Saturday, February 13, 2010

What this "day of love" has gotten me to think about...

I sat down tonight to journal. Something I enjoy doing and something that blogging took the place of while on my trip with Daraja. I haven't blogged in a LONG time, but what came out of my mind tonight was interesting. It has to do with where I am in my life right now and chances are if you followed my blog on tour at all - you probably have at least wondered what I'm up to now and how Daraja has affected me. If you haven't, I'm not offended, but still thought I'd type out my thoughts - it's pretty lengthy so don't say I didn't warn you! :) 

God is so big! So unfathomable. Huge! Amazing. Incredible, faithful, & loving. My life has been so crazy - how did I even make it to where I am right now - in one piece and with somewhat of a sane mind? I've experienced so many things and made so many BAD choices along the way - the amazing part is that through it all, whether I was considering Him or not, the God of the universe was looking over me & knew every step I would take and every decision I would make.

Valentine's Day had me thinking about love, but in a totally different way this year. This is the first Valentine's Day I've been without a boyfriend in all of my "dateable" years! That's roughly 9 years!!!! Wow, that's crazy! The cool thing is - instead of being bummed about not having someone to celebrate it with, I'm perfectly content and have actually taken some time to reflect on what made me look at love the way I did for so long and then really ponder the love Christ has for us.

Since the 8th grade I have always had a boy to say "I love you" to. I've always had a boy to make me feel wanted & accepted. I've always had a boy to define myself by. I've always had a boy to look to for answers, for guidance, for direction for (what I thought was) love. Some may say, that's awesome, I wish I could have had someone like that to rely and depend on all my life. Some may say that's completely and utterly ridiculous, unhealthy, and crazy for someone as young as you! I choose to agree with the 2nd opinion personally :) I mean, if I'm being honest (which I usually don't have a problem being) where did any of those relationships get me? For starters, they painted a completely skewed picture of what relationships should be like. They robbed me of my innocence and purity. They caused me to never form a true identity for myself, leaving me not even knowing who I really was at 22 years old. They caused me to disregard friendships with my girl friends and treat them with less importance. And perhaps the most harmful, they caused me to turn a deaf ear towards God when temptation and the need to control my own life would pound at my heart and mind. I have never had the opportunity to form an identity outside of having a boyfriend until this past year! There's a lot of negative things that resulted from my inability to be alone (which is ironic because I definitely felt alone more than once when I was in a relationship). But I would be lying if I said nothing positive came out of them.

I'm not proud of the mistakes I made regarding guys. I'm not proud of how I ignored God's voice trying to tell me what I was doing was not His will. But I do believe that God has used & is using these past situations to reveal Himself to me now & to teach me so much about what He intended a loving relationship between man & woman to be like. Through those relationships, I learned about commitment and sacrifice. I learned to accept a person for who God made them to be, not who I wanted them to be. I learned about loyalty & partnership. I learned how awesome a relationship can be if it's focused and centered around God. I learned that just because something is hard - giving up is not always the best solution. I learned about compromise, collaboration, and communication. I learned that I was not always right, that I will never know everything, and that guys DO NOT work the same way girls do and never will! :). I met some amazing people through my past relationships. People that I love dearly and would have never known otherwise. There are good things that have come from being in those relationships over 8 years time, but in reality - God wants sooooo much more for me than that life I was living. It was a lie, it caused me to stumble and and to put trust in me, not God.

When God called me to Daraja, I knew things were about to change drastically. I could have never imagined being where I am now! For so long I didn't even know who I was. I longed for love, companionship, friendship, & acceptance. I'm still not done discovering who I am (and probably never will be), but I have found these things I was so desperately searching for! God used Daraja and everybody in it (interns, Kenyans, leaders, host homes, church members, etc.) to show me that all of those things come from HIM first! Daraja taught me about pure love. I've longed for that amazing love story to played out in my own life, the kind we read about and pay $8.50 to see played out on a huge movie screen. I've prayed for it, cried over it, fought for it and all along it's been written out in black and white (and red) in the Holy Bible! Talk about a love story! God sent His one (and only) son to DIE for ME. A filthy, unclean, undeserving, lost, confused, selfish, controlling, hard-headed, strong willed, sinful me! I should have been the one beaten, called names, & crucified because I'm the one who did wrong, but no, God loved us so much that He made a way for us to not have to "pay" for all of the sin in our lives....Jesus - He came to pay the price for us! What greater love?? God romances me throughout the entire Bible. Someone put their life on a cross for me, died for me because He loved me & didn't want me to suffer for eternity because of my sins. WOW! - there is NO greater love than this! All I have to do is believe this, allow Jesus to have my heart (what a gentle love, He allows US to CHOOSE to accept Him and invite Him in) and then profess my belief to others. No this isn't always easy - but how could I not make my life goal to live for this guy? After all He did for me? He certainly deserves my life (although I don't know why He'd want it), it's not mine. God has taught me so much about true love. what love is and what love isn't. He's still teaching me. His love never fails. One day when/if I do have a husband, I want to honor God with that relationship to the fullest. Love isn't easy, It's a commitment, a choice at times, but it's the greatest gift we have ever been given.

I can certainly say I don't have it all figured out, I'm not perfect, I sin everyday. I struggle with the need to have control and the ability to trust. But I'm learning, I'm growing, I'm listening, reading (not just the Bible, there's tons of books out there with amazing insight), praying, journaling (or in this case blogging :)), questioning, pondering, and most importantly, seeking the heart of God. I want nothing more than to be able to trust God with all of my heart and never again lean on my own understanding. God is so much bigger than me, I'm not meant to figure Him out. I don't know why I stayed in those relationships so long, but I'm not going to waste time asking why. 1 Corinthians 2:11 says, "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the spirit of God." So why sit around asking why? Instead, I choose to let God reveal Himself to me on His own time. I have so much life to live & so many things to learn. I don't want to take any of my time for granted, each day is a unique opportunity - why not take advantage of it? I trust in time that God will reveal His plan for my life, one day at a time. My goal is not to anticipate these coming moments and miss out on the amazing things right in front of me. Rather, I want to live in the moment and use ever opportunity to learn more about myself and the heart of our God. A friend of mine said something the other day about Valentine's Day that  made me think. "Fall in love with Him today." I want to make it my goal to fall in love with Jesus today (and every day for that matter). Happy Valentine's Day - show God's love to someone today!
- Allison :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am thankful for....

It's been a while since I've written - things have been pretty busy lately! I don't even know where to start. The last blog I posted was titled, "Am I halfway through tour already?" Now hear I am and it's 2 weeks and some odd days until the kids fly back to Kenya!! My how time flies when your having the time of your life. I have truly been blessed in these last two weeks. It's been such a blur that I can't even tell you where I've been or what I've been doing in detail. I do know that I've been to Birmingham and Decatur, Alabama, Townsend and Hixson, Tennessee, Brasstown, North Carolina, Alpharetta and Atlanta, Georgia and Greenwood South Carolina. And best of all I got to go HOME to Toccoa, Ga for 2 days! One of the fun things that I can remember was eating at a Japanese steakhouse with my host in Birmingham. It was great seeing the kids faces as the flames burst in front of them and as he flipped rice into their mouths! We have had 7 concerts in the past 7 days and I was soooooo exhausted when they came to an end on Tuesday night. 

As I said earlier - it was so refreshing to go home for a few days. I was able to realize how much I am loved and missed by my friends and family and it was a huge encouragement and spirit lifter for me to see everyone. My roommate from college, J Lo and my best friend India came into town to stay with me and see the choir. It was so good getting to catch up with them both. I also got to see some other friends at church. I can't forget how amazing it was to see my family as well. Getting hugs from them all was the best. I am so incredibly blessed to come from an amazing family, have the best friends a girl could ask for, and have an incredible church to welcome me and my new Daraja family. Thanks to everyone who made my few days at "home" very special - I love you ALL. 

The night before leaving Toccoa, India, J Lo, Mandy, and I decided to go mattress surfing - pretty much the most amazing thing I've ever done! My brother has been doing this with the college class at the church for a while now, but I've never been able to participate so I thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity while at home with my best friends! We had a blast. For those of you who don't know, mattress surfing consist of tying two mattresses that have been inserted with metal poles to the back of a truck with a big rope. Then you put on a ridiculous amount of clothing and head gear, hop on the mattress (stand if your able) and hang on for dear life as your brother plows through a wet field of grass and fire ant beds. Oh the joys of having grass pelting in your face and globs of dirt smacking you against the head, and we can't forget the ants biting any inch of you that isn't covered. Sounds like fun, huh?? Oh but it was!!! There are pictures from this adventure on my facebook page - if you want to see how utterly ridiculous I looked :)

Daraja was able to come down and hang out at my parents house while in Toccoa as well. It was so neat to be able to show my kids and the Kenyan adults where I grew up. Thanks everyone in Toccoa who hosted the kids too. They had a blast and I'm glad that the rest of Daraja was able to have a small glimpse into the lives of those who have made such a lasting impact on my life. Toccoa FUMC - you're amazing and no matter how far I go from this church you will always be, "my church." (I just have two "my churches" now, b/c Brooklet UMC is as close to home as I can get w/o having grown up there!!)

Now I'm in Greenwood, SC where I have been for the past 3 days. We have celebrated Thanksgiving with our host here and have really been blessed by the people here in Greenwood. We have been treated to breakfast at Shoney's, a library tour, complete with books for each kid, bowling, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas tree decorating, Wii playing, I could go on forever. My host has really made this time special for the girls and I and I'm very grateful to them for being my "fill in family" for this special holiday. Tomorrow I'm off to Thomasville, NC! Please pray for us as we near the end of tour. Pray for my heart as I begin to prepare myself for departing from the choir. It's a reality that I don't want to face! Pray for everyone on tour to being preparing themselves. Pray for the remaining time we have together and the we will not take a single moment for granted. I love you guys and will see you soon. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving!

Allison :)

Phrase of the day: Nipe Heshima (give me respect) - haha, I just learned this, perhaps a little too late! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Am I really half-way through tour already??

Hello all! The times when I get to blog are some of my favorite moments on tour. I love them because I'm able to get away for just a moment, plug my ears with some good music, and just type out all my thoughts. I actually get a chance to process all the things that have gone on in the past few days or weeks. I realize that when I don't have a chance to blog I really begin to forget about all the little things that have happened that I really don't want to forget but simply don't have the brain capacity to retain. I pride myself on having a good memory, but let me just say that my memory has been tested to its limits on this tour. I remember saying, "oh I'll never forget the names of my hosts" or, "I'll remember every place that we go." Oh how wrong I was. I've stayed in about 25 host homes by now and I can honestly say there are many that I don't remember the names of or even where I've stayed. I was feeling guilty about this and then I realized - I still have all the memories from each place even if I can't remember the names and locations. The important part is that each home, family, church, and town has had a unique impact on my life that is irreplaceable. I am so grateful for EVERY person that I have come in contact with on tour - I have so much to learn. Before tour, my mindset was that of how I had so much to offer the people I would meet and the kids that I would be living with for three months. I realize how backward my way of thinking was now. I've met so many special people with their own set of gifts to offer. I have so much to learn from the people God has placed in my path. I have to remind myself to open up and receive the blessings God is trying to place upon me through others. With all of that said, I don't think that I should go through tour just expecting to be blessed by the people I meet. I know that God wants me to walk a two way street. I have things to offer people but I realize that sometimes - what I have to offer isn't exactly what I thought it would be (if that makes any sense).

Tour is half way over now and things are starting to really sink in. Like, my time with these kids is almost over - have I really poured into them the way I should have? All of the questions are starting to rise up within me and I have to remind myself to not look too far ahead into the future and just live for the here and now. I want to cherish every single moment with the kids and take nothing for granted. I will NEVER have this opportunity again with these same children and I want to make sure I've done what God put me here to do before they get back on the plane to go home to Kenya. I've been praying about what it is God wants me share with the kids, whether it's advice, a listening ear, a hug, prayer, encouragement, whatever it is, I'm sure it's different for each kid and sometimes it's hard to discern what each individual needs. I've come to realize though, even if the children learn absolutely nothing from me - I will forever be changed by the impact they have had on my life. They have taught me things that I would have never been able to grasp otherwise. 

To catch you up on what's been going on we've been to Cincinnati, OH for another Youth Specialties conference like the one we did in LA at the beginning of tour. We had a great time there and were able to do a concert at Mt. Carmel Church of Christ while we were there. We had to fly from Charlotte, NC to get to the conference in time - I have never flown on such a small plane! It was weird. I don't really have much to compare to though I guess considering my only other flights have been to Kenya and California - both flights that call for larger planes. We made up about 1/3 of the passengers and the flight only took about 1.5 hours. It was very interesting. On the day we were supposed to come back to NC from Cincinnati we got to the airport around 10:00am thinking our flight would be at 12:20pm only to find that we had been booked for a 4:40pm flight instead. So, we had a day at the airport with Daraja, haha! It was pretty fun considering the circumstances. After Ohio we returned to Winterville, North Carolina where we had another concert at Discovery Church. The church met in a Boys and Girls Club facility so it was neat to have change in environments. I stayed with their children's/family pastor which was cool. We swapped resource names and ideas. I love staying with the children's pastors! Then we moved on to Burlington, NC. We sang at St. Marks Church. This was where we celebrated our official halfway day. We made puppets with the kids and we were able to wear whatever we wanted for the day. At the end of the day all of the adults had the chance to go hang out while the church took care of the kids for a few hours. The next stop was Baptist Home Baptist Church in Wilkesboro, NC. I got to stay in the hospitality house for 3 nights here and had a day off on Sunday. The rest was very much appreciated and I loved my host home! They treated us soooooo well. One night while we were there everyone went roller skating - it was lots of fun. We played a dice game that was kind of like four corners and I won! Haha, it was great - there were probably like 50 kids playing there too. I won a free snow cone! After Wilkesboro we headed to Little Brasstown Baptist Church in Brasstown, NC. This is where I am right now. So that's all for now.

The word of the day is - wewe. This is used kind of like dude. It literally means, "you, you." It's something we say a lot. For example, if one of the kids does something silly we might respond with, "wewe." So yea, see if you can figure out a way to use wewe in your life today. It's pretty easy to catch on to. 

Can't wait to see you soon in Toccoa!! Only 12 days. Love you all so very much!

Allison :)

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. - James 1:26-27

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Down Time...(yes, I finally got some)

Well...I don't really have anything specific to blog about but I thought since I skipped out on blogging last week I would double up this week :) I thought I would just talk a little about what's been on my mind.

Lately I've started to really miss my independence. I've never considered myself to be much of an independent person but I realize now that every American is to an extent. The simple things like being able to go to the store when I want, take a shower when I feel like it, wake up when I'm ready, eat whenever I feel like it...things like that I really have taken for granted until now. I'd love to say that I won't take advantage of them when I get off tour but in reality I'm sure I'll slip back into my old lifestyle eventually after I return. I do think that I'll forever be more conscious of just how independent my lifestyle is. It's really as if I've become a parent over night, but not just your typical family. I parent along with 6 other moms and 4 dads and together we work together to parent 23 children between the ages of 9 & 14. It's like parenting in the extreme. I never realized how much this internship would teach me about parenting. I'm learning to work together with "my spouses" (haha) because we have to be consistent with our parenting practices. The kids desperately want to find loop holes within us so that they can get their way. It's a big challenge. I love the challenge though - I feel like when the day comes for me to be a parent I'm going to have a lot of experience behind me that very few people have the opportunity to be a part of.

Another thing I miss are simple things like watching TV or movies and hanging out with my friends. I really really miss my friends. I find myself longing to hang out with them and just be a normal 23 year old from time to time. I also miss my job (my other one, being a Children's Director). All of you at BUMC should be happy to hear that. It's true though. I really miss being there to help make decisions and plan for the kids. I keep praying that everything is going well and that my volunteers have everything under control. I left everything in GREAT hands so I'm not terribly concerned, but I do miss all of the people at BUMC very much. I also miss HeartFIRE and worshiping on Sunday mornings! I'm excited to see where the new service is when I return - I've been praying for you guys! Of course I miss my family as well. I've gotten used to being 4 hours away from my family while living in Statesboro for the past 4 years but there's something about being on the road and knowing that I can't just drive 4 hours to go see them that makes the distance different. I'm missing out on a lot at home since it's getting time for the holiday stuff to start happening - I'm praying that Daraja will provide a lot of cool holiday memories for me instead!

Even though I miss a lot things, I want you to know I'm having a BLAST on tour. The kids are so amazing. On one had kids have the same qualities universally, but on the other hand these children are so different from American children. They truly love unconditionally, they have a capacity to learn and lead spiritually that I've never seen in American children. Sometimes I wonder if we limit our children in America simply because we don't think they're ready or able to comprehend certain things about Christianity. We dumb down and water down Christianity to only talk about the happy things instead of putting the truth out there and then helping explain it on their terms. Kids have such a capacity to learn - we (as a church) are doing American children such a disservice by deciding that they're not "old enough" comprehend Christianity. I've really been thinking about this a lot lately and have been trying to determine if it's a difference in the kids or if it's a difference in the leadership from adults. I think it has more to do with the leadership. I have challenged myself to be extremely conscious of this when I return to work. Children are capable of so much more than we allow them to be.

I know I've been rambling, but I just wanted to share my heart with you guys for a change. Please pray that God would give me more clarity about the things I've been talking about. I want this internship to have a huge influence on the way I do my job when I get back. I think God has put me on this tour to better my knowledge of children and how to guide them spiritually. Please pray as well for my heart. I have such a desire to get to know these kids on a deep level and really be a strong mentor for them. I realize that I can't be this for every single one of them, but I pray that God would allow for me to have this kind of a relationship with some of them. We're half way through tour and I've yet to really get into the heads of these kids and dig into their personal stories. I feel it coming soon, just pray that God would use me as He sees fit.

To my family and friends that will be in Toccoa when Daraja is there - I will see you in 18 days!!!!! I can't wait. I love everyone of you so very much. And of course the word of the day.... sijui. This means, "I don't know." It's become one of my favorite responses! :)

Much love!
Allison :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Crazy Life...

This has been a really crazy last week and a half. That's part of the reason I didn't update my blog on Saturday like I normally do (sorry Daddy). We have reached the part of the tour where sickness is starting to try and pull some of us down. But on the upside of things - everyone has gotten into a pretty good routine of how to go through each day. Things are starting fall into place and a sense of normalcy is starting to fill the atmosphere. This helps the colds and allergies to not have such a dampening effect on the group.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things to keep me on my toes, I'm pretty convinced that tour will never become THAT normal. For example, I had a day off this past Wednesday and another intern and I were staying in the "off house," meaning we didn't have any kids that night or the next day. We had decided to sleep in late and then run a few errands and take it easy the next day. The other intern is epileptic, which I knew in advance, but what I wasn't prepared for was a seizure. I must admit that I've never been so scared and helpless in my life. The morning of our day off she had a seizure just as I was getting out of the shower. I rushed downstairs and got the host, we called 911 and I contacted the tour leader, Christi, and told her what was going on. Luckily, the dad in my host home was very calm and handled the situation very well. Their kids were already at school, the wife had skipped a meeting she was supposed to be at, and the dad had been sick and was still at home resting up. God was all over the whole situation I must say! It was such a scary experience, but if it had of happened at any other time it could have been really bad. God allowed for her to be away from the kids when all of this happened and I am so thankful that I was the only one who had to be around for it. I don't ever want to experience that again - but God taught me a lot through the whole situation.

I was actually able to still enjoy my day off too, I just didn't get to enjoy it with the other intern. My host took me to Macaroni Grill for lunch, then to buy a belt, after that, a manicure and pedicure (they had a special going on, I couldn't pass it up), and then Bonefish for dinner. It was a pretty good day off despite the chaos of the morning. I finished the day watching a movie in the host's home theater - it was awesome!

Since I wrote the last time, we have visited Cranberry Township, PA where we stayed 4 days. I really enjoyed my time there. My girls and I were able to stay in two different host homes while we were there because our first hosts had a child get sick. We stayed with the children's pastor and her husband and 16 year old daughter for the first two nights. This was cool since I'm a children's pastor too. They took us to breakfast both mornings and even had one of the those cool massage chairs that massages EVERY part of your body! It was great! :) After two nights with them, we moved houses to stay with the pastor and his family (their son got to feeling better). The church had their annual fall festival while we were there and all of the kids and chaperones were given cowboy hats, bandanas, and sheriff badges to wear. We looked pretty cute in our "western wear." The kids had a great time riding the bull, milking a (fake) cow,  doing obstacle courses, playing carnival games, taking old western photos, and eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream! It was a great night.

After Cranberry, PA we traveled to Waynesboro, VA. We had a great time here and enjoyed the weather getting a little warmer. After a 2 night stay in Virginia, we traveled to Weddington, NC for another 2 night stay. This was where I had my day off. Then we traveled to Mocksville, NC and had a great concert at Blaise Baptist Church. Yesterday morning we did a concert at a middle school for the 7th graders. It was awesome doing worship songs in a public school. At the end of the concert we had the kids do the "Cupid Shuffle" with the teachers, it was great entertainment. We have a concert tonight in Statesville, NC and then fly out tomorrow morning for Cincinnati, OH.

It's been a busy few weeks as always but God still seems to find the energy to supply me with. I continue to pray for wisdom but have added strength to that list. It's becoming easier and easier to let things get me down physically because it's the time of year for colds and allergies to kick in. I know that my spiritual connection will help with my physical strength as well so I'm fighting for my time with God and really covet the few minutes here and there that I'm able to spend with Him. Please continue to pray for the group. We need prayers for health - everyone is still feeling pretty good, but the first few colds are starting to sprout up here and there. As always, pray for safe travels!

I've been trying to think of a good word of the day to leave you with. We're going to go with Jambo - jambo simply means hello! Hope everyone has a great weekend! Love you guys so much.

Allison :)

PS - check facebook for pics, I'm having a hard time uploading to my blog this time!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I'm gonna be such a great mom some day! haha :)

Whew! I made it through the busiest weekend of my entire life. I can honestly say there were moments when I was questioning my ability to keep going. So much has happened this past week or so that I'm not sure where to begin. I have learned a lot about myself and the kids and I'm really starting to feel like a mom rather than a chaperone. In my last blog I wrote about the jam packed weekend we had ahead of us. That weekend was AMAZING - looking back on it now, I find it hard to believe that everyone stayed alert, happy, excited, energetic, and positive for the majority of the weekend. God truly knows what He is doing and I've learned to not question His plans. 

This past Saturday the kids had an amazing opportunity to perform at a Third Day concert. It was soooooo awesome to see the kids doing such a huge event. They were amazing (yes, I'm biased, but I think you would agree if you heard them)! I always feel like a proud parent when the kids are leading worship - I laugh at myself because I often have tears come to my eyes when I watch them up on stage. One thing I found very interesting was the fact that the kids didn't even make a big deal out of being able to perform with Third Day. They treated Mac Powell (the lead singer for Third Day) just like any other person. Here I am with the other interns pinching myself to make sure that I'm actually in the same room with Mac Powell standing 2 inches away and the kids could care less who the guy is. All they know is he's someone who they are going to sing with. It's really cool because the kids "perform" the same no matter whether there are 3 people watching or 30,000. I love that about them!

After the Third Day concert we traveled to Anderson, SC. We arrived a little after 1:00 am and had to be up at 5:00 the next morning - sleep has become a precious and rare thing to be cherished this past week. The kids did 2 songs per service at Newspring (they had 4 services) and then we headed north. We spent  almost one full day on the bus as we made our way to Maryland where spent 2 days. One of these days was spent touring Washington D.C. We had a great time touring the White House, The Air & Space Museum, The Natural History Museum, and eating lunch on the Mall outside of the Capital. My favorite experience of the day however, was the planetarium at the space museum - I felt like a kid again as I ooed and ahhed at the stars and the planets. Some of the kids kept asking if we were moving and told me that they needed their dramamine. I had to laugh. 

After Maryland, we spent some time in New Jersey where we had a concert on Wednesday night. It has really started to get cold (I mean like 30s and 40s all day). Everyone says it's unseasonably cold up here, but I wouldn't know any different. It was very rainy in New Jersey and really cold - but none the less, we had a great time and really good time of worship with Bethel Baptist. On a side note, just to make you laugh, many of you know I'm a pretty big clutz. I fall a lot! Well during the lovely weather in New Jersey I added another fall the ever growing list that I have of "falling stories." The church we were staying at had a family life center on one side of the street and the sanctuary and the office building were on the other side. We needed internet while we were there and there was no wireless so we had to go across the street. No big deal (if you aren't me). Since it was raining, freezing, and the road to cross was 5 lanes with a fair amount of traffic I was running to make my time outside as short as possible. Not a good idea. I'm running (keep in mind I have like 3 layers of clothes on, a huge backpack, with laptop inside, no hood, and the ground is super wet and slippery), I get about 20 yards from the door and I completely miss the fact that there is a curb to step over. I trip, do not catch myself, the backpack comes over my head forcing me to completely lay out in a puddle. As I struggle to get up and rebalance myself I just had to laugh. Only I could manage to myself in such an entanglement. If only had taking my time I would have ended up without pain in my knee and elbo, aLOT drier, and my ego still intact. Haha, God does have His way of humbling us - I must say!

Anyway, I'm now in Pennsylvania having a blast. We went bowling today and I'm proud to say I broke 100 (ok, yes there were bumpers) but still. Let me tell you though, I was pretty impressed with the kids' ability to knock down some pins! I also got to go to Target today - I was thrilled. Of course my kids were waiting with our host in the car so I didn't go in to browse, but it was a small adventure that was out of the ordinary for me :) It really is the small things that mean the most. 

I have been struggling a lot this past week with wisdom and patience. I have reached the point where I is essential that I find a healthy balance between being a friend and a caregiver. I have really had a hard time knowing what to say and when. I'm really trying to determine what I should choose to bring attention to and what I should simply ignore. This issue is the thought behind my title for this post. I am learning more about being a parent then I ever could have in all my 4 years of Child and Family Development Classes at GSU (no offense to my professors). It's hard to explain, but I'm really having to do some self assessment. God's really working in my heart and I've been discovering just how incapable I am of "chaperoning" these kids. Now is definitely not the time to be the control freak I'm so prone to turn into. I told you that I've been struggling with wisdom and patience, well one of the interns prayed that I would find each of these things and that God would provide. (Yes, I know when you pray for patience God only gives you more situations in which your patience are tested, I was fully aware of this when I asked). This morning I was doing a devotion and what verse happened to be the key verse? James 1: 2-8, which says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." Now you tell me that God wasn't all over that!! Man, He's incredible. I have no words to describe how much peace I felt after stumbling upon this verse this morning - it's awesome to see God prove His holiness and mightiness. 

I know this has been a REALLY lengthy post, I'm sorry if your eyes are killing you by now. But kudos to you if you made it this far. I miss you all so much and love the texts, emails, comments, and facebook replies each of you send to me. They really uplift me and make me smile. I'll leave you with the word of the day which is a recent addition to my own Swahili vocabulary - twinde. It means quickly or hurry (appropriate, huh?)

Naukupenda everyone!

Allison :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Think I Can, I Think I Can, I Think I Can...

It has been one of those days where you think you think you will never see the end. You know, you wake up 2 hours before the sun has even thought about peeping over the horizon, sit in traffic for about an hour to get where you are going, then run errands all day only to find that each errand you run will have its own special obstacle to overcome. By the end of the day, which is now 7:30 pm because of waking up so early, you can’t think straight, everything makes you giggle, and you finally give up, lay down, and talk to God, thanking Him for helping you make it through the day and asking for His blessings and guidance upon the day to come.

It’s days like these that I truly see God at work – the days where Satan tries so hard to twist and turn things to where everyone’s spirit is down, we are exhausted, and it’s easy for everyone to begin taking out personal frustrations on one another. Note that I said “Satan tries.” He has been trying to throw an obstacle into every situation we have encountered today, yet we have overcome them. It’s so refreshing to come together as leaders after a trying day and just pray, give it all to God, and ask for grace and guidance and the wisdom to handle the situations at hand. It gets even better at the end of the day when you are able to sit down with your girls (ages 10, 10, and 13) and listen to them pray to God for the leaders of the choir, their own hearts, and the hearts of those we are to encounter this weekend. They pray so honestly and are so humble. It’s prayers like these that keep me going after a long day. Their words and thoughts reflect so much of what is truly inside their hearts. Sometimes I have wondered if the kids really trust in God and lean on Him for everything. When I hear them pray I know the answer to these questions are yes without a doubt. They display such a pure and perfect example of what having a childlike faith is supposed to look like. This makes me think about how much the children of the choir have overcome and yet they still praise God and call Him worthy. They are so trusting and lean on God more than Americans could possibly imagine. I am really starting to realize that if these kids can praise God with all of their hearts after going through death, hunger, sickness, homelessness, and so many other obstacles in their lives – how much easier then should it be for me to completely trust in God and rely on Him for my everything.

Today we had very large problem with our new bus, it got stuck after having to do a sudden stop on a large hill. It was teetering and blocking traffic so the wrecker came to fix it; however, the wrecker accidentally dropped the bus do to its weight and the engine frame was bent along with a cracked and bent bumper. I don’t say all of this to complain, please don’t receive it in that way. I say it to 1. Inform you and 2. Ask for your prayers. We had thought our bus troubles were behind us but I know that Satan wanted to take advantage of the fact that this is the busiest weekend of the entire tour and our patience and time are definitely running thin. Please just pray that the bus will be fixed in a timely manor (by this Sunday morning) and that wisdom and guidance will be given to those in charge of handling this whole situation.

To fill you in on the last week or so, the girls and I have stayed in several host homes that have truly been a blessing to us. We have enjoyed four-wheeler riding, marshmallow roasting, trampoline jumping, North Georgia fair rides, tons of ice cream, leaf rubbing, many yummy meals, shopping (on my day off), having our clothes washed, swinging on the playground, playing basketball, really sports in general, and getting to know people and their individual stories. It’s been a blast so far and I have learned so much from each of the host homes. We have done three concerts  (not including YSLA) and have two tomorrow and one Saturday. The concerts have been great so far. I have now been moved to running the sound system during concerts. This is exciting but very nerve racking for now. I’m ready to get in a routine with it so that I’m not so nervous about forgetting to play the next song or turn down a microphone and the iPod during the next video. I really am enjoying learning a new skill though, it is very exciting! The kids are starting to get back into a routine and everyone has arrived from Kenya now. For the first week we did not have 3 of the 4 Kenyan adults and one of the kids. Now everyone has arrived, even baby Talie who is 2 (the daughter of the choir leaders). It finally feels like one big family of 35 :) ! I love it!!!!!!

This weekend is jam packed with worship. Friday morning (Oct 9) we will be singing at Catalyst and then traveling to Newnan for a concert at the Arts Center. Saturday we will be leading worship at the Third Day/Jars of Clay concert in Alpharetta (yes, I’m pumped!!) and then Sunday morning we’ll be at Newspring in Anderson, SC to lead worship! So exciting but definitely need your prayers for smooth sailing and safe travels. I must go to bed now I have to wake up at 4 am to get an early start on the day! Thank you all for your support and prayers. You all mean so much to me.
Naukupenda! (Word of the day, means, “I love you”.)

Allison :)