Sunday, November 4, 2007

part 1: letter from debriefing

this is the moment you have stressed about for the last three months- the moment you enter the unknown, a moment the will last for at least three weeks. your family, your friends have been gathering for weeks, patting you and the back, trying their mightiest to reassure you that "you'll do great." you think, maybe they're right. maybe i will do great. i'm ready. i have my ten pairs of underwear, my two rolls of toilet paper, my hand sanitizer... yep, we're good to go.

then you arrive an hour late, find two people you've never met before in baggage claim (or maybe they find you first), get lost, spend a restless night on the floor in a room shared by 30+ female strangers. when the sun arrives, so does a new face ready to tear apart your two perfectly packed boxes and to rapidly repack (a.k.a. vigorously shove) their contents into an immense blue bag and get you registered before the hot water for oatmeal runs dry. you then have the privilege of riding in a school bus for four hours to "destination n/a" as the humidity seeps through the plastic seats to wearing on you like a winter coat.

and just when you begin to think, why couldn't the plane have crashed? you hear it. the soft roar of voices unmet. you see pants being flown proudly on their broomstick and you are told, "we believe in you more than you believe in yourself"; you swallow your fear with your stale gum... welcome to training camp. and though you don't realize it (not in a brainwashing sense, but in a stubborn pride sense), this is the start of a slow reformation.

so i sit here, listening to the wind and rain rage outside in tiny Pinner, England, and look back through five weeks of hammering and stripping away every peice of anything i once considered rational and comprehend only a fragment of the transformation that has begun, or perhaps it's that i'm hoping i only understand a part of what has happened, because i fear that knowing completely would mean losing the desire to continue searching. it has taken twenty years to get here... i would be satisfied if it took another twenty to finish.

this process is slow and tedious, but something beautiful has begun.

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." romans 5:3-5

i am...

wow. there are few words that can explain everything that has happened in the last few weeks. really in my mind, it's a whirl-wind and i have a difficult time remembering what i ate for breakfast. okay not really becasue it was malto, which we eat every morning. training camp quite possibly was the best experience of my life. the senoir staff ladies, Mary and Katie, are two of the most amazing women i have every met. those first two weeks would have been impossible to get through without them. and now in ireland, well... it's ireland. freezing, damp, exciting and new. it's interesting to look out the window and to know your in a different place, to recognize the buildings and the streets and even the people, yet know everything is different. it looks much like america (belfast reminds me of san fransisco), but greener and with squished buildings. we've started some ministry today, but it was cut short due to rain. you can sense God here; in the church, in the promanade, in the town square. it makes my stomach churn and keeps me nervous but in the best sense. i miss you all and aubrey, ruth says hello. she loves you and misses you and i think she's amazing.

ps. booddle ain't that bad.

much much love.

bread and butta

i obviously stink at keeping up with writing and such, considering i've only writen three of these things... anyway...

so i leave in ten days. TEN DAYS! and i've told both places i work that there are about seven days left in me for them and everyone wants to know, am i excited. and it's sad (to me) that i honestly haven't taken the time to feel anything about what is going to happen when i broad that plane by myself and head to chicago to meet four girls i will be leading around a foreign country. this is a load of firsts for me. and whenever i take time (in the midst of applying for college and working 13 hour days) to think about ireland, i don't feel excitement. i feel confusion and fear and sometimes nothing at all simply because i don't know how to feel about it. and those sound like terrible things to feel as i enter into this experience, but i shoot for the truth. my mind tells me about trust and joy and how God hasn't failed me yet and anyway, it's not about you, it's about what He is going to do through you to show His perfect love and grace, so don't stress. but i daily struggle with my failures; the shame of my mistakes still sits before me like an open trench. i stare over the edge and all i see is death. it's like the scene in indiana jones and holy grail, where indie needs faith to walk the invisible bridge. and you would think that i could convince myself of His faithfulness, since He has proven it time and time again, not to mention this isn't death, it's a mission trip. but i see my words failing and a new crevasse forming; i see me forgetting something and rocks slipping.

so i guess this is a final reminder to myself that this is not about me, because most likely what i just mentioned will happen, but another thing that will happen is that lives will change, even by failing words and things forgotten. and maybe it'll be the irish and maybe it'll be my team... probably both. but any way you slice it, He is the bread of life, having already been broken, just asking to be passed around.

comedic timing

it's interesting. i've been described many times as a person who must be driven by purpose. if i'm not, then i do nothing. i sit in my room and stare at my wall and waste time. but if there is a clear purpose behind my actions, then nothing will stop me. or at least that's what they say. and honestly, i agree.

time and time again, i have started something, full of excitement and energy, but it lasts a week or so, and then the project gets pushed under the bed to gather dust while being forgotten. or i get frustrated and give up, throwing the project against the wall, thinking it was stupid to ever dream. it's when things remain stagnant that i lose hope. and i don't think is unusual. it's common for everyone. we think, i don't see it happening, so how can it be happening?

when i was accepted to be apart of the ireland team, i was so excited. i never thought i could be wanted in a mission field or want to be in the mission field, so i was astonishing when everything came together so perfectly. i mean (with a little coaxing) i was able to get my letters out in a fairly timely fashion, which for me is unheard of, as i'm known for my procrastination.

but a few weeks passed, and nothing was happening. money wasn’t coming in and i was having serious doubts that i had made a rash decision. how could God use me? why would He want to? doesn't He remember what i've done? doesn't He know all the desire that i still wrestle with? i'm still so messed up? all i could think about was where i had failed and how i could fail in the near future. my shortcomings consumed me. i even told jen tanner, my accountability, that i was praying for God to not provide the money; that that would be easier to face then admitting i didn't want to go to ireland. but that was a lie that had imbedded itself in my brain. i did want to go. i do want to go. but i was so enveloped in this idea that i wasn't good enough, that i wasn't perfect enough, i would rather give up.

and this is what i had to give up; this toxic mindset that tore me apart and told me i was nothing. and when i gave that to God, when i offered everything to Him, accepted that i wasn't perfect and i am not going to be perfect and all the parts of me i see as my failures and disappointments are exactly the parts He wants to use, that's when things really took off. they say timing is everything and if that is true, then God is the best freaking comedian ever.

in three weeks, $1,840 has come in (thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you). and my doubts, through a lot of prayer, have been ironed out and refocused. and i re-realize that i'm not and never was the purpose.

He is.

in His purpose.

getting the party started

if you're reading this, it means you have received one of my letters. lucky you. but seriously, know that your support- your prayers- are very much aprreciated. i can't thank you, i think you should know the reason that i created this blog.

it seems logical, as i consider myself a writer (though not a very good one), to write about what is going on in my heart and head and life throughout this process. and considering the age we live in, what better way to keep you updated on the "going-on's" than by posting it on the world wide web for everyone to see?

also, i think it's important that, if you are supporting me financially, you know where your money is going, or better yet, who your money is going to. i would imagine that sometimes people give, only to recieve a thank you letter a few months later after the trip. the problem is that so much of the experience can be lost in the mailing of that one letter. this way i can relay to you (if and when we have the opportunity to get on a computer) what God is doing in ireland and in me, when He's doing it. and as my supporter and friend, you have that right. or at least, i think you have that right.

so that's what this is set to be. i'll do everything i can to be on here regularly, being honest to you in the joys and anxieties, before and during this incredible, exhaustive, frightening experience.

in His peace and love.