Cristo No Esta Muerto! El Esta Vivo!

“Cristo No Esta Muerto; El Esta Vivo” are the words to the song we sang many times in Nicaragua.  “Christ is not dead; He is alive!”  The song goes on to talk about how you can feel Him in your hands, you can feel Him in your feet, you can feel Him in your whole being.  This is how I felt in Nicaragua the week we were there.  You can feel Christ alive in the Nicaraguan Church! 

We had the privilege of working with Iglesia Brazos Abiertos, the Open Arms Church, while in Somoto, Nicaragua.  I was beyond blessed by the hospitality, love, and joy I felt working with the wonderful people of this church.  Steven and I were picked up at the airport by Pastor Marlon who made a special trip into Managua to come get us so that we could join the team.  When we arrived at the church we found out the pastor and his family had moved out of their home for the week so that we could stay in it.  We also discovered that the church had several ladies cooking our meals the entire week.  On top of all of that, the members of the church did ministry with us, translated for us, played volleyball with us, and opened their church to us.  You could feel the love of Christ through each member of the church!

While in Nicaragua we got to be a part of several incredible ministries.  First of all, the church allowed each one of us to share our testimonies and/or preach during their church services.  We were blessed to be able to encourage the church members in their walks with the Lord this way.

We also got to spend two mornings in a poorer neighborhood in Somoto playing games with kids which opened the door for us to share the Gospel with them.  Jackie and Victoria performed a skit that showed how the word of God can bring you alive, and Hannah followed that up with a great presentation of the Gospel!

Our other days were spent participating in other ministries with or for church members.  One evening we took a birthday cake to a member of the church and sang/prayed for him.  We also were asked by a church member to come play volleyball against his girl’s team that he coaches.  We even got to be a part of baptizing 2 new church members and Victoria in the river.  

My favorite day of ministry was a day we went to a partner church in a neighboring town.  The pastor of this church took us to 5 different houses in the city to pray for members of the church.  We prayed for a couple sick women, a family of new believers, a single mom, and a family undergoing persecution because their daughter is in a wheel chair.  In each house we went in the Lord spoke through a different team member to share a word of encouragement with the family.  I loved watching how the Holy Spirit brought the perfect scripture to mind that would encourage the families we prayed with.

What I was challenged by most in Nicaragua was living in such a way where I really depend on the Lord and seek Him for what plans I should do each day.  In Nicaragua nothing was set in stone…plans always changed depending on what the Lord had for us that day.  I want to strive to live more like this…not setting my own schedule, but asking God what he has for me each and every day!  

Overall, my time in Nicaragua was so encouraging!  I loved meeting up with the team at the end of their journey to see how much they had grown along the way.  I was encouraged by the passion and joy of the church members and to live my life more as they do.  Thank you all who helped make this journey possible for Steven and I.  It was so wonderful to minister alongside my husband and to see him so passionate about what I am passionate about…missions!  Here are a few photos from Nicaragua:

Steven & Me in Nicaragua

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Going into A House to Pray for Church Members

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Steven Sharing His Testimony at Church

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Victoria’s Baptism in the River

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Most of the team with our translator, Jackson

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Back to Nicaragua

In about an hour and a half Steven and I will start our journey towards Nicaragua!  I’m excited for the chance to join the Global Journey team for a week this summer and join in with what the Lord is doing in Nicaragua.  I look forward to getting to share the love of Christ with all the people we encounter.

While in Nicaragua we will be working with a church in Somoto.  We will get the chance to door to door evangelize as well as encourage believers in Nicaragua.  I’ve been praying for divine encounters and for the Lord to bring me the right words to say to the people who cross my path.  Please pray along with me for boldness and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

I know the Lord has been preparing me for this journey by equipping me with courage and the desire to return to Nicaragua.  Thank you all who have supported me and continue to encourage me to follow the Lord’s plan for my life.  I look forward to sharing with stories about what the Lord does through our time in Nicaragua!  Hasta la vista!  

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Honduras and Summer 2012 Closeout

I know this is about a month late, but between the craziness of debrief, wrapping up the trip, and starting to plan a wedding that is now about 2 months away, I sadly had to put writing about Honduras on the back burner, even though my experience there was significantly impacting.  I’ll do my best to recap our week we spent joining up with Heart to Honduras.

The Lord ended up changing our original ministry plan in Honduras.  Due to information I found out while the Navy Team was in Hong Kong, we needed to switch ministries.  As I prayed and had to trust the Lord that He had a plan, the Lord led us to work with an organization called Heart to Honduras.

Heart to Honduras is doing amazing work throughout not only Honduras, but also Nicaragua (where the Gray team worked) and Costa Rica.  Their mission is to get food for the hungry, clothing for the naked, housing for the homeless, healing for the hurting, and hope for the hopeless.  We got to partner up with them and see how they are changing lives in Honduras.

During our week in Honduras we were blessed to partner with two different churches.  While spending time at the churches and doing some manuel labor projects for them, we learned how community focused Heart to Honduras (HTH) is.  The HTH churches strive to reach the community.  Both churches are growing gardens to help provide the community food.  They also seek out needy familys and build them better homes to live in.  My time spent with HTH reminded me what an important role churches have to reach their surrounding communities. 

One of my favorite parts about Honduras was getting to share the experience with my sister, Bekah.  It was so fun for me getting to see the Lord use her and her unique giftings to show people and our team the love of Christ.  I know she was extremely impacted by the trip and I pray the Lord will continue to use this experience in her life.

Overall, while in Honduras I was reminded how we make our plans, but need to allow the Lord to change them and shape them in the ways He sees fit.  Whether it was through Brandon preparing a sermon in Uganda that the Lord knew he didn’t need to preach there but rather in Honduras or us changing our plans to work with another ministry, the Lord continued to remind me He was in control and His timing is perfect.

Now as I move into the next phase of Global Journey, recruiting season, I get more excited than ever about the possibilities the Lord has for the teams next summer.  God has taught me on the trip this summer how life changing a trip like this can be and has further confirmed my desire to give others this unique mission trip experience.  Please be praying for me as I balance the next phase of my life (getting married) with planning and preparing for next summer.  The Lord constantly amazes me with His goodness and provision!  Thanks to all of you who prayed and followed our trip.  Your prayers were heard and answered!   Here are a few pictures from Honduras for you :). 

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Very Nice

We have made it to Nice, France and are having a great time working with the International Baptist Church.  I love how this church is making a difference in a place that is very spiritually dark.  They say in France that it takes about 100 encounters with the Gospel before someone will be open to accepting Christ.  This is definitely a trying mission field, but the missionaries here are on fire for the Lord and battling hard for the kingdom.

As a team we have gotten to be a part of several ministries within the church.  We have prayer walked/tried to evangelize in the small villages of Vence and St. Paul.  We have also helped prep for the church’s 1/2 day of prayer and then got to join in with it.  Yesterday we had the opportunity to lead the children’s Sunday school classes.  Today will we start preparing the church for the bi-lingual VBS they have going on next week.

I have loved getting to see the Lord work and move here in France.  Please continue to pray for our team and the team of missionaries that are serving here in South France!

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Uganda

Our time in Uganda has been eye opening! We have been blessed to work with The Zion Project in Gulu, Uganda. The Zion projected was started as a way to help and counsel war affected women and children. While Gulu is now a relatively peaceful place, in the past it has suffered years of war induced by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Most people in Northern Uganda are still healing over the effects of the war and trying to find means to provide for themselves and their families.

There are 2 main ministries under the Zion project right now. One of these is called Imani jewelry. This is a hand beaded jewelry line made by women from the Congo who were brought back to Uganda by soldiers who were fighting there. These women became outcasts when they came to Uganda and many were forced into prostitution to provide for themselves and children (if they had them—some have children as a result of the prostitution). Because of Imani jewelry these women are now free from lives of prostitution and able to earn a living.

The other ministry under the Zion project is a children’s home that currently houses 17 girls ranging in age from five to fourteen. Many of these girls come from homes that couldn’t care for them or situations where they have lost parents. One of older girls even has her own baby that was a result of rape. The girls are now well provided for as they live in a large house together, have “aunties” to care for them, and get all their needs met.

As part of joining up with the Zion project, we got to see what the day to day tasks were like of both ministries. We spent time with the Imani women as well as at the children’s home. My favorite part of the day was probably the mornings when we got to be a part of devotions with the Imani women. I loved hearing these women worship in their language and get the chance to encourage them in their faith.

Other things we got to participate in while in Gulu include leading devos at the children’s home, teaching the children new games, going to the slums to share the Gospel, and making necklaces with the women. God really impacted a lot of us through this ministry.

In our time here I really wrestled with how blind I am to some of the hurts and struggles of the world. Hearing the stories about the women and girls as well as many stories of the war from our driver, Peter (who used to be in the Ugandan army during the time of fighting the LRA), opened my eyes to a lot of brokenness that I choose to ignore in my bubble. There is so much I wish I could do to heal the hurting hearts in Uganda that it overwhelms me. I know that only God can heal the wounds, but I’ve been continually wrestling with my role in all of this. One thing I’ve clung to in the midst of a place with so much pain is that God is GOOD and He is sovereign.

If you would like to be a part of the ministries of the Zion Project and all they are doing for women in Northern Uganda you can pray for them, buy a piece of jewelry at imanilove.com, or help support the ministries at zionproject.com. I have been forever impacted by this ministry and my time here! Below are a couple pictures of our time here. Thanks for all your prayers and support. Until France….peace out :)!

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Last bit of India

My time in India was incredible.  Not only was I in one of my most favorite places in the world, but my favorite person in the world proposed to me at the Taj Mahal!  I love how the Lord has used times in India to impact my life greatly!  I have learned so much about the Lord’s character through my trips to India.  This year I was reminded of His faithfulness and how much He loves me and has each step of my life planned!  I’m going to keep this kind of short, but wanted to at least get some pictures up (see blog below for pics).

Finally, we have made it safely to Uganda and are loving our time here.  Everyone has enjoyed the cooler weather, but we still love to reminisce about India.  I’ll update soon about what we are doing here. Thanks for all the prayers and support!

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Pictures from India

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