Friday, December 23, 2011

my beloved india

To my loyal followers... I want to fill you in on what I am about to do.


Some might say that this is too ambitious having just returned from FOUR months abroad in Mexico. However, I could not be more confident that the timing of this Indian adventure couldn't be more perfect. The Lord placed this passion on my heart in 2005, when we went as a family with a few others from our church. It was my first exposure to missions and my heart has never felt a more compelling sense of purpose and joy as it did on that trip 7 years ago. Now, we have the opportunity to go back as a family, with 32 other members to serve and be used as tools for the furthering of God's kingdom in his beloved country of India.

Considering that Brian is as tall as my dad now, it's obvious that we've grown a TON
Sweet linds was four when we went last. Like I said, it's been a WHILE since we've been back
The most joyful moment of my life as seen by my MASSIVE smile

We will be partnering with Harvest India, an incredible organization that our church has been in relationship with for 14 years. During our time on the ground we will join the work Harvest India has been doing for years and putting on a VBS at the orphanage, spending time with the bible college students, serving in their mercy ministries (medical clinics, distributing food and blankets), working with women who were enslaved in prostitution and have been rescued, praying over lepers in a leper colony, and a multitude of other things that the Lord will bring to our attention.

Throughout the time there, I will be blogging with two other members on behalf of the team, so if you would like to follow us, our address is: I am thrilled to use the newly found passion I have for blogging to keep those in the states involved with the work we will be doing on the ground in Tenali and surrounding villages!

Please be praying for God to MOVE and for us to be on board with the things he does there. Pray for BOLDNESS to step out of our comfort zones and allow God to use us. Pray for health and safety as we travel. Pray for those who work at/with Harvest India, that their hearts will feel full of joy and that they would feel blessed by the time we spend with them. But most importantly, pray for a REVIVAL in India, that the whole nation would come to know our Lord and Savior and accept him into their hearts, that they may begin to live a life that brings glory and honor to him. Alleluja! May your hearts be filled with awe and reverance as we celebrate the birth of our Lord this Christmas weekend!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

not for sale

Okay, so seeing that I am done with school for the next four weeks, I decided that I should read something. Something that would motivate me, challenge me, and stretch me. I just finished reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan and absolutely LOVED it. The Lord has blessed him with such a unique ability to articulate the things that the church needs to hear the most, and allows him to speak in a way that will spur the body into action. Having read this book, I feel incredibly compelled to encourage the people God has placed in my life to seek him in a BOLD and unconventional way. To live in such a way as to bring him GLORY and fully surrender their lives to HIM, and the work that the Holy Spirit desires to do in their hearts if they just would give all everything to him.

My dear friend Emily is the Not For Sale rep at out school, because her uncle started the organization. Naturally I desired to learn more about this incredibly impactful ministry and gain a more thorough knowledge about the problem of human trafficking globally and in our own country. So, I cracked the book last night and dove into the extremely moving story that David Batstone unfolds page by page. Just in reading the introduction chapter I felt absolutely drawn in and immediately began thinking about what it would look like for me to join this fight for freedom. This afternoon I read through chapter one that specifically focused on Thailand. I couldn't put my pen down because every page was chalk full of disturbing statistics that continually blew me away. My brain is literally spinning thinking of all of the injustice that goes unacted on. I cannot imagine living in such poverty that my family's best option is to sell me into prostitution. How is this possibly happening in our world? Another thing made me absolutely sick to my stomach. Batstone was talking about how the concept of purity is completely skewed for these women. Culturally, "when an unmarried woman has lost her viriginity, she is considered despoiled. Purity is all or nothing; either she has it or she doesn't. The girl might as well be sold into prostitution, for she has lost her innocence" (Batstone 34). This made me so incredibly sad. In high school I made some terrible decisions regarding purity, but I repented from them and know that God in his UNLIMITED GRACE has forgiven me and given me a new fresh start. Those decisions NO LONGER DEFINE ME, and God says that he has removed them from us as far as the east is from the west. The fact that these women don't know this truth about their creator makes me want to cry.   

Let's just say I feel so incredibly excited about the fact that I'm going to India in 10 days, because I am not sure that I'd be able to sit here in the comfort of my beautiful home in Newport for the whole break now having started to immerse myself in this problem. I am honestly not sure as of right now what it looks like for me to play apart in this, but I do know that God has placed a burning passion in my heart for these enslaved women who are forced into prostitution. I firmly believe that on this trip coming up in 10 days, he is going to speak and move in my heart, making it a little bit clearer what he has for me to do. I am praying that once he shows me or gives me a slight hint as to how to play a part, that I will have the BOLDNESS to act on that and actually make steps forward to do something rather than sitting around. 

If you want to read more about the organization and their mission visit:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Here I am, sitting on my OWN bed, in my OWN room, writing to you from my OWN home. I find it hard to believe that a little over a week ago I was living in Mexico. Actually it freaks me out when I think about it for longer than a second. Thus far my reentry has been fairly smooth. I arrived home on Tuesday afternoon (the 6th) at about 3 o'clock. As I came down the escalator, I was greated by my amazing fan club, and by fan club I mean family!!! They made me a sweet sign that is still sitting on my floor, and had flowers and balloons!! It was the ultimate greeting team. I felt SO loved and cared for and I know that they were as excited about making all of the funness as I was about seeing it. We went to Houston's Steakhouse and I had the best burger ever. I am obsessed with the Veggie Burger at R+D Cafe by my house, and Houston's is owned by the same people, so I got to feast on my favorite burger. HOWEVER, it was SO massive and filling that I barely ate half of it! Not to mention the fact that my body was completely unaccustomed to eating "dinner", having just come off of a semester where the big meal of the day was served between 1:30 and 3! Nonetheless, it was an absolutely divine feast and although it felt strange to not have my 14 other family members (our WIM group), it was delightful to be with my family.

Wednesday was full of errands and running around with my mommy, christmas tree shopping, almost forgetting to pick up my dress from the tailor. WHEW! It was an eventful day, but so great to be home with my sweet family. We have a tradition where we pick a tree that is still wrapped up and take it home and unveil it on the front porch. Well, let's just say, this year we rescued our tree from the pound. While she might not be the most noteably full, or respectably tall, she has character!!! And, considering that we are leaving for India in 12 days from today, it doesn't really matter what she looks like because her life is going to be cut short. In order to ease the process of getting out of town, we decided to go with homemade decorations for our little charlie brown tree. My mom lovingly cut strips of christmas paper for us to make a paper chain, and then we cut out snowflakes and Lindsay strung popcorn (which by the way is WAY harder than one might think). We adorned her with colored lights and our intricately made decorations and called it a night. I planned on leaving for Westmont the next morning at 7am, so I needed to get some sleep.

I took off at 7:10, and headed up to pick up ERICA! Seeing her was unreal. I missed my sweet adventuring buddy SO much, which made our reunion even sweeter. We spent the hour driving up to Westmont telling stories and comparing our trips, which is honestly impossible considering that they are completely and totally different and unique experiences. We talked and anticipated what it would be like to reenter Westmont culture and how it might be hard at times, because people don't necessarily understand the amazing experience you just underwent for four months. But, we both decided that we are super excited to see what God has for us and the ways in which he challenges us! We made it up to Westmont at 11:30, I dropped Erica off at her brother's house and then headed down to the beach to surprise WESLEY! We worked it out where a friend and her boyfriend would somehow get him down to the beach, and then I'd be standing there ready to jump into his arms and give him the hugest hug ever. It was SO EPIC waiting for him to arrive, my heart was practically beating out of my chest. When they finally got there, I had the biggest smile on my face. He looked so handsome and we stood there like staring at each other because it honestly didn't feel like real life. Needless to say, it was a glorious reunion. After hugging for like 20 minutes, we headed up to Blenders to get a delicious/long awaited smoothie. Then we headed up to Westmont and I went and surprised some friends in their room. It felt strangely natural to be back on campus, although it was odd that my friends no longer lived in Page Hall and there was suddenly an influx of 400 people that I had NEVER seen before in my whole life... FRESHMAN! So strange, but I got rather excited about getting to know some of them and investing in them. That afternoon we went and shopped on State St, and had Chipotle for dinner, which tasted absolutely delicious.

The next morning Erica and I went on a run down to State from school, with Backyard Bowls as our final destination. For those of you who have yet to experience the life changing nutritious and deliciousness that IS an acai bowl, I'm sorry you might not understand the excitement I had and motivation that caused me to run 6 miles to State. SO incredibly amazing and scrumptious!!!!!! Fruit smoothie topped with granola, strawberries, blueberries, honey and coconut. DIVINE. Then we went back up to school, thanks to David Dry and his massive truck, and began to get ready for the DANCE! YAY! I conviently left my makeup on the counter of my bathroom in my rush to get out of the house thrusday morning, so I borrowed and we got all did up. Then we saw the men, and they looked absolutely awesome. We were sitting in my car because it was SO cold outside, and they proceeded to walk infront of my car and stand in the headlights posing like models. It was great. We headed to Silvergreens and had deliciously MASSIVE sandwiches and salads. Riquísimo. After dinner we went down to the beach and killed time listening to dubstep and looking out over the moonlit ocean. When it was the appropriate time we drove up to the Monticito Country Club and went inside! It looked absolutely beautiful inside and everyone was dressed so gorgeously! I saw my sweet roommate from last year, and we made a scene in the entryway screaming and hugging like long lost sisters who had been reunited after years apart. It made me feel so loved! The dance was insane. So fun to be reunited with everyone that I love and go CRAZY together. Afterwards we headed back to school, everyone changed and we ate some quality dominoes pizza.

Saturday morningish Wesley, David and I went to Jeannines and feasted on delicious breakfast (if you hadn't noticed, this weekend was rather full of FOOD, considering that I have a minor obsession...). We went to REI and wandered around, then headed back up to Westmont. I gave Wesley the journal that I kept for him all semester, and in turn, he played me the song he wrote me while I was gone. After that super special and fun time of gift exchanging, we ate at Your Place Thai restaurant with some friends and then came back so I could go to my roommate REUNION sleepover in Kylie's room. Being back with those girls allowed me to realize how much I value them and really missed them in my life. We stayed up for entirely too long talking and catching up. The next morning I went to Reality Santa Barbara with Wesley and his friend Jose, and it was so amazing to worship with a body of believers. After church I picked up Whitney, who is leaving next semester and we went out to lunch and tried to catch up. It was so special to spend time with her and hear what the Lord had done in her heart. We hurried back so to make it to Vespers pictures/practice in Page. It was so awesome to join the team finally after skyping into practices and being so far away!! We took team pictures and then began practicing. I am absolutely so excited and feel so blessed to be apart of such a neat ministry!!!  The Parsons took us all out to China Palace and we FEASTED on asian food. SO GOOD. Then we had Vespers, Christmas edition and it was epic. After I persuaded people to neglect their finals studying and we went to McConnells for ICE CREAM. Even though it was raining, it was so good. Monday morning we went to Coffee Bean, and then Leanne and I drove home in the rain.

I feel so blessed and excited by this weekend! Next semester shall be an awfully big adventure, and I can't wait to see what God has in store!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011


Praise the LORD! I woke up feeling so much better!! Last night we had our family dinner as a group at one of the nicest restaurants in Querétaro, and I didn't think I'd be able to make it in the middle of the day. However, I mustered up enough strength to walk into the centro with the group. It felt awesome to be out in the fresh air after being cooped up all day. When we got there, I didn't feel super great, but found a couch in the back and sat there with my other friend who was sick pretty much the whole dinner. Our director bought us some pedialyte and we rehydrated with that. It was pretty comical because while the rest of the group was sitting at this super gorgeous table eating like kings and queens, we were passed out on the couch drinkin apple flavored electrolytes haha. But, towards the end we started to feel a little better, so joined everyone at the table. We went around and shared favorite memories from the trip and it made me SO thankful for this family that I have acquired over the past four months. Looking back on all of the silly memories it is EVIDENT that we were all handpicked by God to be apart of this group for a specific reason. I am so incredibly blessed and thankful for the time that we shared together on busses, climbing pyramids, walking around museums, eating DELICIOUS food, dancing salsa with our art teacher and her husband, venting about frustrations, encouraging each other to be present... the list goes ON! Returning has never seemed like it would be that difficult, because obviously I have been SO excited to see my family and friends. But, as I look forward to this next week, I am anxious to see the ways that challenges arise at unexpected times. As much as I adore mi querido México, I am so ready to be home!! But I know that when I get back into the groove of school next semester and begin to feel the stress of work, I'm going to wish I was back in Querétaro, sitting in plazas, eating pan dulce, people watching and appreciating the beauty that IS Mexico.

As for right now, I need to pack my suitcases and make sure they don't weigh more than 50 pounds... yeah right. That's going to be a stretch considering that I'm coming home with gifts and goodies that I didn't have on the way here!! It will all work out! Tomorrow at this time i'll be half way to Houston! Pray for me today as I say goodbye to friends and family that I would have peace and feel a sense of closure in this epic chapter of my life. Thank you for all of your sweet prayers and for walking with me during these four months of ADVENTURE!! I can't wait to share with you face to face and hear about the ways in which God has moved and worked in your lives!!!
 Our Spanish 100 class. She was by far my favorite teacher!!
 Arianna and I with our Señoras at our goodbye comida.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


so yesterday I had a family fiesta, to celebrate the 21 anniversary of my senora's mom's death. ALL of the family was there and it was super neat to meet them, although I'm kinda bummed because it turns out I have like 5 girl 'cousins' between the ages of 19-26 that live here... that would have been fun to know about three months ago, but whatever, it was great to spend time with them yesterday. Also, it was super awesome because the first saturday that I was here we went to a family party, and now on the last saturday we went to a party! Super cool how my semester came full circle like that. After the party, I met up with some friends and one of their señora's at this restaurant that is famous in queretaro. We've eaten there before a few times and it's always been fine. But somehow last night was not, and I woke up this morning with food poisioning... BOO! On my second to last day here? Really?! So, with that being said, please pray that I will be content today and understand that I need to rest. We have a 'family' dinner tonight as a group one final time and I am praying that I'll feel better by the time 7 oclock rolls around tonight.

just wanted to update ya real quick. don't be worried about me, I have amazing friends who are coming to doctor me up with some gatorade and caldo de pollo (chicken broth)! SO LOVING! Please be praying for us as we say goodbye to this city that we love so much, and the families that so generously took us in these four months! See you in 2 days!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

freaking out

So basically, I feel like I'm living in a dream. Today we had an art exhibit at this gorgeous gallery downtown (thanks to our incredible teacher who happens to be a famous art restorer here in Querétaro). After we wandered around in the centro and found this jazz concert taking place in our favorite plaza. The band was french and they had the most unbelievable sound I have ever heard. Sheer brilliance. OHH! I almost forgot. So I have this pair of boots that I have literally worn, I'd see 3/4 of the semester. At this point, week 16, they are pretty thrashed. All around the plazas are these shoe shining booths, and I've said all semester that I should get by boots shined. So I finally did. It was a super interesting experience, and now I am convinced that if I looked hard enough, I could probably see my reflection in them, they are so shiny. But hey, I guess that's what I paid 20 pesos for huh?! Super cool experience. So, anyways, back to the concert. After we had sat outside in the 47 degree FRIO, we decided it was time to leave (as much as we loved their sound, we were muriendo de frio). So, we went to our favorite restaurant/pub place called Wicklow's. We all got a Dos XX and Emily and I shared possibly the best hamburger that I've ever had in my entire life. It had union rings, BBQ sauce and mushrooms. DELICIOUS!!!!!! We sat and chatted for over an hour about the semester and other random things that came to our minds (which is always fun). As we sat talking, I began to realize that I'm actually starting to feel sad. This semester has been an absolutely epic life changing experience and in 5 days, it's going to be over. I literally can't get over it. It's real now. The day that I thought would NEVER come three and a half months ago, is now right around the corner.

I feel so incredibly blessed by the friendships that the Lord has blessed me with over these four months. We have grown together, talked about super challenging life issues, explored and encountered places that we LOVE, played music on train tracks, gotten through history classes, made murals of mexican farmland, jumped off cliffs into turquoise blue water, eaten delicious pan dulce and a million and a half other things that I cannot even begin to capture adequately with words on a web page. I honestly feel so incredibly at peace about leaving, but there is definitely a part in me that is anxious about what next semester will look like. I have no idea who God is going to bring into my life, or what passions he is going to spark within the depths of my heart. BUT, the cool thing is that he knows, and it is all going to be bigger and better than I could EVER dream up. I'm banking on that promise.

So excited to finish this semester strong with an incredibly full weekend of fun and adventuring!! Last class tomorrow, brownies at Laura's house, goodbye comida, graduation, dancing with our art teacher and her husband at a salsa club, HUGE family fiesta on saturday, dancing that night, fancy dinner out with the group on sunday, lunch with friends here monday, PACKING (what, pray that I will fit everything and that nothing breaks in transit!), and then our early flight out on tuesday morning. Holy moley. This time is literally going to FLY. Pray for joyful goodbye's and that we will leave with PEACE and satisfaction knowing that we lived this semester to the fullest.

love you guys! see you in less than a WEEK!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jesus bamboozle all up in my face

This morning I woke up, and met emily at the track for a little run session... I decided that I wanted to listen to the Reality sermon that I started last week, but didn't have a chance to finish. So, I plugged in and began to run... In the middle of my run it began to rain, so I finished up, did some leg busters and then went home. I ate and had good conversation with my Señora, which is an answer to prayer because lately she's been acting kind of strange. After I ate, I got dressed, and headed out to meet em at the creperia (to work on our last big push of homework!!). On the way over I finised up the sermon, and let me just tell you... it rocked my world.

The title is Chaos and Coronation, and it is apart of the series that Reality is doing called Identity Issues: God's Glory in Us Through Christ's Work for Us. This week focused on Ephesians 1:10, which says (well here's 9-10 for some context...) "God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to filfull his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ- everything in heaven and on earth."
He talks about how the mystery is undiscoverable by human wisdom, that the plan is NOT about us, but rather that it's for God's own pleasure. The encouragement of verse 10 allows us to understand that we can thoroughly enjoy Jesus and his creation even amidts the horrible things going on in the world. Therefore... the future promise that God gives in verse 10 provides a basis for our PRESENT peace and PURSUITS to live a life that reflects the love of Jesus Christ. And... thanks to this plan... EVERYTHING is not going to merely continue as it is!! But rather, everything will be brought together by God under the AUTHORITY of Christ...
With regards to Christ's future authority, scripture tells us...
Jesus will:
-Return in power and glory
-Be the visible King over the earth
-Rule the world with immediacy and finality
-Be recognized as Lord by every person
-Vanquish death, sorrow and pain
-Be the only one we serve and worship
-Make all things new under His authority

I listened to this verse as he read it regarding our future homecoming... and literally repeated outloud over and over, "Yes, yes, YES!!!"
Jeremiah 31:12-14
"They will COME HOME and sing songs of JOY on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be RADIANT because of the Lord's good gifts- the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. There life will be like a watered garden, and ALL their sorrows will be gone. (this was obviously my favorite part...) THE YOUNG WOMEN WILL DANCE FOR JOY, and the men- old and young- will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into JOY. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. The priests will enjoy abundance, and my people will feast on my good gifts. I, the LORD, have spoken!"

The best part about this whole thing is that we don't have to live, simply anticipating the reality of it... the future reality has present implications for us!!!

So... he threw this one in there: Isaiah 35:3-4, "With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to SAVE YOU'".

So basically, I'm totally and completely in AWE of the God that we serve. I read the Jeremiah verse to Em and said, "If this doesn't get you beyond excited for heaven, I honestly don't know what will!!". As most of you know, the word JOY has been of the utmost importance to me in this past year of my life. I decided that God has blessed me abundantly with more than I could ask or imagine, and in response to that, I want to live as a JOYFUL reflection of his love and grace! I want to show people that following Jesus isn't supposed to make us feel locked down by "rules" like God is some kind of cosmic killjoy. INSTEAD, loving and serving Jesus is supposed to be evoke immense JOY in our hearts! Knowing that he loves us and delights in relationship with us... should cause an overflow of gratitude! And out of this gratitude, we get to life as lights to the world that is in DESPERATE need for the love, joy and acceptance of a Savior.

So there you have it. The Lord filled me with inspiration as I listened to this sermon this morning, and so I thought I should share it will you all who I love! If you have 45ish minutes... or even if you don't, MAKE time and listen to this sermon. May it bring you encouragement and JOY today!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

saturday morning activities...

Sitting in the Crepe place, trying to formulate an argument about my thougths on abortion, and compare the laws on it in México to those of the States. This is a controversial subject to discuss in english, let's try it in SPANISH!! BOOM! One thing that I appreciate about the way mexicans do school, is that they don't really believe in tests, they're all about projects and papers which quite frankly I would WAY rather do. So this last week of work is actually going to be somewhat enjoyable, as opposed to the incredibly stressful and trying last week of finals at Westmont. Thank you Lord for this break!

After I finish writing this and presenting it monday morning, I have to...
-Write a two and a half page in class essay in letter form, using all of the gramar I've learned this semester,
-Present about postmodernism in Mexico in the 20th-21st centuries as it regards to art,
-Present a powerpoint about my five page essay on female roles in Mexico during the 20th century,
-Write a 6-8 page paper about the journal assignments we have written in our culture class and wrap up my thoughts on this experience
-Compile all of the writing we've done for Engaging Cultures class and put it in a binder (which are hard to come by here apparently)

So, let's just say, this is going to be a busy week of reflection!! This afternoon we're going to a fair that is taking place here in the city for a week. After that we're probably going dancing, to celebrate our second to last weekend in this place. This is insane. It's really coming to a close. Although I have been anticipating being home, it doesn't seem like it is really happening.

Lord, may I continue to be joyfully present and fully soak up ALL that this city has to offer.
Thanks for supporting me and praying for me you faithful followers of Leaps&Bounds

Thursday, November 24, 2011

forward looking and thanksgivings

This is literally unreal to me. I'm sitting on my bed writing to you, looking forward to my next week and 4 days here. Can you believe that I've been here for 103 days? I CAN'T! Today is Thanksgiving, and it feels incredibly strange that I am missing it. My sweet grandma emailed me and said that she's setting a place for me at the table. How precious is she?!? In my family we have a tradition of writing in our Thanksgiving journal everything that we are thankful for from the last year... so, because I'm not there to add it myself, I'll make a list of my own to add when I return.

I'm incredibly thankful for...
-Westmont and all of the friends that God blessed me with during my first year of college.
-My beautiful section of 3C women, who I adore with all of my heart, and our amazing momma/RA Kim.
-The opportunity I had to co-lead a group for VBS in Mexico over Spring break
-The godly man that the Lord brought BACK into my life in the august of my freshman year, and has allowed me to grow with in these past 9 months.
-The beach house and time there as a family relaxing in the unmatchably beautiful creation that is the beach.
-Reuniting with friends from Mariners, and being reminded of the family that I have in them.
-Working for my daddy and spending time in his office helping him out... tutu working hard daddy ;)
-Our family vacation to the dude ranch this summer!! It was so amazing to experience the beautiful creation of Colorado as a family and ride horses together.
-LAKE POWELL trip with the Parsons family and the INCREDIBLE memories that were made there.
-Getting accepted to the India team with my family, the Roots, Wesley and a bunch of other amazing people that I cannot WAIT to serve our Lord with!!!

and obviously...
-For all the ways that God has shown himself faithful to me and the fire that he has set in my heart to live a life that brings honor and glory to HIM.
-The JOY that the Holy Spirit has filled me with and reiterated in me over these past three months.
-My incredible WIM group. It is so evident that the Lord hand-picked each one of us to be on this semester, and we have learned and grown tremendously through each other.
-The Identity Issues series that my Church in Santa Barbara has podcasted. It has taught me so much about who God is and in light of his magesty, who I am: a chosen and delighted over child of the creator of the world. wow.
-Forgotten God by Francis Chan. The Lord has blessed him with an unbelievably inspiring ability to spur on the body of Christ and challenge it. This book has encouraged me in massive ways over the past few weeks and reminded me of the importance of living in communion with the Holy Spirit. One of the things that he talks about is not letting our fear get in the way of the Holy Spirit's work in our lives, and I can honestly say after stepping out in faith on this semester, I feel incredibly bold and empowered by the sovering and guiding hand of the Holy Spirit in my life. Amen to that.
-TIME. I have been so blessed with time to DIVE into the word and develop that discipline. When he says, "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will SEEK me and FIND me when you SEEK ME WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART"... he really means it. "I will be FOUND by you declares the Lord". (Jeremiah 29:13-14)
-A friend told me in the beginning of this adventure that this was going to be the igniting of my love story with Jesus. And, my dear friends let me tell you that she could not have been more spot on. I can truthfully say that after three months of walking with our Lord through the ups and down of being abroad, I am more in love with him than I have ever been. He indeed is sufficient for me and had incredible plans for my life. I am enthralled with his loving and graceful character, and the way in which he desires to be in relationship with me. THE CREATOR OF THE WORLD WANTS TO BE IN AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH ME?! All time coolest realization to ever have.
-HAVING MY FAMILY (well, minus brian) come hang out with me in October. It was so sweet to spend time with them and show then around the city that has become my new home for this semester.
-My incredible support system (YOU FAITHFUL READERS AND PRAYER WARRIORS)! It is absolutely obvious that I would not feel as content and joyfully present if it wasn't for all of your fervent prayers. Thank you so so so much for loving me and for coming along side me in this crazy adventure.

So, there you have it. An extremely condensed list of the things that God has blessed me with over this past year. The best part about loving Jesus and desiring to follow his is this... for the rest of my life I will have new realizations about his character and continue to fall deeper in love with who he is. And with that being said, I stand confidently in this truth, "I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will CONTINUE his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns" Philipians 1:6

May the Lord our God fill you with JOY and THANKFULNESS today, and may you continue to be astonished by who he is.

"I pray that out of his GLORIOUS riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being ROOTED AND ESTABLISHED IN LOVE, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine, according to his power at work WITHIN US, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. AMEN" Ephesians 3:16-21

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It is well with my soul

Psalm 23
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides QUIET waters.
He leads me in paths of righteousness, for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil
FOR YOU ARE WITH ME, your rod and your staff they comfort me."

This weekend me and four of the girls decided that we needed to go be rejuvinated. So, we looked up places to camp around Querétaro and found an awesome place about 45 minutes outside of the city. We went to the mercado to buy some fruits and veggies, almonds and tortillas. Saturday morning we hopped in a taxi and made our way out. Our taxi driver was the absolute cutest thing in the whole world (he kind of looked like the big fat guy from Mulan), just an absolute teddy bear. On our way there he showed us this shape in the mountain that everyone calls the body of Christ, because it looks like Christ lying down. We all thought this was absolutely amazing. Of all the people they could have identified this shape as, they chose to call it the body of Christ. COOL. When we showed up to the site, we were absolutely estatic. In these past three months I have found that I NEED TO BE OUT IN NATURE! Living in the city just doesn't do it for me. So, we checked into our little cute cabin and then all took off on our own to go be with Jesus. I spent a few hours journaling and reading. I just started reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan, so I was so excited to have some undivided time to focus and really dive into it. The Lord has truly blessed him with immense wisdom. His point in writing the book is to address the modern church's neglect of the Holy Spirit and to spur us on to seek the true character and power of the Spirit. It took me forever to read the chapter because I was literally writing every other line down in my journal. I love the incredible amount of Scripture that he includes, so I spent time looking up all of the verses he quoted and reading the surrounding text to put it in perspective.
One of the things that stresses is our fear of what other people will think of us, regarding our view of the Holy Spirit. He encourages us to give up the search for approval of others, and to honestly seek the truth of the Spirit. I had this overwhelming sense and vision for what this could look like in my life and the lives of those around me. In the spring I am going back to join a student led worship team, and this whole semester I have been praying that the Holy Spirit would really move in those times of worship and begin to transform us as the body of Christ at Westmont. I really feel that the Spirit inspired me today to challenge the group and those who attend to throw off our desire for approval of others and to earnestly seek to be a community radically aware of the Holy Spirit's presence in our lives. That we would accept each other and that it would be a safe place for people to come and express what they feel like the Lord is inspiring in them. I don't know if this is making sense to you, but God so clearly was stirring in my heart this weekend and I decided I should try to express it to you all.
As for me, I have found IMMENSE JOY in following Christ in these past few three weeks. I honestly can't even begin to explain in words the joy that the Father has filled me with. Looking ahead I have three more weeks here, and I cannot even begin to imagine how strange leaving is going to feel. SO, with that being said, will you continue to pray the God will allow me to be JOYFULLY PRESENT. I don't want to just be present, but I want to be fully joyful and content in the next few weeks that God has for me to grow! I know that never again will I have this opportunity, so I want to go out with a bang, continuing to seek the Lord with excitement and anticipation. Not to mention the fact that I get to go to India to continue seeking and serving him 20 days after I get home! LORD help me to align my heart with your purpose for me in these next weeks here, then in India and beyond into the rest of my life. Thank you for filling me with your joy.  
Love jumping pictures
 God's beautiful creation
Creepy! We bought this face mask mud stuff from this ceramic place in Oaxaca and finally got to use it. Sorry about it bathroom floor of our cabin. We might have made a mess...

Friday, November 11, 2011

the crazy realization that I have less than a month left here

looking forward to these next three and a half weeks, I am absolutely in awe of the rapidez (speed) with which this time is going to fly. This week I got assigned a 5 page history research paper in SPANISH, which shouldn't be shocking seeings how I've been here for three months. However, it feels extremely super duper overwhelming. We have four days of class next week, and then we are going to Mexico City from Friday 18-Monday 21. Crazy paper is due Wednesday the 23, two more papers are due Thursday 24. I know that if I was at Westmont this would seem like just another week in the life of an incredibly demanded upon college student. But for some reason I'm having such a hard time knowing that this is what my next two weeks consists of. HOWEVER, Emily and I decided yesterday that we should stop worrying and complaning and talking about how it's so much, but instead should actually DO something and begin knocking stuff off of the list. So yesterday I began doing just that. We went on a 2 mile run in the morning and then did a butt kicking workout (literally, my pompii's are so sore today!). Then we went to the Creperia and had matcha green tea frappes and I read three of the articles and cranked out one of the papers. It is incredible how amazing it feels to check stuff off of the homework list! Then, this morning (Friday), I didn't have class so I cranked out another one of the papers. This afternoon I'm planning to begin my research. Tomorrow we embark on a super fun/relaxing/cleansing weekend camping! We found this campground place where you rent these cabana things for like 60 bucks for five girls! So, this morning we went to the mercado and bought a bunch of fruit and veggies and some almonds and we're going to spend Saturday and Sunday refreshing and relaxing. I plan on bringing my bible, journal, book and going off to journal and spend time with the Lord. I am SUPER excited about this repreive we can take from the craziness of our weeks, to regather my thoughts and make a list of priorities for the next few weeks.
You can be praying that in the midst of the school work I would find a way to really cherish these last few weeks here. As of today at 2:55 I have 24 days left in this beautiful place that has truely become near and dear to my heart. I realize that the day I come home I will land at the airport, drive to my house and sit on my bed and all of the sudden be overcome with an insane wave of emotions. "What in the world just happened", is what I imagine myself thinking/saying the night of December 6. Also, keep the India team in your prayers as our trip QUICKLY approaches. Pray for team unity, that we would humbly commit to serving the Lord that week, and that we would all take the necessary steps in these next few weeks to align our hearts with GOD's purpose for the trip.

Sorry that this was incredibly all over the place, but I just needed to get it all down and process through all that I've been feeling these past few days. LOVE YOU GUYS! See you very soon! 
May you be joyfully present in the place that the LORD has you today. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

being present

so, a few weeks ago I began to realize how short my time here is/how few weeks I have left. In light of this realization I started praying that God would show me how to be present with my heart and my mind. When we got back from Oaxaca it really hit me that each morning I would have to make the conscious decision to make the most of the day and to be joyful where God has me right NOW (instead of wishing that I was home already). And so this weekend I decided to make the most! Friday morning I had class, came home and attempted to run (another thing which I have resolved to do in these next 4 weeks is run at least twice a week), had comida and then went out with some girls. We wanted to go to this salsa dance class, but by the time we got to the place it had already started and you needed a partner... so we opted out on that. Instead we walked to this DELICIOUS taco stand on this random street, feasted on two tacos al pastor with onion and salsa and the best guac, drank delicious mango juice and sat on the curb talking about life. Then we went to the churro place and made a resolution to try all of the filled churros before we leave (which seems rather counter intuitive considering the goal that I just previously stated... but whatever). We began this feat by sharing the churro filled with nutella and raspberry sauce... and let me just say it was absolutely delicious worth every calorie that was counteracting my work on the track earlier that day.
Then Saturday I went to a new coffee shop where I read an AWESOME the article by Octavio Paz called "The Labyrinth of Solitude"(Día de los Muertos section) and wrote a paper on all that I had experienced, felt, heard and learned in my week in Oaxaca regarding this Mexican holiday/tradition.  Then in the afternoon I had comida as usual at my house. After comida I put my ipod in and walked to the bank to take out some money (considering that I spent ALL of it in Oaxaca). I decided that when I get home I am going to walk so much more than I did before embarking on this journey. My senora told me in the morning that there was a super important soccer game today for the Gallos of Querétaro, and that I should go. So naturally I rounded up some troups and we spontaneously decided to make a go of it. While we were walking to the bus, this guy drove up to us and asked if we needed a ticket, to which we replied as a matter of fact yes, because we have NONE! So he sold it to us and then offered to drive us to the stadium. Fear not those of you reading who might be worried about this rash decision, I was with two boys (one of which speaks fluent spanish because he was born in Ensanada) and it was the middle of the day. So, we proceeded to get a free ride to the game. When we got there we easily bought our tickets and headed up to our seats. It's a beautiful thing when tickets to a sporting event are 16 bucks. The game was absolutely AWESOME! The defense on both sides was rockin the first half because no one scored. But then half way into the second half we scored the first GOOOOOAAAALLLL! 1-0. Boom. Then we proceeded to score two more to make it 3-0 and went out with a win. All of Querétaro was ESTATIC! We took the bus back to the centro after the game and ate at our favorite restaurant, which I need to take a picture of because it is absolutely the most random place you can ever imagine. For all of you newport people it's like the gypsey den on LSD (not that I know what that's like, but I'd imagine it would be pretty trippy). The place is weird. There's writting all over the walls and super strange art everywhere, so naturally I love it. Then Shannon and I went back to my house and hung out in my room waiting to hear from the rest of the girls about what time we were going to go out! We finally got a call from them at 11:30, and so I called a taxi and we went to this super fun club place. It was so fun to dance with the 7 of us girls and experience the night life. My senora was amazed that that was the first time we had gone out dancing, but she proceeded to explain how much she loved me and was thankful that I wasn't a crazy party girl who went out ALL the time and was never home. Bless her heart.
This morning (sunday) I woke up at 11 because I went to bed at 3. I did some abs in my room and then worked on finishing up my paper outside on the beautiful patio. I showered and then by the time I was done comida was ready. We ate and watched football (yay) and my senora asked me if I know this game well. We proceeded to talk about how football in the states is like soccer here which is like hockey in Canada (thank you brother Roberto for explaining that one to sweet Rosi in the most round about way possible haha). Gotta love it. After feasting I skyped into the India training meeting which was at my house! SO CRAZY! Listening to each team talk about what they had been planning made me SO incredibly excited to GO! Vacation bible school with 500 precious indian orphans, possibly speaking and encouraging the women in the red light district, blogging for the team so the people back home can be apart of what God's doing, wearing a sari... SIGN ME UP! I cannot wait to see what God does in the two weeks that we are there and the ways in which he continues to show me how to use my gifts and talents for his glory. Not to mention the fact that the team is literally amazing and I don't even know them all yet! YAY for God's huge plan! Then Emily came over and we went into the centro to hang out. We got some delicious blackberry ice cream and sat in the prettiest garden/plaza in all of Querétaro talking for about two hours. It was such a beautiful afternoon and our conversation was incredibly encouraging and fruitful (as they always are). I am so thankful for her and the time that we have to process what we are feeling and what God's doing in our hearts. On our walk home we stumbled into a pirated dvd store where we bought the most random assortment of 6 dvds for less than 10 bucks. Is that morally wrong? I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet, but considering that I now have Juno, Up and Tarzan in my room I'm starting to think that I love it's cheapness haha. When I got home I worked on some homework and now I'm writing to you all to inform you of the current state of the union. Thank you for reading and praying. God is truely blessing me every day with new joys and I feel so blessed that he has me here for another 29 days. It seems like nothing literally, so I am really trying to live each day to the fullest, joyfully and thankfully. In a few short weeks I will be seeing you and will be able to share even more stories than I can think to type to you. I pray that God fills each of you with a renewed sense of his purpose for your lives today and that you take a moment to thank him for the blessings he has poured out on you. LOVE YOU!
 This is totally unrelated to my post but I just thought everyone should appreciate the 80s color scheme that is currently taking place in my bathroom
 Carly thinks the nutella/raspberry churro is a great idea
 Soccer game. There's just something about green fields under lights that brings joy to my soul. and my eyes
 Sunday afternoon adventure
You never know when you will suddenly have a HUGE craving for a mylar balloon. Don't fear. Balloon men are EVERYWHERE here!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I remember back in september when I looked at my calendar and our Oaxaca trip literally seemed like FOREVER away... Ya, well I just got back and now it's november. CRAZINESS!

Last friday night we had a halloween party at our directors house where we all dressed up using whatever we could put together from our closets here. Everyone got SUPER creative! We had an elasti-girl, jehova's wittness/mormon (he wore a white shirt and tie and black pants, therefore it really could have gone either way), Mrs. Peacock from Clue, Aladin and a few more less notable creations. We feasted on fruit, which we bought at the mercado close to our house. Interesting fact, in Mexico you have to disinfect all of your fresh produce before eating it, so we found a gigantic bowl and soaked away. We had a pumpkin piñata, carrot cake made by our director (obviously I thought of you both David and Wesley), chips, and delicious punch! It was incredibly fun to just be together and be silly, especially because we all anxiously awaited our trip that was quickly to come!
So saturday morning we took off for Oaxaca, a state about 9 hours south of Queretaro. Honestly the days all kid of blur together for me because we were gone for so long, so hang in there as I try to recount the adventuring that took place over that past 6 days. It took us a rather long time to get to the actual city of Oaxaca, so we watched two movies on the way (Water for Elephants and Mulan) and we ate at this random restaurant on the side of the freeway. Then we finally arrived at our hotel and went out to the centro for some food. It was so crazy and filled with tourists it kind of freaked us all out a little bit, because we've become so used to being the only white people we see here haha.
Sunday we went to Monte Alban, the ruins of the Zapotec indians. And let me tell you something, it was the craziest thing I've ever seen! We have studied and learned ALL about the indigenous culture and it was absolutely an unreal experience to see it in real life. It didn't really hit me just how old that place was. Then we went to this MASSIVE museum inside of an ex-convent called Santo Domingo. After that adventure of artness we ate the best pizza of all time. It tasted absolutely amazing because it is kind of easy to get sick of eating out at Mexican restaurants here (we all realized how thankful we are for our host mom's cooking!). Then, we went to this cholocate factory where we proceeded to eat half of the sample bowl and hover over watching the men make the chocolate!! It was a super interesting and delicious experience :) Later that night we visited a workshop where they make this super cool black pottery. Browsed and found fun christmas presents :) When we got back to the hotel we all were hungry, so naturally we went on an adventure to find ice cream! On the way to the centro we were all in the strangest/most hilarious moods and walked down the street singing "New York, New York" and dancing our best broadway. It made me realize how much I love these people. We are so incredibly silly together and God has taught me so much through my relationships with each of them! They are such a blessing to me and it is going to be super weird not seeing them for five weeks in december.
Monday we went to this petrified waterfall/hot springs place. When we pulled up in the bus I looked out the window and what do I see?? A yellow little rickshaw driving towards me!!!!!! It made me SO incredibly excited for India! Anyways, the view from the waterfall was breathtaking!!! We didn't bring our bathingsuits but we laid down by the water for a solid hour and talked/napped. It was much needed relaxation time. After that we went to this artesan market and shopped for a good two hours. Let's just say, I'm estatic to give christmas presents this year :) There are few things in this world that bring me more joy than buying presents for people that I know they will LOVE! On our way back we stopped at this factory where they make a certain type of tequila thing called Mezcal. Upon returning to the hotel after this extensive day of journeying we FEASTED on Tlayudas, which are kind of a mix between quesadillas and tostadas? It's a HUGE flour tortilla toasted so it's crunchy filled with beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and whatever else your little heart could possibly desire. DIVINE! Then all 10 of us girls watched "Mean Girls" together and cuddled on the two double beds in the room. It was some serious girl bonding time :)
Tuesday we went back to Mitla, the artesan market by the petrified waterfall to visit the ruins, because they were closed the day before. I had never seen such intricate designs as I saw that day! They were very greek looking in their geometric form, and yet still remained completely indigenous because they were on the side of a pyramid. We shopped somemore afterwards and went to the house of a family who  is in the business of weaving. The sweet man showed us the looms and how they work, and I don't think there was one set of eyes that was NOT hooked on the process. Basically, we all gained a WHOLE new respect for blankets. On our way home we stopped by this little city that is home of the hugest tree in Mexico. It's trunk was absolutely MASSIVE! Seeing that today was Dia de los Muertos, we had a little bit of time to rest in between Mitla and our departure at 9:30 to the cemetary. After YEARS of learning about this famous Mexican holiday, I finally had the opportunity to see it all in action. We arrived at the cemetary and I immediately felt uncomfortable. As Americans we have such a strange way of handling death. This cemetary was filled with flowers orange and fuscia, candles EVERYWHERE, families and best of all... Mariachis. There were families gathered around the graves of their loved ones drinking tequila, laughing and celebrating the life of their relative now passed on. Carly and I spent pretty much the whole time talking about why I feel so weird about cemetaries and how to go about handling my feelings. I was and continue to feel incredibly inspired by the Mexican view of death, well particularly the Indigenous view. Death is not a taboo topic here. For this holiday, people write poems in which they make up a story of how a loved one died/overcame death, and the whole point is that it's supposed to be a funny joke. I don't feel that that would go over very well in the states! So It was a super interesting time to reflect and think about what I believe about death and celebrating life. In the Indigenous point of view, you can't have one life without death, and I think it was an excellent reminder for me that as much as it is definitely an incredibly difficult thing to experience, there is a way to approach it with joy and celebration of life as well.
Wednesday we woke up and after breakfast left for Puebla. We first stopped in Cholula to visit this archeological site. It was a pyramid with a Spanish church ontop. If you had to describe/explain the Spanish conquest of mesoamerica, showing a picture of this anomoly would do the trick. It was the most bizarre thing I have ever seen! We climbed up to the top, which was actually an incredibly difficult and steep journey. The view was absolutely magical. After this visit we went to another cemetary, because it was the second day/part of the festival. Again, I was amazed by the atmosphere surrounding the place. There was music and families were together to honor their lost. After this we drove into the city of Puebla, which is absolutely ginormous. Our hotel was super gorgeous and we were all extremely excited for another night together! We each got 100 pesos to go get dinner/snack with, so we set off in small groups to explore the centro. There was a crazy art/dance show thing going on and a mountain of people walking around, so we decided we'd find ice cream and a place to sit and then just enjoy the surroundings. When we were eating our ice cream these two precious little girls came up to our table, dressed up for Halloween and started reciting a poem. Now we've seen/experienced a TON of kids begging and seen a fair amount of poverty since we've been here. But for some reason it hit me especially hard last night. I gave each of the girls 10 pesos, which is literally nothing, and they ran joyfully to their mom and showed her. Then right after this, we saw this man talking to this little girl, but kind of pretending that he wasn't with her (both were dressed up) and he was giving her signals of where to go/who to beg from. Then he crossed the street and motioned for her to follow, without guiding her carefully across. It was in this moment that it hit me how HUGE of a problem trafficking is. Watching these little kids dressed up running around the plaza SO desperate for money practically tore my heart out. And then to see the man treat the little girl with complete and total disrespect ripped it into tiny pieces. I felt last night more than ever a massive passion for this problem that is so widespread in our world. I then thought of how intense the problem is in India, and how I am going to experience it in a month and a half. Emily, my dear friend on this trip has an uncle who started a ministry/organization called Not For Sale, that works to fight against the terrors of trafficking among both women and children. So, we had a super interesting conversation about it, and both felt super passionately that God was tugging on our heart strings last night. How neat that he gave us each other to process with and dream big with! I'm not at ALL sure what this looks like from here on our, or how God is going to use my passion for women and the trafficking problem, but I do know that I am willing to go wherever he takes me with it. I am SO excited to see what God does with my passion :)
Thursday, our last day. We visted the Iglesia de Los Angeles (Church of the angels), which was by far the most massive church that I have ever seen. I probably did 5 laps around the thing in an hour, looking at all of the art and standing in awe of the detail and splendor that surrounded me. The most interesting part was the stations of the cross, depicted vividly in the Borroc style. I had never felt more thankful for my Catholic high school education, because if it wasn't for that, I probably would have had no idea what those meant or that they had any special significance at all! A few of the girls and I had a super interesting conversation about how we found it interesting that Jesus' ressurrection wasn't included and other aspects of the stations that we found intriguing. Then we walked around another market and I spend every last peso in my purse. I had been anticipating this trip for so long because everyone said that it was the best place to shop for gifts. I can now affirm that their suggestion was indeed correct, and that I found amazing gifts that are super fun/unique.
SO, as you can see from this massive entry, this trip was extremely eventful! As I look back on it, I think the realizations that I had about death and trafficking will stick out to me more than the ruins will, and for that I am incredibly grateful. I am so excited about the archeological sites that we visited, and the opportunity for history to come to life. But even more so, I feel so excited about the things that God stirred in my heart over these past few days. Please be praying that I would be present in these next 32 days. Clearly God still has things he desires to teach me, and I want to be open to hearing from him while I have another 4 weeks to be still. Thank you for your support in prayer. Know that it is indeed impacting me and that God is at work in my heart. I love you all! 

Friday, October 28, 2011

new adventures await!

So tomorrow morning we leave for Oaxaca at 8am... I'm SO excited to explore and learn all about the history of this extremely indigenous state that I feel I've heard SO much about. Also, we are going to be there for los Dias de los Muertos, which is one of the hugest celebration/festivals/fiestas in México! SO stoked to be apart of it and experience first hand what I've learned about since 5th grade in Spanish classes! We had a halloween party at our directors house tonight. It was super funny because everyone got super creative and came up with comstumes based on the clothes that they had in their closets. So funny! Whelp, I better pack, but I just wanted to let you faithful followers know what awaits me this coming week! We get back on Thursday the 3rd, late that night, and from that day 33 days until we come home. That is INSANITY! 3 and a half weeks of school left after this trip. 5 weeks and 3 days as of right now. It's unreal to me. I adore this place and absolutely have fallen in love with the life style. Although I have become so comfortable and at home here, I know that when the morning of December 6th rolls around, I will be so ready to come home and see all of you beautiful people! Continue praying that I will BE where God has me right now, and that I will continue to seek him and his plan for me in these next 5 weeks. Love you all!
 Mrs. Peacock, Elastagirl, cutest panda ever, rey misterio and a lion... Nicely done ladies
Mr. Pumpkin piñata got destroyed soon after this was taken, as did the broom we used to beat him

Sunday, October 23, 2011

for our culture class we had to write an essay about our faith and how we feel we've grown these past two months... I thought it was only appropriate to share it with my faithful crew of readers, to share with you guys where I'm at in this stage of the game. So here it goes. I hope it gives you an insight into my heart and what God is doing in me and hopefully through me!

When I met with my sweet friend Sally before leaving for this trip, she spoke incredible wisdom into my life and inspired me with this scripture.  Hosea 2:14,19 say, “Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.  I will betroth you to me forever, I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.  I will betroth you in faithfulness and you will acknowledge the Lord.”  She said that she really felt like these four months away were going to be the beginning of my love story with Jesus.  Another friend sent me this scripture, “Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear; forget your people and your father’s house.  The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord” (Psalm 45:10-11). 
August 12, 2011… Hasta la vista bebe!  “Well Lord, here we go! I cannot believe this semester is already here! I feel like I’ve been preparing for this adventure forever, and now that it’s here I am in awe.  As of right now my heart is so anxious and excited about what this is going to look like. I pray Lord that you will mold my heart to love you more and to every day spend time in your word.  I desire to grow in you in these next four months! Open my heart!”  I wrote this on the first leg of our flight to Houston, and I remember bawling tears of joy and excitement, anxiousness and expectancy.  Knowing that God had amazing things in store for me in these four months in Mexico, I was so anxious to see how his plan played out in my life here.  On the plane I started reading the book “Passion & Purity” by Elizabeth Elliot.  She writes, “Lord, I have said the eternal YES.  Let me never, having put my hand to the plough, look back.  Make straight the way of the cross before me.  Give me love, that there may be no room for a wayward thought or step”.  This passage, obviously, jumped off of the page for me.  At that point sitting on the plane, this is exactly how my heart was feeling.  “I said yes to you Lord, make straight the way of the cross before me here in Mexico!  Give me love overflowing and help me to follow your plan for me.” 
One thing that God has reveled to me is the importance of time in his word.  Because of the spaced out schedule that we are so blessed to have here, I have a tremendous amount of time to spend in the word.  At home previously, I tended to see that spiritual discipline as something that was great for me when I had time, but I had a struggled to make time for it.  Since the very first week, the Lord has placed on my heart a burning desire to spend time diving into his word, and discovering new truths that I have never had time to truly ponder.  As I look back on my beginning diary entries, I realize how many of the pages are full of scripture.  In the beginning of the semester I read Romans.  I always knew that this book was full of incredible encouragement, but never before had I taken the time to really submerge myself in it.  Through reading this book God fueled me with a great number of new truths to cling to about his character.  In turn, these truths about his character confirmed and encouraged me in my identity in him, especially amidst the hard times.  “Yet she did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in her faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21).  In reading this verse I found immense comfort in the truth that God did not call me out to Mexico, and send me alone.  In fact he came with me, and promised to complete the work in me that he started in August.  Another verse that encouraged me is Romans 8:18 that says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Sara Barr and I were both having a super hard time at this point in the semester (September 7) with being content and joyful here.  We both missed our men painfully and wrestled with questions like, “why are we here for so long??”, “this semester is never going to end”, and “I just wish I was back at Westmont”.  However, God met us both there and used each other to remind us that he has us here for a specific reason, which he is going to reveal to us through experiences and different conversations here.    
With that being said, another major theme of this semester for me is learning to trust God’s plan for my next five semesters at Westmont and beyond into my future.  I have the strange obsession with checking webadvisor and the course catalog and trying to plan out my life.  This is the way that I love to procrastinate and avoid doing other work that is clearly more important and pressing.  I found myself with an entire screen full of sticky notes with possible life plans, semester plans and class selections.  Knowing that I want to major in Spanish, I set up a date with Mary when she was here to plan out my Spanish life at Westmont.  Literally the next week when we were talking in Engaging Cultures class about the idea of spirituality and religion here in Mexico and I popped off with the random thought “maybe I should be an Religious Studies major??”.  On my way home I talked with Jennifer, who is a Religious Studies major, and we talked about how amazing of an opportunity we have to study under the wise RS professors at Westmont.  I told her that God has the funniest sense of humor with me.  Right when I think “my plan” is all set, he throws a curve ball in there, and reminds me of another passion I have.  Now I just laugh, because even though he keeps bringing other things into the mix, they are things that I could completely see myself doing.  I feel that being away has really allowed me to assess my values and the passions that I have and come to a place of, “Ok Lord, literally whatever you have for me, I am one hundred percent in”, which has been the coolest process ever.  I feel so incredibly certain that God’s plan is going to be one thousand times better than anything that I could ever plan up myself, and so I’m learning to rest in that truth and completely trust him in whatever he has for my life.
Relationships are another aspect of my life that are growing and being developed and strengthen as I am away.  As I am out of the Westmont bubble, and away from the close friends that I made freshman year, God has revealed to me those relationships that are truly encouraging and edifying.  Not only has he shown me the people who I truly value back at school, but also he has brought new and incredible friends into my life here among the team.  We have the most incredible conversations about how God is showing himself faithful to us in all circumstances, and also encourage each other with scripture!  He is so amazingly sovereign that he knows exactly what we need!  I need to be surrounded by fun friends who I can laugh with and who can appreciate who I am, but also who can challenge me in my faith and walk with our Lord.  At Westmont he was faithful in providing those people for me, in my close section mates and my boyfriend.  Saying goodbye to Wesley was so incredibly hard.  However, he is so supportive of my following God’s plan, so I knew that I had his blessing in leaving.  God has allowed us to grow in a deeper and has knit our hearts together over, even through our limited communication with Skype and texting.  September 21, 2011… “AHH!  Wesley sent me a letter and it just came!!! I praise you that we inspire each other to love you more.  Would you allow us to maintain that in the forefront of our relationship.”  As hard as it was to leave, I would not trade this time away from him for the world.  I feel that God knew that he needed to take me away from what was comfortable and known to really reveal to me how sufficient he is for me, and that a solid relationship with him is more fulfilling than any other relationship in this world.  Being an incredibly relational person, the time away from the people that I love so dearly has allowed me to redefine my identity in the Lord and to be rejuvenated in the truth of his word. 
Also, he has placed on my heart an immense desire and passion for lifting my friends up in prayer.  Twenty day after I get home from this trip, I leave for a mission’s trip to India with a group from my church including my family and Wes.  In this time away, God has allowed me to pray for the team and to realize that the trip we are about to take off on should not for a second be about us.  It is easy for short-term missions teams to focus too much on themselves as a group, and in doing so, neglect to keep Jesus at the forefront.  Missing the team meetings has been tough, but has forced me to fully rely on God’s ability to unite us together from far away, and really unite us when we are on the ground in India.  Also, I am joining the Vespers team at Westmont in the spring when I get back.  It has been so neat to be away from the team this semester and pray that God would use them in humility to lead people into a place of worship.  We as Christians frequently use the term, “I am praying for you”, but fail to actually pray for the person.  This is something that I have felt convicted of lately, and am learning to become disciplined in.  I have an incredible ability to pray for my needs, but I forget to lift up the needs of those who are close to me.  In this way God is developing my heart and causing me to focus more on others.
With regards to the Mexican community, I am amazed by their devout spirituality.  In class a few times we have discussed the issue of religion and spirituality, both in the time of the conquests and today.  A few questions have been raised for me, which I am not sure I will ever find answers to.  I would love to know what God thinks of the rituals held in the Catholic Church, of the veneration of the Virgin and their method of verbal confession.  I am not saying that these things are wrong, nor do I hold the typical stereotype of the Catholic religion that they worship saints and Mary.  I simply desire to understand if their view of sanctification and justification align with Gods view of us, and our need for the grace of a savior.  My dad was raised catholic and struggled that his relationship with Jesus did not feel personal.  I am coming to believe that salvation is dependent on one’s relationship with the Lord and faith in his sovereignty as Lord.                         
Before I left I invited family and friends over to pray and send me off with a blessing.  I felt so encouraged by the support of those near to me as I took off on this adventure.  My prayer requests were: to be fully present here and really enjoy the time that God has divinely appointed for me here, to rely on God’s power and that he would be sufficient for me, to develop my linguistic abilities and to listen as God revealed new things to me about his character.  I can honestly say at week ten, God has come through with every one of these requests.  Not only has he given me peace in being here, but also he has caused me to absolutely fall in love with who he is.  The time that I spend in the word fuels me to live every day joyfully, the friends surrounding me inspire me to love him more and the language provides another lens through which I see his love for all of his children on display.  In my life thus far this is the most formative time that I have ever encountered and I feel so blessed that I have forty-four days left to learn and grow.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

catchin you up

Friends! I am sorry that it's been a while since I've written you to alert you to all of the exciting things that are happening here in Queretaro! Last weekend my sweet parents and sister came to visit me. When I walked into their room it was pretty much unreal. It seemed like I hadn't seen them in forever! The best part was that my mom was wearing muy sweater... and apparently in the airport she said, "aww man, now Sarah's gonna know that I've been raiding her closet!" So classic I love it.
We went out to dinner with a few of the friends from the group, and then I spent the night with them in their hotel. I actually stayed with them every night because it would feel so weird to have them there and not be with them! Friday we hung out and adventured around the centro. I took them to my favorite museum and a few of the awesome churches around. We ate at the most beautiful restaurant, and sat and talked forever. Then we went to my house so they could meet my sweet mama mexicana! She had coffee and cookies all set up outside and we sat around, and I translated. It was super strange, but I did it! She took us to a few historic places in the city that she felt they needed to see, and then we went over to our directors house so my fam could meet the rest of the group. It was super fun to introduce them to everyone, and we ended up playing fishbowl in spanish which was an excelent way for them to see the personalities of the group!!
My senora had work Saturday, so she couldn't entertain us that day, which was totally fine. So we went to a bullfight instead... naturally haha. As we were walking into the stadium my mom looks over and says, "ohh hey look, there's a pyramid!". It was the pyramid that we went to for our art class earlier in the month, but it was so hilarious how nonchalantly it popped out of nowhere. Only in mexico. So we watched to bullfight, that was incredibly different that the other one we went to. It was more of a smalltown thing. There was this group of guys who lined up facing the bull, and ran at it one at a time, trying to grab it by the horns and ride it. Okay, i almost had a heart attack, as did everyone else in the stadium. It was terrifying. Then we went to a super gorgeous dinner on the patio of a restaurant overlooking this plaza. Sitting with my family and my closest friends here, feasting and enjoying the slow pace of the Saturday night was so epic. I absolutely loved having my family here to meet the friends that God has blessed me with here! The funniest thing about our dinner was that we ordered Mexican pizza. When the waiter brought the tray to our table I was incredibly shocked to see a shot of tequila sitting on it. Where on earth is that going? Either Lindsay's pasta, or our pizza. The man proceeds to light the shot on fire and pour it on our pizza. Strangest thing of my life.
The next morning we walked to my house from their hotel, so they could see my school, our favorite panaderia (bread shop) and the surroundings that make up my walk. Also, they were going to take home some of the gift stuff that I have already bought so we needed to pack it all up! My senora was sick that day, which was a huge bummer, but we got to wander around the centro again and then sat down to the most relaxing lunch! My dad and I ordered Arrachera which is this super delicious cut of steak. After we had taken an hour to eat our entre's we ordered coffee and dessert and sat for another hour. Then we walked around somemore, and that night met up with the friends at our favorite crepe shop. Finding Nemo was playing in the little kid room, which was perfect, and we all sat feasting on our nutella and strawberry, chocolate and banana crepes, talking about the coolest most encouraging stuff.
I realized how much I admire my parents this past weekend. I love how wise they are, and how they are so incredibly fun. Not to mention the fact that they are hilarious! My sweet sister is so amazing. When we played fishbowl she described 6 random people, some of whom were lady gaga (which she described as inappropriate, yes, that's great parenting) snoop dog (thanks brian) and harriet beecher stowe (that one she wrote herself). Needless to say, the girl is amazing. I am so blessed by my family and adore them to pieces! However, I did miss my brother tremendously. But I will see him in 44 short days! Praise the Lord for homeschooling! If it wasn't for that, they wouldn't have been able to visit! Great call parents. Love you guys so much!

Having them here was perfect timing. I was starting to feel kind of stagnant, like the next 8 weeks were a bother and weighing me down. I felt discouraged that I had so long to go. But my mom read her Jesus Calling, and of course it was perfectly applicable and encouraging. The verse was Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us RUN WITH PERSEVERANCE THE RACE MARKED OUT FOR US. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the trone of God." 
This was exactly what I needed to be encouraged in! God has me here for another 6 weeks. It is a part of his perfect design that I am here for another month and a half to learn all that he has for me. He is not done revealing his character to me, so I remain here until he sees fit for me to leave. I am so excited to see how I continue to grow! Continue praying that I'll be present and soak it all up!

 Best Chile Relleno of his life with his beautiful wife 
 Just doesn't look right without one Mr. Bman
 Girlie love
 Still doesn't look the same without b
 YES! I just noticed the girls in the back of this picture. Nicely done. Photo bomb=success
My mommy whom I adore