We just returned from some great ministry time in a village about 40 minutes from where we’re staying. It was amazingly fruitful even though the woman we shared with was not quite ready to accept Jesus. My time is short before we go out for some dinner and then I’ll have some time to myself this evening before going to bed early. Tomorrow we start bright and early; we leave here for another village at 7:30. 

We are currently in Siem Reap, a city in the north east part of Cambodia. We arrived here from Phnom Penh on Sunday after a very fast paced 5 days there. While in the capital city we primarily worked with an organization called Precious Women who ministers to women who work in beer gardens, karaoke bars, and bars and entertain men for a living. Precious women seeks to give these women another option and provides education and training for them if they do decide they want to find another form of work for themselves.
Thursday morning we put on a refreshment workshop for the staff of precious women and we able to bless and serve them and hear their hearts for the women that they are serving. We also helped to plan a fellowship party for women working in bars for the next day. That evening we went out with Precious women staff and talked with the women working in beer gardens and invited them to the fellowship party.

The following day we spent the day at the party preforming a drama, I was able to share a piece of my testimony with the women, and the women later began sharing bits and pieces of their stories. It really was a powerful day both for us as a team and for them.

Saturday was by far the best day so far for me. We joined up with a husband and wife who were called here (by God) from Singapore to church plant amongst the people living in the slums. We were able to go out for about an hour and a half and go house to house sharing the Gospel with people. The first guy we met was a boy who was in 11th grade who had already accepted Jesus but wanted to know more about baptism. We told him some more about it, offered to baptize him but he wanted to get baptized at the Korean church he’s been going to….Praise the Lord! He then brought us inside after we asked him if there was anyone in his family who didn’t already know Jesus that he would be willing to let us talk with. We were able to share and talk with his mother for quite some time but she was not open to hearing the Gospel as she had once prayed to accept Jesus and then got a horrible eye infection of some sort and believes it was her ancestors punishing her for believing in Jesus.
I also got to share with a young girl, she was 19, and was married. She was very worried that her husband would eventually find himself at the bars with the women who work there. It really was more eye opening to see just how deep and far the sex industry runs in this country.

The slums were amazing for me for this reason: I love the poor. They are easily, always the most hospitable people no matter where you go. They may not have anything to give you but their time, but they give it in abundance. To be able to sit with the poorest people who live in that city really just solidified for me the great call that God has on my life to love and serve the urban poor.

On Sunday we took a 6 hour bus ride here and since then we’ve been out to a village and shared the Gospel. I was amongst a group who saw a man give his heart to Jesus.
Yesterday was our day off. We saw Angkor Wat and went to the market for some shopping time. Now THAT was an experience.

There have been some many wonderful, miraculous things that God has done in this last week or so but unfortunately I don’t have time to get it all down!

Please continue to pray for signs and wonders, salvations, and rest, refreshment, and health for our team.

I do believe I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. It’s my sincere intention to post an actual update some time soon. Life seems to happen so quickly and pass by at rocket speed sometimes. I can’t seem to keep up or make sense of much of it. All I can say for now is that I’m exactly where God wants me and He has me on an incredible journey. He’s looking deep inside of my heart and is doing things to change me from the inside out.

Much more to come.

Apparently, Hurricane Earl is all over Massachusetts except for here. Hmm. It’s nasty and foggy out and it’s misting but no terrible wind or driving rain. I was trying to remember the last hurricane that hit us here and either there haven’t been any recently or I’ve blocked them all out as far back as 1991. The “Perfect Storm” is the last one I remember, but I’m sure there have been others since then. I remember standing at the window, looking out into my backyard and crying because the area around my swing set was flooding. Tragic, right? And we rode around in the minivan my dad used for work to trick or treat that year. If only I could be 4 again.

In other news, Polo is tomorrow and I’m not even sure who’s joining Andrea, Robby and I but I know we’ll be there, snacks, water, blankets and all. The school year at Brandon officially begins on Wednesday…only 2 more days of “vacation” for me and the boys. It’s a little weird that my entire life isn’t packed in the guest room right now, waiting to get packed into the car and on down to Newport. But surprisingly, I’m not all that upset. I was ready to move on past college life when it was time to graduate and I still feel that way now. I just miss everyone. Andrea and I spent the afternoon together yesterday…we went and got my tattoo finally. I’ve only been talking about it for a year.

I’m listening to Jeremy Camp’s new CD, “We Cry Out: The Worship Project” at the moment and I’m pleasantly surprised by these first 2 songs I’ve heard thus far. He was really cool when I went and saw him with Esther out in Cali in March. He was super down to earth and totally humble and listening to him talk about his late wife and his current wife and children was a blessing. It’s amazing that we’re all still left standing at the end of the day. Life isn’t easy by any means, it’s a wonder we get through it at all and can say that we’re happy or that we have joy. I mean, my “happiness” is so fleeting most of the time but I think I’m beginning to find that joy that we can only find in Christ.

What a journey it’s been though, in search of that joy. In search of “happiness” and in search of true, sacrificial love. The best part though, is that the journey is no where near being over. I still have years and years and years and eternity beyond that to experience all of the love that God has for me and all of the freedom and joy in Christ. I’ve only just begun this roller coaster ride of searching out God’s heart and His truth and experience His deep, deep love for me. It’s really been an eye opening couple of weeks, and the summer as a whole has been such a different season for me. It’s been a struggle to keep my head above water at times, while at others I’ve found myself just floating, soaking in the sunshine.

Best revelation I’ve had in a while: God is no where near being finished with me yet.

I guess I’ll go through a little bit of everything as far as an update is concerned, so be warned, this might not make a ton of sense.

So I find myself at the end of yet another summer. Labor day is a week from today which will officially mark the end of “summer vacation” but I will not be returning to school for the first time since I was like, 3. I’m not all that upset about it, but it is weird. A year ago I was planning, with Andrea, a trip down to Newport for the Saturday of Labor day weekend to meet Robby for the first time. Thank God I didn’t know then that one year later we’d be engaged and planning our wedding and looking for apartments in Jamaica Plain cause I would have been much more nervous than I was going down there. With my wing-woman in tow I went to spend the most memorable of weekends in Newport.

On a bit more reflective note, this summer has truly been the summer of growth that I thought it was going to be. That isn’t to say that the growing ends with the summer, it will inevitably continue for the rest of my life on this planet but I think I can honestly see growth that I’ve made individually with God, and growth that Robby and I have made together with God. But the growing pains are still present, only now, I feel less of an urgency. As the months have progressed I’ve gotten less impatient with my current imperfection and have finally truly been able to see that growing with God and being perfected by Him and through Him will take a lifetime and beyond.

Smack in the middle of all of this growing and changing and asserting my independence and individuality has been a huge move of the enemy too. I should have seen that one coming, right? Unfortunately, I didn’t. It wasn’t until I was deep in it that I saw it and at that point, I didn’t know how to get out. But I’m out now, praise God! And now I will walk in the freedom that has been given to me by my Savior as He draws me deeper into His love for me; as I begin to see myself as He sees me–as His Beloved.

What a great day. Fantastic things about today:

  • I got to sleep til almost 11
  • I met Andrea for lunch
  • I bought my first “real” pair of sunglasses
  • I spent tons of time with Andrea and her sisters
  • We went out on the boat for a while
  • Emily’s homemade, delicious pizza
  • New nail polish color on my toes
  • KLove on iTunes

It’s that whole “back to school” season now and I’m fighting the urge to buy crates and new shampoo and sheets and air fresheners for the house/room/dorm that I will not be going back to in a month. I’ve done back to school shopping every year for like 17 or 18 years but now I can’t. It’s quite strange. So I bought nice sunglasses instead. I always said that when I graduated college and had a real job my first “big” purchase would be nice sunglasses so, that’s what I did today.

Also, my week in Virginia was fantastic. It was incredible being with Robby 7 days in a row. That won’t happen again until we say “I do” so I drank it in. Also, something that he and I are slowly discovering together is just how different men and women are. So different that I’m really wondering how in the world it all works. I think it’s really funny to see the differences and then to think about the fact that God is all of those things. The biggest thing I’ve come to see is just how relational women are. We talk a lot. For me, knowing that I’m being heard by another person, no matter how mundane the topic, is nice. And I haven’t had much of that this summer. Being with Andrea today was great. Mostly because I love her and I missed her and I don’t need to hide with her. I don’t even really need to try with her. It is all just out there, and that’s so awesome.

I hate it when I feel like the person I’m talking to isn’t listening. Especially if what I’m saying is close to my heart or if I’m answering a question that I’ve been asked and whoever asked me decides to tune out my answer. So annoying. That’s something that’s always bothered me, but I think I’m beginning to understand why that is. I can’t quite put words to it yet, but I’m getting there.

I’m such a work in progress. It’s frustrating sometimes, seeing just how far I am from the mark but looking back at where I was it seems like I should be so much further along then I am. The beauty of it all is that we are all a giant mess, a BIG work in progress and the One who is perfecting us knows exactly what He’s doing and He knows that one day we will be perfect as He is perfect. And He will never, ever, ever give up on me.

Tomorrow will be an interesting day for sure. Robby will arrive here bright and early to begin our 10(ish) hour drive down to his parents house in Virginia. We’ve already made the journey once, for Christmas, so I’m not too concerned. Back in December, the weeks leading up to the 10 hours in the conversation box (read: car) was nerve wracking. I was in a panic over the drive itself and then meeting his family for the first time. I never actually had a full blown anxiety attack over it, but I was close. So this time around, I’m not too concerned about any of it. The car ride isn’t going to make or break our relationship the way I thought it would last time. And I don’t need to worry about “first impressions”…Praise the Lord. I’ll spend some time out by his parents pool reading, swimming and just relaxing for the most part. That’s about all I have on my agenda. I know we’re going to head down to Richmond to visit his sister which I’m pretty amped about.

A week away is just what the doctor ordered at this point. I think the major difference between this summer and last summer at work has been the fact that last summer I was really just getting my feet wet. I didn’t really know how the place worked all that well and I wasn’t sure really how to approach the boys when they were flipping out. This time around I think I have a wee bit of experience and have actually focused on building some healthy relationships with some of the boys. The verbal abuse doesn’t catch me off guard as is might have last year. It’s fairly easy to take in stride because it isn’t about me. They aren’t really mad at me when you get down to it. It’s never personal, although they try to make it personal. Having said that, it does get a little tiring. “It” being staying present, really listening to what they have to say, and just being a real human being who truly cares about what’s being said.

One of the boys tossed chairs around the room for 20 minutes this week. It was mildly amusing seeing that the chairs weren’t being thrown at anyone in particular and that I sat there and continued coloring my dinosaur picture as if nothing was going on. Earlier that day, I’d found myself skipping down the hall with another one of the boys, and later, we did the hokey pokey in the room in the hope that the day would “turn around.” Turns out, it was to no avail. Amidst the craziness that each day seems to bring, along with the outright anger being thrown in my direction at any given moment, I find myself having a grand ol’ time. Because what else can you really do but laugh at the end of a crappy day?

There are probably 10 genuinely funny stories I could tell about things that one of the boys said or did over the past couple weeks. But I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say, work isn’t always all bad. It isn’t always angry boys swearing at me because I tell them that they aren’t allowed to have any more gimp for the week because they were just whipping another kid with the gimp they had. I think, for the most part, at the end of each day I could probably tell you at least one good thing that happened, no matter how awful the day may have been.

So yeah, I’m kind of worn out. Yeah, I’m tired. Yeah, getting sworn at or smacked or having pencils or [insert object here] thrown at me isn’t what I call fun. But I love where I’m at right now. I love that these kids are probably having a bigger impact on me than I’m having on them. I just need this week to chill so that I can go back next week and keeping giving them all i’ve got and not have  a short fuse.

Not to mention the fact that when I get back Andrea will be back in the country!!!!!  I’m super excited for that.

Today was a success. I can finally do something with gimp. I’ve been telling a few of the boys for a couple weeks now that I wanted them to teach me how to do something and today I learned the Chinese staircase. I messed it up a plethora of times and had to have [insert boy’s name here] fix it for me. Overall, it was a thrilling experience. Ok, maybe not thrilling, but the afternoon did fly by.

Monday is over. Whew.

This morning I stumbled upon 2 Corinthians 4 and really just felt encouraged by it. Paul writes, in verses 7-12:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus; sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

The part that really got me was, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” …For all of the obvious reasons, like, how comforting is it to know that in my sufferings, Christ does not leave. Or no matter how many times I fall down, I will not be destroyed. I cannot be destroyed because as Paul so eloquently writes in Romans, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (8:1, NIV) But more than just those little comforting thoughts was the fact, the revelation that in the future that is coming we will be hard pressed on every side, we will be incredibly perplexed at the things going on in the world, there will be immense persecution, and we’ll find ourselves struck down by immense evil.
Further on in 2 Corinthians 4, Paul writes:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (16-18, bold mine)

And THAT is the hope of glory. THAT is everything in a nutshell. THAT is what we must hold to in the times that are coming…in the times that have already begun. Things here are so very temporary and so very trivial compared with what’s to come; streets paved with gold, earth restored to Eden, man fully restored…the world without sin, or evil, or death, or war. Now I need to hold fast to those truths and push forward.

I realized while I was driving home tonight just how much I’ve missed having girls to talk to on a very regular basis in the flesh. It was nice to just have some “girl time” if you will. Then I realized just how little time I’ve spent with females lately. I’ve hung out with Maggie a decent amount of times so far this summer (thank God) but other than that, I’ve been surrounded by males. It hit me that I’m in contact with an outrageous number of boys/men every day and only a handful of women…ok, 3 women. Every few days I may have contact with like 7 other women. But really, the majority of my time is spent with loads of testosterone.

In all seriousness though, I have really been craving some female companionship, if you will. It’s been tough not having Andrea and Allyssa to come home to and I think I’m still, almost a year later, adjusting to the fact that I can’t walk around the corner and have Esther at my disposal at any given moment. That whole “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” thing is really true. Until recently, I didn’t realize just how vital it is for me to be in fellowship with other women on a regular basis. I mean, I can talk to Robby about something until I’m blue in the face and it still wouldn’t fulfill my need for a female response. And I have to give him credit cause he does listen to most of the dumb crap I ramble about without entirely falling asleep. But there are just certain things that I’m not going to bring up in conversation with him because he is a him and not a her.

I think the point here is this: I now see the importance of girl time/female fellowship. And secondly, I think I’m on my way to finding some of that here, outside of the familiar Bible study community. Praise the Lord.

Throwing flowers away is always such a sad affair. At least for me. I put it off for as long as possible; until brown, dried up leaves and petals are fluttering to the floor as I stand at my dresser to brush my hair in the morning. Robby gave me some amazing lilies 2 weeks ago Friday, on a night when I was just in an awful mood. They made their way up to my room the next day and my room smelled delicious for a while. Now, they’re looking really sad. They’re dying to go in a trash bag, but I can’t let go yet. It’s a little tougher this time around to just throw them away cause last Sunday God really spoke to me as I was looking at them. He used the blossoming buds as a metaphor. It really just touched my heart to its core.

Today was productive, although I was in a foul mood all day for no reason. I think I was just really tired. For no reason. I made what felt like a million different phone calls and got to talk to Esther for like a half an hour. That was a huge blessing. It was nice to hear her voice and to hear the kids yelling and playing in the background. It was almost as if I was in Maryland with them. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to make it down there for a few days in early September.

I have an appointment with a florist tomorrow. I have no idea what I’m looking for in flowers for the wedding. I’m so clueless. All those years of being a tomboy are finally kicking me in the butt. I guess that’s why there are florists to pick my flowers for me. Thank God for people who are botanically gifted. Somehow I doubt that I have any sort of a green thumb. Maybe I’ll test that theory out some day. I’ll be sure to put pictures of my attempts up.

The “unknowns” of life don’t seem to be stacking up one after the other anymore, as they were a couple of weeks ago. The same “unknowns” are there, but none have been added, while there is still a steady stream of changes that keeps flowing down the cliff in my direction. I guess this is where I might say that I need to just “go with the flow.” If only I was naturally gifted in that area. If only I could just take things as they came and not worry about them. But alas, I find myself worrying about everything. Big and small. It’s like impending doom in my head half the time. God has a way of breaking through this, calling me a drama queen, and re-grounding me in Him, the solid Rock.

I almost feel as if I’m spinning. Or the world around me is spinning. I can’t quite put my finger on it, not with all the spinning that’s happening. Then again, I probably only feel as though I’m spinning because I just got really tired all of a sudden. 5am seems to come earlier and earlier these days.

Lord give me strength.

I know I’ve said that right now, there’s a lot of transition happening in my life about a million times and it’s true but I didn’t realize just how much was changing until this past weekend. Friday night it was as if something inside of me had snapped. The veil I’d placed over reality was torn away and I was left with what’s really going on in life right now. There’s no need for me to list everything that’s changed, because I feel like I’ve already done that a bunch of times.

Before this weekend…before realizing all of the upheaval that’s going on in my life right now, I felt like I was in a sort of rut. I couldn’t find any desire at all to read the Bible or to pray. I tried to be persistent but really just couldn’t even find the energy to think about doing any of that. I was going to work, coming home, and just sitting. Since Sunday though, it’s like I’ve reached a sense of clarity. The funny thing about this clarity is that I have no idea where I’m going. I have no predictions about what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t know what life is going to bring over the next 9 months. All I know for sure is that I am marrying Robby. Anything besides that, I really don’t know. Well, except that I’ll be working at Brandon. But I can’t see too far ahead of me. I have no big plans for life (ok, maybe I have a few). Overall though, I don’t have any clue as to what my life with Robby is going to look like.

None of this “unknown” bothers me. I actually like that I don’t have any expectations for the coming days, weeks, and months really. And I can say without any hesitation that God is in this 100%. He’s stirring something inside of me. And I’ve started to dream about all of the big, awesome things that the future may very well hold for me… and for me and Robby together. I’m reading a book by John and Stasi Eldredge and I read this in there today:

“It’s good for the heart to do some dreaming. it pulls you out of the rut, and lifts your eyes to the horizon. Hope follows, like children running to the song of the ice cream truck. Desire awakens hope, and hope is really good for the soul.”

And that really just struck a chord in my heart. I feel like I’ve been so focused for the past 4 years on getting my undergrad degree in Early Childhood Education and on graduating and applying for jobs as a public school teacher in Boston that I haven’t allowed myself to dream of anything else really. Now that I’m a month out of school and am working where I’ll be working come September, I’ve found that I’m not 100% sure of the path I want to take after that. I’m going to stay at Brandon basically until I burn out. That’s my new “plan.” Who knows how long that’ll be. Last summer at SoulFest I was introduced to the Not For Sale Campaign and felt something stirring inside of me. I wanted so badly to partner with this organization to abolish slavery once and for all across the globe. I wanted to go rescue women and girls from brothels. I wanted to move to D.C and work with the International Justice Mission to fight all the injustices of the world. I unfortunately pushed this fire aside once I got back to school because I needed to focus on student teaching.

The point here is that the possibilities for my life and for my shared adventure with Robby are endless. I was made for adventure. And having my whole life planned out in my head leaves very little room for that adventure. Now, I feel like Jesus has really just taken that plan I’ve had for so long for my life, and has thrown it far, far away and replaced it with a new desire for an adventure. For something completely new and totally unknown. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this free. Free to dream, free to be, and free to run.

So a year from now who knows where I’ll be… all I know is that I’ll have Robby to stand beside me. To share the adventure with me.

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