Tuesday, October 28, 2014

if i had been tweeting: Ecuador & Uganda 2014

   Do you believe in the saying 'Better late than never'? Yes? Splendid. Because this summer during those beautiful three weeks of no social media, I kept track of what I would have been tweeting if I would have been near WiFi. We'll start with Ecuador on July 8th excited for my summer of brand new adventures & stretch to August 15th when exhaustion was overtaking me & home was within reach.
   Enjoy the good, the bad, & the ugly of the simple tweets of my mission trips. I recorded these in my journal day by day. 

   ECUADOR 2014

-Sitting in the airplane before take off is just like the alchohol swab before the shot. #apprehensionstinks 

-Jkz. Flying is horrible & I'm anticipating being in South America. #soon&verysoon 

-When you sit next to strangers (even if they're an answer to prayer) you have to act brave; which leads to silent screaming.

     So I mainly tweeted about flying for most of my trips. But, trust me, it was simply because I didn't have time to write down tweets about everything I wanted to when I was working on the most important thing day after day - relationships.


   Approaching supper time with no food in my stomach but a strip of beef jerky & total exhaustion from running through airports with rude staff... 

-I really should've taken Mom up on that offer for a nut roll before I left. 

-Remember when I said I hated flying? They just brought me a Dr. Pepper. #temporarilyhappy #anditwasthelastone #score 

   On one particular flight, the only flight all summer I sat by 'myself', I got my very first view of the ocean! I was in awe. For the beginning of that flight, I kept the window closed, due to the fact that I wasn't going to look down. But when I opened that window to take a peek, to see if the sights had changed, I saw this. My first view of the ocean. I couldn't stop smiling for a half an hour as I gazed at the clear water below. 

-That gahhgeous ocean, though. 

   ...& apparently I was lost for intelligent words as well. 

-Oh, just listening to Spanish radio with Ranson & interpreting the song based on tone of voice. Lizzie McQuire & HSM belting was also a highlight. #internationalmemories 

   That flight mentioned above was one of my favorites. Singing, dancing, giggling, & landing in Guayaquil was so much fun. The lights of the city were beautiful & I was traveling with a slap happy, clever group. Not every mission trip member can say they landed in a brand new country singing the 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's theme song, now can they? 

   This was the next day, after we'd settled into our host's home at 2AM & gotten a nice-considering-the-circumstances nights sleep. 

-Walking through cocoa fields on the way to lunch... #wegottotasteittoo

-Some people need to accept the ten second rule. Right, Evan? #necessary 

   You may have had to been there.....

-Sitting in the middle of Ecuador, under a palm tree. #thebeautifulsweatylife

   There were many plants surrounding our family's house (including COFFEE)! It was beautiful.
   Also, sweaty is an understatement. Believe me when I say that it was unbelievably hot.


-So, um, I just asked an American girl here how she & her husband met during our second conversation. #ilovelovestories

   As this picture portrays, our standing-in-line-for-the-bathroom conversations sprung into a sweet friendship by the end of the week. 

-Shout out to SheaSmith for not pushing me off our bed while I was hogging it. 

      Our living room converted bedroom was full, to say the least. 

-Two churches, two languages, one God. 

-What we do to entertain ourselves... #waterbottlebalancing 

      This is what a late night among traveling teenagers with no WiFi looks like.

-It's easier to public speak when you have a translator beside you, surprisingly. 

-Oh, to finally be used to the beautiful mix of English & Spanish. 

-It rained this morning & the mist under these fruit trees is blissful. #thethingsthatbringjoyinEcuador

-@chloejane73 "I read it on Pinterest is has to be true!"

   One day, we piled 17 people on the back of a pick-up truck & headed to a banana plantation. I know, it's not something you get to do everyday. On our slightly-bumpy ride that was an absolute blast this was requested to make my list of tweets:

-Jesus is bae. 

     The day declined. I was in pain from Saturday afternoon to Tuesday night due to my surgery in May. It brought a lot of tears & messiness to my personal trip, because I wasn't able to do several important activities or be fully useful at the activities I was already at. But, for some reasons I'm still not sure of, God worked through all the pain (literally & figuratively), like He always does.

-I'm so thankful that there's a doctor on board. #graciousDrPenner

-That's Entertainment in Ecuador, folks. #MrAladdinSir #goEvan

-Late night conversations with my favorite couple in the kitchen make me laugh deep. 

-Oh, the joys of seeing Ricardo after being in a house by myself with only Spanish speaking people. 

    ^for what seemed like hours. It was one of the hardest things I made myself do - not go door to door to evangelize in the community. I was completely alone in South America, besides a kind-hearted woman & a few young girls that only spoke Spanish. I was able to read a tiny bit, but mainly rest  & listen to nature outside our windows. I cried as the sky got darker & darker outside our window, because I wanted to be with my team. Looking back, it was one of the most stretching & beautiful afternoons in Ecuador - maybe because it made me appreciate Ricardo's familiar face & my team's loud banter like never before.

-Bo & Paige win at life because they've seen me leaving-a-foreign-country-ugly-cry twice. 
     It's not pretty. Just sayin'.

-So bitter & bueno. 

     Wrote this on our bus ride back to the city of Guayaquil. I sat by myself, enjoyed me first air conditioning in seven days, & wrote about the the sadness of leaving our wonderful host church. 

-The man that admitted me to the U.S. again called Michael BublĂ© bad names & this is not okay with me. 


   UGANDA 2014 


-You know you're not in Kansas when a single KSTATE shirt is not available to purchase at the airport gift shop.

-Keep speaking to me, British people. #DallasToLondon 

-I'm basically the happiest person on the planet. I'm back! #theresreddirt #andmybelovedfamily

-Ugandan people speaking my name will not grow old. 

-When it says to not grumble & complain, that doesn't include to your journal, does it? #imisscertainpeople #icouldusesomesnugglingblackbabytime

-Home sweet guesthouse. #iloveuganda #oursafehaven

-First a whale, now an elephant... #youdontwannaknow #latenightgiggles @Dana @Diane @MommaV

-Slashing grass, cooling pooridge, car washing, & counting... #allinadaysUgandanwork

-Just scarfed a whole bag of beef jerky. #unashamed

-"I imagine Jesus cut loose a couple of times..." #lolz

-Not very many people can wake up in a banda in Uganda with one of their best friends saying, "I brought you coffee!" #blissfulmornings

-Carpetball with Lake Victoria in the background is a much different experience. 

-Count it all as gifts... #PreachGospelToMyself

-Being reminded of a God that stoops on our behalf. 

-Sometimes when you're in Uganda & you take a morning off for sanity, you need to lay in your tent, listen to the rain, & have some TSwift therapy. 

-I've met or reunited with so many beautiful people this summer. #thelistgoesonandon 

-I'm at that emotionally-unstable-because-I-don't-want-to-leave-but-these-people-are-driving-me-crazy phase.

   I love my team y'all, but after being with any group of people you don't usually live with for two weeks straight...The Lord gives you many character-building opportunities. I may not have accepted them too well after a full summer. 

-If they only knew... #finishthatsentence 

-Apparently security chooses the girl that is sobbing to randomly inspect her whole bag. #leavingUganda #itwasme

-Knowing how to get around at the London airport... #thelittlethings

-I'm going to miss these British passengers & flight attendants. #BritishAirways #classypeopleallaround 

-Update on Emilee's life: I still hate flying. #justsayin #twomore 

     There it is, folks. A simple glimpse into the not-so-glamorous side of mission trips. Don't let this be the only blog you read about Ecuador & Uganda. ;) I'm so glad I wrote these, because it was a way for me to jot down quick memories if I didn't have time to journal about them. Thanks for reading.

     Have a beautiful rest of your week, mi amigos! 

Much love,

P.S. I miss introducing myself as Emilia. Tear.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

when your midweek feels like defeat


Emma Watson.
Emma Watson

     I've been known spend too much in the past. If we were all honest with ourselves, we might notice that we spend too much time there. But if we do it in such a way - it's healthy - even necessary. We need the strength of yesterday's sorrows & the joy of it's victories. Life is a string of memories. How does a simple thing turn into a memory we relive? Someone is brave. Someone is brave enough to face rejection. Someone has twenty seconds of insane courage to do something that they wouldn't do if insecurity was holding them back. Someone is brave enough to simplify, to not glorify being busy. Someone is brave enough to start a conversation that matters. Someone is brave enough to choose immeasurably-more instead of so-so (even if it's scary).

     It's interesting to me how year by year, weather doesn't really change. The same trees change the same color during that certain week of the year. But every year at this time - over the sound of crickets & my tea studying sidekick - the way I see all of these changes does. With each passing year, I can either live in wonder of a God that is majestic. Or, I can choose to get caught up in me - but every part of me that He doesn't nurture. My flesh. My I-really-just-don't-want-to-spend-time-with-Him-today side. The side that comes out most often.
     I can't let that discourage me, though. Because as I look across the past few years, I know that each year's situation may get worse - but my outlook gets better.
     Because I have a patient God, friends that are brave, and a dare to begin to change the world one faithful act at a time.
     There's more mundane tasks than adventurous when following Jesus. But that doesn't mean that they are not equally important. Sharing the Gospel to children in two different continents this summer that may have never heard about Him before? That's easy. That looks good, feels good, sounds adventurous. It's a commandment: GO.  Praying for the last person you want to love this week? That's hard. It doesn't feel good, it looks messy, & it's a command.
     Both are commands from a very patient God.
     He knows you hate being outside of your comfort zone. But He longs to stretch it in different ways everyday. Maybe it's by singing a silly song in a room full of children, maybe it's forgiving someone to only become right with God - not to be seen by men. Maybe it's being content with the nothingness that only seems to be your everyday life.
     Remember what makes memories? Remember what leaves fingerprints on the Kingdom calendar? Being brave. Being, practically, fearless. Fearless of what other people think, as long as you're following Christ's command.
     You can do it. So GO out there & trust that nothing is wasted & sometimes, every tiny thing you do (like staying up after midnight to study for a test that bores you to tears or changing that baby's diaper or grading that test) is leading up to a better tomorrow for all of us.
     Remember to be brave. Keep the good of your past experiences alive - you'll need them for this journey. You'll need to see how you've done it before, you can do it again, & how it made someone smile. Make new memories by ''being as you wish to seem''. Dive yourself into the crazy life He has made - just for you. Because life doesn't start tomorrow. You bring the good life into tomorrow by giving it your endurance today.
     So, maybe next year at this time, over tea & study notes & crickets, we'll see how something we did this year made next year better. How being content reminded us that eternal life with Christ starts now & we have His power within us.
    What's your first step? Ask Jesus how He wants you to be brave (sometimes just a silly word to disguise the act of being faithful) today.


P.S. Have you ever listened to Brave by Sara Bareilles? Today would be a great day to do that, too.

For more posts filing under 'coffee for your heart' click here: Holly Gerth's Encouraging Blog.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

renewed honesty

This is a little something I wrote in my journal on September 29th. My writing is transforming as every week passes & life throws many different plot twists at every turn. It's exciting and terrifying all at the same time. Read on:

   Ernest Hemingway wrote - I'm not sure when - to "write hard & clear about what hurts."
I don't think I've done this. I talk a lot of brokenness & vulnerability, because I love the idea of being real. I love the idea of being honest in every interaction. 
   But, in many ways, I've failed you for covering up. It's not that I've been hiding my passion from you in my writing - I've just been too scared to write it out myself. 

   I'm reading a novel - Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. Long story short, Sam has been hurt deeply through her life in the foster care system. She is an orphan hiding in her books, not being honest with herself. Her strict professor, Johnson, finally tells her that she has no voice. He wants to see the real her - not just facts or statistics. To him, her writing was good, but it sounded like one of her grocery lists (no conviction).

   So, as if the strict professor was speaking to me, I've realized that I talk ABOUT these things - & sometimes I write about heavy topics that put me into an very scary-introvert place. But not often enough do I pour myself into my work. Not often enough am I honest enough with myself to even be able to. 

   Writing isn't all fancy words & enchanting fonts - what makes writing fancy & enchanting is the passionate heart behind it. 

   I'm going to commit myself to honesty. Honesty to my writing, to myself. 

   My journals will be some the same - but newer ones will be in the format of a letter to the dear pages  - or as a prayer to The Lord. Keeping better track of the life He's given me. Blogs will be a deeper challenge and my 'binder articles' will be see through. My forming of my books will be changed. 

   I'm not sure what this all looks like yet. I just know I have to begin.