Monday, November 19, 2012

8x10 for gifts of $50+ a month

I decided to combine a few of my loves (fundraising and photography) to keep things rolling.  Are you looking for a Christmas present for someone? Look no further.

If you make a donation of $50 a month or more by December 1, 2012 I will send you an 8x10 photo from the slideshow below of your choosing.  Just email me ( the number and title of the picture you like along with your pledge/start date (please no later than January) and your address.

As you can see on the side, we have made it to about 68% and only need 32% more!  That means only 21 people need to pledge $50 a month and one at $25 a month AND THEN I CAN LEAVE! (That's $1,076 a month that I still need to raise.  Look how much we've already done! WE can do this if YOU help.)

People, listen.  I need your help to get me out of this country in 2013.  I'm trying to have all of my pledges by December 15th so we've got some work to do.  Language school starts January 3rd and I WANT TO BE THERE!  As we all know, the original date was September so let's make this one happen.


Fundraiser Slideshow - Online Slideshow Maker

To start your gift, click the "Online Giving" button to the right.  It's easy-peesy so tell everyone. Seriously.

*Please note* Gifts of less than $50/a month are MORE THAN APPRECIATED but I had to draw the line somewhere since I'm not able to send everyone 8x10s because the cost adds up quickly.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Staff Retreat at the Beach!

It was due time for a return trip to my future home and last week I got just that...five whole days in Nicaragua with my team!  We were joined by a team from Costa Rica, a team leader from the DR, the newest member of the International Schools Recruiting team under the amazing guidance of the Latin American YL trainers and two former missionaries in Nigeria!  It was an international schools staff retreat so it was all Americans and one student staffer from Nicaragua coming together for fellowship, fun and relaxation.  We played plenty of games, enjoyed some beach time in between torrential downpours and marveled at the work the Lord is doing in all of these countries.  Ella and I are still fundraising but it was a great time for our (almost) whole team to come together for the first time ever and learn more about each other.

Did I mention, we stayed in a BEAUTIFUL house overlooking the water?  This was a view for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  How could you not love this place and rest in His beauty?

Plenty of games were played in this space between meals. 

Being on the west coast has it's perks. 

Adventures to the fish market! This is a sea snake that we were told it's "very popular in the US, Canada & Spain" can anyone vouch for that?  And did they not realize we were Americans when telling us this statistic? 

So excited for dinner! (I had chicken. :) ) 

 My beautiful teammates, Ella & Ashley.  Gotta love them! 

This is the house dog that followed everyone everywhere. 

Gang's all here!  

Ella, Zava (Student staff), me, Ashley & Pratt.  

There was one minor threat of a temper tantrum while thinking how my heart aches to be in Nicaragua already but I let the grown up in me take over and kept it inside.  I am praying to finish fundraising by December 15th so I can enjoy the holidays with my family with the peace of having finished.  

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Life in...Raleigh

So, someone told me they were confused by a blog post about where I am currently so to clear that up you should know I'm still in Raleigh. And it's great.

I had it hyped up in my head that if I didn't get to Costa Rica September 1st that I might burst and although it's been a bit of a challenge, I'm still here and I haven't exploded.  There are days of disappointment and a lack of direction, or so it feels, but that's when I know I have to lean in a little deeper to the promises of our faithful Father and know I am right where I'm supposed to be.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't pray for continued peace because like I said I have my days but I think we can praise for the peace that I have since felt and not exploded.

You may have noticed we were so close to 60% and then all of a sudden we fell back to 56% so I wanted to explain.  A few weeks ago some of my donors had to cancel or reduce their gifts for their own financial reasons and I have to say I am thankful it happened now and not once I've already deployed.  It showed me that I had been relying too much on the numbers and not as much on the movement of the Lord.  It showed me that I still tend to rely on the things of this world more than I should so I am thankful it happened and those donors are still great friends of mine.

The plan for the fall you ask?  Well, through no doing of my own, I have a great place to stay through December for free.  It's a young married couple in Raleigh with a beautiful house and a cute little shitzu named Stella.  They love the Lord, Young Life and the Wolfpack - what more could you ask for!?  OH! And Ryan has worked on the coffee farm attached to the YL camp in Nicaragua when he was in high school so he has a firsthand idea of what I'll be doing/where I'll be! AMAZING.

I am still fundraising and I don't have a deployment date picked out anymore but I would love nothing more to get to leave this fall still, if not this fall than the new trimester of language school starts in January.  UNTIL THEN I get to visit Nicaragua in OCTOBER and I couldn't be more excited.  It's an International Schools YL Staff retreat at the beach.  My teammates Pratt & Ashley who are currently in Nicaragua will be there, my teammate Ella (from SC) will make the trip along with staff from Costa Rica and the support staff from the US.  What a great gift it will be to spend time with these people.  It was also a great gift that a friend donated his frequent flier miles to help me get my round trip ticket!

To say the Lord has not showed up would be a bold face lie.  He has provided for me in ways I didn't even know I needed and given me great gifts like new friends/roommates and a ticket to Nicaragua.  He is faithful.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

And because this is my favorite picture...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What! not help you?

I will soon write a post about life still in Raleigh and how the Lord has shown up in every part of it.  I will soon fill you in on the plan for what's to come with my work in the ministry.  I will even explain to you why we went from so close to 60% back to 56% if you want to know.  But today I just want you to read, reread and own this prayer by Charles Spurgeon that was a part of the sermon at my church on Sunday.

Let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: “I will help you.  It is but a small thing for me, your God, to help you.  Consider what I have done already.  What! not help you? Why, I bought you with my blood.  What! not help you?  I have died for you; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less?  Help you!  It is the least thing I will ever do for you; I have done more, and will do more.  Before the world began I chose you.  I made the covenant for you.  I laid aside my glory and became a man for you; I gave up my life for you; and if I did all this, I will surely help you now.  In helping you, I am giving you what I have bought for you already.  If you had need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it to you; you require little compared with what I am ready to give.  ‘Tis much for you to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow.  Help you? Fear not!... O my soul, is not this enough?  Do you need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity?  Do you want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit?  Bring here your empty pitcher!  Surely this well will fill it.  Haste, gather up your needs, and bring them here – your emptiness, your woes, your needs.  Behold, this river of God is full for your supply; what can you desire beside?  Go forth, my soul, in this your might.  The Eternal God is your helper! …. Spurgeon


Monday, August 27, 2012

Young Life in.a.nutshell

Found this video that explains Young Life in a great way in case you are unsure of what I'll be doing.

Happy First Day of School...I'm going to the beach. :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

God is good. Always.

After reaching 50% (YAY!) and realizing the start date of orientation for language school is August 28th (boo) all in the same week, I had to keep reminding myself that God is good, always.  It seems like a simple thing to remember when working for a ministry but it turns out to be more of a struggle than I might like to admit.

The great thing about God's goodness is that it doesn't come with fine print or strings attached.  No matter what I do or don't do, He is steadfast and true.  And He keeps reminding me of this in the most subtle ways through my fundraising like the guy I met on the plane on the way to CCO or the friend I ran into last weekend who handed me his donation and disappeared or the friend that said no months ago and then made a generous donation out of the blue or the friend I met last summer working at VBS and hadn't spoken to since who rounded off my 50% and all of these happened without any work on my part.  I didn't do a thing to get these guys involved so I have to give credit to the Spirit who stirs even the most unlikely hearts.

It is easier for me to tell you how God is good today because I can tell you about the house where I'm living and the community that surrounds me.  I can tell you about the family that supports me and spreads the word even when I think about hiding in my room for a little while.  I can tell you about the encouraging words I get from people, who build me up when my spirit is down.  I can tell you of the love I feel today because it's right in front of me.

What I've struggled with more is understanding how He will be good ALWAYS.  Even if August 28th comes and goes without me getting on a plane to Costa Rica for language school, His goodness never changes.  Even if I have to wait for January to rally the last 50%, He is still gracious.  Even when my plans don't exactly match His, He is still sovereign.

I'm not saying that I don't still hope and pray for big things to happen in the next 2 weeks because I also know He is mighty, powerful and rich beyond measure.  I'm not still asking you to dig deep and live sacrificially for the glory of God to reach out to teenagers in Nicaragua, I am.  Big things have started stirring around here and as my friend says, "I love it when God shows off."  But the main thing to take from this post is that God is good always and He's got a plan for me and you.  So I'm going to keep taking those steps and lean into him a little deeper to rest in His peace.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. 
Hebrews 6:19

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Here's a link to a video from when I spoke at my mom's church in Asheville, NC about what I'll be doing in Nicaragua.  You may have already heard these stories but I would love for you to spread it around to give other people the vision as well!

Christ Anglican Church


Wednesday, August 1, 2012


July was a great break after the craziness that was June.  I loved every second of June but July was great too.  As you can see in the Updates portion on the side, you can tell I still need 54% of my budget until I can leave and I still plan to leave on September 1st so big things are going to have to happen.

*Praise* It grew 2% TODAY so 50% is TOTALLY possible this week!

I have been feeling good about the recent growth since it seemed to be stuck for so long.  Even though I still haven't quite reached 50% I don't want to discount how the Lord can move in this time.

I don't have the biggest update for you but I do have a big ask.  Will you please join my team to see how the Lord can move through you and me in His work in Nicaragua?  How amazing is it that we get to be a part of His mission and you don't even have to leave your home!?  If you're already on board, do you know someone who has a heart for Jesus, Central America and/or teenagers?  I would love to reach 50% by the end of the week and 100% by the end of the month.

Above everything else, pray. Pray for peace in whatever comes.  Pray for wisdom and grace as I make presentations/meet new people/ask big.  Pray for boldness to go out on a limb for the sake of bringing glory to Jesus.  Pray. Pray. Pray. Then, pray some more.  That's my game plan and I ask you to be a part of it every step of the way.

Isaiah 40:28-31
New International Version (NIV)
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sweet Busyness

June has been a big month. 
It started with me missing the last week of school because of my training in Colorado.  The training I went to was called Cross Cultural Orientation, specifically for Young Life International staff going ALL OVER the world.  Literally there are people going to Germany, Belgium, France, Scotland, England, Singapore, Malawi, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Nicaragua.  It was such a sweet week to get to meet people with the same heart for different nations and to see how the Lord is preparing each of them for His mission.  

The couple in PR has already been there for about 10 months and the girl starting Young Life in the Bahamas will be leaving in TWO DAYS!  I can't even imagine what that is like but I can't wait to get to that point.  Hearing everyone's story of how they said yes to the Lord's calling was so sweet and encouraging.  I remember when I was on the plane to Nicaragua in February and how encouraged I was then just knowing that people had a heart for missions in Nicaragua but to meet people who have a heart for every nation just fills me with amazing joy.  That's the Lord's heart, for all the nations, and we get to be a part of it!  I am thankful that people are choosing to follow Him to Singapore and Malawi because before that week, I didn't really know where they were on a map but now I do and will be praying for them!  

By the end of the week, all the information of what to expect when moving cross culturally to do ministry left me encouraged and energized!  God just keeps confirming this in my life and I couldn't be more satisfied. 
The amazing people I met at CCO going all over the world with Young Life! 

One of my newest teammates ELLA!  She's trying to make it to Costa Rica by September too so pray for her too! 
After returning from CCO and a friend's bachelorette weekend in the mountains, I had two teacher work days to pack up life at DMS and say my goodbyes.  I was thankful for those days to start the closure in life.  DMS was a sweet time for me and will always be remembered as the place where I started my teaching career.  Go Blue Jackets! 

From Raleigh I made my way back to Asheville for a few short days to have a few appointments with former teachers, friends and even doctors!   The highlight of my week though was getting to spend a day with the Nicaragua team and students who were visiting Windy Gap (a camp 30 minutes north of my parent's house)!  I got to zipline and go down the waterslide numerous times!  I felt like I was at camp for the week with them, it just felt so natural.  I even went to dinner and club!  I know that ministry will not always be easy and rewards may be few and far between but just the taste of what it could be like in Nica was good for my soul.  I think it's going to be great to know a few faces when I get down there and have memories to reminisce on!  Four of the students in the picture made the decision to follow Christ at camp (Praise the Lord!) and three others renewed theirs, what an amazing week it was, so glad I got to see a glimpse! 

Nicaraguans don't like to smile in picture, he's really have the time of his life, trust me. 
 Right after I got back from Asheville, the next day I left for camp with Wyld Life from Raleigh!  We drove a suburban to North Bay - a camp in Maryland that Young Life rents out for a month in the summer to host Wyld Life and Capernium camps.  It was an amazing 5 days with a small crew.  I know I've said this a lot but this too was good for my soul.  I know the kids had the times of their lives and I won't be surprised if Raleigh takes a whole bus next year!  The program and speaker were some of my favorites I have ever seen in Young Life and the camp was beautiful.  I can't wait to see how the Lord moves through conversations at camp and the seeds that were planted. 
PJ dinner on the last night! 

It's time to kick fundraising into HIGH GEAR!  I seemed to have been stuck around 40% for a while and I am still praying for September 1st!  I know the Lord can move in great ways and His glory will be shown in all that happens.  I am thankful for the summer because fundraising is my primary concern now without having to teach or lead Wyld Life.  I think of this time as a sweet gift after working so hard all year, that I get a chance to focus on this part on my ministry.  

If you or anyone you know would like more information about how to start a monthly gift to send me to Nicaragua this fall please contact me at 

Fear not for I am with you.  I am your God.  I will strengthen you.  I will help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 
Isaiah 41:10 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


It's about time I post about a few praises in my life.  I feel like I have let the hardships of fundraising weigh me down lately because it seems like such a daunting tasking but I have to keep reminding myself that the Lord is faithful, even to me.  He has a plan for me and I know this is where he wants me right now so I need to quit waiting for something to change and find his glory in where I stand today.

My Wyld Life Campaigners girls are definitely a sweet blessing in my life.  We went to dinner tonight and they gave me the sweetest cards with such encouraging words that just melted my heart.  They even gave me $200 that they had been saving up to add to my fundraising!! Talk about the sweetest 8th grade girls alive!  I mean come on, I'm supposed to be the leader yet the whole year I felt like I was learning so much more from them than they may ever know.  I will truly miss them but I am so thankful that they will feed into such a strong Young Life crowd in high school and they are already talking about saving their money to come visit in Nicaragua!  Come on down girls!!

My students are also a blessing - sometimes not always the sweetest but they definitely keep me on my toes.  I know middle school is not for the faint of heart but having the amazing opportunity to teach and lead WL at the same school have been such a gift.  I have gotten to know these students pretty well this year and I hope they will always know that even if I have to yell at them for talking too much, it's always out of love!  Keep in touch!

My friends are so good to me.  I really wouldn't be here without them.  I could write about all of the lessons they have taught me about love, grace, mercy, joy, sorrow, strength, endurance, faith and so on forever and still have more to say.  The friends the Lord has surrounded me with all of my life but especially in college has truly shaped me into who I am today.  I know that even if we are separated by a few borders, we will remain true friends because our friendship is based on the love of the Lord.  I am expecting visitors, get your passports!

My family.  They are a crazy crew but they have supported this endeavor for so long already and although they don't always understand this love of Nicaragua and why I have to go so far, they have never tried to convince me otherwise.  Didn't we talk about Thanksgiving in Nicaragua 2013? MOM - GET YOUR PASSPORT!

Pretty much, if you are reading this blog, it's probably because you have had some kind of impact in helping me get to this place of taking a great leap of faith to follow the Lord to Nicaragua and I just want to say thank you!  The Lord is doing great things and I couldn't do it without a support team like you, no matter what role you think you play!

Fundraising is still hard but the Lord is always good.

Upcoming big deals:

Cross Cultural Orientation starts on Sunday in Colorado Springs, CO.  I will get to meet a group of other people who are going all over the world with Young Life on the same mission.  I love meeting people with the same heart so I am so excited for a week in Colorado!

Last day of teaching: FRIDAY!  I'm going to be sad to leave my students and the staff at DMS but I am so excited for what's to come!

Registering for language school is really happening so here's to the leap of faith that September is it!  :)

3 Months from Friday

I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.  I will sing your praises among the nations. 
Psalm 57:9

Saturday, May 26, 2012


So I have been reading a book recommended by friends last summer that I just now got into and have discovered this book could be about me.  It's called Hinds Feet on High Places. Here's a quick synopsis because I couldn't really do it justice ( check it out ).  For the purpose of the blog I'll tell you it's about a girl named Much Afraid who is trying to get to the high places with the help of the Chief Shepherd and the companions he has given her, Sorrow and Suffering.  She has to travel through many valleys, deserts and plateaus to get to the glorified high places where Love lives.  Just like fundraising, her journey is a refining process that she has to go through and trust that the Chief Shepherd is taking her on the exact path that makes the most sense for her.  She comes from the Fearing family so, along with the companions who are helping her she has to endure comments from Pride, Bitterness, Self-Pitty, Resentment and Craven Fear (her cousins who are trying to make her turn around and go home).

Where I am right now in the book, she is on a plateau, walking through dense fog and is questioning whether she is going the right way. . . kinda like me and my fundraising.  I know this is the right way but I find myself wondering if my goal of September is really the end goal (for the sake of this part of my journey) and questioning whether I should be doing something else, something more, instead of just fully trusting that my Chief Shepherd, my Lord, is with me as He has promised me from the very beginning.

I found sweet encouragement in this paragraph tonight that I wanted to share:

" 'Much-Afraid," said [the Shepherd] very gently in answer to that look, "don't you know by now that I never think of you as you are now but as you will be when I have brought you to the Kingdom of Love and washed you from all the stains and defilements of the journey? If I come along behind you and notice that you are finding the way especially difficult, and are suffering from slips and falls, it only makes me think of what you will be like when you are with me, leaping and skipping on the High Places.' " 

It's been interesting to be reading this book as I'm on my own kind of journey these days.  On some days I am so excited to read about another girl who is on a similar journey yet on other days I can't seem to handle someone else's struggle.

This week will be my last week (4 days only!) with students because the next week I will be at a training in Colorado Springs with other people with a similar heart for the nations.  This week could end up being somewhat bittersweet for me for a couple of reasons.

#1Sweet: I won't have to wake up with the sun! (I am not a morning person by nature so this will be a great gift!) #2Sweet: This training is another sign of IT'S REALLY HAPPENING! :) Oh the joy that fills my heart! #1Bitter: I've really grown to love my students.  They are difficult sometimes but my mom tells me I can't hold it against them when they act like middle schoolers... #2Bitter: I'm going to miss the family I've built with the DMS staff.  I will see them for a couple brief teacher work days after my training but it's always a challenge when chapters of life come to a close.  

The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like Hinds' Feet and he will make me to walk upon mine High Places. 
Habakkuk 3:19 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It's been a while . . .

First, let me apologize for the lapse of time since my last post.  Life got crazy and I got a little overwhelmed but I promise from here on out to do much better with the updates, at least monthly if not more. 

Ok so the happenings and the updates.  

I finally let my 8th grade Wyld Life campaigners girls in on my little secret which was a great relief.  It was great because I still haven't told any of my students yet so they are the first to know.  I think they like being the first and having this secret to keep but we'll see if it lasts another two weeks before I tell the rest of the school.  My campaigners girls have taught me so much this year and I truly adore each and every one of them.  They have such a strong bond together but even bigger than that is their faith.  We were able to have some mature conversations about faith and what it looks like on the day to day.  Even their questions about high school were about to perserve the greatness that they already have when so many other girls their age are looking to everyone else to figure out who to be.  It has been a true honor to help start up Wyld Life here in Raleigh.  I know the Lord is going to do great things in this ministry and I have loved being a part of it even just for a year.  

Teaching has also taught me a lot but I'm not sure I'll be sad to leave it.  I am thankful that the Lord has a different plan for me because I don't think I could last 30 years!  I love kids and I can't wait to see how the Lord works in that but I'm not sure I can love kids well as a teacher.  I am going to miss my students but my heart isn't in this profession.  Maybe, one day, I'll be back, but as far as I can see it's Nicaragua for me! 

That leads me to my next confession: I am worried - due to slow progress in fundraising - about meeting my goal to leave in September.  I have had days of feeling discouraged because I have to register for language school by mid-June but in order to do that, I have to be confident that I'm leaving in September. I know the Lord's timing is perfect and He is already working and I want to rest in that but sometimes I fear I'm not doing enough so I'm getting in my own way.  Good thing my God is bigger than the things I think I can control.  Please, pray for me to find rest and peace in this because mid-June is about a month away!  If I don't leave in September I have to come up with another plan (until the next semester of language school starts - it's not a now-or-never thing, thankfully) and this is kind of my big plan right now...I don't have much else on the table.  

I broke down my budget again for the money I still need to raise:

8-10 ppl @$100 monthly
15-20 ppl @$50 monthly
10-20 ppl @ $25 monthly 

If you think you could fit into any of those categories OR MORE, please please please contact me!  As the school year dies down (17 more school days for me!) I will have extra time on my hands and would love to fill it up with appointments.  

Let me leave you with a verse that I have held near to my heart the last few weeks: 

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon.
Deuteronomy 31:8

4 months till Costa Rica 
September 1, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Developing Global Leaders

Tonight at Raleigh YL Leadership we took some sweet time in praying for the nations.  International Young Life is in about 90 countries world wide (which is A-MA-ZING).

One thing that is going on in International Young Life around the world is a program called Developing Global Leaders.  I don't really know if I can explain it well enough so here's the link for you to check out:

YL Global Leaders

Basically, it's a program through Young Life that helps support leaders around the world to give them opportunities they may not have otherwise like going to college or getting their Masters.  Young Life wants to build up national leaders "to become transformational leaders in the communities and countries."

Like I said, I can't really do it justice so I encourage you to check out the program.  I know this blog is about my fundraising and the process it is taking for me to get to Nicaragua but I also know this is just as important.  It is key for people to see others just like them succeeding and thriving because of what the Lord can do and this program does just that.

Please, if nothing else, check out the page and find someone to commit to pray for.  Some of the Nicaraguans on the page are leaders that I actually got to spend time with like Elsa and Jessy during my trip.  But of course, you don't have to pray for Nicaragua, there are about 40 countries total with this program so if your heart is set to love another country, the least you can do is pray for someone by name.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Labyrinth

So tomorrow marks the 1 year start of this whole endeavor.  March 11, 2011 is when I boarded a plane in a hurry to make it to the International Information Weekend at Sharp Top Cove, a YL camp in Georgia.  This time last year I had no idea where this journey was going to take me but I was more than willing to take the steps.

While visiting the camp in Nicaragua a few weeks ago I got a chance to walk through the labyrinth.  A labyrinth is like a maze but there's no wrong way.  This particular one is made out of bushes about 8 feet high planted in a circle with a cross at the middle.  The labyrinth is just one of the many things that really impressed me with the camp.  I had never gone through a labyrinth before but I was assured there was no wrong way and it would take under 10 minutes to go through.  It was one of the first times on my journey that weekend that I really got to enjoy the silence and hear the Lord.

It was a really sweet time for me.  I just started praying as soon I walked in.  Up until this point, I had gone to bed the night before doubting that I could ever have a place in Nicaragua because the ministry seemed to be doing so well and my teammates are already so amazing at what they're doing - where could I fit in?  What did I have to offer that they didn't already have? I was doubting my Spanish skills and even my knowledge of the Lord.  So many doubts and concerns had been rushing through my head that I needed this 10 minutes with the Lord more than I realized.  (I had also been running on little sleep the day before so the shock was a little more overwhelming.)

I don't remember my specific prayers but I'm sure they were filled with these concerns.  The next thing I know, I hear the Lord telling me, "There is no wrong way Jen.  Just take the steps. Just take the steps."  What an amazingly gracious God who sweeps in with such simple instructions and promises greatness.  He will be with me, all I have to do is be willing to take the steps.  He is the one who gets to call people to Himself and I get to be a tool in this process.  Sure, the ministry is thriving and it will be an honor to be a part of that but He has called me to this place for a reason.  I do have things to offer that they team may not even realize we need yet and the Lord's glory will be shown through it all.  There is no wrong way to get to a place where I am glorifying the Lord and a calling to boldness. 

I have to admit, after walking in circles for a few minutes I was wondering when I get to see the cross because you can only look at 8 foot tall bushes for so long.

But isn't that similar to our daily lives?  We feel like we're seeing the same things every day:  talking to the same people, having the same schedule, eating the same food, etc - when do we get to see what He's doing?!  The Lord is faithful to His promises and one of the biggest ones to me these days is that He promises to be with me on this journey.  He also promises to go BEFORE me and prepare a place for me.  How could I not go if He is preparing a place for me?  How could I stay in NC if I know He wants me in Nicaragua?  It only makes sense to me to go.

I know this journey is going to be long.  I know the circles are going to seem endless.  I know there will be points where I just need a break, I just need to sit down for a minute and trust in the Lord's promises and that's ok.  I also learned from my short time in Nicaragua that it's not going to be easy and I may never see the fruits that will come of it and I have to be ok with that too. It's not about me and what I get to do, it's about what the Lord is doing and that I get to be a part of it.

There's no wrong way.
Just take the steps. 
And I will be with you. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

6 Months

Today marks 6 months from when language school will start, with or without me.

September 4, 2012. 

Here's a link to the school Check it out

I have never thought September was close to any month other than August and October but now that it's my goal, it may as well be TOMORROW!  I am grateful and excited for the next 6 months to get to love on my friends, family and students/Wyld Life kids but I'm also nervous.  I have a lot to do in those 6 months.  I have to finish up the school year (last day June 7th), attend Cross Cultural Orientation (June 3rd-8th), (hopefully) take kids to camp (North Bay June 16th-20th) and FUNDRAISE (now).

Fundraising has proved to be way better than I could have ever imagined.  I have been so blessed by the friends I have already met with; being able to reconnect with people I haven't seen in so long as well as involve so many great people in this ministry with me.  I have been so encouraged by all of the excitement that has been shared over this mission that the Lord has for me.  YL International has really set me up for success by providing a fundraising coach who continues to encourage me.  Every two weeks we talk on the phone and he shows me stories of people in the Bible living off of support - even Jesus lived off of support!  There is something so comforting in finding people who lived 2000 years ago trusting in the same God to provide for them and to see His provision in more ways that ever expected.  How faithful He is.

Six months doesn't seem like a lot of time to get the other 70% pledged but I know that if the Lord will have me in Costa Rica 6 months from today, then it's the perfect amount of time.  I know the Lord is using this time as a refining process, really teaching me to rely on him because at this point I have no idea where this money will come from and that's ok.  I don't have to know right now.

1Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I ask for your continued prayer through this refining process.  I'm not expecting this to get easier over the next few months, in fact I expect it to get harder.  I have spoken to the majority of my closest friends  and family at this point and know my comfort zone will have to be left behind to really accomplish these goals.  Life isn't meant to be comfortable and refining isn't easy but think of the jewels that come out of it!

I want to be one of the jewels from the refining process of the Lord.  I want this fundraising to be a time that I get to glorify the Lord by inviting everyone I know to be a part of this ministry but even more to invite them to be a part of His kingdom.

6 months. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

El Viaje

I'm not even sure where to begin!  This weekend was a whirlwind of a trip and nothing short of amazing.

After waking up at 3:30 am on Saturday, I eventually made it to Managua where my teammate Nate picked me up and we were off to La Finca (the YL camp in Matagalpa, Nicaragua).  The to the camp from the airport was about 3ish hours and some good time to get to know Nate a little better.  AS SOON AS we got to the camp, the kids were playing field games and somehow I was too!  The camp was for Vida Joven as opposed to Young Life meaning high school kids from the Barrios (neighborhoods) and kids from the universities.  I found out that kids can start at the university at age 16 so that's one reason it was so important to start Vida Joven in the universities too.   

Camp was a really sweet experience to get to meet so many awesome kids from UCA (Universidad Centroamerica)  and get to see the ministry in action.  

The people who started the camp had also worked at Windy Gap so there was some similarities that I saw like this bodega on the pond reminded me of the Sippy.  The camp was fully equipped with a gym, a snack shop, a field for games, a pond for canoes, a zip line, a low ropes course, a club room, AND A FARM. 

 The farm (what the camp is named after La Finca) is absolutely beautiful.  One of the ways they raise money for kids to go to camp and keep costs down is by selling the coffee grown on the farm.  I'm not sure what other crops they grow.  Don't worry, I bought 3 bags...ya know the support the camp of course!

Club was very similar to what goes on at YL camps here in the states.  There were games, skits and a talk.  I was very impressed with the program team and the talk was amazing.  I really saw kids coming to Christ through all the work at camp and through the leaders.
 These are the girls I got to spend the weekend with.  They are amazing girls who already taught me so much and made me realize the Lord may not be using me to reach Nicaragua as much as He's using Nicaragua to reach me. I really think I'll be able to blend in well in Nica, what do you think?

Ladies and gentlemen, my team!  Pratt & Ashley Butler are from NC and have been in Nicaragua for over 3 years already and are planning on staying for as long as the Lord will have them there.  Nate has been in Nicaragua for about 6 years with his wife and two adorable kids!  I have already learned so much from them and know it will be a complete honor to be on their team. 

After camp, we made our way back to Managua where I got to stay with one of the Vida Joven directors and his family.  Narcisso, Adrianna and Andrea were so sweet to open their home to me.  They made a special room for me in their house with curtains and my own bed.  I don't know if I really have the words to explain what that homestay meant to me.  They were so eager to share their home with me, they made me dinner and breakfast and showed me all of their family photos.  Narcisso and Adrianna met through Vida Joven and have an amazing story about how Christ changed their lives through it.

While I was staying with Narcisso we got to go to club in his barrio.  Instead of focusing on schools, the biggest ministry happening with Vida Joven right now is work in the neighborhoods.  It's a really amazing ministry because they find people who live in the neighborhoods to be the leaders so that  a true community can be built.  In this particular neighborhood, Narcisso is very well known because he grew up here and has a reputation.  To give you an glimpse of his story, he was a part of a gang growing up but he met Christ through Vida Joven and it radically changed everything.  Now he gets to be a light in the neighborhood where he can truly understand the struggles but has overcome them through Jesus.  

After Pratt and Ashley picked me up from Narcisso's house I got a quick tour of the university (UCA) where the kids who went to camp go.  We ran into a few of the students which was really fun to get to see them in their own environment living out what they took away from the weekend.  

Our next stop was the international school where I'll be doing my the primary part of my ministry.  The school is called the American Nicaraguan School because it's based off of the American curriculum and all of the classes are in English.  The interesting thing about this international school is that it's mostly upper class Nicaraguans with a few internationals mixed in.  Their English is very good and as an in with the school and the parents, Young Life is done in English to allow more practice.  *It's called Young Life here and not Vida Joven just to make sure you catch the difference.* 

Veronica is one of Ashley's main girls who was willing to take the time to tell me her story and how Young Life changed her life.  She did work crew at Windy Gap this past summer and is applying to different universities in the states including Western Carolina Univ.  

Monday night we got together with the Young Life committee/some volunteer leaders.  It was a great Korean dinner (ya know, the usual) where I got to hear about how Young Life started about 6 years ago even though Vida Joven has been in Nicaragua for about 25 years now. 

 I got to meet more directors from around Nicaragua as well as the regional director (the man over all of Central America Kevin), a couple who work in the DR right now and could possibly move to Nica, and two other American couples who have been living in Nicaragua working with the ministry in some way for a few years now, at breakfast on Tuesday.  When I mentioned that I fell in love with Nicaragua at the Costa Rica/Nicaraguan border they all started laughing at me and said that kind of love can only come from the Lord. :) I couldn't agree more!  The beautiful chaos that is Nicaragua won my heart long ago for reasons I may never be able to explain.

My last stop before returning home was to meet with Ana Lopez and Elsa (not pictured).  These girls are a great example of the female leaders that have been raised up all over the country.  For a little while, like a lot of other things in Latin America, there wasn't much of a female presence in Vida Joven but they knew there was a need for it.  From what I saw at camp, the women's ministry is growing!  This another part of Pratt & Ashley's ministry, leader care for those who work in the barrios.  Since the main leaders come from the barrios, the best way to care for those ministries is by pouring into the leaders which they do such a great job of! 

Like I said, this trip was nothing short of amazing.  As you can tell, I covered a lot of ground, was able to meet a lot of key people and really get a glimpse of what ministry is like in Nicaragua.  It is a lot for me to take in and reflect on but I can assure you that the Lord is using one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere to do great things and it would be an honor to be a part of it. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vale la pena

I am worried I wont have the words to truly express what is happening in my heart right now but just know that the Lord is moving and I am humbled by this country, Nicaragua. Part of the reason I dont have the words is because I am nothing short of exhausted.  Its not the exhausted I have been feeling with too much work but the kind of exhausted that is good for the soul.  The kind of exhausted that brings great rest.  The kind of exhausted that vale la pena (is worth it).

I have A LOT to learn but again, vale la pena.

More details to come, promise, but now, SLEEP.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How I got here...

I feel like I have always had a love for Latin America but I know that it really started in high school.  My Spanish II teacher was awesome and made learning whatever he was teaching interesting enough that everyone wanted to learn it (or at least I did...).  I liked his class so much so that I took him for Spanish IV and AP.  During my senior year we took a trip to Costa Rica and the minute I set foot on land, I was hooked.  I fell in love with the people, the culture and the language instantly.  From that point on, I knew Spanish would always have to be a part of my life.  

At the same time, I started going to Young Life.  Young Life is a nondenominational Christian organization reaching out to high school and middle school kids all around the world and it reached me in Asheville, NC.  (Check out more about Young Life here: )  I would have claimed Christ as my Savior before going to summer camp with YL but no one had ever put it in a way that He wanted to have a relationship with me and He wasn't all about morals or rules.  What high school girl isn't looking for a relationship and when you find out the Lord of lords and King of kings is the one pursuing you the hardest every day of your life it changes everything.  

Throughout high school, both seeds began to grow into what I thought were two different passions but after starting this process, I know they have always been growing as one.  

Once I got to college I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do: be a Young Life leader AND study abroad.  Unfortunately, that wasn't the plan at all.  I had to choose.  I chose to study abroad to explore more of Latin America and see what the Lord was doing in that part of my life while learning and growing more in my relationship with Christ.  I really believe the Lord was giving me a break from leading only to prepare me for bigger and better things!  

After graduation, I had no idea what I was going to do but I had a trip through Central America planned with a friend from study abroad.  As soon as we got to the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border, I was, once again, hooked.  The chaos seemed somewhat refreshing to me after traveling through Panama and Costa Rica.  Don't get me wrong, I loved both countries but there was something different about Nicaragua.  The whole week we spent there, I never wanted to be anywhere else.  There was something calling me back to Nicaragua after we left but I just didn't know what it was then. 

When I got back to the states I started looking into possible ways to travel again.  I thought about teaching English as a foreign language but ruled that out after some thought.  I had ruled out Young Life because I didn't want to fundraise so I was googling "Christian organizations abroad". . . eventually the Lord led me back to Young Life, at least to just check it out.  I was led back to the YL website on March 9, 2011 and there was an information weekend on March 11-13 in Atlanta, GA.  I bought a plane ticket that afternoon.  

Since March I have been praying constantly about where the Lord would take me and that He would give me boldness to follow Him.  I was given four Spanish speaking countries to choose from but as soon as Nicaragua was mentioned I didn't need any others.  I knew that very instant why the Lord had opened my eyes and heart to the beautiful, chaos that is Nicaragua.  

This blog is dedicated to the process of getting to Nicaragua through fundraising and then also the adventures the Lord takes me on once I move in.  I will be working with a great team of 3 Americans who make up a small portion of the 40 staff members in Nicaragua (the rest are locals!).  I ask that you pray for me through this refining process; I ask that you consider being a part of my support team in whatever means possible (prayer, financially or both); and I ask you to be a part of this adventure with me!