Friday, July 24, 2009

Goodbye all!

I'll be in Monterrey Mexico until August 1st. We're leaving the airport at around 7:00am tomorrow. I won't have internet or phone access until I'm back, but email, Facebook, or snail mail me all you want ... I love mail!!! Your prayers during this next week are appreciated.

Talk to you when I'm back!

Monday, July 20, 2009

100% and on our way!

Our team went to the last church last night, Lakeland Baptist in Lake Villa. Once we got there the pastor and Mr. Ruehl (my old piano teacher's husband) were there and helped us set up. Chelsea and I went to mess around on the piano before the service ... hehe ;) Our presentation went well, and Becca suprised us by speaking in Spanish to the church using our "evangaball". After the service the church had what they called a snack, but our group agreed it was more like a meal :) I hadn't eaten much that afternoon, so I was really hungry. We were able to talk to some of the members there and tell them a bit more about ourselves, as well as our trip.

I found out just a few days ago that we have made it to 100% full support and, thanks to Palos and Lakeland, have a few hundred extra to use to help the Lathams out in some ways they might need! God truly blessed us above and beyond what any of us were expecting.

This week is pretty much just cleaning up the house - as in my room and my desk area - and packing. I packed mostly everything Saturday, but still have a few odds and ends left to put in those suitcases, along with a few items to purchase at the store this afternoon. Wednesday night is our final mission meeting, where we'll answer any questions we might have and get and legal papers the teens haven't turned in yet. Friday night we plan on staying at the church starting at 9:00pm. We have all voted to stay up all night by playing games, eating Mexican food - compliments of Mr. Unger - and drinking lots of soda :) We leave at 3:30am Saturday morning with our flight leaving at around 7:00am. We should arive in Monterrey at around 11:45am. The weather forcast for the first few days is in the 100's, so it looks like a hot week.

Please pray for us, especially on our final week as we prepare to leave. I hope to write one or two more times before Friday. Email or Facebook me all you want to next week, but I won't have internet access until I come back.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Church and friends ...

Wednesday night our team went to FBC of Palos Hills for another presentation. We got there right on time, set our stuff up, and got into the program. I am so amazed at how the teens have been able to present their testimonies in front of a group of almost strangers. Practicing at our church first helped I think, but God had His hand in it as well.

After the service I was able to meet (finally!) my friends who I've only met over Facebook: Shannon, Emily, Nikki (those in the picture) and Meredith - awesome people! I also talked to Mr. Horner, the youth pastor at the church and Shannon's dad. He gave me an idea which I'm going to try and remember to do. When traveling to different cities in Mexico, pick up a rock and bring it home. Then whenever I see that rock it'll remind me to pray for the people in that city. Different, but hey - I'll give it a try!

I was also able to talk to my best friend Chelsea about an issue that has been bothering me since last summer, but much more strongly in the past few months. She gave me some good advice, and was really just there as a friend and encouragement to me through listening and talking. I feel much more confident now about this issue, and am glad I finally got this out. I talked about it to a lady over the computer, but it just wasn't the same; too difficult to get my true feelings across. Thanks to those who were praying for me.

On the way back home we stopped at McDonalds drive-thru for ice cream. Let's just say it was an interesting experience to be asked "crispy or grilled?" to an order of "I'd like a vanilla ice-cream cone" :) We also looked to see how much we had been able to raise, and the Lord blessed us with much more than anyone was expecting! Joe said we are now 98.4% of the way there. God truly is magnificent!!

Thursday afternoon/evening I went over to Caley's for a Gilmore Girls marathon. We had pizza, which was pretty good I must say, and smoothies, which were excellent. If you ever make one with peaches, leave the skin on and blend it with other fruits. Sounds nasty but it's actually quite tasty! It was fun to just get out of the house for a few hours, as well as to do something together with Caley for the first time.

Friends truly are a blessing. Without friends, life would be pretty difficult. I mean think about it: when you hear the best news ever or something super awesome happens to you, don't you want to tell someone about it? When you're going through a tough time or family troubles, isn't it just natural to want to go to a close friend who can help lift that heavy weight from your heart? Friends will be there, and it's always good to have one or two close friends. But many times those friends will let you down: sometimes intentionally (in that case, are they really your friend?), most times unintentionally. "There is a friend who sticketh closer than a brother", and that is Jesus Christ. He is the only One Who can ultimately lift that weight or burden off your shoulders; the only One Who will never ever let you down; the only One Who will carry you through good times and bad, without having to worry about turning around to find out He's not there. Jesus will never leave you. And once you have Jesus in your heart, there will be a peace that only Christians can understand. He will then put friends into your life, and because He loves you, He'll help you find those special people who could be there for a lifetime. There are so many I can think of right now that the Lord has placed in my life; some who will be here for a long time, others who will leave in a year or two, those who are leaving this fall, and still others who have already moved on - but they will always be in my thoughts and heart.

Monday, July 13, 2009

12 more days!

Usually I try to keep my blog updated every couple of days, but the past few weeks have been preparations for our mission trip, and that has taken up most of my time.

From June 22nd - 26th the teens headed up the Vacation Bible School at our church. We had a fun week filled with games, snacks, Bible lessons, an offering each day that went towards our trip, and so much more! It was quite a bit of work. All the teachers and leaders did a wonderful job, especially in giving a clear presentation of the gospel. There weren't any kids that I know of who got saved, but I know for sure God was working in the hearts of those kids.

Let's see, umm ... oh yeah! Last Saturday Joe, Chelsea, my sister and I went over to the Webb's neighbor's house. We pulled bricks from the lady's patio, washed them off, then put them back where they were again - as Joe liked to say, "A Chinese consentration camp. Dig a hole, fill it back up ...." Seriously though, we got a lot more accomplished than the lady was thinking. I didn't like the idea of this job at first; when I finally got to working it wasn't nearly as bad. I wouldn't want to do it all the time, but if asked again I probably would. We were each able to make a bit more money for our trip. Every little bit helps, especially seeing as we are only 12 days away from the big day!

This Wednesday we plan on going out to FBC of Palos Hills for another presentation. I have been hoping we would go to this church because there are a lot of my friends there, most of whom I've only met through Facebook. Plus, going to the last church made me want to go to more churches. I get nervous when talking in front of a large group of people, but I also enjoy speaking (yes, this may come as a suprise to many of you haha!). I like speaking my mind and letting others know how I feel about things.

Next Sunday night we will go to Lakeland Baptist Church for our final presentation. Then on the 22nd we all bring our luggage to church for "inspection", and we will be on our way on July 25th at 3:30am!

I will definitely write all about the trip once I get back. I'm bringing a notebook to write things down in each day, so I will hopefully be able to add lots of details. And, of course ... pictures :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Gift of Sight

Last night I had a Literature reading assignment on the author Fanny Crosby (1820 - 1915). As you know she was blind since she was 6 weeks old. That didn't keep her from doing the thing she liked best - writing. When she was only 8, she composed her first poem. She wrote over 8000 hymns and more than 1000 secular poems. Crosby also had a phenominal memory. Once, she thought up 40 poems over a period of a few years without ever writing them down, then later quoted them to someone to pen down. Imagine remembering all that!

In class today I learned something that was rather suprising to me. Crosby wrote so many words to songs we sing in church now, but never really got saved until she was 30 years old. Think of how much more the words to her poems and songs meant to Crosby after she trusted in Christ. Before they were just words; now they had feeling and touched her heart as well as thousands of others.

She had every reason to be bitter and rebellious. Instead, she recognized her blindness to be a blessing. "I believe the greatest blessing the Creator ever bestowed on me was when He perimitted my external vision to be closed." How we take our vision for granted! Each morning when we wake up we are able to see the sunrise, see the colors of the outdoors. When we go to school or to work we are able to read assignments given to us. Many don't like to read and find it a waste of time. Just put yourself in Crosby's place, and think of how much she desperately wanted to read. Yes, she had brail, but that takes time to learn. Next time you go to the store or the library, tell me how many books you see that are in brail form ... not many.

I also watched an episode of Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman. Little Bryan(left) jumped from a tree, hitting his head. Dr. Mike checked him over and found nothing wrong. A few days later he went over to help with the building plans of the new school house when he noticed his sight getting blurry. In an instant he couldn't see anything. Bryan was carried back to Dr. Mike, and eventually had surgery done on his head. For the few days that Bryan couldn't see he was very calm, but kept asking when the lights could go back on again; why he couldn't see his Ma or Colleen or Matthew.

It took a couple of days before Bryan became concious again, and the first thing he saw was the new schoolhouse the town had built. By the end of the movie I was in tears. The pain Bryan had to go through touched my heart and made me realize how blessed I am to have my sight.

Don't take sight for granted. God gave it to you: use it wisely. Don't fill your brain with the awful sights of this world. Read God's Word; if you are musically gifted, use that gift for God's glory. Read biographies of other Christians. Above all, marvel at the beautiful creation around you. God created it all in 6 days so we could enjoy it for a lifetime!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


This is July 1st. Chilly, but still July. Yesterday I realized what today means: I can now say we are going to Mexico THIS MONTH!! It's exciting because our whole group has been working endlessly in preparing for this trip - sending out many many support letters and emails, getting passports, which was a complete unexpected hassle on my part; doing odd jobs for friends and family, making casseroles to sell, getting VBS supplies, and now the Bauwens have gotten our flight tickets to and from Mexico! A mission trip takes a lot of work. It's not something you do on a whim - believe me, raising $1000 is harder than it seems! And I can't begin to imagine all the work Joe and Becca have gone through to get everything organized so we don't have any problems. Thanks!!

After tonight is when I am going to start planning what (and what not) to pack. I'm getting a carry-on bag from my friend Kay, and a second suitcase from my other friend Beth. Not quite sure how much room I'm actually going to need since I've never planned to go out of the country before. But we get a packing list from church tonight, so that will help a lot.

In the past few months I have really seen God working in this area of the mission trip. I was just reading my friend Lizzie's note on Facebook about "walking by faith". It was truly an eye opener. When the idea of a trip was mentioned a few years ago, I got my hopes up just to be dashed. Then, when the idea came up again towards the end of last year I wasn't too excited about it yet. Partially because I knew my mom would never let me go. Second because I plainly didn't think it would fall through ... but it did! It took me and others some time to convince my mom that everything would be safe for me to go, and she - eventually - let me go. All it took was patience and FAITH. I want to end this by quoteing part of what Liz said. Please think about this: "To doubt myself in these endeavors is to doubt God. 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' If God wants and wills something to happen then it's going to freaking happen! ... I need to stop doubting myself and God and do what I am passionate about."