Life for a quick lunch before the big concert tonight a community put on for us because 4 of our teammates are celebrating thier birthdays on this trip. During these few hours we had to relax I spent time with my mentor Michael Wahl, Geno, and Johnny Taylor (the birthday boy!!) Discussing visions of what we see happening between now and summer of 2015. Let me tell you, if you are a part of Crossroads, you dont want to miss out on what is coming up. As we continue to prepare for these transitions and progressions in our partnership continue to pray for God’s will to prevail and not our own.
After 3 we headed off to Pastor Lionel’s house for a big dinner and then to the church he pastor’s for a concert. During this time, we gave a motorcycle away to a pastor we are partnered with who will be helping us with the upkeep on the water filters while we aren’t here!
It was incredible being around children and young teens who sang familiar songs and utilized so many instruments. From the clarinet, to the trombone, to drums, and an electric guitar we heard it all tonight. We were so welcomed by the people and it was an amazing feeling to have. I sat beside a beautiful little 9 girl who held my hand throughout almost the whole service and I’d be lying if I wrote that I didn’t want to leave that moment with her tonight.
I’m just having so many walls torn down here already. God truly is an amazing God, who truly has no boundaries. You may question how I could say that after being around so much poverty, so I’ll tell you its strictly Him. He is most glorified when we are not only satisfied in Him, but also when we love those in need around us. Not only in Haiti or Nicaragua, but also in our own class or work place.

I’m loving every moment while I’m here and cannot wait to see what happens tomorrow. So far, tomorrow is our day to go to Lil Africa and begin to explain and distribute water filters..

Until then, pray for us!

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The orphanage we went to visit today
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The kitchen for the orphanage
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Baby Daniel that was found in the trash can & 6 years old with April
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Boys bedroom
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Michael explaining hoe to clean the water filter we gave the orphanage
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BIRTHDAY GUY!!! & a sweet girl
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Janie & I!
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Look out of the tap tap
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Dinner!
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Giving away a motorcycle to a local pastor to continue his ministry today.
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He was pretty happy!
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The sweet little girl I sat beside
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Johnny and Geno!

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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!