The Stud.

No, this post is not about a hunky gentleman.

It’s about some news: I have a job! Continue reading

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Stateside

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I’m writing this on the plane from La Paz, Bolivia to Lima, Peru. Molly Fae, Kate & I have a layover there before catching a flight to Miami, then onward to Atlanta. There we’ll touch U.S. soil for the first time in 5 months.

In the first week of January, I arrived in Gainesville, GA to begin squad leading. I had met neither my co-leaders nor my squad – it was daunting, to say the least.

And now I’m on my way back. Continue reading

Border crossing at 15,000ft. It’s no joke.

I’m writing from a strange little café in La Paz, Bolivia. It’s serving as Plan B to the café I planned on being in today – unfortunately that one is in a section of the city cordoned off by SWAT teams. Apparently protests are a normal thing in this city, so no one’s really alarmed. Just inconvenienced.

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La Paz

It’s Month 5. My last month on the field. 18 days left. My co-leaders and I are currently training the three lovely ladies we raised up to take our place as Squad Leaders when we go home.

While it’s certainly hard to let myself think about the upcoming Day of Departure, the day I have to hug my each dear member of my squad goodbye… I’m starting to feel pretty weary. Continue reading

The past month & everything in particular

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Skype calls with the leadership team: sometimes the only place with both wifi & privacy is a supply closet floor

It looks to be a drizzly fall day in Santiago.

My co-leaders & I are currently holed up in an airbnb apartment in Chile’s capital. Today we’re going to finalize the Month 4 Debrief schedule and discuss how we want to train our raised-up squad leaders to prepare them to take over our positions.

We’ve taken the morning slowly.

Kevin showed me how to make pour-over coffee with a little cotton filter he picked up at a Honduran market.
Molly Fae prepared a luxurious breakfast for us, cutting avocadoes in half and topping them with egg & cheese & bacon before baking them in the little oven.
Kate skyped her friend Sarah, who also happens to be squad leading right now – she’s with A Squad in Panama.

This is my second go-round at life on the World Race. All four of us squad leaders went on the Race at different times and had vastly different experiences. So what with my Race, stories from their Races, and accompanying C Squad for these past 4 Months… I’ve gotten pretty used to this.

But you haven’t, and I know my blogs haven’t exactly been the most comprehensive glimpse into what this looks like. So, quick overview of the past month:

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With our ridiculously incredible hosts in Calama

At the end of last month, Kate & I ran a “leadership development weekend” – a little two-day conference for the squad, essentially. Molly Fae & Kevin were in a city 5 hours away with a squadling who was ill, and were taking care of her hospital visits etc, so they were unable to join us.

Kate & I travelled to Chile with the squad, spending our first night in Santiago on the airport floor. We left the next day for Valparaiso with our Logistics duo, who were looking for suitable hostels for our Month 4 debrief at the end of April.

I spent the next two weeks with one team whose mission was to find new contacts Adventures can partner with in the future. That means we had a few days in Santiago… a long bus ride… A few days in La Serena… a loooooonng bus ride… and a few days in Calama. At which point we parted ways and they had yet another long bus ride.

During our time together, they found some wonderful new contacts. I guided the team into how to become healthier and more successful. And we all marveled at the dramatic landscape of northern Chile, reminiscent of desert scenes from Star Wars.

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Atacama Desert. Yes, that is a volcano in the background

And now I find myself here, planning debrief with my co-leaders in Santiago. As far as debriefs go, it’s going to be a doozy…

Thanks for reading. I look forward to sharing the stories of my final month next month.

For now, here are some tidbits:

What I’m currently listening to on repeat: River by Leon Bridges
What I’m reading during breaks: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (so intense).
What I learned this week: Chileans speak so. fast. “Hablamos muy muy muy muy rapido rapido rapido rapido,” our taxi driver admitted yesterday, speaking at breakneck speed.

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Debrief planning for days

Funding!

My deepest thanks to everyone who has supported me financially over the past few years. I am almost done with my squad leading position, but I still need to raise $1,500 over the next month in order to finish. Will you help me continue ministering to this group of young adults?

– The most helpful way for me to receive funds right now is to my paypal, so that I can take care of the added costs that go along with Squad Leading (like my flight home in June, etc). My paypal email is lsa3dy@virginia.edu.
– If you’d like your donation to be tax deductible, however, you can use the official donation link here to donate online or by check:
Thank you so much!

When you go to the Caribbean, pt. 2: Kevin

Last time I wrote about how we began our week on the island of Roatan, Honduras. This time I want to tell you about Kevin.

 

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The team had decided to hold an Easter morning sunrise service on the beach, and spent the weekend inviting anyone and everyone they encountered. One of those people was a man named Kevin, who Kate & Erika met while stopping to ask for some directions. He was friendly and engaging, but his home was quite far from where we were staying – it was a long shot that he’d show up to the service. Nevertheless they invited him and several others they met that day.

Easter morning arrived. In the silent, pre-dawn light we wandered down a lane to the beach we’d never used before. We were strolling peacefully along when Kate suddenly halted.

“Kevin?”

There he was! Sitting outside a fancy, beachside hotel. He broke into a grin as we approached. “Kevin, what are you doing here??” He responded that he worked there as a security guard – would we like to look around?

After a bit of chatting and a tour of the hotel grounds, he asked, “You guys are Christians, right? Do you have any pamphlets or papers or anything?” We replied no. He continued, “I want something to read to learn more about God.”

“You mean like a bible? Do you want a bible?”

His face lit up again. “Yes!!”

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West Bay beach on Easter morning

As soon as we finished our Easter service, we leapt into the car to begin our mad search for a bible. Amidst flying comments of “What are the odds we happened to walk down that road this morning?” and “Can you believe we get to give him his first bible?!” we hunted for churches and finally found one that was open.

Kate & I ran inside and summarized our strange plea. “Do you have any extra bibles that we could have?” A lovely lady smiled and brought us a tattered King James copy and even gave us her phone number, in case Kevin wanted to get involved in a church.

My celebratory glee was a little dampened by the fact that it was King James. Back in the car, I flipped through its worn pages. “Forsooth” being one of the first words I saw did nothing to ease my skepticism. I grumbled a tad. From the backseat, Anna calmly quipped (as Anna is wont to do), “God’s going to use it – I grew up on the KJV, and it did plenty for me.”

She was right (as Anna is wont to be) – God wasn’t gazing down from on high like, “Shoot, they got the wrong version…” I dropped the limitations I was putting on Him and handed the bible back to Kate so she could write a note for Kevin in the front cover.

That afternoon, Kate & Erika brought Kevin the bible and a gigantic, deliciously gooey cookie. They said the look on his face was the sweetest part of the whole encounter. He was visibly moved by the gifts.

After sitting and talking with him for a bit, it was time to head home. They asked for a picture before leaving.

He eagerly pulled out his phone. “Yes, please, for me too!”

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Erika, Kevin & Kate

And that is the story about how God knew a young man on Roatan that wanted to get to know Him more. And how one Easter morning, He brought a ragtag group of gringos along to give that young man a bible and a cookie.

Funding!

My deepest thanks to everyone who has supported me financially over the past few years. I am almost done with my squad leading position, but I still need to raise $1,500 over the next 2 months in order to finish. Will you help me?

– The most helpful way for me to receive funds right now is to my paypal, so that I can take care of the added costs that go along with Squad Leading (like my flight home in June, etc). My paypal email is lsa3dy@virginia.edu.
– If you’d like your donation to be tax deductible, however, you can use the official donation link here to donate online or by check:
Thank you so much!

 

When you go to the Caribbean, pt. 1

Let me tell you about one of my most favorite weeks. The week of March 22 – March 29, 2016, to be exact.

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Kate & I with Team Maverick

Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Honduras is a big deal. The whole country shuts down to celebrate the several days leading up to Easter. Buses don’t even run – it’s vacation time.

Last month as Easter approached, Kate & I were with our co-ed team, Team Maverick. We observed as they tried to figure out how to continue working during Holy Week:

Maverick: “You’re taking that time off? Is there anything we can do for you? Clean? Babysit? Feed the chickens? Anything?

Ministry host: (Sigh.) “Honestly, the way you can help us most is if we didn’t have to give you stuff to do. Please take the week off. Seriously. Please.”

So that was the plan. With all that time, Maverick figured out a way to get to Honduras’ most exotic spot: the Caribbean island of Roatan.

It’s one thing to do what a ministry host asks you to do to serve a community. It’s another to walk in faith, service and love where you go – instructions or no instructions. Kate & I were ecstatic to get the chance to show this team what adventures God would lead them into if they just made themselves available.

Over the next few posts, I want to share what happened on that little island.

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Photo Credit – Erika Paul

Adventure #1: During the busiest travel weekend of the year, and in the busiest vacation spot in the country, Team Maverick had nowhere to stay the night.

The team was able to book lodging for all but the first night of their stay, and were determined to not let that one night stop them. They began their journey saying, “It’ll be ok – we’ll walk around, we’ll sleep on the porch of a hostel… we’ll find something.”

I have a story like this already, from my World Race. I was on the streets of Moldova and witnessed God marvelously provide a place for my team & I to stay. I knew it could be done.

As we prayed, we were assured of the knowledge that God takes care of His kids. Kate & I grew excited with the anticipation of this team gaining their own crazy story of His faithfulness and kindness. Even as we were declined from hostel after hostel when asking for rooms, we knew we’d be okay.

And we were.

Here’s the short version:

After a few hours of searching for rooms to no avail, we decided heck with it, we’re in the Caribbean, let’s go to the beach.
While swimming about, two of our group approached a party boat sitting a little ways from shore and asked if they knew a place to stay.
The boat owners offered to let us sleep on the boat – would we like to take a look around and see if it suits us?
(Um, don’t mind if we do. But we’re sure it will suit us just fine…)
We hopped onto the boat and met a group of middle-aged ladies from Wisconsin who offered us free beer and challenged us to a dance-off.
The ladies also offered us a place to stay, at their beach house.
Giddy & beaming at what just happened, we returned to shore and found that another teammate had met a bartender from Canada who also offered us a place to stay.

Zero to three in half an hour. He’s about abundance, isn’t He?

Though I’m leaving out many beautiful details from the rest of the evening, our story ends with us sleeping in the Wisconsin ladies’ living room, making them cookies in the morning to thank them for their generosity.

(Did you know that if you don’t have any eggs, you can use mayonnaise in your cookie batter instead? And your cookies still turn out delicious. The World Race teaches you how to get creative…)

It’s incredible what can happen when we trust Him, isn’t it.

My next post will be Adventure #2 :)

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The moment I found a starfish

Funding!

My deepest thanks to everyone who has supported me financially over the past few years. I am almost done with my squad leading position, but I still need to raise $1,500 over the next 2 months in order to finish. Will you help me?

– The most helpful way for me to receive funds right now is to my paypal, so that I can take care of the added costs that go along with Squad Leading (like my flight home in June, etc). My paypal email is lsa3dy@virginia.edu.
– If you’d like your donation to be tax deductible, however, you can use the official donation link here to donate online or by check:
Thank you so much!

2 Months In

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The original subjects of this photo were Jess & Jenna, in a sweet moment with those kids… but Luke saw an opportunity.

My 2nd month of squad leading is almost over…

This month, all 34 of us on C Squad have lived and worked together at the same ministry. As we’ve visited villages all over northwest Nicaragua, we’ve helped run clinics, given school seminars on drugs & alcohol, and assisted pastors in house visits. There have been healings, new bibles placed into eager hands, and spontaneous water fights with village kids.
6 months ago, I remember asking G42 staff member Tiff Handley about her squad leading experience, as I was deciding whether I wanted to apply for this position or not.
She said, “Of course, there were times I wondered why in the world I had chosen to do this again – the perpetual dirtiness, the hard conversations, the cockroaches… But as I looked around at my squad, again and again I thought, ‘I almost didn’t get to meet these people. I almost didn’t know these hearts.’ What a loss that would have been.”
I think about that all the time, now. No group is without its struggles, but I am SO proud of these young adults I have the privilege of leading. They are determined and kind and curious and creative. There’s nothing like getting to be a part of their stories as they learn to love better and live more fully.
I get to tell someone the potential I see in them – challenging them to do the hard things – and watch them turn around and DO IT. This group is brave, and if this is what they look like after just 2 months, I am so excited to see what happens by the end of their Race.
I could not have done this without my supporters. To anyone who has given to me, prayerfully or financially – THANK YOU. Because of you, lives are changing on this squad, and lives are changing in the missionary families and ministries they work with. Thank you for helping me be here.

FUNDING:

I am fundraising in order to squad lead with the World Race! Will you consider financially supporting me during this time?

The total I need to raise is $6,500. (Less than half the full Race amount!) I currently have $4,505.

– The most helpful way for me to receive funds right now is to my paypal, so that I can take care of the added costs that go along with Squad Leading (like my flight home in June, etc). My paypal email is lsa3dy@virginia.edu.
– If you’d like your donation to be tax deductible, however, you can use the official donation link here to donate online or by check:
Thank you so much!

The gospel in a couple sentences

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A pivotal way my mindset changed during G42 was in how I think about sin. I picked up the idea that God doesn’t really talk to us about right and wrong; He talks to us about what brings life and what brings death.

Through it I learned I can stop being so hard on myself. Because it’s not about me getting things right. All that does is leave me feeling pressured and anxious and guilty – that’s death. It’s actually about me learning to recognize and receive and communicate love. Life is always about learning to love. Myself, God, the people around me. The “right” stuff will fall into place after that.

“When God looks at you, He’s not like, ‘I hope she doesn’t sin today.’ No. He thinks,
‘I really hope she chooses things today that help her love herself more. I hope she makes decisions that will make her proud of herself.'”

I’ve been mulling that over ever since I heard Kellen Gorbett say it. It’s the simplest, most beautiful way I’ve heard it laid out – the gospel in a couple sentences.

We were freed from having to think in right or wrong, good or bad. We get to think about life and love instead. We get to chase them headlong, like running down a hill, with too much momentum to stop.


 

FUNDING:

I am fundraising in order to squad lead with the World Race! Will you consider financially supporting me during this time?

The total I need to raise is $6,500. (Less than half the full Race amount!) I currently have $2,855.

– The most helpful way for me to receive funds right now is to my paypal, so that I can take care of the added costs that go along with Squad Leading (like my flight home in June, etc). My paypal email is lsa3dy@virginia.edu.
– If you’d like your donation to be tax deductible, however, you can use the official donation link here to donate online or by check:
Thank you so much!

Contentment

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Over the past year I’ve learned more and more how my environment has nothing to do with my contentment.

Deep down I would think, “If only I could be somewhere more beautiful, or more peaceful, or more exciting – I’d be happier, I’d feel better.”
But I’ve stood in the clear blue Mediterranean Sea on the Costa del Sol, holding back tears of anxiety. It hit me, then, that I was in one of the most coveted vacation spots in the world – yet it didn’t make a lick of difference for what was going on internally.
Similarly, I was hit with a moment of pure joy a couple weeks ago in an unexpected place. I had just taken a frigid shower in a grimy gym building in a slum in Costa Rica. As I reached for my sarong (which acts as my towel), shivering, I heard the World Race team chatting and laughing outside, and my co-leader strumming her ukulele.
I suddenly couldn’t stop smiling. There was literally nowhere in the world I would rather have been in that moment. (I even didn’t mind Hercules, the gigantic spider lurking on the opposite wall.) I felt full, full, full. Completely content.
I can stop wasting energy, now, crafting what I should change externally in order to find more peace.
Instead, give me a quiet hour alone, so I can keep learning how to find it wherever I am.