Saturday, September 18, 2010

Many Roads

This morning Pam and I left Elgin and headed back to Fort Wayne, to really put into practice the things we've learned. On the way home, we listened to a song called "Many Roads," by Andrew Peterson, and realized it spoke really well to the incredible experiences we had in getting to know the staff and students this week. I think my favorite times were sitting around the dinner table long after we'd finished eating, and sitting in the louge trying to piece together a puzzle, because during those times we got to hear the "long version" of people's testimonies (we'd all had to present our testimonies in under eight minutes on the first day). Over and over again, we were all in awe of the steps God led us each through to get to this point in our lives - this precious moment in time of learning and growing - before sending us all over the world.

This is a picture of my roommates for the week, who will shortly be heading off to South America and the Middle East, some to places that are closed and potentially dangerous. As you look at the picture, please take a minute to pray for each one, that God will continue to guide them and use them for the sake of his kingdom.

Here is the song, which will forever remind me of this special group:

"If you'll step inside this great glass elevator
It'll take us up above the city lights
To where the planet curves away to the equator
I wanna show you something fine

You can see the roads that we all traveled just to get here
A million miniscule decisions in a line
Why they brought us to this moment isn't clear
But that's all right, we've got all night

Could it be that the many roads
We took to get here
Were just for me to tell this story
And for you to sing this song
And our many hopes
And many fears
Were meant to bring us here
All along..."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

International Teams

I realized today that yet another dream of mine has come true. For years I have dreamed and prayed that I could see myself involved in something much bigger than just me and what I'm directly doing. And now I find that I am.

I knew International Teams had a US base and a Canada base, and was vaguely aware that they had a base in the UK. What I didn't know is that there are actually nine countries around the world that have their own ITeams offices. The leaders of each office meet to stay connected and they share a main vision and mission, but there is no "HQ" for all of them. They are each acutely aware of their own cultures and train and send out their own missionaries accordingly. There are 1200 ITeams workers in 66 countries, serving in urban, youth, Muslim, refugee, church planting, community development, and anti-slavery/anti-trafficking ministries. This is a list of their awesome values:

The president of ITeams USA told us today that his "elevator pitch" version of what we do is this: "We bring churches, schools and businesses together to help the economically, physically, and spiritually oppressed." When I heard that, I thought, "Yes! I can totally be a part of this!" It made me so excited to call myself an ITeams missionary, and know that there are so many other Christians around the world who are a part of this mission too, using their unique gifts and callings to accomplish this common goal.

I'm thrilled to be reminded that God is at work all over the world, and the global Church is connected through and for His purpose. And that includes me.

For the ITeams Missionaries of Fall 2010

For the new lights I've met this week...Thank you for sharing your stories and your lives with me. My light shines brighter because of your faith.

Here we are, together in one room
Yet called to the ends of the earth
Here we are, looking at each other
Yet focused on the nations beyond
Here we are, with a unified goal
Yet commissioned with such diversity
Expressed in our histories
Received through our faith
Blessed in knowing our God
Is a personal healer
Is an ingenious innovator
Is the great multi-tasker
Changing our hearts
Shaping our lives
Guiding our paths
To this moment in eternity
To serve the Lord of eternity
For the sake of eternity
He is our Light
And in us he put his light
So that we might

Monday, September 13, 2010

Progressive Dinner Extravaganza

I love my new missionary friends!!!
Today was our first day of training together. We got to pray for each other, study the Bible, and we learned about vision, mission, cross-cultural communication, and "the flow of salvation." We also practiced sharing our testimonies with each other. After just one day we feel like we have been friends for years.
Tonight we decided to do a progressive dinner in the dorm, so we went to one apartment for bread and salad, another apartment for spaghetti, and another one for brownies and cupcakes. We sat with different people at each apartment and told stories, played music and laughed a lot. It was an awesome way to get to know everyone, and they are all so cool. It's interesting to be surrounded by people who all are kind of in the same place in life, getting ready to set out on the mission field... there's so much we share, and this time is so precious.

On Thursday night we're having talent-and-culture show... stay tuned for further description (as soon as we actually figure out what it means!). In the mean time, enjoy these pictures of our dinner tonight!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blissful Beach Days

Well I attended Willow Creek Community Church this morning and thought that since it is so famous and huge it would be something I could blog about... but there isn't much to say. It was cool to hear Bill Hybel speak in person, and he is a great Bible teacher. The campus was a bit overwhelming... felt like an airport or a colesium. I don't think a foodcourt or an indoor waterfall is entirely necessary at a church. So I'm gonna write about my time at the beach last week instead, since I said I would. :)

Bliss invited Mom, Kevan, and I to take a post-Labor Day last-chance-of-the-summer getaway to Myrtle Beach last week. It was two days of pure sunshine, blue sky, gentle water, and my favorite: that sweet salty sea breeze. Kevan and I got to explore a bit up and down the sidewalk along the beachfront and rode our chairs up to the top of a ten-story parking deck one day to see what we could see, and we all went down to a big fishing pier the next day. It's so much fun to go anywhere with Kevan and Bliss, because people just can't help but like them, so they make a dozen new acquaintenances with every outing and I get to observe some interesting characters. I got a great tan - my only real tan of the summer - as I read on the beach and floated around in the lazy river at our hotel. We ate seafood and ice cream, worked on a jigsaw puzzle, and listened to Kevan's music in the evenings. I love being in the city, in the mountains, and in gardens, but there is always just something incredibly relaxing and refreshing about spending time at the beach...