Monday, February 10, 2014

The Luck of the Irish

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, 
for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Oh wow, where do I begin? We are officially on our last week of BVS orientation here in Florida! 

Orientation itself has been a really good experience. For food, we are given $0.75 for breakfast, $1 for lunch, and $1 for dinner. In food groups of 3-4 people we take turns cooking for our group of 15 as a way to learn how to “live simply.” We have talked about issues of poverty, types of conflict, and working styles. We have had several workdays – we have worked at a community center in Orlando, pulled weeds at Camp Ithiel, had “Drop Off Day” where we were dropped in Apopka and told to “Go Serve,” and worked at an Organic Farm in Tampa. I have lived, worked, played, and formed a family with these people who were strangers to me exactly two weeks ago.

Everyone in the orientation group is so so different! I really do appreciate the diversity of our group though; the diverse personalities, viewpoints, lifestyles, and beliefs. It’s a real dose of real life and I learn from it more and more every day. So while all of this group meshing, bonding, and working was going on – in the back of all of our minds was the golden question -- “Where in the world will we be placed?!” 

If I have ever experienced the fear of the unknown it was within the placement process.

I mean I had bought a one-way ticket to Florida…unsure of where I would be next, open and willing to go wherever yes, but most definitely coming to a new understanding of Jesus’ repeated command, “Do not fear.” You better believe stress levels were high for all of us at the beginning. Being the anxious person I am, I got to work right away at scanning over every project file. I took many runs, listened to many songs of encouragement, reminded myself of God’s provision through His Word, and of course, as an extrovert, vented to my new BVS friends. So to say the least, the placement process was stressful.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

I thought I pretty much knew what projects I was interested in, but of course as a group you become influenced by one another. One of my Food Group members voiced interest in my number 1 project, a girl who I was closer with completely changed her mind from South America to New York, the girl I bonded with most had pretty much already locked in one project I was looking at – BAH. 

Now, mind you, in orientation every day seems 14 hours long because so much happens within every hour. So after having my mind toss and turn a million times over I decided I needed to stop and surrender, go to the Lord in prayer and just trust. That being said, I am sooo grateful for those who supported me in this time with their prayers. I strongly believe in the power of prayer – and my placement is testimony to that.

So I had narrowed my projects down to three options, and had sufficiently stressed out when I heard someone else was interested in my number one choice. After talking to the international coordinator, the executive director pulled me aside to show me a message he had received. A project had just opened up last minute, an affiliate of East Belfast Mission – an inner-city ministry that I had been really interested in but was not taking anyone for our winter unit.

Would I be interested?

My head completely swarmed. I had been praying fiercely for open opportunities, for guidance, and ultimately for God’s will to be done. Then BOOM. Open door.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Outwardly, I calmly told my director that I would be interested at looking into the project further. While inwardly, I wanted to run and jump with joy at this new opportunity so suddenly opened for me. I prayed and prayed, and decided to replace my number one project preference with this new project that I still knew little about but felt strongly pulled towards. Over the weekend, I sat down with staff to discuss my preferences, had an interview with the international coordinator, and on Wednesday was told that the project had accepted me.

All of these e-mails were thrown at me about the project and all its details. I was overwhelmed to say the least. I wanted to be sure that this project was truly where God wanted me before giving them any decision, so I told them I would have to pray about everything and would confirm as soon as possible. Suddenly all of these apprehensions rushed to my mind – What if I actually wanted my #2 preference? Maybe I should actually serve domestically first? What if, maybe, blah blah blah.

Eeeerrk, stop. Surrender.

(I’m telling ya, to surrender is most definitely a daily hourly process..)

Okay this is getting way too long and people have probably given up on figuring out where the heck I’m actually going! So anyway the next morning, I wrote the international coordinator – yes, I would accept this new project! When I walked into breakfast I told Callie (staff) about my confirmation and she let me know that they had already booked the flight to my interim project two days before. What?! I was so affirmed to know that staff had so much confidence in me and knew what decision I would ultimately make, despite my inner wishy-washiness.
SO friends – it’s official! I will be serving for two years in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Fact: Northern Ireland is a different country than Ireland). I’ll be working with Gary Mason, past mission superintendent of East Belfast Mission and the new leader of a program called Journey towards Healing. I will be working with him to improve local and international community relations. I will be staying at Skainos, a community center where ministries for people of all ages and all levels of society come together. The church is at the center of this complex, symbolizing how the body of Christ should be at the center of local outreach and the local community.
My international project will not start until July 1st of 2014 and so I will begin the process of preparing within these next few months. As I wait and prepare I will be serving at an interim project for 5 months in Mill Spring, North Carolina. I will be working for CooperRiis, which is a Healing Farm for those suffering with mental illness, anxiety, and depression. I’ll be living and working alongside residents, maintaining the facilities, building relationships, and just loving people during my time there.

I will try to keep everyone posted to how God works and what He is sure to teach me within these next couple of years. This new project that came out of the blue is one of the most vivid answers to prayer I have ever received, and I know I have many of my prayer supporters to thank for that. This opportunity is only by the grace of God and my one desire is that He may receive the glory with every relationship that is made and work that is done through this mission.

I would love to send out occasional newsletters to those who would like to receive specific project updates from me throughout my time of service. If you would like to receive these e-mails just sign up here: Contact Information Form

If you want to hear more information about the project or would like to support me in other ways before I go, feel free to reach out and message me on Facebook or e-mail me at Love you guys! 

1 comment:

  1. Great read! It's awesome to hear your super amped about it. Look forward to catching the highlights!