Friday, March 19, 2010

Answered Prayer

One of my prayers is that God will continue to bring more girls to the site. Another prayer is that among these girls, leaders will rise up in the communities. Well folks, God does answer prayer. When coaching volleyball, I teach young girls (ages 11-19) from two main communities, Barrio Blanco and Barrio Ippolito. In Barrio Blanco, there are now 6 new girls that are interested in joining the team. We have organized a tournament day on Fridays so that the two communities I work with can have a game day. Normally, I take the girls from Barrio Blanco in my jeep to Barrio Ippolito. Before, when we had 11 girls from Barrio Blanco, they all fit okay in my jeep. However, now that we have 16, it puts a little stress on Bessy. However, we worked it out that I just take two trips to get the girls to the other community. Even though it takes an extra 20 minutes, I am overjoyed with this blessing. However, I may need to buy a bus if God keeps bringing more girls! Also, two of the new girls are Christians and are definitely a light on the team. My prayer is that they can continue to lead the team and encourage their teammates to go to church with them. God is good!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Train Ride

Every month or so, I meet with the pastor of my church. I have a lot of respect for him and I feel he has a good handle of how the Dominican culture works and the best way to reach out to them. At one point, I was expressing to him how much I was enjoying life and I felt like God has been blessing me in so many ways. He was genuinely happy for me, but he also gave me a word of caution that I felt was really wise. Enjoy.

He drew the analogy of a train. In a train, there are various cars. There is a front train called the train engine. There are also other cars behind the engine, but the whole train gets it’s power from the engine. The cars behind it sometimes can be larger and others smaller, but the train still gets its power from the engine. Sometimes the train has to go up hills, sometimes its on flat ground and other times it goes downhill. When it goes downhill, the engine still controls the speed of the train, but if the load is large, it can take over the speed of the train. The train is our lives. The engine is our convictions. Who do I believe Christ was and why did he die on the cross? How does this effect who I am and how I respond to situations. The cars behind the engine are our feelings, our emotions. Some cars are happiness as a result of good situations. Other cars may be worry or hate. Depending on the person, some cars are bigger than others and control the momentum more. Some may even put their car of “feelings” at the front of their train. As a result, in good times, their train goes great and life is wonderful. However, when things start to go bad, their train is thrown off track and they lose all force.

Like I mentioned before, then train travels in different types of land. Right now I am in a downhill part of life. I am definitely loving my life and everything is going well. Even though I see hardship on a daily basis in the lives of my girls, I am full of joy each day. I have been seeing huge progress in my girls. At times, my high emotions start to control the momentum of my life and can effect my decisions. However, I cannot go downhill forever. I will face difficult times and have to start to go uphill. It could dangerous if I let my “feelings” control my view of how my life is going. Let me clarify something, we should always have joy and there is nothing wrong with me enjoying my life. However, the engine, my convictions, my foundation, my relationship with Christ needs to always have control of my life. Why? Because the train will eventually have to go up hill. And then what? Will my emotions control the momentum of the train? They may last for a little while, but they will run out of steam. If my engine is not strong enough, the train will decrease speed. However, if I have a constant force, Jesus, powering my engine, I will have joy even in difficult circumstances. Paul reminds us of this in Philippians 4:12-13. Ironically, he says this while he was in chains as a result of preaching the gospel. Paul says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and ever situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” What a powerful imagery. I think Paul was well aware that the “secret” was his identity in Christ. His engine was truly powered, conducted by Jesus Christ.

Thanks Popin for reminding me of an important lesson. I have been told before that I am a very passionate person. Awesome. However, I have also often made rash decisions because my train can be conducted by these emotions. I thank God for this joyous/ happy stage of life, but I am also aware that I must continue to grow in my knowledge of who Christ is so that when hard times hit (and they will), I do not lose my joy or momentum.

So my question to you is this. What controls your train? Your emotions? Financial situation? Health? Having a boyfriend/girlfriend? I hope this challenges you in some way, just like it definitely challenged/encouraged me! Take care!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Northwestern Team!

So a dream of mine came true this past week. An actual college volleyball team from Northwestern came and helped run a camp for the girls. Not only did equip ALL my girls with t-shirts and shorts, but they also brought a brand new net. Even more, they came with incredible enthusiasm and passion, that definitely left my girls changed and impacted. Each day the girls shared a bible lesson with the girls as well. This team not only came to serve, but to open their hearts and make a big impact on Jarabacoa.

Also, through the sport of volleyball, they were able to bring the gospel to areas that I have not been able to on my own. Thursday night, the team played against a group of guys from the community that are by far the best in Jarabacoa. We were 1-3 but the one we won was way worth it. :) First of all, playing and getting super pumped with the team was sooo fun. I miss being a part of a team. Secondly, we had a chance to preach to this group of guys which probably would have never would have had the chance to hear the gospel being spoken. I translated for a girl and then had the chance to preach to the guys myself. It was soo neat because I often go to play with these guys but since I'm the outsider (and they are definitely not a talkative bunch unless they are arguing about a call), I have not gotten the chance to really share my faith with them. But this definitely opened up BIG doors to sharing the gospel with them!

Thank you Northwestern for truly making a difference in my own life, as well as so many lives here in Jarabacoa!

Additional side note: So today I was reaching into my box of cereal and just as I was putting into my mouth, a cockroach ran up my hand and onto my face! Ohhhh the fun exciting things here in the DR. Love it. :)