Sunday, September 14, 2014

"This is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!"

Very dramatic that, but I thought Bilbo's party speech would make a fitting title for my last blog.

Taking a walk around the Park (the State Park, that is).

Sunrise glory at Long's Park
Hummingbird coming in for his snack!

This will be my final update. In summary, I have gone out into the wild world, had adventures, made my way back home, and now I'm preparing for a new one. God is leading me onward and I probably won't be blogging for this season (but feel free to contact me; I'd love to catch up with you!). After filling out lots of applications, being interviewed, and praying, I am now at the next step. God has given me a peace about returning to Grand Junction! I am to be an educational interpreter at an elementary school in the area. I just finished my first full week and though it is still overwhelming, I'm SO excited about the people who are my co-workers. The kids are great and I'm looking forward all the perks of being in Colorado. I've already started to enjoy them --as you can see from my pictures. And that's me in a nutshell. In closing, I pray that God grant you peace and wisdom in your own lives. It is an adventure to follow after Him and be a part of His grand plan.  

Meeker Sheep Dog Trials

Joy is watching a Border Collie fulfilling his purpose.

“Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”
"Thank goodness!" said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco jar.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Thursday, August 7, 2014

God Moments

:-) Just when you thought the story was over :-)

What has been revealed
Many of you have asked for a recap of my time in Belize, especially what God did. It has taken me some time to reflect on and process this year. In fact, I’m still in the midst of that journey. As I look back on my time, I think: what just happened? So, in order to truly pay tribute to what Jesus did in my life, I write. Many of you have told me via email or in person, how much you enjoy my blog. That just tickles me pink because I love to express myself through the written word (and it takes such a long time to write one blog post). However, I believe that God gave me this talent to use for Him. It is one of His many investments in me. Another is giving me this time abroad. It is my honor to provide returns by writing about Belize (you see that? Two birds, one stone!).

God Stories
When I try to think of such stories, I am tempted to think, “Well, did I even have any??” God has surprised me with a few. I trust the more I reflect, the more He will reveal them to me.

Chronologically this one was the first one that had happened, but it happened so long ago I’d forgotten ‘til God reminded me. During the summer before the summer I went to Belize (in 2012), I went for prayer at my young adult group. I don’t even remember why, but I do remember what was said. The prophesied was: God had big plans for me. I was going to do big things. In fact, it was mentioned that this might take place on a cruise ship or somewhere tropical. Well, that’s nice, I thought. Then bam! I end up in Belize nearly a year later. How’s that for awesome??

I will be honest: this year was a very hard one. Not only was I adjusting to a new culture, language, and routine (you know, normal missionary stuff), but I also had to do the work of “ten men,” watch mothers, grandfathers and sons die, and feel the effects of poverty pervading the lives of everyone I knew (also normal missionary stuff). It was suffering* and now that it’s passed, I’m so thankful for it (What?!). Here is why:
-Out of desperation, I drew closer to God. It was well worth the sacrifice of comfort!
-God faithfully gave me the strength I needed to endure (Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:13).
-Now that I have experienced suffering, I can give grace and empathy to others.
-It was also very revealing for me. What was my foundation? How do I respond when my happy gets bumped? I didn’t like some of my answers, so it was a training ground.

*Here is an article about suffering which I found very grounding:

The constant whispers of Jesus’ voice became apparent somewhere after Easter. It’s not that they weren’t there before, I just wasn’t tuned in to the station. The reception was a bit fuzzy. From the result of Nancy’s preaching and a few of my mom’s inspirational emails, I found the resolve to redefine my quiet time. It wasn’t about the Bible, prayer, journaling, singing worship songs, fasting, or any other discipline. It became a real moment in my day to spend time with a friend. You know what? There’s give and take to that kind of relationship. And growth. I am so blessed to draw even closer to Jesus in this way!

What did He say? 

A picture from the Lord: the shine of the moon blots out the stars, not because the moon itself is huge. No, the radiance covers up the stars. In the same way, I blot out your problems when you focus on My Glory.

I healed your phone, Chelsea. I had been worried about it reaching full charge in 1/2 hr (that seemed a sign of a dying battery). So, I decided to pray over it and later God reminded me about the incident.

The thoughts I got after seeing a gecko with no tail:
Me: That’s not how a gecko should look! Ew!
God: That’s not how I see him and that’s not what I think of you. You see something broken and ugly – just like you think your life is broken and ugly sometimes. That’s not what I see. I see a gecko who is a fighter. I see the miracle of new lift shooting out of that tail stub. There is hope and persistence to be found in a “broken” life, Chelsea. Never forget: I am the God of second chances and new beginnings.   

No this fellow hasn't lost his tail, but he is a gecko!
In January when I moved into the Toledanos, it was from a logical point-of-view. The other interpreter needed some space, as did I. It made sense for someone to move out. More specifically, it made sense for me to do so because I had lived in Belize longer than Kathy. However, God was moving – even in such “minor” the practicalities. Little did I know that Mrs. Toledano had just lost her sister the previous year and was still sick with grief. She needed to get her mind off of the pain. She needed someone to take care of as much as I needed the care. On my end, I was worried about communicating in my weak Spanish with this couple and how living arrangements really would work. God answered all of our prayers. Guess what? Communication was not a problem – we had to work at it, but we succeeded. It was amazing to be a part of such a healing miracle. Mrs. Toledano improved and I am blessed upon blessed to be adopted into their family.

This was another moment that came upon me unawares. Toward the end of the year I had been feeling very ineffectual in the classroom. My primary focus was on Morine and I felt like everything was taking me away from her. There was a great need for a teacher's aide in the classroom. I ended up filling that role as well. I taught religion (lest you think that highly important, all I did was sing songs and read from an already picked out storybook), wrote out handouts (copious handouts), provided some semblance of classroom management (treats are highly effective) and did anything else Ms. Yam needed. As a result, I was blessed with 24 new friends. The kids love me and Ms. Yam does too. She let me know that she was really thankful for my help in the classroom. It surprised me because up until that point, I had simply viewed it as “stuff that got in the way of me working with Morine” or PR. I was ministering to Ms. Yam? Apparently so!

At Graduation with my teacher friends: Ms. Sonia, me, Ms. Olivia, and Ms. Yam
This story isn’t really mine, but I was honored to be involved. It all started after school one day. By “chance” I met a little girl named Tresia. As I got to know her, I found in her the most sweet and loyal friend. Though only eight, I was constantly amazed at her selflessness. It was through Tresia that I became friends with most of the little girls on my street. Every day she brought someone new to my door. Because of Tresia’s influence and networking, I was able to bless so many little girls with sweets, letters and friendship. I’m excited for what God has in store for Tresia!
Because of this one...

...I met these ones (and that's not even all of them)!
Did I mention that I almost died from a gas leak? During the first week I had moved into the new apartment, the electrician came over for a completely unrelated reason. When he walked into the apartment, he was hit by the strong smell of gas (what do I know?). Upon some searching, he found a faulty seal on the oven which he promptly got parts for and fixed. Yep, and the whole time I had been ignorantly cooking my oatmeal on the stove. Thank You, Jesus for preserving my life!

I had the extreme pleasure of enjoying a massage when I was in Belize. Who would have known that the massage therapist was a former-Jehovah-Witness-turned-Pentecostal? It was wonderful to hear her testimony. In the end, I was blessed not only physically, but spiritually as well.

If you ever get the chance to see an non light-polluted night sky, do it. Spending time looking at the stars was one way I could relax after a busy day (the sun sets early, I didn't have to wait long). Constantly, it reminded me of the Infinite and Creativity of my Creator. I was recharged after those moments of quiet.

This is not the end. I will still be finding more growth as I journey down this path. One thing is sure: I was changed when I least expected it. One piece of advice: do not take going out of the country for God's work lightly. If you let Him, He will totally redefine you.

“Already he was a very different hobbit from the one that had run out without a pocket-handkerchief from Bag-End long ago. He had not had a pocket-handkerchief for ages.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit