Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sri Lanka Sentiments

Today is a rainy day and I'm loving it. It's 12:52pm on Saturday and I'm still in my pajamas with no agenda for the day. Something about rainy days makes me sentimental. Actually...I think I'm pretty much always sentimental, but rainy days make it worse!

But today is one of those "I miss Sri Lanka" days. I've been having a lot of those lately. After spending four months in Galle, Sri Lanka over the past few years, I have developed deep relationships with the precious people over there. They became like my family.

Mama Sitha, my Sri Lankan grandmother, would bring me hot tea every morning. She would come into my bedroom and say, "Excuuuuuuuuuse me...teaaaaaaaaa!" in her cute little accent.

I miss waking up to the sound of Buddhist monks chanting in the distance and seeing monkeys jumping from tree to tree in the jungle surrounding me. I miss Sara. She accepted Christ while I was there and she became like my sister. Now she's living in another country with her new husband. I'm afraid I will never get to see her again.
I especially miss my friends from the village in Hikkaduwa. This particular village was very poor. Some of the houses were made of mud and had no electricity. I would go to this village every week to work on houses (but mainly, I played with the kids while everyone else worked on the houses!) Every morning, we would drive up in Pradeep's van with the windows down and I could hear the little kids shouting, "Mery! Mery! Play?!" They would grab my hand and take me to their homes where they would show me their photo albums and serve me tea and practice the few english words that they knew. They would turn on the radio and we'd do silly dances together and laugh. I would give anything to go back and see them, even if it was just for a day. It's hard to explain how much I miss that place. I crave to go back and my heart aches when I think about it.
(Anusha, Hassein, Violet, Geetani, Kasun, Dineshika, Achini, Hashinka and Tataranga from Hikkaduwa)
A few days ago, I received a letter from Hashinka, a beautiful 15-year-old girl from Hikkaduwa. It had been over a year since I had heard from her and I was beginning to worry I would never hear from her again. But when I opened my post office box and saw that little white envelope with red and blue lining, I could barely contain my excitement! I opened it as quickly as I could and right there in the post office, I burst into tears! haha- people must have thought I was crazy. I was just so happy to hear from my friend. I even sniffed the page to soak in any lingering scents from my beloved country. In her letter she said, "Mery, please try come to Sri Lanka. We are very eagerly looking for your arrival." My heart melted when I read that. I wish I could tell her how desperately I wish to go back. How I think of her every day when I see her face on my wall and pray for her and her village.

It's been a year and a half since I've been and it'll be at least another year or two before I would be able to go back. I thought it would get easier with time, but it's only getting worse. Instead of thinking of it less, I think of it more. I feel like God has called me to go to these people. My love for them is indescribable. The calling I feel is kind of scary in a way and I don't really know what it means. But something tells me I'll be going back someday. I just hope it's someday soon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"The least of these" is me.

Well, today marks the first day of my spring break, which is pretty crazy, because it's February and it's still cold. But that's okay. I'm looking forward to having some time to refresh and spend with famiy. I came home tonight to watch Taylor in his school's musical, Cinderella. He did a great job as a townsperson and had two lines: "Herman?" and "Macey?" I was proud of my little bro! Grandmother and Papa came up from Georgia for the weekend, so it's been nice visiting with them.

Nate and I are leaving in a few days to check out a seminary in California. I'll post more about that when I get back. I really have no idea what to expect, so it should be interesting. Other than that, I plan on getting some reading and writing done over break. I know the semester is gonna fly when I get back, so I'm trying to get things done now so I can fully enjoy my last two months of school!

Today I was re-reading some of Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel. If you haven't read this book, you should. But just as a warning, it will mess you up! There were times that I was so convicted that I just had to close the book and pray. Today was one of those days.

Manning was talking about the verse that says, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto me." This verse is quoted so many times, especially on mission trips, homeless outreaches, etc. I think I even have a t-shirt from a trip I went on with that verse printed on the back.

Manning goes on to quote Carl Jung when he said, "What if you discovered that the least of the brethren of Jesus, the one who needs your love the most, the one you can help the most by loving, the one to whom your love will be most meaningful-what if you discovered that the least of the brethren of you?"

Bam! That definitely gave me something to chew on. It seems so prideful for me to say that I'm serving "the least of these" because that implies that I am greater than them. And who defines the least and the greatest anyways? In scripture, it seems like the people that society viewed as the least were actually the ones who were the most in tune with the Lord. The people off the streets were the ones who showed up to the wedding banquet. And didn't Jesus say "the last shall be first and the first shall be last"?

Maybe I've had the wrong view all along. Maybe the poor and the outcasts aren't really "the least of these." Maybe "the least of these" is actually me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Give Me Your Eyes

The other day, I had some time between classes, so I went and got some coffee at the student center. I found a little table in the corner and took a seat. I was writing for a while, but at one point, I put my pen down and just observed my surroundings.

I began to notice the people that were passing by. Some of them were people that I'm acquainted with, others were familiar faces, and some I had never seen before. I'm not sure how long I was "people watching," but before I knew it, I noticed that my eyes had filled with tears and I had no idea why.

I guess it just hit me that God allows me to cross paths with so many people every day and I usually don't even take the time to look at them. In The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne talks about how we tend to look at people, while Jesus looks into people. Many times when I look at people, I merely see their outward appearance. I judge them and compare myself to them. But as I was sitting there that day, I attempted to look into the people around me. I wondered what their stories are. Are they happy? Are they hurting? Do they know Jesus? My heart soon became heavily burdened for the strangers in the room with me.

Even though I didn't know them, I began to pray for them. For the guy ordering his wrap and for the girl next to me who was texting. I may never know them, but I prayed that I would care about them the way that Jesus does.

In scripture, Jesus always notices the people that everyone else overlooks. He sees Zacchaeus in the tree and asks to eat dinner with him. He sees the little boy with five loaves and two fish and takes an interest in him when everyone else thought the idea was ridiculous. He has compassion for the woman who was caught in adultery and defends her. He touches the lepers and sits at the table with the "sinners." Oh, if only I could see people the way that Jesus sees them!

Often times if I'm struggling with seeing a person or a situation with the right perspective, I'll utter the prayer, "Give me your eyes, Jesus. I want to see the world the way that you do."

Brandon Heath's song "Give Me Your Eyes" sums it up pretty well, so I'll close with this video from him:


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

As iron sharpens iron...

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

Every Tuesday night, some of my girlfriends and I get together for "accountability night." This has become one of the highlights of my week. Tonight, five of us just sat around in my apartment, sipping hot tea, laughing and talking about life. It is such a blessing to fellowship with one another and share what God is doing in our lives.
For me, fellowship with other Christians has always been an important part of my walk with the Lord. Often times, God uses those around me to speak to me and sharpen me (ouch!). Having this accountability group this semester has been so neat because we share prayer requests and check up on each other throughout the week. For example, tonight, I shared with them how I struggle with memorizing scripture and I asked them to hold me accountable to it. I wish I could say that I have the self-motivation to do things like that on my own, but sometimes I really need my sisters and brothers in Christ to hold me accountable.

When I was in high school, I had an accountability partner. I would spend the night at her house every Tuesday night (I even had my own little drawer where I would keep my pjs!) and we would pray together and study the Bible. Our friendship became so deep because it was centered on the Lord. I don't get to see her as often anymore, but she is still a dear friend and I will always treasure those times that we spent praying together and encouraging one another.

Though it is very important to have friendships with people who are not believers, I think that God desires for us to have fellowship with other Christians as well. A couple months ago, I was in a place where I had no contact with any other Christians for about two weeks. I didn't realize how hard that would be on me until I got there and felt utterly alone. Jesus became so real to me in that time because He was the only one that I could cling to. That experience reminded me of how thankful I should be for the Christian family and friends that I have.

That's my thought for the night. I'll try not to make my blogs too terribly long (I tend to get carried away!)

Rest in Him today!

p.s. On a completely unrelated and not so serious note, I had my first energy drink today. I never buy those things, but this one was given out at a basketball game so I figured I'd try it since I had a test and wanted to make sure I stayed alert. Wellllll...I don't know if my mind was just messing with me or what, but I felt so strange and gittery in my class. I couldn't sit still and everything seemed exceptionally funny to me. At one point, my professor got tongue tied and I busted out laughing! And this was not a subtle was loud...really loud! So I was bent over with my head on the desk and everyone in the class was laughing at this point. When I opened my eyes I saw a little red dot on my paper and realized that my professor was pointing his laser at me and everyone was staring at embarrassing! So I've decided it's probably best if I stay away from energy drinks for a while!

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm finally giving in

Well friends, now that my senior year of college is nearing its end, I am finally creating a blog. I know, I know, I should have done it sooner I guess, but I've kept a pretty consistent written journal so I didn't really feel the need for it. But I think it'll be fun to write my thoughts on this blog and hear what you have to say. Part of me feels really vulnerable writing thoughts for the world to read (though let's face it, only a very very small percentage of the world will actually read this thing...maybe that case, I'm just writing to myself right now. Hey Mere!)

Okay, enough about blogging, I'm going to try to not be A.D.D. and actually write something!

So I'm in my last semester of college and I seriously cannot believe it! The past four years at Campbell have been absolutely incredible. Thinking about graduating is bittersweet. I am definitely going to miss good ole' Buies Creek and the awesome memories I have had here. I'm going to miss living within walking distance of everyone. I'll miss staying up late and sleeping in :) I'll miss going to Encounter every Friday night and my dear sweet international friends. Of course I'll miss the crazy random times (prank wars, dress up parties, swimming in the fountain, secret missions, road trips, etc.)

As much as I'll miss it, I must say I am very excited about the future! I have no idea where I'll be five years from now, or even two years from now, but I am just thrilled to be on this journey with the Lord and trust Him to lead me in the right direction.

I just filled out my contract to serve as a year-long missionary in Hawaii. I'm leaving in July and will be working with the North American Mission Board at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. And guess what I'll be doing?....International student ministry! I seriously could not think of a job that would excite me any more! God has definitely given me a passion for internationals and I can't get over how cool it is that He's allowing me to use that passion to serve Him! I don't know too much about the job yet, but basically I think I'll help teach English, teach Bible studies, and mainly focus on developing friendships with the students. I'll keep you updated as I learn more about it :)

The Lord has been teaching me so so much lately and I want to briefly share a little of it with you. I guess it comes down to two main things: His faithfulness and waiting on Him.

A few weeks ago I was at home and pulled out some dusty boxes from the attic and began to read some of my old journals from elementary and middle school (yes, my whole life is documented on paper). Some of the things I wrote were ridiculously hilarious and silly, but other times I found myself wiping tears from my face. Page after page, I was amazed at how God's hand has been with me my whole life. He has answered every prayer (even when it wasn't the answer I wanted to hear at the time). He has protected me and brought me through every trial. I was absolutely blown away by his faithfulness. He has been faithful to His promises in scripture and in my life. He was faithful in the past, He's faithful now, and I know that He will continue to be! I tend to worry about my life sometimes, but it's so wonderful to be able to rest, knowing that my life isn't up to me.

The next lesson God taught me was a little bit more difficult. The past few weeks, I've been struggling with thoughts like, "What am I going to do with my life?" "Where am I going to live?" "How in the world am I going to provide for myself?" yikes! I guess that's natural for a college senior. I know what I'm doing next year, but beyond that I have absolutely no idea. I've visited a few seminaries, so that's a possibility, but I really don't know what God is calling me to do yet. I've always been a planner and a goal-oriented person (I had my Campbell application filled out and ready to go when I was 14!) so not knowing what the future holds sometimes makes me feel anxious and stressed out.

I began to pray fervently for God to show me His will for my future and the clear response I heard was, "Wait."

Yeah, that was not what I wanted to hear. So I tried praying again...and again. But every time I opened up my Bible I would read about waiting on the Lord.

Psalm 27:14 showed up several times in my quiet times with God. "Wait for the LORD: be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."

So then I began to pray that God would change my perspective and let me tell you, He totally transformed it! I've been listening to this song by John Waller called "While I'm Waiting" and it has been such an encouragement to me. It says, "I will serve you while I'm waiting, I will worship while I'm waiting..." As I continued to meditate on what God was telling me, He pretty much bonked me on the head and I began to ask myself "What's so bad about waiting?"

I dread waiting in long lines and waiting for important phone calls and waiting to be called at the doctor's office. But what if I used that "waiting time" to serve Him and worship Him rather than just complain and waste it! God has given me this season in life where I'm not tied down to any one place or person. Maybe I don't know what the future holds, but I don't want to waste the time He's given me just waiting for the next big stage of my life. I can serve Him now!

Phew, I could keep going for hours, but it's almost 3am and I have to get up for dance class in 6 hours (why do I do this to myself? oh, the life of a college kid!)

Have a blessed day, my friends!