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This is scaring me – it’s my very last post of 2011! I love blogging. I wish I had kept track of how long I’ve been doing it (AND how many URL changes I’ve made! haha), but I know that this year has been wonderful. Writing is such a sweet love connection with God – journaling, decorating notebooks/guitar cases with Scripture and quotes, facebooking, and, of course, blogging.

I was inspired from some website to pick a special theme word for 2011. I picked “revive”. I’m not sure why, I guess I just felt like God wanted me to make that a vision of sorts. Here’s a list of things I’m so thankful for from 2011…(and fyi, I haven’t seen the theme “revive” too much myself, so that’s why I’m doing this :).)

  • The Lord provided a way for me to dance AND volunteer at Urban Vision – even helping with a ballet class!
  • I spent a few two-nighters at my best friend’s farm, being revived in the Lord.
  • Offered an internship of sorts at Urban Vision!
  • Did lots of helping my great-grandma sew costumes for my dance company, “Radiant”
  • Got back on pointe!
  • Did my UV Bible study (a crash course on Christianity) with some of my Karen sisters. Never felt God’s strength moving me in that way before, He provided wonderfully 🙂
  • Gave my second public testimony. (It was terrible, I would like a redo. Again, though, the overcoming-stage-fright experience was very helpful!)
  • Met Gracie, the cutest pre-preschool aged Karen girl EVER!
  •  Danced a worship song with my best friend – “You Are For Me” by Kari Jobe. Beautiful memories.
  • At the very first intern meeting, did an impromptu what-God-is-teaching-me speech. THAT went better than the testimony. It was faith-stretching, but reviving.
  • The whole laying-on-of-hands-and-receiving-healing thing… happened! I don’t have to wear my heel lift anymore; my hip doesn’t hurt on a regular basis! Praise the Lord!
  • Awesome ministry-prep times with the interns. So blessed to work with teenagers/UV staff who are so passionate for the Lord!
  • Grew a lot closer with all the UV teens.
  • Worked with a Bible club at an elementary school playground. Impromptu ministry again!
  • Taught my first two Bible lessons 🙂
  • Played guitar with my first real band
  • Grew closer to the UV college intern – realized what a blessing her background/story are because they are so similar to mine :).
  • Baptized – 8.12.11 by the awesomest “boss” one could ever have!
  • Went on my first overseas trip to Thailand – saw the refugee camp where lots of my friends are from!
  • Saw Burma.
  • Challenged to agape living

Now I see how the Lord used revive. Reviving a passion for missions I lost, a passion to love selflessly (agape), a passion for inner-city ministry, a passion to follow the Lord because the world can be changed by the power of His name!

I’ll write about my new word sometime next year :).

Jesus, thank You sooo much for this year. It’s not at all what I expected, but everything You wanted! And what’s more, I loved it. I saw Your working. I’m especially thankful for my new brothers and sisters in Christ at Urban Vision. Lord, no matter where I am, healing is in Your hands. I was so scared to leave dance because I thought I wouldn’t have anyone to talk with about You. No, Lord… You provided in greater ways than I can imagine. Why, oh why would I doubt You? I’ve tasted Your glory – I’ve seen how Your plan is so good! Help me to always, always passionately live out agape. You are the greatest example of it, Lord! I love You, Daddy <3.

“Your plans are still to prosper

You have not forgotten us

You’re with us in the fire and the flood

Faithful forever, perfect in love

You are sovereign over us.”

 

It all started with Nancy. She told us about a trip she was planning to Mae La Refugee camp in Thailand in June, and how excited she was. My mom mentioned how badly I want to go with her someday… Nancy said, “Oh, she will. Someday.”

Indeed. Well, the June thing didn’t work out, which ended up being good (I’m always crazy busy in June). It got rescheduled until September. And for us, in April, that seemed like a LOONG way away. Anyway, lots of people started telling my mom, “Hey, you and Michelle should go with Nancy!” Mom started praying, and began the LOONG process of convincing my dad that this was a God-sign. Nancy kept rubbing in our welcome to join the team; my dad eventually said it was okay.

“JUST AS LONG as there are Chapel pastors going.”

?! Well, it was a Chapel trip… but since when do pastors go to a completely new missions location? We prayed away. And the next thing you know, Nancy called us and said that two were going, to explore the possibility of Thailand being a Fresh Passion ministry.

We applied for passports.

I joined the Chapel as an official member, we filled out passport applications, we did Partner’s applications (the organization based in Thailand), completed Chapel applications… I’m gonna be so great at college ones someday. The trip still seemed oh so unreal, though. It was April. And I was absolutely convinced that one of the places I sent a form to would have an issue because I’m underage. I mean, what missions agency wants to put up with a TEENAGER? (Urban Vision – that’s another story ;).)

All the applications came back positive. We wrote a support letter. It still seemed ridiculous. Like I had time to go to Thailand, and how on EARTH were we going to raise $6,000 to go? Well… this support letter got sent out, and for the first time, it felt official.

We were going to Thailand.

My dad assured me that if Mom and I didn’t raise enough money, only she would go. And again, I felt that pang of “You’re too young…” hitting me. But at the time, I was so involved in my internship that Thailand couldn’t have seemed further away.
Eventually, we DID raise enough support. I think Dad only had to pay $15 toward our trip total (which excludes supplies, but they didn’t cost TOO much.), and then I felt a real pang in my stomach.

I really AM going to Thailand!

I remember the last meeting I had at Urban Vision. Three of seven interns were absent, which stank, but I was still with the Level 2 teenagers and realized just how bad I would miss them…my brothers and sisters in our Lord. I was talking with Jodi during our hanging out time – Jodi, my teacher trainer, mentor, and friend – about how God-filled I felt at Urban Vision, and what a hole there would be after I left. Jeff came over later and asked if I could share about Thailand right before we left.

OH LORDY. I’m REALLY going to Thailand… and that’s the NEXT BIG THING on my schedule!

My intern brother, Juvante, prayed for the trip before we left. And I realized that even though I would have ANY of my siblings with me, God would be my provider and meet all my needs. I’m always afraid of being lonely, yet in that moment of prayer, I realized that God would be it. He would meet my EVERY need.

We went to Thailand, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life! I’ll be posting my trip journal later :).

Wow – after all these months of talking about “I’m gonna be an intern this summer at Urban Vision” , it’s actually happened! Well, that is to say, we had our first meeting. And it went SO well, I just wanted to share with you a bit of what they’re like, and how powerfully faith-stretching it is!

First, I had to go to UV early and help with the Fiasco – I mean, the Kid’s Club. I just knew Mr. Rodney was up to something when he invited – I mean, commanded – me to help with 3-year-olds. I have met my match, y’all. A tiny (RED! NOO) room full of children who are all crawling on you at the exact same time, yelling things, taking too long in the bathroom, getting lost, yelling some more…. I think 4-5 3-year-olds are nice. Not twenty. Anyway, I endured, slightly set aback when the leader commented to me, “My, these kids, they’s doing real good today!” Really, I almost fainted. I don’t want to see a bad day. No sir. 

Thankfully, I’d packed some of my bread and Craisins, and before the intern meeting really started, I ate them and gained my brain’s control. I got to meet the other intern, Maggie (from the outside, Jeff calls us. It’s his nice way of saying we don’t attend Urban Vision; we volunteer there.). She was really sweet, and we’ve both had similar in-a-sport-and-pulled-out-temporarily-for-UV stories. Jeff told us and April Paw to lead worship, which just meant picking out one song each and talking about what it meant to us. Even though there were 8 teens total, I was still kinda nervous about talking. I detest public speaking, y’all. But I picked “Trading My Sorrows”, and managed a fun little speech on how when I’m having a bad day, I’ll stick my struggles in. “I’m trading my fear, I’m trading my jealousy, I’m trading them all for the joy of the Lord.” Not as bad as I thought, for sure ;). And it was really fun to worship with the other teens.

Then, Jeff asked us each to share a time in our lives when we’d really felt close to God -or- something God’s been teaching us lately. Currently, I’m struggling with a fear of loneliness and some slight possessive-ness with my best friend. So as I sat there, heart beating much to fast, I felt nudged to reach into my pocket for my index card. Sammie’s inspired me, at the beginning of the day, to write a verse or word from God on that card, and carry it as a reminder of His love. So the verses I wrote on that card were from Psalm 71, mostly about God being our strong habitation. It was kind of fun, too, how just recently, God showed me a treasure in the Great Commission. So when my turn came, I went up front with a Bible and my index card… worried. But you know, my Daddy just held me the whole way.

I talked of how I’ve been fearful of loneliness – how I cling to my best friend and encouragement from people I know. Encouragement and admiration aren’t wrong, but I totally cling to them WAY too much – from people. I told of my desire to go and be a missionary in Thailand, teaching the refugees and how I was scared because I would be alone. Then I read from my index card, truly comforted by my Daddy’s sweet voice, “I AM your strong habitation! I gotcha tight.” Then I read through the Great Commission.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alwayseven to the end of the age.” Amen.

(Matthew 28:19-20)

I love how Jesus ended on a promise, not a command! ❤ You….

So after sharing all that, we had some accountability-group time. I’m with Ba Bler (Bobbi, more commonly known). I shared a struggle I have and how she could help, and she did the same. And then I felt like I was Sam, talking to me… which is a very very good thing! I was on God-high, telling her what I do when I don’t want to read the Bible. I told her, “Sometimes, I just say ‘Look, Daddy… I REALLY don’t want to dig into Your Word today! Help!’, and then open my Bible, and BAM! There’s something there I really needed.” Well, I plunked a Bible open at the same time I was saying all this, and found this gem:

Again the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘ I am zealous for Zion with great zeal;
With great fervor I am zealous for her.’” ~Zechariah 8:1-2

We’re totally part of this promise as Gentiles – God’s grafted us on to the Jewish vine, so to speak.

Let that sink in! God, the perfect, all-powerful, amazing God, is jealous for us! Qanna – jealous. Wow… and that was a day I really needed to hear that. I’m not sure how much it helped Bobbi but it certainly blessed me!

Hehe I didn’t really start this post intending it to be a “Jehovah series” post. But lookie what God did! (As dance class today proved, when I’m on God-high, I’m also quite talkative and can’t stay on a topic – or, as Sam likes to say, “giddy”. We totally did the exact same thing 3 times today at class, and I got in minor trouble -again- for talking too long after class. This is joy overflowing and out of control, y’all! I just love it ;).)

I just pray our God would fill you with assurance like He did for me today – that He would continually remind you He’s more than enough for all of your needs… He’s just too precious :). So I’m gonna rest in His arms for awhile, and do my Latin, and look at the lovely sunshine. And listen to the birds…

And I’m also going to TRY to stop talking! 😀 (I love Your joy, Daddy….)


Yep – stressful week :). Very stressful week. I actually just read an (in)courage article titled “I Stress, Therefore I Am” and I just had to steal it from them :). The point simply was that as people, we’re gonna have stress. But we can’t let stress overwhelm us – and we need to get our priorities in order! I stress about homework, and that’s certainly not the main thing I should be worried about. Actually, I really feel like school distracts me from doing what God wants me to be doing.

Wrong. 🙂 Thanks to the nifty invention of seasons… this is my season for learning all about the Periodic Table (which I don’t hate nearly as much as Pastor Begg), studying odd things like epifauna and meiofauna in biology (which I love), and using the fact I am a student to help people who are students too! There’s something really special about identifying with the people you work with, and schoolwork’s great for that. Especially at Urban Vision! 🙂

Marry didn’t want to sit through history and the loud music (yes – Urban Vision does history the RIGHT way!), so we sat out in the hall, talked, and took pictures.

Hae Nay Paw Soe, Me, and Free Lah :). They were getting my screen icky with their lollipop-covered fingers, so I gave them wipes to clean their hands. But they washed the bathroom instead, while Heather and I looked on in amazement. LOVE! Then they had fun doodling on the drawing app on my iPod, and clicking all the pretty symbols on the calculator. Like **, #, =, etc. 🙂

These girls are CRAZY special. They’re the ones that the whole school factor comes into play :). We’re all 14, and I help them with homework at Urban Vision. (Their math homework is pretty much all the stuff that shows up on the standardized tests that I hadn’t seen in Algebra 2 – so it’s helpful to review :).) We’ve had 2 sleepovers together, and they’ve come to church with me both times! And loved it – especially the music.

We do have Karen nicknames – it started when I heard Eh Moo call Ma Rian “Thu”, which means “black” in Karen. I asked why Ma Rian was “black”… and Eh Moo told me it was just a nickname :). We expanded from there – Eh Moo is “Baw”, or “yellow”, but I never call her that. Eh Moo just sounds prettier :). And me… well, I asked what “michelle” meant in Karen, and they thought about the “Mi” part for a while. They died laughing a few seconds later… when they informed me that “Mi” means “Rice”! 🙂 Again, they don’t call me Mi, but I still think it’s special.

 

Eek – now that you’ve had the info on our names… I shared these girls with you because they are living proof that miracles can happen! 🙂 We’ve been trying to get Ma Rian to come to our church FOREVER, and she came and really enjoyed it. (Ha – they had an interesting discussion in high school that day too…) Her contact for me on her phone is “Bbf” – “best best friend” – and she’s pretty much my Karen sister :). Such a blessing, she is… we’ve done Bible studies together and I can really tell she wants to be a stronger Christian and braver talking with American people!

Eh Moo loves making me laugh. The biggest “funny thing” she does is call me “Miss Michelle”. It’s general respect at Urban Vision to call EVERYONE who volunteers/works there “Miss” or “Mr.”, but even though we’re the same age, she still calls me “Miss”. Silly girl.. Before I had to share my testimony at Urban Vision, she shared her one-person chair with me and encouraged me, and made me smile :). And after, told me I did a good job. And I know it wasn’t all that great, but the encouragement was amazing. She loves to joke, and can easily make Ma Rian fall over -literally- laughing.

 

So the reason I shared all that in a thing about stress… God can still do amazing things while I’m a student! And with any season anyone goes through… Just thinking about how God has used my education up to this point to bless people at Urban Vision, and how I’ve really implicitly loved chemistry and geometry reminds me that everything works for the good of those who love God!

So as I go through today… and prepare for that dumb SAT tomorrow… I WILL remember that God has a plan! And He CAN and WILL see this plan to abundant completion!

God created and sustains me – therefore, I am!

 

I got a very, very special book this Christmas from my grandma. It’s called Valley of Vision, and it’s a really fun collection of Puritan prayers. There are some really uplifting prayers in there (my favorites are about serving and worship) but I’m continually amazed at how many convicting poems there are. Check this one out… titled, simply, “Pride”.

O Thou terrible Meek,

Let not pride swell my heart. …

Sin’s deformity is stamped upon me,

darkens my brow, touches me with corruption:

How can I flaunt myself proudly?

Lowest abasement is my due place,

for I am less than nothing before Thee.

Help me to see myself in Thy sight,

then pride must wither, decay, die, perish.

Humble my heart before Thee,

and replenish it with Thy choicest gifts.

As water rests not on barren hill summits,

but flows down to fertilize lowest vales,

So make me the lowest of the lowly,

that my spiritual riches may exceedingly abound. …

When I am tempted to think highly of myself [not implying that depression is the answer],

grant me to see the wily power of my spiritual enemy …

If I fall let me hide myself in my Redeemer’s righteousness,

and when I escape, may I ascribe all deliverance to Thy grace.

Keep me humble, meek, lowly.

I think for citation purposes, I’m supposed to say that the italics are mine… it’s protocol! So there you are.

Ahem. Anyway… I think that’s an extremely humbling poem. If it didn’t hit ya that way, pray and give it another go. This is some serious stuff! Whoever wrote this really had it on his heart to not even think highly of himself. Not something we think about much, huh?

Please don’t get this wrong. God sees you as His child (if you’ve believed) – His bride, His pure, spotless bride – redeemed and everything. So in God’s eyes, we’re amazingly precious!!! The point of this prayer, I think, is to remind us that no blessing we have ever received was from ourselves. I think everyone, now and then, somehow thinks what they have is totally their doing. Sorry, though – short of sin, nothing you have is from you.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I had been born in a refugee camp like my friends. Or even in Myanmar, as a teenager, when all of a sudden, you’re forced to run away from your village into some jungle in Thailand so you won’t be killed. Then you’re shipped off to America, knowing zero English and expected to get a job, house, and eventually get off government funding. It’s so true that the less you have, the more that littler things mean to you.

So back to that prayer… water doesn’t rest on mountains. It flows down to the valleys.

Then He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” – Luke 9:48

I think this arouses some serious rejoicing!! I hope for you, too… no, we can’t boast in ourselves. But the Creator of the universe, our Lord, has given us blessings! Lots of them – so that we can give credit to His name… like, we have the privilege to say, “GOD gave me this! GOD lets me use this for His glory!”

So do give God the glory!!

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You,

who walk in the light of Your presence, LORD.

They rejoice in Your name all day long;

They celebrate Your righteousness.

For you are their glory and strength,

and by Your favor You exalt our horn..

“The enemy will not get the better of him;

the wicked will not oppress him.

I will crush his foes before him

and strike down his adversaries.

My faithful love will be with him,

and through my name his horn will be exalted. …

I will maintain my love to him forever,

and my covenant with him will never fail.”

~Psalm 89:15-17, 22-24, 28; italics mine.