Mission Trip: VBS

My most favorite aspect of this mission trip was being able to interact with the children of Tizimin during Vacation Bible School.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0283.JPGThis wonderful lady, who has literally been sent by God, for these children heads up the school/church responsible for their formation. Her name is Magdalena Saldana. She has the spirit of a lion. The will of an eagle. The grace of a peacock. The love of a mother. During her time with DCI, she has lead more than 100 children into her facility to present the gospel of the Lord. The children who attended VBS instantly gave her the respect and love that she deserved. She touched my heart. As an educator, I praise people who devote their lives to the children. For her, what better way than through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

DSC_0394DSC_0451For four days we interacted with more than 90 children from all walks of life. Micah and I were in charge of registering these kids before they entered camp. We were the first people they saw. Some of them were confident, shook our hands, told us their names, and walked on in ready for the day to begin. Others seemed lost, confused, and scared. Some children where homeless. Some children didn’t have parents.

It was a tug at my heart, when Magdalena ask a little boy why he had been absent for so long. He responded, “our house has been ceased and right now we are kind of living where ever we can.” (Deep sigh) It was difficult to hear these types of things. It was difficult to see some of them walking barefoot. To see some skinny. To see runny noses.

But then my heart would rejoice when I would hear a giggle. When I would see a smile.

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:2-6
Many times I have heard it said that one must be childlike to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I didn’t quite understood what that meant, but seeing the children of Tizimin worshiping Jesus, singing, dancing, being carefree in His name made me think that it really didn’t matter what I wore, where I lived, what my life circumstances were. If I worshiped Jesus without a care in the world, like these children, I literally had nothing to fear. And that’s what these kids where, fearless. Interested. Eager. Willing. They wanted to learn. They wanted to know more about the man who died to save them.
After registration, the kids danced and singed. Then came studying. Our group taught lessons on Esther, the king’s armor, love, and understanding. Micah and I would sit in the back and observe them. It’s like they were hungry for love.
1On the second to last day, one of the group leaders ask Micah and I to lead the last lesson. I instantly agreed without even consulting Micah. Fear suddenly paralyzed me. And my good friend insecurity had a lot to say. But Micah, my love, instantly reminded me of how capable I was and with his help we presented the 10 Commandments to the children. Micah presented the ice breaker with a game of “Micah dice” (Simon says, or Micah says). Then I transitioned with “how do we know what God says?” “How do we know what to do?”
There I felt the Holy Spirit guiding me, helping me, giving me the confidence and the will that I needed to the point where 100% of the children were engaged. High five Ms. Rojas and thanks for the help Mr. Womacks.
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The rest of the time with the kids was spent on various activities, like arts and crafts, painting, coloring, praying, playing with sports equipment. Micah’s interaction with the children touched my heart as well. Many of the boys loved him. He was so good with the children. Maybe they saw what I see everyday in him–his good and noble heart. This boy, Brian, was our favorite. He often times wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye, hugging me and high- fiving Micah.
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The boys would literally gravitate towards Micah, I felt so proud of him.
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I felt a deep connection to this little girl, because Micah pointed out she looked like me. I agree. Ever since then, we gravitated towards each other.
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Micah and this little guy kept secrets and it was adorable.
VBS was inspiring to say the least. I felt like I went in thinking I was going to set an example, be uplifting, to teach, and to give, but in reality these children taught me to strive to be better. To self grow. To self love. To love without measure beyond the circumstances. Now my goal in life is to have a heart like these little ones.
Tomorrow, I’m going to share with you all about the eye exams we participated in.
Until then and as always.
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Mission Trip: the beginning of greatness

Hey everyone! Long time no talk.

I truly apologize for being away for so long.

However, I’m excited to share why I’ve been gone from the blogger world for more than three weeks. I was on a mission trip with Micah. We traveled to Tizimin, which is in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. To say the least, it was extraordinary.

For the next week or so, I’m going to dedicate my posts to sharing how God impacted my life, my relationship with Micah, and my desire to be a better Christian.

For you see, behind all the clothes I always put on Jesus’ Armour.

It was a summer filled with love and I only have God to thank for his continuing blessings. I want to begin by sharing the number one reason for this trip. I gifted this mission to Micah this past Christmas. It was an attempt to further center our relationship towards the Lord. Both Micah and I want Jesus to take the wheel and guide us on our journey as a couple. And Jesus never fails because through this mission, Micah and I grew spiritually. It was truly amazing to see the Holy Spirit in the mist of our relationship as we served the people of Tizimin.

Secondly, this blog is almost always going to be geared towards clothes and fashion. It’s  going to be about the things that make me feel good on the outside, but sometimes, I want to be able to share what’s inside of me.

For as far as I can remember, I have had this passion for serving the Lord. When I was younger I didn’t realize that serving was going to take me on mission trips. It started with an inner desire to explore and see the world, but to also give God something bigger than me. My attention.

It all started in Peru, from there, God was all I saw and I wanted to cling to that feeling. Peru will always be dear in heart. Yet when I try to understand what God wants for my life, I think of Tizimin.

I went looking for God in Peru and I found Him, but He took me to Tizimin where He answered what was in my heart.

“Cast all of your worries on HIM because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

When I traveled to Tizimin, I was worried, but not because I was going to be called out of my comfort zone. I was worried about not properly surrendering myself to God’s will. For quite sometime now, I’m utterly worried I missed God’s major plan for me. I ask day in and day out if I’m living according to His will. Am I truly being who God wants me to be? Are Micah and I, as a couple right for each other? Are we ready for marriage?

Yet while in Tizimin, I felt God. He answered my prayers.

“For we are HIS handiwork, created in Jesus Christ for the good works that GOD has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Needless to say, I feel beyond blessed and thankful to be His.

Today, I want to briefly explain the area we were in and touch based on what exactly Micah and I did while on the mission.

We arrived on July 8 in Cancun and drove about two hours west into the jungle towards Tizimin, a city of about 50,000 people. These people are caught between traditional Mayan upbringing and Christianity. For a week, Micah and I participated in Vacation Bible School, where close to 90 children, from all walks of life attended. During the evening, we walked the streets of the city to share the gospel and invite people to a free eye exam that would be held towards the end of the week. Lastly, we conducted a small worship service and shared prayer with those who needed healing. At the end of the day we handed out glasses to those who had needed them during the exam portion.

I can remember my heart twisting each time I saw someone in need and all I could offer was hug. I can remember Micah holding my hand when he saw my emotional face during trials. I can remember my heart pattering after seeing the smiles of children. It’s a unique experience that is so undesirable yet so endearing it has to be told.  I hope I can explain myself as much as possible.

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This mission trip was made possible through DCI Missions, Dream Center International. It was an organization I found online through endless hours of research. Missionaries Bill and Kathy Craver have been conducting missions work for more than sixteen years. They oversee two missionary training campuses, one in the Yucatan of Mexico and one located in Belize C.A. Throughout the year they lead teams to impact the lives of indigenous people.

It was amazing to see how God has worked in these people lives not only to move them, but also to show how great our Lord is. It was inspiring.

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This was the main entrance to the camp where we stayed. There were a total of 24 people on the trip. There was a large group from Florida, a family of four from Georgia, a group of wonderful ladies from Texas, Micah’s solo roommate from Tennessee, and Micah and I from Kansas. It was also uplifting to see how everyone came together for the same purpose.

45Maybe I’m being bias because I’m a teacher, but some of my favorite moments where spent with the children. Yes I liked playing with them, coloring, laughing, and doing arts in crafts, but I especially enjoyed watching them worship Jesus. I was filled with tears when I saw them praying to the Lord. If anything, they truly left a mark on me. I will forever remember them.

IMG_5137IMG_5149Working alongside Micah was one of the greatest experiences during this trip. I was so proud of him and fell in love with him even more. More than that I was touched by the people of the area. It was completely humbling to be able to give these people the gift of sight through God’s handiwork.

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And at the end of the day, God always graced us. There’s so much I want to put into words, but I simply can’t. It’s not because I’m unwilling; I just can’t find the words to truly explain what I was feeling during this week. This is something, I now look back on, and think wow I was there. I lived that. God was with me. I’ve grown. Micah and I have grown.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about the children and VBS. Until then and as always.

Life itself

It seems so selfish to go about my life as if I’m the only one who worries, is stressed out, is busy, or is conflicted. I feel as if every time I blog I have to boast about how busy I am or how complicated my life has been because of this or that.

Today upon opening my e-mails, our administrator informed the school about a recent death. He was a student. He was a son. He was a brother. He was a friend.

Suddenly everything that I’ve been dealing with lately seemed so small.

We were asked to talk to the students about anxiety, stress, and depression.

So here’s my chance to be uplifting, inspirational, caring, kind. And…. I blew it. I read talking points. The students just stared at me like deer caught in taillights.

The truth is, it’s hard to talk about suicide. It’s hard to know what the right thing to say is during a time of confusion. Pain like this is tough. I feel for my students because they are young and life is giving them difficult challenges. Some of them are having to grow up too fast. Some of them are oblivious to hardships. Some of them are independent. Some of them don’t feel they have a voice. What’s harder is that as a teacher, an adult, a mentor, I can’t always relate to them. This is where I’m conflicted because I’m at a loss as to what to say, how far can I invade their personal bubble, how long do I stay present?

It seems that during a death like this there are a million and one questions everyone asks, like why, just for starters. And me? I don’t have all the answers to the way the universe moves.

I sat back down after my award-winning speech on “I’ll be there for you,” and contemplated my struggles, my fears, my moment of depression. For one second, I realized that when depression kept turning off the lights in my life, I wanted to drown myself in sorrow. I wanted so desperately to feel. When that intoxicating desire to feel something took over I was a goner. Next thing I knew I was in the shower shaving my legs and the razor “accidentally” cut my ankle. I didn’t flinch. Instead, I watched as a tiny river of red ran down my leg and into the drain. After that I was addicted to that feeling. Why? Because I could feel something. I wasn’t numb anymore.

So it was back to the shower, time and time again. I never cut too deep, just enough to feel. I was playing with my life. It wasn’t until one evening my mom came home from work and hugged me. She said, let’s go get ice cream. Beyond my endless eye rolls, we went. We had a conversation about nothing. She talked while she savored her chocolate ice cream cone about how growing up she always wanted to explore the African jungle. I asked her why? And she said just because it’s something I know I’ll never get to see. I was puzzled. Why on Earth did my mother have a dream that wasn’t worth achieving. Intrigued, I asked her to explain?

She went on to say that sometimes we have a dream so big and unreachable that it gives us hope. It makes us get up every morning and work hard. It makes us cling to ourselves and to make peace with knowing that God’s will is what we should want.

God’s will. God? Oh yea? (smirk) Then the light switch got turned back on.

I suppose the point of all of this is that sometimes we feel like nothing will matter, like nothing makes sense, like nothing we do can help save a life. Who knew a hug, ice cream, and a unreachable dream would save my life. Give it meaning.

Maybe I should have talked to my students about my struggles to find hope. On the other hand maybe the talking points were enough. Everyone is different. Everyone loves, thinks, acts, feels, and moves differently. That makes us who we are. For me during a time of struggle, like this one, it’s not to necessarily try to understand, but to be there. To help by lending a listening ear. To be present. To be a smile. To be in this life.

On Sunday during church sermon it was said that we always hear the famous words of Mother Teresa, “God wouldn’t give you anything you can’t handle,” and it’s true in a sense. But in reality we should consider God not giving us anything He can’t handle. So we should give Him our troubles. He’s ready. He’s able. He’s for us. Give it to him. Or give it to me and I’ll pass it on to Him.

As always,

For we are dust

It’s Ash Wednesday.

Lately, I’ve been having a hard time explaining who I am, as if feeling who I am is so wrong. Mostly it’s because, if I am, who I am; then it might not make others happy. Then there’s resentment. No on wants that. No one wants to cause it. So I’ve been avoiding reality–like the plague.

But I feel it coming. And there’s nothing I can do about it, because this is who I am. I am a woman of God. He’s taken me under his wings and has sheltered me with everlasting love and mercy. My God is forgiving. I am also Catholic.

When I was younger I thought my faith was exhausting. When I was a teen I realized it was a disciplined practice. Now, I view Catholicism as water in a very hot and desperate desert. I need it in all it’s abundant flow.

What better way for me to be myself than through sacrifice, penitence, and prayer. For me, Ash Wednesday represents why I need Jesus so much. As I begin the Lenten season, I’m reminded of Jesus’ great love for me. That helps me cope with my preconceived ideas.

I think of the word sacrifice and wonder why Jesus sacrificed so much for me, for who I am? He gave up his breath, his mother, and his life so that I could live. In that sense I ought to live for who I am.

Yes I’m a Catholic woman trying to live life rightfully, honestly, and faithfully. I must also accept that I’m a sinner, that I make mistakes, and that sometimes I can’t handle the consequences. I must also accept that I’m fun, loving, caring, and helpful. On the other hand, I’m mean, insecure, thoughtless, and crazy.

I like my cake and I like to eat it too.

But, Jesus calls me to love the cake, to savior it, to admire it. He wants me to pray that baking that cake goes well. But at the end of the day, he wants me to sacrifice the cake. In doing so, my exhausting and discipline practice will go towards a greater good.

I want to be like that. I’m trying to be like that.

The ash reminds me of who I am, but the cross also reminds me that I am His.

That’s who I am, apologetically.

Health Week Day 4: Spititual Intake

Being health means a lot of different things and believe me there’s a million different aspects when it comes to being in complete health. Sure, we need to take care of our skin, hair, and body, the stuff that’s on the out and inside. Because yes, that stuff is really important. One thing I’ve also learned is that we also need to be healthy spiritually.

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It’s so true, we often look as health as being some strength that comes from our physical appearance, but what about God’s portion? Now I’ve talked about Holy Habits on here before, so I again I’ve challenged myself to look at my spiritual health and consider how I’m going to win this race.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

1 Timothy 4:8

I think it’s very important to run, to jump, to leap, and dance, but everything that we do let God give us our ultimate health and strength. There were so many occasions in my soccer days where I would give every game to the Lord and He blessed me game in and game out. If I would get hurt; I would surrender it as God’s will. In the end, he never let me down because I continued to play up until college on a paid scholarship. I suppose it was my reward for being faithful to him.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

And that’s exactly why I give my life to our Lord and Savior. In whatever I do, whether it’s a tough situation or one with a positive outcome, I pray God gives me the strength. Not the physical strength of course, but the strength that keeps my spirit uplifted.

In addition, I pray often, Micah and I do bible studies together, I attend church, I form part of a young adult group at church, and I talk to God above and beyond prayer. Now, where I fail is with consistency. It’s hard to continue the routine because after all we are human, we get caught up, we get tired, but God knows our intentions. If it’s for Him, He’ll never leaves us.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

3 John 1:2

It’s my hope for you, that you find God in everything that you do. It’s healthy and it’s a good thing. Again, I challenge you to create those Holy Habits. And do me a great favor, keep me accountable in my fight to cover myself with the Lord.

See you tomorrow as I wrap up Health Week. As always.

Theology Thursday: His Will

First of all Happy Immaculate Conception.

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When Gabriel the angel appeared and informed Mary of God’s will for her, one can imagine the utter shock she went through. She was conflicted and thoughtful. However in order to understand God’s will, she prayed. Today more than anything we celebrate Mary and the way she so diligently carried God’s will for her life and ours.

“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

John 13:7

Many times I have found myself like Simon Peter (Mary was probably caught in this thought herself), unable to understand the purpose, the journey… His will. My life has become a mixture of deep contemplation and deep sighs. I often look beyond my surroundings and ask out loud, “Lord what is your will for me?”

It’s hard to listen to the Lord when it comes to full filling His plan for us. My main problem is standing still and having patience.

“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

And that’s the key, not giving up in our search for God’s will, because it’s there. Right  now, I’m going through a weird moment in my life. I don’t consider myself too old or too young; so it’s weird for me. I’m not married and I don’t have children so finding individuals, my age, to relate too is hard. And again, weird. I’m finished with grad school and I have a wonderful job (God’s blessed me with it) and I get to learn each and everyday what the meaning of living is. I live a grand life. There’s nothing difficult about being me.

Yet I find myself stuck for some reason. For me, the feeling of being comfortably still, frightens me. This makes me feel like I’m either being complacent and that I’m not challenging myself enough. It’s not that my life is boring in way; this just leaves me questioning myself. Surely God’s not done with me at age 28. Surely, there’s more out there for me, just having the patience to get there (to whatever it is) is killing me.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

Matthew 6:34

But, I worry people, I do. I can’t help it. I suppose more than anything I need to pray; it’s just so easy to be discouraged when nothing is happening. It’s easy to give up the good fight because it seems like there’s no progression.

To uplift myself, I think about all the wonderful things God has gifted me with and I think, “He put me through it and he will help me through it.” Then those big-deep sighs come back. Right now, I can only hope that I’m living God’s will. Right now, all I can do is pray and fill myself with His word. And if God’s will for me is to be hush up, to study His word, and to watch for a sign, then I’ll happily wait as long as it takes.