THIS VENTURE OF
A day in the life
Have you ever been so overwhelmed that all you wanted to do was escape? For me, the month of June was exactly that. Hence, the reason my June update is going out in July. This past month has been one of those months I thought I wasn’t going to make it through. It started with planning a mission trip to South Asia. If you’ve ever been on a short-term trip, take time to thank the person who planned it. I have a new found appreciation for those who are working behind the scenes to make sure short-term trips run smoothly.
With most of our SGWM team leaving for a mission’s trip to South Asia, it left only Joel and me to hold down the fort at the SGWM office. Joel, if you don’t know, is our “communications guy” at SGWM. He does everything from finance to Facebook updates, to writing blogs for SGWM. Without him, the SGWM office wouldn’t be the same. He’s married to Amy, one of the sweetest ladies I know and he has three adorable kids, that not only pray for me but also for the Roma people in Croatia. (Parenting goals!) Joel left his job and now has to raise financial support to work at SGWM. He left his comfort zone to work with and serve missionaries all over the world! Pray for the Garcia Family as they continue to live each day by faith. With the team serving in South Asia, everything that normally gets done with a team of 5 needed to get done with a team of two. However, the Lord showed Joel and me so much grace while the team was gone. The SGWM office didn’t burn down and the best part is that we had 8 new missionary applicants in that two week period. The Lord is stirring up people for the nations and I am so humbled I get to be a part of it.
While the team was gone in South Asia, my sister was hospitalized. My family took her into the ER thinking that she was going to be released the same day but instead the ER doctor decided to admit her. We spent a couple of days in the hospital before the surgeon, assigned to her, decided that she needed to have surgery. My family as a whole was exhausted, overwhelmed and scared all at once. Because my sister has down syndrome the chance of her surviving a surgery is significantly less than if I were to go in and have surgery. My entire family, parents, sisters, grandparents, aunts, and uncles spent Father’s Day in a hospital room waiting for her to get out of surgery. By God’s grace, the surgery went well and she is now recovering. To throw another kindle to the flame, while my sister was in the hospital I was preparing to start teaching at Voice of Refugees. My sister had surgery on Sunday; my first class was on Monday. I walked into my classroom on Monday exhausted from spending the entire weekend at the hospital, emotionally drained from thinking that I was going to lose my sister, and completely unprepared for teaching the group that I was assigned to. It was God’s grace that got me through the first day.
Working at Voice of Refugees (VOR) has been the biggest blessing! Just a couple of years ago, I was one of those people who didn’t want to receive refugees into the USA. Needless to say, the Lord has been working on my heart. A few months ago, I served at VOR for the Women’s Refugee Day. We served the ladies by pampering them and by letting them know that God, their Creator, loves them. I loved every second of it! The Lord gave me the boldness to share with Muslim ladies about Jesus. Little did I know that Women’s Refugee day would lead to teaching kids at VOR for the summer. I work with kids ranging from kinder to fourth grade. I have about 20 kids in my class, 10 which come from a Christian home and 10 which come from a Muslim home. Each day we practice reading, writing, art, science, pe, and then we do circle time. It’s during circle time that I have the privilege of sharing Bible stories with the kids and let me just say God is planting seeds in their hearts and I am blown away by the way He is already working in their hearts. I have kids asking questions like “Doesn’t God only talk to gods/prophets?” “We can talk to God all the time?” “Jesus never died, did he?” “Why did Jesus have to die?” “Are these stories 100% real?” I look forward to Bible time, because I know in the 40 minutes we have dedicated to circle time that the Lord is moving and He is personally reaching out to these Muslim and Christian refugees. The kids in my class wanted to name themselves the Warriors. I chuckled at the name they selected but every time I call them the Warriors in class I think about how one day, they could all be warriors for Christ. God has brought the missions field to us, there is no longer an excuse to not share the gospel with the lost. The Muslim community needs Jesus and the Lord has placed many here in the USA, in a country where they no longer face death when it comes to believing in the name of Jesus. I am so excited to see how the Lord is going to continue to minister to the ‘Warriors’. Pray for me as I continue to seek the Lord on how to best serve and love on them. Pray for softened ground as in the weeks leading up, we will be sharing about the life and death of Christ.
Apart from working at VOR and SGWM, I’ve also had the privileged to attend two conferences to represent SGWM. I was able to catch up with old friends and make new friends. More importantly, I was able to see how the Lord is working all over the world. The Lord is stirring up the hearts of people for the nations, one soul at a time. As a church, our goal should be to make sure that everyone on planet earth, not just in our cities or our countries, but everyone all over the world has heard the gospel. We all have been given a part, but are we actually taking part in it?
With all that to say, the only way I made it through this crazy month was because of Jesus. He sustained me through it all. Through the crazy, I took it all to Jesus and laid it at His feet. I woke up every morning, not wanting to get out of bed but praying the Lord would give me the desire to get up and the strength to get through the day. I’ve learned firsthand how prayer changes things. Simply put, I learned how to better communicate with my Dad. Jesus was my Rock. His grace was never ending and His strength got me through this past month.
With every update I write, the more excited I get about returning back to Croatia. I am currently 60% of my goal, which means I only need to raise $400/month more before I get to head back! Every day I am blown away by God’s goodness and how He continues to provide. Please continue to pray for me, as every day I get closer to my departure date. The Lord is faithful and you can always trust that His timing is perfect!
Have you ever asked the Lord to make you more like Him? It’s a petition that I've prayed for over and over again. To be made more like Christ in every way. Yet, I’ve come to the realization that in being made more like Him, there will be times of pain and sorrow. You see the only way to become more like Christ is for the Lord to refine you. These are the moments where, we ask why, the moments where there is no understanding, the moments where we have no words but only the groaning of our hearts. However painful it is, these are also the moments in when we can cling to the fact that He is making us more like Him and that nothing happens in vain.
It’s the hope that we are given. It’s the face of Jesus working in our lives. We read stories like Job, in the Bible, or even crazy missionary biographies of people that have gone before us and lost it all. We look at those people in awe and secretly envy the amount of faith that they have. I’ve asked the Lord so many times to give me that kind of faith. To give me the faith that surpasses all understanding and would cling strongly to the Lord in any situation. But to develop that faith there needs to be testing because a faith that is not tested, is a faith that cannot be trusted.
This past week I’ve attended two funerals. One for my 95-year-old uncle and one for a 1.5-year-old boy. As I sat with the aunt of the little boy that passed away, I saw the goodness of God through all of the hurt and pain. He's the Comforter of all, the Restorer of all things lost, the Healer of all pain and the only One who bears our suffering with us. She told me that she finds rest in knowing that Jesus has promised us to go through trials and that we can't only expect good things from our Father. As she spoke, I could see that in the darkest moment of her life, her Jesus had become her strength. But doesn’t that ring true for all of us. It’s in the moments where we can't take another step that the Lord picks us up and carries us through.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”
God is faithful. He never changes. His Word will forever be true. Our Father is the Sustainer of all. He gives life and He takes life away and though we may never understand why He does things the way He does, we know that we can trust Him unconditionally with everything. My uncle lived a long and fruitful life serving Jesus. That little boy, though he only lived on earth for a short while, is now spending eternity with His Heavenly Father and there is no better place for him to be. As believers, we have been given the promise that one day we will see them both again. Until then, I cling to Jesus through the refining times. I will keep asking Him to make me more like Him, anticipating the hard times in where I feel the most broken. Keeping my eyes on Jesus, trusting that through it all He remains faithful.
“I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.”
The beauty of it all is that when we feel at our lowest, that’s when we feel the Lord the closest. That’s when we have no doubt that God exists, that His promises are true and that He is perfect in all of His ways. That’s how good our God is. In the middle of the trenches, He is down there with us. He feels our pain, His heart breaks with our own, and He gently takes our hands and leads us out.
“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
The Lord continues to confirm Croatia and is continuing to bring people who want to partner with me. In moments where I am told that maybe I should be taking a different route, the Lord brings people to encourage me, He gives me scriptures to confirm the call, and He gives me a peace of knowing He has it all under control. I can’t wait to see how it's going to all happen but I know one thing for sure, when my feet are back in a Roma village, I will know for a fact that it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with God.
I’ve also been given the privilege to work with Voice of Refugees this Summer. I’ll be teaching Muslim refugee kids about the Bible. Talk about a crazy opportunity! I need all the prayer I can get as I start lesson planning, studying and preparing my classroom for these beautiful children. Pray for the bonds of Islam to break, for divine appointments, for seeds to be planted and for the love of Jesus to be felt. I cannot wait to see how the Lord is going to use this opportunity to bring glory to Himself.
This past month has been a blur. I've had good days and I've had bad days. Yet, in every moment, I've heard God whisper in my ear, 'Watch me work. Be still and know that I am God (Ps 46:10).' I had a dear friend visit me from Croatia and bring me Croatian Bibles so that I can continue studying the language. I had an opportunity to share about Croatia at the SGWM Missions Banquet and from that the Lord provided supporters. I've also dealt with death and loss head-on. But overall, I've seen Jesus work in mighty and marvelous ways and through the darkest times, I've seen His light shine through. My God never changes and all of His promises are yes and amen (2 Cor 1:20). Be encouraged that no matter what life presents you, you can overcome it through the power of Jesus Christ alone. Let Him be your strength. Step back and let Him work. I promise you, there is nothing more fulfilling than finding rest in the arms of your Father and trusting in the fact that
"We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
I am currently a little under 50% of the total amount that I need to have in order to head back to Croatia. If you feel the Lord placing it on your heart to join the work that He has started in Croatia, click on the Financial Support Button above. Out of 4 million people that live in this country only .3% are protestants, so please continue to pray for this country and for the furtherance of the Gospel. God Bless You!
Many people, when I first mention Croatia, tend to give me a puzzled look. "Croatia?" they ask. I've had many people say, 'Oh, the cruise that I took there was beautiful," or they list the touristy cities in Croatia, which I have never been to or even knew existed. I smile at their comments and respond by saying "Maybe one day I'll be able to experience those places as well." For me, Croatia isn't about the coast and its mesmerizing beaches. It isn't about the beautiful architecture that lines the streets or anything that a tourist would know this small country for. It's about a small group of people that most of society doesn't want to be associated with. It's about what the Lord is going to do through this small group of people. It's about reaching the unreached and unloved. It's about being called to live out the simple Gospel.
For those of you who don't know where Croatia is, let me help you out. Croatia is in central Europe in between Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In moving back to Croatia, the plan is to live in Zagreb and work with a church that is already established and has been working with the Roma Communities for a long time.
The team that I am apart of works in three different villages every week, Loncarevo, Trnovec, and Strmec. Each village is unique in its own way. Normally we arrive at each village, gather the kids and do a Bible lesson and craft with them. Each lesson is crafted up in an interactive way that requires the kids to participate. Though these kids love the way the lessons are presented, I believe that worship is their favorite part. We end each lesson with a craft for the kids. While a couple of us work with the kids, we have 1-2 guys that work with some of the men in the village as well. The men gather together and study God's word. In learning the Croatian language, I would absolutely love to start a study with the women. Once a month, we are able to bring sandwiches, chips, and soda to the Bible lesson. We have our biggest classes on those days. For us, a sandwich is nothing special, but for these kids, it's like Christmas.
We've also started a program called Bright Futures, in where we take ten jr. high age kids out of the villages and bring them to the city to live with us for the weekend. In a typical Roma home, education is not important. You raise your kids to marry so that they can make more babies that can one day marry. Guys and Girls are dropping out of school at 15-16 and getting married. They have kids by 16-17, maybe even younger. Men sometimes leave the country to find work, while the women stay home and take care of their 5+ kids. Other men stay home and try to find work near home. Then there are the men that stay home and drink away all of the money that is given to them. Alcoholism is rampant, and sadly, many times this can lead to abuse or neglect in the home. We see this crippling cycle and we want to help change it. So we bring ten kids with us to the city to live with us. Over the weekend, they get tutored in Math, English, Croatian, Science, and any subject they are struggling with. However, we know that even though education is extremely important, it isn't eternal. So we focus on teaching them God's word through devotionals, Bible Studies, and church services. We want them to know that they are valuable, not only to society but more importantly to God. We end the weekend by doing something fun with them. It's a blast to see a 12-year-old ride on a small roller coaster for the first time or to take them to the movies to see a cartoon, or even just taking a trip to the store to buy an ice cream cone. We do this in hopes that what they learn about Jesus throughout the weekend they take home and share with their friends and family. We do this in hopes that they'll become the lights on the hill within the Roma villages.
Working in the communities hasn't been a walk in the park. Each time we go into these villages, it's like we are entering a battle zone. These people, as loving as they are, can be a challenge. I was recently given this statistic. There are about 16,000 Roma people in the area that the team works in. Out of those 16,000 people, most of them would say that they are religious but don't really practice or live it out. Only 1.5% of the Roma people are actually following Jesus. If you were to do the math, that would make each team member responsible for sharing the gospel with 3,200 souls. Talk about intimidating. The awesome thing is that we already see the gospel changing the lives of some of the Roma people. Though the numbers of believers in the villages are few, we know not to limit God to what He can do. You see, when I think of Croatia, I don't think of a postcard. I think of all of the lost souls who are unreached. I think of the 16,000 souls who are despised by society but who are loved by the Lord.
Though I had some wonderful people partner with me at my dessert gathering, I still do not have enough finances to go back to serve the Roma people. As of right now, I have about 25% of the monthly financial support that I need. My heart's desire is to be back in a Roma Village before the next school season starts. However, I cannot return to Croatia until I have reached my goal of $1,000 a month. Therefore, if you would like to partner with me in reaching the unreached people of the Roma Villages, please click on the Financial Support link at the top of the page.
Please pray for me as I continue to walk by faith. I am really excited to see how you're prayers are going to bring change to the Roma Villages! God Bless You.
Your Sister in Christ,
There have been times in my life where the overwhelming sense of loneliness left me feeling isolated and separated from the rest of the world. For me, it didn't matter that I had a family that loved me, friends that cared for me, or even a church in where I could go to hear the Word of God taught. I would read scriptures that proclaimed the truth of God never leaving me nor forsaking me, yet in those moments, He felt so far away. Since coming home from Croatia in July, I've experienced many moments like this. Moments of longing to fit in. Moments of desiring to be like the people around me. Moments of asking the Lord why He's given me such a strong burden for the lost abroad, all while wondering why I couldn't just stay in California and be like most of my friends and family, so that I can feel normal and accepted. Time and time again, I fell on my face asking the Lord for forgiveness for those thoughts even crossing my mind. Christ had to teach me that I am not called to fit in. I won't ever feel at home here on earth again but that's okay because my citizenship is in Heaven.
"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ ."
Since coming back to California, I’ve had the opportunity to serve at Saving Grace World Missions' home base. For those of you who don’t know, SGWM, comes alongside missionaries to help them accomplish what the Lord is calling them to do successfully. They work relentlessly to make sure that the needs of missionaries are being met. They routinely have Skype meetings with them to make sure that they are doing okay. They also have weekly prayer meetings in where they intercede for those on the missions field front lines. They send out newsletters and countless amounts of other emails. Overall, they are the missionaries that work super hard here in the states, so that the missionaries abroad can do the work that the Lord has called them to do more effectively. It has been one of the sweetest seasons. I get to work with people who love Jesus and live out their calling every day. I get to talk to people all over the world, whether through Skype, email or in person, who are servants of the Lord, living radical lives for the sake of the Gospel. It’s like I’m reading a different missionary’s biography every day I go into the office. It’s so extremely encouraging to hear what the Lord is doing around the world through His Body.
As followers of Jesus, we belong to the Body of Christ. We become a part of a new community. A new people group that we will spend eternity with. In Heaven, there won't be different denominations. In Heaven, there won't be churches that are separated by disputes or disagreements. There will only be one body, one group of people, who will be on their faces, for eternity, worshiping THE GREAT I AM. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry and praise the One who created this community for us, so that we may thrive together on this earth for the spreading of the gospel.
Last Sunday, I had my dessert gathering. For those of you who don't know what a dessert gathering is, it's just a time of me being able to share what the Lord is doing in my life and the vision that He has given me for a group of people that don't know Him, all while eating delicious desserts. In other words, as pastor Trent put it, 'I was the mouthpiece that the Lord chose to use, to bring awareness about the Roma villages to people who would never have known about them otherwise.'
I'm not going to lie, I was terrified that no one was going to show up. I was scared, discouraged, and I was feeling that sense of loneliness that I described at the beginning of this post. And satan, knowing where to hit the hardest, made me feel like no one cared. I didn't share this with anyone at the time and even now I am so ashamed to even write these words, and to admit that I was starting to buy into these lies. BUT GOD IS SO FAITHFUL! As people started to walk into the room, I heard His still small voice saying, "These are your people, this is what the Body of Christ is for, this is the community I've placed you in." It was overwhelming and humbling at the same time. My God, the Creator of the Universe, revealed to me that night what it looks like to be a part of His body, His community and He used people I knew and a lot that I didn't. If you think that's awesome, just wait there's more! This is how good our God is, He doesn't just reveal lies for what they are, He demolishes them. At the end of the night, Pastor Trent asked anyone who wanted to lay hands on me and pray to come up to the front of the room. One by one, everyone in the room stood out of their chairs and came to the front. I stood there speechless, humbled by His love, and on the verge of tears. This is my family and I can't wait to spend eternity with them, praising Jesus!
The Lord reminded me that I have a community. A group of people who welcomed me in and saw me as one of their own. I belong to this Body, not because I deserve it but because Christ has given it to me, as a gift that is to be cherished. All the moments in where I felt rejected, lost, isolated, and alone didn't matter anymore because that night Christ showed me that I wasn't. I needed Him to show me, and though He didn't have to, He still chose to. I am so extremely grateful. Words can't even describe the amount of gratitude I have in my heart towards those who have come alongside me. This past weekend, the Lord revealed His love towards me through His body of believers and I was left overwhelmed by Him.
The Waiting Period.
Also known as the most difficult season in my book. The anticipation of being sent out. The eagerness to get where you're going. The longing to be where you know the Lord has called you. The yearning, the tears, the prayers that are lifted up, the crying out to God. I wish I could write that I've been excelling in this area of my walk but to be completely honest with you guys, it has been an area in where I constantly have to seek the Lord and ask for forgiveness.
It's funny how we as humans plan out our lives. As an American, I am used to the here and now. Why wait in line for five minutes at Starbucks when I can order the coffee on my phone and not have to wait at all. Our culture has been trained to not wait. Yet countless times in scripture, we are told to wait on the Lord.
"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope."
To expect. Wait for, on, upon. To gather together. All words used to define the Hebrew word, wait, in the scripture above. In other words, we wait with expectancy. We gather together everything we need, in preparation, knowing that the Lord is going to lead us out of the waiting. We have our oil lamps prepared and ready to go, so that when the Lord says 'let's do this,' you're ready to go. I never really understood the real purpose behind the waiting season up until a couple of months ago. I've always heard and been taught that through the waiting season, your patience grows and you learn to depend on the Lord and though that is true, there is so much more!
I look back to July of last year. I was sitting in a meeting with SGWM pouring out my heart about Croatia and the burden the Lord has given me for the Roma communities. I remember telling Pastor Trent that I needed to be back in Croatia by the end of August. I also remember him telling me, it's not impossible but let's see what the Lord will do. I walked out of that meeting excited that I had a group of people who believed in the work that the Lord had called me to and wanted to partner with me but at the same time I was also ready to show them that I could make it back to Croatia before the end of August.
Since then, I've had to ask the Lord for forgiveness for trying to get a step ahead of Him. God knew my desire to return but He also knew that I wasn't fully ready. In a sense, I hadn't gathered together everything I needed to do the work that He has called me to do successfully.
This past couple of months, I've never appreciated the waiting season more. It's in this past couple of months that I've scratched the surface of understanding the true meaning behind the waiting. I can say that I've learned more about cross-cultural ministries than I have ever learned before. I can say that I've learned so much through the lives of other missionaries that went before me in the past. I can even say that I've learned the significance of meeting with a mentor weekly and discussing the Word of God but also spending time in prayer without time constraints. But most importantly, I've learned the real meaning behind the phrase
"He's in the waiting."
You see, the season of waiting isn't just a time of praying. It's a time of doing! It's a time of taking steps towards where the Lord is calling you so that when He says 'Let's go' you are ready. It's a time of preparation, studying God's Word, increasing your knowledge, praying for wisdom, sharing with others, and the list goes on and on. It's not easy and many times you need to come alongside believers and ask them to hold up your arms so that the battle may continue to be won but what the Lord has for you, in the end, makes it worth every tear you shed, every prayer that is spoken and every lesson that is learned.
Don't get me wrong, I still long to be back in the Roma communities with the children and women that I miss so much, it hurts. I want to be able to hug the women, this being the only affection that they get throughout the week. I want to hang out with the young ladies of the village and help them with little things like doing their hair because I can't fully communicate with them. I want to play with the kids, sharing God's love with them. I want to continue to bring light into a community where darkness is what is seen and experienced daily. And though my prayer is to return soon, I have the full assurance that what the Lord has promised to do, He will complete in His perfect timing.
I long for the day when I can see my Roma family again but until then I have to continue to prepare myself for the return. I have to continue to remain in His Word, I have to continue in prayer, I have to continue telling people about this group of beautiful people that many don't know even exist, I have to continue raising support, and most importantly I have to continue to find people who would come alongside me in prayer. I am currently still in need of people who feel lead to give financially each month towards the work in Croatia. If the Lord has placed the work in Croatia on your heart and you feel lead to start giving, click on the link above that reads 'Financial Support" Once I have enough monthly support raised, I'll be able to head back to Croatia, long term.
I know how difficult this season can be. Let me encourage you to remain faithfully active towards what the Lord is calling you to. Surround yourself with people who are on fire for the Lord and build one another up. David Guzik said this in his commentary of Numbers 32, "If you want to press on with the things of the Lord and go deeper and further with Him, there is a sure way to discourage the desire- start hanging around believers who are content with where they are and who don't want to press on with the Lord. Complacency is contagious." Let's not be the people who lead our friends and family to complacency in the Lord by the way we live our lives but rather lets be the generation that challenges one another to go further in our walks, to live out the gospel, to step outside of our comfort zones and to live fully surrendered radical lives for the Lord!
If you need prayer for anything or simply someone to listen and come alongside you, email me. I would love nothing more than to be able to be praying for you in any way possible!
--Though I am not in Croatia at this moment, I do receive pictures from the kids. Enjoy the pictures and continue to pray for the Roma Community!
I've had a lot of people ask recently what a Roma village is and what takes place in the village. Many people when I say that I'll be working with gypsy's (otherwise known as Roma), they ask me one question: "Are they like that show on TLC, you know the gypsy one?" I chuckle because I know exactly what show they are referring too. Do you? The funny thing is that there is a lot of similarities but there are also a lot of differences. To be quite honest, I love watching the show because it reminds me of being in the villages. However, while the Gypsies in the show have a great amount of money, the people that I work with in Croatia don't. That's why I wanted to share a little about the people group I have grown to love so much.
A Day in a Roma Village
Imagine waking up laying next to 12 people, all on the floor, covered with blankets that haven't been washed in a long time. There's no running water, no a/c or heating, and you have to chop wood in order to start a fire to be able to cook your meals. Cockroaches, flies, and/or spiders surround the walls of the room you are sleeping in. You have to use the restroom but know the simple task of using the restroom takes a walk onto the grassy hill next to your home. You could always just go behind your home, many people in the village do. You don't really know what your family is going to eat or if the kids are even going to go to school today. All you know is your alive, you have a family to take care of with limited ways of doing so and you don't know what is going to happen next.
If you're a girl, you have the pressure of getting married at 16. Your mom did it, so you could do it as well. There's no birth control, so sex leads to babies. The chances of you having a child by 17 are very likely. I guess you could always apply for government support. Your parents did. You didn't finish school but that's okay, neither did your parents. Your husband, if you're lucky, finds a job. Sometimes, his job is in another country so you don't see him very often. So you're left with raising your kids on your own. By the age of 30, you're more than likely to have 8-9 kids. No husband, no money, and no outside help. If you want to serve chicken for dinner, you have to buy a chicken, kill it, boil it, remove all the feathers, and then cook it. Moldy food is still eatable, so is food that's covered with flies.
Sounds horrifying, doesn't it? When I first drove up to a village, it was. But there is so much more to tell of a Roma village. It was in these villages I learned the value of family....teamwork....love.....giving.....contentment and so much more. In these villages, the kids would run up to me covered in dirt, with holes in their clothes and shoes, a broken toy in hand and yet so much happiness and excitement in their eyes. It was also in these villages where food was given to feed not only me but the entire group before food was given to feed their own families. It was the people in the villages that would send their kids running to the store to buy soda so they could serve us, all while knowing that they couldn't afford it. While some would think that concept of giving is crazy, they saw it as an honor.
The Roma community isn't perfect, though. They desperately need Jesus!
Over the past 5 months, the Lord has placed me back in California. I wasn't very keen on the idea because I was so anxious to get back to the people I knew the Lord wanted me to work with. My calling was confirmed and to me, at first, that meant boarding a place. It's been during this waiting period that I learned to value the importance of being equipped and discipled. It's in these last 5 months that I've spent countless of hours praying for a country and people group that is not my own. I've also been taking mission's training courses online and read numerous amounts of missionary biographies. Thoughts and ideas, which once were foreign to me are now tools in which can be used on the field. Most importantly though, I'm learning that I'm not alone.
I still yearn for Croatia and with every day that passes the desire to be reunited with the Roma people increases. I want to continue working with these villages. I want the Lord to continue using me with the kids, whether it's through teaching English, planning Bible lessons, or any other way. The Roma community isn't just a group of people I work with a couple of times a week. They've become family and they hold a huge piece of my heart. Though I do not have an exact return date, I do pray daily that the Lord would have me return soon.
Please consider partnering with me in this work.
First and foremost, I NEED YOUR PRAYER! There is power in prayer. Satan is real and he wants this work to stop, however, we serve a God that has defeated Satan. Please be interceding on my behalf.
Secondly, I need monthly financial donors to partner with me in the work of sharing the gospel with the Roma communities. The Lord wants to use His people to further His kingdom. Whether it be going, giving, praying, etc each part plays an important role. If the Lord places it in your heart to give financially, there is a link button at the bottom of this page. Please pray about becoming a financial donor.
I'm excited about what's in store. No matter what happens, I know that the Lord is in control and that His Will will be accomplished. God Bless You!
Since coming back home in December, the number one question that I've been asked is "What's next?" Two words, which for me at the time, were filled with so much uncertainty. I didn't know what came next. I didn't even know where to begin.
One thing I've realized over the past couple of months is that I'm not alone in this uncertainty. I've talked to so many people ranging all different ages and they all seemed to be in the same predicament. Whether it's making a life change, to making a career choice, or even choosing a ministry to be apart of. The season of not knowing and waiting on the Lord is being experienced by many. And yet, I've realized the importance of not knowing. It's only through this season of uncertainty and waiting that we learn what complete dependence on our Savior actually is.
In the next month, I'll be taking my next step of faith. After much prayer and confirmation, I'll be returning to Croatia in March for however long the Lord sees fit. I've had many people ask me (and I know many people are wondering and don't want to ask) how I know that the Lord is calling me back to Croatia. I wanted to share this journey with you, not only to show how good the God we serve is but also to bless and encourage those who are going through a season of not knowing what comes next.
When I returned home in December, I had my mind set on getting a job and becoming an "adult." I had a job offer that guaranteed security, a retirement plan, a 401 k, benefits, etc etc. All of the essentials needed in living the American dream. I had come to a place where having a secure future became more important than following the calling that the Lord had placed on my life. I say 'my life,' because what the Lord has called me to is different than what the Lord has called you to. He may have you at a 9-5 job and for that you should praise Him because that's a privilege not many are given.
While at Bible college, I had a teacher, friend and mentor teach me the importance of having scripture confirmation to back up whatever decision needs to be made. I've held onto that counsel strongly. So when the Lord gave me passages in scripture, I knew there was no denying the calling He has placed on my life. I laid out a ton of questions for the Lord to answer and knew that He would answer them in His perfect timing.
His perfect timing. Not a second before and not a second after. I know sometimes we want the answers right away. However, God, the Creator of the Universe, the I Am, knows when our prayers are to be answered as well as how they should be answered. Take rest in knowing that our God is the Sustainer of all things, including your questions, problems, joy and heart ache. Find comfort in the fact that He is in all things and uses all things for His glory.
I wanted to share some of the scriptures that the Lord has given me.
Am I called to the missions field?
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:58
"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."
"And do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
Am I called to Croatia?
"Get out of your country, From your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you."
"The Lord God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my family, and who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land,’ He will send His angel before you.."
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
What part would I play in Croatia?
"Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, 'Be strong, do not fear!'"
Isaiah 35 :3-4
"Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
How was I going to raise financial support?
"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For you heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. "
"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not in your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."
These scriptures only scratch the surface of what the Lord has been showing me since I returned home. There is no denying of the task that the Lord has set in front of me.
So I am hoping that you would partner with me in prayer. I wouldn't want to take a step forward without a prayer team behind me. There is power in prayer!
"The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
If you would like to partner with me in this way, please let me know. I would have no greater joy than to put your name on my prayer chain.
I also ask that you please consider supporting me financially while I am on the missions field. If you are able to partner with me on this new journey, please contact me personally.
"that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
The amount of time I've spent in Zagreb so far.
Everyday this country feels more and more like home.I wake up not thinking about California but rather about the people here in Croatia. Yes, I still have my moments of missing my family, friends, church, fast food, car, hugs (yes, I mean actual hugs) and other little things I was taking for granted. I don't think there will ever be a day that I won't miss these things. People here ask me if I could see myself living in Croatia for the rest of my life. The truth is, I can. I can completely see myself spending the rest of my life in this country.
"A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps"
Whether I'll be coming back in January is still unknown to me but not to God. He knows my next step. He knows it all. Like what I'm going to be making for dinner (even though at this moment I'd prefer to starve because the idea of walking to the market to buy groceries and then having to come back and cook something sounds absolutely horrifying. It's in these moments I miss fast food the most) or who I'm going to be marrying (which has been one of the most talked about subjects in Croatia this past month). You see, God not only knows it all, He cares about every little detail. So I'm choosing to trust in the fact that He will supply the confirmation needed for my next step. I was reading a study on Romans 9-10 by Pastor Chuck. In his study he was talking about faith and trust. He said this
"It is hard to trust somebody you don't know. When a person comes up to me and says 'Oh, I have the hardest time trusting God,' what they are really saying is 'I really don't know God very well.' Because if you know God well you will have no problem trusting in Him at all." I've found myself at times being the person in the quote above. Admitting that I struggle with trust which then leads to fear. It's also in those moments I find myself not in His Word, not reading about His promises and not meditating on His faithfulness.
31 days, 19 hours, 47 minutes and 9 seconds
These past 31 days, I've made the choice to be in His Word daily. I've made the choice to wake up and talk to Him not only in the mornings but all throughout the day. I've made the choice to trust in Him. I still struggle with thoughts of fear, inadequacy, frustration, and so much more. However, His Word always comes back to me and rings true. I can't imagine life any other way. So I'm choosing to cling to His promises and trust in Him.
So now my question for you is this, what are you choosing to put your trust in? Some put their trust in a relationship, others in financial stability or in a job. While these things are beneficial, they won't last and at one point in time they will break your trust. However, Christ, the lover of your soul, will always be trustworthy. He will always be their pursuing you. Always.
Get to know Him. Read His Word. Cling to His promises.
In Him alone there is fulfillment and satisfaction that is eternal.
This past month the Lord has provided for me a place I can call home. Friends I now call family. A family that I can't imagine not being apart of my life. I've also been given the privileged to grow and tend relationships with the kids that I work with weekly. I've learned communication isn't only through words. Love is seen and felt in many different ways. That saying how you truly feel and not trying to hide your thoughts and emotions, only allows you to grow closer to the people around you. I've learned the importance of simply listening and not needing to have a response. I've had to live out what I've been taught over and over for so many years. I've had to cling to what I know is true and not waver in thinking. Most of all I've learned to pray for every aspect and detail that I encounter. It's been four weeks. A month. 31 days to be exact. I may not be able to fully grasp what the Lord is doing at this time but I can honestly say I'm ready for whatever is to come. So whether I'll be staying in Croatia for a longer time period or simply returning home and serving the Lord in La Habra, I know that it's the Lord that will be directing my steps and it's in Him alone in whom I will be placing my trust.
So please continue to pray for me. Pray that the Lord would provide clarity and confirmation and above all that His will would be completed in my life.
I've talked to a lot of people back home recently and the number one question is 'How's it going?' My initial response is always 'good.' However, the truth is most of my time here I feel completely inadequate.
Inadequate (adj) : lacking the quality or quantity required;
insufficient for a purpose.
The honest truth is that there are days that I wake up thinking that the Lord should have picked a better person for this ministry. That the kids I teach deserve a better teacher and leader. That the staff here deserves a better addition to their team.
I'd like to say that these thoughts don't come to my mind often but that would be a lie. I face the feeling of inadequacy quite often but let me tell you how good our God is to me. It's in those moments of feeling insufficient, that I open up the Bible to read His Word and He reveals His love for me. The truth is, I am inadequate. I don't know what I'm doing most of the time but God does. It's in His word that I read His promises. Take a glimpse into my morning devotions:
"In my distress I cried to the Lord, and He heard me"
"When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I"
"But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint"
"You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away; Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand"
"But now, thus say the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior"
I wish I could give you all the scriptures that the Lord has given me over these three weeks. I wish you could be sitting next to me as my eyes fill up with tears because of God's goodness. I wish that you could experience the sweetness of each promise that is given at the exact moment that it's needed. You see, the verses above are verses that I've read countless of times. However, in re-reading these verses recently, I've found a fulfillment and comfort that can only be given through God alone.
So yes, most days I struggle with the thoughts that I am not good enough but I read His word and know that He is. I trust in the fact that He has called me to be in Croatia at this time. I also trust in the fact that even in my inadequacy, He is faithful to use me in whichever way He pleases.
" My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Cor 12:9)
It's in this feeling of inadequacy that I've had to learn to keep my eyes on God alone. It's in the moments that I've wanted to quit and go home, that I've had to remember His promises and His faithfulness to complete them. There is nothing that I desire more than that God would be glorified in all that I say and do. That desire can only take place, however, once I've fully surrendered everything over to the Creator of the universe, my Savior. It takes full surrender of the thoughts I have, of the desires I want, of the work I do, of the time I posses, of the words that I use, and of every second of every day. Don't get me wrong, I'm still learning how to do this. Each day though, it's getting a little easier to hand everything over.
I'm taking this venture of faith one day at a time. Trusting that the Lord will supply all that I need, even when I don't know what I need. So I encourage you to do the same. Not because I've heard that God is faithful but because I've experienced it first hand. I want nothing more than for you to be able to experience too. So be in His Word, consistently. Learn to surrender everything over to him. Learn to trust Him. Put yourself in situations where He is all you have, even if it means you feel completely inadequate. It's in those times that the Lord is ever present.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full on His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will go strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
I've always wanted to serve on the missions field. To serve in a remote village in Africa or any country really. It's been a desire that not many people understand. That deep longing to be sent and used in any which way that the Lord would please.
Did I have my concerns? Yes.
My main concern being, if I'm completely honest, that I would remain single for the rest of my life because no one would want to marry a girl who wants to live in the middle of nowhere. That fear however never kept me from wanting to go.
I was always waiting for the next adventure. For the next place the Lord would take me. However, in doing that I was missing everything that the Lord had in store for me at that point in time. I was willing to travel the world for the Lord, however I found myself struggling to stay put for the Lord. You see, the desire to serve on the missions field was becoming greater than my desire to simply serve the Lord. I thought I knew what was best. I thought I had it all under control. Boy oh boy was I wrong. As I am writing this I cant help but laugh at the way I thought. Like seriously, who am I to think that I have my life under control.
I remember attending a missions planning meeting for my church. We met, discussed, planned, ate, prayed, and fellowship. I was talking to a friend after the meeting and explaining how I was so ready for the Lord to send me somewhere, anywhere really. I was pouring out my heart when I was stopped mid-sentence. This friend looked at me with all sincerity and asked 'What if the Lord was to never send you abroad again? What if He has you serving in La Habra for the rest of your life?'
I left that meeting petrified. How could someone even ask me that question? The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I had idolized the missions field. I broke down that night and in my brokenness I asked the Lord for forgiveness. I knew I had to surrender that desire. I had to learn that life, wherever the Lord had me at the moment, was my missions field. Was my desire to serve on the missions field bad? Not at all. What was bad about it, was the fact that I had allowed it to become an idol. I had allowed that desire to overtake what the Lord was trying to do and in that I had placed my desire over His.
It was one of the hardest things I had to do. To say 'Here Lord, take this desire and do with it what you please.' After I did that, I accepted La Habra as my missions field. My heart started to change for the people in my city, for the youth, for my church family. They became my missions field and I have been so blessed by them. "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21) The wanting to serve in a foreign country had to be taken away, so that the fullness of the Lord could be received.
So now I ask you, is there something that you are holding on to so tightly that is keeping you from the blessings that the Lord has in store? I won't lie to you, the letting go process is painful and at times it doesn't seem worth it but it is. The Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to serve abroad. Was I expecting it? Not at all, but that's how great our God is. He simply wants to be first in our lives.
Allow Him be first in your life. It's only then that you can learn to fully trust Him, His timing, His plan and His will for our us. Do not become discouraged but be encourage because the Creator of the Universe has called you His own and knows exactly what you need when you need it.
Serve Him faithfully, wherever He has you in this moment. Make life your ministry.