5 Things God Taught Me on my Short Term Mission Trip

This past week I had the pleasure of guest posting on Heather’s Ambitions. I wrote about some of the lessons that God taught me while I was in Ireland. Click here to view it on her blog.

Today I’m going to be reposting it here on my blog. I hope you enjoy it!

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Recently I had the opportunity to go to Ireland for a two-week mission trip. I worked with an organization called OM Ireland (OM = Operation Mobilization), and I participated in their Impact Ireland short-term mission. The first week the teams were given training, and the second week we split up and went to six different towns all over Ireland. During that next week, my team worked with a local church doing a variety of outreaches – kids clubs, street evangelism, visiting nursing homes, and doing community outreach events. It was a challenging time for me, as I was stretched and pulled out of my comfort zone in many different ways. However, I came out of the two weeks feeling very encouraged by all that I had experienced, and blessed by all the things that God taught me. Here are a few of the main lessons that I learned during that time.

  1. God’s love really does transform lives – I was so blessed to meet many different people during my time in Ireland. As I got to know my team members and local believers, I was constantly being confronted with the reality of God’s transforming love. I met people who had been Christians for many years, and came from normal, average places in life, but were willing to come to Ireland to share the love that Christ had so freely lavished on them. I met people who were local townsfolk, who have incredibly rough and broken pasts. But they are on fire to share the transformation that had come about in their lives through Christ’s love. Each person had their own story of how God had changed them, and it was amazing to see!
  2. God has the power to unite random, ordinary people – My team was composed of people from 8 different countries, aged from young teenagers to middle-aged adults. Coming from all sorts of backgrounds in life, both socially and spiritually, we were a random bunch of just ordinary people. Because of Christ’s transforming power in our lives, we were all united in the same Saviour, with the uniting passion to share the Gospel. That is what is so amazing about being a Christian! You automatically have a giant family of brothers and sisters who, though very different in many ways, are all united with the same bond – Christ. I saw the power of that bond very clearly during my time in Ireland serving with the team.
  3. God uses random, ordinary people to make an impact – When the Gospel transforms people, it then unites them, and then it empowers them to make an impact in other people’s lives. God loves variety, and when a variety of united people serve him, he uses it to his glory! Because of how diverse my team was, we were able to reach out in many different ways. Some people were amazing at children’s work, others were better at engaging people on the streets. Still others found their niche in serving practically by cleaning and cooking. But God used everyone’s unique talents to reach a wide spectrum of people with his love.
  4. God strengthens those who serve him – I’m surprised at the amount of energy I had considering the intensity and busyness of the two-week outreach. During the first week we had at least 3 training sessions a day, covering a huge amount of information that we would need during the next week of outreach. The second week was crazy busy with full schedules of kids’ work and evangelism. Every night was a late night (or very early morning, depending on how you look at it!), and there were last minute changed plans and working around holes in those plans. Under normal circumstances, I probably would’ve crashed and burned at some point due to the lack of sleep and hectic nature of our schedule. But, I didn’t! God kept giving more and more strength, energy, and grace. When I felt like I couldn’t go on, I found I could. It wasn’t in my own strength that I was working; it was in Christ’s. He sees when we strive to serve him, and he gives us the strength that we need to continue. He truly is good!
  5. God cares about the little things – Sometimes you just have to laugh at how impeccable God’s timing is. I can think of many occasions during the two weeks when he brought just the right person along at just the right time when we desperately needed help. I remember the many divinely appointed conversations we had with people while we were out on the streets. I could tell many stories about all the times God showed he cared about details. He sent just the right kids along to the kids clubs, he provided new face painting brushes just when we needed them, he brought specific people we’d prayed for along to a Gospel presentation – all very little, and sometimes seemingly insignificant details. But not in his eyes! He sees everything, and fits every little detail into his perfect plan. I was reminded so many times of how much he really cares about the details.

I came away from Ireland with a myriad of different emotions swirling in me. Sadness at having to say goodbye to the team that I had so closely bonded and served with. Excitement at seeing how God used us and how he is continuing to work in Ireland. Wonder at seeing how God has the amazing power to lavish love on sinners and totally transform us. And probably most of all, gratitude: for the opportunities I was given to serve and be stretched, and for all the lessons that I learned.

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My team and I praying together on our last evening together.

The Sounds of the Seasons

Greetings! It’s yet again a Saturday, and so it’s time for another blog post! Time seems to be going by very fast recently. My summer is turning out to be very busy. But I’m loving all of it! 😀

This week I wasn’t sure what to post. I wanted a new idea, and so I just decided to peruse my Pinterest board on writing to see if I could find something. I came across a prompt I liked, and about an hour later had churned out what I’m posting this week! It’s a bit rough, since I only just wrote it, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Let me know what you think!

Here’s the prompt:

writing prompt

 

And here’s what I came up with!

Silence. The world is sleeping under the mantle of snow and dusk. All is quiet and dark. Then slowly, almost imperceptibly, the sky begins to brighten. The grey clouds turn rosy pink as the sun struggles up from the depths. The quiet is broken by a bird chip. It is joined by another and another, until a whole chorus of feathered friends are stretching their rusty voices. The light becomes brighter, bringing a slow warmth that rouses the earth from its long sleep. It stretches its stiff arms out to the light, inviting the warmth to invade and fill it up. Trees begin to shudder with the sap that courses through their long-empty veins. The sap quickens with the warmth that is rising from the earth, and the life begins to run through the eternal cycle once again. The rustling of the budding leaves joins the bird chorus – nature’s orchestra is tuning up. Fresh green grass blades poke their heads above the ground, having been awakened by the warming whispers of new life. They are soon joined by the tender buds of snow drops and daffodils that reach their faces up to the warm sky. The sounds of growing life all melt together into a cacophony of noise. Finally, the sun rises high in the sky. The earth is warm, life is springing up, and the orchestra begins to play the glorious overture of spring.

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The sun is up – a ball of fire that heats this ball of wonder and busyness that we call the earth. The life that was awakened in spring is now thrumming away, set solidly in the cycle. The sky has never seemed bigger than now, as it arches bluely over the warm, green earth. Animals of all shapes and sizes go about their daily business, the thumps of their feet reverberating deep underground. They meet and part and eat and sleep, and their lives go ever onwards with the sun. Birds chatter in flight, swooping and gliding in the sweet air. Breezes beckon and billow, dancing with the leaves and skipping over the fields. Children’s laughter mingles with the giggling of the streams that bubble and rush on their merry way towards the ocean. When they reach there, they gladly run to meet the great Mother Ocean, falling into her salty embrace. Hands of all shapes and sizes join as people of all shapes and sizes dance among the lacy spray. Sand is shifted into castles and out of holes, shells are collected and seaweed is draped and thrown. Delighted screams and joyous laughter fills the air to mingle with the screak of gulls. The sun beats down, warming the earth and the hearts of people. Summer has arrived.

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The music of the earth slows. The hectic pace of summer is dying off, and the trees are turning russet and gold. Pumpkins glow plumply in their brown fields, and the stubble of harvested wheat rolls on forever. The air turns crisp with the apples that ripen and crispen heavily in the orchards. The birds are singing their last songs before flying south, and the dying leaves are rustling louder in the clear air. The sky is clear, the air is clear, and the music of the earth is singing out as clear as it can for the last time. The leaves begin to fall, spinning in the playful breezes and dancing to the sound of multiplication tables being recited. They pile up in glorious crimson gold and honey brown swathes. Falling chestnuts nestle on the beds of dying leaves, and squirrels scurry to bury their acorns underneath the earth. The first frost comes, turning the grass into icy needles, and exploding starry patterns across every smooth surface. Puddles turn into tiny ice skating rinks, hard and clear, but easily shatter into fragments underneath the mischievous boots of playful children. Animals of all shapes and sizes hurry to finish their nests and burrows. It is nearly time to head for bed. The sap slows in the trees, the rivers skim over with ice. The earth melody is slowing, receding, dying underneath the spell of Autumn.

~

The wind whistles over the barren countryside and rattles the bare tree branches. The sky is a low hanging blanket, a giant grey drum skin stretched over the sleepy world. The birds have all flown south, leaving a world void of their trilling choruses. Their songs have been replaced with the low lullabies of the animals singing themselves to sleep. The nooks and nests and burrows are all lined with grass and filled with small furry and feathered bodies. Rain falls, chilling the earth. The sun is but a memory, its warmth is something of yesterday. Slowly the cold creeps over the earth, bringing its companions of ice, wind and snow – the trio that replaces the orchestra. They begin to play, shrilling their wild and lonely memory, covering the land in freezing whiteness. Then another song joins them, one of joy and celebration. It brings to mind lighted trees and secrets, gifts and candles. The carols whisper among the snow-laden firs, and ring out with the church bells. The sounds of nature and of humanity mingle together in a rising crescendo, and then finally peters out. The earth is blanketed in muffling snow and ice. Silence once again descends upon a sleeping world. The cycle is complete. Winter is here.

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Let’s chat! What is your favourite season and why? Is your summer turning out to be really busy too?

Poem – The Books are Being Burned

Well hello there! I have returned from the rainy but beautiful country of Ireland. I had an absolutely amazing two weeks there, and I’m so grateful to God for all the work he did in my heart and in the other people serving with me. He truly is a great God full of compassion and love for the lost and broken people that do not know him!

This week I’m doing another poem. I wrote this after reading Fahrenheit 451. I was really impacted by the beauty of the writing, as well as the seriousness of the message it contained. I don’t need to go in depth about it here, because I have here. I will just say that the theme of the books being regarded as evil and irrelavant things that need to be eliminated impacted me pretty heavily. Especially since I see that trend towards dismissing books becoming bigger in our culture today. So I wrote this poem based off of the theme of book-burning in Fahrenheit 451.

 

book burning

 

Words go up in smoke.

Pages wither like dying butterflies.

The wisdom of the ages consumed in flames.

And no one cares.

Why?

Because books have become objects of ridicule.

Having knowledge is considered better

than having wisdom.

The vessels of wisdom are considered worthless drivel.

Rubbish.

To be burned.

What changed?

Why are books now disdained, feared, and hated?

Why is their wisdom and beauty considered trash?

Because people decided that movement was better

than stillness.

Blaring noise was better

than silence.

Head knowledge was better than

heart wisdom.

The hunger for learning

was replaced by the hunger for instant pleasure.

Books were no longer in the picture.

Thus, books have been slowly pushed down

to become nothing more than

dangerous containers

of ideas and words and silly fancies and feelings.

Stuff to be ignored,

shut down

and destroyed.

Books are to be burned.

Because that’s all they’re worth.

No one cares

Because their minds have become numb

With constant movement,

and noise,

and knowledge being pounded into their brains.

And above all,

the striving for instant pleasure.

No one recognizes the infinitely precious treasure

that books are.

The beauty and wonder and wisdom

that can be found in their pages.

The numbed-brain people can’t appreciate it.

No one needs books any more.

No one wants books any more.

No one cares about books any more.

So the books burn.

 Pages crumple into black smoke.

Books melt into ashes.

Words dissolve into nothing.

The wisdom of the ages goes up in smoke.

The books are being burned,

and nobody cares.

 

 

Poem – Dear Brain

Welcome back everyone! I hope you’re all having a fantastic July so far!

I’m back this week with another poem. This one is a bit more light-hearted than some of my previous ones. Let me know if you’ve ever experienced something like what it is about… 😉

Dear Brain,

Please shut up.

I’m trying

to sleep

and how can I?

when you

are constantly

talking

at me.

No

I don’t need

to think

about

all the times

I’ve said

something stupid.

No

I don’t need

to ponder

the meaning of life,

and whether

it would really be possible

to put man

on Mars.

No

I don’t need

to decide if

it’s worth inviting

that girl I barely know

to come to my party.

or even decide

what kind of cake

I should have

at said party.

No

I don’t need

to think

about

all the school work

I need to do tomorrow.

And how

I really

really

must

be productive.

No

I don’t need

one hundred and two

story and poem ideas

flying around my brain

at fifty miles per hour.

And no

I certainly don’t need

the imaginations

of giant mice

living under my bed

and spiders

crawling

into my mouth

when I finally

fall asleep.

No

I don’t need

any of those things

I just need sleep.

So Brain

please shut up.

I’m trying

to sleep.

 

Hatred – A… something

Hey everybody! Today I’m going to be posting something a little different to what I’ve posted before. In fact, I’m not entirely sure what to call it. It’s kind of like a character description, but for an emotion. The idea for it just randomly came to me, so I wrote it down, and so after a bit of editing, I’ve deemed it ok to show to the world. 😀 Let me know if you can come up with a real name for it!

Hatred

Hatred is a terrible thing. It writhes and curls in your gut like a serpent, spreading throughout your whole being until there is not one particle of your soul that is not saturated in the vile tincture. It blinds your eyes to the truth. It twists your thoughts into one tangled mass of burning rage and lust for revenge. It takes over your whole being, soaking into your heart and mind.

There comes a day when you cannot remember what life was like before you nurtured this burden in your heart. You cannot remember what it was like to be happy and whole, for this hate that you so tenderly nurtured has grown into a terrible monster that steals your joy and eats away at you. And then maybe one day you catch a small glimpse of what life could be like if you just let go of the hate. If you stopped letting it master you and fought with it until you’ve mastered it. Yes, there might even be a small particle of your being that would willingly let go of the hate. But you cannot let it go. You have clung onto it for so long with your whole self, that the hatred has become your identity. You are who you are because of the hate that you hold close to your heart.

So you turn from the glimpse of what life could be like with out the hatred, and you let it sink even deeper into your soul. And with that action of turning from the glimpse of life without hate, you finally let the monster overcome you completely. You let it master you and you become its slave. As time goes on, you cease to be either slave or master. You and your hate become one being. You have become the monster that you disdained to let go. You and hate have become one. You are hatred itself.