While I’m Growing Up

Somewhere around that stage of 3rd or 4th grade, kids tend to be prompted with the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” At that point, I probably answered something along the lines of “teacher” or possibly even “mom” (obviously marriage would have been implied for that particular response).

If I was prompted with that very same question today, my answer would be, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

A couple weeks ago, the staff worker for our chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship gave a talk from the book of Proverbs on planning. One of the main points he emphasized was that to have a good plan, you also need a vision. Because so much of our lives are subject to change, that vision doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to set up exact checkpoints to reach the end goal.

You know how when you’re drawing a line on a piece of paper, it’s always harder to make it straight if all you focus on is the end of the pen? But, if you concentrate on the point where the end of your line needs to be, it turns out fairly straight.

At this point in my life, I’m not longer in 4th grade (though some days I wish I were…but then I quickly realize that would mean I would have to eventually go back to braces and return to being content in the moment). Neither  have I figured out what I want to be when I “grow up.” Up until this summer, I’ve been attempting to draw my line by watching the point of my pen, but as time goes on, a vision for what I want to be (or more importantly, a vision that is beginning to line up with what God wants in me) has become a bit clearer. Sure there are quite a few small things I want to do in between now and my end goal. Learn to speak Arabic, become a better photographer, spend more time in prayer, tackle microprocessors, be content in any circumstance, and figure out how to read maps are all good goals (personally anyways…you have the full right to disagree), but in and of themselves are extremely insignificant.

If I had to respond to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” this very moment, my response would simply be “I’ll always be growing up.”

Got to thank God for that.


Return, resume & rewind

This Monday marks my two week mark of being back in the States from England. The second week of classes is almost over and things seem to flowing fairly well. It didn’t take too long to adjust to riding on the right-side of the road, but acclimating to weather that goes well beyond 70 degrees in temperature it a bit tougher. =]

Aside from environmental adjustments, I’ve been able to settle in to school and such, but specific things from the trip this summer have started to process. I no longer spend the entirety of my day with the same group of girls, sharing in constant community. I can carry on through the whole day without even being held accountable to anyone, if I so choose. While the independent side of my nature thoroughly appreciates this, I keep feeling God tug at me in different ways saying, “Do not stray away and hide. Seek out true community and live in full.”

In sensing a push towards a direction I didn’t quite like or understand very well at the time, frustration and anxiety took over and left me pretty empty. While working out this bit of mess, I finally rummaged through II Timothy, and found this passage:

I have been reminded of your sincere faith…and, I am persuaded, now [faith] lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

II Timothy 1:5-7

*punch in face*

But in all honesty, that’s something I really needed to hear. Consistently seeking out solitude in my frustration is not what is supposed to happen. Hiding behind whatever I’m facing does not help to “fan the flame”… it just heaps sand over the coals.

And the Farewells begin…

This morning I just finished up working through exit interview material and it’s starting to sink in that I will be back to Stateside a week from today. Leaving my second family here in the girls’ houses isn’t going to be easy and I’m already receiving threats about my passport disappearing. =]

In just a couple weeks I will be returning to Virginia Tech to start my junior year and I can already tell things will not be the same. Yes, I have spent my summer sticking flyers into people’s letter boxes, bag packing at the supermarkets, working in a furniture shop, and cleaning house, but it has been so much more than that.

I have seen broken people restored. These same broken people have now stepped up into leadership and are doing the same things in other people’s lives, including mine. I have been encouraged, convicted, and humbled by these chosen people and wake up some mornings overwhelmed by the privilege I’ve had to live with them.

Now I may not be going back home to live with former alcoholic, gang leaders, or heroine addicts, but I still have a call to “bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives” (Isaiah 61:1-3). I am not limited to doing that here in Birmingham, England, but have the responsibility to carry out that command wherever I am.

This summer has been a truly incredible journey, but it won’t end the minute I get on that plane. Your many prayers and words of encouragement have been an amazing source of strength and I thank God so much for that. Hope to see most of you very soon! Cheers!

– This Sunday we will have a baptism for a handful of people here; prayer that they would be protected from second guessing themselves; praise for them making the decision to do it!
– The girls in our house in particular are suffering from quite a few tooth/neck aches, so prayer for healing would be much appreciated
– This summer we have received far more new girls than any other. Typically the rush comes in during the winter, but our house alone has had 4 new women since I’ve been here. Praise God we’re exploding!

Culture Corner:
If you’re looking for bacon as you would say in the US, you’ll find two kinds here in the supermarkets. One looks more like ham, and is simply called “bacon.” Strips of bacon (like you would normally think of) are called “bacon rashers.” Also, I tried bacon flavoured soda the other day… it’s awful, just don’t do it ever.

In the Land of Eire

I apologize ahead of time if this post doesn’t make much sense. Another American intern and myself were able to get away this weekend to visit Betel of Ireland and I am taking advantage of the extra internet time. =]

In any case, it’s been such a blessing to wander around Ireland seeing everything from the Irish Sea, to the numerous cathedrals in Dublin, to simply just spending time with the couple (especially the wife) who run Betel of Ireland. Unlike Britain, it’s very hard for Ireland to keep many of their guys in Betel. Currently, they have eight guys living in the men’s house and no women’s house yet. It can be really frustrating and hard not seeing fruit coming from the ministry quickly, but seeing God work in even this small part of Betel is amazing.

At times it’s very easy to only look at situations from a short term perspective instead of living in faith that our mighty God will provide. And by living in faith I mean approaching every moment with the anticipation that God’s going to blow your mind with something.

– As mentioned, prayer for perseverance for the couple leading Betel in Ireland
– Continued patience with one another in our houses back in England
– Continued joy as I (and the other American intern here) finish up our last couple weeks… bittersweet they may be

Culture Corner:
In Ireland, a game called “Gaelic Football” is played within the country (Australia is the only other country that plays a game similar to it, but their rules vary a bit more). The ball is much like a football (or soccerball for the Americans out there) and it can be dribbled, kicked, or passed; a VERY fast paced game. Think American football, meets soccer, meets volleyball, meets… well just Youtube it.

Moved in!

All Oldbury girls have moved into their new homes! Thank you so much for your prayers. We definitely had a smooth move and a really good transition into our lovely new abode. Prior to the move, the girl’s houses were a good 20minutes away from each other, which meant fellowship and community time for the girls was kind of difficult. But now, we barely have to step out the door to see our neighboring sisters.

When I first arrived, living in community here was described to me as a “pressure cooker of sanctification.” Hits the nail right on the head.

Everyday consists of eating, working, and everything else together. We have the opportunity to have incredible conversations about life, struggles, joys, and pains. It is such a vulnerable place for God to shape and mold us, that I can’t thank Him enough that I can first hand witness his work. Living at a comfortable temperature in life is an easy place to fall into, but room temperature doesn’t exactly cook food to a consumable state. I would really challenge you (and I’m speaking to the choir here) that if you live in room temperature pot, step into the pressure cooker and see how God can heat up your life.

Prayers & Praises:
– Move went well!
– Strength for our new girl as she gets ready to start working jobs this week and go to church for the first time

Culture Corner:
– Baked beans on toast is a common breakfast here. Tried it for the first time this morning and it was actually quite tasty.

Fish & Chips

It’s hard to even decide where to begin to describe what’s been going on in Birmingham the past couple weeks. The days are incredibly quick, full, and at times entirely exhausting. People coming and going, praises being sung and spiritual battles raging, but in the midst of it all, God has dominion, power, and everything in His hands. What a wonderful promise He has given to us, yet so hard to remember.

Don’t have much time to write, but if you could keep us in your prayers this week (especially with our move), it would be really appreciated!

– Opportunity to meet with all the Betel centers this past weekend for a worship/conference
– Our newest new girl is doing really well

– We are moving to a new house down the road this week (Tuesday… as of now); chaos (very much an understatement  ) would be minimal
– Hearts would be open to change and healing would continue to take place
– Finances are really under pressure at the moment especially rent payments; prayer that God would provide just enough for us

Culture Corner:
Different cuts of potatoes have very specific names. For instance:
– Crisps: basically potato chips
– Chips: French fries
– Wedges: thicker fries in a half moon shape

And one of the most artery clogging delicacy I tried while trying fish and chips for the first time was a “chip buttie” (slice of white bread, butter, chips, and lots of vinegar and salt). The English love it, and you don’t argue with an Englishman.

Want what you want or want what you need?

Praise be to God for all your letters, prayers, emails, and encouragements all the way around! It has truly been an answer to prayer for me this week. Now that I’m adjusting to the schedule and things, God is working in me in new ways.

I typically am not a person to share with God and other people what I’m going through. By doing so, I build up pride in thinking I can deal with struggles on my own… no problem right? Wrong.

In a sermon one of the speakers did last Sunday was on Acts 3. He touched on things in our lives that we want. Simple concept: we want the things we want, which normally conform to our human nature. However, very few times do we want the things we need.

For me, this consisted of wanting comfort, but by my own efforts and means rather than seeking out the instruction of God and resting in His presence. Thankfully, He has used this weakness in me to push me closer to Him and acknowledge the fact that He desires me to come to Him and allow others to pray for me.

With that being said, here are a few praises and requests He’s brought to me:
– one of our new ladies is doing fantastic! Her love for Jesus is growing daily, and she has come out during small group bible study to share this. It is so encouraging to see her mature.
– Continual flow of food donations (all of Betel relies on the grocery stores in the area for our food; such a blessing!)

Prayer Requests:
-Our other new girl is really struggle with being in Betel and is still resisting God. She is open, but doesn’t quite seek change, and would really like to leave. She is so full of life and has so much potential, but just pray God would open her heart to him.
-Details for our new property in Coventry need to be figured out; prayer for those in charge that things would flow smoothly
– For the house leaders; it’s a stressing job running a whole house of people and daily they need a lot of patience and strength

Culture Corner:
There is, in fact, evidence of modern-day Hobbits living in Birmingham. This has been made clear to me by the copious amounts of door knobs in the middle of doors (granted the doors are not round, but it must be an evolutionary effect of Hobbit homes).

A New Kind of Small Group

With officially one week into the trip, I still feel as though I just got here but also as if I have lived here forever. Hopping in the car as a passenger on the left hand side is no longer foreign, and I have quickly adjusted to drinking tea at least 3 times a day (no complaints there).

There is no doubt that God is at work here. In the short time I have been here I have heard stories of both men and women close to death who have been awakened by the Holy Spirit.

This past week (and for the rest of the time I’m here), I had the opportunity to attend one of the small groups that meet on Tuesday evenings. For those of you who have attended small groups, they were probably comprised of mainly other Christians. Here, I am in a group of several men and women who have either just accepted Christ as Saviour or are not saved yet. This past week we studied Jesus birth and specific Mary and Joseph’s faith. The discussion revolved mainly around how we would be willing to risk as much as Mary and Joseph in our own lives as a demonstration of trusting God in our own lives. Because the men and women who come into Betel are either coming off alcohol, drugs, etc., these were some of the initial things brought up about what they had to give to God to trust in Him.

However, these were not the only things. Many of their family and friends despised and rejected them when they turned to Jesus and wanted to dedicate their lives to Him. Much like Mary and Joseph, they risked their relationships with people in order to devote their lives to God. Luke 9:23-26 sums this up well:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Consider this yourselves. What things are holding you back from complete trust and faithfulness to God?

Prayer Requests:
– Continued strength in going about jobs day to day
– [praise] New girls in our house are adjusting well!

Culture Corner:
I have had my first lesson this week in learning Welsh! First lesson: Head, shoulders, knees, and toes song.

– Head: Pen
– Shoulders: Es-cree-thigh
– Knees: co-zi-ha
– Toes: tride
– Eyes: Es-tee-ide
– Ears: Cles-tee-ide
– Nose: Troid
– Mouth: Keg

Like a Box of Chocolates…

Good evening from Windmill House in Birmingham, England! I finally arrived here Friday morning and took my first breathe of fresh English air as I stepped off the plane (actually it smelled more like plane fuel and baggage, but that’s beside the point).

In any case, I am living in one of the two girl’s homes in Oldbury (Windmill House is the men’s home in Birmingham and is where we can use the internet). About ten other girls (ranging in age from about 20-50 years old) are in the house, two of which just arrived about a week ago, but are doing quite well so far. Only arriving here this weekend, I haven’t experience a “typical” day yet (I have been told that Betel on a day-to-day basis is like a box of chocolates… you never know whatcha gonna get), but I was able to help with passing out flyers on Saturday morning, which advertise the various services Betel offers.

Betel runs several refurbished furniture shops, a gardening business, and also sends out Betelitos to do bag packing in grocery stores to bring income into the ministry. During a Betelito’s first two weeks in a home, they are only given chores around the house to do given the fact they have just come off of whatever kind of addiction(s) they had. It’s a long two weeks for the incoming girls as they cannot make phone calls, use the internet, or really even leave any room by themselves without someone in the house responsible for watching over them (one of the new girls calls this “babysitting”).

Well I don’t want to make this a cumbersome update, but I really can’t wait to see how God will stretch me and bless me through the girls here and appreciate your willingness to continue to pray. =]

Prayer Request(s):
-New girls in the house (an older woman in her 50s and young girl in her 20s); patience and strength during their two-week

Culture Corner:
English cars are tiny for a good reason. Roads are narrow and with people parking on the sides doesn’t help much. Think Mario Kart.

Cheerio to the States!

This time last week I was scurrying about the house trying to make sure I had everything packed (unfortunately I didn’t, but my mother graciously mailed these forgotten items to me… love you mom!) for orientation before flying out to England. Now, I’m done with orientation and am getting ready to fly out tonight from Philadelphia where I will be meeting another WEC team in London and catching a ride to Birmingham.

(Afternoon trip to Philly with the two other girls in orientation with me; they are not going to England)

I arrived at WEC’s United States sending base in Fort Washington, PA last Tuesday evening. The pictures give a much more accurate depiction of how beautiful it is here (and yes it is a legitimate castle…used to be a vacation home, then attempted military school, and finally WEC purchased it), so I will simply let them speak however many thousand words they will speak.

To give a quick rundown of orientation, we have had sessions full of things like culture shock (as well as accepting different cultures), church planting, learning how to ask for kimchi in Korean, what God says about missions, as well as how we are to respond to His call to reach the world with the message of His love. As a body of believers, we the church have the privilege as well as the responsibility to share the wondrous news of salvation and God’s end goal for man (to glorify Him forever) to every people group in the world:

And they sang a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”

Revelation 5:9

Prayer Requests
– Safe travels today (for both myself and the other WEC team I will be meeting in London)
– God would continue to prepare my heart
– Continued prayer for the women in Betel (I will definitely try to provide more specific requests as learn more over the next several weeks)

Thank you once again for your prayers! They are truly coveted and again PLEASE let me know of any exciting things God’s doing in your life or how I can be praying for you. =]

In His service,