Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dressember 2015.

December 1st. December means Christmas. December means my favorite time of the year. December means snowstorms trapping me in my apartment. December means frigid temperatures. But December also means Dressember.

Dressember and I had an internal battle this year. I really didn't want to do it. I thought, "I'm out of college now and no one will be doing side by side with me this year. I'll either be at work or have days off and be cleaning, lounging, or running errands. I REALLY don't want to do that all in a dress." Even when I woke up this morning, I planned to put on pants. And then I saw this smiling face in my head ....
Oh dear one. Raynuka holds a special place in my heart. Almost every time I pray for her, I get tears in my eyes. She's young and hasn't been trafficked but oh my, is she high risk. She lives in a small tin house in the slums. My guess is that she's been abused all too often for her young years. So on December 1st, I woke up and thought of her. Why should I stop fighting for her freedom and dignity just because I'm no longer in college??

I can't promise I'll wear a dress everyday. But I will lift up Raynuka and so many others up in prayer. When people ask why I'm wearing a dress I will tell the stories of brokenness and redemption that are so fragile I'm unable to tell of them here. I'll use my voice to be a voice for my sweet sisters across the world who simply hope they'll stay safe day by day. They aren't worried that their car won't make it out of the parking lot because they don't have a car. They don't struggle to decide what to wear because they only have a few kurtas to choose from. 3 meals a day are a blessing. 

The heart of Dressember is dignity and freedom, so let's raise our voices to fight for our sisters around the world enslaved in trafficking. Let's fight for those at risk. Let's pray for a change of heart in traffickers. Dressember partners with IJM and the A21 Campaign who both fight for justice and aid in rescues. Check 'em out. www.ijm.org and www.a21.org.
I've joined Sioux Center's Dressember fundraising page and if you feel led you can donate here https://support.dressemberfoundation.org/fundraise?is_new=1&fcid=575638 All proceeds will go towards ending trafficking and securing rescues. Last year Dressember participants raised enough to fund over 100 IJM rescues!
Don't mind my post pjs-more of a long sweater than a dress-mirror pic. Cheers to the next 30 days!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Changing Generations.

This past week has been a blur. 
> Get back from India (after 52 hours of travel and a whole lot of tears). 
> Move to a new state. 
> 12 hours later start a new job. 
> Have zero time to process. 

Thankfully, I've finally had a few minutes to slow down and process my three weeks in India. The more I talk to people, the more stories I remember and the more I see our sweet Jesus. I see him in the small moments. I hear him in the laughter. The more I think about our three weeks, the more I realize how many seeds were planted. All we could do was love hard and plant seeds and trust the Lord to do the rest. My heart was definitely at the aftercare center. I love those women so much, but the Lord actually taught me the most through our time at the slum which is where I really struggled. I struggled with feeling useless. I didn't always feel as though I was doing much, and then it hit me like a brick wall- a lot of these kids don't know what love looks like. They know what abuse looks like. They know what alcoholism looks like. They know what idols look like, but love? They haven't necessarily known real, deep, true love. So we got to love on them. We loved on them when they were insane and difficult, and when that meant I had to hold a six year old for three hours. But not only that...but we got the privilege to share Jesus' love with them. We shared Bible stories, and hugs, and shoes to show His love. We prayed and prayed and prayed. And while I didn't necessarily see spiritual fruit in my three weeks, it's my prayer that these kiddos will grow up loving Jesus and that will change the entire community. I pray they'll change generations and generations to come. I pray there won't be abuse or neglect, but love and grace. I pray that someone will visit in five years and see Jesus flooding that place. Because He is faithful, and He is able. 

Our dear [and incredibly talented] teammate, Caroline, wrote this beautiful song that sums up ministry in the slum so well.

The roads been long, the roads been rough
You’ve come along way, but don’t give up.
There’s joy to have and pain to bear,
And I sleep safe while you lie awake scared. [how many nights I lied awake thinking about how grossly privileged I am. My complaints suddenly seem pretty minute.]

But keep your eyes on the sky
For he will come in due time
You’ll be scared tonight, but he’s with you
And he will bring the daylight.

You're not like me, we don’t speak the same
But our different worlds have the same reality
And your smiling face looking up my way,

It screams so loud that “God delights in me!”

But keep your eyes on the sky
For he will come in due time
He’ll make all things right, cause he loves you
And he sees you through the hard times.

You’re sick and sore, you’re bruised and beat,
We can treat the symptoms but that’s not eternity.
It’s our prayer for you, that you grow up strong
chasing God’s own heart, changing generations.

So keep your eyes on the sky,
For he will come in due time.
And keep these words in your mind- Jesus loves you, this I know.
Jesus loves you, for the Bible tells me so. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Streams in the Wasteland

Only 2 sleeps left, and I'm not going to lie- I'm extremely ready to be home. I have absolutely loved this trip, but I'm also very excited and anxious to begin a new chapter of life and see what the Lord has in store. With two days left, I've obviously been reflecting quite a bit on this trip. This trip is different than what many would imagine I assume. We didn't come and build or paint anything. We didn't do VBS and have 20 people come to Christ, but we did love hard and planted seeds. We put Christ's love into action and are leaving the rest up to him. Even when we couldn't see, the Lord was working. He was at work when the slum kids requested to hear a Bible story. He was at work slowly softening the hearts of the women at the aftercare center. He was at work in every softly spoken prayer. He worked through every wound or illness that was treated. He worked through smiles and boisterous laughter. He worked through a sweet old Muslim auto driver that we got to share a little of Jesus with. He worked wonders through quiet time in the morning and precious moments spent  in community with our sisters in Christ. Joy, love, and grace bubbled over. There isn't one moment from this trip that I'll cherish forever, but rather a hundred tiny, seemingly insignificant moments.

Isaiah 43:19 says, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

This is what God's doing in India. He's making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland through the small moments that are full of love.  It's too easy to focus on the desert or wasteland instead of seeing all the moments He's in and standing amazed by His work.

He works through gospel Mehindi and child like joy.

He turns our sorrow into dancing.

He works through sweet time with new friends.
..and old.

He's our healer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Greater is He.

Today we went to a women's center that simply provides impoverished women and children with a warm meal and shower. Women also have the opportunity to learn how to stitch quilts and earn an income. The center was packed today, but it was such a beautiful day.

We held a medical clinic and the first gal we saw, who we'll call M, had a fever of 102.9. We could visibly tell that she felt terrible, but one of the first things we learned about her is that she's a believer and anxiously waiting to be baptized! About a year ago M had an engagement break off and lost a baby at full term. These things are terrible for anyone, but in Indian culture she was left with little worth. Because of this, she was essentially rejected by everyone other than her mother and women at the center. Thankfully, she continues to come to the center to be loved and cared for, but most importantly she knows she is ADORED by her heavenly Father. Also, within two hours of being seen, her temp was down and she was feeling so much better. We serve the ultimate healer!

Later, we saw G who was such a precious soul. She needed medical attention because her husband severly beat her Sunday night which about ripped my heart out. G and her three children were staying at the center for safety. This fierce woman also had the courage to turn her husband into the police, which is about unheard of here. Yet, she praised the Lord and a few team members had the opportunity to pray over her. Talk about praising Him in the storm, eh? G came to the center and knew about Christ long before she knew him. It wasn't until she had been in labor on a dirt floor, with her second child for over two days that she finally prayed to this Jesus she heard about. A healthy boy was born less than two hours later and ever since she's been on fire for the Lord! God is good, ALL the time.

Today we saw abuse, poverty and abandonment, but we also heard testimonies of how God is victorious over the most difficult situations and gives beauty for ashes.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Little Praises

There are currently eight team members here, so we're split into two different ministry teams most days. The Lord has obviously orchestrated our teams and ours has tried to begin the day sandwiching our prayers. We begin with a praise, then state a request or something that isn't going so well, and finally we end with another praise. This is an amazing way to start the day because we've found ourselves going, "Another praise!" or "Add it to the praise list!" all throughout the day. The other day we talked to the girls at the aftercare center about finding joy in the smallest praises, so we've been adding those to our list too!

Here are a few of my praises, big and small:

- Having mom on this trip with me. I have seen the sacrificial and selfless love that reflects Christ through her each day. She's the one who will sacrifice sleep and calm me in anxious, late night moments.

- Being back in a place  I love so dearly and seeing all the Lord has done. So much has changed and improved at the HIV hospital! He is faithful.

- Walking into the aftercare center and seeing familiar faces. Two ladies actually remembered and just sat holding my hand or with their head on my shoulder and my heart almost burst.

- Being surrounded by some of the most joyful kids in the world, who have so little. Those little smiles are good at putting things into perspective for me.

- The power not yet going out while we sleep (otherwise it can get reallllllly hot).

- An actual shower with WARM water.

- Continued safety and health.

- Playing 'Snakes and Ladders' with a 9 year old boy at the HIV hospital and hearing his laughter after he beat me two times in a row.

- Praying over sweet little 'grandmas and grandpas' living behind the hospital.

- Good coffee. :)

- A peace that surpasses all understanding. This peace has washed over me even in my anxious moments and anyone who knows me knows that is a huge answer to prayer!

- Continually hearing testimonies of the Lord's goodness from impverished children, former Hindu's who have completely turned from their former way of life, and women who have endured more trials than I can even fathom. Our God is a God of the nation's who is able to cross any and every cultural and language barrier.