Friday, November 26, 2010

Picture Post

Though you may have seen many of these on facebook, I wanted to post some pictures from the last few weeks. These few weeks have been the busiest since I've been here but I have gotten to know the students so much more and I am so thankful that God has given me this time to spend with them.

Two weeks ago, we had our Bibleville performance which went really well and was super fun. This is Andrew. He and I do "Word of the Day" every day at school.

This is Andy. We do excellent basketball commentary since I am clearly a basketball expert. My key words are: Rally, Zone Defense, Man-On-Man, Set A Screen. He also happens to be the most photogenic person I have ever met.

This is Alma. She's our only senior girl and I just love this picture of her. She played a flapper in the play.

These are the thugs (Josh and Andrew) trying to take the victim's (Benjy) money. He offers them a chicken, of course.

Oh. My. Lanta. This is my favorite part of the play. Evelyn (Rachel) comes to bail Harvey (Nate) out of jail. Then Harvey points the gun at the jail keeper (Memo) and then they have a laugh because it was a fake threat.

Bubba (Tim) watching Detective Doyle (Gabe) use the flavor detector.

We have also had lots of basketball games lately. I looooove going to the games! Esli is the girl with the ball. The girl behind her is Mary.

Our soccer team!

On Wednesday we had a thanksgiving service instead of our usual chapel. Between songs the students got up in front and gave testimonies of the things that God has been doing in their lives, stories of their salvation experiences, and the way God has used struggles to bring change in them and glory to Himself. It was great to hear where they had come from and how God is working in and through them.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

On a lighter note

We love slow days at work and we love Mrs. Lopez's new window!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Decision and My Reasoning

"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:13-16

I told my friends that I would make an official decision today (November 19th) about whether I would be coming home for good in December or I would stay in Texas for another semester. I thought it would be best if I wrote everything out so they—and you—can know my heart and know that I have not made this decision lightly. In fact, for about two months, the decision making process had consumed me. And that, my friends, is where the problem began.

‎"We focus our energies on telling God exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. In fact, we repeat ourselves over and over again just to make sure God didn't miss any of the important details. But what if, instead of spending all our energy making plans for God, we spent that energy seeking God?" - Mark Batterson
This was me. Somewhere in my crazy head, I had made myself think that I was deciding on the rest of my life and that if I stayed I would never get to go home again. [That is ridiculous! Committing one year to this ministry does not mean that I can never go home again.] So I pleaded with God constantly that He would let me go home and I kept trying to find reasons that would “influence” his decision—and they are great excuses. I want to start a ministry in town. I want to start a non-profit that would provide aid in Africa, India, somewhere. I want to be a direct influence on my brother's lives. I want to work with the kids in the Heritage youth group. I want to be in community with the College and TwentySomethings again. There are things I've learned here that I want so badly to take back and share with the people at home and model my life after the lives of people at MCA back home in Johnson City.

But I still have more to learn. I can still start a ministry in June. I can still start a non-profit that will provide aid to foreign nations in God's timing. I can influence my brother's lives by staying in Texas because they will see me giving up what I want to do what God wants. I can still work with the kids at Heritage in June, but until then I can love the students here fiercely so they have no doubts that they are loved not only by me, but also by an Almighty God who wants them to love Him. I can still be in community with the College and TwentySomethings in June, but until then I can devote myself to the people God has placed me with now by serving them in every way possible and treating them like Christ would treat them. God will still work in the lives of the people in Johnson City whether or not I am there.

I've also been reading about making an influence on further generations. Telling my kids that I tried out the mission field, missed home, and left would not be the kind of influence I want to have on my future family. I want to be able to tell them that I did all, gave all, for the glory of God and not for myself because I want my future children to remember that and live their lives in the same way.

I am growing spiritually here more than I ever have before. Before I knew a lot about God and about being a Christian and I did love God; but now, now I cherish Christ in a way that I never even knew was possible. I actually love the person of Christ, His characteristics, His sacrifice, and His plan. My heart has been softened to Him and His word. Before I was rarely moved by the Word; now, I am brought to tears by the way He rescued my in my wickedness and gave me the greatest gift of all: Himself.

Friends at home: I am so thankful for you. My love for you has grown even more by being separated from you. I cannot wait to see you over Christmas break and I do hope that God will give me the opportunity to live in community with you again. Until then, I will pray for you and think of you always in eager anticipation to see you again soon.

“For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” - Philippians 4:11

Paul was in prison; I'm just in Texas.

In Christ—who has saved me from death.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

His ministry is his life. His life is his ministry.

I'm going to post another excerpt from this blog. It may have a word that I'm not fond of, but it is very real.

The Gap Year crew spent the evening at Sam's house. We watched a movie, ate dinner, talked about life... Normal, right? Wrong. Sam and his family reside in West Denver which a predominately hispanic/low-income section of the city. From the outside he is a stereotype - even he will attest to that. His appearance molds perfectly to just about every one of our stereotype images of a hispanic gang member. I'm only speaking truth because I mean, if we're truly honest with ourselves - we all have that stereotype image in the back of our heads. But what most would not guess is that he is also a man of brilliance, compassion, committment and strength like that of which I rarely see. That... AND he has one of the sickest low-riders I've ever seen.

Him and his homies had us over for dinner tonight so that we may stand in a community where the unthinkable happens. Where violence is in an inevitable part of their week; a place where cops are constantly oppressing the citizens they swore to protect because to them - just about every hispanic male is a molds to a generalization. This is a place where the people work hard, but have little; where they are surrounded by gang activity; where there is so much need, but I can't do a damn thing about it.

After checking out his low-rider car projects, which he put together, and talked about his new idea for designing and marketing a low-rider BMX bike, we went inside to watch a movie called La Mission. This movie was intended to give us a clearer picture of their community and the life they have proudly chosen to embrace. Sam and his family have immerced themselves in this community. It's where he is from, what he knows best, and where he knows he is supposed to be. I could go on about the life of Sam, the people he loves and all those who love him, the way he spends his days, and the amount of respect we owe to men like him, but for the sake of your time I'll just close with what he taught me tonight.

He ended tonight with very powerful words. He said that (not word-for-word) "you guys are about to leave, and maybe never come back, but we... we're here to stay." We were about to leave and put it all behind us, making everything that had happened nothing but a memory, but he was there, in that community, to give all of who he is to the people and to his family. He gave us an invitation to never forget what we had experienced, but to make those moments a part of who we are. His ministry is not with an organization or not profit, it's just being a member of a community - sharing in their pain and in their weaknesses, taking on their burdens - that's his ministry... and his life. It's a lesson that I must carry with me as I enter into so many different communitites this year. I can not walk away from any place without carrying a little piece of them with me. A piece that my keeps my heart breaking for their pain, and rejoicing in their blessings.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I thought it might be nice for me to let you all know what has been going on lately.

We at MCA have been super busy lately because the Fine Arts Banquet and Auction [where 500+ parents, sponsors, etc come to eat dinner, watch performances, participate in an auction, and see our awesome play] is coming up on the 19th. On Friday we had our first performance of the play and it went very well.

I've been making promotional videos for the school. The fundraising video is finally done after me almost throwing the computer out the window. Now I'm working on the MCA promo video which I think is going to be pretty awesome. I'm editing the interviews that I took a few weeks ago. Some of the answers are just so good and biblical. I can't wait to show it to you!

In other news, I moved out of the Curling's house and into the Lara's. Mrs. Lara and Mr. Lara both teach at the school and their girls Mariann and Nina are in 9th and 6th grade. I love it here. Iris (Mrs. Lara) totally mommies us and girl talks with us and is always encouraging me in the ways of God.

In one month and one day I will be home for Christmas! I can't wait to see you all! Here are some pictures of the students and stuff!

The girls eating Raspas [like Italian Ice, but the kids here get pickles and chili in theirs. Gross.] Left to Right: Nina, Lynette, Sheila, Esli, Alma

The boys after their game against the adults. L to R Top Row: Gabe, Andy, Tim, Jordan, Fabian, GP, Paul, Andrew, Sanchez, Benjy; Bottom Row: Ruach, Nate

The one and only Gabe, who plays Detective Dick Doyle in "The Mysterious Disappearance of Evelyn Baker"

Harvey Porter is SUCH a dream boat. And how! L to R: Sienna, Courtney, Alma, Nate

I just love this picture. Benjy had no idea.