Adios, Amigos.

I honestly can’t believe I am typing up my blog for our last country, Nicaragua. These past two months have flown by. I was a little burnt out heading into Nicaragua. I was still battling the end part of my sickness, I had so many mixed emotions about it being our last stop, and I was extremely tired from all the traveling. However, I loved this country and these people. God touched my heart in big ways this week.

Going into Nicaragua, our team doubled in size. At first I thought that was going to be weird having twice as many people to serve alongside. We have gotten pretty close with the solid five girls who have traveled the whole way. But it was a huge blessing. I was so encouraged to have those extra hands and feet, and they totally lifted us up and really gave us a fresh wind of excitement for this last country. Which was all of our prayer, that we would be able to finish the race strong and not be too tired to serve.

This country we basically just served the church we were staying with. We went door to door to pray for members of the community and church that they knew were sick. We got to minister and play with children in a rough neighborhood. We led worship, gave testimonies and sermons, did skits, hung out at a disability school and met a lot of amazing children, went to an elderly home, danced for hours praising the Lord, and just loved on the people of Nicaragua.

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One day that really stands out, we went to different city to help this other church and pray with some of their members. We went around to five houses that day. Every house were divine appointments and God definitely had a reason for us being there. However, the fourth house touched all of our hearts tremendously. It was a small family of three, and the daughter, Valeska, had cerebral palsy. Through our translator, the mother was able to brokenly explain to us her daughter’s condition and the prayers needed. Then she said that the family as a whole were going through a rough time and just needed our prayers. She said she didn’t want to tell us specifics, but just to pray. But a little later as she continued to talk, she began to cry and tell us how the community around them and all of their neighbors were talking bad about their family. Specifically they all blamed her, the mother, for her daughter’s disease and said it was all her fault that Valeska was born that way. It broke my heart. This woman telling us, perfect strangers, her deepest, darkest hurt and us knowing that as a parent, Satan has already tried to attack her with that lie. She definitely doesn’t need other people spreading it. Valeska’s mom told us how Valeska had woken up super early that morning knowing that we were all coming to see her and to pray with her. It just so confirmed what God had us doing. It made a difference. No matter how small it seemed, or how little of time it took.

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One of my favorite parts about Nicaragua were the church services. And there were many of them, for many hours. But it was so great. These people genuinely loved the Lord and they expressed it in every way they could think of. There were dancers dancing with ribbons and scarves. There was a guy blowing a horn in praise. There was jumping and running around, shouting, and fist pumps. It was a celebration. Which is how we should worship our Lord. Our God is great, and so worthy of our praise. Why wouldn’t we do everything in our ability to express to Him how much He means to us. It really just showed me true worship.

 

One afternoon, we all went down to the river. There were some teenagers who were getting baptized. All that morning and afternoon, I felt God tugging on my heart. At first I didn’t realize what exactly it was about, but then I heard it. God was speaking to me to be baptized again too. I was baptized when I was six years old. However, since then I’ve definitely had points in my life where I wasn’t living out what I said I believed in. And I was living for myself. I don’t believe baptism is something I needed to do for me to be closer to God or to confirm my salvation. But, God was wanting me to just officially bury that old me in the watery grave. Let go of all I used to be. And as a declaration of my surrender, do it in front of a group of people. So, I was baptized in the river flowing through the mountains of Somoto, Nicaragua. And it was a defining moment in my life and one I will always remember. This entire trip has been a huge growth process, and it couldn’t have been a better placed timing.

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All in all, Nicaragua was amazing. There’s no way I can express everything I experienced and saw in these few words. All I know is that, God is so good. God is so big. And He’s always in control. His ways are higher than mine, and He works out good for all those who love Him.

As I enter into these next few days of debrief, I pray that God would further reveal and highlight things He’s taught me this trip. And that I take away a bunch of things that I can apply to my life. It’s done. My life is officially changed. I will never be the same again. Just continue to pray for these days of rest, prayer, and reflection that we have to really look and dive into what God has done in our hearts these two months. Thank you to everyone who’s continued to pray and support me while I’ve been away. I’ve definitely felt it.

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Au Revoir France

Transitioning from a third world country to a first world one was definitely a weird experience. We went from being some of the richest people walking around in Uganda to camping in tents and living with a definite budget. France is gorgeous, with the Meditteranean Sea beckoning and surrounded by hundreds of years of history and architecture.. It’s definitely crazy seeing some of the most beautiful things in the darkest places of the world. And this country is certainly spiritually dark and dry. There’s a ton of emphasis on materialism, free thinking, deism, and thoughts of the sort. France prides itself on being modern and ahead of their time. However, it’s a huge wall dividing them from a relationship with the one true God.

While we were here, we teamed up with the International Baptist Church located in Nice and St. Paul. We basically did anything they needed us to do for their ministry and their church. As well as, we tried to serve them as best as we could. The big project we helped with was setting up for a Vacation Bible School that the church is hosting next week. We painted, cut, constructed, and hung many decorations. The theme was Kingdom Rock, which was a medieval type style, so there were many duct tape draw bridges, shields, swords, and we even created a colonnade and a HUGE tissue paper-chicken wired dragon that breathed smoke! Most of the kids coming don’t come from Christian families, so this VBS is a big deal for the church’s ministry. A lot of times it’s the only way for them to be able to touch and reach out to the parents. Other things we did were participate in a half day of prayer for the nations and different missionaries around the world. That was so cool coming together up with a bunch of others to specifically lift up God’s people and His nations.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”         2 Chronicles 7:14

We were just praying this verse over France and every nation. We want God to heal this land. At training we were prepared for the spiritual battle we would encounter in France. However, I really don’t believe any of us took it as seriously at first, until we got here. When I would tell everyone all the countries I was going to this summer, I’d start listing them off: China, India, Uganda.. and when I got to France people would make comments like “Oh, Nice, France! You’re really going to suffer there” and they’d laugh. No one meant it rudely; however no one, including me, realized that France is as much in dire need of God as the other nations. We may have struggled physically in the other nations, but France, we were all definitely hit hard spiritually.

I have been sick my entire time in France. It started in Uganda and carried through. I have been battling a cold and it’s really hindered the way I feel a lot. I realized pretty soon though why. In preparing me for this trip, God really began to teach me how to pray. I went through this prayer journey for a month and a half with some friends, lifting up specific people and situations in our lives. During that time, I searched scripture and constantly looked up verses to connect into my prayers on behalf of those we were interceding for. I was specifically praying against spiritual strongholds in people’s minds and for walls to break that were in between them and God. Just really combating deceptive thoughts and that God would reveal His true relationship nature to people. Whenever the missionaries were describing France and telling us what to pray for over this country during our prayer walk, I remember thinking, “I know what to pray for and how to pray for France because God prepared me for it through the prayer journey”. And Satan definitely didn’t like that thought. So he tried to make me sick and hinder me from fighting him.

I actually was pretty sick, and I felt my sickness a lot. I ended up having to go to a doctor and get antibiotics; where he told me I had an infection where my ears, nose, and throat were extremely inflamed and blocked. I can’t say how painful all of that pressure is with the altitude and with flying. However, God covered a lot of what I felt, and I was graciously able to still serve at almost 100% during the days. I would really only be hard hit in the morning and evening times, which I look back now and see as a huge blessing.

Along with transitioning from a third world to first world country, we changed male leaders, and that was a big change. Curt had to go back home. Paul Nelson replaced him and Ryan Pursley surprised us by joining us for the last two legs as well. We were all a little worried about how we would connect and get along, but God took care of that too. Everyone immediately bonded quickly and smoothly and it’s been great getting to know and serve beside both of them.

Some of the other things we did were pass out tracks, hand out sandwiches to homeless people, babysit some of the missionary’s kids, lead Sunday school, and host a beach party. On Sunday we went to both church services. They hold one in the morning in St. Paul and one at night in Nice. Hannah and I ran the 3-8 year old Sunday school class at St. Paul, which was a blast! I also really enjoyed handing out tracks. We divided into groups and walked around Nice trying to talk to people and hand out the little cartoon fliers that basically just explained the gospel. Although most people couldn’t speak English, we saw a lot of people reading the handout, which was written in French. It’s amazing how far a smile will go. They aren’t real cordial in the streets, or anywhere around France actually. And I think it threw everyone off when we approached them with this huge grin and joyful manner.

I learned so many things this week. One being that God may not completely take things away, like me being sick, but He IS glorified in all things and He WILL give you strength to battle whatever you’re up against. in our Global Journey bible studies, we have been going through James. Now, that book is freaking incredible and just chock full of wisdom, convictions, encouragements, and truths. The whole Bible is, but the book of James is definitely one of those power washer books. It just blasts you. But we have been learning and reminding ourselves to count our trials and such as blessings and to see them as what they are: making us more mature and complete in our faith. Which is so great. It looks pretty and sounds nice, but application of it and living it, is where it all comes down to.

I’m so ready for Nicaragua and I’m excited to see what else God is going to do in the final leg of the trip. I’m determined to finish strong. We are all very tired, but The Lord is the provider of all. And if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s how great God is and how much He cares for the little things. Continue to pray for our team as we head to our last destination. And lift up France. AU REVOIR.

Mzungu speaking.

First of all, Uganda is beautiful! Seriously breathtaking. It’s definitely called the “Pearl of Africa” for a reason. With its lush vegetation, red dirt roads, and mountains surrounding the city; the 6 hour drive from the airport flew by because all of us were glued to our windows.

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This week we served at an orphanage called Lulwanda’s Children’s Home. It’s both a school and a home for 150 kids.The education system here in Uganda is very poor, and the problem is that even though children may go through school, they still may not get the proper education that they need. And this effects the future economy and political structure. While we were here, we teamed up with another group called the “Thrasher Team”, headed up by Mike and Mary Thrasher. It was a team of about 12 adults. And come to find out, one of the ladies is from Beaumont! And her husband was my dad’s doctorate professor. It’s crazy how God connects people. He knew how much that would encourage me and bless me to be able to talk to her about home.  The Thrashers are real involved with Lulwanda and they were putting on a teacher conference for 30 schools in the area. So our job while the teachers were busy, was to basically fill their position. We played with the little kids, sung with the older ones, cooked, taught some lessons, read bible stories, built shelves, conducted science experiments, reorganized the library, and much much more.

Our stay was definitely different from India in many ways. The weather was much nicer, the kids spoke English, so we were able to communicate with them better and hold more solid conversations, and our accommodations were with the program coordinator, Natalie, and it felt a lot like home. It was a blessing in many ways. Being halfway through our trip, we are definitely starting to miss parts of home.

God really opened our eyes to a lot of spiritual darkness in this culture and community. This culture welcomes witch doctors, and they do a lot of taboo things. In America, there’s spiritual darkness for sure, but it’s definitely more abstract and it’s portrayed differently. We met a guy who told us his amazing testimony. His dad was a witch doctor, and he grew up around the demonic influences. It really opened our eyes to the complacency of it all. Like it’s just accepted here as normal and part of the culture. Which Satan definitely uses against everything that God is trying to do here in Mbale, and Uganda in general. God is Lord though, and He is so great. Because even though that guy was supposed to grow up and be the one to replace his father’s practices, God had a different plan. God grabbed him and is using him for His own glory. To me, it’s just a testament of how big our God is.

Along with being spiritually attacked, I was physically attacked by Satan this trip. I got sick with three different illnesses. On Wednesday, I got a stomach bug and it only lasted 24 hours, but it weakened my immune system. Two days later I was hit with achiness, sore throat, headaches, fever, the works. That was really hard because it hindered my ability to serve. I wanted so badly to be able to give my all, and me being sick was stopping me. Then that little sickness rolled into what I am still battling right now: coughing, sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, and a voice that sounds like a man. Satan is trying to defeat and frustrate me. However, it’s not going to work. Through my physical ailments, God has graciously given me strength and perseverance to push through and still be able to do whatever I have to do each day. But I still want to get rid of this sickness, so please be praying for complete healing! I am so blessed to have such encouraging teammates. They really have been serving me and praying for me while I’m battling this, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

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On Saturday, we got to deliver “buckets of hope”. We went in groups, with the children and took these buckets full of supplies and ingredients into the villages. There we were able to share an encouraging word and prayer with the people of the community. It was an amazing experience. What we had seen of Uganda up to that point was nothing compared to the way most of them really lived. It was definitely an eye opening journey. As I was carrying the buckets from hut to hut, because I couldn’t carry it on my head like everyone else.. believe me, I tried. It’s harder than it looks, and it hurts more than you’d think.. I fully realized what we were actually doing. We were literally carrying hope to people. In those buckets were enough supplies to last a month, and we were also sharing with them the Word of the Lord, which has no expiration date. People were so appreciative of what we were doing, they would try and give us gifts in return. Lots of us got roasted corn and some beans. One lady was given a chicken! It just really impacted me on how grateful they were for this one little bucket and for the time we spent praying for them and talking to them.

I am so thankful for my time in Uganda. The people there are really so kind. Always waving and smiling at us. We definitely stuck out, and people still stared at us like every other country, but it wasn’t an “intruder” stare. They were genuinely excited to see us. One day a couple of us girls went running, and by the time we got back home, we had picked up a little crowd of children who chased us shouting “Mzungu Mzungu” which means white person. They just wanted to talk to us, and literally beamed when we’d stop and hug them.

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God is definitely stretching me and pushing me in each country. One night Natalie asked our group to have someone speak at Friday Fellowship the next morning. As soon as she said that, I felt something stir in my spirit as if I was being led to talk. I fought God for a few minutes on that; going back and forth in my head and spirit, but God kept pulling verses and truths up to the forefront of my mind confirming that He would lead me if I would obey. Finally I interrupted the conversation going on, which I don’t even know what it was; I had tuned out to argue with God. And I said “dang it, I think I am supposed to speak tomorrow”. I had only a few hours to prepare, but the Lord definitely gave me a word. As I took the stage Friday, I was so nervous, because this was crazy. I don’t do this type of thing. Other people do. But I obeyed and even if no one understood what I was saying or got the message, God was wanting me to obey. And it was a lesson. A hard, uncomfortable lesson. But it was so fulfilling too. I still can’t believe I did that, but it wasn’t me. It was the Lord through me. And it just really showed me how much God can work in you and through you if you just allow Him to. How many times in my past have I crippled God’s plan because I wouldn’t do my part because it was too “uncomfortable”? Never again do I want to do that. God uses people. It’s his favorite way to reach others. He uses people to reach people. That’s one of the biggest things I am learning.

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Travel Processing

Leaving India left such an impact on all of us. And I was trying to process it many days after my blog about India. In fact, I’ll probably be processing this entire trip for years to come. However, I really wanted to write down a few things that God has been revealing to me, teaching me, and opening my eyes about, before I tell you all about Uganda. So I will be writing two posts back to back.

One thing God has been showing me is exactly how to love. And not love in the way America loves others. Because in the US, a lot of times, our love is conditional love. We love others because of what they do for us, or what they’ve said. We filter our love based on who we think deserves it. But God calls us to love and serve everybody, in everything. No questions asked, no strings attached, expecting nothing in return. Even if they don’t love us back. Especially if they don’t love us back. Those children at the orphanage humbled me so much in this. One day the kids received a treat. They all got a banana. This was special because all they normally have is rice and curry. Rice and curry. Rice and curry. Every meal, every day. So, fruit is such a treat. I received four bananas. Four. The kids kept giving them to me, even though I already had one, then two, then three. They just wanted to serve me and show me how much they loved me. It was the epitome of selflessness. They loved me how we are all called to love.

I definitely realized just how much life is not about me. Even though I wanted to look at these kids, see how much they were missing and feel sorry for them; I realized that I shouldn’t pity these children. I should envy them. Because at such young ages, these kids know what it is to fully experience God’s love and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. During prayer, they sing so loud and joyfully, even at 6am. They have all these made up dances and movement to songs of praise. They recognize the simplicity of Christianity. We as Americans grow up in this comfortable life. And we put value in things. These kids have absolutely nothing, and they put their value in God. Oh, how much more right they have it!

Another thing The Lord started working in me was to simply let my team love me. I knew that this was an area of my life that the Lord wanted to grow me in– but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard. It goes against everything I’ve been doing for years. I’m normally a very private person, and it’s hard for me to open up and trust people. Probably because it requires vulnerability, which I avoid at all costs and in all things. But for the first time, I started opening that door in my heart and I never even realized how desperately I needed it. My whole life I’ve usually been the one that people talk to about THEIR problems. I don’t mind that; I’ll take on other’s burdens, but I don’t like burdening others with my issues. Or letting them know what I’m struggling with. But I’ve realized that not only is that unhealthy, but it’s terribly wrong. We weren’t meant to carry everything on our own. We can’t do it. Which is why Jesus died for us, and why God created the church. For us to build each other up, to carry each other’s burdens, and to encourage one another through your faith and testimony. How am I to be an encouragement if I never let people get close enough to allow me to speak to them, and vice versa.

Thinking about how stressed I was at first coming here.. with the heat, all the bugs. Worried about lizards, bed bugs, how I am going to shower; I laugh. Because I was sent here to love these kids and to learn a little more about our great God. And everything worked out. None of those issues were that big of a deal.

I want to have the faith of those kids. To remember the simplicity of the gospel. To not have all the distractions that complicate my life and separate my heart and mind from my Savior. I want all the focus on Jesus. My prayer is that I continue to love like those little eight year olds, to have childlike faith.

All in all, India was amazing. I know God will be further revealing Himself and His glory to me. And I am so excited for that.

Namaste India

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This is the first time we’ve had internet in about 10 days. We left the Emmanuel’s orphanage today, and that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. So much I want to tell you all, and so little time. Words cannot accurately express everything I felt, saw, and learned. As we drove out the gates, with children waving and screaming bye until they could see us no longer, I realized how much these little kids had impacted my life.

This Christian orphanage is one of many in India. However, it’s one of the smaller ones with only about 150 kids at capacity right now. India is extremely poor, especially with their caste system. So even though not all of the children are full orphans, many are put into the care of orphanages because the parents know they will have a better life there: food to eat, roof over their head, an education. The children stay year round there, and if the family has enough money for summer, the kids can go spend a month of their summer at home. This particular year a lot of children were able to go home. We only had about 49 kids. Which was strategic on the Lord’s part because our team only has 7 members. Compared to last year, they had twice as many team members, and twice as many kids. But God had it all planned out perfectly.

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It’s definitely hot here. Which is one of the challenges I was preparing myself for. As well as, there’s no running water or AC. We took bucket baths, and had a fan. But we really never got used to all the insects, lizards, ants, and bed bugs crawling around. Literally, we all got bed bug bites. But sleeping and living life in those conditions made me more aware of my selfishness than I’ve ever been. We are so blessed in America, and yet we complain when the AC isn’t cold enough or the hot water ran out on our shower. These children here are dirt poor. But they are so rich. They’re rich in love, humility, selflessness, and servanthood. They were so eager to help and serve us. And we were supposed to be here FOR THEM.

Most of the children come from Hindu families, but some come from Christian. The ones that come from Hindu still take part in the three times a day prayer and all the Christian lessons and activities. And they usually end up becoming Christians, which is really cool hearing about them going home to tell their families about Jesus. One of the things that frustrated me the most was the language barrier. Not many of the kids knew English at all, and if they did it was very common phrases and words that they knew. I hated not being able to talk to them more. But it was cool seeing how we connected anyway, just through the Lord.

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One of the boys I got closest to was named Ravi. He was one of the kids that knew the least amount of English. One day he took my hand and pulled me into the “Hall”, where we all play and prayer time is held. He proceeds to go to a drawer a pull out two books. He hands me one and sits down. I look at it and it’s an English bible. He’s holding a Hindu one. He then shows me which verse to go to, and we read the bible together, in our own language. It was so cool. I was also able to connect to a bunch of the boys through this “action bible”. Which was basically a comic book version of the bible. With lots of pictures, but still surprisingly a lot of detail. Three nights in the row, I would read stories from the book. Pretty much just talking through the pictures. It was awesome finding ways to still communicate to them.

We were able to bless the kids in a few unique ways. One day we took them and all the staff out to eat at KFC. The only time the kids go out is when our team comes. And the last time any team came to visit them was last summer.. when last year’s global journey went there. So they really look forward to this. We also took them to a waterpark. It was a blast seeing them splash and play around all day long. They had so much fun. It was also our first drive out of the orphanage. The orphanage is surrounded by stone walls, and I sometimes forgot what was out there. But right outside those walls is a nation that worships man made gods and idols. There are literally idols on the street corners. As we drove past them to the waterpark one of the boys pointed at them and said, “Look, Victoria Auntie, satan!” They recognize the idols as what they are.. satan and his deceptive tactics to separate us from the one true God. All the children call us auntie and uncle. It’s a sign of respect. At first it took a little getting used to, but then it became the cutest thing ever.

It was really awesome being able to stand in the capital of India and declare the truth that Jesus is Lord. Which is something we did in our prayers everyday. This orphanage is a light in a dark place and they’re raising a generation of children who love the Lord. It’s crazy because we as humans need attention and loving care growing up. These kids don’t receive near the amount they should because of their situation. However, we got to see how great our God is, because he totally covers them in their need. And even though they should be unhappy and selfish, they’re some of the most carefree, joyful, serving individuals I’ve ever met.

All in all, this experience was amazing. I told you I couldn’t fully express everything, and I didn’t. I pray the Lord will let me come back, but if he doesn’t, these kids will always hold a special place in my heart. Pray for this ministry, and for these kids. We are all orphans until we come to Christ. He’s our father, our protector, our healer, and all that we need. Pray for this nation too.

“I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” John 14:18

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King of these people, Lord of this nation.

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This week is flying by. I can’t believe we only have two full days left. I am loving every second here. It’s such a beautiful city, even though there’s poverty all around. And I don’t even know how to describe the crowds! I’ve never seen so many people in one place, all the time. It’s literally like when everybody is trying to leave a concert. However, you don’t get away from it. There aren’t really any open spaces or free room. You’re constantly being pushed and there are people everywhere you turn. I’ve definitely learned to be a little more aggressive here. You can’t let one person go in front of you unless you are willing to wait for about ten to go by before you can squeeze on an escalator.

The more that I’ve learned about China, the greater I’m realizing how desperate this country is in need of Jesus. A lot of the Chinese people believe they are free. However, the government is pretty much still monitoring everything. There’s “religious freedom” here, but it’s restricted. There’s only one bible printing company in all of China and the government only allows it to print for the registered churches. That number allowed doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of the few registered churches, and much less the underground ones. That’s why what we are doing is so important.

It’s really cool experiencing the culture too. Sunday we went to a baptist church in the city. It was really small and.. mostly.. in English. Totally different than back home, but it definitely put some more things into perspective. I loved being able to experience worship in this nation. We’ve been to a few restaurants here too. Although there’s a language barrier, and a barely know what I’m ordering half the time, I’ve had pretty good experiences with the food. Hopefully that stays up. Today was Morgan’s birthday so we got to celebrate that here all together and we had a great time! Last night we went out to Hong Kong Island and got to see more of the city. Including this awesome light show and then just had fellowship by the harbor.

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Everything here is different. The people, the language, the food, the government. But our God is the same here as He is at home. I’ve just been declaring those truths over this nation. For the Lord to break chains, to rise up Christians into authority, to touch a people who don’t know they need to be touched. Keep praying for this nation. Pray for their hearts to be softened, and minds to be opened. Pray for my teams safety and favor as we continue to be the Lords hands and feet. The trips definitely drain you. Each one is over three hours long and we do two a day. Pulling heavy suitcases, and being on our feet the entire time. So pray for energy too. I’m so thankful the Lord has placed me here for this season. I know that He’s going to continue to grow me, as well as use me.

“He is far above every ruler and

authority, power and dominion,

and every title given, not only in this

world, but also in that which is to come”

Ephesians 1:21

HONGKONG

I know we have already left the States, however, I feel like training needs to be talked about a little. Whenever we got to New Braunfels, we were chomping at the bit. Every girl made the comment “I just wanna be on the airplane NOW”. We all fully recognized the need and neccessity of training, but we were coming in with the perspective of “we’ve been waiting this long, let’s GO!” I have to say though, I am so so so grateful for those three days of preparation. Not only did they pump me up more for the places we will be serving, but they really gave our team bonding a jumpstart. And also, the Lord has already used multiple sessions during training to begin to speak and soften my heart towards Him. He doesn’t need a plane ride to start his journey. He began then, and through it.

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But now we have arrived in Hong Kong and are doing great! I am wrapping up my first full day in the city as I type this. It’s 9:50 p.m. here, 13 hours ahead of back home. Jet lag is kind of getting to me, but I am forcing myself to stay awake until bedtime so that I can get used to the time change.

Last night our plane landed around 7:30 p.m. Our flight was delayed a little over an hour, but that was okay. Our team spent the time getting to know each other better. Once we got to our flat, a small two bedroom apartment-style place, we were pretty dead. However, our bodies betrayed us and woke us all up around 5 the next morning (they thought it was 4 in the afternoon).

We met our contact this morning. She led us through training. It wasn’t hard, just a lot of information and need to knows. She has such an amazing story. That’s one of the best parts so far. Hearing everyone’s testimony and seeing how great the Lord is, and how strategic His timing and plans are. It’s crazy to think that everyone we have met today through this ministry, God has been preparing for over 13 years in some, to meet me and my team for the tasks we are doing in this city. That’s a very long, detailed, and patient plan. And we are getting to step into it, be apart of it, and further it.

We started our first trip this afternoon. It was a little nerve-wracking at first. Everyone’s staring at you, because there really aren’t that many Americans here, unless they’re on business. Which is why we dressed up in business casual, but regardless we stand out. No one from our team was stopped today, which is an amazing feat! Praise the Lord! Just be praying that we have favor in everything we are doing and with all we come in contact with. The Lord is amazing and He totally has everything in control. But we are doing everything we can to help Him out and just take the proper and necessary safety precautions.

We don’t work on the weekends, so those two days will be a welcome break. There’s a lot of walking around going on and my feet are already starting to blister… :/ This weekend we can explore/tour the city! It’s so beautiful, surrounded by mountains and water. Everything here is lit up and in bright colors. It’s kind of funny, but it’s also fun. They told us that only around 8-10% of China here is a Christian, out of 1.4 billion. That means 1.26 billion aren’t. It’s just mind blowing. As I was walking through the extremely crowded train stations and just even around the city, my thoughts and heart were pulled by that fact. It makes me sad to think about, but I just kept lifting it up to the Lord. Despite all the walking and such it takes to do our trips, there is also a lot of downtime. Time that I spend just in full on prayer. These people aren’t even aware, but I am waging war right beside them on their very behalf. It’s so powerful, and God is doing stuff in that. I can’t wait to get up tomorrow and do it all over again! Some may think it’s repetitive or boring, but our God is a God of energy and hardwork. So I’m leaning on that strength if my mind and body start falling out of line.

That’s all for now. I miss each and everyone of you back home. Thank yall for praying for me. Be lifting up my team members as well: Curt, Jackie, Courtney, Morgan, and Hannah. We could all use your prayers. GOODNIGHT HONGKONG!