Monday, October 19, 2009

frustrations and blessings

I'm still unsure about my service site. Opportunities have definitely arisen - the possibility of helping my friend from East Africa learn English, volunteering with an after school program at Star of Hope, helping at Casa de Esperanza, helping a pastor near our neighborhood with a food drive...But I feel like if all of these things work out, I'm going to be spreading myself very thin rather than being able to really focus myself in one area and build strong relationships there. Please pray. Sometimes these things can overwhelm me and cause me to be blind to hope, but I need to keep things in perspective and fully trust God. He brought me here for a reason and He is sovereign.

There are a lot of good things going on as well that remind me of how rewarding this year is and will be. On Thursday night I accompanied Steven and David to a graduation ceremony at Open Door Mission, an organisation they're hoping to get involved with that helps men get their lives back on track. It was a beautiful ceremony and I was so blessed to hear the excitement of the men there as they shared how God is working in their lives and how they truly wish to change their situations. One man said to us, "It was no man who brought me out of the ditch, it was no man who took the cigarettes from my mouth, it was no man who took away my fleshly struggles - it was God." Amen.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Psalm 115:1

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness."

I honestly feel like I'm not doing anything. It's all God. God places people in our paths - East African refugees, awesome neighbors, people on buses and in parks...God blesses us with food when we're broke and art supplies when we need them. I no longer believe in coincidences. Every good and perfect gift, every incredible encounter or experience...It's all God. He gets all the glory. And that's exactly how it should be.

Let me tell you one of these stories:
At the end of the third week of September our team was out of money for food. That Saturday we discussed it during our team meeting. That day Lupe, one of our amazing neighbors, made us a Mexican meal and brought it to our house. That Monday Andy, the cook from Ecclesia, gave us the leftover soup from that week. That Tuesday Steven's family cooked us a meal and brought it to us.
God provides.

Monday, October 5, 2009

thoughts about becoming a nun...

Yes, this thought actually did cross my mind (and stayed there for a while) this past week. Allow me to elaborate:

Friday night and Saturday morning our team went to an Episcopalian church to hear Chris Webb speak. I am now his biggest fan. Katy and I are going to start a fan club - t-shirts and everything. ;) He said a lot of things that I loved. The big thing was "following Jesus without reserve." He explored how people have tried to live that in the past, focusing on monastic traditions, and also challenged us to look at our own lives and see what is keeping us from following Christ completely. So I've been thinking about my life - what's holding me back? I crave comfort: nice things, people who think like me, ignorance of suffering and injustice...but God is calling me to live on the other end of the spectrum, in simplicity and devotion to justice.
I was so drawn to the monastic traditions and lifestyle that Chris spoke of that for a while I entertained the idea of becoming a nun. Yeah, no joke. The more I thought about it, however, I realised that I don't feel called to be a nun. What I'm drawn to is their lifestyle of simplicity, discipline, and devotion to living in obedience to God. But I don't think that I, personally, need to wear a habit in order to practice that kind of lifestyle. There's a movement today called "new monasticism." This movement draws from the lifestyle and traditions of monasticism, but fits it more to the 21st century. They live simply, many choose a life of celibacy, and they are devoted to living like Christ. This is the movement I long to be a part of.

An update on my service site: I'll basically be starting new this week. I'll still be helping out with the kids on Sundays, and my focus will still be on ministering to children, but I won't be working with the Children's Ministry at Ecclesia during the week. This week will probably consist of me contacting different organisations in the Montrose area (where Ecclesia is located) and trying to form connections with them and their children's ministries.