Tuesday, July 29, 2008

21 Questions...

Believe it or not I am asked alot of the same questions over and over again... Here are some of the common ones I am asked and the answers to them... If you have others, feel free to ask them and I will do my best to answer them!

Question 1:
What are you doing with your house?
Hopefully renting it! I listed it in the Cornerstone Classifieds, Craig's List, Apartment Hunters & Westside Rentals... If you are interested in renting it let me know!

Question 2:
Who is going to watch over your place when you are gone?
I have two friends in the apartment rental business and they will both be helping me manage the place so that I do not have to hire and pay an outside company to do it.

Question 3:
What about your job?
I am going to take an unpaid leave for a year and then try to extend the leave after that. If LAUSD won't let me extend it, I will quit when the leave is over. I will keep my California credential current though so when/if I return I will not have to redo any of my credential requirements.

Question 4:
When are you leaving?
My first training is October 22-December 22. The last two trainings are May & June of 2009. I will depart for Africa after my last training (end of June/or beginning of July 2009)

Question 5:
Where will you live?
Not sure yet! But I will stay with some friends until I find a more permanent place.

Question 6:
Will you have running water?

Question 7:
Will you have electricity?
Yes! But it does go out frequently so hopefully it stays on more than it goes out!

Question 8:
How will you stay in touch with your friends here?
Mostly through email and this blog site

Question 9:
How long are you staying there?
Indefinitely... I don't want to put a date on it because I want to see what God does...It may be 5 years, 10, 20... I just don't know.

Question 10:
Will we ever see you again?
Yes! I want to stay in contact with all of you! Most long-term missionaries take a furlough every 3 years. It may not be exact but from what I have seen so far, most furloughs can be anywhere from 2 - 4 months long.

Question 11:
Can I come visit you?
YES! NMSI will help me coordinate people that want to come to help on short term trips. The more visitors I have the more encouraged I will be. An encourage and supported missionary tends to stay on the mission field longer and be more successful in their ministry so yes, yes, yes, I want you to come and visit me!

Question 12:
Is it safe?
As with any place you go, you have to take precautions. There is a pretty good chance that I will get sick and/or robbed but for the most part the area I plan on going to is pretty stable right now.

Question 13:
What does your family think about the whole thing?
Hummmm...let's say the jury is still out. Some are excited for me, Some think I am crazy, Some think I am stupid, Some don't support me at all, and Some want to come visit me... Its a mixed crowd.

Question 14:
Are you leaving because of your family situation?
NO, NO, NO! I am leaving because God is calling me to leave. I love living here in the US, I love my job, I love my condo, I love my friends and I love my family. I have no desire to run away from problems but I do have a desire to follow where God leads. I am not willing to leave the things I love just because the going gets tough with a few people BUT I am willing to leave the things I love to follow God. He alone directs my path.

Question 15:
Why do you want to go?
The first and most important reason is that I feel God wants me there... He has made it pretty clear to me over the last few years that this is where He wants me so who am I to argue with God

Question 16:
What will you do there?
I not 100% sure and in the missionary world, what you do changes constantly BUT I would love to help in the education arena... Not teaching per se but training teachers to teach better, revamping curriculum, doing school administration in a Christian International school that serves missionary kids and local kids or possibly getting more local kids into school... I would also love to help get more reliable technology into the schools so that the kids have a greater resource base....we will have to wait and see what doors God opens up!

Question 17:
Will you get a job there can support you financially?
Probably not. Most Ugandan places won't pay a salary to international missionaries so the majority of my funding will come from monthly supporters (churches & individuals) in the US.

Question 18:
If you stay there for a long time, will you marry someone there?
I don't know! Most of you that know me well know that I LOVE being single and would LOVE to STAY single FOREVER! But if God has a different plan for me, I am not opposed to it - but lets not jump the gun!

Question 19:
Isn't it really cheap to live there?
No not really, I have heard from friends that are already there that it can be more expensive than the US in many ways... For example, gas runs anywhere from $10-$20 a gallon and utilities are super expensive even though they are mostly unreliable. Cars are really expensive too even though they are all used and housing can also be pretty pricey. I will have a better idea once I sit down with NMSI people and get a preliminary budget set up.

Question 20:
Who knows you are going?
Most of my friends, people at my current church, people at my childhood church, previous co-workers, and my family members all know.

Question 21:
Who doesn't know you are going?
My boss, some of my current co-workers, and some of the people in my condo complex.

I hope that helps and please feel free to keep those questions coming!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Good Theology

Tonight I had dinner with some good friends of mine. One of my friends told me about a Christian rapper that he was really impressed by. It wasn't because this rapper was good at rapping but rather my friend was impressed by him because he had good theology.

As a fan of Christian rap music, it is rare to find a Christian rapper that really represents the gospel and its message in an accurate light. My friends and I sat around and watched videos from this rapper and I too was impressed by the theology.

Here is one of my favorites. Listen to the words carefully and make sure you are not one that just lives by "religious tradition" but really seeks to live out your faith in a radical way, whether here or abroad. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Can You Clarify?

So I have been asked more than once to clarify about the trainings I am going to be attending and why I am fundraising now if I am not leaving for another year. I hope to make it clear for everyone but if you still have questions please feel free to ask me!

New Missions Systems International (aka: NMSI) is my missions agency. As my missions agency they will be taking care of many of my logistical needs as I get ready to go, while I am in Uganda, and when I eventually return. As a "long-term" missionary with their agency, they require that I go through 3 different trainings:

1. COAT (9 weeks in Florida) - Cost $3,400 approximately
2. SPLICE (3 weeks in Colorado) - Cost $2,000 approximately
3. PILAT (2 weeks in Colorado) - Cost $1,300 approximately

Why three?

Missionary statistics are not so good... I have heard that approximately 90% of missionaries that are sent out return within the first year of serving overseas. The reasons for this vary but for the most part it has to do with not having all of the logistics worked out before you leave (finances, fiscal responsibilities at home, etc.), not having a support system once you are in your new country, or not understanding or being prepared for what you will face once you are there.

Sending missionaries out is not a cheap endeavor and in order to be responsible with the money God has provided, it is important that I leave with as much preparation as possible so that I am successful and fruitful in the work God has given us (me and my support team) to do. NMSI is in place to insure this happens and makes sure that I will be a good candidate to serve overseas.

So what will these 3 trainings teach me?

1. COAT which stands for Community, Orientation, Assessment, and Training is the 9 week program. This program helps me build unity with my missions agency through formal/informal mentoring & bible studies. It also helps me learn the administrative details and programs that will be provided to me when I am abroad and will allow NMSI to get to know me better so that they will be familiar with my ministry and ways to make it more effective. In addition they will also focus on my spiritual foundations, goal planning, support raising, financial stewardship, global issues and practical aspects of living cross-culturally(Visas, transportation, housing, etc). All of this is set in place so that I am not surprised or unprepared once I arrive.

2. SPLICE (the 3 week program) is run through NMSI's partner ministry MTI or Mission Training International. This is a pre-departure training that stands for Spiritual, Personal, Lifestyle, Interpersonal, Cultural, Endure/Enjoy. The purpose of this training is to build skills and develop character in these 6 vital areas of missions while giving me the practical skills and attitudes that will help me move from one culture to another. It includes strategies to adapt to a new culture and value differences so that I do not become just another missionary drop-out statistic.

3. PILAT is also run through MTI and stands for Program In Language Acquisition Techniques. This is a two week pre-departure training that gives me Phonetics, Language Learning Techniques, and Language Study Methods that will give me the necessary skills to learn another language (in my case, Lugandan). While English is the national language in Uganda, those that can communicate with locals in their first language are more effective and able to reach more people in the community than those that only speak English. For those of you who know me...you know that I not only flunked out of Spanish in High school but I also didn't do so good in sign language in college either...Obviously I need more help in my language learning abilities and this training is designed to do just that.

So what expenses do you have THIS year while you prepare to go?

1. The 3 trainings...................................Approx $6,700
2. 10% NMSI administration costs.....Approx. $920
3. One way flight to Africa....................Approx. $2,500

TOTAL NEEDED..........................Approx. $10,120
Which breaks down to approximately $900 a month for the next 12 months

Why is it so expensive?

1. When you think about the trainings the prices are pretty reasonable...they are a total of 14 weeks or 3 1/2 months and the costs include housing, application fees, airline travel costs as well as the course costs.

2. As a NMSI missionary, all of my funds will go through them. As a result I have to raise an additional 10% of anything I need to cover the administration costs this incurs. This 10% helps pay for my access to their services, including printing costs and the financial aspects of the ministry I am involved in.

3. Prices in ALL airfare is up because of our economic situation therefore any travel (whether it is domestic for trainings or international) is more expensive than it has been in the past and requires extra funds

So how much have you raised so far?

So far I have had a few people pledge support but only one person actually sign up with NMSI. If all of the people who have verbally told me they will support me follow through with their commitments I will have a total of $380 per month coming in. That is an awesome start but still $520 per month short of what is needed.

Are you worried about raising the money you need?

NO!!!! God provides! I have seen Him do it before when I was going on short term trips and I have no doubt that I will see Him do it again! I just need to remember that my timing is not His and that through this experience He is teaching me to trust as well as to be patient. I am excited to see Him work!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Possible Job in Africa!

Thank you all for your prayers! I see them working in amazing ways! I may have mentioned to some of you that I was looking into International School in Uganda as a possible job while I am there. There is only one Christian International School that really caught my eye when I was looking. It is called Heritage International School. I emailed the principal of the school about 2 months ago and didn't get a response back. Today, I received the response and it is really excited me...Here is what it said:


Sorry for the delayed response to your inquiry. I was just appointed principal and have been working my way through the backlog of e-mails.
We would LOVE to have you come work at Heritage International School!
We have various needs that perhaps you could help with.
* We have just implemented the British IGCSE curriculum and need some serious renovation to our curriculum guides for the secondary school, as well as some updating to the existing guides.
* We also have occasional needs for substitutes for teachers.
* We will most likely need a principal for the 2009-2010 school year.
* We currently do not have a separate job for recruiter and it would be helpful to have that.

I can have our administrative secretary send you our application (which includes our statement of faith) for you to look over and fill out if you are interested in joining us.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

The cool thing about the response is that I already gave her my qualifications and these are the areas she feels I may be qualified in. The even cooler thing is that these are the areas I wanted to help serve in... I want to help them with curriculum renovation and making the curriculum more accessible to the students, I also want to help teacher teach better and help to get local kids into school. I know it is a long way off but it excites me that God is working out details now and giving me a little more direction in the way He wants me to go. Keep the prayers coming my friends, great things are happening!

How Do You Pray?

I have a new favorite singer... I bought some of her music after hearing her at my church a few weeks ago. Her name is Kendall Payne and here is the clip of her at my church....Make sure that you really listen to the words of this song - It will change the way that you think about prayer.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Time to Type Holy Spirit!

Posting a blog is the craziest thing...

When I first started posted them I thought that it was a little weird to be writing a "journal entry" and letting the entire Internet community read it...BUT now it's crazy in a different way.

It's crazy because almost every time I sit down to type something, it goes a totally different direction then I was planning it to go and I usually have to change the title because it in no way relates to what I was going to write.

Now that in itself is not too crazy but the fact that what usually ends up on the blog is something convicting straight out of God's word is too much of a coincidence to me... For example:

A few days ago I wanted to sit down and write about a new book I just got about the struggle of children in Northern Uganda. I wanted to write about what a small world we live in because when I read the acknowledgement page of a random book I found off Amazon, the Acholi (Ugandan) girl that wrote it was thanking some Muzungu's (white people) that I had Christmas dinner with in Uganda this past December....small world, huh?

BUT instead of a blog titled "Girl Solder" or "Small World" I ended up with a blog titled "Matthew 9:35-38" and an analysis of Matthew 9:35-38! The funny thing is that I wasn't even thinking about those verses until I sat down and started typing. It just came out...it's almost like the blog writing itself! Boy, I wish my college papers would just write themselves!

But seriously...I think it is the Holy Spirit seeping out into the writing of this blog and I think the Lord is using this blog to speak through me. It might sound odd but really...things like that don't normally happen to me when I am going through every day life but they are becoming a normal occurrence when I sit down to write on this blog site.

Is what I write on this blog an accident? A coincidence? I don't think that it is and that is really cool and exciting to me, but it is also something totally new and crazy to me as well!

I can't wait to see what I will be writing next!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Matthew 9:35-38

'Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."' Matt 9:35-38

I love these verses because they paint such a true picture of the mission field in countries like Africa and all over our world. Sometimes I hear people say that the bible is an old book that is not really relevant to our world today but it really isn't...In Jesus' day people needed "healing from every disease and sickness", they need "compassion because they were harassed and helpless" and they wandered around with no direction "like sheep without a shepherd".
That not only sounds like Africa to me but it sounds alot like people here in Los Angeles and all over the US, Europe, Asia, and the like!

It is important that we understand that missionaries are not just ones that venture out into the 3rd worlds but missionaries are also ones that stay behind. Missionaries are people that reach out to their co-workers, to their families, to the homeless they see around their towns, and to their friends in need. Every Christian is a missionary and every Christian has a mission field. Yet Jesus' statement that "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few" is so true. Where are all those people that claim to be Christians? If you take on the name of Christ then you too have a job to do, whether you realize it or not!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Funny African Signs

Some of these pictures made me laugh, others made me say "hmmm" and it's almost guaranteed that none of these would ever be found around the states.


Humm... How's that work????


Are you sure???

What about adults?
Are they free game?

Note the small picture on the left...
I made it bigger below in case you couldn't see it!


And now for the biggest HUMM of all....

I guess it's not common sense???
Thats Africa for you =)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Continuing Prayer Request

So I was super excited to have someone interested in renting my place but unfortunately both of the inquiring people flaked out. Please keep praying for a reliable tenant for my place. The sooner I get a renter the more that I will be able to save for my move.

Thanks for praying!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

When you are put down for your faith...

I don't think I really thought through what I would do when I was put down for my decision to go to Africa and I must admit that I don't think I handled it correctly.

Last weekend I was at a family party and my uncle insulted me in front of relatives I hadn't seen for 10 years! He told me that I was uneducated because I got my degree in the valley, he told me that Africa is a rich nation and that no one should give them anything, and basically told me that I don't know what I am talking about or doing.

I should have responded in love toward him but I didn't.

It bothered me that he was talking about something that he knew nothing about and it bothered me because ever since I have gone to Africa he has shut the door to his home to me. I should have told him what I believe and that God's opinion is the only one that matters to me but I didn't. The only thing I could think to do was defend myself, my education and my personal experience.

Looking back I know I didn't handle it right, he didn't get the chance to see my heart he only had the chance to see my defense system.

I have been thinking about it ever since. What I see now that I look back on the situation is that when you love someone so much you want to defend them against people that try to put them down. I realized just how much I love the people in Africa and how much I want to help them. I discovered just how much I want people to realize the reality of life there so that others may have that same desire to serve them and help them as I do.

Then I started thinking about my uncle's statement that Africa is a rich nation and we shouldn't help them and that got me thinking too... What makes a nation rich?

Is it money?
Is it love?
Is it faith?
Is it possessions?
Is it comfort?
Is it bank accounts
Is it retirement?
Is it careers?
Is it education?
Is it family?

What is rich?

If I have the opportunity to talk to my uncle again, this is what I would say... Yes, Africa is rich.

They are rich because:

God loves them

They are rich because:

They understand the frailty of life and that each day might be their last

They are rich because:

They don't base their life worth on the possessions they have or the vacations they take but on the worth they have in Christ alone.

They are rich because:

They can't rely on themselves to provide for all their needs but they must rely on God alone each and every day.

They are rich because:

They don't look at their watches when church goes too long but they rejoice in the time they get to spend with their Father.

So Yes...they are rich...they are rich in God alone and as my brothers & sisters in Christ, it is still my responsible to come alongside them and serve them because in reality...

  • The median age is only 15 years old
  • 1 out of 15 babies die in infancy
  • Only 66% of the population are literate
  • The risk of dying from Malaria, the plague, starvation, or infected food & water is HIGH
  • Only 43% of the population has adequate sanitation facilities
  • Only 60% of the population has safe drinking water
  • There are approximately 2.3 million orphans
  • 85% of the population survives on $1 a day or less
  • and...
  • less than 40% of Ugandans know Jesus as their Lord and Savior

So uncle...it's okay if you put me down and it's okay if you don't agree, but I pray that you might see what I see and that you might open up your heart and let God & a compassion for others to creep in.

For more stats visit: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/uganda_statistics.html

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The 1st real NO....

So of course I have had individuals who oppose me going to Africa but I haven't had that outright "No, we aren't interested in supporting you" line until now.

I have to admit, I was a little surprised because up until this point I have had alot of encouragement and if someone said no to financial support they still wanted to hear prayer requests or updates on the ministry, but that was not the case this time.

I am not sure if I was shocked because it is my mom's church of about 8 years and a church that I too had attended for a few years or if it was the shortness and the lack of interest that accompanied it.

I know God already knows who and who won't support me but it still hurts to be rejected like that. The person in me wants to scream, "But why not?" but then the other side of me knows that deep down God just wants me to learn to sit back, watch Him work and trust Him more.

I'm trying and WOW is it HARD!

Pray for me to learn to trust more!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What's Africa Like?? - Part 3

So we have covered transportation, dance, music and worship... what left do we have to cover???

How about food?

Unlike some of the other topics...I had a little bit harder time trying to find videos that represented this topic well. Soooooo, this time there will be mostly pictures or descriptions rather than all videos.

Food...Let's see, here are some everyday staples:

#1) Posho (the white flour mixture) and Matoke (the mashed boiled banana mixture):

#2.) Cassava (fried root veggie, kind of like potato):

#3.) Rolex (chapatti flatbread rolled up with egg, oil, tomato, cabbage, and onion)

#4.) Samosas (fried pastry commonly filled with veggies or meat or beans)

#5.) Chapatti (flatbread kinda like a tortilla but thicker):

#6.) Jackfruit (large stringy fruit that is bigger than a watermelon with a pineapple like texture, huge seeds, and slightly poisonous if you eat the white stringy section)

Okay...now the African delicacies...If you have a weak stomach turn away now or regret it later!

#1.) White ants (they are not your typical LITTLE black ones):

#2.) Grasshoppers (usually peeled and cooked in butter and salt)

I will admit...I did not try the delicacies...but here is a video of some brave sole on YouTube who did...He was much braver than I was!

Enjoy your dinners tonight!
OH and if any of you would like to try a traditional African dish without having to purchase a flight to Africa or risking dysentery from a local food stand, let me know because I am planning a trip to Los Angeles to go to a traditional African restaurant with some friends...Don't worry though, they don't serve white ants or grasshoppers and they are located in LA so they do have a cleanliness rating on the front window =)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Why Are You Leaving Me???

Believe it or not, I have been asked this question frequently in the last few months. Today for some reason I was asked about it ALOT.

The thing that comes to mind when I think about that question and the people that ask it is how egocentric our society is. We are so used to our "little" worlds revolving around us and our needs that when someone throws a surprise "kink" in our plan we assume that it must be because we did something or said something that offended them and that is why they are leaving...

In fact the opposite is true...when you think about our world, in God's perspective, it should not revolve around you or your desires or even your wants. Your world should revolve around God and what His desires and wants are. In His word He commands people to go and preach the gospels to all nations (Matthew 28:19)...He doesn't say gather everyone around you so they fit in to YOUR comfort zone...the bible is not about YOUR comfort, it's about God's plan, God's pleasure, God's glory and God's honor. He didn't create us to bring glory to ourselves, He created us to bring glory to Himself!

So to all my friends out there that think that I am leaving THEM...no...that is not the case. I am not leaving you, I am just following God and the paths He is leading me on at this point in my life. I have to either be running toward God or running away from Him - there is no halfway point...I can't just stand still and do nothing. If I run toward you, as my friend, than I have to turn my back on God and well - I would rather lose some friends than to turn my back on the God that has saved me and loves me more than I will ever know or understand.

If God is for us, who can be against us...(Romans 8:31)