What the future holds..

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unnamed.jpg8God is a God of surprises, and that is one of the truest statements you will hear.
You can have everything planned down to a T, and something will happen out of the blue that absolutely changes everything.

I think with the utmost certainty that what God has called me to do is to serve and do missions; I’m sure that is obvious to anyone who has followed this blog for any amount of time at all.
The thing is, I can plot, plan, blog and tell everyone that I am going to do missions for the rest of my life, but the fact of the matter is that I have no idea what will happen tomorrow, much less anytime after that.

I am not trying to discourage anyone away from the mission field, quite the opposite actually.
My hope for this blog is for each person who stumbles across it to think about keeping his or her options open. Be vulnerable to the places that God might take you.

If there is anything that I have learned throughout this freshman year of college, it is that the things that God has planned for us are so much larger, so much better and so much cooler than anything we could ever pick out ourselves.

Feel this idea out. Maybe you will start to see it the way I do, too.

Also, if you feel even the slightest inkling to serve somewhere, do it.
It could be just what you need to change your life.

We may not know where we are headed, but rest assured that we are held in the hand of a God who knows what He is doing.

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What does the Bible say about missions?

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My Mexico Team

My Mexico Team

The thing that God tells us to do in the Bible more than anything else is, do not be afraid.
However, another one of the greatest commandments in the Bible is to tell other people about His love.

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'”
Mark 16:15

As Christians, it is easy to get confused about what it is that God is calling us to do. Here at college, I feel like I am surrounded by people who are unsure of what lies ahead for them, what their path will look like. I will admit that even I have felt utterly lost at times and wondered what in the world it is that I am supposed to be doing.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

Sometimes I wonder why we get so stressed out, though. Do we so easily forget that there is a plan already laid down and perfectly pieced together for us? It is so hard not to want to be so controlling of everything and want to figure out everything before it is time. We must remember that God knows exactly what He is doing.

“Declare his glory among the nations, his glorious work among all the peoples!”
Psalm 96:3″

We also must remember that our ultimate goal is to share His Word with others. This does not necessarily mean to travel all over the world and be a full-time missionary, for that is not in everyone’s plan. But what is supposed to be a part of everyone’s plan is to minister to the people we encounter in everyday life and to ultimately be able to show His love through your own actions.

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
Romans 10:14″

Let us embrace these things that Jesus tells us to do, whether it be in mission work or in telling people that we meet in our everyday lives.
What are some of the ways that you have shown His love?
Tell me below!

Mesmerized by Mexico

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Mexico has my heart.
I am struggling to find a way to put into words what a blessing this trip was for me without selling it short. I simply don’t think there is a way for me to convey what an effect it had on me and is still having on me back in the states, but I will begin by telling you a bit of what I did down there.
First, check out this view.
That was one of the first things that amazed me about Mexico. It is absolutely stunning.
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The thing about it, however, was that there were these beautiful hills and ocean views surrounded by utter poverty.
One day that we were there, we got to go out into the city and see where some of the children in the orphanage had come from. We brought food to give them and prayed over them when we got to their houses.
It was such an eye-opening experience because though they had literally nothing to their names; they were so joyful and thankful. I could not help but question why we let such small things have an effect on us and how we could take so many things for granted. My team and I all had to kind of sit down and reevaluate after seeing the things we did in the city.
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The best part though, was the kids.
My heart still hurts to think about them, especially the way they loved us with a huge, open love that we didn’t deserve.
I got to learn about the places that some of them came from, places that I could not fathom, and I quickly realized that I might not have been having as big of an effect on them as they were on me.
Whether it was having them paint my nails four different colors on one hand, drawing each other with chalk on the sidewalk, or them beating me at every single card game we played, I was able to see through their eyes how simply real joy could be found.
It was most definitely one of the saddest moments when I had to tell all of them goodbye.
my girls
But this realization that the ones we serve can change us more than we change them brings everything that I believe about mission trips full-circle.
I am not sure if we would be able to learn the things at home that I learned on this trip. It is a chance for us to not only serve and do what Jesus has called us to do, but also it is a huge chance for us to grow in our faith as well.
That is something that cannot be traded in.
The City of Children trip was hands-down one of the best weeks of my life, and I could not have picked a better way to spend my spring break. Did you serve somewhere this spring break too? Tell me about it below.

Packing smart for your mission trip

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One of the most stressful things about going on a trip, whether it be a mission trip or just simply a vacation, is the packing process.

At least, it is for me.

It is so easy to get stressed out about possibly forgetting something or maybe even packing too much and having to lug it around everywhere. This stress might be even be multiplied for a mission trip, for if you forget something, you might not have access to whatever you have forgotten in the foreign country you are serving.

Never fear, though.

My mission trip leaders compiled a basic list of things to pack which I feel like could be applicable to anyone packing for a mission trip.

Here’s what you need:

1) Based on how many days you will be spending in your area, you will of course need a change of clothes for each day.

Side note: your leaders should inform you about the weather and what kind of work you will be doing, so you can base what you bring upon that. For instance, I will be playing with kids for five days and then going to a church service one day, so I will bring one nice outfit and shirts and shorts for the other days.

Also you of course can recycle outfits if you are going on a prolonged trip.

This also includes pajamas, tennis shoes and coats if you are going somewhere cooler.

2) Bedding. This will be different for each trip, for sometimes people will stay in homes or hotels. However, I will be staying in an orphanage, so I will need to bring sheets and things to put on my bed. I have heard about trips where there are no beds at all, so sometimes sleeping bags are a must as well.

3) Towels and shower things. Sometimes I find it helpful to make a completely separate list for toiletry items, for you definitely do not want to forget any soaps. Cleanliness is key, after all. be sure to bring shampoos and body washes but also shower flip flops if you want. This can also include sunscreen, toothbrush, toothpaste and any other toiletries.

4) Water bottle. This is SO important. In Mexico, you cannot even drink the water, so it is important for me to have something to fill up at a clean source at the beginning of the day. Some might travel to a place where the water source is a few miles away; in that case, they would definitely need a bottle to fill up when they can.

5) Other small items such as: Camera, drawstring backpack, journal, Bible, sunglasses and hand sanitizer.

6) Passport. if you are travelling to another country, you will not be able to go if you forget this. (Obviously.)

7) Fun things. I will be at an orphanage, so I plan on bringing fun things for the kids such as bubbles, candy and coloring books. This will of course be different based on your trip.

This list is pretty basic, but you would definitely be able to spend a week somewhere if you have these things in a suitcase with you.

At my school, this next week is spring break which is a huge week for mission trips. If that is you or if you are going on a trip sometime soon, please know that I am praying for you and so glad that you chose to have this experience!

Please pray for me as I finally embark on my Mexico adventure this coming week; I will be sure to post about how everything went!

Know of anything I left off my list, or have any mission trip stories to share? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

“I Just felt like I was called to do something.”

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One of my very best friends, Ellen Keathley, decided to take a huge leap of faith for next semester.
She has decided to spend 5 months on an overseas mission trip, and I was so proud and impressed that I knew this would be something perfect to share with you all.

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Here is a little bit about her story:

ME: Tell us about what you are doing next semester.
ELLEN: I am taking a semester off and going on a 5 month long mission trip in the fall. It is through a program called YWAM, which stands for Youth With A Mission. The first half of the trip I will be spending in New Zealand doing a sort of training camp to get me ready for the other half which will be somewhere in the South Pacific most likely. This trip has a medical focus, so I will get to provide medical treatment to the people in the islands that I go to during the second half. This is perfect for me, for I am a nursing major.

ME: Have you had any previous experience with mission work?
ELLEN: I have been on one mission trip before to the Dominican Republic this past summer. We worked there in the city; the guys built a bridge and the girls put on VBS for about 90 kids or so. We stayed at a camp for troubled teens as well, and when we got finished with our work during the day, we would help them too. Needless to say, it was hands down one of the best weeks of my life.

ME: Was it your work in the Dominican Republic that made you want to do a bigger trip like the YWAM trip?
ELLEN: I think that it was definitely part of it; I grew so much being in the Dominican Republic for just two weeks. I know that I will grow exponentially more by being in New Zealand for five months.

ME: What other reasons helped you decide to do this trip?
ELLEN: I just felt like I was being called to do something. Somehow everything just fell right into place; whether it was finding out that family friends had been on the same trip that I am going on or deciding that New Zealand was the trip for me and coincidentally my roommate is from there. Everything just somehow seemed to work out.

ME: Now that you know that you are going to New Zealand, how do you feel?
ELLEN: I am definitely nervous. It is starting to hit me that I really am going, but at the same time it is such an excited nervous too. I am looking forward to see what will happen, how things will play out and how God will use my faith.

I also cannot wait to see how God uses Ellen on her trip, and though I will miss her more than anything, I am incredibly proud of what she is doing. Keep her in your prayers!
What do you think about Ellen’s leap of faith?

It is not so easy after all..

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There seems to be a common misconception when it comes to mission trips.
In this generation, it is becoming sort of the cool thing to do to go to foreign countries and take pictures with little babies to set as your profile picture on Facebook.
Because of this, I think that many people might be getting the idea that a mission trip is like a little vacation.
This could not be any farther from the truth.

I was sitting in my Mexico meeting the other night, preparing for our trip that is leaving in like 15 days, and we were discussing all of the rules that we have to abide by while we are there, planning our vacation Bible school that we are putting on for the children, and going over all of the ins and outs that go along with going on this trip.
It was in that moment that I realized that doing these trips is hard work. In order for it to be really successful and good, we have to literally put our whole hearts into planning and preparation. That is the only way that it will have an effect on us and more importantly, the orphans of Ensenada.

This might be obvious to some, but I will admit that I did not realize when I signed up for the City of Children trip how much work would go into preparing us for going down there. By no means has it changed my mind about my love for missions, but I do feel like people who are considering missions should no that is a big undertaking.

But Lord knows that the rewards are so much more bountiful than the work put in.

Have any stories about mission trip preparation struggles? Tell me below!

“Christian mission trips don’t actually help.”

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While looking around for a video to share with you guys, I stumbled upon this one and decided to watch a bit.

Turns out, I watched the whole thing and decided to change what I was originally going to post for this week to discuss his points. It is strange because I agreed with some of the things that he said, but overall I think that he was a bit misguided.

Here’s a little overview of what he says:

1) His main argument is that the people who go on mission trips go with Bibles in hand to witness to the people in these foreign lands; he is appalled by this because he says that what we should be doing is coming with food and intent to build shelter and wells for these people.

The thing about it is that there are different kinds of mission trips: relational ones where the intent is to minister and then ones where the main focus is to feed the hungry and lighten their load by building bridges and houses.

A lot of times the relational trips that he is speaking of will go to Europe or stay here in America where people are fed physically but need to be fed spiritually.

Of course if someone is serving in the middle of India they are not going to just merely share their testimony; that person will get down into the dirt and really help the people there. They will work with the prostitutes, the lepers, and the hungry because setting an example is the best kind of serving there is.

2) His next point was that many mission trips are a week or two weeks long, and what good can you really do in two weeks?

This is one that I somewhat agree with, but I really think that it is just the way that you look at it. I will always stand by the fact that as Christians we are called to serve and to share our blessings with those who are not as blessed as we are.

For some that will take different shapes and forms.

Some will be lucky enough to dedicate their lives to missions (hopefully me), some will only be able to give money, and some people take a week out of hectic schedules and get to serve during that time.

What is important is that we are serving at all since that is what we are supposed to do, no matter how long we serve for.

3) He makes one final point that sometimes instead of raising all the money you need to go on a trip, why don’t you raise that money and send it over to someone who is already there?

Strangely enough this is the one that I agree with the most.

Mission trips are not for everyone. They are not for the faint of heart, and like I said earlier people can serve in different ways.

One thing that is kind of bad about our generation is that sometimes it seems like people go on trips because it is becoming a cool thing to do not because they are called to. If this is the case, then absolutely send the money to people who are already there, for you are not doing anyone any good if you are going just because you want that Facebook picture.

However, I do think that if it is something on your heart, go. Trips have the potential to be life changing, and God always provides.

I am grateful for stumbling upon this video, for it truly is thought provoking.
What are your thoughts about it? Share with me below.

What is the city of children?

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The City of Children is an orphanage in Ensenada, Mexico, where many mission trips go every year. 

It just so happens that this is where I am headed in 30 days, so I decided to do a feature on COC in the hopes that this may be the place that you would like to serve as well.

The City of Children was started in 1970 in an attempt to help get some of the orphans off of the streets of Ensenada. Since then, it has grown to hold around 100 children ranging from 6 months old to 18 years old.

While the actual grounds and structure of the orphanage is a breath of fresh air compared to some of the slums of the city, it is not the appearance of the place that make it so special. It is its mission and character that draws people to it with a desire to help.

Each child that is in the program has a story or background of some sort, a story that is much more difficult and heartbreaking than anything that you and I have been through. It was for these little ones that the city was created.

The city is run with the utmost meticulousness and care; each day is scheduled with play time, school, meals and some sort of devotional. The creators of COC wanted to give the children a routine, something that would not change because adjusting to the orphanage is a big change in itself.

It is obvious that this place is one where God is at work, and He would be pleased with the way they are serving Him.

It is probably obvious, but I am so excited to get to serve here as well.

Know anyone who has been to the City of Children too? Tell me about them below!

How do I raise money to go on a mission trip?

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For some, the most daunting and discouraging part of planning a mission trip is figuring out how to raise funds.
However, fundraising has become crafted into something that can be easily accomplished and should not be a reason to not go on a trip. I have learned a few things about fundraising myself and compiled a list of the ones that I feel work the best.

1. Write letters.
For my trip, this has been our main method of fundraising. We write letters to family members, churches, family friends, and anyone who we feel would donate. Be sure to fully explain where the money will be going and what you will be doing that way the donators will not think that the money is going to your bank account.

2. Channel your inner artist.
Lots of money can be made from selling hand-made items. My roommate knitted hats and made quite a bit of money for her trip by selling them. I also had a friend who had a knack for painting the most beautiful canvases, and she raised a chunk of change by making them for customers too. I like this way because it is a way to raise money and not feel like you are just asking for it.

3. Create a Facebook page.
The world we live in is so surrounded by technology that it is smart to include technology in your fundraising. You can create a Facebook page that tells about your trip and what you are doing, and then link it to a page where people can donate online. It is quick and easy, and on a page people can get a visual of what you will be doing.

4. Again, pray about it.
The thing about mission trips is that God will provide. He will let you know which one is for you, and he will get you there. There have been so many cases where trips don’t know if they will be able to get the funds together, and then something just clicks at the end. It works out because God will take care of it.

A Few Precious Babies

Also, here are a few babies from the City of Children,
just because I am too excited.

Have any cool stories about fundraising or how God provided last minute? Share with me below!

How to choose the right mission trip

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Choosing a mission trip to go on quite possibly might be the hardest part of the mission trip process. There are so many people in need and so many places that need love; you might feel as if you are being pulled in many different directions. To help ease the confusion of choosing, I have compiled a list of things to consider when it comes time to decide where you want to go.

1. Feel out several different options.
The first step is to educate yourself on all the possibilities out there. Lipscomb, the university which I attend, held a missions fair that introduced around 27 different trips around the world. It could have been a little overwhelming, but it was good for me to see all of the different places that I could go to. When you are more aware, your heart is more susceptible to the tug that your mission trip will give you.

2. Find out the work that will be done on trips that you are interested in.
It is important to remember that wherever you end up, you will not be there on vacation. Instead you will be there to put your heart into whatever work is going on in that place. Because of this, it is so important to make sure you feel for whatever you will be doing. If you do not believe in or have a passion for what a trip is doing, it is not the one for you.

3. Allow yourself to be vulnerable to these trips.
I am going to an orphanage in Mexico called the City of Children in a little over a month, and I knew that that was the trip for me simply because I fell in love with the idea of loving on these babies and sharing God’s story with them. I allowed my heart to be tugged, and it was so obvious that that was the one for me. I believe the same thing will happen to each person if they are vulnerable.

4. Pray about it.
If you have done all of your research and looked into everything yet still do not know where to go, pray about it. You will be doing this work in the name of Christ, so it makes sense that you should consult him no matter what. Pretty soon it should be apparent where he is leading you, for he is unfailing and gives great advice.

At the end of the day, do not forget that wherever you go you are doing a beautiful thing in being the hands and feet of Jesus. No matter what trip you choose you are being a good servant.

Have any further advice for choosing a mission trip to go on? Comment below!