This one is for John

It’s been a while. Just about two years since I’ve written on this thing. As one individual pointed out to me recently, it seems as if I had traveled to India and never come back. Well friends, I’m still alive. I made it to India and back, and did a few other things since. I’m sorry for the silence, but I haven’t had anything of note to write. Or, if we’re going to be really honest, I’m just too lazy to put some words together here.

So this post is for John. My brother-in-law who has told me he needs new blog posts to read to keep him entertained. Here you go John.

I’ll try my hardest to write another post sooner then this one came. Just need to get the creative juices flowing. Or I’ll at least change the blog format/style again. Cause let’s be honest. Making a blog pretty and new looking is way more fun then writing on it. 

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Flying away

So today is a day of excitement, nervousness, and dreams coming true. (that sounds cheesy, but it’s true). Today Chris and I are off to India! Woo hoo! This is something that I’ve wanted to do for years. I finally get to do it. And it’s all happening because I entered a promo code online that I got from a pasta box… It’s still crazy to think that I won this!

With the batteries charged, 3 SD cards, and only one bag to take, I’m stoked to take photos; visit the Taj Mahal and other cool sites; meet the locals; hang out with the tour group; eat the food; and so much more. I am less stoked about the plane ride there and back. 18 hours there. 19.5 hours back. Oy vey! But it’s the price you have to pay for an awesome vacay!

See you on the flip side. Look forward to seeing many photos on my return!

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Freedom for the Prisoners

I want to share with you one of my absolute highlights of my time in Nicaragua. It happened exactly one week ago today. Last Monday, our team took the morning off of doing construction on the church, to go to prison. We went to the local jail in Granada to do a service for a group of about 100-120 male prisoners. This particular jail houses males, females, and youth. The crimes committed ranged from bread thievery, to stabbings, to murder.

When we drove up, we were told to leave our cameras in the vans. The guards lined us up in two rows: males and females. To enter the secured area of the prison, we walked, with our passports, through a small door in a towering wall with barbed wire at the top. The guys got patted down, while us women walked through without the pat down. It was a bit intimidating walking through this wall. There were only about 2 or 3 guards with us. What were we going to encounter? Once everyone filed through the door one by one, one of the guards led us through a barbed wire lined path. We passed by a few buildings were the prisoners were housed. There was one building where there were about 8 young male prisoners just chilling out in front of. They just watched us walk past. We then got to another small door in a large brick wall that we passed through. This brought us to the area were we would be holding the service. We passed a few housing buildings, one catholic chapel, and then we arrived at the protestant chapel. As we passed by, there were many male prisoners watching us. I and many others were a bit uneasy by the fact that there was nothing blocking us from them, but it was also a very unique experience.

When we began to enter the chapel building, we were entering at the same time as the prisoners who were told to come to this service. They didn’t have a choice to come to the service. They were simply told to. Also, during the service, there were only about 3 guards who were in the room. What was going to stop a prisoner if he decided he didn’t like one of us? But very quickly, my fears and concerns left me. As we began to sing (our Nicaraguan friends lead the music), I was completely overwhelmed by the sight and sound that we encountered. These rough men opened up through singing, cheering, clapping, and even dancing! Yes, criminals worshiping our Lord with complete joy. I can’t fully describe the beauty that was encountered in that chapel in that moment. The Spirit was moving powerfully in that room and in my heart. It was a glimpse of true joy. Even in their sin, brokenness, and imprisonment, they could worship Jesus. Only the Lord knows the sincerity of their worship, but they sure did know all the songs and were quite exuberant in their response.

After scripture reading and a prayer from the pastor of the church we’ve been working with, next on the service agenda was our Jesus skit. Typically, my role in the skit would be the model: a girl concerned with body image and overtaken by an eating disorder. But because we were doing this skit for a large group of imprisoned men, we chose not to have me strut my stuff in front of them. Instead, I played a person with a drug addiction. Much more appropriate for our time in the prison. The skit went over extremely well. At the moments where Jesus swoops in to block sin from the main character, the inmates cheered loudly. There were also parts where they would applaud with strength and cheer because the truth of the gospel had been proclaimed. I wasn’t expecting such a strong reaction from such a crowd. But the Lord softened my heart for these people this day.

Following the skit, Chris had the opportunity to share the message with these men. With the aid of Samuel’s translation, Chris spoke on the story of Jacob and Esau. He told the story very well. Along with the inmates, I, and the rest of our teammates, were cut to the heart by the message. Chris moved onto sharing the Good News of Christ. His life, death, and resurrection. Not that I don’t know the message well, but this time, something was different due to hearing the gospel preached with those who’s brokenness is so evident. The Spirit was clearly at work. Tears came to my eyes, Chris’ eyes, teammates eyes, and a few of the inmates eyes. Not out of sadness or self pity, but out of awe for what the Lord has done. Freedom for the lost and broken. Freedom for those enslaved by sin and death. Freedom to life. Freedom to enter into the kingdom of God. Freedom to live life fully for He who paved the way for our freedom. Freedom to a larger purpose. There’s something about hearing this word along with those who’s sin has brought them to prison, that is so moving and powerful. This message of freedom is as much as it is for you and me, as it is for these prisoners. Incredible.

During our time at the prison, I was reminded of the passage in Matthew where Jesus said:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

I will hold this experience in my heart for many years to come. What a privilege to have been there. My understanding of God, His grace, and His love has grown deeper because of this experience. Praise be to God, for He is good.

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Back in Canada

I’m back in Canada. And it feels weird. I’m having many mixed emotions and my brain doesn’t really know how to process everything. We experienced the Lord in so many different ways over the past two weeks in Nicaragua. We made so many wonderful friends there. It was incredible to see their passion and dedication to the work of the kingdom in their various ways. I have much to learn from them.

Since being back (for only 3.5 days now), I feel as if my feet have not fully landed on the ground. I feel like I’m in a whirlwind right now. I am now at OPC until Friday for IVCF’s New Staff Orientation. I’m happy to be here, but I haven’t had the time to fully process and rest from my time away in Nicaragua. I’m hoping that this week will provide me with some time to reflect and figure out what the trip meant, and what life needs to look like after that experience, and even consider how my experience in Nicaragua will/can influence my work with campus ministry.

I hope to take some time this week to write/blog about some of my experiences from Nicaragua. It was an incredible time, and I want to share of what the Lord accomplished in and through us. Hopefully through writing, it will help me to process my experience.

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Anticipation

There is now only one more sleep until we leave for Nicaragua. I am super stoked to go. Although this unfortunately means that I will be missing out on two weeks of campus time, I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the Lord will work in and through this team. I also wonder how He will work in and through the Christian community in Nicaragua we will be visiting and working with. These are going to be two very busy weeks, but two weeks that have so much potential. I’m going, not knowing exactly what to expect, but going with open hands and an open heart. I wait in eager anticipation, to see what the Lord has planned.

We’ll be doing a large range of ministry activities during our time in Managua, Nic. We’ll be working on the construction of a new church building (brick laying), running a sports ministry during the day for the local kids, going to orphanages and a womens prison, and many other things. I haven’t been on a mission trip since I was in Tanzania in 2006 with some peers from Tyndale. It was a unique experience to do such work with your peers, but I am looking forward to experiencing a mission trip with high school students this time. Should be a wild ride. I’m sure there will be challenging times, but overall, I just can’t wait for this adventure to begin.

Looking forward to sharing the stories with you from our time in Nic.

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Entering into the Unknown: Reflections on Campus Ministry

Well hello long lost blog that has been neglected. With the emergence of the photo blog, this word blog has taken a major backseat. That needs to change. My apologies. Here is an update that should have been given much earlier:

I’m now working on campus! And have been for about 3 weeks now. Crazy times. It felt like this would never come. It felt like I would be fundraising full time forever, without actually doing the thing I was fundraising for. While I am still fundraising (and will always be), I get to be on campus and engage in ministry there. Or at least try to figure out what ministry at Guelph can look like. I am loving being on campus and meeting with students, but at the same time, it’s a weird/intriguing/intimidating season to be in. I am in a new and unknown place, with new and unknown people, trying to start something new and unknown. To be honest, this really isn’t something that I’m all too comfortable with. But the goal is that this would soon be a place that I would know well and would become my home (while still being a bit displaced – but more on that later). And that those people who where once strangers, would be known as friends.

It can be a little (or a lot) unnerving, but at the same time it’s super fun, exhilarating, and hopeful. Right now I get to explore campus, discover who these students are and what makes them tick, and to open-endedly ask the Lord what His heart and hope is for this campus and these students. I must say, it’s a pretty awesome job. I’m anticipating that the Lord is going to do some pretty wonderful/crazy/awe-inspiring things on this campus (in addition to what He is already doing there to be sure). This is a journey that I am so happy to have been able to begin. Even if it’s on a very part time basis at the moment, this won’t hold back the things that the Lord would want to accomplish even this semester at Guelph through this ministry.

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New years resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! I’m not normally the one to set goals and resolutions for a new year, but I thought that I would try something fun for 2011. I thought that it would be fun to have a year in images. One photo per day, everyday, in 2011. Not an old photo from the past, but a fresh new one for each day in 2011. As I write this, I feel that I may not live up to this challenge, but I think it is worth a shot. I got a new camera for Christmas this year, so this will be my excuse to learn it well and play around with it.

To set this new years challenge into gear, I have created yet another blog. (Yes I might have been bored yesterday). A blog only for photos. Go to lifeinimagery.wordpress.com for a new photo everyday this year (hopefully).

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