Friday, May 30, 2014

What is "Volunteer Summer"?

It's what you do when you only have 3 months in Ohio before you move to Bolivia!
This is what I've labeled Summer of 2014.  I applied for a job and then it fell through and I decided that three months is not very long to get to know and connect with hundreds of people... so I decided to let it be a volunteer summer!!

So this is what it has looked like.

Lots of good conversations over dinner.

Babysitting for friends’ kids.

Helping weed and plant flower beds.

Visiting widows and senior saints. (Mrs. E. is 94 years old and so awesome!)

Helping put in a fence.


Spring cleaning.

Playing frisbee.

Attending wedding showers, birthday parties, graduation celebrations and weddings (three coming up!!), Bible studies, etc.

Teaching 4, 5 & 6 grade girls Sunday School.

Sharing at kids’ corner (story time at Sunday evening church service).

Holding babies.

Telling stories...
and listening to stories.


Meeting with my pastors.
Lots of adventures

 Filling the gas tank!

I couldn't have asked for more.  It really has been an incredible time of learning how to love others, listen to others, and serve others.  I hope I’m being a good student-because this is really good to know. (And so fun!)
It's been really neat to have the time to go visit people-just for fun.  It's sweet to have the freedom to help with little things to make life a little easier for my friends. It's sweet to be around to celebrate milestones in the lives of those I care about. 
I’ve got a plane ticket to Bolivia!  I’ll be leaving Ohio June 25, and my heart is just so sad to think of leaving this place.  I really am so overwhelmed by the kindness of those that have taken me in, fed me, encouraged me, prayed for me, and who spur me on to go do what God is calling me to.  It really does mean the world to me. 

In case you didn't know, I'll be in Santa Cruz Bolivia for 18 months finishing up some classes (the rest of the course I started in Missouri--in Bolivia though, since that's where I will serve, Lord willing).  I will learn more about phonetics, linguistics, literacy, teaching, medical care, translation, etc. I'm in Ohio for relationship building and "partnership development"--which is raising a team of encouragers, supporters, and friends to keep me going, and who hopefully will realize their hugely important role in seeing the world reached with the Gospel. I hope to represent you all well, and recognize the role you play in getting me where I'm going-both physically and emotionally.  God made a whole Body so we work together to see the task finished.   

Finding LIFE!

What were we made for anyways?  To have LIFE, I tell you!   However “life” is a word that we just throw around.  I submit that you can live...yet, have no life at all.  Andrew Palau is the son of evangelist Luis Palau, and he decided he wanted nothing to do with God.  He pursued alcohol, vandalism, and pleasure and remembers one day that God revealed to him that it was garbage.  He was spending his life on things that brought him death. (Focus on the Family).

Sometimes I find myself in conversations that go something like this:

Joe is drinking again. 
Jane left her husband for another man. 
Jack is going back to school and applying for another job. 
Joan is going to another church.
Janay has a new girlfriend
... you get the idea. 
We then discuss why they are still wandering and I find myself wondering what these people are actually pursuing.  It seems that they find pleasure in these things--and some of them aren’t bad things in and of themselves--but I suspect that they think that they will find life at the end of their pursuits-the happiness they’ve been seeking.   The “happily ever after” that the world tells us can be had.

The answer to highschool dropouts isn't better schools and more funding.  The answer to absentee parents isn't more classes.  The answer to broken families isn't more vacations, date nights, and romance.  The answer to addiction isn't more programs or medication.  The answer to cut down on crime isn't more education or harder sentences. Don't get me wrong, these things can be good things.  But they're a resource not a solution.  They don't fill that inner hole and ache.  They might address some of the symptoms but dont cure the disease.  I'm convinced that the answer to the problems in our society are only remedied by finding life just where it's made to be found.
We were made to have a relationship with our creator.  Chris Tomlin says it really nicely in his song, "Born that we may have life".  Try to think about a perfect holy just God who would send His innocent baby to a world that He already knew would mistreat, reject and ultimately kill. BUT He knew that was the only way we would ever find true life.

Lets think about what our Creator said.  The one who made us in love and with a purpose states that our sin brings death!  The first sin by Adam and Eve resulted in cursed ground, physical death (eventually) and a separation from God.  They were removed from the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17, 3:19, 23, 24). This death may be an immediate physical death, but more often it results first in a broken relationship.  I remember the hurt look on my mom’s face, or the cries from a younger sister when I did something hurtful.  An apology, note, or gift didn’t undo what I had done.  Our actions affect the harmony in a relationship.  When we look at God’s promise to His people, He says, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may loving the Lord your God by obeying His voice and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days...” (Deut 31:19-20). God provided the law for man to follow to be pleasing to Him, but it revealed man’s need for a savior.  He couldn’t keep the law and instead kept turning to idols, or his own efforts to live a good life.  So God provided a solution to our situation.  He provided a Savior.  His only son who was able to live a perfect life pleasing to God.  And by His death he paid the penalty for our sins, and provided a way for us to find life! In

Jesus said, “I am come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” John 10:10. 

Christ’s death didn’t just save us from an eternity in hell as punishment for our sins--which is what we deserved, but He died so we might have LIFE!

“ were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life, inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood...the blood of Christ”. I Peter 1:18-19

“And He Himself [Jesus] bore our sins in His body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to rightesousness, for by His wounds you were healed.” 2 Peter 2:24

This life is found in Christ Jesus. Sometimes I think about Jesus and the crazy things He said.  Some people left Him because they just didn’t get it.  One time He asked the remaining disciples “ ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and come to know that You are the Holy One of God’ “. John 6:68-69.

There is no one else I would rather follow.  And despite my wandering heart that looks for life in all the wrong places, and a world that tells us that life can be found in all the wrong places I know and have seen that my God is The One who has the words of life.  And I truly have never felt more alive than when I am following Him. I pray that those of you who are seeking life in all the wrong places will seek for life from the giver and sustainer of life.