Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's a small, big, beautiful world

Hello my family spread out across the nations!

Im so glad to be able to check in with you all – I haven’t had a lot of opportunities with traveling; the choir (that I’m a chaperon for) has concerts or tours about the cities we are in, and we don’t get to our hotels until quite and there is rarely internet at them. But I’ve been thinking of you all as I am here a good deal.

Just for clarity and respect sake, my dears, I want you all to know that I haven’t spent any of the money donated to me for being in Mozambique on this trip . My father has actually lavishly blessed me by paying for me to be here, and has been paying for meals as well (this has been a humbling lesson for me in which God has told me to accept gifts from my dad that I normally would feel it irresponsible to accept. It has been an amazing reminder of papa God's love as well as my earthly dad's love!). I was sure to keep the Mozambique money very separate from any money that I would spend on the trip that would come directly from my work checks, and I believe I should be spending less than 200 dollars of my own money for the 3 weeks of the trip!

For those of you who may not have read some of the details in my emails or blog, I am not in Mozambique yet. I am on the first and much shorter leg of this journey, in which I am chaperoning my father’s choir trip through Western Europe. It has been a somewhat startling realization that I am here, as my thoughts, as well as maybe yours, have been much more focused on being or preparing to be in Mozambique! I decided to be on this trip before I knew I would be going to Mozambique, and so I have been preparing the details of going from London to Africa, and to a degree I had been a tad unsure of whether or not this Europe trip is something that I should be a part of .

And that is where I may have been wrong! It’s been obvious since I’ve started this trip or even before it, that there are some un-dealt with issues in me regarding serving the Lord, and I’m so thankful that He is dealing with it on this trip.

One of the awesome prophetic words that was spoken over me and repeated a few times before leaving was: “no striving, no striving, no striving”. He went on to say that God wants me to work with Him, not for Him. A month or two ago God told me that He sees me as faithful, and repeated it two other times through friends and a sister at Grace close to the same time. I was surprised by that because I didn’t feel faithful, (similarly to how I feel a bit in environments like this trip when I’m not necessarily DOING obvious ministry) lately when I don’t think Im “living up” to my calling. I said, “God, how have I been faithful in these hard months where Ive felt like ive gone up and down with how Ive walked, and haven’t really DONE much (ministry)?” What He said in response to me was: “You have loved me.” Wow! It was a type of thought that I never could have come up with; I am called faithful simply for loving Him. I thought over those months, and thought about how it was true. I hadn’t DONE amazing things or prayed and seen the dead raised etc, but through all the tough emotions I had or confusing life situations, I had loved Him very much through it all. What a realization! I thought, “is that really all you require of me”?!

So, on this trip, I have had a deeper realization of that fact that I’m a bit uncomfortable with fun, and that I feel a responsibility in some ways to work for God. I think I’m somewhat uncomfortable with just having fun! I have noticed that I’ve had an underlying feeling of guilt during this week of the trip, and that I’ve felt that way many times! I know that it can't be right; how could lack-of-fun be God’s desire or plan for me?! He says in Psalm 16 that there are pleasures forever more at His right hand! He delights in the things that I delight in! He loves that I love cultures, speaking other languages, tasting amazing foods from different amazing countries, enjoying art history and His amazing and breathtaking natural wonders. My wonderful friend Casey Long told me before I left that she thoroughly believes that fun should be a priority in our lives, and I think that she is so right! And how can I forget how much fun is to serve the Lord – being with Iris Ministries last year was some of the most fun times I’ve ever had! To think that it has to be separate, ministry and fun, is faulty thinking. And to think that not doing obvious ministry isn’t important is also faulty.

My friend David Causer prayed over me saying that he believed that God would carry the feeling of fun-vacation-lack of anxiety into my time in Mozambique. I love it! - God obviously knew that this stuff was here and needed to be dealt with before I wear myself working FOR Him in Mozambique.

-There were also two prophetic words saying that God would use me during this trip, so God is meeting me in the middle with my desire for ministry on this vacation type trip! Oh, I'm SO thankful for the things He has done that I don't know about through me, the things He is doing that I can see, and the things that I confidently believe He will do!
I have loved being wih the students (Trevecca Nazarene University Madrigalians), and am so happy to see teh way He is moving through the friendships we are building!! This morning I was able to lead a deovtion on the tour bus; that was such a happy thing for me to be able to relate to these guys in the way that I so desired an opportunity for! I love being right in the spot God wants ya, and being the instrument to show God's love!
I spoke about hearing God's voice, and shared my own experiences alongside the promises it shares in the scriptures, especially Ephesians, about the promises that He has given us in regard to how twe relate to Him/ our inheritance in Him. I shared at the end that I would love to talk to anyone more about my own experiences with haering God or anything they wanted to talk about regarding the Lord. I was SO overjoyed when a little knock came on the door of mine and Timbre's hotel room by a girl in the group who wanted to take me up on the offer to talk about hearing God. The get together ended up becoming an amazing time of healing prayer and building each other up - wow, it was awesome! It was totally worth the trip, because I think she really had an experience with God.YAY -talking and being used in her life was worth the trip, for sure. Oh thank you Jesus for being faithful.

The trip has been amazing for other reasons as well, here are some highlights:

-The group’s first location was Athens, Greece! I marveled at the city that had such a lavish way to celebrate their Gods up on the highest point of the huge city. I was overwhelmed with the realization rooftops how much our God and our savior reigns above all other Gods that were so revered in that city, and I wanted to shout from the rooftops (of our Hotel)! So I did! Treble and I had a devotion on top of our hotel and I yelled out, “Jesus is Lord!” and called out to Athens saying, “Rise up and meet your savior, the only true God!” He is the unnamed God that Paul spoke of there on Mars hill (next to the Acropolis, which we got to see!). That was an awesome experience, and I loved praying for the city. I got to have some amazing heart to heart conversations with my dad, as well!

-Rome was our next location. I was SO HAPPY to meet up with one of my very best friends, Stephanie Eatherly, who lives in Hernhutt Germany and is on staff at the YWAM base there. She was with me for 3 days and we had some wonderful adventures, conversations, and encouragement (we won’t see each other again until later this year most likely). The group sang in St. Peter’s Basilica, which was so beautiful and overwhelming. Yet, I couldn’t help but think about how Jesus would feel in the Mass that we were a part of. As we were sitting there with the gold covered chair of Paul, and all the lavish things. A woman took her crying baby out of the hush room, and I was truck with the thought, “I think Jesus likes having crying babies around. I think He likes us living or real life with Him, and seeing our humanity.” I thought of the amazing church in Pemba, where everyone sits on the floor in the front of the church with their babies tied to their backs; I always love sitting there on the floor with them, and children usually pile on top of your lap. I understand that reverence is an amazing part of how we worship, and I love the idea of giving our wealth to the church for Him, but when if it’s in exchange for us sharing our ugly parts or our real parts of life with Him, then whats the point? Thank you Lord for saving me from a conceptual relationship or lack thereof with you! And I ask Lord that you would break our hearts in the church, for your kingdom and to see you the way Jesus was trying to reveal you to us.

-florence – I studied abroad there 5 years ago, and what an amazing time to visit my old places! I saw my old apartment there on Via ghibellina a few blocks from the main cathedral there, or Duomo, Santa Maria Del Fiore! Stephanie and I rented bikes (I broke from the group for the day) and we biked about the city looking at all of my favorite places in the city, and just having a blast. It was a beautiful sunny Tuscan day, and I was so full of joy! I really enjoyed the Italian words that I haven’t spoken for 5 years coming back to mind, like old friends.

The group also sang in the mass at Santa Maria Del Fiore. It was wonderful as always, and this time there was an amazing Cardinal that spoke, and really really blessed me. His name is Alessandro, and he didn’t speak a lot English, but what I could understand in my limited Italian resonated with my spirit very much. He was very unorthodox and kept laughing into the microphone that echoed throughout the amazing acoustics in the cathedral. He was such an amazingly happy man, and he explained with joy all over his face that he loved to see smiles on our faces, because he believes that we should have great joy in Jesus Christ! He explained to me that he suffers from Oesteoperosis but he said, “I will win! I have God on my side and He fills me with joy!” Wow, what a delight he was. Later I told him that I would be praying for him, and that I believe he will live a long life. He told me that he wanted to live a long time so that he can love many more people. J I was so touched by this man who seems so selfless and truly in love with the Lord! I was so happy to meet a kindred spirit in a large church that I don’t necessarily agree with or understand theologically, and don’t speak the same language.

-Venice – We had another amazing experience with the local church there. It was a small church with a congregation made up mostly of elderly lovely Italian women. They were so enthralled with the choir’s singing and were incredibly charming in their interaction with us. They were so loving, and I was again reminded of how much I LOVE interacting with people with other cultures and languages, and how much I love to see our unity in Christ.

Afterwards my sister and I prayed for a woman whose arm was in a sling because of arthritis. She seemed to think it a bit strange that we would want to pray for her in person and seemed to doubt that it would make a difference. She said it didn’t feel any different when we were done praying, but I truly truly believe she was affected by our love for her and that the Holy spirit will take over from there! It was a lovely experience, and I was so thankful for the opportunity to show someone god’s power.

-Austria - We drove through the astounding Alps today. They reach up so high to the sky! I was allowed to lead a devotion this morning, and was so happy to be a speaker of truth for God's glory! I spoke on hearing God's voice, which is what I felt prompted by Him to speak on. I had the opportunity to be open and honest about how much God has changed in me through His Holy Spirit and a fuller revelation of His love, and power. I told them of how it's our inheritance (Ephesians) to her the Lord, and be filled with the "fullness" of God. Afterwards I welcomed anyone who wanted to to speak more about the subject or anything they wanted to since I love sharing the amazing things that God has done for me!! I was SO excited to have a knock on my door later that evening from one of the girls who decided to take me up on it. We talked about the practicals of hearing God and deciphering His voice, and talked about His spirit, the relationship that is guaranteed to us through Christ's death and the Holy Spirit inside of us, and ended up praying and talking together for about 4 hours in our hotel room! YES!!!!! Ha! I love it so much, and I'm so thankful for God moving! This relationship with the lovely girl is completely worth it all.

Miss you all, and soon I'll be in Mozy! Thanks for your prayers, and please continue to pray that God do all that He needs to do in me to better use me!!


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