Saturday, July 27, 2013


This past week I've had the privilege of working with a great group of students from Arizona. Seriously they are all so upbeat and encouraging. The first time I met them they had been up all night on a red eye flight and they were still all wide awake on the bus for a 2.5 hour bus ride to La Providencia singing basically the entire soundtrack to Pitch Perfect. I've had a chance to connect with them since then and I can see that they are seriously so on fire with God and are really looking to serve him while they're here in everything they do.

The worship team has added something really unique to our worship time during nightly team meetings. They have encouraged all of us to make a list of 100 blessings by the end of our trip. Every night we have 10 or so minutes to connect with God and just think of and list all the blessings that God has given us. I AM SO BLESSED. I'm just going to explain a few of the ways I've been blessed in the last two days. On the work site yesterday one of the girls just said "Kristen, how can I be praying for you?" which was seriously so cool because that isn't a question I get asked by students. I am so thankful that she connected with me and cared about me enough in the 5 days I've known her to ask how she can pray for me. I spend so much of my time trying to serve and invest in students and I feel really blessed to be served back in this way. Then last night we all went around our circle of 19 and shared one of the biggest ways God has blessed us and worked in our lives. Seriously one of the COOLEST moments I've had listening to high schoolers really share their hearts and the ways God has met them where they're at to bless and redeem them. In a lot of ways these students are way more mature in their faith than I was at their age and it is so encouraging to see how God is working in and through them. Stories of how free housing was provided, God brought nonbelievers into their lives to share their faith, family members being saved, broken families being redeemed, sicknesses being healed, and God breaking through in the lives of rebellious teenagers. Many of these things almost brought tears to my eyes/maybe they did. Then as if that wasn't amazing enough, after our team meeting all of us gradually came together for a night of spontaneously singing worship to God. We had a guitar and some of the most enthusiastic and heartfelt voices for worship I've heard in a long time. It was really cool to have a time that wasn't planned or forced but really real. God is blessing me in SO MANY ways on this trip - but these are just a few :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Trip #2 - I love my "job"

Part 1 of 2

If I'm learning anything in this period of my life it's that I'm selfish and that I've spent too much time focusing on the negative and awful disappointing things of life. I often want things my way and in my timing because that's what would benefit me. You know what's great about God though is that he can easily show me that my way of seeings things is worthless and he proves me wrong. This summer I'm learning some really big lessons. I've learned that my life is not my own and that God has allowed me to be a small part in his larger story of redemption. He is blessing me with such a positive outlook this summer. Let me tell you, it's a lot harder to be positive and find the good in situations. This summer is full of hardships and difficult times where it would be easy to rely on myself and to see the negative in the situation. It's harder to be positive sometimes but with God's strength he is showing me how much better it is in the long run. Spending 15 hours a day with 12 high school students on a construction site and running a VBS for young children is exhausting. I'm always "on" developing relationships with students and asking tough questions and challenging students. I'm motivating, answering questions, asking questions, sharing Jesus, encouraging, and teaching. I have to let high schoolers make all their own decisions even if they are completely wrong or not how I would do something. the joy of the Lord really has been my strength and it has been amazing to let him work in me this summer.

One of my favorite moments this summer occurred in the girls bathroom, which sounds awkward but please continue reading. I had been coaching/encouraging/advising two of the student VBS leaders throughout the first week. Basically I helped to push the vision that VBS is about communicating God's love to the kids and that little things like messing up a skit or forgetting a song or not knowing Spanish shouldn't get in the way of communicating God's love to the kids. It's so easy to get caught up in the little things and to forget this big picture. I saw God work in these two students in amazing ways throughout that week. One of these girls was at first very controlling of the VBS and unwilling to let the little things go on the first day. I saw her really let God into the situation and give control up to him. Her attitude about VBS from that day on was so much more loving and she was more willing to take constructive criticism and suggestions with a humble heart. On Sunday after VBS we were getting ready for church in the bathroom and she told me that she was very thankful for my help with VBS and that it wouldn't have been what it was without my encouragement and suggestions. I am thankful that I let God use me in this way and it was really cool to see how she grew throughout the trip in growing a humble heart and using her enthusiasm and willingness to serve to inspire others to join in the fun.

Honestly these last two weeks were hard. But that's okay because God was totally at work in amazing ways. I saw a lot of students be vulnerable and honest and hard working. There were many times when I was encouraged by others about something I did or said and I know that it was God working in me because I don't know how those words came out of my mouth or how I had the energy to continue on. Even on the days when I don't feel like working I have committed my life to God and given my all for His glory. I am loving how much God is at work in my life this summer including giving me a desire for His word. We are studying through the book of Nehemiah and I am continuously learning a lot about leadership and about who God is through Nehemiah's life. In addition to this study God has given me a new desire for memorizing His word and understanding His word better so that I can know Him better. I feel really blessed to call this my "job" for the summer.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My New Normal

I decided to list out the things for y'all that are the new normal for me. And yes, I did just type y'all. I spent two weeks with 15 Texans so you can't blame me. I have had to get used to doing things a little differently here in Honduras, here are just a few of these "adjustments."

1. Brushing my teeth with water from my water bottle.
2. Flies everywhere! On me, on my food... oh well!
2.5 Bugbites on me everywhere. They itch. A LOT.
3. Mixing concrete/mortar on a construction site every day
4. Getting confused between English and Spanish and saying "Otra vez" numerous times
5. Having to bleach dishes after washing them
6. Not flushing toilet paper, yeah it goes in the trash... :/
7. PB & J everyday for lunch because the lunch meat here is sketch.
8. Trusting high school students to make the rest of my food
9. Getting to shower, if I'm lucky, every OTHER day. Recently it was 4 days in between.
10. Waking up to the beautiful Honduran mountains every morning and doing my devotionals with God staring at his creation :)

And that is some of my life!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Trip #1: God is CLEARLY at work here

I've been postponing blogging about the last 2 weeks mostly out of pure exhaustion. So here goes nothing.

Our first team arrived from Dallas, TX on Saturday June 22nd and before we even got to La Providencia with them the challenge started. We stopped at our very American-ized but still very much all in Spanish grocery store in Siguatepeque and the team had to grocery shop for 17 people for an entire week. Then we got to the clinic where we're staying and jumped right in cooking dinner. This team was really excited about their mission here and it was really fun to get to know them.

I want to talk about VBS here because I honestly think that was the most exciting thing for all of the students and something that everyone put 150% of themselves into. God's love and glory shone BRIGHT through these students. The two VBS leaders did an amazing job casting the vision for what they wanted VBS to be all about. They were passionate about communicating the love of God to these kids. It didn't matter if they messed up the skit or the craft was done wrong or even if they messed up all of their attempted Spanish conversations. They knew that the only reason VBS matters is to show that God's love is bigger than our culture, bigger than a language barrier, and powerful enough to be communicated through a bunch of high schoolers just trying their best. Our students connected really well with the kids at VBS and many of them had little "buddies" that they hung out with all week. Their skits went flawlessly, the games were fun, the crafts were loved by all, but most importantly we built friendships with those kids and showed them that God loves them. Each and every student on this trip was so enthusiastic during every afternoon we spent at VBS and there was not one minute where I felt like they could have done more or been better. It was a fantastic experience and I think that all of these students saw how much impact you can have on someone by showing God's love and being selfless with your time.
Students and VBS kids :)
Construction was another really clear avenue for how God worked. We were working on laying block to expand a sidewalk that goes from the community center to the classroom building and pouring the cement footings for the walls of a principal's office. We studied the book of Nehemiah which is about how he rallied the people of Jerusalem to rebuild the walls surrounding the city and we LITERALLY BUILT WALLS these past two weeks. It was a fantastic opportunity to connect our experience with that of a man who relied on God so fully. Now, what we did was important, but I think that the relationships that we built and the tough lessons and decisions that were made was even more of a leadership lesson for the students. The two construction leaders were very passionate about keeping the vision alive for why were spending hours mixing concrete and mortar and doing and redoing blocks to keep them precisely level. They consistently communicated that we are building this so that the school can expand and bring more kids in to La Providencia so that they can receive a quality, Christ-centered bilingual education that will raise them to be leaders that will make a difference in their native country. The only way things get built and projects are funded are if teams come and work hard and do projects with excellence. It was really cool to see these students take ownership of their work and asks questions such as "If this was mine, would I be happy with the way this turned out?" and "How can we do this more efficiently?" and "Am I using my resources of people and tools well right now?" These students were intentional about their conversations on the work site and building relationships with each other and with the Honduran employees and volunteers we had the opportunity to work with.
Students and Adult leader laying block

These students worked hard, they pushed each other, they asked hard questions, thought intentionally, spoke intentionally, loved each other and lived ON MISSION for God these past two weeks. It was a blast to see how God can work through me and in this lives of students who are challenged and pushed out of their comfort zones.

Pray for Abbey, Alex and I these next two weeks. Our next group has already arrived and we had a very very short break in-between so we are tired and weary but we know that the joy of the Lord is our Strength.