25 August, 2011

My dear friends,

I am taking next week off and going home to San Diego for nine days! Nine whole days filled with spending time with family, hanging out with friends, playing at Disneyland, splashing in the ocean, and relaxing! Although you probably won't be somewhere as perfect as San Diego :) I hope your next week is as fun-filled and refreshing as mine!

With Love

19 August, 2011

I recently started reading Theirs is the Kingdom by Bob Lupton, who moved to the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta in the early 70s. At the time, Grant Park was a rough, dangerous, poor neighborhood. But Bob and his wife Peggy wanted to minister to and build community with the urban poor. Bob's experiences led him to create FCS Ministries, which is now the umbrella organization to Mission Year. I've just begun reading his book and already, Lupton's words so perfectly describe the experiences of my past year. In the preface He writes,
My wife and I saw the city as a mission field and ourselves as missionaries carrying the light of the gospel into the darkness of the ghetto. How surprised we were when we discovered that the One who had called us already preceded us. Those to whom we came to share our faith frequently had more faith than we did. They had learned to depend on God for their daily bread, and answers to their prayers were often miraculous. Their capacity to care sacrificially for neighbors and family members made our scheduled, metered acts of service sometimes seem trite and even self-serving.

So it was that God's children who suffer most from crushing poverty became the very ones God used to speak to us of our own spiritual poverty. From those who had very few material possessions, we learned about our bondage to things. And from those who had much to fear and little to hope, we learned courage and faith.

The following reflections are glimpses into our eighteen-year journey on the streets of the city. Around every corner is the unexpected. Values collide. Beliefs are challenged. Emotions soar and fall. The city, I have concluded, is a dangerous place to walk, especially for those of us who carry valuable luggage. Much of what we hold dear is likely to be stripped away. But for every loss there is a gain; something of greater value is given. That is part of the wealth of the inner city, and that is why we have made the city our home.

13 August, 2011

I've spent the past few weeks moving in to my new apartment, officially starting to work full time, and beginning to process through my Mission Year. I've probably written thirty-five pages in my journal. So the prospect of trying to share my feelings here is quite overwhelming. During our Mission Year closing retreat (pictures to come!) I was given a sheet of questions to help me begin reflecting on my year. One of the questions asked how I would summarize my year in to one paragraph. This is my response...

Mission Year is like a crash course in how to live a life for God with intentionality. It was only one year, which is a pretty short span of time in the whole scheme of things, so it was intense and challenging, but the challenges forced me to learn and to grow, and through them, I have been transformed. Mission Year provided a beautiful space for community to be built and I ended the year with four new beautiful sisters! Mission Year allowed me to witness what it looks like for God's children to be loved well. It taught me how to find God in unexpected places. It taught me more about who I am, though that required me to strip off many false layers of my personhood. While that was painful at times, it was well worth it and enabled me to grow closer to God. I had many moments of pain, struggle, joy, laughter, peace, love, and contentment. Mission Year taught me to love others simply and has transformed the way I live my life and the way I see and know God. I am so grateful that God would allow me to spend an entire year pursuing growth, community, justice, intentionality, learning, loving others, and being loved!

07 August, 2011

it is well with my soul.