Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
The wedding was held at the Antique Rose Emporium out in Brenham, Texas. Much to our surprise, despite the fact that the date was May 28 and therefore afternoon temperatures hovered around 100 degrees, the ceremony and reception took place outdoors. A strong breeze helped to cool things off, although it did make for a windy wedding. At least Bridgette realized her dream of a beautiful, outdoor garden wedding!
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Year in Review at RGBI
Have you ever been overwhelmed by the goodness of God?
The Bible says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Well, this past year, God’s goodness has been poured forth so abundantly upon my life, I feel like I have done much more than simply taste it...I have been feasting upon it!
Priceless friendships. Growth in Spanish abilities. Laughter around the meal tables. Evening prayer walks. Glorious sunsets. Music ministry. Weekend volleyball. Excellent classes. Street evangelism. Wednesday night devotions with the dorm girls. Prayer times with kindred spirits. Heartache and tears. Trials and tests. Spiritual enrichment. Discipleship of teenage girls. Dancing butterflies. Drama presentations. Rich Latino worship. Flute lessons. Babysitting precious little ones. A campout. Youth rallies. Grateful church members. Surprise parties. Cookouts. Sundays with special people. Answered prayer. Palm trees. Puppet shows. A mission trip. Long phone calls home. Packages received. Soccer games. Riding the waves at South Padre Island. Graduations and weddings. Unforgettable memories.
How amazing that one school year could hold so much! I entered the missionary language program at RGBI in August with great excitement and high hopes for a wonderful year of learning and growth. This past weekend, I left RGBI with profound gratitude for the goodness of God outpoured that made my year there truly one of the best of my life.
Lessons Learned at RGBI
When we arrived at RGBI and had our first orientation with Dr. Manny Gutierrez, the dean of the language school, he informed us that we were not there just to learn Spanish. In reality, studying Spanish would only be a small part of the experience. He was confident that God had brought us there for purposes much deeper than merely learning the grammar and phonetics of another language.
He was right.
In a nutshell, here is just a brief summary of the lessons God had in store for me at RGBI:
~ He taught me to appreciate His amazing intelligence in the creation of different languages and His ability to understand them all at once.
~ He taught me to appreciate and respect the diversity that exists in the Body of Christ and not to judge people on the basis of cultural or personality differences.
~ He taught me to stand firm on the convictions He has built into my life and remain loyal to Him as my first love, even when it meant giving up a certain relationship and all the hopes and dreams connected to it.
~ As a result, He taught me a new dimension of contentment and trust and finding my fulfillment in Jesus Christ alone as a single girl right now.
~ He taught me to hate the pride of my own heart just as He hates it and to embrace the humiliating experiences He allowed to refine my character. Language school is a wonderful place to receive lessons on humility! How I praise the Lord for His patience as He conforms us to the image of His Son.
~ He taught me to cast all my cares upon Him in the midst of stress and pressure and to take life one day at a time.
~ He taught me (at long last!) through sheer necessity with the Spanish language to think before I speak.
~ He taught me through many necessary reminders that grades are not everything, but that honesty and diligent effort are worth more than straight As.
~ Lastly, He taught me just how much I desperately need Him in every area of my life, to be my strength, my wisdom, my delight!
Announcing... the Next Adventure!
It was December, 2010. My family was in Ukraine, visiting my sister and brother-in-law, and welcoming my new little niece into the world. As I cuddled Melissa close and observed five doting adults tending to her every need, I couldn’t help but think of precious babies just like her who lay in overcrowded state-run institutions or dirty alleyways with no one to love them, care for them, stimulate them, or teach them about Jesus. What will become of them?
God had put a burden on my heart for the orphaned, poor, and abandoned several years ago and one of the reasons I had signed up for language school was so that I might be better equipped to serve as Christ’s hands and feet to such little ones somewhere in South America. Now, Melissa’s tiny, helpless frame snuggled in my arms caused the thought to flit across my mind... "What about the babies? How I would love to join forces with a ministry that cares for abandoned babies!”
A New Arrival at Casa de Amor
Fast forward two weeks. I was on the computer doing a search for a particular book that I wanted to use for a teen girls’ Bible study back on campus when I “stumbled” (read: providentially encountered) across a website that caught my attention. Casa de Amor. A children’s home ministry caring for orphaned and abandoned street babies. Located in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Founded and directed by a young woman with a very similar background to my own: home educated and involved in mission work from an early age. Currently operating four homes and in need of more volunteers. I sat back from the computer with eyes as wide as saucers. In that moment, God seemed to say, “This ministry is for you.” I began praying about the possibility and felt continued peace that this was of Him. So, in February, I began the application process and was officially accepted last month.
My plans at this point are to stay in Bolivia for a minimum of six months, starting July 1st. In addition to caring for precious little ones at Casa de Amor, I will also have the opportunity to get involved with a local church ministry and participate in music, evangelism, street outreach, or whatever the need may be. At the end of my six month term, I will have the option to extend my commitment there or move to Peru and join forces with my good friends, the Earnharts, in missionary work that will hopefully include the start of an orphanage. But of course, the Lord is in control, and for all I know, He may have something completely different in mind! I am just excited to be His and to be living these adventures with Him!