Welcome to my blog. To introduce myself, I thought I'd share a picture of me and my sisters. I'm on the left with my sister Jen on in the middle then Katy on the right. This blog is a testimony of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.I want to stress that this blog is not about ME. It's about Jesus and what He's doing in and through me. I am nothing without Him. I don't deserve salvation but for some reason, He saved me. ME, a wretched person! My prayer is that through this blog, people will see my heart's desire to bring the Gospel to Mexico one day. Here's how it all got started:
When I was very young, I wanted to be a ballerina but since my parents could never afford lessons, that dream quickly became nothing more than that. Don't worry, I wasn't scarred for long! After that, I started hearing more and more about missionaries all around the world. My dad is the pastor of a small independent Baptist church in Western New York so I grew up hearing stories from missionaries about their ministries in Africa or Europe or Asia. The Lord was working in my young heart to become a missionary one day. In October 2002, some dear missionary friends from Papua New Guinea came and spoke at our church. (This is the Van Der Decker family at their home in Papua New Guinea. Their oldest, Josiah is in the States attending a New Tribes Institute Bible school.) They have 4 boys and a girl. I played alot with two of their boys and during our childish games, they told me all about their life in PNG and invited me to visit them. I was only 10 at the time and was like, "Sure, we're having such a fun time here, it would be great if I could visit them someday and we could play some more!"
On November 7, 2002, I was born again. I have literally gone to church since I was a newborn but had never made the personal decision to accept the Lord as my Savior. I was getting ready for bed that night and scraped my shin against a sharp corner of the bed. I started sobbing and could not stop even after the pain stopped. I remember crying out to the Lord for forgiveness and asking Him to live in me and be the Lord of my life. After that time, the Lord really laid on my heart foreign missions. He gave me the verses in Romans 15:20-21 that say "And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named lest I should build on another man's foundation but as it is written: 'To whom He was not announced, they shall see; and those who have not heard shall understand.'" This sums up my heart's desire. I want to take the Gospel to where it has never been.
PNG seemed to be the place that the Lord was leading me so I started making steps towards going there. I emailed the missionaries who had visited. They were very helpful in providing literature in Tok Pisin (the trade language of Papua New Guinea) and giving me advice. In October 2006, they came back to visit our church and stayed with us. During that time, my dad felt that our family was being called into ministry. (Here's my whole family: I'm on the left and am 18, then my dad Dan, mom Sydney, Jenny who is 16, Danny who is 15,and Katy who is 19.) At the time, we thought Papua New Guinea or Mexico. When he made the announcement in church he said he didn't know when, where, or how but he knew the Lord was calling us into some sort of ministry. He pursued several mission boards but it was like the Lord kept closing the doors. God opened our eyes though to the migrant workers from Mexico who live all around us. Dad went to a farm about a half mile from our house and asked some guys over for dinner. Cesar was the first amigo to come to our house. We had him over every other Friday for dinner then he and Dad would read the Bible in Spanish and English. This went on for 2 years. Cesar and his nephew Adrian just kept coming over for dinner. (Cesar is the man on the right with my dad in the middle and a precious 70 year old man, Tiburcio on the left. Tiburcio has since gone back to Mexico. We shall see him in heaven!) During this time, I was still making steps to go to PNG in 2009. Our family never dreamed that the Lord would ever grow our ministry to more people then Cesar and Adrian. But His ways are not our ways...
In the fall of 2008, my siblings and I started going to a youth group at another church because our church is too small to have one. There, we met a lady, Bethany who works on a farm and knows alot of "amigos" as we call our Mexican friends. (Bethany's in the middle with Rudiel on the right and Jairo on the left.)
We started talking and decided to meet at a cafe that is run by a local church for coffee one night. There, we met another lady Kristy who speaks Spanish fluently. We started talking and decided to meet at the Cafe Shiloh for a bible study every Friday night. (Kristy is on the left with Antonio who is 8 and Dominic who is 5.)
At first, there were only two or three guys that came every time but over time, more and more guys came and even a family with four little boys. Right now, there are about 7-10 amigos that come to the study. We outgrew the cafe and are currently meeting at my family's home.
Meanwhile, doors to go to PNG were flying open like crazy for me. The Lord provided that I go with New Tribes Mission to their 5 week program, Interface that takes place high in the Eastern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea. He also worked it out that I got to visit my missionary friends for 3 days while there. I still am amazed at how God worked everything out.( Me with some precious believers at the village that my friends live in. There truly are brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world!) Only He could do that! Going into the trip, I had no clue what would come of it. I though for sure that while there, the Lord would reaffirm what I knew (or thought I knew) and that He would give me such a burning desire to go back to PNG as a missionary nurse one day. Well, that didn't happen. I don't know, but while there, the Lord completely took away my desire to go to PNG as a full time missionary. (Here's me with Dominic and his brother Cesar who is 9. At Bible study, we like to celebrate birthdays with cake and a card for whoever the birthday person is. Big Cesar bought me a cake and the boys' parents made it for me. It was delicious and so precious to know that my amigos care about me so much as to celebrate my birthday. I LOVE these people!) Instead, He started giving me a burning desire to go to Mexico. He started a very painful process of turning my direction to Mexico instead of to PNG.
I found a language school in Guadalajara, Mexico that is run by missionaries. I sent in my application and placement exam (yikes!) the other week and am waiting to see where the Lord leads from here.(Ok, one more random picture. This is one of my bestest friends ever, Jacquie! She's been so supportive of me on my journey. Love ya girl!) That is the long version (well, not really 'cause I omitted ALOT!) of how the Lord brought me to where I am now. I am purposing to keep this updated. We'll see how that goes! Thank you all for reading. Dios te bendiga! (God bless you!)
How We Saw New Orleans In Two Days (And What You Should See If You Go) - I am pretty sure we squeezed every ounce of New Orleans adventure that we possibly could out of 48 hours in the city. I landed in New Orleans at 1:23...
3 hours ago