Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Jenni Got Married!

I mentioned yesterday that last week was a busy week for two reasons, and the second reason was because one of my best friends got married!  Jenni and I became really good friends during our junior and senior years in college.  We were both RA's in the same dorm, and so for two years she lived directly above me.  And after we graduated we lived together for two years.  We collected a lot of crazy memories during those years and it was a joy to add another memory by standing beside her on her big day!

The Bachelorette Party begins!

All the bridesmaids after rehearsal.

Wedding day - getting ready and breaking in my shoes.   Jenni loves monograms and her sandals had her new monogram on them!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Last week was crazy busy for two reasons, Launch being the first one.  Launch is a two-day orientation for new CMF missionary recruits, held at CMF's headquarters in Indianapolis.  I got there by Greyhound bus, which was quite the experience and one I hopefully won't have to repeat.  So I spent most of last Sunday traveling, and then had a little bit of down time at the hotel before Donna and I went to pick up Erica, girl I would be rooming with, from the airport.  Donna's official title is Associate in Affiliation, and we have been in contact through email and phone since last fall, when I started looking into serving with CMF.  She is extremely helpful and patient and when I finally met her I felt like I had known her forever.  I'm so thankful for the connection I feel with her, because she'll be keeping me on my toes and helping me along from now until the time I leave!  We picked up Erica at the airport and then went to get something to eat.  Turns out Erica had gone to Milligan for a few years so we had several mutual friends and experiences.  And not only were we roommates for Launch, but Erica is also going to be serving with Canvas!  She will be leaving in the fall of 2014 and will be serving for 3 years.  We had so much in common that we kept saying the exact same things at the same time, and the waitress noticed it and asked if we always did that.  She was surprised to find out that we had met less than an hour before!

When we arrived at the CMF office Monday we met the other two recruits at Launch, Megan and Michelle.  They're sisters are going to be leaving in October to serve in Tanzania for a year.  After introductions and getting excited about our legit magnetic name tags, we jumped right into things.  

We had a presentation about CMF, prayer time with all of the CMF staff, and then another presentation about support raising before lunch.  Lunch was really fun because half of the staff joined us and I sat at a table with a few of them.  It gave me a chance to start really getting to know the whole CMF team, not just the few I'll be in closest contact with.  After lunch we all had several one-on-one meetings with the key people that will be helping us through the process of getting on the field.  So we had meeting with our specific area directors, finance and support raising people, the communication and media team etc.  We also had our picture taken for our personal media materials and missionary page on the CMF website.  Then we had one last presentation for the day, about building relationships with churches.  Then the four of us recruits, plus Donna and Shannon, the Director of Mobilization, had dinner together at the office before we headed back to the hotel for the night.  Erica and I worked on our presentations for the next day, and then spent some time with Megan and Michelle before finally calling it a day.

The wall of CMF missionaries - I'll be up there soon!

The Cook Center - where we spent most of our time at Launch.

Tuesday morning we talked through some of the different personality and spiritual gifts tests we had taken before we came to Launch, and then it was on to the presentations.  We had had to create a 10-minute presentation, as if we were talking to church or organization about partnering with us in ministry.  We had to do it in front of the other recruits as well as small group of the staff.  They gave us feedback and advice, and the whole thing was video-taped so we could watch it later.  It was a little nerve-racking, but very helpful.  The other three girls did theirs before lunch, and I lucked out and got to go after.  And at lunch on Tuesday the other half of the staff came and ate with us.  After my presentation we each had another one-on-one meeting, and we also had to do these interviews where they asked us all sorts of questions about why we wanted to serving with CMF, when we felt called to missions, what we were most excited about, what skills we would be bringing to the table etc.  It was kind of intimidating, with the bright spotlights and camera, but they'll edit and piece it all together into one cohesive video clip, and it will eventually be on my missionary page.  After that we finished things up with a time of prayer, with the other girls and Shannon and Donna.  Then we went out to eat before I had to be dropped off back at the bus station.

Erica, Donna, me, Michelle, Shannon, and Megan

That little summary doesn't make it sound as busy and information-overload as it really was.  It was an exhausting two days!  But they were so good.  I left feeling encouraged, excited, and capable.  Whether I would be working closely with them or not, I sensed that the whole staff was excited about us, and "for us."  It made me want to go home, start support raising immediately, and get to England as soon as possible!

I noticed this on a huge calendar in the hall shortly before we left.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Starting the Journey

Back when I first announced that I was going to be moving to England I said that I would be back with more more posts about how all of this came about and more information about what things would be like there, and I'm finally doing that....

Last spring I was reading through the book of Hebrews with the girls that I was discipling.  When we got to chapter 11, the faith chapter, I asked the girls "What in your life is requiring you to really step out and live by faith right now?"  After asking that question and having that conversation a few times, I asked myself the same thing.  I knew that what I was doing - raising support and working in full-time ministry - required faith.  I certainly didn't believe I was doing all of those things in my own power, but I also didn't feel like I was stepping out and trusting the Lord for much.  I realized that I had to a place where I was comfortable and safe.  And I didn't like that.  So I began praying that the Lord would stretch me and show me how he wanted to trust in him more.  I prayed that for months.

Then one day last summer I checked my mailbox and had a newsletter from CMF, which wasn't unusual.  I had two friends that I was supporting at the time who were serving with CMF in Spain, so I received mail from CMF often.  I opened it up and was flipping through it when I saw a picture of a friend that I went to Milligan with.  I remember thinking "Hey, I know her! She's in the CMF newsletter; that's kinda cool."  The article was about a new Globalscope campus ministry they were starting in Scotland, and Meredith was apart of that team.  It all sounded really neat, and since Meredith lives in Johnson City I messaged her and asked if she wanted to catch up.  I was excited for her and wanted to hear more about what she would be doing.  That was the extent of my intentions for that meeting.

So we got coffee and she told me all about Scotland, the team she would be working with, and what they were hoping the ministry there where would be like.  Meredith had also spent a year in Indonesia with CMF and she told me all about that and what her experience working with CMF was like.  And the more she talked the more interested I became.  When we left I knew I wanted to learn more.  So that night I got online and read everything available about Globalscope.  I asked myself the hypothetical question, "If I wanted to go do something like this, where would I want to go?"  A few of the Globalscope ministries are in South American countries, and I just know that my heart isn't there.  There was Germany, Thailand, and Uruguay, but I didn't really want to have to learn another language.  That left England.  It wasn't just that that was the only one left; I really did feel that I could like it there.  It was probably naive or even shallow, because I had never been to Europe, let alone England, and most of what I knew about it was from the media, but something just felt right.  I really felt like I could see myself there, and I filled out a basic, preliminary application.

A week or so later someone emailed me, thanked me for my interest in Globalscope, and asked if I wanted to talk with her to learn more, which I did.  So I talked with a lady named Shannon for a while one day.  Everything she told me about serving with CMF and the ministry in England sounded appealing and like something I would enjoy.  So then I had a conversation with the director of Globalscope to learn more about the nitty-gritty and logistics of things.  I was still interested after that conversation so I set up a time to Skype with the team leader in England.  We Skyped for about an hour, and the more we talked and the more I learned about the ministry there, called Canvas, and life in Birmingham, the more excited I became.  By the time we were done talking I knew that this was something that I seriously wanted to pray about and consider doing.  Thankfully there was very little pressure from CMF.  They said they would go ahead and send me the application, but to just take my time praying about it and filling out the application.

The large application packet arrived right at the start of the school year and I knew it would have to wait until we got through the first few weeks of ministry here.  So I tucked it away in my bookshelf and honestly forgot all about it at times.  In mid September I pulled it back out, read over everything again, and just didn't know anymore.  I spent about a month praying about and really not knowing what to do.  It still sounded like an incredible opportunity, but now I was in the swing of things with The Well, and I loved The Well!  That's what made that time so hard.  I wanted to go, but I didn't want to leave.  I would spend a weekend thinking all about it and would feel pretty certain that I would apply, and then I would have an incredible night of small group on Sunday night and would think, "I can't leave this!"  I was so torn!

I was continuing to pray for guidance, and in October began to hear the Lord speaking to me very clearly.  The first, and probably most affirming, thing that helped me see that this might be right next-step for me was the way my dad responded when I told my family I was thinking about moving.  We were all home one weekend and I just told them everything I've said up to this point here.  When I was finished talking it seemed like no one spoke for the longest time, and then my dad started to.  Now I knew my parents weren't going to tell me no, but I was expecting my dad to say something to the effect of, "Let's look into it, and think about and pray about it."  But he didn't.  Instead he said, "Well, I think you need to go and do it."  I was shocked; this was not my father, he just doesn't say things like that.  He went on to say that recently during his own personal time with the Lord he felt that the Lord was preparing him for the fact that He had bigger plans for me.  Coming from my dad, that was huge, and something that I could just not deny.

And over the next several weeks there continued to be things that spoke to me and I knew the Lord was  answering my prayers for clarity.  One Friday night in October I opened up my Explicit Gospel workbook to prepare for teaching the lesson that Sunday, and of all the lessons, which one was mine to lead?  The one about heralding the Gospel.  Of course.  One of the first things Matt Chandler said in the video was was, "Paul doesn't ask Timothy if he has the gift of evangelism, he tells him to do the work of an evangelist."  This really hit me hard.  One of the things I was nervous about with Canvas was having to share about my faith with unbelievers.  That probably sounds weird coming from someone who is pursuing missions.  But I spent most of time in ministry with students who were believers, and going deeper with them.  I was more comfortable with that than "evangelistic" conversations.  It was a challenge, to know that we are called to that, but it was also comforting in a way.  It was like there was freedom in knowing I was called to do something, regardless of whether or not it was my strongest gift.  I might not think I'm great at it, but I can be obedient.  Another thing from that lesson that encouraged me to go was the line, "God is wisdom, and God is power, and that's how men are saved. Our job is simply to herald [the Gospel]."  Again, God is just asking me to be obedient, the rest is up to him.

As soon as the fall semester was over, we had to find another Bible study to do with our students in the spring.  We were thinking about doing the Radical study by David Platt, and in order to quickly do a preview of the study, each staff member got a copy of one week's lesson that we were supposed to work on over the break.  So in early December I sat down to work on my week's lesson.  And what was it about?  Going and preaching the gospel and being a disciple maker.  I knew the Lord was telling me something and when the video started, it didn't take long before I was crying.  So many things were hitting home, and I almost felt like I was hearing "Go. Go. Go. Go. Go."  The two main points from that lesson that really spoke to me were, "The essence of being a disciple is being a disciple maker," and "We are the children of God and we are not in a position to express opinions, we are in a position to obey orders."

Those were just a few of the main ways that I heard the Lord speaking to me, but they were definitely not the only ones.  Wednesday night messages at The Well, conversations with friends, and time in the Word all helped me decide that I was going to do it.  Or at least apply .  So over the Christmas break I worked on the application, which was quite intense.  I had to take three different psychological evaluations, and by the time I was done with those, I was pretty sure I was crazy!  I mailed off the huge application in January, and then a few weeks later I had two Skype interviews.  On February 8th the selection committee at CMF reviewed all of my application and the results of my interviews, and then the following week they called me and told me they wanted me to join the Globalscope team.  I was soooo excited!

The morning I sent off my application!

I told the rest of our staff right away, and some close friends that weren't really connected to The Well, but that was it for a while.  I wanted to be able to tell all of our ministry team students at one time, so they wouldn't be finding out through the grapevine, and the opportunity to do that wouldn't present itself for a while.  So I ended up having to keep this whole thing a secret for almost two months!  It was so hard to just act normal and not give it away, but I managed.  The week before I was going to tell all of the students at once, I did talk with a few of the girls I am closest to and told them.  Those were really fun conversations and resulted in squeals, tears, and a few "shut up!"s.  The students were all sad to see me go, but really excited as well, which was so encouraging!

The rest of the semester proceeded as normal as far as The Well goes, and then about a month ago everything changed.  I got rid of a bunch of stuff, I had my last day at the office, I packed up almost all of the rest my stuff and sent it off to my parents, I moved out of my apartment, moved in with another family, started a new has been crazy to say the least.  And overwhelming and scary and stressful.  But this is all a part of the journey and I am learning a lot!  Early tomorrow morning I head to Indianapolis for Launch, which is Globalscope orientation.  I am really excited to finally meet some of the people from the CMF office that have been helping me through this process, and I'll get to meet one of the girls that I'll be serving with in England next year!  I can't wait to share more with you next week!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Prepping with PowerPoint

I have orientation and training for Globalscope next week and have to prepare a presentation about my ministry with Canvas.  I don't think I've made a PowerPoint presentation in five or six years; I felt like I was back in college!

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