Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Latest

I haven't heard any further updates from the orphanage this week, so I pray that all is going well.  I'm sure there is an adjustment period for having nine new children there, so I am hopeful that everyone is adapting as best they can.  I know that there is a need for more adult help, so I'm still wishing to get there soon-- hopefully mid-March!  It's exciting (and, yes, there's a bit of nerves and fear mixed in there too) to think this could all come to fruition and be my reality so soon!

I just finished serving on a Chrysalis team this weekend (a spiritual retreat for young women between 15 and 25).  It was amazing and rejuvenating!  But now that means it's time for me to prepare to move in with friends this coming weekend, in attempt to save some money for expenses as I prepare to go to Mexico.  And today I was back to substitute teaching (which has been going great and keeps me plenty busy!).

Additionally, I'm excited to have speaking engagements lined up every Sunday in February at numerous churches.  I am so blessed to have been warmly welcomed by these churches!  The first weekend is my home church's missions Sunday.  On February 8th, I'll be speaking at Shining Light Community Church in Sugar Grove, Ohio.  On the 15th, I'll be with Plain City United Methodist Church.  And on the 22nd, I've been invited to speak with the congregation at Milford Center United Methodist Church.  If you know of a group (especially a small group, share group, or Sunday school class) that would be willing to let me speak to them, I'd love to do so!

I'm currently at about 40% of my fundraising thanks to donations and pledges!  Praise God for providing so much in less than a month of fundraising!  I am humbled and grateful to people who are willing to answer the call to pledge and offer financial support.  Unfortunately, my online giving site is still not yet functioning; it's pending the finalization of a couple of budgetary items with my sending agency office in New York.  So we keep hoping it will be activated soon.  I'll update when it is working for online giving. 

That's all for today.  Be blessed!

P.S.  Have I mentioned that I can't wait to get to see these kiddos again???...

Friday, January 9, 2015

Good things are happening

I'll try to keep this brief with just a few updates this week...

This past Sunday I was invited to speak at all three services at Marysville First United Methodist Church, and I was pleased with how things went.  I am grateful to Pastor Aaron Brown for allowing me to share how I have been called (going along with our reading from Jonah chapter 1) and inviting our congregation to partner with me prayerfully and/or financially.  I am so blessed that, as of today, through donations and pledges over the next two years, I have received almost 25% of the amount I need to fundraise!  God does provide!

My online giving site (through www.umcmission.org/give) is taking a little longer than expected to get completed and uploaded.  The website functions, but I have yet to be added to the drop down menu under "Select a Missionary".  Hopefully that will happen early next week.  I am excited that, even without online giving being available yet, people are still generously donating via checks and pledges to support my missions work.  I trust that when I have been added to the website, it will make it more convenient for others to give as they feel led.

I am also fortunate that my home town's newspaper The Marysville Journal Tribune ran an article* about me today (in Melanie Behrens' Off the Hook Column, on page 5).  I am happy to share my story, and am thankful for people to read it and share in my journey.  I know that I have chosen to follow the path less traveled, but I am still glad to tell others about it (and eventually share another corner of the world with them from Mexico).  Thank you to my friends who connected me with Melanie, and especially to Melanie for interviewing me, writing the article, and printing it!

Tonight I am finalizing a PowerPoint to use as I prepare to speak at another church in London, Ohio this Sunday.  I am grateful for the opportunity to reach out to more people and share my new calling.

The polar vortex plummeting temperatures in Ohio to below zero, with a windchill closer to -25º or colder tonight makes me long to be in Mexico sooner than later.   Piedras Negras' high of 43º and 33º low seem warm in comparison.  While the three days of cancelled school this week (ode to cold and snow) have also cancelled my substitute teaching jobs and pay for those days, I have been able to use the time to work on missions stuff and fundraising, as well as getting ready to move out of my apartment in the next couple of weeks.  I'm not heading to Mexico quite yet, but am moving in with two generous friends until it's time for me to go abroad.  So step by step, I keep on trekking getting closer to moving to Mexico.

Be blessed!

*Especially for family and friends outside of Ohio, here's a copy of said article:

Friday, January 2, 2015

My fundraising postcards are finished prior to the expected pick-up date, but just in time!  God's perfect timing allowed them to be done this morning, in time for me to pick them up, take them to church, and insert them into bulletins before I speak briefly at this Sunday's services and officially start my fundraising!  Again, God's goodness continues to amaze me, as it took the printing place less time to perforate and cut the postcards than originally estimated.  Due to the shorter time required, they came in at $50 under the quote I'd been previously given too.  I'm pleased, not only with the timing, but with how they turned out.

Now I'm looking forward to stepping out in faith this weekend and asking people to partner with me in prayer and financially.  I'd appreciate your prayers as I prepare my brief message to share on Sunday (more like as I await the words of the Spirit to flow through my mouth to others' ears).  Obviously, I'd also love prayers for the Lord to continue to provide donors for my fundraising, so that I can get to Mexico and serve in His perfect timing.  I trust that God knows people's hearts and will work in them and call them to give, if and when He knows is best.  I believe that this isn't just my missions ministry, but God giving others the opportunity to share their blessings (financially, prayerfully, or however else He reveals), as He leads them to do so.

Finally, I have been informed that there are nine (yes, 9!!!) new children from two new families at the orphanage in the last week or so.  This is pushing the orphanage to capacity with the amount of adult workers they currently have there.  So please also join with me that God will provide for these children to stay in this loving, Christian-run orphanage, where I truly believe they will best be taken care of.  I pray that he provide for their emotional well-being, their necessities like food and clothing, and that they know Jesus' love in their hearts.  I pray that God continue to sustain the workers already serving, and that He allow me to join them as soon as it's best for us all.

Be blessed!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More Blessings

Here's the continuation of my previous countdown, or Top 10 List, of Blessings:

6) My cell phone battery has been dying; after about 20-30 minutes of usage my phone will completely shut off. I have prolonged its use by connecting it to an external battery pack. However, I was stressing over having a reliable phone to take to Mexico. When I looked into getting a new phone, the phone companies here wanted to lock me in to a two year contract, which I can't commit to now prior to moving to another country. My friend suddenly posted that she had a used iPhone she was looking to sell: my answer to prayer. I was still stressed though, as I knew I didn't have enough money to buy the phone, and I'd been praying about how I'd afford it. The next night when I went to work church nursery, a couple from my church (who had seen my friend's and my Facebook posts about the phone) offered to purchase the phone for me. I couldn't restrain myself and burst into tears as their generous offer and my humbleness for how God provided yet again. I'm still humbled at the size of their and His generosity.

7) This December, I had driven by Starbucks one afternoon and had a craving for a peppermint mocha. After resigning my teaching position, Starbucks has not been in my budget since at least August or before. I drove on by, knowing it still wasn't in my budget and was just a "want" not a necessity. A couple of days later I received a Christmas card with an unexpected Starbucks gift card in it. It was something so little, but it touched my heart that God hears and answers big and little things. And I was reminded that, if I'm not busy blessing myself, God may just have the opportunity to surprise and bless me more. God's even greater than that though! When I went to use the gift card, I found a $5 bill in the parking lot, and then when I entered the code from my receipt online, I won another free peppermint mocha! Triply blessed in less than 10 minutes!

8) Knowing I'd have another 2 unpaid weeks in December, when schools are off for Christmas break and don't need substitute teachers like myself, I knew I'd have difficulty covering my January rent. One of my friends generously gave me a Christmas blessing and contributed towards my next month's rent. Additionally, two of my friends have offered to let me move in with them (my cats and all!) until I leave for Mexico. (I think I'll be moving in with them in late January.) It has been a huge blessing to be able to have these two weeks off to instead work on getting ready to move, having time to work on fundraising, and having time to enjoy the holidays with my parents and friends.

9) My family completely overwhelmed me with, not only their generosity but their selflessness with Christmas gifts! My sisters, brothers-in-law, and parents left me speechless (that's quite a feat!). I believe I cried as I opened every gift from them (each one a box containing a letter from a family member and money), and the story unfolded that they agreed this year not to exchange any gifts with each other, but instead to donate all the money they would have spent on gifts towards supporting my missions work in Mexico over the next two years.

10) As I prepare to start fundraising in full-force, God has provided in awesome ways. Just as I was going to have my fundraising post cards printed, I found out that I could instead pay to print them myself at my church and save myself nearly $150. Several people stepped up to help me get my postcards ready and printed. Furthermore, several church members already contacted me about making year-end tax-deductible donations towards my mission work in Mexico.

These have just been some of my Top 10 Blessings, but there have been countless other blessings (like gas is down to just $1.79 a gallon?!). I am most humbly blessed, and I am so grateful that each blessing also feels like affirmation for stepping out in faith and answering His new calling in my life.

I am becoming more and more prepared for Luke 12:48, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

I also find peace in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Be blessed, my friends, be blessed!

Blessings

I never cease to be amazed by just how much God blesses me! My pastor's wife, Linda Brown, once said something to the effect of (I'm paraphrasing here), "How much more would God bless us, if we weren't so busy trying to bless ourselves." The more I step out in faith to follow His call to be a missionary, the more I am able to see how He is blessing and providing for me. More than that even, I can see how much better His plan and blessings are than anything I could have ever imagined.

I was encouraged to keep track of all of these blessings. Part of putting it in writing is to have a reminder, or "visual" of sorts, of just what God is doing and has done. Additionally, I feel as though I have a certain responsibility to share with others just how God is at work. I think by allowing others to share in this journey with me, He will bless us all even more. It's a true testimony that when a person steps out in faith, God will provide!

My blessings are too numerous to list them all here, but I will share some of my biggest highlights-- My Top 10, if you will...

1) In July I started praying about what I'd do with all of my belongings when I move to Mexico. Without me asking, at church one Sunday a friend mentioned that she and her husband had a storage space that was half empty. They would be willing to let me store some things there for free, if needed.

2) I have been contemplating if I can take my two finicky cats to Mexico with me. In August, out of the blue, a friend from my church small group asked me if I knew anyone who might be in need of 2 small dog crates. I asked if they'd be the right size for two large cats, and she said they were, and that the crates were now mine, which she would store in her basement until I was ready for them.

3) In October, while I was awaiting approval to start substitute teaching, I had a couple of weeks without work. I knew I'd soon be feeling the financial strain of two weeks without income. At this time, I happened to find a couple of savings bonds that I had hidden away and forgotten I had. They were gifts given to me by my (now deceased) grandmother for my kindergarten and elementary school graduations. When I found them, I thought, "What an answer to prayer!" Even better, though, was when I took them to the bank one had reached full maturity, and the other was close. With the interest, I got even more than expected. I could never have dreamed that God would have put into plan 30 years ago to provide for me now through my grandmother who passed away when I was in high school. I am in awe!

4) My birthday was in early November. My family's generous gifts were able to help sustain me through bill paying that month, after I'd missed another week of working due to my missionary training in Pennsylvania. My mother has also blessed me with having me over to dinner and sending me home with leftovers on average of at least once a week.

5) This fall, as I was waiting approval to begin subbing, I was praying for other work opportunities. I was amazed how God provided-- temporary office work was needed in a facility where one of my friends works, my apartment complex manager needed extra help cleaning and repainting apartments to prep them to rent, our church nursery was looking for more workers, two families hired me to tutor their children in Spanish, friends were looking for a babysitter... Little by little, He provided enough work to get me through another month of bills.

Tune back in later for the last 5 of my "Top 10 List" of Blessings. Be blessed!