Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Many New Adventures!

Hello again everyone! I am excited to update all of you with many new adventures that lie ahead! First of all, I am engaged to be married to the love of my life, Chris Fisher! Our wedding date is June 1st, and we look forward to the plans we know God has for us! The first of those plans is very clear as we prepare to travel together to Russia over spring break. God had laid orphan ministry on both of our hearts, and even though its a rough time to financially provide for this trip (with the wedding and school tuition payments coming up) we know that it is ultimately God's calling on our hearts and we can't say no. We are excited to see what God's plan is! Below is a link to a website we created where you can see a sponsorship letter that Chris has written explaining God's calling on our hearts for our upcoming marriage and life spent in service. I hope you'll check it out!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The end is only the beginning....

**A thank you letter to all who have supported me!!**
Dear Friends,

I’m sorry it has taken so long to write this letter, but your kindness has not been forgotten. My trip to Cambodia is one I will hold in my heart always. Thank you so much for your sponsorship and ultimately your partnership on the wonderful adventure I was blessed to take this summer. I truly believe that God blessed my life after seeing and experiencing Cambodia, and I hope to share some of that with you.

As I try to sum up 6 weeks of God’s glory into one letter, so many emotions and thoughts fill my mind and my heart. I wish I could bring Cambodia back with me. However (that being impossible), I hope to bring what I have learned back with me to share with others. My time there was so sweet and it was great to see all the work God is doing among the people of Cambodia! I went with a team of 7 other Americans (all in their 20s)  from all over the United States. We met at training a week before departure, and spent that week together getting to know each other and getting to know God’s heart even more. We started off as complete strangers but 6 weeks later, saying our good-byes in the airport, it felt like we were saying good-bye to family. Each of these wonderful people has such a heart for God and a heart of servitude. It was amazing to see how each of them was seeking after God on their own, and together as a group.

Once in Cambodia, the first amazing opportunity we had was to teach in a local school. This school, Logos International, is a private school that started out as a school for a few orphan children and has now branched out into two sister schools. Here, we were able to teach English as well as various subjects at summer school. The children (as well as us teachers!) had a lot of fun learning and connecting God’s Word to every aspect of the summer school curriculum!

Another opportunity that we had was to teach an outreach program in the school’s gym twice a week. The gym at the school was outside and yet, in pouring rain or scorching heat, the kids showed up every chance they got to learn English and get the chance to swim in a clean swimming pool. The bonus was, when they got there, they were told Bible stories and sang praise songs in their own language. Most of these children had never heard of Jesus before, and were fascinated by the stories being told. It was such an eye opener to see how much we take the ‘common’ stories in the Bible for granted and how much power and awe we should still  find in stories like that of Jonah and the Lepers that Jesus healed.

My very favorite thing we were able to do on this trip was spend time at Haley’s House Orphanage. Because of the major problem of child trafficking, most orphanages will not let people in to visit. However, this orphanage was affiliated with the church we were attending in Cambodia and they allowed us to come on several occasions and love on the kids and just spend time with them. Each of the kids in the orphanage has a heartbreaking story, and yet each of them knows they have a Savior that is ultimately their Father and they are filled with so much joy from that. These kids (ages 5-16) go out into the community and share the Gospel and its power with the people around them. They are unafraid and really show what the faith of a child looks like.

Coming home was difficult. Although I was ready to be back to see family and friends, I felt like I was leaving something behind. The last day we were there, we went to go see the Haley’s House kids one more time. While we were there the kids clung to us and cried, begging us not to go back. It was a hard goodbye. When we got back to our house, I immediately went to my room and cried. I sat on the floor, suddenly angry wondering why God would allow those kids, and myself, to hurt so much and asking why he brought me there. It was then that song lyrics came to my head and all I could hear over and over was “break my heart for what breaks yours”. These were the lyrics to a praise song we had sung at training. During this song, I had asked God to make that my prayer. I asked Him to break my heart for something that breaks His, and he did….the orphans.

I know now where my passion lies, and where my ministry is. I don’t know exactly how God plans to use this long term, but my heart is for the orphans. Right now, I am planning on spending my spring break in Russian orphanages ministering to children. God has also shown me more and more that He is in control. I am recently engaged, and my fiancĂ© shares the same passion for orphans that I do. I know this is just the beginning of God’s path, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

Thank you again for being so generous and for partnering with me on the beginning of the amazing adventure that God has laid before me. If you would like to continue sponsoring me as I journey now to Russia, it would be a great joy. More than anything, however, I would just like to thank you and ask that you keep me in your prayers as God continues to reveal His plan in my life.

Thank you and God bless

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Give Thanks With A Greatful Heart"

The van pulls up to a small gravel driveway. After about a minute, a small boy (maybe 8 years old) comes and pulls open the large green gate and allows us to enter. The van, which is holding my team members and myself, pulls up and parks inside what looks to be an outside covered basketball court. There isn’t an actual entryway, so we go over a large curb and begin to park there. There’s not much to see. One other van is in parked in that area, and there are 2 buildings beside us, but not much else. Then, suddenly, children start pouring out and surrounding the van. Before we know it, there are about 20 kids all around the van yelling to us and waving. Even though their hands are there to help us out, it is so difficult with the mob of kids. All I can hear is “Hello ma’am” and “what is your name?”. I look around, trying to distinguish faces in the crowd. There is someone I am looking for, a reason my heart has been drawn to this place….
Two weeks earlier, we had the Lord’s Supper at church, and ended the service with a meal and fellowship. During the beginning of service about 8-10 children stepped in a little bit late and, along with the children that were already there, filled up the first two rows. As the pastor was speaking (in English), my eyes were continually drawn to these children. For the most part they sat very quietly, glancing around only occasionally with a look of curiosity. I could tell they probably did not speak much English and yet they sat very well without being told. There were no adults around as far as I could see, but there were so many children! At some point, the Pastor informed us that these children were with Haley’s House, an orphanage just down the street and my heart immediately went out to them. After the service, I went up to meet them and they seemed so excited by the attention they stayed at my side for a while. I asked them their names and ages, and found out that (as I thought) they did not speak much English at all. One little girl seemed very taken with me and walked with me throughout the room. At the time, I could not remember her name. I felt bad, but with so many children around it was very difficult. Finally, we stepped outside and went to find a table to eat at. This little girl stayed right by my side. She took my hand and only sat down when I assured her I would be sitting by her side. During lunch, I got her to write down her name in Khmer and in English. She then asked me to write my name on her hand. When it was time to go, she kissed my cheek and gave me a huge hug. It was so hard to let go, this sweet little girl had come into my life just an hour or so before and yet I felt like she was taking a piece of my heart with her when she left. This little 9 year old girl, Sreni, was the reason for my desire to visit Haley’s House.

As I was trying to get off the bus, I felt a little hand grab mine. I glanced down and saw the face I had been looking for. Little Sreni was waiting for me. She had waited, while all the other teachers got off the van. She waited just for me, and she had a question. As I smiled down at her, she pointed to her hand (where I had written my name 2 weeks earlier) and asked something to the effect of “do you remember me?”. Of course I remembered her! How could I forget? The rest of the day she clung to me. She held my hand and stood by my side at all times. When it was time to go, I almost cried. I wanted to be there, with little Sreni and I didn’t want to leave.

Since that time, we have visited Haley’s House Orphanage 2 more times. Each time, we walk away with different stories to tell. Each time I go, Sreni waits for me and stays by my side. How I wish I could take this little girl home! She has an older sister at the orphanage named Srey Roath (srey or sre means 'girl'), and another older sister who is out of the orphanage. Today some of the older girls were talking to Sreni and I noticed (as I have since the last time we were there) that they kept saying ‘baby’ around her. And today I finally understood what they were saying….they call her my baby. Oh how I wish that was true! It took everything within me to hold back the flood of tears that wanted to fall when I heard that. Especially when the pastor came up and told me their story:

Years ago, the girls lived with their mother. During that time their mom got very sick. Their dad was apparently never in the picture and so the girls cared for their mother. They all lived near a jungle area and so the oldest would go out and pick fruits and things to take care of their mom and to feed the rest of the family. When Sreni was 6, her sister Srey Roath was 12 and the oldest was 14, their mother passed away. The girls lived on their own for 4 months until someone informed Haley’s House who promptly took them in. For at least 4 months they lived alone in the world, with no one but each other to look after them. Because they were caring for their mother, none of them had ever attended school. I was told that when the girls first arrived at Haley’s House and began attending school there, they cried. They did not understand what was going on because they had never been in that situation before.Sreni never smiled, and as you can see…that has changed. The girls lives have been turned around, but by no means is it finished. With an age difference of 6 years, Sreni and Srenoiy are on the same level in school. The orphanage fights to give them the education they deserve, but they can not do it alone! I was told by the pastor today, that they are looking for sponsors for these children. Sponsors who are able to donate $25 a month to one of the 25 children at Haley’s House. This $25 a month will provide food, clothing and education to the children and will help them to reach their dreams. It will also enable Haley’s House to possibly take in more children in the future and do more of the positive programs they are doing around the community. Every week so many people are ministered to through these children. These children are raised in a strong Christian atmosphere, and aren’t afraid to share the gospel. They may not have much, but they are not afraid to proclaim His name!
I have caught a glimpse of Heaven by seeing these children and now know what it looks like to have the faith of a child.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

**Break my Heart for What Breaks Yours**

“Those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31

As we hit the halfway mark of our trip, that is my prayer: God give me strength, let me soar and help me to not grow weary. I have seen and experienced so much on this trip, and as I see it I have two choices: get overwhelmed and burnt out, or persevere and put strength behind whatever opportunities God chooses to bless me and my team with.

So far, we have been blessed beyond measure. I am truly grateful for those who have committed themselves to praying for myself, my team, and all those that we have come in contact with. It has definitely made a difference! So far, we have been given much more than we had hoped for and we are so grateful. We live in a very nice house (which belongs to a family who is in the states for the summer), and we are teaching at a very nice school. We even have the most amazing house help (her name is Nari and she is a great cook!). We are not just blessed, we have been spoiled!!

We have also had many opportunities to minister and teach the local kids. Another blessing God has given us is that there was a program that was set up when we got here which allows us to teach the neighborhood kids! This was something we were planning on doing anyway, but we were told we would probably have to go around town and recruit the kids ourselves. However, God made it easy for us and went before us and set the same idea in the mind of one of the Khmer teaching assistants, Sato, and he had already prepared and started the program. Through this program, we are able to teach the neighborhood kids who aren’t as privileged on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Our regular teaching job is Monday-Friday 8:15-11:30 and the outreach program is Monday and Wednesday 1-3pm. It is a great experience. Twice each week, anywhere from 40-90+ kids show up to learn English and to swim. These kids range from about 18 months old to 19 and everything in between! It is definitely difficult, especially when we group for English class and you realize that you have 20 kids in your class and they are all different ages and have a different knowledge of English. The funniest (and also most frustrating) thing is when you are trying so hard to teach, but the kids don’t understand a word you say and so they just repeat every word! It’s very difficult to get them past that point, but so rewarding when you see they finally get it! For example, I was teaching a group of girls one day and we were going over emotions. I had written out 4 emotions (happy, sad, mad, and surprised) and had drawn a face to go with them. After 10 minutes of repetition and games that incorporated the 4 emotions, it was time to go. I was slightly disheartened because I felt like the girls had no clue what I was teaching or what I was saying. So, when one little girl came back and drew the four faces and wrote the words out, I was so excited! She drew out the faces, said the word, and they proceeded with trying to spell it out. I helped a bit with the spelling, but she really wanted to make sure she understood! It was so great! Every day I have a different group of kids and I just pray that something I say will sink in, and that they will understand what I am trying to teach!

The kids at the school are no less special! Most of these kids are students at this school, and thus have been taught in English and understand and speak it quite well. These are also the best behaved kids I’ve ever had the privilege of teaching! Sure, there are a few rowdy ones. But for the most part, they are extremely well behaved and SO smart! We just started a new class rotation this week. Up until this week there was another team teaching here from Canada. So, our first week and a half was spent helping them and filling in wherever we were needed. Now, we are on our own and it has been great so far! I teach arts and crafts to the Kinder and 1st grade on MWF, and the 4th and 5th grade on TuTh. After that I have the middle school kids for an hour and a half of drama/theater, and they are so fun! I have really enjoyed it! I was worried about teaching middle school because I am used to working with the younger kids, but I enjoy these kids personalities and I love that they are higher level thinkers which makes class more fun. In fact, I got a new group of students today (4 Korean students that speak very little English) and I was trying to explain the class to them. I told them my name and that they were in a drama/theater/art/mask/puppet class (because we do all of that) and one of the other kids said “this is the fun class”, to which many agreed! That comment made my morning! I love that the kids think this is a fun class, that is my goal! They are constantly learning, and I have no discipline problems at all. I do have a few kids (teenagers) who think they are too good or too old for this class, but even they grinned and giggled when I made them act like 5 year olds while I read “Harold and the Purple Crayon” and “5 silly monkeys”! I have found that as long as you make them feel safe about breaking down that barrier, they will be much more receptive to acting silly and just being kids in class! We are putting on a production our last teaching day, and I’m so excited! I think my students will be performing ‘A Tale of 3 Trees”, for which they will be making their own costumes and set. I informed them of this idea yesterday, and they seemed to love it! They got so excited that they were going to be able to do this themselves! I hope we can video record it so I can share the final production with everyone!

Besides teaching, we have had the opportunity to do so many things and meet so many wonderful people! One of my other group members said something on her blog that I find to be so true: I came here thinking that I needed to show Christ and show people Christ-like love. But I can’t. They do a much better job showing the way God wants us to live, and they aren’t even Christians. The Khmer people are the nicest, friendliest, most genuinely caring people I’ve ever met. They will go out of their way to help you, even if they don’t know you or can’t speak your language. If anything, I hope I can learn from them. They are so selfless and caring, and their whole attitude with one another is so opposite of anything I have seen in America. I am humbled after seeing this and realizing that the God of the universe cares just as much for me, in all my selfishness and greed, as He does for these people who are living the life He calls us to live, even though they don’t know Him. I wish everyone could get even just a glimpse of how life has been these past few weeks. I have had the opportunity to learn so much about myself and the way God has called us to live. And now, more than ever, I have seen been able to see God’s heart and his calling not only on my life, but on the life of Christians as a whole.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm Diving In

Wow, how it has flown! Almost a week ago, I arrived in Pasadena California unsure of what to expect. I woke up at 3:30 last Sunday morning (June 19th) and headed toward Houston International to catch a 7:45 flight. In my head, I felt that I knew what to expect and in my head I tried to believe I had enough confidence to actually make it…on my own. Butterflies swarmed in my stomach as I tried to pretend I knew exactly what I was doing. An hour after arriving, I felt that I had done everything I needed- Checked in, got my luggage tags, got my tickets, checked my baggage. Then, the worst part: Saying good-bye. I hate good-byes, especially when they leave me by myself. This good-bye was hard because it was my mom that I was leaving. In my heart I knew (and still know) that this is the right decision, but that didn’t make it any easier. Going through security, I kept looking back and waving. Finally, after I cleared security, I looked back one more time, waved good-bye and walked toward my big journey. As I walked down the hall, a few small tears rolled down my cheeks, but I didn’t dare look back and show it. (Sorry mom!) I was on my own now, looking for God’s guidance in my every step.
So, about 4 hours (and plane and a shuttle ride) later I arrived on the William Carey International University campus in Pasadena California. On the shuttle I met two girls that were headed to training as well, Elizabeth and Spencer, and was a little less nervous because I suddenly knew I wasn’t in this alone. Almost instantly upon arriving on campus, God melted my heart a little and opened my mouth and eyes to new experiences before me. Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I am by no means a social butterfly. I tend to avoid large groups (sometimes to the extreme), and don’t really speak unless it is initiated by someone else. However, this journey began with that dropping. It didn’t take me any more than 30 minutes to be headed down the street with 5 other trainees headed out to get lunch! It was so amazing and weird to me that I began actually talking to people. I was interacting and not shutting people out! That night, we were formally introduced to our groups, and there was an instant connection. I’m not going to jump in and say after a week I know that I’m going to be ‘bff’’s with my group members, but God really knew what He was doing! In the Cambodia group, there are 8 people: 7 girls and 1 guy. I can’t explain it, but it didn’t even take an hour to see that God put this team together in His divine power for a divine purpose!

Sunday was a basic introduction to the organization and our teams, and Monday was the first long session day. Monday went by so slowly and by the end I was so drained. For all of you education majors and teachers out there, it was very similar to my experience at a workshop: packed full of informational sessions from 8am to 9pm. Luckily we had food breaks, and part of that was doing devotionals with our team. During these devotionals, we have really gotten to get to know each other and see that God did not put this team together haphazardly or as an afterthought. The Great Creator of the world, the one who knows us to the detail of knowing every hair on our head, also knows our personalities and our spiritual gifts and created a team who should be different in those ways so that we will all complement each other.

The week ended up going by quickly over all, and was a lot of fun. We had a BUNCH of sessions on teaching ESL, spiritual discussions, discussions regarding how to deal with conflicts and culture shock, and soooo many more things. It was a lot of information to take in in a single week! Like I said, my team has had a great bonding experience! We competed in a scavenger on Saturday (in which we tied for first place) and preformed in the talent show that night (we did a remix of “Seasons of Love”). It has really been a blast getting the privilege of waking up each morning and worshiping with a bunch of believers, with the same goal in mind: GO.

So, after a week of waiting and anticipation, its finally that time. In just a few short hours I will be leaving the beautiful Pasadena California and putting the experiences I have had this week behind me. Thoughts of: In-and-out burgers, Connal’s Shakes, mountains and pigeons all in the past. American comforts put aside for another time. Time to move on to another grand adventure, another chapter in the book of life that God is writing for me. Its time to move past the nervousness, shake of the fears, and get past just thinking of tomorrow. Its time for me to do what God has commanded of me and to take His name into the world. It is time for me to GO!

Keep myself and my team in your prayers as we make this leap of faith!

Catch ya later! J

Saturday, June 25, 2011

From the Airport

Written: 6/19/11

So, months of planning and preparing…and its finally here! I am currently sitting in the airport in Houston waiting on a plane to come and take me away! My flight to California leaves in one hour. Months of waiting and it all comes down to this, one hour away. So, how does it feel to be this close? I’m still not sure. I’m nervous, excited, happy, sad, scared and at peace all at once. I feel prepared, and yet completely unprepared. I feel happy to be going, and yet sad to go. The truth is, all I can feel is that God is in control. He has done amazing things these past few months. He has provided in ways I never could have dreamed. Thank you to all the wonderful people who have been so generous in giving to help me to reach my goals. Starting this adventure, I had no idea how I was even going to raise all the money necessary to go this summer. I have learned, and am constantly learning, never to doubt God and his plans! He is in control! So, here I go. My baby steps have gotten me this far, and I continue to move! I will update as often as possible! Got to go, airplane is boarding!

Monday, April 25, 2011


Thank you Jesus for your Sacrifice! Easter is such a great reminder of the love of our Lord and Savior and all He has given us!

God keeps showing me that His hand is on this trip as donations keep coming in! Thank you Jesus, and thank all of you who have made that sacrifice!

My plane ticket to Cambodia has been purchased by the group I'm going with, the only drawback is that it is $200 more than we originally thought because of gas prices. HOWEVER, I still know God is providing! :)

For those of you who can, I ask that you pray to see if God is leading you to help financially with this trip. And those that can't help financially, I continue to ask for your prayers knowing that our God is faithful to hear the prayers of His children and provide for us!

To those who have already made that financial sacrifice
I appreciate it more than words can say!
I should have an update next week as to how much more I need for my trip!!! :)