Wednesday, June 26, 2013

building altars

Man oh man this place is fantastic and I'm so behind on blogging. So much has happened in the past couple weeks I don't even know where to begin. I suppose I'll start with the job hunt. 

After weeks of applications and interviews and nothing working out, the last day to get a job rolled around and I still didn't have one. The next day I went to orientation for volunteering at a nearby thrift shop and then the day after that this crazy thing happened... I GOT HIRED! Yes, thats right, I'm now an employee at the local amusement park selling ice cream along with several other of my friends here on project. The Lord works in mysterious ways. It's such a great reminder of how he always comes through and always provides. Not always when or the way we want him to, but he always does. Gosh, He is so good. I've only got one shift under my belt so far but I'm so excited about working there and getting to know my coworkers and interacting with customers. 

After a long but good first day at work on Friday, I arrived back to Mission beach and got to hang out with some great friends from my home of South Dakota. It was so good to see these boys and visit with them, hang on the beach, and show them a little of the project life! They came to our Friday Nigh Live service and hung out for a bit afterwards. Although their visit was short, it sure was sweet. Thanks for coming, boys. 

South Dakota boys! Hangin' out after FNL.
Last Thursday all the guys on project left for a men's retreat and then Saturday us ladies took off for the mountains for a women's retreat as well. It was so refreshing to get away for a day and spend quality time getting to know these women a little better. We did obstacle courses, ate food, had quiet times, went for a hike, and studied God's word together. 

Condo 2, dominating those obstacles. 
At our Sunday morning devotional time, one of the staff led us in a study on Abram in Genesis 12 and 13. In these chapters Abram meets with God and builds an altar for Him in the land that he had been promised. He then traveled to Egypt with his wife Sarai but deceived the Pharaoh by telling him that she was his sister. Abram had done wrong and was sent out of the land. He needed to meet with the Lord again. He went back to the same land where he'd previously met him, where he'd built an altar for him. There are many times in life when we turn from God and begin to feel spiritually dry. It's in these times that we need to look back and ask ourselves when we've experienced growth and seen God come through in a big way. Those are the places we can "build altars" for the Lord, where we can look back and "spiritually revisit" to remind us of his faithfulness and of how he's worked in our lives. 

Well with that, Sunday I learned about building altars and yesterday I decided to build one (figuratively). I made a public declaration of my faith by getting baptized. I was baptized as a baby and was saved by Christ at a young age and went through confirmation in high school, but I wanted to signify again that this faith I have is my own and that God is working in my life and continuing to grow my relationship with Him. I have been saved by grace through faith by the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. God is using this summer project to mold my heart for his Kingdom and I know that this is a time in my life that I'll be able to look back on and see his presence! 

Had the privilege of being baptized by this
beautiful woman of God.
Thats just a small taste of what God's doing in my life here on project and I hope to post again soon!

Remember that God always provides, he always protects, he always restores, and he always fulfills his promises.

And for your enjoyment, check out this wild remix of song and dance brought to you by our boys here on project. They missed us while we were gone.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

killing the giants

It's mid third week here on project and Mission beach is sure starting to feel like home. It's really sweet to see how God is working. Between job searching, beach evangelism, speakers, campus ministry, tight living quarters, and developing friendships it is so apparent that God is present. 

Sunday night we had our third project meeting and we were challenged with this week's theme: Killing the Giants. We all have Goliaths in our lives, those big struggles that we need to surrender, and because Jesus has gone before us on the cross we are able to fight and conquer our battles because He is so much bigger!

One thing for me is that I really want to be trusting God when we go out on campus and around the community sharing. When it comes to going up to random strangers I don’t generally get too nervous so sometimes I think that can become a pride issue for me. I want to make sure that I don’t let that cause me to rely on my own efforts rather than relying on the power of Christ. I’m being reminded that it’s not about what I say or do. After all, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6).

The results really are incredible when we let God have control and rely on his spirit. Yesterday was our second time on the UCSD campus and I was really praying that God would open doors, give us boldness, and speak through us. Guess what? He provided four opportunities for my friend Melanie and I to share the Gospel!  

One of the conversations we had was with a girl who grew up muslim. Before talking to her I really didn’t know much about the muslim religion so it was cool how we were able to ask her questions about what she believed and understand where she was coming from before sharing what we believed with her. We shared the Gospel and she had a lot of questions for us and was so willing to talk. She asks some tough questions that definitely stretched both Melanie and I but it was awesome to see how the Holy Spirit gave us the words to say. We got her contact info and invited her to our DNA group that meets every week on campus so we'll hopefully be able to meet up with her again!

On another note, this past week has mainly consisted of one thing: job searching. What a process! It's been nothing short of frustration and discouragement, thats for sure. This has been one of the most challenging things for me here so far but I’m continuing to persevere! We have one more week to find a job before we start doing volunteer work instead. We’ll see what God has in store! He always provides and I know he's up to great things for each one of us here. 

The San Diego Summer Project 2013 Crew!
So many wonderful people. 
The beautiful sunset I was blessed to watch as I spent my
quiet time on the beach last night!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

diving in & going deep

Wow. Cali is so great already and in just one week I’ve already done so many great things! Here's a few...

Experiencing the ocean for my
first time.
My first California burrito.
French fries meets Mexican?
My mouth was confused.
Long boarding around SD.

First time paddle boarding!

Hanging out at Tower 19 with new friends.

Alright, I know what you’re thinking from the pictures and no, it’s not all fun and games here. This first week has been all sorts of crazy. Here's a brief overview that may turn out to be not so brief. Sorry, should have gotten to this earlier in the week!

On Tuesday morning my flight went smoothly and I arrived to San Diego right on schedule. I took a shuttle with a few other girls who got in around the same time to the Project location. Soon after we had our first meeting. We met in a grassy area right next to the bay where we did our first few introductions and our project director, Ethan, gave us some words of encouragement for the summer, pushing us to dive in.   

Wednesday we had project orientation and our DNA groups did something called “soul to soul”, where we shared our testimonies and took time to get to know one another. “What’s a DNA group?” you might ask. Well, I’ll briefly tell you. Each DNA group consists of 4 girls (one being a student staff member who disciples the other 3 of us) and contains 3 things: Divine Truth, Nurturing community, and Apostolic mission. I imagine that I’ll go into more detail on that later. 

My DNA group! Student staff member, Rachel, on the far right.
She's our discipler for the summer. Oh! & fun fact, there are
actually 5 Rachel's on project. It's confusing.
Thursday was a big day of job searching. In our DNA groups we went out around San Diego searching for employment. Kind of intimidating since San Diego isn’t all that small! No luck for me yet, although I do have a couple leads. (Prayer that I’d find a job would be much appreciated!). After a long day walking around the city, we came back and went out evangelizing for our first time as a project. Each DNA group got assigned a different area and we went out and started spiritual conversations.

Friday we did some more evangelism training and went out around the mission beach area talking to people again. One of the things we also do when we converse with people is invite them to “Friday Night Live” that takes place each week. This is a time where people around the community and around San Diego have a chance to come worship with us and have an opportunity to hear the Gospel. So, after going out sharing we had our first FNL. 

Saturday was another big day of job searching. A few of us girls headed over to Fashion Valley and handed out our resumes there! Fashion Valley is an outdoor mall and it’s really sweet. After a long day of walking there we came back and walked some more for this thing we did called a staff hunt. Each one of the project staff members disguised themselves and went to different locations with about a mile and a half or so radius around mission beach. The objective was that whoever found the most staff wins (my team won, by the way!). It was super fun and cool to see how creative all the staff got with it.

Rachel & her disguise. 
Lauren's Disguise.
Winning rules! And we won a gift card to
the local "Better Buzz" coffee shop!
That brings me to today, Sunday. Gosh, there really is so much to explain so I'll try my best. This first week everyone on project was assigned to a ministry team that meets each week. Each ministry team plays a different role that is essential to keeping project organized. To name a few, there's evangelism team, mens & women's team, community team, prayer team, etc. I'm on training team. Basically, we're being trained how to tangibly take what we learn here and apply it back on our campus, such as leading small groups. On this team we will be taught how to lead DNA groups on the campus we go to here in San Diego, and it will be our job to take over our project DNA groups when the staff leaves after the first month! Off of that, each ministry team is assigned to a church for the summer, so this morning we attended Clairmont Emmanuel Baptist church and it was so great to meet some of the people there. They were so welcoming to us! After arriving back to project, we had our ministry team meetings and then ended the day with our weekly whole project meeting. At tonights meeting, another staff member, Max encouraged us with this next week's theme, "going deeper."

Well, that’s my first week in a nutshell. The months leading up to project are over and now I’m here, living it out. The preparation was not always easy, but its over and I’m ready to follow Jesus wherever he leads me this summer. Each one of us has had a different journey, but we’ve all had to dive in and trust God. And that is what I am going to continue to do this summer. I am going to trust God and let him guide me. This week I do intend to go deeper, to continue to press in, take off any masks I’ve been putting on, and get past the surface level. I have a past behind me and an opportunity in front of me, an opportunity to really get to know these people and more importantly to deepen my relationship with Christ. As I continue on this journey there will be times that may be tough, times that I’ll want to give up. When that happens I won’t tell my self to try harder by my own strength, but rather I'll remind myself that God is good and that by His goodness and His grace I can press on. His hope is an anchor for my soul. 

Continued prayers as we go out on campuses this week and as I continue my job search! Hope to post again soon!