John 3:8

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Where you go, I'll go.

I would like to introduce you to my friend Stephanie.

Steph is a good friend of mine from university. We met freshman year, and pretty much instantly became good friends. We discovered that we are quite similar and  happened to be taking the same course--Social Work. So as we proceeded to go through the program together, we spent a lot of time hanging out, talking about God's word, taking pictures, going on adventures and roadtrips, giggling together, praying and crying together and praising God together. Oh yea, we also spent time being completely stressed over our Social Work Theses, and then rejoicing that they were done! haha. Stephanie and I even shared an apartment for a year. We often talked about the places we (mostly she) wanted to go and the things we wanted to do..So it wasn't surprising that the day we walked in graduation together, we both left within 24 hours for our respective trainings to go overseas. So, you see, I am not the only one living abroad.

Stephanie was also living in foreign countries this last year. 11 of them. She was moving each month with a group, to serve people in 4 different continents, in countless different ways, from loving on orphans, to building buildings, to mentoring college students, cooking for teams of 20-30 people, bathing kids in the street, shoveling cow poop on a farm, and much, much more.. I could never pretend to tell about all the things she did. If you are interested, you can check out her blog here. With that being said, Stephanie returned to the States in June, and after just 2 months has again left her home.. but this time to go to Georgia. The state, not the country. ;)

Talk about brave.
I know this post seems really random, because it's not about me.. But I have just been thinking a lot about her recently and am really impressed by the way that she lives her life. Steph, in case you didn't already know, I am proud of you! I am so glad to call you my friend.

That's my crazy awesome friend, for ya! :) 

I've been challenged so much in the past year and a half by Stephanie's writings and experiences, but more so by the heart and the person behind them. It's sad for me to say that we've talked I think 2 or 3 times in the last year in 'person', aka Skype, and somewhat sporadically through email. Still, I am just as excited for this next step in her life! It's awesome for me to think about all the things that she has seen and heard...and that now she will continue to do something about it, from the States (and maybe Spain for a bit). It's encouraging to me to see God move in unexpected ways, knowing that He has great plans for us. It doesn't have to mean living in a foreign country. Who knows? It might. But either way, there is faith involved.

No matter where we are, we must always trust that God will provide for our needs. And that's exactly what Stephanie's doing right now. She is still in the process of raising support so that she can live down south and do the work she believes God has for her right now. But she's already there. In Georgia. I'm so challenged and blessed by that. I'm sure that She would not mind if some extra people wanted to help her out by contributing to her financially ;-) so if you're interested, let me know, or go to her blog and contact her through that.

But even if you do not feel led to support financially, or follow Stephanie's blog, I hope you are encouraged to follow Jesus. No matter where He leads. So, what's next for you? Maybe you're not planning to physically move, but God is asking you to do something differently. Maybe he's asking you to step outside of your comfortable living and engage people around you.. those who have less than you, those who are not just like you, who need someone to love them. (Oh yea, you can also be praying for me, as I consider what to do when I return to the States in January.) So whatever it is, I pray that we would all have the courage and the faith to follow, one step at a time. Wherever He goes.

As they say here, "Thank you. That is all."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

You know you're not in America when....

There have been so many times recently when I see or hear something and and realize it is so typical of life here, and so NOT typical of life in the States. My friend Candice (another intern here) and I laugh about these kinds of things all the time now. So here are some of them I have thought about recently..
You know you're not in America when:

1) There's karaoke playing next door at 6am, and it sounds like it's in your house. (the walls are really thin)

2) Small lizards that crawl around inside your house are welcome guests, because they dont bother you like the other guests do (cockroaches, ants). And hey, they're kinda cute!
They also sometimes get stuck to your car window as you're drving..? true story.

3) You say a word like "grape" and your students don't understand you until you tell them it's a small fruit. Their reaction? "Ah... grip!"

4) You see little kids running as they roll a tire down a dirt road with a stick/ their hand. This is a daily game, like it used to be in the 1920s or so..

5) The kids on your street run after you calling, "aaatttteee!" and then bless you, like this:

6) As you walk down the street, you say, "something smells like poop" and you're probably right. Two seconds later, the smell has changed--it's now smelly fruit, then fish. then burning trash, then...

I'm sure there are more that I can't remember now, or I will come up with later, but I wanted to share these with you.. sometimes things like this just make me laugh.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Like cold water to a thirsty soul... is good news from a far country.

Have I ever told you about my (sponsored) child, Ruth?  She lives in Rwanda and is 9 years old. Over the past 4 ½ years, Ruth has grown to be so precious to me. She has a good sized family, including a pair of twin siblings! Some of you know how much I really want to go visit her someday, to meet her and her family, and those who work with them. I often try to picture what it must look like where they live… She said before she likes to run and play ball. I wonder, ‘what kind of ball does she play with’? A soccer ball, maybe? Does she run in a dirt field outside of her school building?

Today, I received a letter from Ruth! Man, those letters make me so happy! At the same time, they are such a good reminder to be praying for her. I see her picture in my room every day, but sadly I don’t always stop to pray. Her father wrote the letter updating me on Ruth and the family’s health and livelihood. They just got a cow! So now they have manure for fertilizer, and are hopeful that they can harvest crops this year even though its sounds like heavy rains destroyed many.  
Sometimes I just long to be there and see the things they talk about… for instance, I sent money for her birthday this year, and her father told me that they  were able to have a party for her “by cooking good food”.. He also said they were able to buy her some new clothes and shoes, and then added “and join her in happiness.” How precious!

The last thing he added in the letter was that they are getting a door for their house. Wow. I can’t imagine living without a door on my house. Imagine all that must mean: open to strangers, insects, animals, etc. What privacy or security do they have? What a huge blessing, to be able to provide for such basic needs!
this house may look similar to one Ruth would live in

SO why did I decide to share this with all of you? First, so that you might also join in my happiness. But second; maybe you also support a child somewhere in the world. Do you think of him/her often? Do you pray for them? Do you even write to them every few months?? I would challenge you, along with myself, to be more involved, more invested, really in their lives. Pray for them. Ask God to meet their needs. Don’t just send your money and forget about them like I so often have. Their lives are moving along there just as ours are wherever we are. Don’t miss your opportunity to “watch” God work in theirs.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Every year, our organization runs free medical clinics in nearby towns. These clinics provide people with a check-up, medicine, basic health and hygiene information, and counseling, as well as a dentist for tooth extractions sometimes. This year, we held clinics in 6 different towns, and were able to see a total of 972 patients (men, women and children)! I had the chance to counsel a number of the women. It is heart-breaking sometimes to hear their situations, their physical illnesses which are so unnecessarily prevalent, and emotional needs. Still, it's awesome to be able to provide help to so many people, who might never otherwise receive these services.

praying with a woman at the counseling station

pretty self-explanatory

entertaining the children during the lunch break

A tip for running International Races: Do it!

Most people who know me know that I love sports. I played soccer for 8 years, field hockey for 2, and love to play baseball, tennis, volleyball--basically anything that involves people and energy. But I've never been really big on running. I do it sometimes to try to stay healthy, but I wouldn't say I'm a X-country runner.
But thanks to my new friend Candice who is also living here for 6 months, I am proud to say that I ran in my first official race! It was a 5K here in the city.. and oh yea, it was at night!
there we are!
Hmm.. did I also forget to mention that they did not rope off the streets for the race?? Cause they didn't.....
notice all the trafic still driving normally... BAHHAA
 Because of this, Candice and I were laughing for the first 30 seconds of the race, as we weaved our way through tricycles and motorcycles... It was pretty hilarious!

still looking good.. this was only a few minutes in.


We did it!
We finished in under 30 minutes, and only walked for about 20 seconds. I must say, night running in a night race in Asia was an excellent choice--and an experience I won't quickly forget.

Here are some of our friends who came to cheer us on! Thanks guys!

One down... ?? to go!

June; the month of visitors

As I was recovering from Dengue, a lot happened here. It seems June is THE month for interns and short-term groups to arrive. We had 14 people from 4 different places come in a span of only 2 ½ weeks! Here are some of my experiences during that time:
dinner with some interns and friends
Besides the interns, my Social Work professor from the States also came to visit his family for some special occasions. One of those was a wedding which I was honored to be able to attend! I especially loved learning about the cultural traditions they have for weddings here. There is a lot of symbolism used, as they pin a lace covering over the couple. It is laid over the bride’s head, showing her husband’s authority over her, and on the groom’s shoulder, showing his responsibility, and submission to God’s authority over him. Then a beaded chord is tied around them, representing their new unity.

Plus, I had a good time just visiting with my prof and seeing him in a completely different environment! Thanks Lloyd!

While we had a group of 9 from Michigan here, we ate unch together one day... Now, I had eaten the same meal before, but this time the tuna I ate was really spicy! As I was chewing, I thought, I can't believe it's so hot that it's hurting my mouth!, but, just like I was taught as a child (thanks mom!) I finished what was on my plate. After about 20 minutes, my face was hot and my head was pounding. Come to find out, it was a reaction to bad tuna (which the nationals called "itchy tuna") and few others had the same reaction. Still, it was nothing a little benedryl and rest couldn't handle.
much of my body turned bright red from the reaction to the tuna!

The last week of June brought some good friends and some welcome down time at the beach. I loved having Paul and Annalise here and showing them around! We did a lot while they were here, including visiting our farm, and attending my English class. Paul and Annalise even sang some special songs at our campus social event! I miss them both already, and I know our students do too!

having fun while hiking at the farm!

Here are some more fun pics from that time period:

washing dishes after lunch

some beautiful scenery.. tipalia farms

Annalise and I feeding the baby goat, born the day we visited!

just a ride in a tricycle..


special music

this little girl was chasing a chicken! so cute.