Monday, June 27, 2011

back to reality...

it's crazy how different i feel since i have gotten back from mississippi. i feel as though i have matured so much, in my faith and in many other aspects of my life. i wasnt expecting to experience this much change from this trip. i am definitely not complaining tho. i have a much more positive outlook on life and im happier than i have been in quite a while. i kno that i am on a "spiritual high" right now, which many people experience after they've been on mission trips or spiritual retreats. people get on such a "high" from experiencing so much of God's love and strengthening their relationship with Him. they are in an environment where focusing on only God is possible...everything is about him...there are no distractions. but once they get back into the real world...after becoming so much stronger in their faith...they often get slapped in the face by the world. i have experienced this many times before and im hoping it wont be as bad this time.

i have gotten somewhat frustrated since ive gotten home because im still living in the world of lakeshore baptist church. my mind and heart are still there and im in a kind of limbo. i want to be back there and i feel as tho things are going on without me and it makes me sad and frustrated. plus, all i want to do is talk about my trip, but people dont really want to hear much about it. some people dont even ask :/ and whenever i try to talk about it, there's just too much to tell and i feel as though no one really understands where im coming from or what the experience was like for me. i mean, it was life-changing! and everyone at home doesnt understand that. i am so in love with christ right now that i just want to shout it from my window. i want people to feel the same way i feel. i want to share this feeling with them. but it's not that easy. its hard to evoke a feeling in someone by just telling them about something u experienced...they must experience it too or they cant fully understand or get the same feeling as u have. it's definitely frustrating, but all i can do is try and share my experiences with those willing to listen...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

saying goodbye :(

today, the two teams worked offsite. half of the georgia team went to build a house with habitat for humanity (the youth who were 15 or older), while the rest of their team, along with the alabama team, scattered throughout the community to hand out VBS flyers. the alabama team was very enthused about this because they did some evangelist work last year when they came and the kids loved it. last year, they had gone door-to-door giving out bibles and sharing the word of christ. this year, they would be going door-to-door encouraging families to bring their children to vacation bible school in mid-july, as well as, sharing christ with them.

when the alabama group came back this afternoon, they were so excited about what they had done today and the people they had met. the youth minister came and told jamie and i about one house they went to. the team felt called to help this woman and her family out. i dont remember all the details, but the woman is elderly and several of her grandchildren live with her. one of her sons had died, another had been charged with assault, and the last was living with her, but was abusive towards the kids. the mother of the children wanted nothing to do with them. the story was a sad one and the living conditions were not pleasant. the team wanted to help this lady out as much as they could. they needed food and some things done around the house. the team gave her some food and they did some things around the property for her. they also prayed over her and her family and talked to her about the lord. they are hoping to have made a great impact on the lives of the people living in this home. the youth minister even spoke with the man who verbally/physically abused the children. the youth minister was very passionate about the evangelism work they had done and they had really made strong connections with everyone they met today. the Lord did work through them today. i was very moved by what they had accomplished :)

this morning, i was asked if i could make a walmart run for some goods to restock the mercy house with...i happily agreed. the distribution center was running low on food items to give out to people because of the large amount of people coming in and needing food. i was given a list and instructions on quantities and prices of items. my list included: 25 boxes of rice-a-roni, 25 boxes of hamburger helper, 25 cans of tomato sauce, 25 cans of diced tomatoes and 50 bags of dried beans. all of these items needed to cost less than one dollar each. so i was on a mission. i wandered up and down the aisles of walmart finding the cheapest food items and loading up my buggy. it was an interesting experience. i felt like i was on the show, extreme couponing, minus the coupons. lol. i mean, i had large quantities of random food in my buggy. people were staring at me and asking me who i was cooking all this food for. it was funny! it took a while to check out, load up my car, and then unload back at the food center. i was very proud of myself though because i had found everything cheaper than it was expected to be. and i did it all by myself! haha. it was a good time :)

this afternoon, jamie and i helped do a little bit of clean up on pastor don's house. it's coming along great! it will be done before we know it! :)

today was wednesday so we had church service tonight, which was awesome as usual. pastor don spoke on john 6, which tells the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. he dissected the story and helped us realize that sometimes we follow God (or the church) for the wrong reasons...just like the 5,000 people followed Jesus just so they could be fed again. even though we may have bad motives, Jesus loves us anyway (Jesus fed the people anyway!). God knows our hearts and what lies within them...he knows when we have ulterior motives. we cant hide anything from him.

i just love hearing pastor don speak. he says the funniest things! he had the whole church cracking up tonight :) i will definitely miss him and his loving heart and willingness to serve. he is such a genuinely happy person...he brushes off the bad stuff like it's nothing. he is always looking at the positive side of things and laughing when something goes wrong. i look up to him for that.

daniela had invited pastor don, jamie, and myself over for dinner at her and her husband's (greg) apartment. she wanted to cook dinner for us. it was very generous and the food was delicious :)

i havent mentioned it yet, but today was my last day at lakeshore baptist. i have grown so attached to this place and i will miss it dearly. it has been one of my best summer experiences and i will never forget the people i have met, the things i have done, and the memories i have made. it really hasnt hit me yet that i will leaving bright and early in the morning. tonight was a great end to a wonderful couple weeks here. it had already begun to feel like home to me.

i have just said all of my goodbyes because i will be gone before anyone wakes up in the morning. my last goodbye was to jamie whom i have spent the most time with while i have been here. we have become quite close and i will miss her very much. she is such a loving and beautiful person. i wish her all the best as she continues to live and serve here. she deserves nothing but the best and whatever God has planned for her future will be amazing. i know he will continue to bless her.

i am planning to come back here before the summer is over...hopefully more than just once. i can come for a week or just for a couple days. after all, it's only a plane ride away :) plus, ive already promised everyone i would. and i know God has more planned for me here. my time here is not finished yet. this place has my heart :)

god loves you!

yesterday was a pretty busy team went back to the house from monday to finish up work there. the rest of us stayed back with the other team. since there were so many people, we split the team up into two groups. one group was sent with jamie over to pastor don's house to do some work over there, while the rest were assigned to me, to do some odd jobs around the church. i had a long list of small tasks that needed to be done and i had plenty of workers so it looked as though we would get everything done pretty quickly. i went down the list handing out jobs and instructions to each person. most of the older youth got right to work and constantly asked me for more things to do. the guys did a lot of weed eating and the girls did a lot of pulling weeds in the garden. they worked really hard for the first hour or so.

there was a lot of material scattered around the property that needed relocating, which is what i focused on doing. i had a few helpers that tagged along with me to help with that. these kids ended up being of no use to me at all. i got really frustrated with them because they basically just talked to each other and watched me do all the work. i didnt mind doing the work, it was the fact that none of them bothered to help. i mean thats why they came right? to do work, right? or maybe it was just to have fun with each other. im a pretty patient person on the outside, but on the inside my patience was definitely being tested. to make things worse, a lot of the other kids from my group started disappearing...i guess when they finished their jobs they were going to the kitchen to eat and play cards. they were too hot to help or too tired. many of the kids that were given jobs wouldnt do them, but then say they did. at one point i asked one boy specifically to help me do a small, easy job and he flat out said no. i was shocked! it was a trying day for me, jamie, and for pastor don because they were experiencing the same issues with this group. some groups are just harder to work with than others and we just have to deal with it the best we can. we have to be patient with them, just like God is patient with us when we sin or neglect him.

last night, i spent most of the night in my room because there was a storm i was still pretty frustrated and needed some alone time. i had bought the movie passion of the christ while i was down here because i saw it in the 5$ bin in walmart. lol. i had been wanting to watch it for a long time now but had never gotten the chance. i had gone on a search for it several times before but never found it. i guess the timing wasnt right...until now. i knew it would be an emotional movie for me to watch and last night ended up being the perfect time because of the work ive been doing here and because it was the last bit of free time i would have before i left for home. the movie moved me even more than i thought it would. i wept most of the movie and it definitely brought me a lot closer to God and gave me a better and more real understanding of the horror and pain jesus endured to rescue me from my sins. he went thru all that brutality just so i could be saved and spend eternity with Him in heaven. it was truly an eye opener for that i desperately needed. anytime i am feeling distant from God or frustrated with my life or with this world, i know i can turn to this movie. i read the gospel's accounts of the crucifixion before i watched the movie, and though they were moving, they couldnt exactly evoke the same feelings as the movie did. the crucifixion was just so realistic in the movie. i am brought to tears just thinking about some of the scenes from the movie.

for those of you who have never seen the movie and for those of you who have seen it but have forgotten the impact it made on you or who are in need of a reminder...i encourage you and challenge you to watch it. and dont just think about watching it! and if u dont have the movie...well guess wat? i do! so ask me for it. i will gladly let you borrow it. or go to the 5$ bin at walmart lol. maybe u will find it too. i want everyone to feel the sadness and gratitude that i felt. i want you to cry like a baby just like i did. i want you to feel the love of God bursting in your heart just like i did. whenever u are feeling lost and confused...broken or forsaken...or as if God doesnt care about you...well think again! he cares more for you than anyone ever has. he allowed his own son to die just for you! he had to watch from above, as his own creation tortured and crucified his only son. and he did it all for you. that is how much God loves you!

Monday, June 20, 2011

it's a small world...after all.

last night, the first team arrived...they consisted of about 20 youth (younger high schoolers) and they were from southern alabama. today, i spent the day with the alabama group at a couple's house who had lost their home to katrina. this couple had built a beautiful new home for themselves, but they had used chinese drywall inside the house. this type of drywall is made with sulfur, which is emitted into the air. over a period of time, the drywall can cause health problems as well as problems to home appliances, etc inside the house. it is not safe to live in, so these people were forced to have it we spent the day tearing apart the inside of a home that had just been completed after being destroyed in the storm. it is such a sad story and the man came to tears as he explained the situation they were in. it was heartbreaking. he had lost a home, then he had spent time and money into a new home, only to have to tear it apart again. the hits just keep coming for him and his wife. im just glad we were able to help the couple in some small way. the team completely removed all the drywall from the house and also helped with some odd jobs around the house.

the house is a beautiful, 22-sided polygon (basically a circle) had a complete wrap-around porch and sat on very high stilts. the house overlooked a beautiful golf course and was located in a richer part of town. the couple obviously had money, but they were still hurting and had experienced loss...they still needed help and we gladly gave it to them.

the couple's neighbors were helping them out tremendously by allowing them to stay with them. the neighbors also allowed us to use their restrooms while we worked and then they graciously invited us over for lunch. it was so kind of them! they went out and bought food for over 20 people, not to mention they invited us back over for lunch the next day too.

later in the day, it stormed a bit, which was a blessing to a lot of people around here because they've been experiencing a bad drought for a while now. it hasnt rained barely at all in the past couple of months...any fire that starts is extremely difficult to stop so a burn ban has been put into effect also.

another team was coming in tonight, but i hadnt learned of where they were from yet. i overheard jamie telling someone they were from georgia, which caught my attention. i immediately asked where in georgia and she replied, locust grove...which is the town right next to mine! i was so surprised and excited. then, i wondered if it was first baptist church of locust grove, which is where one of my good friends goes to church. ive actually been to lock-ins and such at her church during high school and i kno several other people who attend that church. well, jamie confirmed that it was in fact, her church. it was so bizarre! i mean what are the odds of that happening...for real! like, one in a million. plus, her sister is down here too with the group and who knows who else i might see that i kno. there are 40 plus people in this bound to kno or recognize at least someone...guess we'll find out in the morning.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

don't forget what you once were.

sooo...the duet went great this morning in church. i was a little nervous, which caused me not do as well as i could have...but oh well. everyone said they enjoyed it :) after church, jamie and i went and got thai food for the last time :/ sad day for real. when i get home, i will definitely be scoping out a good thai place. it has become an addiction! haha.

new groups arrive tonight and tomorrow...looking forward to meeting them :) im pretty sure they are mostly youth, but guess i'll find out tomorrow. i will be working with one of the groups tomorrow tearing down chinese drywall in a woman's house...should be interesting. havent checked the weather for tmrw, but im hoping it wont be like it was today...the heat index was already 106 degrees at 8 am this morning...serious struggle.


lesson learned in church today: be submissive to all human authority.

"for we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, 
slaves to various passions and pleasures, 
passing our days in malice and envy, 
hated by others and hating one another."
-titus 3:3

we, as christians, know that politicians are corrupt and unjust, but God tells us we must submit to them anyway. the past couple weeks we have been dissecting titus, chapter three, which deals with submitting to human authority. today we focused on titus 3, verse 3. here, paul reminds us that human authority may be corrupt and full of sin, but we must remember that before we allowed Jesus into our hearts to wash our sins away, we were just as corrupt as they are. we must be empathetic and resist quarreling and fighting against them, for this will accomplish nothing...rather it will make things worse. how else are we supposed to show the love of christ to those who need it if we are not kind and gentle towards them? is that not what someone did for us so that we could learn of Jesus' love?

we must remember that we were born sinners, just like everyone else. God took mercy on us, and we must take mercy on them. pastor don made a good point that we are not sinners because we sin, rather we sin because we are sinners. it is in our nature to sin...ever since Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree. it is by the grace and mercy from god that we are saved from our sin. so paul reminds us in this passage: don't forget what you once were.



Saturday, June 18, 2011

n'awlins =D

today, jamie and i decided to spend the day in new orleans, which is only about 45 minutes from the church. this was my third trip down there, but my first time going since i've been down here for the summer. we got there in the morning because we knew it was going to be a hot afternoon. we started out in the french market, which i had never been before. this was a cool experience :) there were vendors everywhere selling jewelry, clothing, accessories, toys, and food. it was packed with people! i loved looking at all the neat things they had. after, we walked around the french quarter a little and then went to lunch.

woman vs. food :p

jamie took me to a place called mother's, which is a pretty popular restaurant in new orleans. the restaurant was actually featured on the show man vs. food! i ordered the ferdi special there, which was the sandwich featured on the show. i was excited to try it since it was so famous. the sandwich was massive and loaded with all kinds of meat...baked ham, roast beef, and debris (the shavings from a roast beef). we both ordered the ferdi po' boy and we killed our sandwiches. they were amazing! no wonder it was featured on television! we were so full afterwards :)

we walked around some more doing some window shopping and sightseeing. i had a praline for the first time...they are really popular here. (jamie and i actually went in a few of the candy stores just so we could eat the samples they had out...haha). they were so good! we also walked down bourbon street and i was surprised at how early people got started drinking. we saw many people at the bars at 10 am! but i guess that's how they do it in NOLA.

by the afternoon, the heat had gotten pretty intense so we finished up at cafe du monde to indulge in their famous beignets. as usual, they were to die for! we were stuffed and satisfied leaving the was a very successful trip :)
oh! side note: i will be singing a duet tomorrow in church with daniela...and jamie will be playing the guitar and doing back-up vocals. we're singing 'our god' by chris tomlin. soo excited! wish us luck! :)