Perfect Timing

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I saw this sign the other day, and it just spoke to me.

Ever have that feeling that something good was right around the corner? Like something that you have been hoping for was on it’s way.

It’s a great feeling, right?

I can’t place my finger on it, but I’m just sensing something really good is on it’s way!

Perhaps it’s that whole idea of “after obedience, comes the blessing.” The idea that there is a time to sow and water and plant and then there is harvest time where you get to reap your rewards!

Maybe it’s because God just blew all my expectations out of the water during my recent short-term missions trip! All I can say is that God answers prayers, He is working, and His timing is perfect!

As the Word says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Are you in a dry season or valley right now? HOLD ON! It gets better! The best is yet to come!

Below are some verses to help encourage you that God does show up and when He does, it’s in a BIG WAY!  It’s in a way where you can only say, “That was totally all God!”

  • “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
  • “… weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
  • “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
  • “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)

God is Faithful! If He has spoken to you about something, TRUST that He will bring it to pass! And when it happens, come back and tell me! Blessings!

Did this encourage you? If so, please feel free to leave a comment below or to hit “Like”.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Short-term missions trips 101

These days more and more people are asking me how I started going on short term missions trips and sharing with me that they are interested in going as well. Awesome! There’s a big, beautiful world out there with too many people who don’t know the Lord!

As I’ve shared before, I’m more of an accidental short-term missionary. I’m no “expert” in this field. However, after going on four short-term missions trips I’ve learned a thing or two so I’d like to share that info with you as you make your decision to GO!

Pray, pray, and well PRAY! – Short-term missions trips shouldn’t be confused with vacations or getaways. Yes, you get to travel to a foreign land and get to meet people from different cultures and perhaps get to see some famous sites while there, but that’s not the main reason for your trip! Honestly, I see it more as going off to battle. There’s a spiritual war going on and people’s souls are at stake. That’s why prayer and even fasting are key! As soon as you get an inkling that you might want to go on a trip, invite others you trust to start praying as well!

Do your research – There are tons of organizations out there and most have websites you can check out. Look up a few of them (unless your church is providing you with the opportunity to work with a particular organization). What are their beliefs? What is their vision for the trip? What will the mission be? Do they have a sample itinerary they could send you? Do you need to sign up with your own group or can you go as an individual (or family) and be assigned to a group? At this point, ask people you trust if they’ve heard of the organizations and visit their social media pages and blogs to read about their past trips. Again, ask God to guide you to the right organization. (To read how God led me to my recent trip, read Hola Honduras).

Listen to the Lord’s leading – Are you feeling drawn to a certain country or people group? Are you feeling called to work with children? There are various types of missions opportunities. Some groups focus on visiting orphans, holding vacation Bible schools for kids or doing outreaches like skits and puppet shows for children. Others focus more on construction and building orphanages or renovating buildings. Still others are more evangelism focused and include doing outreaches or festivals in public plazas or other venues. Others are strictly compassion focused and take teams to the poorest of the poor to feed, clothe them or to offer medical clinics. We’re all gifted in different ways, so ask God to show you where your gifts, talents, and personality would best fit.

How long is the trip? – Short-term trips are usually 1 to 2 weeks long. Other trips can be for 3 months, 6 months or even a year. If you’re interested in going for a year or longer, congratulations!  Keep praying! That most likely means you are being called to be a full-time missionary! If that is the case, I would say to go to your pastor, elder or other trusted mature Christians (including family members) to ask them to help you make that decision. You might want to go to a Bible school or seminary to learn more.

Some practicals – What is the temperature like in the area you would be going to? I don’t do well when it’s extremely hot, so that’s very important to me. What will the sleeping conditions be like? I’ve gone from sleeping in a hammock on a boat in the Amazon in Brazil to staying in a beautiful 4-star hotel in Honduras! Both have been wonderful, but it helps to know that ahead of time. How safe is the area and what is the plan to keep the team safe? Will you have translators or is English popular there?  I was happily surprised that so many people spoke English in Ethiopia! Will there be a doctor or nurse on the team or will you be close to a clinic, God forbid something happens! What kind of shots or visas are needed for the trip?

What is the cost? – Notice, I left this last on the list because honestly, if you’ve gotten this far in the process and you still feel the Lord calling you to GO on the trip then trust that God will make a way for you to go no matter what the price tag is! As the saying goes, where God guides, He provides! There are tons of fundraising ideas online that you can look into, and again pray about which family and friends you may want to ask to help fund your trip. You might be surprised by how many will happily contribute!

I hope this helps you as you make your decision. Ultimately though, if God is calling you to go on a certain trip I would encourage you to GO FOR IT even if at first it doesn’t seem to suit your calling, giftings, personality, etc… God knows what He’s doing and He might just want to use the trip to help s-t-r-e-t-c-h you! (To read how I was stretched on the construction site in Brazil, read Adventures in the Amazon).

Missions trips may not be easy (think enduring long travel times, interacting with a team of people with different personalty types, eating new food, pouring out and serving others day after day), but they are so rewarding!

As I’ve shared before, I see God do the miraculous while abroad! He’s done amazing things inside of me as well!  My faith always grows by leaps and bounds when I step out and GO and help to be the hands and feet of Jesus!

I pray that if you GO, you will have an amazing adventure of a lifetime as well! I look forward to hearing all about it!

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

If this encouraged you, please feel free to leave a comment below or to hit “Like” and share it with your friends!

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Foreign Friends – Part 2

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Boys we met at our first ministry site

We had the pleasure of meeting many kids and teens during our time in Honduras. Each one has a story. Each one is precious in God’s sight.

Leading up to this trip, I just knew there would come a time when I would meet one person and I would KNOW that he or she was the reason why I couldn’t stay comfortable at home and why I kept feeling drawn to Honduras. I KNEW that God would show me who that person was.

In Brazil, that person was Josie, who you can read about here. In Ecuador, it was a young 14-year-old girl who was the oldest of six kids who lived in a humble farming community that was high atop the Andes mountains. She didn’t go to school because she had to stay home doing chores and watching her younger siblings. She was a bit shy. When it was time to play games with all the kids, she was awkward and felt more comfortable sitting back and watching everyone else. That was fine with me as it gave me a chance to chat with her without her siblings being in tow.

In Ethiopia, it was a young 14-year-old girl I’ll call Ann. We had visited a government run shelter for orphans and abused girls. There were about 300 girls and a few little boys in that shelter (there was a separate shelter for older boys). I can still remember the sea of girls that attached themselves to each of the team members. I am not exaggerating when I say that I had one girl holding each of my hands and one girl tucked into both of my arms. When we walked, we walked as one organism, only separating when we had to pass through a doorway. All they wanted was for us to play with them and to spend some time with them. They excitedly showed us the barn they had on the property. They so sweetly covered my head when it started to rain. They kindly pulled out a chair for me when we were indoors. It was there that I got a glimpse of how the children must have flocked to Jesus when He was passing by. If I could, I would have hugged all the kids that day!  Still, Ann is one of the girls that still stands out to me. She had a sparkle in her smile. Her English was great! When I started chatting with her about the Lord she exclaimed, “I love Jesus!”  She had recently become a Christian and a family member was taking her to church. I happened to have one Gideon Bible with me, and I knew she was the one to give it to.  I happily gave it to her with this charge, “Read it and then share what you learn with the others!”

So who would I meet in Honduras?

This time we interacted with so many kids, but I’ll share about only two for now.

The first is a 14-year-old boy that I’ll call Nelson. I was chatting with his friend at the site pictured above. I was encouraging them that God has a good plan for their lives. As I was encouraging them that they can overcome their obstacles, Nelson surprised me by quoting Philippians 4:13 which states, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” I asked him what else he knew so he quoted John 3:16 which states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I was so blessed to hear him quoting scripture so I asked him if he had a Bible. His eyes lit up as he said, “No.” That’s when I was so thankful that I had brought a small Gospel of John in Spanish. I didn’t know who it was meant for until that moment. I gave it to him with the same charge, “Read it and then teach the others!”

The other boy that made a real impact on me was a 15-year-old boy I met at the high school. I will call him Victor. We had just finished our presentation and were chatting with the students. Victor was standing next to his girlfriend. I soon learned she was a believer who went to church. I asked Victor what impacted him the most about the presentation and he said the “Everything” drama. The drama is about a girl who is lured away from Jesus because of a guy, money, drinking, eating disorders and ultimately suicidal thoughts. Jesus redeems her of all of that!

I asked Victor if he faced some of those temptations. He said he was dealing with all of them. I asked if he believed in God. He said he wasn’t sure. “How could there be a God with all the bad things that happen?” he asked. I shared how we live in a fallen world and we can choose to follow God or to sin and live how we want, etc…  He listened intently. When I asked if he’d like to receive the Lord, he said yes. After we prayed, I just held onto his hands and looked him square in the eyes and kept speaking life into him. He just kept listening and holding on to my hands. He had tears in his eyes. At that moment, it didn’t matter that he was in his high school or that his girlfriend was standing right next to him. I’m not even sure what I said to him, but in that moment I KNEW that Victor was a big reason why I had come to Honduras.

If Victor were the only person I had prayed with during my time in Honduras, I would still have counted my trip a success. For Victor was a lost sheep that desperately needed to hear that God loves him!

I count it a joy and a priviledge to share these moments with kids (and adults!) in foreign places.  I may never see them again this side of heaven, so I always pray that I will make the most of what little time I have with them.

Again, you don’t have to wait to be abroad to pray for and encourage those around you. Pray and ask God to lead you to the people He wants you to share His Good News with. That is definitely a prayer that God will answer!

If this encouraged you, feel free to leave a comment or to hit “Like” below.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Viva Honduras

Cute school kids we visited

My trip to Honduras was everything I could have hoped for and more!

The people were so friendly, and our host church CEAD went above and beyond to make us feel welcome. That included greeting us with a banner at the airport in the wee hours of the morning, throwing us a welcoming party, serving as translators and guides throughout the week, and sending us off with a night of culture, which included food, music, and fireworks!

The people of Honduras were ready for change. They were open to inviting Jesus into their lives and into their country.

God showed up in a Mighty way in Honduras. I’m honored to have been part of this historic trip.  I’m still amazed that 2,000 missionaries went to flood Honduras with the love of Jesus and that I was one of them! (To read how I decided to go on the trip, click here.)

There’s no way I could fully describe everything I saw, felt and experienced in Honduras, but I will try to give you a just a taste.

Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world because of all the gang activity that takes place. It is located in Central America, near my Mom’s home country of El Salvador.

The country is divided into 18 different states or provinces. The teams were spread out all throughout Honduras. A group of more than 100 was assigned to Honduras’ capital city Tegucigalpa in the state of Francisco Morazan. There we broke up into seven teams.

The team of 20 that I was with on a daily basis was called Team 4. We were a mix of folks from New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas and North Carolina. (You guys rocked!) Monday through Thursday we visited various sites including an elementary school, a middle school, a high school, the Harvard of Honduras, a hospital, a detention center for street boys, and a temporary shelter for families who had traveled for hours so their loved ones could be admitted into the hospital.

At each of those sites we performed skits and dramas, shared testimonies, gave salvation calls, and prayed for the people afterwards. At each of those sites, we felt God’s prescence in a powerful way! Amazingly, my team alone saw more than 240 people give their lives to Christ! Yes, the harvest was ripe!

While we were ministering to the youth and some of the poor, there were other missionaries who were conducting medical clinics, distributing food and shoes throughout the country and leaders training the local pastors. There were others who visited the Westpoint of Honduras. The military was so receptive that they ordered hundreds of the discipleship books being distributed so that incoming students could also be trained!

Everywhere we went, people welcomed us and remarked that they could feel that God was with us. People were so open to prayer. That included our guards, our hotel staff, the mayor of the beautiful tourist city we visited on our free day called Valle de Angeles, etc…

Our US team in Francisco Morazan plus the local Honduran team helped bring the Gospel to more than 40,000 people in those few short days. More than 12,000 people received the Lord! Glory to God!

If all that wasn’t amazing enough, then Saturday came. That was the official 1Nation1Day when 18 crusades or festivals were to take place. The President had already declared July 20th a national holiday. So much prayer and preparation went into the events. Would the people come?

The answer?  YES!

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In our stadium alone, 35,000 cheered and worshiped the Lord! Some 3,000 were in an overflow stadium!

Very early on in the evening, we saw a man walk right out of his wheelchair! There were reports that people were being healed as they were simply entering the stadium!

I was rejoicing just being in the stadium, and then they invited us to go onto the field! What an honor! We got to take a lap around the stadium. The people were cheering and thanking us for coming. I felt like I was an Olympian in the Closing Ceremonies. Except I was an Olympian for Jesus!

Things got even better!

So we’re standing there on the track and it’s time for the salvation call so we’re asked to start interceding for the people. I’m praying for people from afar, but I’m still hoping that I can interact with them. But they are behind a fence. And so many raised their hands to receive the Lord. How could we pray for all of them?

Then the guards open the gates and the people start trickling onto the field. And they start coming to us with their prayer requests! Yes! That’s why we came! To pray with the people and to encourage them and to love on them!

We’d pray for one person, and then a family, and then two friends. We’d pray for adults and kids. We’d pray for healing. We’d pray for salvation. We’d pray for other requests.

It was organized chaos, and I loved it!

The crusades made the covers of the local papers. Sweet!

In San Pedro Sula, the “murder capital of the world” there are usually 20 murders a day. Prior to our arrival in Honduras, the two major gangs had called a truce. That had to be God parting the seas! I’m told that during the 9 days that a team was there, there were no murders. Praise God!

I’m so thankful that God kept us all safe. I’m so thankful that the team got along so well. I’m so thankful that people recovered from the stomach bug that was going around. I’m so thankful that our family and loved ones were kept safe while we were away.

I’m so thankful that God showed up in unexpected and extraordinary ways!

All I can say is that we serve an AWESOME GOD! Jesus is real. He is alive. He still heals. He is still in the miracle working business.

The same Jesus that showed up in Honduras wants to flood your life with His Love and His Power. Will you let Him?

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20 – 21)

If this encouraged you, please feel free to leave a note below!

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Hola Honduras

National Flag of Honduras
J. Stephen Conn / Foter / CC BY-NC

Blame it on Facebook! I refused to join Facebook for years! I liked being one of the five people on earth not hooked on social media. Then late last year, I caved and within weeks I saw an ad for an historic missions trip to Honduras. The ad said they were assembling the largest missions team in history to flood the country of Honduras.

They were looking for 2,000 missionaries to go and share the love of God with school children through dramas, skits, sharing testimonies, and prayer. And there would be crusades held in the 18 provinces in Honduras. There would be free medical clinics for the people, food and shoes distributed to locals, and training for local pastors. How could I resist?

I did my research. Watched the videos. Prayed. Waited. Researched other trips. Prayed. Waited. Watched the videos again. Researched more trips, etc… In the end, I kept feeling drawn to this trip.

Below are some of my objections and how God answered each and every one:

I don’t know the organizers or anyone else going! No problem. God arranged for me to “randomly” meet one of my team leaders the day before I found out I was assigned to her group!  He also used me to encourage one of my sister’s friends to join the team. And one of my team members “happens” to live in my neighborhood! I’ve been meeting with my team these last few weeks and they are all lovely people. Thank God!

Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world! That is why they need Jesus!  Amazingly, a few months ago the leaders of two of the biggest gangs in Honduras held a press conference from jail and they declared a TRUCE! They asked God and society for forgiveness! Glory! God has parted the seas for us! The harvest is ripe!

The temperature can get to 100 or above! Thankfully, not where I’ll be! Praise God!

My Spanish is still broken! After much practice, my two minute testimony is coming along great. My family and friends have been happily surprised by my pronounciation. That has got to be the Lord!

So I already see God’s hand in this and I haven’t even set foot in the beautiful country of Honduras!

I’m looking forward to all the wonderful people I will meet! I’m looking forward to praying and encouraging them! I’m looking forward to making new memories with them! I’m looking forward to seeing signs, miracles and wonders and seeing God work in unexpected ways! God is doing something in Honduras, and I am humbled and honored to be a part of it!  God is also doing something in me. I’m looking forward to what God will say and do while I’m abroad!

Who knew me joining Facebook would lead to this? Oh right, God knew! To learn more about 1Nation1Day, click here.

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9: 35-38)

Did this encourage you? Feel free to write a comment below.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Why GO?

I’m just days away from my short-term missions trip to Honduras. I will be one of almost 2,000 missionaries that will flood the nation of Honduras with God’s love. Although I’m so excited to be going and ministering to the high school students there through testimonies, skits, and prayer times, I still marvel that I am going. As I pack my suitcase this time around, I’m reflecting on how I even started going on these trips and why I go. Blessings!

I must say I am an accidental short-term missionary. At least in my eyes. I never grew up wanting to go on missions trips. I certainly didn’t know any missionaries. Over the years, I did discover that I enjoyed traveling. My goal years ago was to travel to the cities that hosted Olympic Games. And God allowed me to go to the modern Olympic Games stadium in Athens, Greece and the stadiums in Sydney, Australia, Salt Lake City, Utah and Los Angeles, California. Not bad! I am so grateful for all the wonderful places I’ve gotten to travel to over the years.

But God had different plans for me. After years of traveling for vacation and for work and after my amazing time in Israel in 2007, I knew it was time to “give back.” Before I could even ponder where I might go, God introduced me to Tyler Burkett from Extreme International.

Tyler was in town with his wife and a group of teens who were on a missions trip to New York City. I was guiding his team on an outreach through the New York School of Urban Ministry (NYSUM). During our lunch break, the kids mentioned that they had been on a missions trip to Ecuador. I was intrigued. My Dad is from Ecuador so I asked them which part they had gone to, and they proceeded to say the name of my Dad’s hometown! What? Of all the places in the world, these kids had gone on a missions trip to the place where my Dad was born and raised? When Tyler said he went there often and invited me to join them, I didn’t need to see a burning bush in front of me. I KNEW that I would travel with him one day. The next time I saw Tyler, it was two years later. I was in the airport in Ecuador with my teammates from Texas for the missions trip in 2010.

In between meeting Tyler and traveling with his group, Steve and Dianna Butcher from Amazon River Churches came to speak at my church, and they made an open invitation to go build a church in the Amazon jungle in Brazil!  I wrote here how tough it was for me to decide to go, but again God had already softened my heart towards missions.  I had no previous desire to travel to Brazil, but in 2009 I packed my bags and went on an adventure of a lifetime!

After going to Brazil with Steve and the team in 2009 and Ecuador with Tyler and the team in 2010, I was open to Steve’s invitation to AFRICA, which I wrote about here.

All this talk about traveling can sound kinda glamorous to some, but it’s not always easy to get on a plane, leave all your loved ones behind and go to some foreign country. There are shots to take beforehand (and sometimes gigantic malaria pills to swallow during the trip!), money to raise, vacation time to be used. There’s also lots of prayer and fasting to get ready for the spiritual battles that will take place.

Surprisingly enough, sometimes the toughest battles are fought long before even setting foot on the plane!

So why do I go?  Seriously. Why worry about mosquitoes and critters and what the sleeping conditions will be like? Why go to places where I have to brush my teeth with bottled water and avoid certain foods? And WHY go to places where I have to carry toilet paper with me and drown my hands in hand sanitizer??? (Just trying to be real folks! Don’t worry, many times I’m also shocked by how modern some of the cities are!)

Clearly, missions trips should not be confused with your typical vacations!

I go for so many reasons including:

I see God move in miraculous ways! I have seen Him heal team members and keep us out of harm’s way! Yes, that means that team members have gotten sick and been healed while being out on the field. Some have come on trips defying their doctor’s orders, and God has kept them healthy!  Other times He has held back the rain for us during the monsoon season, and He has kept us safe in the jungle in Brazil, on the mountaintops in Ecuador and in the slums of Ethiopia. Of course, I see God move in miraculous ways here at home, but there is something so special about how I see Him work when I’m abroad.

I meet amazing people! From the sweet kids we get to play with and minister to, to the humble pastors we meet who receive meager salaries and little recognition, to the full-time missionaries we get to come alongside and encourage, there is no shortage of wonderful people to befriend like I wrote about here. Some of the heroes are the missionary kids who adapt to life “out there” and embrace the local kids as if they were their family. Speaking of local kids, in Ecuador there was a little 4-year-old who was the daughter of a local pastor. She came with us during all our home visits and she was such a delight. What a trooper! She climbed up and down the mountainside without any complaints.

My teammates also inspire me. They leave behind family and the comforts of home and sacrifice the little money and vacation time they have. They set aside fears of insects or of long flights, lay down worries about health issues, and just go and love on the people!

My faith g-r-o-w-s!  God speaks to me extra clearly when I’m “out there” and I love it!  I know that I am in the palm of God’s hand and in the center of His will for my life when I’m out there. And I know that we are covered in prayer. That’s why I can be at peace in the middle of the jungle while we’re painting the church in Brazil or while we’re swerving along the mountainside on winding roads without guardrails in Ecuador. That’s why I can feel God’s presence during an impromptu service in a junkyard in Ethiopia! That’s why I can talk to complete strangers about Jesus and pray for them on the spot!

I am so encouraged to see how the locals love the same God that I do. It reminds me that as Christians we really are one family with the same Heavenly Father! I am so blessed to be able to travel around this beautiful world that God has created! And I am humbled and honored that I can be the hands and feet of Jesus in any small way while I’m there.

Because God says GO! It’s all over the Bible. It’s some of the last words Jesus said to His disciples after He resurrected and before He ascended into heaven. That should be reason enough for all of us to Go! When God opens a door, it’s best to go through it! The peace comes from knowing He goes before us and is with us! That’s His Promise to us!

Some of you may be thinking about and praying about going on a short-term missions trip. I pray that God will confirm things to you and swing the doors wide open for you.

Below are a few verses that are near and dear to my heart especially as I prepare for mission trips. I pray they will bless you as well!

  • “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” (Joshua 1:3)
  • “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
  • “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'” (Isaiah 6:8)
  • “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” (Matthew 28: 18-20)
  • “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
  • “…Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'” (Romans 10:13-15)

If this encouraged you, please feel free to leave a comment below. If you’ve already been on missions trips, I’d love to hear a bit about your experiences!

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

You might also enjoy reading:

Foreign Friends

View of painted church

 

One of the best things about going on short-term missions trips is the people you get to meet along the way. It’s during these trips that you get to exchange ideas and interact with people that live in a completely different world than you. And you get to make memories with people that you may never see again. Below is the story of a young lady I met in Brazil that I will never forget. Blessings!

During the short-term missions trip I went on to Arumanduba, Brazil in March 2009, the team befriended the family that lived to the right side of the church that God allowed us to help build (the church is pictured above). So many generations lived in this one particular house right on the river. Among them was the older man who donated the land for the church to be built, a cute little 4-year-old boy who used to ride in a canoe by himself, and the boy’s grandmother. There was also a young couple.

We had all noticed there was something different about the young wife. She didn’t look like any of the people in the area. The Portuguese she spoke sounded like it was a slightly different dialect. She also seemed kind of melancholy. We soon learned that the young wife was actually only 14!

Josie, as I will affectionately call her, was caught between two worlds. She didn’t fit in with all the carefree kids splashing around in the murky water and climbing palm trees in their bare feet. She also didn’t fit in with all the adults that stayed indoors doing housework, went off to work or gathered around to see us crazy Americans assembling a church.

She looked like she was a foreigner who had come from another region of Brazil. Her blonde hair made her stand out among all the brunettes. She was extremely quiet and reserved. She seemed like a young girl trapped in an adult’s life.

All seven of the women on our team were hoping to get to know this mysterious young lady and thankfully God gave us the opportunity one afternoon. During a break from all the construction we were doing, we stopped and played games such as paddy cake with the kids. As we were relaxing on some chairs, Josie quietly came over and took a seat next to us. With our indigenous Brazilian missionary there to serve as our translator, we struck up a conversation with our new friend. We got to encourage her and pray with her, and God allowed us to lead her to the Lord right on the spot.

That in itself was precious! So was what happened a little while afterwards.

It was the end of the week and the construction was just about done and I was finally ready to hit the water. I had seen my teammates and the locals swimming all week long and none of them had gotten bitten by any piranhas that may have been lurking around, thank God! Now it was my turn to jump in.

The kids were so excited that I would finally be joining them for their daily swim! And though the water was well… FILTHY… I had been looking forward to taking a dip. Don’t worry, I didn’t put my head under the water!

While I was playing with the kids, Josie decided to join us. I was so happy she did! Her demeanor had changed so much after we prayed for her and she received Christ. It just seemed like a weight had been lifted off of her.

So she hung around for a bit, but then left. She motioned that she would be back. I figured she went off to do some chores in the house.

After awhile, she came back and had this little plastic jar with her that you would find in any salon here in the states. She then took out some cream from the container and put it on her hair. Then in a very sweet gesture, she reached out and showed me that it was avocado conditioner. She then motioned for me to put some in my hair, so I did.

At that moment, I felt a special bond with Josie. I felt like she was inviting me to enter her world. There I was, standing in the murky water that was like a second home to her and she was sharing probably one of the only simple luxuries she must have owned with me. It was a girlie moment in the Amazon jungle of all the places in the world! We were just two girls trading beauty secrets except we didn’t say many words. It was priceless!

The once shy girl was coming out of her shell. My how she had been transformed in such a short time!

The night of the church’s inauguration Josie and her husband went up to receive prayer for healing. What a blessing to see! I don’t think she or her family will ever forget our team and by writing this memory down,  it will help me to always remember Josie.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until you’re on the mission field to enter someone else’s world.  Who can you start befriending today?

If this encouraged you, please feel free to leave a comment.

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Provision

 

xavipat / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

As my next short-term missions trip gets closer and closer, I’m taking some moments to reflect on past trips. Blessings!
 

In November 2011, God allowed me to travel as a short-term missionary to AFRICA.  Africa, China and India have always seemed like such faraway places that only “professional” missionaries go. Why in the world would God want me to go to Ethiopia?  I wasn’t quite sure what awaited me in Africa. All I knew was that God kept reminding me that He would be with me.
 

He’s always spoken to me in such special ways when I’ve been abroad so I was looking forward to seeing all the mighty ways that He would show up in Africa. I kept saying the victory for me would be simply getting on the plane and also setting foot on the sixth continent that God has allowed me to visit. The rest would be icing on the cake.

 

Leading up to the trip, all I kept hearing from God was to “Go Forth!” He used people at church and even my niece and nephew to quote Joshua 1:9 to me to remind me to be strong and courageous on the trip. God encouraged my heart so much, that by the time the trip was a week away I could barely wait to GO!

 

Our journey started with a short flight from New York City to Washington D.C. As three of my teammates and I boarded the small commuter plane to D.C. to meet up with the rest of the group, I looked to my right and was surprised to see that my luggage was being lifted onto the plane at the same time that I was climbing up the steps. So just in case I had any last minute doubts, I felt like God was saying that me and my bags were right where we needed to be and there was no turning back! 

Amazingly, once we were in the airport, God sent one of my Bible study students — a man that had come to class only once during the previous summer —  to the same café our team was eating in. He prophesied over our leaders and encouraged me in the café and even during the plane ride to Ethiopia. Wow, I could already see God’s fingerprints everywhere, and I still hadn’t even set foot in Africa!

 

God did not disappoint me in Ethiopia. He was with us every step of the way. From visiting an orphanage named AHOPE for kids with HIV, to being surrounded by a sea of girls – more than 300 to be more exact  – at a government run home for abused and abandoned girls, to being able to share an encouraging word and worship together with the young men who live in a shack in a garbage dump, to getting to pray for the Pastor in the impoverished community also located near a large trash dump, to getting to read scripture aloud during a service at a temple for messianic Ethiopian Jews, each place we visited is a story in itself.

 

Every day, I felt God adding personal touches to show me that He had ordained for me to take this trip. For now, I’d like to focus on one of the most special “God moments” for me.

 

As the trip grew closer, I learned that we would be attending the wedding of our team leader’s daughter who was living in Ethiopia. I must admit that I wasn’t thrilled about that. I didn’t know the bride or groom and I was having a hard time reconciling that I was going to be staying at a fancy resort during a missions trip.

 

By the time we got to the wedding, which was during our final days there, I had gotten to know the bride and groom much better.  And after all that pouring out during our outreaches, I had no problem soaking in all the beauty and peacefulness at the resort. Everything was going great until I arrived at the ceremony and I saw that it was being held outdoors.

 

Since Ethiopia sits on the equator, the sun was really beating down on us. I have been in the sun at the equator in Ecuador and I got a major sunburn because of it, which was not fun.  Many times I have also come close to passing out after being in the sun for too long so I started to panic. I tried to sit in the shade for as long as I could but once the ceremony began, I quickly started to wilt. I jokingly said to my teammate, “The sun shall not smite thee by day, as long as you’re sitting in the shade.”  (Psalm 121:6) As usual, Dad was listening.

 

Finally, I had no choice but to run back to my room. I figured I would have to grab my water bottle and wear my baseball cap, but who wears a cap to a wedding? All these thoughts were running through my mind when I reached the bungalow that I was sharing with one of my teammates.

 

As I walked to the outdoor seating area in front of our room, I could hardly believe what I saw.  Hanging on a little hook outside our door was a beautiful umbrella. I had noticed it when we had first gotten to our assigned rooms earlier that day, but I never thought that I would use it. Now as I looked at it I saw the perfect parasol. I thought, “Wow, this resort really has all the bases covered. They even have umbrellas for their guests.”

 

So with that, I got my water bottle, grabbed the umbrella and I ran to my teammates’ room to my left so I could get their umbrella. But when I got there, I didn’t see anything. So I ran to my teammates’ room to my right, and again I found nothing.

 

Then it hit me. That umbrella was there just for me!  My Heavenly Father knew that I would need something to protect me from the sun and He knew that I would be the only team member that would run back to her room. A simple umbrella never meant so much to me. For in His great love for me, God provided exactly what I needed and He did so at just the right time.

 

When I told the story to my teammates during our devotional time the next day, one of them remarked, “God likes you.” I quickly answered,  “I like Him too!”  Of course, that is a huge understatement!

 

So yes, at a wedding all the way on the other side of the world, God showed me once again just how much He loves and cares about me and reminded me that He can provide for even the smallest of my needs!

 

God will do the same for you. Look for God’s fingerprints in your life. He really is all around!

 

“The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” (Psalm 121:5-8)

 Did this encourage you? Please feel free to leave a comment below!

 

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Lost and Found

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As I mentioned in last week’s post, while I was in Ecuador in 2010 I got to take a speedboat ride along the Amazon River with my Dad and some cousins. While we were there, we stopped at a little village where we learned about the local tribes. That’s where I picked out the pretty earring pictured above.

This earring is very special to me, so I don’t wear it often. I did wear it to a birthday celebration with my sister and her family last April. After our lunch, we took some photos outside of the restaurant, and then I drove back home.

When I got home and was unpacking my car, I realized that I was missing one of my earrings. No way!  My first thought was, “Oh no, when am I ever going to go back to the Ecuadorian jungle to find a replacement!”

It was dark, so I couldn’t see much but I quickly surveyed the inside of my car. Nothing. The next day I went back and even though it was daylight, I still didn’t see my earring. Not good.

I tried to forget about it, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would see this earring again. Perhaps it was because at a retreat a few years back, God allowed me to find two of my lost earrings!

So for some reason, every time I entered my car I couldn’t help but just give a glance around in hopes that my earring would turn up. Still nothing. Why was I still feeling like God was saying that I’d get it back?

I mentioned the missing earring to my sister and she asked me to send her a photo of it. (That’s when I snapped the picture above). Two weeks later she was back at the same restaurant and she asked them about their lost and found.  Only a sister would do that! Guess what she saw?

My earring was no longer M.I.A.!

So I did hear God correctly. I was reunited with my earring. Just not in the way I expected.

Why am I sharing all of this?

As I think back to that uneasy feeling I had when my earring was misplaced, I’m reminded of the parable Jesus shared about the woman who lost one of her coins. That coin was worth a day’s wages. No wonder she searched high and low for it. It was extremely valuable to her.

But why was Jesus telling this story? Certainly not to show that our possessions or money have any real worth. Far from it.

He was sharing that parable as well as the one about the lost sheep and the lost son to show how much He values even one lost soul!

“And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:9)

Just one soul is priceless to Jesus! What a sweet Savior!

God will go to great lengths to find His lost and wayward children. And sometimes He will use US to help Him with the search and rescue effort.

In just a few short weeks, I will be headed on my fourth short-term missions trip. This time to Honduras.

Why am I going? I don’t have any direct connections to Honduras. I’ve already been on missions trips to this part of the world. I didn’t have any friends on the team. And Honduras is one of the most violent countries in the world! I’ll tell you more about the trip as it gets closer, but for now I can only say that I am going to help seek and encourage even one lost soul.

If you’ve ever lost/misplaced an item and felt the joy of finding it again, perhaps you’ve had just a tiny, tiny taste of how much rejoicing there is in heaven when even one sinner repents and accepts Jesus. (Luke 15:7)

To get to pray with and encourage even one lost soul in Honduras will be an extreme honor for me.

If you are one of those lost souls, I would be honored to hear from you as well so do leave a note below.

If this encouraged you, feel free to leave a comment.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Let Your Light Shine

 

In Honor of Father’s Day, I’m sharing a story about the wonderful time I had with my Dad during my second visit to his native country of Ecuador! I pray you’ll enjoy reading about some of our adventures.

In July 2010, God made a way for me to go on a short-term missions trip to my Dad’s hometown in Ecuador. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would travel to Ecuador as a missionary! It was such a treat as the first week was focused on visiting humble communities in the Andes mountains at the altitudes of 11,000 feet above sea level.

The second week was devoted to visiting my large extended family and sight-seeing with my Dad.

It was during my second week that we traveled to the jungles of Ecuador and got to take a speed boat ride on the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon. It was quite an adventure for my Dad and I. My cousin Byron and his sister and her husband and their daughter joined us on the trip.

That evening when we returned to the town named Misawaji where we were staying, we were celebrating my cousin’s husband’s birthday at a restaurant and we had one rather chunky, white candle for him to blow out. After the celebration, I distinctly remember my cousin Byron asking what he should do with the candle and my Dad telling him that he should hang onto it “just in case” so he put it in his pocket and we all soon called it a night. The next day we drove some four hours to the tourist town of Baños which is known for its thermal springs and beautiful waterfalls.

I had been there briefly in 2003, but this time my family was determined to take me to the waterfall called El Pailón del Diablo or the Devil’s Cauldron. I didn’t like the name, but I like waterfalls so the six of us set off on our journey even though it was already close to dusk. So we’re walking and talking and taking photos and enjoying the smaller waterfalls along the way. I think it had been raining the day before, so we’re slowly descending down slippery, stone steps and also walking under a canopy of trees in the middle of basically a forest. I don’t think any of us knew how far we would have to walk, but despite the fact that it was getting darker and darker we were determined to get a glimpse of this famous waterfall.

By the time we reached our destination, the official walkway to view the waterfall was closed so we had to take an alternate route which to my horror meant that to view the waterfall we would have to step onto a narrow, wooden bridge that I can only describe as the bridge from the “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” movie. Just imagine crossing the bridge pictured below except the bridge I’m referring to was much higher and it was night! (To view other people’s pictures of the actual site, click here).

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My cousin and my Dad just about ran over the bridge. I, on the other hand, froze for a moment as it was pitch dark by now and all I could hear was the sound of the rushing water beneath us and all around us. But I had come too far to turn back, so I said a prayer and basically said,”Ok Lord, I trust you. I’m in your hands.” With that I breathed, stepped onto the rickety bridge and was escorted to the middle so I could see the waterfall. I really couldn’t see much because it was so dark but that was just fine as for me the victory was having the courage to just stand on that bridge! Of course, the adventure didn’t stop there.

Now we had to climb back up the path in the dark!

This is where the spiritual applications started coming to me. There we were, the 6 of us stranded in a forest at night with no real plan. And then by the grace of God, my cousin Byron remembered the birthday candle and the matches in his pants pocket! God knew we would need them for this trip! So with Byron in the lead with the candle in hand, we all stayed close so we could see where we were going. Suddenly all these Bible verses started coming to life for me like, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Yes, for when I trailed too far behind my cousin Byron, I couldn’t see where I was going. I had to stay near the light! No matter if I couldn’t see anything else around me. I had to focus on the light!

I was also reminded that we are called to be the light of the world! During that journey, I saw the great impact that just one shining light has in a dark place! We didn’t have a big torch or a spotlight with us. For most of that trip, all we had was that one candle and that’s all we needed! God wants us to shine that brightly so that the lost will find their way to the One True Light which is Jesus! (John 8:12)

So while I probably wouldn’t make that trip near dusk ever again, I am so grateful for the truths that God showed me that day. Let’s all remember to let the light of Christ shine through us!

If you enjoyed reading about these adventures, feel free to leave a comment below!

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