be LOVE now

Last night I fell asleep reading Forgotten God and doing the Bible Reading Plan. I'm not saying that I started late and fell asleep. No, I'm saying I started at 6:45 pm and two hours later my unconscious head was crumpled next to my Bible, book, and journal. I still had my day-clothes on, and I wasn't quite sure if it was morning-noon-or night.

I'm still not really sure why I am so tired. I think I might be getting a cold. But, it seems almost ludicrous to be caring about such small things after a 6.1 earthquake hit an already ravaged Haiti. Who cares about sore throats?

My cousin Amanda posted this on facebook and I've got to agree:

haitian timoun foundation founder, rick barger's words: "The real disaster that has plagued Haiti is not the earthquake. It simply exposed it. The real disaster is its poverty. Poverty created the lack of infrastructure. Poverty provided the breeding ground for corruption that works to keep Haiti poor. Poverty keeps children from going to school. Poverty places people into a cycle of dependency. Poverty strips away dignity and crushes dreams."

This is the thing that should be causing us all to stop. think. question.

We shouldn't be asking, "where is the love after such a horrible event?"

We should be asking, "Where was the love before the earthquake?"

I personally know of several people who have seen the horrors of Haiti firsthand, even before the earthquakes. As much as our hearts break right now for the thousands and thousands of hurting, we must learn to have broken hearts before disasters.

Let's be love now.

Post for Haiti

I just keep feeling overwhelmed at the enormity of the pain and suffering in Haiti. I know there are tragedies and disasters around the world every single day. Sometimes, we are struck with a disaster that seems so complete. This is one of those times. I just wanted to give a few links where you could go for info, give donations, and keep up-to-date on news and how to pray.

Compassion International is an organization that has proven themselves faithful to God's call to serve the poorest of the poor throughout the world. When a crisis happens, I know Compassion is already on the ground and already working with churches in the country that they have developed relationships with. I know when I support Compassion, I am not just giving money to a haphazard medical mission, but a structured organization with a pure heart fueled by God's design.

Paste Magazine is giving away a BUNCH of free songs to download if you donate through them or if you donate at all through any organization you can reach the free songs. This is a way artists are supporting the cause too.

Mars Hill Church is sending a team down with photographers and videographers to bring back images so people can see and respond. Read the story below.
The Mars Hill Blog | Blog Archive » Haunted by Haiti

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Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center has great pictures and blog to follow. Click below to see more from their blog.

The Gospel Coalition Blog has posted some really great, honest articles that give some perspective. I especially liked the article, "Live with Haiti in Your Heart." If you feel yourself stuck in a strange place of apathy and guilt, read this article.

Living Water International is an organization whose goal is to bring water to people all over the world, and also the living water of the gospel. Their goal is to repair 500 wells damaged by the earthquake. Click here to see how you can help. My family used our Christmas tithing money to support this great cause!

"We Will Rise Up"
This song is an anthem and a challenge to the church to rise up in the midst of hurting and pain to heal the world with the power of the Lord. Click on the link below to download it.. hopefully it works, it's a link from twitter. If not, go to NationsBeGlad twitter and they posted it there.
http://ow.ly/XfjX

a night as ONE

After a solid day-long hibernation yesterday, today I was ready to re-enter the world of social outings and easy conversation. But, had you tried to rouse me or engage me in any sort of way yesterday, I couldn't have made any promises of my attentiveness.

The weeks (and months in the idea-in-my-head kind of way) leading up to Friday, October 23rd were packed with questions, preparations, and lots of battles against worry. In the course of these weeks, I felt constantly compelled to apologize with the words, "I'm a visionary."

Sometimes (okay, many times), I look ahead to the glorious, vague notion of "what could be" and then work haphazardly toward its realization. I used to think I was organized... you know, with color-coded plans B, C, and D in proper order. I used to think if I had enough discipline and spoke with enough authority, that inner, organized leader in me would prevail. Well, come to find out, the inner, organized leader I so hoped to uncover was quite hard to find.

Now, I don't lie to myself. Instead, I say, "I am a visionary, like my dad." I know it doesn't get me off the hook, but I hope that it does bring in all those around me to keep me accountable and ask the right questions.

All of that to say, being a visionary turns out to be a lot about being humble. Holding your plans loosely, holding schedules that are slippery like jello, and trusting that however it turns out is the way it was supposed to go (even if it looks nothing like what was in my head). Friday night was just exactly that - not at all what I pictured and absolutely a work of God.

Micah Project and the Transition Home (ministry of Orphanage Emmanuel) joined us in the afternoon and we spent several sweaty hours playing soccer on the field. Then we moved into the gym to several stations - prayer room, letter-writing, and learning stations. The kids (in small groups) walked into the prayer room and prayed for the Micah boys and the girls from the Transition Home by name. They wrote letters to our Congress here, explaining the purpose of the event and asking that they might concern themselves too with the needs of those living on the street. Then, they had fun with the challenges at the learning stations: creating a sculpture out of bottles and cartons, creating an outfit out of scraps of fabric, creating a game out of found objects.

We took every opportunity to teach our theme verses, from Matthew 22:37-40

"Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as you love yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

We united together, as neighbors in Tegucigalpa and loved one another through playing games, making jokes, laughing, and sharing joy. Our dinner was simple: hot dog, chips, soda.

We listened to a band and then joined together in worship. The sound reverberating in the gym was pounding in my head with all my worries, but when I looked around, the unity I saw was beautiful. After the singing died down, with prayer we ushered in the presentations of the two organizations, who shared testimonies about their work with children who grew up on the streets or were saved from a childhood on the streets.

When Becca (from Micah Project) asked Wilmer and Marvincito what their dreams were for the future, their answers made a huge impact on all of us gathered. They said some version of this, "When I get older, I want to help the kids who were like me - poor and on the streets without hope."

Wow.

We prayed for the organizations, laying hands on them and then they in turn prayed for us. This exchange remains imprinted on my heart - that we are called to both give AND take as part of the body of Christ. Just as we were ready to move out onto the soccer field for the campfire, the electricity died in the gym. At that moment, walking out onto the field illumined by the fire's glow, we were one. We were really ONE: one family, one community, one love. We crowded around the warmth of the flames and we sang. We prayed. We gave thanks. We were one.

And then we dispersed to our flimsy little cardboard beds (which quickly became a community event as well - for warmth!) for the night.

Though not all the students that came were born-again believers, I think we all got to see a little glimpse of what God might have in store for the future - worshipping, playing, loving, and enjoying life... together.

The morning came early enough and I was glad (especially for reasons of liability) that everyone made it through the night. We packed up and cleaned up and with almost every step I wanted to find a corner to collapse into. But, God be praised, I made it, too!

I will be praying for many more nights like these (and God's power to sustain us to do His work).

Honduras, land I love

Many of you are probably already aware of the situation here in Honduras. If not, please read as much as you can from as many news sources as you can (preferably some in Spanish) so you can understand the fullest story. I don't want to re-hash what you can read in reliable news sources (see: www.online.wsj.com), but I would like to share some pictures I've gathered from the internet and the news sources I'm reading/consolidating to get my information.

Before all of the chaos of Mel's return, graffiti and demonstrations were the extent of tensions here. After his arrival, the graffiti/demonstrations have climbed to extremes and so have the tensions.
This is an example of what some of the Mel supporters (La Resistencia) are doing on the streets. Mel's return, he rallied his supporters outside the Brazilian Embassy with the words, "I am here for the restoration of democracy," which I think should seem strange to many people, because it is exactly democracy that calls him to account for illegal acts. He also said, "From now on, nobody gets us out of here again, so our position is homeland, restitution, or death." Apparently, he is prepared to die in an effort to again become president of this country. I wonder what good that would do us - a very determined and a very convicted, dead president.

The police, admittedly a rough lot, have united with the military to try to contain the violent protestors. They are using tear gas and water cannons (at least that is all that is being reported) to keep vandalism and violence at bay. Though we would hope the military has only the best interest of the common citizen in mind, it is likely they too have their own agenda and methods to end the unrest. Some of the Resistencia seem to have little care for who their actions effect. USAToday reported that some protestors stormed an ambulance and attacked three Red Cross workers, accusing them of being part of the coup. Meanwhile, the UN delivered hot dogs to Zelaya and supporters inside the Brazilian Embassy (msnbc reports) because, of course, nothing else was available in a city under curfew.
On Monday, the city of Tegucigalpa began this curfew (which basically means we are confined to our houses under the threat of being detained by military if we leave) at 4 pm. Originally, the curfew was to be imposed until the next morning at 7 am. On Tuesday the curfew was extended to 6 pm that night and then until the next morning. We were reading as many reports as possible when we could get an internet signal, as we do not have cable, and in one report I read that Honduras is losing $50 million every day its citizens are not allowed to work.

Though Emily and I live in the city (and within 7-10 minutes walking from the Brazilian Embassy), our neighborhood has been very quiet. We learn about the riots from friends who call worried about us and our location. We were somewhat skeptical of their reports until on Wednesday we were allowed out for a window of time in order to get groceries and visit the pharmacies. As we drove around the city - with the rest of the curfew-abiding citizens - we were surprised at the patience (at times) combined with fear we saw in the people.

(One of my students took this picture in a local grocery store, where her family had gone to get the necessities for an undetermined amount of time. The store ran out of sugar, eggs, bread, and all the staples and the people were starting to get in a frenzy. When the cart came with bread, the shoppers became out of control and people were crazy to secure a loaf.)
We later learned that Mel supporters had not only stormed several grocery stores in the previous nights (where curfew was imposed), but left them vandalized with broken windows and nothing on the shelves. They even went to the extremes of digging up rocks on the cobblestone street to throw at cars parked on the streets and in parking lots. They moved on to gas stations and fast food restaurants as well, even taking the little money collection bottles at the counter intended for "Kids with Cancer." (Cadena Nacional - a local news station reported this with footage I cannot find)
Originally, we believed the government released us from the curfew because it would be extended (and the nightly news then reported) indefinitely after we secured food and medicines. Now, however, we speculate that we were encouraged to get groceries because of the irrational nature of the Resistencia. We woke up this morning, Thursday, and the curfew was not extended. Though this was a surprise, the only reason we can see is that those of us acknowledging the curfew were not the people making trouble. The mob of protestors who ignored the imposed curfew was only growing and the problems were increasing the past couple nights. The government wanted us to have access to groceries before the mob stormed more grocery stores and made more chaos in the streets (that's our guess).

Though I'm sure I do not understand the whole ordeal, I do know that Zelaya is being encouraged by what he calls the "international community," basically Venezuela, United States, Brazil, and Nicaragua. However, without the support of the United States, many speculate the Zelaya's return (commended as valiant by Hugo Chavez) would not have been possible. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the persistence of Obama, Clinton, and other international leaders to bring Zelaya back into power is absurd if not embarrassing. Though an official, current Honduran Constitution is hard to come by, we do know that Zelaya's actions warranted a response. The response his Congress chose, though it may not have been best, may have been one of few options. And, now that we see the tension and unrest resulting from Zelaya's presence here, we might more fully understand their desire to have him exiled.

Reports today from Bloomberg.com say Zelaya is now telling supporters that he knows of a plan (by the current government) to storm the Brazilian Embassy and kill him, claiming it was a suicide. Michelletti's office, of course, denied these claims and pointed to these extreme statemtns as Zelaya's methods to incite the mob.

I could go on and on, but I encourage you to do your own research and then join me in prayer. Though I am definitely not in favor of Zelaya, I know there is corruption on many if not all sides in this crisis. I have friends and students who believe (though not in favor of Mel or the violent protests) the Resistance campaign is only calling for due process and adherence to the Constitution laws in full, not only when it benefits the other party. Unfortunately, this is not a crisis where we ask, "whose side are you on?" but one with complicated details that begs the question of lesser evils.

PRAY
Please pray that Christians will unite as one in prayer. Also, as we are kept from school these past three days, pray for the teachers and staff whose purpose right now can only be to remain diligent in prayer and faithful in communicating with students. Pray for the students, that they would not fear, but know of the Love that casts out all fear that comes by way of the world. Pray for the people here, who are struggling after missing days working - it hurts on every level, from business owners to the cleaning maids.

I have added links to photos and videos below.

Slideshow at Wall Street Journal


Slideshow with captions at Washington Post


Video in Spanish with footage from ransacked grocery stores


News article from Wall Street Journal (the publication we are most following here)

oh what a night!

Yes, tonight I did go out to eat and then to the mall dressed RIDICULOUSly with some of my girlfriends to celebrate Macayla's fleeting single status. I was a little bit ashamed, but at the same time a little bit thrilled to be back to doing the silly things I cherished in college. Here's a picture to give you an idea of our little escapade. Notice the silver confetti in our festive plastic glasses and the absolute randomness of the whole ordeal. It reminds me of college sophomore year in Gilmore (during sorority rush) where we created our own "frarority" called Galpha Franarara. The whole point of it was to dress silly and go out in public. Completely clean fun and fantastic photo opportunities (just the way I like it!).
Here's also some promo materials for an activity coming up for hands and feet, the high school service organization.

These are posters for the upcoming SLEEP-OUT event, where we will raise support (kind of relay-for-life style) for the kids to sleep outside on the soccer field on cardboard boxes. We will invite the Micah Project to come and be guests and we'll have other activities as well... Please pray that this event happens and brings glory to God in the process!


links for Tuesday

Hello there are HAPPY Tuesday! Here are just a few things I want to recommend. Check them out and let me know what you think :)

Day of Light Movie
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=1938546&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=00adef&fullscreen=1

Day of Light from Love Light & Melody on Vimeo.

Is this inspiration for projects here at the trash dump? I think maybe yes. :) I definitely think our students are capable ... now it is a matter of possible.

Brite Revolution
This is a website where independent artists post two songs a month and for a subscription ($5/month) you can download everything. You are supporting the artist AND you are supporting a cause, because each artist picks a cause and some of the proceeds every month go to that organization. Pretty cool way to get legal, awesome music, right? Right! Check it out!

Dave Ramsey - Peace University
I know I already gave Ramsey props yesterday, but I really do think that this is such a beautiful way to make your wallet reflect your heart. Just take a look and see what you think.

I'm making this short because lately I've been LONG-winded! :)

Honduras: how do we know the truth?

Well, here are a few things to help us figure it out.

This youtube video shows the chronology of recent events here in Honduras.

http://www.youtube.com/v/maMA3PTYoZE&hl=en&fs=1&border=1

This article is an interesting look at the impact recent events and controversy has had on Honduras as a country. We need your support!

Why I Came to Honduras

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Don't worry - I am working on many of things to share with you. It has been a crazy amount of time and I wish I could tell all of you everything. My weeks at home were more than I could have hoped for. Every memory and conversation and face and prayer encouraged me in such fantastic ways. Thank you all for being so wonderful! Those I saw and those I didn't, I am just reminded of my roots in family, friendships, and most of the Body of Christ.

I will write soon!

Proyecto Miceas!

joy is a funny thing. sometimes it bubbles right up out of the smallest crack of earth to surprise me when I'm distractedly searching for my next suffering step. joy surprised me in just such a way this weekend and I am beyond thrilled.

God doesn't have to surprise us. Yet, somehow I imagine He sits, enthroned in glory with angels bursting beautiful harmonies, positively giddy (in a majestic sort of way) at the idea of surprising His children with joy. We may be down here, trudging through hardships and trials... but amidst and underneath all of the regular rubble, a steadfast stream just gurgles up with inexpressible joy. Mmmm.

How perfectly thoughtful of our Lord to meet that subtle need (that escapes explanation and then makes me crazy searching for what I'm "missing") in the form of joy.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book about his life, "Surprised by Joy." Given my unwavering appreciation for that man, I know this inexpressible joy has touched others as deeply (and who are able to articulate it more aptly than I).

So, all this abstract talk has surely been a surprise to you, since I've been straining to get any information at all up here lately. Well, don't go expecting any similar bursts of inspiration ... today may not be habit forming (unfortunately, I generally can not control surprises). I would, however, like to share how God blessed me with joy in the form of Micah Project.

(A little background) We've been trying to get a service group going at the school called "Hands and Feet." Throughout this year, we've held bake sales, donation drives, awareness campaigns, and ventured out on a few field trips. After a series of random events strung together perfectly, yesterday we invited the Micah Project to give an after-school assembly.

(Here are a few posters I made to publicize)

Not being at all confident in our students' interest in anything not including personal gain, I presented the idea to our teachers that they might offer extra credit for students who attended and completed an assignment.

I'm not sure if it was the extra credit or the praise and worship that followed, but the room was packed out! We arranged for a taqueadas (tacos/gringas combos) vendor to sell after school to raise money for the Micah Project and then everyone crammed in to listen to the story of this young organization, whose purpose is to rescue boys off the streets of Tegucigalpa and then provide discipleship training and education. The director, Michael Miller came, along with Becca (operations director), and three of the boys from the program (Kristopher, Wilmer, and Michael).

Praise God, for he did indeed move. After the event and before we moved into the auditorium for the last praise and worship night of the year, I had a little moment of "Lord, yes!"

Though I still struggle with mission-envy (a new term I've given to being jealous of those involved in other missions), I can see that God has a very sure role for me here. Before I came, I saw an opportunity to connect the students who can make a difference with those who need the difference made here in Honduras. I just felt the biggest, blessed confirmation that the Lord will be faithful to complete that work in this school.

Many, many things are changing next year - more than I can explain pushing these keys. I do know, however, that God is the same. He is just as faithful, just as perfect, and just as concerned with the lives of His children today as He was yesterday.

Praise God for joyful surprises!

PRAYER:
I will write more soon, but I have found a car to purchse for next year. If you have not read in previous posts or my newsletters, I have been looking for a car to expand my outreach next year. Though I feel perfectly comfortable and safe traveling around on my own with public transportation, it limits my ability to meet up with students (public transportation is too dangerous for them). A car would allow me to set up times to meet girls for discipleship and pick up students for different events when they do not have a ride. I am also looking forward to increasing my involvement in outside ministries (and getting the students involved as well!).

So, having said that, I am planning to pay for a portion of the car and raise money for the rest. I know the current owner (she's a good friend) and my plan would be to bless a missionary with the car whenever I decide to leave Honduras. I am still praying about everything, but if you are feeling led right now to support this next step in ministry, please let me know.

Prayer Causes Things

http://www.youtube.com/v/3KzZJChhtvY&hl=en&fs=1

Every time I try to wrap my mind around prayer, I get dizzy. The Lord is so curious... that He would want to invite us to be a part of His plan. Despite his curious reasons (and my inability to understand them), what I do know is that God hears.

He hears every prayer and delights in answering the prayers of His children. We know when we approach the throne of grace with confidence, our humble prayers are as a fragrant offering. By praying to God, our Provider, we are also giving Him praise... because we know He is the One and Only who could possibly respond in such a way that things would actually change.

I believe in the past week that God has heard every single petition offered up on behalf of my brother and sister-in-law and delighted to comfort, strengthen, and offer peace to their hurting hearts. I really believe that the prayers of the saints held up my parents on the long drive out to Michigan and I believe that prayers caused the smiles and relieved sighs that we thought would never come. And I certainly believe that prayers led my beautiful sister to share her thoughts in this note:

In the midst of heartache and sadness, I know that we belong to a God who does indeed see trouble and grief, and considers it with great tenderness and compassion. I praise God that I belong to him and so does our son.

I also cannot express how thankful I am for family and friends. I have a wonderful husband who has tirelessly given of himself to me. Frineds and family, I feel your prayers. I really slept last night, praise God. It has never been so sweet to belong to the body of Christ. Thank you.

Please pray for us today.

Praise the Lord. All credit is due Him for the protection and provision He's given this past week.

Please continue praying!

words cannot express

Some of you may now know the specifics of my fervent prayer request yesterday. Bethany and Samuel went in for an ultrasound yesterday and there was no heartbeat. The doctors still don't really know what happened, but they'll know more after the autopsy. For now, Samuel and Bethany will be in the hospital until labor can be induced. My parents were able to drive through the night and arrive this morning to support them in whatever way.

Those of you who prayed today... please know that God is blessing Samuel and Bethany and my family through your prayers. I woke up praying throughout the night and often my prayers ended with "I don't know, God, you finish the rest." And every last petition reached His ears.

Yesterday I posted a passage from Romans 8 and I just want to point out these few verses:

Romans 8: 26-27, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."

I truly, firmly believe that the Spirit is interceding with groans words cannot express. I believe that God knows more intimately the pain and brokenness in this situation than I will ever be able to comprehend. I also know that, just as God aches for our pain, He is the same today as He was yesterday, "our Rock and our Shelter" as my brother wrote today.

In the midst of all of this, held up by the prayers of the saints, Samuel and Bethany are trusting "God will be glorified" in some way through Isaac Brenton's short life.

Continue to pray that the joy of the Lord would be their strength, for Bethany's health, for the doctors and nurses, for the next decisions that need to be made, and (per Sam's request) "most of all that God would be glorified."

Again, I believe your prayers - the prayers of the community of believers offered up humbly to our Provider, Maker, Redeemer, and Savior - are received by our God who feels the hurt more than we can imagine.

Keep on keeping on.

Please pray!

Friends, family, and strangers, please lift up my brother and sister-in-law in your prayers tonight and tomorrow morning. Pray that they will be comforted, encouraged, lifted up, and blessed. After some very tragic news today, my prayer is that they would cry out, "Abba, Father" and know that they can rest in a peace that passes understanding.

A friend shared these passages from Romans 8 with me tonight and if you could just pray through them with me for my brother and sister-in-law.

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co‑heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope

21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?

25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.

I pray that they will claim this in Jesus' name in the midst of every hurt and pain and brokenness.

What can YOU do to help here?

As many of you know, I am in Tegucigalpa, Honduras working at a Christian school. My heart is constantly growing for the kaleidescope of faces and needs. Before my trip to Iowa in December, I was consumed with how God wanted to use me for this time and place. I realized after giving a presentation in church, having coffee with friends, and just hearing from the hearts of some of my most faithful prayer supporters, that I need to think outside what I can do.

I need to ask God what HIS purposes are for this place. I need to ask God how I might connect servant hearts countries away with the very tangible needs I see every day.

So, here are some ways, folks!

Manos Extendidas
Many of you have seen the pictures of the feeding centers or read the stories. This past Saturday, little 7-year-old Kenya would not let me go. She pressed her nose firmly up under my chin, pleading my affection. Kenya always wears a hat. Sometimes its a matted periwinkle and other times she wears a beat up striped number, but hot or cold Kenya wears a hat to cover her chopped, lice-infested hair. Though she is very defensive and ashamed of her hair, she would not stop touching mine. She even offered to look through my hair for lice!

Kenya and the other children in the areas near the feeding centers live in extreme poverty. The feeding center provides very basic education and 2 meals to children sponsored through a special program. In addition, every Saturday the centers invite all the kids in the neighborhood to have a free meal (usually of warm milk and formula mixture), hear a Bible story, sing songs, and play a few games.

How can you support this ministry? Buy coffee! That's right, click HERE to go to the Manos website where you can buy whole bean or ground coffee that directly supports the ministry!

Stewardship of Christian Ministries (Ministerios Cristianos de Mayordomia)
I am working very closely with this organization in the next few months (and hopefully next year). Last November, I attended a conference on social justice and this was one of the sponsoring organizations who work tirelessly to bring the message of the Gospel to the lost and broken while answering Jesus' call to care for orphans, widows, and the distressed. I am going to be working with my friend Sarah (former Pinares teacher and now works for this organization) to coordinate service for my students at this site.

You can support them on their website in many ways, so check it out!

Hogar de Madres Solteras (Refuge for Single Mothers)
This ministry is very dear to my heart. Every Monday, I travel down the road with a group of 11th grade girls to this refuge for single mothers. This past Monday, we were sharing highlights from our Christmas break and one of the mothers (who stands about 6 inches shorter than my 5'1 frame) shared that her daughter Kensi learned how to use the potty! Everything at once seems beautiful and tragic around these young ladies, who need SO much love and guidance as they sort out their lives and care for young ones.

Although I'm not sure if they have a website, these women make jewelry to help support the cost of school, the refuge, and basic supplies. In a recent fundraiser, our school raised money to buy jewelry supplies. If you are interested in buying jewelry, please leave a comment and I will somehow find a way to get their jewelry back to you (it may be as late as July when I go back to the States). They have also made calendars with pictures of the girls and their children. They are around 7 or 8 dollars and the proceeds go to support the refuge.

Okay, so there you have it. There are three ways that you can support some of the things that are pulling on my heart down here.

I know there are more ways, don't worry - this isn't an exhaustive list. I'm still brainstorming about how people can support people directly and how I can make that happen.

Keep on keeping on!

Hogar de Madres Solteras

So, this past week we had a Christmas party for the Hogar de Madres Solteras (Home for Single Mothers), which is a refuge just down the road from our school. We have a unique opportunity to get to know these ladies and their precious little ones and I believe God is opening doors for that to happen right now.

I wish I had time to write more, for now here are some pictures:

The girls made and decorated cookies

This is my wonderful friend Alfredo!! His mom Santos came to our school for the Christmas concert because we invited the ladies to sell some of their jewelry. I never had so much fun chasing someone down!

This is Jensi, her daughter Marjorie, Santos, and Alfred at the jewelry stand. It was so great to see the students, families, and teachers see these women and their work.

It's so crazy to think that these little girls have little ones of their own!


The 11th grade girls are heading up the outreach - and I'm pretty sure they are never disappointed with how the Lord shows up (especially if its in the form of a sleeping little one!)


There were games and a candy cane message.

And lots of entertaining! Alfred LOVES to jump!

Like I said, I could write forever, but this is all for tonight. If you're interested in finding out more about this special place, please let me know!

Tonight by the NUM3ERS

Tonight by the numbers.
1 Me.
450 Junior Highers.
15 Churches.
1 Major Band Concert here at the church.
4 Venues opened up around town, for our traveling lock-in.
1 speaker sharing the gospel with 450 kids.
12 hours of up-all-night fun.
5 cups of coffee I'll try to find around town.
4 times my boss woke up last night thinking of things that needed to be done.
1 ipod shuffle donated for a prize (wow- parents are amazing!)
10 phone calls I need to make today, to find more volunteers
100 pizzas delivered throughout the night

1 girl who's really excited to see what God's going to do in these 12 big hours.

Cool Compassion

"It's become "cool" for evangelical Christians to distinguish themselves by insisting that they're not one of those close-minded fundies who base their vote primarily on a candidate's position on abortion and gay marriage."

These are the first two lines from an article over at Boundless (Focus On the Family).

The article is called Cool Compassion, and I think it's a must-read before the election coming up. When did being passionate against abortion become the one issue it's uncool to care about? When did environmentalism climb up the ladder of importance to something that should be weighed the same as life?

Check out the article. Then pray about making a decision about who you're going to vote for.

24-7 prayer

Please, join me in prayer this week! Today marks the first day of a week my school is dedicating to 24-7 prayer. Championed by my friend (and asst. spiritual life director) Tiffany, this week is to be set apart for our bold commitment to be in constant communion for one week. We are praying in the ACTS method (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) and God has already been moving and shaking in our hearts.

The idea is new to the school - and very foreign to the students - but we really believe God will use this time for His purpose and glory! Join us this week in purposeful prayer. Here are a few things we are praying for:

PRAISES
-'for the faith of a few'... God is calling Christian students at Pinares to rise up and act!
-for God's daily guidance and providence
-for safety amidst treacherous weather

PRAYERS
-more teachers (we still are struggling without a full staff in the high school and in the elementary)
-sickness (many staff have been seriously ill)
-the state of the country... with heavy flooding and mudslides, many families are struggling
-classrooms... that God's presence would be known in each classroom and His truth seen

These are just a few. Thank you, mighty prayer warriors!

40 days to Life

So, about a month and a half ago I did the unthinkable. Well, the unthinkable for a dairy farmer’s daughter who grew up on steak and potatoes and pie. I went organic. It came about kind of a weird way- through church. This verse kept coming up- Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Originally I thought about doing this for what I put into my brain- trying to really put these words into practice in my life, and see how things would change. The more I thought about this 40 day challenge, the more food came to mind. It might just have been the mid-service hunger that hits me when I realize that I was in too much of a rush to eat breakfast, but food kept coming to mind when I was thinking about really living this verse. Like, what if I only put pure FOODS into my body for 40 days?

They say that 30 days is long enough to make new habits, and I had already decided that I was doing a 40 day trial for a Philippians 4:8 life, so right there in the service, I decided to go for it.
I left church with a spring in my step, pumped to get started on my new project. I started working moving my (HUGE) TV to the attic, and taking my 1st trip to a specialty health food store (only to find out later that it’s definitely the most expensive in town…).

I quickly realized I didn’t really know much about healthy and organic eating, but I knew that refined sugar, fake sweeteners, and white breads were probably a bad idea, so I started with that. No more diet coke for me! The first few days I went through hard-core withdrawal, missing my refined foods like a crazy person.

After the second day, I called my bff Tina’s mom, who knows about all this business. She suggested that I read a book called “What the Bible says about Healthy Living” to get a better idea of what pure foods we should be putting into our bodies. Well, this was just the direction I needed, and I tracked down that book as fast as I could, and started digging in immediately. So much wisdom I’d never known! And it made so much sense! The way that God made foods, that’s the way that they are meant to be eaten by his people! So simple! So I kept making these changes, more and more. Feeling better and better every day.

After a few weeks, I started feeling like I wasn’t missing out… but that maybe everyone else was. I mean, what’s more delicious than fresh fruits and veggies, and almonds, and honey, and well… I could go on :) so now the 40 days have come and gone.

And I can’t imagine going back.

Call me kooky, but I’m in this for the long haul. I’ve fallen in love with my health food stores, my farmers market stands, the treasure hunt all over Des Moines for unprocessed honey. I’m head over heels for cooking and eating without worrying about calories, but instead thinking about health and nutrition. And I’ve accepted the fact that I’m in over my head in this hippie lifestyle. My next steps are making my own laundry detergent, finding un-pasteurized milk via the organic black market, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I joined a co-op soon.

This whole thing started out on a whim, but after 40 days I can’t imagine living any other way for the next 40 years.

Here's just a tidbit of organic wisdom for you (courtesy USDA):

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that even after washing, some fruits and vegetables consistently carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others. Based on an analysis of more than 100,000 U.S. government pesticide test results, researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a research and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., have developed the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables, above, that they say you should always buy organic, if possible, because their conventionally grown counterparts tend to be laden with pesticides. They cost about 50 percent more — but are well worth the money.

DIRTY DOZEN- things you should buy organic only
Apples
Cherries
Grapes, imported (Chili)
Nectarines
Peaches
Pears
Raspberries
Strawberries
Bell peppers
Celery
Potatoes
Spinach
Other organic foods worth considering:
Milk
Beef
Poultry