Unexpected Positive Experience

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This week I had a pretty bazaar experience. I was recently hired at the local hospital, and I spent last Monday and Tuesday at orientation. I figured it would be a regular orientation like most jobs, full of sessions about the company and important policies we would be expected to know. While it was pretty much what I expected, something completely caught me off guard. We started our orientation with an introduction from the CEO/President of the hospital, but that didn’t surprise me as much as what I’m about to say next: He started orientation with a prayer. I remember thinking “wow. I wish all companies were like this!” Their mission statement is revolved around God. It talks about sharing God’s love through healing. How cool is that? If all of that didn’t surprise me enough, I spotted a prayer room on my way to the bathroom. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This is my first experience with a Christian company, so I’m not sure if all of this is typical for faith-based companies, but I left orientation feeling amazed and happy with my decision to work there.

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Quick random, funny story:

On the first day of orientation, a bunch of people spoke to us about the mission of the hospital, the key values and important things like HIPPA. One of the speakers was a chaplain that talked to us about ethics. I’ll be honest, I was nodding off at this point because I had been sitting for hours! After he spoke, the day went on as regularly scheduled. Fast forward to night time, I’m at my weekly bible study with United Campus Ministry and we’re all waiting for the pastor of the week to come in and teach his or her lesson. The pastor finally comes in and begins his lesson but as time goes on I notice something strange… He starts quoting some of the things I heard at orientation that same morning! As he continues on, he mentions that he works at the local hospital as a chaplain, and that he also gets to welcome the newly hired employees. Thats when it hit me!!! He’s the chaplain that spoke to us at orientation! I stopped him in the middle of his sentence and blurted out  “were you at the orientation this morning?!” He goes “…yeah.. were you?!” I said “..yeah! I KNEW you looked familiar” haha. It was pretty funny. Everyone else looked confused because I hadn’t told them about orientation yet.

Christian R.E.S.T.

Give it a Rest

 

The sermon this morning was about Christian workers, or people God calls to do his work. It was taught by the lead pastor, who explained a few qualities of Christian workers:

1. They respond to Jesus’ call

2. They go in the authority Jesus gives them

3. They teach and meet the needs of people who will listen

He mentioned that being a Christian worker is not always easy because it comes with challenges. As human beings, we are limited with the amounts of money, time and energy we have. We often get distracted, and it can be hard to do Christ’s work with a strong enemy working tirelessly to defeat us. But our God is stronger, and he knows exactly what we need to complete his work. After each season of hard work, rest is necessary. Today we talked about Mark 6:30-44, and what really stood out to me was Mark 6: 30-31.

Mark 6:30-31 (ESV)

30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all they had done and taught.

31 And he said to them “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest awhile.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

In these verses we see that the apostles had just come back from doing God’s work, and Jesus was calling them to get rest. How does one effectively get rest, you ask? Our pastor broke it down for us:

Christian R.E.S.T.

1. Renew our minds and spirits

2. Energize our bodies

3. Stabilize our emotions

4. Troubleshoot, reflect and plan for re-entry

We can do these four things by getting more sleep than we usually do, eating healthily, having fun, praying, exercising, and doing some very intentional thinking and planning. From what i’ve seen personally, when God calls us to rest it’s usually because a new task is coming our way. There’s a very specific time in my life that I noticed God’s call for me to rest. At the time I didn’t realize that’s what was going on, but with reflection I’m now able to see it for what it was.

It was July of 2015 that I FINALLY got an acceptance letter into the Nursing program at school. I had spent two whole years trying to get into this competitive program. Most people would’ve given up after the first year, but I was really determined to get in. Once I did, I was more happy than words can describe. I soon found out, though, that my time in the Nursing program wouldn’t go too well. I was really excelling in the hands on aspect of my classes- the lab, where we practiced the things we were learning in lecture, and the on-site clinical in a nursing home. For some reason I wasn’t doing well in the lecture portion of the classes. I would go into each test confidently, just knowing I was going to do well.. and each time I would feel so defeated after hearing my grade. Those tests were worth so much of my overall grade that I eventually had to withdraw from the program to avoid getting a big fat F.

It probably sounds awful to you, and at the time I was distraught but looking back, I’m glad I withdrew. While I was in the program, I was absolutely miserable. I went some days without sleeping because of how much material I needed to study. I cried more than I ate. I felt like a zombie every single day. A lot of people would tell me that I seemed like a completely different person, and not in a good way, either. I always think about how much that program was changing my whole life, including my personality and it just makes me shake my head. I was having health problems and getting constant headaches. The whole nine.

It took about two weeks for me to figure out which direction I would go in next. I withdrew in the middle of the semester, so because I was mostly taking Nursing classes, I was left with only one class. I went from being 2000% overwhelmed to feeling like I had nothing to do. I eventually took that time to get back on track with God. This was my resting season, for sure. With all of that time to reflect I noticed how much I had pushed my relationship with God to the back burner (more like off of the whole stove). I let all of the Nursing craziness take more of my time than I even had to give. I barely even thought about my walk with God. I realized that I made Nursing school an idol, and that that was part of the reason I was so upset about having to withdraw from the program.

My R.E.S.T.ing period was so so necessary. It was my time to relax, reflect and renew my mind. It was within this resting period that God planted a strong desire in my heart to go on the Nicaragua mission trip, and soon after I had a new desire to teach children’s church. If I was still in the Nursing program, neither one of those things would have happened and they both mean so much to me. I am so thankful for that opportunity to R.E.S.T.

Webster Springs Mission Trip: God Moments

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Okay i’ll admit it.. This trip turned out to be SO much better than I originally thought it would be. I am not at all a country kind of girl. I love the city, where there are less bugs and things like cell phone reception. Despite the setting, this mission trip has been filled with so many great moments. Here are some of them:

 

Bonding with my United Campus Ministry group

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This mission trip has given each one of us an opportunity to get to know one another on a more personal level. We were able to help and encourage each other during our hike and our mission work. We got a chance to be vulnerable and share during our daily devotions and we were brought closer than ever before. And can I just tell you guys how funny these four are? They had me laughing so hard that my stomach was hurting!

Soaking up the beautiful nature created by God

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Sitting by the water, for me, almost always results in deep thought. It was really relaxing to be able to hang out and take in the beauty that was all around us in Webster Springs. Those leaves in the background? He knows every single characteristic of each one.. How amazing is that?

Bible Study at a local church

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Before the bible study even started, the pastor’s wife welcomed and prayed for us in front everyone. While she prayed, her voice cracked and tears began to flow as she thanked God for our presence. She and other members of the congregation took turns telling us how grateful they were to have us come into the community to help out. They repeatedly told us that we were the generation of change and good works. They talked about the way media only covers negative incidents and ignores things related to what we were doing in their community. It was so moving.

Meeting my beautiful little sister in Christ

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Okay I think pretty much everyone knows how much I love kids. On this mission trip, there were hardly any kids to hang out with because they were all in school during our work days. In the middle of the week, one of the families from the community came to eat dinner with all of us. I was drawn to one of their kids in particular. In a very sassy voice, she let us know that her name was “Sara WITHOUT THE H.” She was a cute little 11 year old girl that talked a lot about her love for soccer. She reminded me of my little sister Kamara. Anyway, every time I looked to my side, Sara was right next to me. She did not leave my side until her mom told her it was time to go. During our time together she kept telling me how much she wished she could be my sister. It was so sweet. I wish I would’ve thought to explain that we already are sisters in Christ and that’s as good as it can get.

Being pushed out of my comfort zone!

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As I said in the beginning.. Country activities, like hiking and things involving the woods? Kyani doesn’t partake in that kind of stuff. They had me hiking up this huge, steep mountain and I thought I was going to die. I didn’t start off being so willing either. I had a dramatic moment when I refused to go any further and wanted to wait at the bottom while everyone else continued. But I knew I needed to get over it because another huge part of being a missionary is compromise and doing things others enjoy or suggest because it is just as important as the things I like to do.

(Notice, I’m ahead of everyone else with my “get me out of here” face on)

Webster Springs Mission Trip 2016

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When I think about the way we were led to this particular mission trip, I have to laugh to myself. MONTHS ago we had already planned to spend our Spring Break doing repair work on a mission trip to South Carolina. There was some kind of miscommunication that meant we would no longer be able to do work with that particular mission group. We then moved on to a different mission group that would have us working in Washington D.C. Well, needless to say, that ended up not working out either (at the very last minute). We were directed to a mission trip in West Springs, West Virginia- an area that was in dire need of helping hands and hearts.

We were pretty disappointed about the change of locations, but after some reflecting, it was obvious that we were needed in Webster Springs. So, off we went! At this point, we were learning one of the most important lessons of missionary life: Be flexible and just roll with the changes!

After seven hours of traveling we arrived to the small town of Webster Springs to start our week of service. We stayed at a local church, along with 46 others, where we had delicious home-cooked breakfast and dinner each day. Our team of 6 was assigned to an old elementary school that was forced to shut down due to extremely low attendance. The people of the community decided to turn the building into a community center, but first it would need ALOT of repairs. That’s where we came in.

We were assigned to a bathroom in the building that needed the previously painted floors to be chipped off and repainted. With only a handful of tools and no specific instruction we attempted to start our work at the new community center. It took a full day for us to get into the groove of things, and once we did we were more confident in the work we were doing. It felt great to be doing God’s work and being His hands and feet in the community.

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Towards the end of the trip, we were exhausted. Our pace had slowed significantly, our arms and legs were sore from using the same muscles repetitively each day and we were just overall running low on energy. I remember wanting to stop and complain at one point, but was reminded that I was not doing the work for myself and though we were working on the community’s new center, it was all for God’s glory. I prayed for the strength to finish out the work we started and got myself refocused.

Colossians 3:23 (NLT)

23 Work willingly at whatever you do as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

All in all we had a wonderful time on this trip. In my next blog I’m going to talk about the God moments of the trip, the highlights of being in Webster Springs this week.