ReLent, Part 1: Failing

I just have to say, I’ve really sucked at Lent this year. 
And I mean, really, really sucked. Miserably failed.
Two years ago, I observed Lent for the first time, and it transformed my life. Last year, I didn’t do it, and I missed it. So this year, I noted the date weeks before and planned to spend some time meditating on what I would fast from this year. Then, I promptly forgot all about Lent until Ash Wednesday. 
I spent the first week of Lent trying to decide what to fast from. Ice Cream? Too easy for someone who’s lactose intolerant. Coffee? I would die. Facebook? Need it for my job. Could I fast from stress? Busyness?  Worry? I wish. Then I’d actually have time to sit and think about what I actually should fast from. 
I finally decided on meat, “rich meats” to be exact. Several weeks ago, I started attending a Bible study on the book of Daniel. Beth Moore suggested fasting from “rich meats,” like Daniel and his friends did. She defined “rich meats” as beef, pork, not including chicken and fish. 
This might be far too easy to really count as a sacrifice, I thought. 
I was so wrong. 
I quickly lost count of the times I messed up … the corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day, the pepperoni pizza, the Ruben sandwiches, the bacon … so many times.
 I should be so much better than this. I can’t believe I messed up again. Maybe I should just give up. But this is so simple! Surely if I just try harder, I can get it together …
Another day, another failure. Frustration turned to anger. 
Finally, I collapsed on the couch, curled up in a miserable ball of failure, and cried.
I CAN’T DO THIS. 

It was sob and a prayer.


Yes. That’s the point. 

It was a still small voice. Not audible, felt, more than heard. 

And suddenly, the light began to dawn. That’s the point. In order for me to stop rushing and be still, I had to come to the end of myself. 


Now, I was ready to listen. 

But that didn’t mean I’d like what I’d hear. 


ReLent, Part 2: Fighting, is coming soon. 

About the name, ReLent. The prefix “re” has the idea of re-doing, starting over, starting again. In some ways, I started my Lent over at this point. I started following the She Reads Truth Lent series, and its changed everything. 

“Relent” also means to give up, and give in. So far, that’s been a recurring theme for me.

Have you ever observed Lent, or are you observing it now? (If not, you might be interested in the post I wrote two years ago, 4 Reasons To Observe Lent, Even If You’re Not Catholic.)

I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments (Please tell me I’m not alone in failing at fasting… K thanks!).

Exceedingly Abundantly

I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. An engineering job in the area of the valley we want to move to, a medium-sized, established, growing company,  doing design engineering as well as hands on work in the shop. Plus, such a variety of projects as to ensure boredom was impossible. It sounded tailor made for Brian.

The call to set up an interview time with this company came the morning after my sleepless night of wrestling with God. I didn’t know what to think. It seemed too good to be true, too perfectly timed to be possible.

After the second interview, with a third scheduled for the following Monday, I allowed myself to hope that this job was the one.

On Monday, when Brian called me 15 minutes after the interview was scheduled, my hand shook as I picked up the phone. “They offered me the job!” Brian announced. And I cried with relief and happiness.

The three months and three weeks of unemployment are over! Even after a week, I can still hardly believe it. Brian starts Monday!

Thank you, thank you, all of you who prayed for us! God answers prayer beyond our expectations!

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. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Thanksgiving, Love, Gifts, and Prayer

Part of me feels like counting blessings like barbecue pizza and candles is trivial, in light of some bad news I received yesterday, that I’ll get to later in this post. But really, all is a gift from God. And in times like these, I have to focus on finding beauty, even in small, trivial things, to remember that God is good.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I was thankful for…

Family
We had Thanksgiving dinner with some of our church family; our senior pastor, his wife and kids, and his extended family, as well as some of their friends. Later, we played games and socialized until my SIL arrived. 
Brian’s older sister drove over from LA to spend Thanksgiving weekend with us. She probably doesn’t appreciate this sort-of candid shot, but it’s the only picture I took all weekend with her in it. 
Food
Barbeque Blue Burger, Garlic Fries, and  Baked Potato Fries
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and Beet Salad
Pumpkin Pie Shake

Barbeque Chicken Pizza
Originally, I was going to fix a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner for the three of us on Friday. Instead, we decided to do some errands and go shopping, and eat at Joe’s Farm Grill. I think we made the right choice!
Sales and Coupons
So we did do a little shopping on Friday, at about two in the afternoon, so all the early morning crazies had gone to bed. Andrea gave me a coupon for a free signature item at Bath and Body Works with a purchase. Well, Brian had told me weeks earlier that he really wanted a peppermint scented candle. Bath and Body Works candles were buy one get one free, a really good deal considering that one usually cost $20.
   
So, I got Brian the peppermint candle and myself the evergreen one, and a lotion for free!
I also got good deals on some other things I wanted. While I don’t like the idea of going crazy on Black Friday and buying a bunch of stuff right after we were supposedly so thankful for all we had, it was a gift to be able to get good deals on some things that had been on my list for awhile. 
Relaxation
From Thursday to Sunday, we slept in, and I wore my pjs most of the morning. We also watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 and 2, and the special features. After those movies, we transitioned into the Christmas spirit with Elf, White Christmas, and A Miracle on 34th Street. 
While watching White Christmas, Andrea baked an apple crisp, and I made a pumpkin pie.

I read in Better Homes and Gardens that baking is a great stress reliever because it makes you focus on one thing at a time. Plus, eating the dessert is a good stress reliever too.
I’m also thankful for…
  • Christmas music, and that I can now play it loud and proud.
  • The Christmas decor strewn around the dining room, waiting to be put up.
  • Brian allowed me to go shopping, however unwillingly.
  • Brian told me at random times over the weekend that I looked cute, or “cute as a button.” How sweet 🙂
  • Getting to meet a high school friend of Andrea’s who lives in Phoenix. We all met up for lunch, and she was a super sweet girl and fun to talk to. Plus, it’s always nice to meet fellow Iowans, especially those who attended Iowa State University. 
  • I’m thankful that Brian is skilled at fixing cars. Not only does he keep our cars in good shape, but he was able to fix Andrea’s broken door handle over the weekend.
  • Brian mailed my residency application. It’s been a long time in the making, and I so appreciate that he’s handled the paperwork, putting it together, and getting it sent. 
  • Brian and I have had several good talks about life, work, and what we as a family should do. I love his heart for people and for serving God. 
  • When I emailed Brian yesterday to tell him that I was going to be very busy with final projects this week, he readily offered to help with dinner, dishes, and house cleaning this week. 
  • He is also doing a great job at finding potential houses and analyzing our finances.
  • Yesterday he got us pre-approved for financing. 
  • I’m very thankful that Brian understands how loans, credit scores, etc. work. Because when he tries to explain to me how they decide how much money to loan us, I don’t understand a word.
I’m most thankful that I have Brian to lean on. Last night I got a phone call from my dad, which usually isn’t a good sign. My Aunt Joy, who, as I’ve told you about before, was diagnosed with brain cancer, was in the hospital in critical condition. Her brain is swelling, and the doctors are trying to get it under control. 
My dad and my older sister said she has gone downhill fast. She’s very swollen from the steroids she’s been taking for the pain, she’s losing her short term memory, has difficulty speaking and walking, and started having seizures last week. 
I’m afraid that this might mean that we have less time left with her than we thought. 
When I got off the phone with my dad, Brian was there to hold me. I’m very thankful for him. And, I’m very thankful to those of you who follow me on facebook and let me know that you were praying. Thank you so much for your prayers. Please don’t stop. 

Join me at these blogs to practice gratefulness…


A penny for your thoughts? To leave a comment, click on “Links to this Post” below.

WOFC: Overcoming Fear and Having Children

Number 4 on my list of takeaways from day one of the Women of Faith Conference was “I will pray about when God wants us to have children.” That’s a big deal.

Two days before the Women of Faith Conference, Brian and I had discussed when we’d like to start having children… again. Those conversations never end well. I said I might like to go to graduate school. Brian said you have to pay for it yourself then. And what about kids? Before we got married, you said you’d have kids after you finished college. Can’t you go back to school and get a masters after the kids are grown up?

“Think about it babe,” I said. “If we have four children, three boys and a girl, and we have them two years apart, and they live with us until they’re 18, that’s 24 years until they’re all gone and I could go back to school. It make more sense to put in two years now, and then we have the rest of our lives to have kids.”

“But, if we wait that long, I’ll be so old, like 26. I’ll be like Abraham!” Brian exclaimed.

I laughed. “I don’t think 26 is quite as old as Abraham babe…”

“Well, I thought that once you finished school, we’d start a family.” Brian said. “And now it sounds like you want to be a career woman instead of a mom. I think you’re putting your career before your family.”

“Two years, babe! Two more years is all it takes to get a graduate degree!” I exclaimed.

Brian sighed. “I can’t talk to you about this anymore.” So that was that.

I still thought I was right, but the conversation bugged me. I felt guilty. Was I being selfish? Was I putting myself before family? Did I secretly want to be a career woman and not a family woman?

I’d never been the type that dreamed of her future children running around the house, that planned their names 20 years in advance, that oood and ahhhd over other people’s babies. I don’t even really like holding babies. And the whole idea of giving birth…doesn’t agree with me. The only time I’ve ever been car sick was when I was riding back from the Ladies’ Retreat, and when I woke up from a nap, all the ladies in the car with me where sharing their birth stories. Yep, I threw up. And I almost fainted.

But when I was at the retreat, and listening to Patsy talk about overcoming fear, I realized something. While I kept telling myself I wasn’t ready to have children, honestly, I hadn’t really prayed about it. Ever.

I was afraid that God would say yes, you are ready. So I hadn’t even asked. 

Patsy said that while she was recovering from agoraphobia, she had to ask herself, “Am I saying no to this activity, or going to this place, because I’m afraid, or because it’s not wise? If it was because I was afraid, I knew I had to make myself do it. The only way to overcome fear is to face it.”

Was I saying no to having children because I was afraid, or because it isn’t wise?

I have a lot of fears: I am afraid of being a bad mom. I’m afraid of being pregnant and giving birth. I’m afraid of having a human being dependent on me for it’s very life. But am I hesitant just because of fear, or because it’s not wise for where we are financially and for where I am in my life?

I realized that the only way I’ll know is to pray about it. So I’ve started praying that if God wants us to have children sooner than later, He’ll let us know. If He wants us to wait a few years, He’ll show us that too.

Please Pray

On Friday, my sister called to tell me my aunt was diagnosed with brain cancer. Aunt Joy has four children, ages 15 and under. This isn’t the first time tragedy has touched their family; one of my cousins was born with a heart defect and died only a few days after he was born. My uncle Rod was in a severe car accident. But through all of that, they still praised God. This trial is no different.

Yesterday, she was scheduled to have a biopsy. Before we heard anything about that, Brian and I got a text from my father-in-law. He had taken my mother-in-law to the ER at 2:30 am. She was having extreme pain in her abdomen and could barely move her legs. After a CAT scan and x-rays, they couldn’t find anything. They sent her to Des Moines for an MRI and meeting with a neurologist.

My FIL didn’t respond to Brian’s or my phone calls or texts, but in the early afternoon, I got a phone call from my dad. He said that the biopsy determined that the tumor was not cancer, after all. However, it was a very aggressive type of tumor, that had tentacles reaching into the back of her brain. It was already being to reproduce. The doctors said that she would need radiation for the rest of her life….which might not be very long. They said that the best case scenario is five years, the worst, one and a half.

My dad was very calm. He is a chaplain in the national guard, and he has been the bearer of bad news many, many times. “A year will give us a few more holidays where we can all be together,” he said, and his voice caught a little.

My Aunt Joy

I called Brian and told him the news between sobs. “I’m coming home. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

We sat on the couch with our arms around each other for awhile. Part of me wondered, why Aunt Joy? Of all the people in the world, why someone so compassionate, so loving, so focused on serving God and reaching the lost? Why a family that has already suffered so much?

Brian said, “Because He knows they can handle it.” And he’s right. While many people would throw up their hands, curse God and die, God knows that this family will respond like Job:

20Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

And even though Aunt Joy is young, she has touched so many lives. She hasn’t wasted her life or lived selfishly. Even if she is not with us for many more years, she will have accomplished more for God’s glory than many people who live to be eighty.

On the caring bridge page for my aunt, my uncle Rod said this:

“God can still do a miracle in and through Joy, and we will pray that way. We will also pray for HIS will for our family. We know that God is good. He is always good. We know that He is mighty, and we just know that He is going to do mighty things through this. We want to be very, very clear…we are giving God ALL of the glory and honor…we are still praising Him…we are still loving Him. What we want more than anything is to be used to bring HIM glory.”

It wasn’t until late afternoon that we got an update on Brian’s mom. She was going to spend the night at the hospital and have an MRI in the morning. My FIL was discouraged; her case had baffled four doctors already.

Us with Brian’s parents

Our senior pastor invited us over to his house last night, and shared some scripture and encouragement with us. He reminded us that God protects His children, and that no matter what the doctors say, nothing can harm them until God is finished using them on earth. They are held in His hands, sheltered under His wings. We read Psalms 91:

14″Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;   I will protect him, because he knows my name.15When he calls to me, I will answer him;   I will be with him in trouble;   I will rescue him and honor him.16With long life I will satisfy him   and show him my salvation.”

Today I still have tears, but I also have peace.

Our senior pastor gets free plane tickets from a pilot who goes to our church. He gave us a free plane ticket that he wasn’t going to use, since it expires in October, and called the pilot. “Captain Mike” was able to get us another free ticket, so that Brian and I can fly standby home to Iowa on Thursday.

Would you pray with us? Please pray for…

  • My cousins, Lydia, James, Ellie, and Anna, and my uncle, Rod. 
  • My dad and uncle Duke, Aunt Joy’s siblings.
  • My Nana and Papa, my grandparents. 
  • All of my extended family
  • Safe travel for Brian and me
  • That we will be a blessing to our family
  • Healing for Aunt Joy, if it is God’s will
  • Healing for my MIL, if it’s God’s will
  • Peace for both of them
  • Wisdom for the doctors
Could you say a prayer for them in the comments here? It would be such a blessing to me. Click on “links to this post” to leave a comment. 

How to Encourage During Tragedy

Today’s encouragement story is from another good friend of mine, Ami. I hope you’re challenged to pray for people you know, and encouraged that your prayers really do make a difference!

Encouragement – when I think of that word I think of prayer and how one of the best times I’ve ever been encouraged is when people tell me that they are praying for me. I think of the time in my life when that was the best thing possible to do – pray.

It was fall 2009, I had been at college for about a month when I received the news that my best friend, Ben, had committed suicide. It seemed that my word had came to a crashing halt. At the age of 18 and 5 hours from home and family and friends I was numb. The first thing that was done after I had received the news my dorm supervisor and my room leader both prayed. At the time I didn’t see it as encouraging but as annoying. I was angry, upset, and just wanted to get home. But instead I was sitting in the deans office hearing theses words that now I think back on as comfort. Comfort in the fact that these two woman hardly knew me but were sitting here trying to comfort me and pleading to God to comfort me.

My parents where on their way to get me and I felt like I was alone. I wasn’t suppose to tell anyone because they wanted to make sure that Ethan (my other best friend) found out before rumors started. I turned to by oldest brother, Nathan. Nathan is 10 years older than me and had moved out when I was 10 so we never really close. But through tears I told my brother of the news I had heard only minutes before. Nathan’s heart broke. He cried with me and through tears we both prayed on the phone together. He also poured out his heart pleading for comfort for me, my friends, Ben’s family, and for mine. His words were of just pure encouragement although they were filled with tears. 
I returned home and was once again comforted by family and friends. Friends who prayed with me. Family members who stayed up with me while I cried and prayed for me. I had e-mails coming from back at college, teachers who I didn’t even know, the President of the College, students who I never met, and of course friends I had made in the past weeks. All of the e-mails held the same words “I am praying for you.” 
Prayer is one of the ways we communicate with God. But prayer is also a way we are able to encourage. I had never thought that people would come together and pray for me. I often think I can do things on my own. But then I remember back to the weeks after Ben’s passing when I was encouraged through others’ prayer. When people came together and prayed for God to comfort me. The encouragement of prayer lifted me when I was lower than I had ever imagined. Prayer is the greatest form of encouragement that I could ever imagine.
To this day I feel that if I really want to encourage someone I need to start praying for them. God hears our prayers and acts upon them in his time and according to His will.

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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place (2 Chronicles 7:14-15).

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer (Psalm 4:1).

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).

Ami is a 20 year old journalism student who blogs about this and that, photos, and life at Love Like a Child.

When Life is Full

Just a couple weeks ago, I wrote “When Life is Easy,” and described the emptiness I felt from just existing every day, doing the same work/school, eat, sleep routine. Brian and I both felt like we needed to do more. We needed to be serving, giving, something that mattered. We were helping with the youth group, but that just meant that we sat in the back row and listened every week.

Well, even as I was writing that post, God was answering our prayer. Not in the way we expected, or, even would have wanted, however. Our youth pastor resigned suddenly. He had been directing Vacation Bible School (VBS) and the youth group was actively involved with helping teachers, games, and performing a daily drama. VBS was only a few weeks away. Would we still have VBS? Who would take over the youth group?

A few minutes after we learned that the youth pastor resigned, Brian got a phone call from one of the other pastors. He wanted to meet with us the next evening after the youth group practiced for the drama.

Brian led the practice, and afterwards, the pastor explained that VBS was still on, and people had stepped up to take over the preparations. He asked us what we were thinking in regards to leading the youth group. Did we want to do it? 

Brian and I had discussed it already, and honestly, we were nervous about saying yes. Did we know enough? Were we old enough? We didn’t go to Bible College or get a seminary degree, were we qualified? But despite our apprehensions, we knew that we really wanted to do it. Although the situation was not what anyone would have wished for, the timing was perfect. We had asked God for a way to minister, and now there was one. We decided that if the pastor asked us to lead it, our answer would be yes.

But we’re not all on our own, thankfully. The pastor and his wife have 10 years of experience working with teens, and they assured us they wouldn’t try to dominate and make us do things their way, but they would be a resource for ideas, any questions, and help. Brian will be discipled one on one on a regular basis, and I’m thinking about finding a mentor for myself too. I know from experience that it’s easier to pour into other people when you’re being poured into.

This all happened right before my trip to Iowa, so I missed the first time Brian taught Sunday School and Sunday night youth group. The first Sunday we were back was promotion Sunday, so Brian and I got to stand up in front of the church with the youth group and talk about what we’d done in youth group over the last year and what our future plans were. That was hard! Brian did all the talking, but I was nervous for him, because we hadn’t been there very long and didn’t know all they’d done over the last year, and we weren’t sure what our future plans were yet! Brian did very well, and it helped that two of the teens volunteered to talk about what they’d been learning too.

Last Sunday was the first time we got to sit down with all of them and talk about what they wanted to learn about and what they liked to do for youth group activities. We put together a list of service projects and fun stuff we could do, as well as some topics for Sunday School, youth group, and small group. We still have to decide when we’ll do what, but first, we have to get through VBS.

That’s this week. Saturday we spent all morning and much of the afternoon at church decorating, practicing the drama, working on costumes, etc. Sunday afternoon and evening was the same story. Today was the first day. Our goal was to get up to 60 kids, and we had that many already! I help with registration, lights and sound for the drama, and wherever people need me.

It was a busy and somewhat chaotic morning, but I can tell the children are LOVING our outer space theme! I hope I can get some pictures of the amazing decorations to post. And I’ll post pictures of the teens doing their play over here, on the blog I doing for the youth group!

So yes, life is full to the brim right now. Brian and I are trying to exercise consistently, I’m working every day at VBS, we’re making plans for the youth, I’m blogging on two blogs and working on the church website, and trying to get some writing done on the side. This weekend is our first year wedding anniversary, so we have a special weekend away planned!

I know this is a long, picture-less post, but thanks for bearing with me. By the way, for some reason, the “Comment” link isn’t showing up at the bottom of my posts anymore, and I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get it back. But, until then, just click on “Links to This Post” or on the post title to see the comment section.

I know Brian and I would both appreciate your prayers. Please pray that we would have wisdom and skill, that we would manage our stress better, and that we would be good examples to follow. Please pray for the teens as they go through this very sudden transition, and as they help with VBS this week. Pray for our VBS too, our hope is that many kids will be positively impacted.

Thanks again for bearing with me through this long post! I appreciate time and your kind comments so much!

If My People Pray…

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

“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

Today is the National Day of Prayer. Take a moment, wherever you are, to pray today.

National

  • Lift up our leaders, our President, Congressmen, Representatives, judges and lawmakers. Pray that they would seek wisdom from God and strive for integrity.
  • Pray for our troops’ safety, at home and around the world.
  • Pray for all those in the midst of loss and grief as a result of tornadoes, floods, and wildfires. 
  • Pray that our nation would seek the Lord.
International
  • Pray for persecuted Christians around the world.
  • Pray for missionaries all over the world, that they would be bold and effective.
  • Pray for all those living in extreme poverty, orphans, and widows, who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Pray that God would provide and protect them, and give them hope.
  • Pray for Japan’s recovery. 
  • Pray for Haiti’s recovery.

Church

  • Pray that Christians around the world would have a spirit of unity and love. 
  • Pray that churches would reflect Christ to their cities and be His hands and feet.
Individuals
  • Pray that marriages would be strengthened, that marriages would reflect the selfless relationship between Christ and the church and extend the same unconditional love and forgiveness to each other that Christ has for them. 
  • Pray that individuals would feel compassion for others and seek to serve them.
  • Pray for individuals struggling with an addiction, that they would find freedom through Jesus’s power. 
Personal
  • Please pray for a family in my church that was in a bad car accident. The two kids have had surgery for internal injuries, but what really makes it hard is that their mom is visiting family in Korea, and isn’t able to come back yet. Pray for peace and healing for their family.
  • Please lift up Heather, her husband, and their other children as their daughter Emma passed away on Good Friday. Emma was truly a miracle child. You can read Emma’s story here
  • Pray for Brian and I, as we make plans for the next few years, that we would seek the Lord in everything. 
Your turn! 
Share your prayer requests in the comments below, and let us pray over them. I would love to support and encourage you in this way.

Future Missions

Hello all,

So I’ve been meaning to tell you about the international dinner we, the prayer and world vision team, put together a couple weeks ago, and the impact it had on me.

Our plan was to have several stations, one for each of our international partnerships; Australia, France, Latin America, East Asia, 4J (code name, to protect the believers there), Ghana, as well as one station for America, and then the Hidden People. Students were designated to each station , and each station was decorated along the theme of the country, with some glaring differences.

  • Latin America only had chips and soda to eat, which symbolized their empty, unsatisfying religion. 
  • Ghana was given baby food, representing that there were numerous believers there who lacked spiritual maturity. 
  • 4J was given a box of stale popcorn, tightly taped shut, to symbolize the difficulty for them to access religion, and even then, it’s old and dead.
  •  Australia and France were given real food; chicken, baked potatoes, etc, but it was all cold. 
  • In East Asia, the students were crammed into a small place enclosed by roped off chairs, with barely enough room to sit down, and they weren’t allowed to talk except in whispers, with only rice to eat. 
  • America, on the other hand, had a lavishly decorated table, with more food than they could possibly ever eat, with staff to wait on them hand and foot. 
  • The hidden people were put upstairs in the church, in a small attic, with only water.

The goal was for the Americans to realize that they had the good food, and they could share it with people in the other countries. After a person was given solid food to eat, they could then leave their country and share solid food with others. Hopefully, someone would notice that people were missing, and go looking for the Hidden people. When they were found, they’d have to get past the guards, and teach the people how to eat before giving them solid food.

All of us who were on the prayer and world vision team had to be Hidden People because we knew what was going on. Several random people were also designated as Hidden People with us. We were led to the attic, and told that we could not talk at all. About 30 of us were crammed into the tiny attic. We were so tightly packed in that we had to take turns stretching out our legs. It had been 105 degrees the last two days, and the air conditioner was un-plugged. When someone was about to plug it in, our staff guard told her, “Don’t even think about it.”

I was aware of what the conditions were going to be, but I was really unprepared for how miserable it actually was. All of the students were simply told that it was an international dinner, which conjured up images of a buffet of concoctions from around the world which could be sampled at ones discretion. This was not at all what they were expecting. Water, crammed conditions, and intolerable heat. The staff told them that everyone else was in the gym eating, and probably didn’t even notice we were gone. We decided to try to make as much noise as possible in case they were looking for us. We clapped, we stomped, we pounded on the walls, we drummed on water bottles, and we whistled.

I started whistling “Amazing Grace.” It’s classic, familiar strains brought a sense of peace and hope into the desperation of the situation. We’d been waiting for almost two hours, and no one had found us yet. The tune caught on, and soon almost all of us were whistling “Amazing Grace.” That’s when it struck me: yes, we are trapped in a very hot, uncomfortable room for a few hours. But we have hope! We know eventually we’ll be found or they’ll let us out. We can pray, we can sing hymns, and we have something bigger than ourselves to draw strength from. But what about real Hidden People groups? They’re trapped for a lifetime, actually, an eternity, without hope! They don’t have the grace that we’re singing about. Is anyone even looking for them?

After two hours, some people found us, but only one girl could get past the guards, and she didn’t bring any food. At that point, the staff called the rapture, so the game was over. We all went to the gym, where we were given pizza. Then began the debriefing time, where the game was fully explained, and one staff and one student from each station could share their experience.

It was so interesting to hear how different people responded. Of the Americans, one guy realized immediately what was going on. He’s a quiet, shy person, but he wouldn’t sit down and eat until he found out how he could get to the other countries, and he didn’t stop sharing the entire game. Another guy who was an American ate an entire chicken by himself. The Latin Americans were overlooked, just because it looked like they were having a good time, and because they were so close to America, which is exactly what happens in reality in missions. The French were offered warm food, but they rejected it. They were distracted by the activities at their own table and never noticed what was going on in the rest of the gym. The Australians were much the same way, but a few of them caught on to what was happening and shared food. Very few people noticed that others were missing, but didn’t take initiative to look for them.

One by one, students stood up and shared how they never even thought of Hidden People groups before, or missions, and especially not going themselves, but after their experience, they were going to start prayerfully considering it. When a few nights later we had an information session for each of our partnerships, almost the whole project came.

I personally had forgotten my plan of going on a stateside missions trip this year, and going overseas next year. I’d gotten too caught up in school, Brian, and my plans. Through this experience, God reminded me of how much I had desired to go to France or Africa next summer. I’ve started researching summer projects, and there are two 6 week long ones to France, and several 1 week long trips. In Africa, there’s a project in Ghana for two weeks, and one in Kenya for three. Right now, I’m just praying about all of them. I know that if it is God’s will for me to go, He’ll allow for all the scheduling around summer classes, having a job, and other events to work out. I just need to trust him and be willing to make sacrifices if that’s what it takes.

New Job!

Hi everyone!

I guess I didn’t tell you, but my troubles at work didn’t get any better. With permission from the leaders, I respectfully quit. I took Kali and a formal letter of resignation with me. Frank seemed pleased, and couldn’t help but add in parting comments about letting customers pick cheese. His wife cried. I felt really, really bad for her.

I applied to Walmart last Saturday, and after three days of going back and forth, trying to get in touch with the right person, computer difficulties, and one road block after another, I am finally hired at Walmart! I’m actually really excited to work there, all the personnel that I met, which was quite a few, were very friendly. I’ll be working in Dairy and Frozen Foods, along with two other guys from Campus Crusade! I was just hired today, and so now I’m waiting for the results of my drug test, and then I’ll have a two day orientation before starting work, probably sometime next week. I’ve already bought some navy blue shirts! From Walmart, go figure.

It was a long and frustration process. I had to keep going back day after day, walking 20 minutes each way in the scorching heat and oppressive humidity. I feel like I’ve practically lived there this week, I’ve spent so much time there perusing the isles while waiting. God has been good; encouragement always came in some unexpected form. One day an elderly couple gave me a ride home on the back of their golf cart. This morning, when I went in at the time my interview was supposed to be, a lady power-walking struck up a conversation with me as she passed me, just asking me if I was headed to work. When I replied that I was actually headed to an interview at Walmart, she said all I’d have to do was flash “that bright smile,” but she’d say a prayer for me! That was so unexpected, and so encouraging.

Thank you to all who have been in prayer for me! Where God guides, He provides, and through your prayers, He has shown us all once again that He is in control!