Monday, August 30, 2010

if home is where the heart is...

At STINT Briefing we had what was called AOA, Area of Affairs (I think), and in those meetings we learned about the culture we would be STINTing in.  I, of course, was in Latin America.  During one of the times we met, we talked about the differences in the values of US culture and Latin American culture.  Of course not everyone in the USA or in Latin America are the same, but these are generalizations that somewhat outline values of each of these cultures.  So below are the list of comparable values of the USA and Latin America (USA on top and Latin America in bold):
1)Task Oriented: productivity
1) People Oriented: relationships
2) Time Oriented: scheduled
2) Event Orientation: here and now has full attention
3) American Dream: corporate ladder
3) Limited Resources: social status stays
4) Consumerism: trading for bigger and better
4) Conservation: use until can't use anymore
5) Efficiency and Convenience: save time and get more done
5) Tradition: done how they're always done
6) Future Orientation: goal oriented
6) Past & Present Orientation: tradition and live in the moment
7) Justice: everyone is entitled to rights
7) "It just is": not much can be done
8) Emotional Control: rationality
8) Emotional Expression: if you feel it, express it
9)Nuclear Family: mom, dad, siblings
9) Extended Family: grandparents, aunts, uncles
10) Privacy: independent (mine)
10) Sharing: no personal space, share everything

As we were learning these different values, I couldn't help but think how much mine align with those of Latin America; and they really always have.  Now I can see how having different values than mainstream culture has effected me as I grew up and interacted with US culture.  Even now, I can feel a sense of 'other' as I live here, where I'm from.  I love here (USA), but my heart often feels out of place here.  I feel like I belong in Latin America.  Now don't worry, this isn't me saying that I am never returning to the US once I leave, I'm just saying how nice it is to know where I feel like I truly belong.  I don't know where God will put me, but I know where I love to be.  Ultimately, I won't feel completely at home anywhere, I belong with the Lord and one day I will be basking in His presence. 

Quick Update!

Hi all!  So I just did some math (strange right?) and I am 18%!  This is such a pleasant surprise considering the last time I calculated I was around 5% percent.  Praise God, the Provider.  I need $540 to reach my deadline of 20% ($6600) by September 1st and I am trusting in God to get me there.

Please continue to pray for me to trust in the Lord for support raisin as well as other things; and also pray for the Argentina STINT teams who will be reporting to La Plata and Buenos Aires on September 6th (Labor Day).   Some of them still are not at 100% and must be before they get on that plane.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The 4-L's of a STINTer

Hi all! So I am back from STINT Briefing in St. Charles, Illinois and boy was it an exhausting blast!  We had different sessions and services that prepared us for our jobs as STINTers to the world.  The main objectives given to us for effective ministry are what are called the 4-L's, they are: Love the Lord, Love My Team, Launch Movements, and Learn a New World.  Some of the main sessions were how to go about doing each of those.

Love the Lord
What an amazing job I have to be paid and 'required' to love the Lord!  I, myself, cannot change the world for the betterment of His Kingdom; I, myself, cannot glorify Him as I was created to do.  But if I am always coming to the Lord, seeking to be guided by Him and be obedient to Him, then I can love Him the way I am supposed to.  To try to help build a stable, Christ-centered movement without doing so for with love for the Lord, is foolish and dangerous.  It's dangerous because it becomes about ourselves when we don't keep our focus on the Lord, and when that happens we're not working in the Lord's will, this means we're being disobedient.  In John 14:15 Jesus says "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

Love My Team
I don't think that's going to be a challenge.  I have met all but two of them face-to-face, and the other two I have met via Skype (they are already in Buenos Aires).  The whole Argentina STINT team (Buenos Aires and La Plata) and the one person Chile STINT team hung out for the whole week at STINT Briefing.  We roomed together, ate together, traveled together, learned together, and had fun together.  It's amazing how close a week can bring people.  One of my favorite sessions concerning loving our team was the one entitled "Singles"; we were all uneasy about what this session entailed because we're not allowed to date on STINT so we had no clue what this session would talk about.  The session turned out to be quite excellent and informational.  The session was basically about encouraging and interacting with team members of the opposite sex.  There were 3 main points on how to love (platonically) our teammates of the opposite sex, it was quite helpful!  For loving and affirming our male teammates I have three main points: 1)Affirm them in risk taking and being bold; 2) Thank and appreciate them for being gentlemen and allow them to serve in that way; and 3) Give them words of affirmation, especially let them know that you appreciate and respect them in front of their peers (especially in front of their male friends). Hopefully I am remembering these correctly, these are the tips for loving and affirming your female teammates: 1)Insist upon treating her like a lady (even though we often have a hard/awkward time accepting such treatment, we secretly like it even if we don't act like it); 2)Observe and appreciate her (pay attention to what she does well, like cooking, and express to her that you appreciate that about her); and 3)ask her questions (women like to feel worthy of attention, so if you ask her questions that show she's worth your time). Our STINT men on the Argentina team did a great job of putting the tips into practice and us women did the same.  Ephesians 4:29 says "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as it fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

Launch Movements
Campus Crusade for Christ, International's mission is: Helping build spiritual movements everywhere, so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.  We believe strongly in the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  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."

Learn a New World
This is part of effective evangelism.  What works for some cultures doesn't necessarily work for others, it's important to be cognizant of that and operate within that.  We're called to take the Gospel everywhere and to everyone, part of that job is to help put it in a context that helps them grasp it and leave the results up to God.  Cultural relevance is key; in 1 Corinthians 9:22b says "I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I might save some."  We should follow after Paul's example.

I will make these my goals for STINT year because I want to bring glory to God's Kingdom and God Himself; these are some ways that I can live a life that points to the beauty of Christ.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chi-town tomorrow

Well folks! Tomorrow two of my friends and I fly up to Chicago, IL (we'll be in St. Charles for the week) for STINT briefing.  We'll be amongst all the STINTers from the USA who'll be reporting to their assignments (in August, September, October, and January), some of them will even be reporting to their assignments directly from the briefing.  This is another reality check for me: this means that I am one HUGE step closer to actually being in Buenos Aires, Argentina, hooray.  At briefing, there'll be sessions that will help prepare us for our internship this year.  We'll be worshiping with people who are being sent to the corners of the Earth to help fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and will be meeting most, if not all, of our teammates that we'll be serving with in our assignments.  I am very excited about having (almost all) of the Buenos Aires team together before we report there.

Here's how you can pray:
> that all those who need 100% by today will be provided for
> that we will be brought closer to God and to our teammates during briefing
> that we all arrive safely and in a timely manner to briefing

Monday, August 9, 2010

email from a future team member

Hello! This is part of an email a future team member of mine sent to us future Buenos Aires, Argentina.  It was so encouraging to me on a tough today like today.  I desire to have faith like that, there's no reason that I cannot.

I recently got word that some of you may be feeling slightly discouraged in the area of raising finances. We’ve all been there and understand you completely. I wanted to include a few paragraphs from a book that I recently finished reading, It’s Not Death to Die – the biography of Hudson Taylor – because they immensely expanded my concept of faith and understanding of God’s faithfulness. Below is a memory he recalled of inspiration he received from another famous missionary – George Muller: 

“A story that encouraged Hudson was of the time when there was no food on the breakfast table for the orphan children being cared for by Muller.
The tables were set, but the plates were empty and there was no money to buy food. With the children seated and waiting for their meal, Muller lifted his hands heavenward and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for the food the Lord was about to provide. No sooner had he finished praying than there was a knock on the door and there stood the local baker with an armful of loaves of break. He explained that he couldn’t sleep that night as he was concerned that the children were without food. As a result, he rose early in the morning and baked some fresh bread for the orphanage.
A few minutes later there was a second knock on the door and the local milkman announced that he had cans of fresh milk for the children. His milk cart had broken down outside the orphanage and as he had to unload the milk to make repairs, they could have it all.

The God of grace had come to Muller’s aid when his need was greatest, answering his prayer of faith.”

In another part in the book, Hudson Taylor comments to those who worry about money: “He (God) is too wise to allow His purposes to be frustrated for a lack of little money.”
So I just want to encourage each of you to pray a prayer of thanksgiving for all the money that God will raise for you, and to say the prayer in true faith, sincerely believing it.

When I was raising support, I received $700 in cash in an anonymous envelope. God is capable of all things.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

generocity from me

This Summer I have been thinking about generocity a lot more than I usually do.  Mostly, I have been thinking about it in terms of people being generous when giving to this ministry which in turn is being generous to God's Kingdom.  But this note isn't about the generocity of others, it's about my being generous with money that's not mine.  Everything that I have, and ever have had belongs to the Lord; I haven't fully realized that until this Summer. Haggai 2:7-9 says: And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts.  The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts.  The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.'"

I've always thought I was exempt from giving tithes, offerings, or helping in general because I was a child, or because I am a 'poor' college student that's paying for my own education.  That's neither true nor okay.  The Provider, Jehovah-Jireh, tells us to give out of need and sacrifice like the widow who gave her last bit of money in Mark 12:41-44: And he (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums.  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.  And he called his disciples to him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."  Like the Haggai 2:7-9 verses say, everything belongs to the Lord so who am I to decide what to do with it?

This 'revelation' has led me to be more generous, not frivolous, with the resources God has given to me.  I have been making it a point to trust the Lord with not just the support raising process for STINT, but with the everyday expenses and monetary needs of life.  It's been a tough process, learning to trust God with this type of security, but it's proven wonderful and adventurous.  Trusting in the LORD can be a scary ride if you don't let go of the reins and hand them over to God; He's omniscient (all-knowing), so He know's what is wisest when it comes to your finances (and everything else); He's omnipotent (all-powerful), so He controls all money (and everything else); and He's omnipresent (present everywhere at once) so He's already on the other side of Him providing.

As I learn more about who God is, I learn more about who I am.  I am His daughter, and just as a good  father provides for his daughter (food, money, clothes, shelter, love, etc), He provides for me, one of His beloved children.