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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

when the road becomes foggy

Waking up a few of the past few mornings, I have been surprised to find my entire world engulfed in fog. It makes driving a bit more of a hassle. (I love to drive aimlessly, but driving with a purpose has become a chore.)

One such dark morning, I was on my way to babysit. It was early, and not many people were on the road yet. I was a bit more than a mile away from home, and suddenly I couldn't see anything more than two cars length ahead of me.

The street lamps, the traffic lights, other cars, everything was invisible in the darkness and fog. It was eerie. I knew that I wouldn't get lost. I had taken this road at least twice a day, if not multiple times more for the past two years. I knew I was going in the right direction, but still the uncertainty of not being able to see the road, or my surroundings had me battling fear, doubt, and anxiety.

This seems silly, I am aware. I wasn't even sure what I was afraid of. As soon as I was out of that patch of fog, I laughed at myself for being freaked out. But in those few seconds, what I knew to be true didn't matter, all that I saw was uncertainty.

I feel like that is my life lately. Uncertain.

I doubt if God called me to Bolivia for six weeks. I wonder if I'll be able to handle it. I doubt that my Spanish will be good enough to communicate. I wonder if my visa be approved and be returned in time.

I am scared of airports, customs, and immigration. I am nervous about flying in a small plane from La Paz to Cochabamba. I am scared outta my mind about going completely alone. I have doubts on if the money will all come in. I am frightened that when I return, life here won't be the same, that I would've missed out on so much. I am on edge about even writing this blog and sharing my fears.

This is my fog.

I am in a fog of uncertainty. For these few seconds, or weeks, what I know to be true (He HAS called me to serve in Bolivia) is being overpowered by doubt from the enemy and my flesh.

And then I remember His faithfulness.

He remembered Noah and in His perfect timing, placed him where he needed to be. (Gen 8:1-3)

He told Abraham to leave his home, and go to a land He would later show him. (Gen 12:1-4)

He was with Joseph when he was in an unfamiliar land. (Gen 39:2)

When Moses feels like he cannot speak, He reminds him who He is. (Ex 4:10-12)

He keeps Daniel safe from eminent danger. (Dan 6:26-27)

This is my God.

Romans 8:15a "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave to fear..."

Deut 31:8 "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Josh 10:25a "Joshua said to them, 'Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous..."

Psalm 56:4 "In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

Heb 13:6 "So that we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'"

Isa 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I feel the fog lessening, and the truth regaining clarity. I still must prepare myself for my trip. My Spanish classes begin the beginning of January. My Bolivian travel books have changed from cute coffee table decorations to bedside companions, marked and highlighted. God has provided me with almost $700 since my last post (YAYY!) I have started the process to set up a visit my my compassion international girl, Karen, I sponsor. I have a budget of what bills need to be paid while I am gone.

I am still uncertain. But I will continue to push forward, knowing He is with me, and He is preparing the way.

Please continue to pray with/for me. I appreciate it more than you could imagine.

Only about seven weeks until its go time!

Have a wonderful, wintery, Wednesday! Love, M

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

getting kicked out of a country isn't ideal

Last night I went to my youth pastor's home for a reunion Christmas party for all the high school leadership kids that have graduated.

There are now seven classes that attend, so there were quite a few of us over. We played mafia and banana grams, watched a video we had made five years ago, and all caught up. I was the oldest "kid" there (are you still a kid at 24?!?), so a lot of the younger kids didn't know all of the infamous stories from when I was in high school. I was reminded of one such story that was turned out pretty life changing.

My senior year of high school about 15 or so of the leadership team went on a mission trip to Jamaica. We went for a week, and put on a Vacation Bible School, worked in orphanages, and did work projects at a local church.

This was our third year going to Jamaica over spring break.

At the time, to travel to Jamaica, the only travel documents we needed was a birth certificate and school id or driver's license. I had turned 18 five months prior, so according to the law, I needed a state id or driver's license, not just a school id. I didn't have a driver's license at the time. And we didn't even think about the fact I was legally an adult.

I was in charge of all the craft projects for the V.B.S. and orphanages. We each had a carry on bag, and two pieces of luggage (this was before baggage fees, ah the good ole days) one for personal stuff, and one of random tools, craft supplies, tooth brushes, candy, etc. We weighed our bags, prayed with our families, and left the church for the airport. I have never been a huge fan of flying, even before this day, so there was some excitement and anxiety, but soon we were on our way. We had a layover, but were soon in Jamaica.

We began to pile off the plane, anxious to be there. We gathered in the airport in line to go through customs and immigration. About half the group was on the other side of the checkpoint waiting for the rest of us to get through and grab our luggage.

It was my turn.

I gave Karen, the airport worker my school id and birth certificate. She proceeded to ask my age, and if I had another form of identification. I began to get nervous.

 She called her supervisor over to ask her about me. I was clueless. Everyone else had gone through without an issue. The supervisor came over and began yelling at me. I didn't have the proper paper work...they were going to put me on a plane and send me back to the US...if she would ever come to my country and didn't have the proper paper work, she would be thrown out...who was in charge of my group...etc.

So my youth pastor came over to see what the commotion was about. He explained he didn't know about the paperwork mistake, and explained that we were on a trip to serve. The supervisor was yelling at both of us now.

I was so scared. I hated to fly in general, let alone was terrified to get on a plane alone because I was being kicked out of a country.

They said I would have to sit in the customs and immigration office alone until they figured out what to do with me.

 My youth pastor went to the rest of the group and asked them to start praying. The supervisor went away for a moment, and the original airport worker told my youth pastor and me to go through a certain set of doors.

I was crying and devastated. I had saved money, worked fundraisers, and planned crafts and lessons, I was supposed to be there. I was so close. What was God thinking? Why was everything falling apart?

We went through the doors, and on the other side was our entire group, outside. We were so confused. We looked around, and started to leave as fast as possible. After sobbing for a few minutes, I realized, I was free. We were on our way away from the airport, and I was on the bus.

Karen had snuck me into Jamaica.

We had an amazing week. We had so many opportunities to be a blessing to so many people, and in return were blessed beyond belief. I served the least of these in Jesus' name with some of ny dearest friends, and God used us. We saw kids and adults turn their lives over to Christ. It was incredible.

Any time we saw police, everyone hid me in the crowd. We kept thinking they were coming to take me away for being in their country illegally. I don't think we breathed easy until the end of the week.

Finally it was the day to return to the US. We spent more time in prayer than normal that morning, as I was nervous about all things airport related. We were packed and on our way.

We had to go through customs and immigration on the way out. There were multiple lines, and I chose one, and was shaking as I approached the desk.

I looked up, and it was Karen, the same woman who had risked her job by sneaking me into her country.

She remembered me. She was a Christian, and believed in what we were doing that week. She told me she had prayed for us that week. She asked how my week was, and through the tears I was able to quickly share how God showed up, and people met Jesus for the first time. It was incredible.

Could you call it a coincidence that the same woman who snuck me into the country was the last person I saw as I left the country? Out of thousands of travellers on spring break and vacations, she remembered me? Out of the numerous lines to be in, that I was in hers? That she was a Christian and believed in me and what we were there for? Are they all coincidences? I guess you could call them that, but I won't.

I firmly believe I have a God that takes care of His children, who has perfect timing, and an incredible plan that we often don't understand in the midst of it.

I was supposed to be in Jamaica that week, and there was nothing the government or airport security could do about it. God made a way when it seemed impossible, prayer worked right before my eyes, and I experienced a real God who really does care.

As I prepare for Bolivia in February, I do have anxiety about so many things. I frequently tell God He shouldn't have called me, or doubt that He did. But when it comes down to it, I am going with a big God who brings peace and is real. John 4:4b "because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." He's bigger, greater, and in my side.

So, prayers for safe travel are appreciated...especially for smoothness while going through customs. :0)

Update: I still need about $1,500 by January 14th...please be praying that God supplies the remainder of the funds.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all who have been supporting me financially, with prayer, cans and bottles, and extra babysitting jobs. You are all amazing.

Love you all,
Michelle :0)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

there's nothing like a cup of coffee

I love coffee.

I love the inviting aroma, the bittersweet taste, the warmth from a fresh cup, the jolt of energy I feel I feel on sip number five. I just love it. (Maybe not quite to the Gilmore Girls extreme...)

I remember my first taste of coffee. One of my dearest friends and I have breakfast at Panera Bread every Thanksgiving morning. It's tradition. Last month was our 7th year. Yay for bagels on turkey day! Anyways, when I was 18, my birthday fell on Thanksgiving, so we were out to breakfast. I decided to "become a grown up", so I ordered my first cup of coffee. I fell in love first sip, drank it too fast, and burnt my taste buds so bad I couldn't taste any of the wonderful Thanksgiving or birthday fixings.

Since then, coffee and I have a better understanding of each other.

The other day about three weeks ago, I did a photo shoot for a friend just for fun. The theme was 40/50's glamour. I loved getting dressed up and having a break from reality for a bit. I did not love being cold. Outdoor photo shoot in December in Michigan?!?! We were nuts.

The plan was to get coffee after we were done with pictures to warm up. That plan went south when we realized how late it was. So I began the thirty minute trek home. I was frustrated. I wanted coffee. So I debated stopping and popping in a shop to grab a cup. But in that moment, wearing sweat pants was winning in my mind over drinking coffee. Plus, I was trying to be frugal with money, since I really do want Bolivia to become reality. So I decided I would just make coffee at home.

 About 10 minutes away from home, I remembered I was out of coffee. I had brewed the last bit the day before. Now home is within reach and I have become cranky. So I decided to just head home and settle on hot chocolate. So I went up stairs to my apartment.

On the welcome mat was a small brown package, I kicked it inside and made a beeline to the sweat pants drawer. After putting on fuzzy reindeer socks, I walked into the kitchen to prepare hot chocolate. I stumbled over the small brown package. I opened it up. There was no card.

Inside was a pound of the most delightful smelling coffee, and a very cute mug. I looked at the return address, it was from my friend as a late birthday present. You had better believe there were tears.

The God if this universe heard my secret whisper in my heart about how I wanted coffee, and how I didn't want to spend money. He cared enough to put a package on my doorstep the exact moment I needed it. Had it come a day before or after, I wouldn't have been so thankful.

His timing is perfect.

He wants to give us those secret heart whispers, those desires and dreams in our hearts. That's my God. Psalm 37:4 - Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

If you would like to purchase some amazing coffee and have 100% of the funds to love some orphans in Bolivia (win-win, right?) Check out I ordered some French Vanilla coffee this morning.

As for now, I am going to relax with my lovely cup of Joe. -Michelle.


Welp, here I go...

Here begins the tales of adventures, the stories of provision, the unexpected smiles, the sharing of dreams, and the random ramblings. Here is where I intend to pass on my love for life, my Savior, and the desire to dream.

The other day, I heard a quote, "If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough." Wow. What a profound statement. I believe we have a God we can't out dream.

I am excited to share one of my big dreams, and how God is beginning to make it come true.

Can't wait to share all things Bolivia related, and how good God is. But for now, I need sleep.

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good....