Sister, You’re Going to Kenya

Dear Sister, 

I know that “we” don’t do sappy, but I do. I do. I feel. I worry. You’re going to Kenya. With Bible Quizzers, which are your favorite group of people on this planet.  And I’m so excited for you! But I’m oh so very nervous. 

And I know I shouldn’t worry, but I’m a worrier. I worry about anything and everything, and I always jump to the worst case scenarios. But I’m not going to jump this time, because you’ll be fine. 

You’ll be more than fine. You’ll be great, spectacular. 

But just in case, you know, because you’ll be there and not here where I can make sure you’re safe, and because it’ll make me feel better, I’m going to give you some advice (not that you need it, but I need it because I’ve done a missions trip before, and it’s my job to teach you).

So, here’s what I know, what I hope you learn. 

When you wake up one morning and feel like you can’t do this, like you can’t minister to people, and trust me, you will wake up one morning on this trip and feel like it’s all too much, I hope you remember that while leading people to Christ is important–it’s our duty as Christians–sometimes giving people what they need in that exact moment is just as important. If you can lead even one person to Christ, good. If you can give one person what they need in that moment–a listening ear, a friend, food, water, clothes–even better. 

God works in mysterious ways. And sometimes one simple act of kindness is all you need to open the door. 

Your comfort zone is being left an ocean away, but I hope that by the time this trip is done your comfort zone will have expanded to include the ocean. Because the most amazing, life-changing, heart-wrenching moments happen when we step out of our comfort zones and let God do what God does. And I hope God does some amazing things in your life and on this trip.

If you can do this, you can do anything. And you’ve already done so much–overcome so much. I hope you’re proud of that. 
I hope you hold on to every feeling you have, every emotion you feel during this trip. Embrace the fears, the sadnesses, the happiness, the triumphs. Wrap them up. Put them in the pocket of your favorite jeans. Pull them out when you need a reminder of who God is, what He’s capable of. Pull them out when you want to reminisce. When you want to remember the first time you really challenged yourself. 

Because this trip will challenge you in ways I can’t even possibly begin to describe. And I hope it changes you. I hope it leaves you on fire for God, for His kingdom, for spreading the news that we are all one under Him, for showing his love.

When people ask me if I’d do a Missions Trip again, I say yes. And when they ask, why, I respond, “because of the people I’ll meet along the way.”

The people you meet will change you. I hope they have as much of an impact on you as you do on them. I hope the mark they leave on you will last a lifetime. 
Because it’s so easy to forget that we’re not the only ones in the world. You know, you and me, we’re pretty privileged here. So many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are not, even the ones who live here. 

I hope you don’t forget the people you meet, both those who are in Kenya and those who are going with you. I hope you don’t forget they way they challenge you, inspire you. I hope you learn their stories, help them shoulder their burdens. I hope you share your story, too. 

We all have a story. Nobody’s is unimportant. 

I hope you going into this asking yourself, “What can I learn?” Instead of “What can I teach them?”

They will teach you more about yourself than staying here ever could. They will teach you more about God than you ever thought possible–even if they don’t believe in God, God will work through them like He will work through you.

I hope you remember what they teach you. I hope you leave a small part of yourself in Kenya when you leave, so you remember to pray for them when you return. Because it’s so easy to come back and return to everyday life, forgetting everything that just happened, and return to normal.

I hope the life you live when you come back is anything but normal. Not in a bad way, but in a way that inspires you to change the world, to have an impact, to create a mark, to leave the world a little bit more beautiful than it was when you entered. 

And when you come back and begin college, I hope the skills you learned while in Kenya you carry with you while at college. 

There will be people there who challenge you, whose beliefs don’t line up with what you believe (yes, even at Roberts). Listen to them. Learn from them. Expand your worldview. Believe what you believe because it’s what YOU believe, not because it’s what you grew up believing. 

Go into all of these new experiences with an open mind, allow God to work, allow your views to change if that’s what needs to happen.

Don’t let what you believe stop you from seeing other people’s beliefs.

Don’t let what you see stop you from seeing what other people see. There is more than one way to view the world, and each person has only a very limited scope made up of lenses of their experiences and where they live. Sometimes understanding means putting down your scope and picking up someone else’s, trying to see the world through the eyes of someone else. 

I hope your time in Kenya changes the way you see the world, the way you see God, the way you see yourself. 

But most importantly, I hope this trip leaves you energized, hungry for God, eager to change the world. 

I hope you share your stories of your time in Kenya. I hope you hold close the most precious moments. 

When you become weary of the future, I hope this trip serves as a reminder that you can do anything if you let go and you let God do what He does.

 
I hope I can remember the same. 

So, go in peace, go with joy, go with eagerness. Go with the hope of a life-changing encounter with God. 

I’ll be here. We’ll all be here, praying for you the whole way. 

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Set a Fire

*in response to the question: What have you been up to lately?

No mejor lugar para estar.
No mejor lugar para estar.
No mejor lugar para estar.
Que escuchando tu voz
Escuchando tu voz.

Manda un fuego a mi vida
Que no puedo contener y controlar.
Quiero más de Dios.
Quiero más de Dios.

Lately, I’ve spent time in a country whose airport sleeps at 8:00 at night. I’ve spent time in a country with a group of people who’ve laughed with me, cried with me, and have watched me grow. And I don’t know how I’m going to describe to you this feeling I have, what I’ve experienced over the last two weeks, because unless you were there with me, you won’t understand. But, I’m going to try my best, because it’s a good story.

There’s something wonderful about being the outsider in a group, and I didn’t realize what it was until I went on this trip. By being on the outside, I was able to hang out with wonderful children like these (in Santa Cruz and then Guatemala City):
118

076

169

186

Because being on the outside allowed children who were on the outside to be accepted for who they are, to be loved for who they are without judgement.

And it wasn’t just lovin’ on the kids that changed my life, it was being able to share my journey with a group of 20-something other team members that created the most change. Because sometimes working in other peoples’ lives allows God to work in yours. And so he did.

Because one day in the village of Santa Cruz, I shared my Testimony with the Junior Highers. And there’s something powerful about hearing your story repeated back to you in a language you’re not fluent in. There’s something about it that makes it more tangible, more real, and much harder to hear.

And there’s something powerful about sharing some of your poems with a group of 20-something people who you’re just beginning to call your friends. Because being able to trust anybody after what you’ve been through is a big step. There’s something powerful about being able to say, “Hey, I’m not doing ok today. On a scale from 1-10, I’m probably a 2, and I don’t know why. It could be because of this guy I saw back there who looks like someone I’d much rather forget. Or it could be because I’m out of my comfort zone, and I keep having flashbacks. I’d much rather not be this way, but I am, so I hope you can love me anyway.”

And there’s healing power in going to the dump and feeding the hungry, because despite not ever having enough, they are happy and they have so much faith that God will provide, which is more than I can say I have. Because some days, I use up all my faith getting out of bed, and here are these people who have so little, but have enough faith to move mountains.

Speaking of mountains, the way you can climb up on top of the bus in the dump and see the mountains is beautiful. The way the poor live inside the dump, between the mountains is inspiring. Because beauty and brokenness can live alongside each other, and out of brokenness comes beauty. And that’s all I really want for my life: I want to be beautiful despite my brokenness.

And there’s something magical in the beauty of a city seen from the roof of a mall that made me want to climb to the top despite my crippling fear of heights(which is really more of a fear of trying to die). And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t want to jump, which is how I know this trip changed me, because when I told my 20-something new friends this story, they all said, “Praise, God Almighty.”

And indeed, Praise be. Because life is a journey, and I’m not walking it alone. I have more friends than I can count, more memories than I can write about, and more things than I could possibly need.

Because there in Guatemala, the people live on “not enough,” while here we have plenty. And after seeing this, it’s making living here in America less satisfying to me. Because I’m not always thankful for what I have, and there some nights they go to bed hungry. And I’d most likely, definitely go back there again.

No place I’d rather be.
No place I’d rather be.
No place I’d rather be.
Than here in your love.
Here in your love.

Set a fire down in my soul
that I can’t contain, that I can’t control.
I want more of you, God.
I want more of you, God.

I spent the first two days of the trip counting down the days until I could return home, and now that I’m home, I’m not satisfied. There’s a fire within me that I can’t contain, and I can’t control. So now I’m counting down the days until I can return to Guatemala, and since I don’t know when that is, I could be counting for a while. But I will continue to count everyday, because I left a part of my heart there in Guatemala, and it will continue to beat everyday until I return.

So, don’t cry for me, Guatemala. I’ll be back again someday.