Friday, August 31, 2007

Made It!!

Well, I'm here!! After about 18 hours of travel, God has brought me safely to Portugal! The flights went very smoothly- as a matter of fact, I don't think they could've gone any smoother really. All my bags made it here and the only damage was one broken picture frame. Cal and Joyce Voelker picked me up from the airport and we went to the mall so I could eat some dinner. I ate at a place called Tosta Mix which basically serves panini-type sandwiches. After a couple of brief stops, they brought me to the apartment which will be my home for the next 9 months. It's very beautiful. It's a 3 bed, 2 bath that I will be sharing with 2 other girls. I'm the only one here so far though, so I have it all to myself! Today I unpacked and went over to Cal and Joyce's for an early dinner, and then Joyce took me to see the school and I experienced my first Portuguese conversation. I say "experienced" not because I spoke at all, but that I just stood there and listened to them. I certainly did feel a bit out of the loop, but I didn't mind. Joyce then took me grocery shopping at Carrefour. We used to have one in NJ... it's like a Super Walmart. It was pretty crowded and Joyce had to explain to me lots of stuff. Overall though, you can get most of the things here that you can get back home. There are a few various things you can't get here of course. The yogurt selection was truly amazing. They had an entire aisle of yogurt.
Next week one of the other teachers offered to take me and Leslie (my soon-to-be-as-of-Monday roommate) sightseeing, so I will be sure to post some pictures and keep you updated!! I also have a couple meetings next week and a classroom to set up, so I will be busy. School starts on September 10th, so please be praying for me! Also continue to pray for my health as the cough has not gone away yet and has migrated a little bit up into my sinuses.
So that is all for now- praise God that everything has been such a smooth transition so far! I pray that it will continue and that He gets the glory!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Let's See What Else He'll Do!!!

Let me tell you what, God is amazing! Less than 24 hours after I added my last post here on this site asking for prayer for my car situation, God has answered! I cannot even begin to reiterate that HE WHO CALLS YOU IS FAITHFUL! We had called 3 different insurance companies yesterday to try and get my car insured just for storage, rather than an entire policy for the time I would be gone and not one of them would do it. On the advice of my mother and Kelly, I called back today and got a completely different answer!! I can now insure my car (which I'm not going to be driving) for less than $75 and let me tell you that is a relief compared to the hundreds of dollars I was looking at having to pay previously. God has answered this prayer in such a great and faithful way. He continues to prove His faithfulness in my life, particularly in so many ways for this trip. I now have even more faith to ask you guys to pray for my health- God can fix that too! I feel like a kid egging his friends on... "Let's see what else He'll do!!" but in a good way. :)
Thanks so much for your prayers- only 5 days away!!!

Final Preparations

As of right now I am only 5 days away from my flight to Portugal. It doesn't feel real yet, actually. Thanks to so many, I am 100% supported. That is a joyful and sobering thought. It is joyful for obvious reasons; it is sobering to know that God supplied that much money and therefore must have some serious work to be done over there. I am ready to do it, though. I honestly don't know what these next 9-10 months are going to bring. I'm expecting trials, to be honest. But with them, I'm also expecting joy!!

During these last few days, there are a few specific ways I could use prayer. Firstly, I need prayer for my health. I developed a cough while with the Student Ministry in Montana and it has yet to go away. I keep telling everyone 3 weeks cause that's about how long it usually takes and this Sunday will be 3 weeks, so we'll see how it goes. Due to health insurance issues, I am very hesitant to see the doctor unless absolutely necessary. Right now, it's more of an inconvenience and energy drainier- I'm sure you all know the feeling. Secondly, I'm having some serious issues in knowing what to do with my car. I tried selling it to several people and no one wanted it (not surprising cause it needs a lot of work), but now that I'm thinking about keeping it, I'm running into insurance issues and frankly, I don't know what to do. The con list in every direction seems a mile longer than any of the pros. I need God's direction. More importantly, I need God to provide me with the faith I need to trust in Him. Amazingly, this is really the first big hitch I've run into and I can feel the stress mounting over it. Many times I have breathed prayers to God that it is in His hands- now I just have to really believe that I mean it. :)
Lastly, I will just need prayer for my emotions in these last few days. I've been able to spend a good amount of time with my family and will continue to do so in these next few days, but goodbyes to people you love are never easy.

"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." James 5:16b

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pre-AMP Week

On July 15th, I headed out to Harrisburg for Pre-AMP week with ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism) hosted by Messiah College. I can say without a doubt that it was one of the most incredible weeks of my life. My eyes were opened to what it meant to be a missionary. You are probably wondering what on earth "Pre-AMP" week even is! Well, in ABWE words, AMP stands for Assistant Missionary Program. In regular words, it means short-term missionary. Pre-AMP week is an orientation of sorts. It's held in conjunction with ABWE's annual Missionary Enrichment Conference which is a conference for all ABWE missionaries home on furlough. What this means is that there is a big conference going on and there are about 20 short-term missionaries not yet on the field who meet together all week for all sorts of classes. We had classes on everything from safety in foreign countries, to dealing with culture shock, to understanding how to handle finances as a missionary to how to work with different personality types. It was overall a very valuable and informative week for me. We also had the incredible privilege of sitting in on the conference sessions where each morning and each evening national pastors from different countries came to share what God is doing in their country. It was absolutely AMAZING to hear how God is working all around the world and to witness the passion these men have for God's work among their people.

However, the best part of the conference for me, by far, was being around all the missionaries. There were new missionary appointees whose faces reflected nervousness, excitement and anticipation as they are beginning the process of preparing for the field as a lifelong commitment. There were missionaries home on furlough on whose faces I saw both joy to be back in America amongst other missionaries, but also a true homesickness for those they left behind, even for a short time, for their hearts are with those people that they serve. Above all, I saw the veteran missionaries, my earthly heroes, on whose faces I saw joy etched by years of trials, spiritual warfare, and God's faithfulness through it all. I had the unbelievable privilege of sitting with many of these men and women during mealtimes and talking with them, asking them to tell stories of the field. These are people that had to take boats to the mission field! These are the ones that started the hospitals and schools. There were women who had lost their husbands, husbands who had lost their wives. And there was not one person I spoke with who did not radiate God. My eyes were opened that week. I suddenly saw "missionary" as "most awesome person in the world," and my desire to serve God in that way grew. It is funny how we can know what we are to do in our minds, but sometimes our hearts lag behind. I always knew in my mind that if God were to call me to the mission field for good, I would of course obey. But it was not until this week that my
heart was broken wide open, ready to receive the call. I cannot say I have received it yet, but I'm ready to see what God will do, and where He leads, I will follow. There was one old song that we all sang during one of the sessions that I think had special meaning to the 20 of us going short-term. We were some of the only ones there still waiting on God's call to missions for good. All of us were there knowing that this is where God wanted us for now, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say we were all made tender towards any call God may give us in the future. As we were sitting together amongst the hundreds of other missionaries and sang this song I looked to my left and my right, not a dry eye to be found, as the words rang out,
"Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, where you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart."
I grew to love missionaries the week of July 15-21, 2007. They are people who live lives of sacrifice, not to bring themselves an ounce of attention, but without shame and without hesitation, point the way to God. Of all people I know, these are the ones who inspire me most to live my life for God. When I think about the "sacrifices" I have had to make, it's not so much that they seem small in comparison, but much more that I am now eager to give up these things so I can serve God. And I know there will be more. God give me the grace to be more like You, give me the heart to love the people You made, and give me the strength to give You the glory, now and always.