Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Change In Plans

Have you ever thought you were sure of what God's plan was for your life, only to find that what you thought it was wasn't exactly what He had in mind? I have encountered this exact situation since I have been here. I will explain, but first let me say I do love it here. I love the communities. I love the people. I love the simplicity. This will always be a home away from home for me.

I am one who believes that God's call for all who love Him is to go out and make disciples. That is always what we are called to do, whether near or far. I have had opportunities to do both throughout my lifetime and it has been very clear to me for many years that God has laid Juarez heavy on my heart and I have come here every chance I have had. A few years back I believe I was called to a longer term of ministry here, feeling as though it was supposed to be for a year. Throughout my planning process for this trip and my support raising, it became evident that a year was not going to be possible right now. But I was dedicated to be here for however long I could be because I was sure that is what I was called to do. In my last post, I informed everybody that because I did not drive my own vehicle down here as planned, it allowed me to have enough money to stay through December. But shortly after that post, I began to get a very unsettling feeling and I began to pray about it. After praying, this is what I believe God is directing me to do: I believe I am right where I am supposed to be for this time, but I do not believe my time here is supposed to exceed a couple months for this trip. I still believe I have a calling here in my future for a longer period of time, but it is not supposed to be right now. So, I will be returning home August 15 after all of the Back to School parties are done here.

One thing that I do not want to be left unsaid is that I have been incredibly blessed and humbled by the amount of prayer and financial support that I did receive for this trip. It is all much appreciated and I would not have been able to come without the help of my supporters so THANK YOU!!! Knowing that I will have money left over after my time is finished here, the remaining money will be used to help the ministries here and projects that Rosita and Lucio are wanting to complete in the churches.

Prayers are appreciated as I head into my last week of the ministries that I am a part of and prepare for the team to come next week. I'm excited to get the Back To School portion of my trip started and I am excited to have the team here as well! :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Dios Te Bendiga

Dios Te Bendiga - God Bless You: It's the first thing you will hear when you walk into a church. They bless you, and if you are kind and understand what they are saying to you, you bless them back. And I have indeed been blessed in the 2 1/2 weeks that I have been here so far. I would like to share some blessings with you :)

  • First and foremost, I would like to announce that I will be staying here until December. Due to my car mishaps and not driving down here as I originally planned, I was able to save a lot of money which extended my stay to 6 months. God is good!
  • Last week I began my weekly visits with women from the churches in El Millon and Jesus Carranza. Frustrations and blessings spill out of this ministry. Frustration because of the language barrier and not being able to communicate what I would like to. Blessings because I do know some Spanish and often enough to understand the main concept of what is being said. I have the opportunity to get to know the stories of these women and pray with them. The blessing mostly comes from the opportunity to bless them. God is good!
  • I am always learning here. Learning about culture, learning the language, learning how to make new things. I love it. Whether I am out visiting a family, doing my daily Spanish/English class with Olga who also lives in the dorm, or simply helping make a dessert - I always learn something new on a daily basis. And lately I have been learning multiple new things on a daily basis. God is good!
  • I feel at home here. This doesn't mean I don't miss home because I do, but I am comfortable here which is a huge blessing for a 6 month stay. I am surrounded by people I know and know enough Spanish to get help if I need anything. I enjoy the simplicity and gratitude that the people here model so well. There are so many lessons that we, as Americans, can learn from these people who live not even a mile across the border from the U.S. God is good!
I indeed have felt God's blessings so far and know there are only more to come. I am excited for the many opportunities before me to bless others, as this is what I am here to do. :)
Until next time... Dios Te Bendiga!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bienvenido a El Millon

Here are some snapshots of the little "town" that I live in...

If you look closely, you can see the border fence.

  I live here :) Right next to the church in the picture below.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Getting Settled In

I have been here a little over a week and I don't think it has even begun to hit me that I am actually here. I have been taking this week to get settled in to my room and get used to my surroundings. Rosita and Lucio and their kids have been staying with me in the dorm this past week, as well as Xavier and Olga and their daughter Mia who live in the dorm, to help me get settled.  Last weekend I sat down with Rosita and Lucio and we talked about what my time here will look like. Here is kind of what my schedule will look like:

Sundays: Church in Riveras
Mondays: Working with the youth in the morning in either El Millon or Jesus Carranza
Tuesdays: Meeting with women in El Millon in the morning. Church in Riveras in the evening.
Wednesdays: Meeting with women in Jesus Carranza in the morning.
Thursdays: Working with the youth in the morning in either El Millon or Jesus Carranza. Church in Riveras in the evening. I will then go with Rosita and Lucio to their home in San Elizario, Texas for the night.
Fridays: I will be babysitting for Rosita and Lucio while they come to Mexico and visit with church members. I will also be staying with them on Friday nights.
Saturdays: I will be helping with a breakfast for the kids in El Millon every other Saturday morning. I will also be teaching an English class in the Riveras every Saturday.

I'm excited for the ministry that I will be doing here. The language barrier will be tough but I'm still learning. I can understand more Spanish than I can speak, so it's just a matter of being confident in what I can speak. Pray that God will ready the hearts that I will be ministering to and that he will receive all of the glory!

Pictures will be in the next post. They aren't loading right now and it's time for church. :)

Until next time... Dios te bendiga!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Flexibility is Key

It's something you hear several times when it comes to working on the mission field.  At NMC you hear it during G.I. 101 trainings. You hear it during team trainings and pre-trip prep. And you hear it countless times while on the field because changes do happen and you have to embrace them and run with them. Over the past few weeks, I have encountered several moments and circumstances that have forced me to exercise this flexibility and ready myself for the changes that were soon to follow. I was rejected from the health insurance that I was planning on using last minute, forcing me to scramble around to find insurance that would cover me. Thankfully, though the last minute scrambling was not my favorite, I was able to find coverage for both the U.S. and Mexico and I'm good to go :)
In terms of plan changes, I was planning on leaving on the 17th to drive down to Mexico, taking a mini vacation on the way with my parents by spending a day in Colorado. My car had other plans. After my brakes went out for the second time in a month, and a growing crack on my windshield that showed up last week, I decided that my car was unreliable and driving was no longer my safest option for my trip. I have mixed emotions about this. I will have a church vehicle available for me to drive in Mexico when needed. That will be a blessing. And it's actually a huge stress-relief that I won't be driving as much because I hate driving and with the different policies and procedures that Mexico carries when it comes to driving and car accidents, the thought of driving a lot in Mexico scares me. I will be driving very very slowly :). We are kind of bummed that Colorado was knocked out of our plans, but better safe than sorry. And I am excited to fly. Yay! So, since we are flying, we are now leaving Friday morning, the 20th, for El Paso and will meet Rosita and Lucio at the airport and head to Juarez.
Length of stay is still yet to be determined. As of right now, I will be coming back to Indiana the 1st of October. I will still be raising money while I am gone, with the goal of staying through December. To make that goal, I still need approximately $3250. If you would like to help me reach this goal, you can send a one time gift or monthly gift to:
Nappanee Missionary Church
P.O. Box 110
Nappanee, IN 46550

*Please note, all donations are tax deductible and if you write a check please do not put my name in the memo, but use a sticky note or piece of paper to indicate that they money is to be put toward my trip.

I am getting more and more excited to go, as I am tying up last minutes odds and ends :) Thankful that God has provided me the strength to be flexible when needed and excited for what he has in store for my time in Mexico.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Time is Flying

This post is a little late, so I apologize to those who are wanting to stay updated. My life has taken some exciting turns since my first post. As many of you may know, I got engaged and we are excited about our future together! :)
 But I wanted to clear up the big question that I have received from several people regarding my plans for Mexico after getting engaged. I am still going. And my goal is still a year. We are holding off on major wedding planning until I return.

With that said, I wanted to update everybody on how my Mexico preparation is coming along. Things are coming together little by little. I am working with the church and with Rosa and Lucio to make sure I have everything taken care of that needs to be done. I'm so thankful for the partnerships that I have with both, my church and with the Ontiveros', because I would not be able to accomplish all of this alone!

As far as financial support goes, I have about $7000 raised so far. My goal is approximately $24,000.  With a little over 2 months until I leave, this naturally worries me a little. However, I believe in a God who provides to complete His purpose, so I am trusting Him and the path that He is guiding me.

If you would like to help support me financially, you can make checks payable to Nappanee Missionary Church and mail it to:
Nappanee Missionary Church
PO Box 110
Nappanee, IN 46550

Please do not put my name on the check anywhere. You can include a note in the envelope indicating that the money is to go toward my trip to Mexico. Donations can be in the form of one time gifts or monthly gifts. And I am always accepting prayer support as well :)

That is all for now. A big thank you to all who have and are supporting me!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Story

It was approximately 6 1/2 years ago when I went on my first mission trip to Juarez, Mexico. While I was there, I began to develop a deep love for the people - a love that I could not let go when I came back home.
2 years later, I made a return to Juarez. I cannot put to words the joy I experienced having the opportunity to see the people - the friends - that I had made my first time there. Reconnecting and building onto relationships that had already begun, I was beginning to feel at home and felt a strong bond to Juarez and it's people.
After my second trip there, things began to get bad in Juarez and it became a very dangerous city. Because of the danger, I was unable to return for another 2 years. During those years, God burdened my heart for the people in Juarez and what they were experiencing. When I was able to return, I was heartbroken at the realization that many of families that I had connected with had fled the area due to the danger and violence and were not coming back. I missed them greatly... I still do... but was happy they were able to escape from the danger. It was on this 3rd trip that I began to have conversations with the pastors down in Juarez about me possibly doing a long-term mission trip there and dreaming about what that would look like.

8 months later I had the opportunity to return to Juarez again for my 4th trip. This trip was probably the hardest trip on me emotionally. God began confirming his call for me in Juarez through different people and situations. In this place that began to feel like home, I did not want to leave. And leaving was a big struggle as I stood on a mountainside in El Paso overlooking Juarez and tears drenched my face. Knowing that I was going to return again was probably the only thing that got me on the plane to return home.
Over the next year I began to pray quite possibly more than I have ever prayed in my life for guidance and direction on how to begin this journey. I began to have conversations with the necessary people that I knew would assist me along the way. Last August I made my 5th trip back to Juarez with a dear friend of mine, a few days before our team was scheduled to arrive. We helped the pastors prepare for the team's arrival and I took advantage of the extra time to sit and have the necessary planning discussions for what my future would look like in Juarez. These were encouraging and overwhelming conversations as the reality  began to set in that this dream that God had planted in my heart over the years was becoming a reality. This trip was also special because my family was a part of the team. I had asked them if they would be willing to come and experience for themselves my home away from home. By the end of the trip, they understood why I love Juarez so much (and I think it gave them so much more comfort knowing where I will be and who I will be working with).
And now I find myself here. Trying my hardest to balance my life and take care of the logistics that go in to planning my year away. I just finished addressing all of my support letters and will be sending those out tomorrow. My gigantic to-do list is finally getting smaller which is encouraging to see. When I think about how I am leaving in less than 5 months, I get overwhelmed. But when I sit and process through the journey that God has me on and what has led me here, I cannot help but be in awe of how great He is. I'm excited for this next chapter of my life.
Here is what my year in Mexico will look like:
I will be living in Juarez from June 2014 to June 2015. I will be driving down so that I have my car to get me around. I will live in the dorms that teams come and stay in, which is right next to one of the churches that I will be helping with. Much of my time will be spent working  with the young women and youth in the area. I will also be assisting the churches with whatever they need help with and assisting teams as they come down.
Will you join me in praying as I continue to prepare for my trip?
Pray that I am able to raise all of my funds.
Pray for better time management skills as I am struggling to balance my life between work and Mexico stuff and several other things that require my time.
Pray for my spiritual walk and that I will continue to be in tune with the Spirit leading up to the trip, as well as while I am there.
Pray for my Spanish skills. I am nowhere close to where I need to be when it comes to speaking Spanish right now, and I kind of need to be able to communicate while I am there :)
Pray for continued guidance and direction by the Spirit, and for a spirit of obedience from me.