'I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.' John 14:18 NIV http://www.facebook.com/Repurchase
Have you ever dreamt something so real and vivid that when you woke up you felt like it was real? Or have you ever wished for something so powerfully that you thought you would break if you didn't get it? Or have you ever been in a situation that was so amazing that is was surreal? Or have you ever felt like you were living a dream that you never really knew you wanted? This is EXACTLY how I felt the entire time I was in Kenya.
As a kid, I never dreamed of going to Kenya to share how God works in the lives of ordinary women like you and I, to little girls at St. Mary's school. I never dreamed of walking through mud up to my calves, for hours, to greet the orphans that I was praying would get sponsored before we left, so that one burden could be lifted off of their care taker's shoulders. I never dreamed of opening up my heart and sharing my story to children I barely even knew, so that they too could know they could find restoration in God. I never dreamed of drinking tea until my stomach hurt, eating endless amount of ugalli, fish, "meat", chicken, and kail, or washing my clothes out by hand. I never dreamed of falling in love with beautiful, innocent little faces, that just wanted to know they were loved. But from the moment my feet touched Kenyan soil, I knew I was living my dream.
Word or pictures could never fully display or share the experience we had in Kenya. It was truly one of those "you had to be there" moments. One blog cannot due for the amazing two weeks that I had. 14 blogs would not due. But ask me. Ask me to share a story with you. Ask me how my heart was changed. Ask me how I got confirmation that I'm walking in my path. Ask me how Kenya was
So, this past month in preparation for my mission trip, I was assigned to work with a partner and do extensive research on Kenyan culture. This assignment was not just meant to help develop our cultural awareness, but also to help us to develop relationships with our fellow teammates.
My partner was Mariah. Let's just say, Mariah and I are very similar in multiple ways. She is a grad student at Asbury Seminary, so like me, she stays busy with school. Another thing that I found that she and I have in common is that we put a lot on our plate and sometimes leave tasks for the last minute. This is also known as PROCRASTINATION!! Needless to say, Mariah and I didn't get together to work on our research until the night before it was due. However, we did get it done, and discovered that we have good teamwork.
I look forward to ministering with Mariah in Kenya, as well as continuing to get to know the amazing woman of God that she is while we are still here in the states.
One of the biggest challenges when traveling to a different country is being able to adapt to their culture. There are changes in language, religion, social environments, food, and so much more. I'd have to say that one change in culture that I'm excited and a little nervous to be apart of when I travel to Kenya is dinning. Here at home, we rarely ever sit at a table to eat (only on Sunday's mostly), and you can forget having any manners. lol However in Kenya, dinning will seem so formal. I hope I can remember to wash my hands first. :)
Aside from just following the lead when it comes to how everything is served, my biggest challenge will be finishing all of my food. Taking seconds is highly encouraged, and honestly, I can hardly ever finish one plate. But, when I get some yummy Kenyan food, it may be an entire different story.
This past school year, God was really working on me about censoring my thoughts before I say them. I've always been one to just react and not really be proactive. And I must, it has gotten me into trouble on quite a few occasions.
Well, I had the pleasure of getting to know a girl named Tameey from Nigeria. Tameey is her nickname, but I won't even attempt to spell her birth name, because I know I'll mess it up. Tameey and I were both in the Whitney Young Honors program, so we had quite a few classes together. We hung out on quite a regular basis.
However, one experience comes to my mind when I think of my dear friend Tameey. We were in the cafeteria and as always, there wasn't anything really pleasant to eat that day. I had gotten what was supposed to be some kind of noodle something or another, but it looked and tasted more like goulash than anything. I ate a couple of bites and decided that it wasn't even worth it. I was just like, "I have to get some pizza or something because this just isn't even worth it." Tameey responds with, "Gosh Christian, why don't you just eat the entire cafe?!"
Man was I hot. In my eyes, she had basically just called me a pig. Americans don't take too kindly to being called out on their eating habits. However in Nigeria, or most other countries for that matter, they call it as they see it. Tameey meant no harm in what she was saying, there was just a cultural barrier. And I understood that, seeing that I've been around such a wide spread of cultural groups in my days. So, I chose not to say anything to her, but just walk away. But, Tameey knew that I was upset with her, and really didn't understand why.
From this experience, I learned that some things are better left unsaid. I also learned though, that in unless you make it clear, how you're feeling isn't always going to be understood. Getting to know Tameey has helped me to not wear my feelings on my shoulders. And through God working on my censoring, we've made a pretty great bond.
The arts are my LIFE! I'm not even exaggerating. I was acting before I could talk. I was writing before I started school. I playing instruments before I was taught how to read music. I was dancing before I ever really had rhythm. And I was singing, when I couldn't stay on key. I've grown up on the arts. It is my inspiration, my go-to, my expression, and my venting place. When I can't find the words to express how I feel, I write, or play my clarinet, or dance. It has always been that way.
Growing up, I always wanted to be an actress. I knew I had talent and I wanted to prove it to the world. In middle school, I discovered my gift for writing. I always wrote, but I never believed I was any good. It was then that I discovered my love for it. So, I started a journal that I keep everything I ever write in, hoping that one day I can get published. These dreams slowly began to dwindle. I still write and I still want to act professionally. It's just, reality began to kick in, and I realized that I have to think realistically. There are so many other things that I excel in that are more promising, such as a science or math major. And there for a while, I really considered not following my heart and following logic.
Well, HEART BEAT changed everything for me. In this amazing arts production that my team and I, and many others put together, I performed spoken word, interpretative sign language, and dance. It was rejunivating!! I rediscovered my love for the arts. I don't know, being on stage and using my talents for God's glory, just lifted me. I felt as if I belonged on that stage. It was mine, I owned it. I received so much encouragement from spectators, about how I was talented, and they couldn't believe I wrote the spoken words myself. The encouragement and production didn't just make me feel good. It made me feel like for the first time, my dreams, God's plans, and the realism of today's society were coincided. I knew that I couldn't give up. My talents aren't to be pushed aside. God gave them to me for His glory, and I am so ready to shine for Him.
In July of 2008 I found out that I had scoliosis, meaning my spine was curved. It's actually kind of funny how I received this news. I was seeing a orthopedic doctor for a knee injury that summer. During one visit, he asked me to bend over and touch my toes. When doing so he says, "Hey Christian, did you know you have scoliosis?" Of course I wasn't aware of this. He then referred me to Shriner's Children Hospital where I learned all about the issues of my back curves. From my first x-ray I learned that I had a 52 degree curve in my spine. Within a year, my curve increased 8 degrees. It was then that I found out that I would have to have spinal fusion surgery. This was the day that changed my life. Not only did I find out that I would be having surgery, but I found out that I wouldn't be able to run, jump, bend, twist, lift heavy objects, or do normal every day things on my own for an entire year. I found out that I would have to give up the love of my life, marching band. This was absolutely devastating.
However, I knew that God had bigger plans for me. Because I couldn't do my normal every day activities, I was able to focus more on school. Resulting in me graduating in the top 10 of my class with over a 4.0. I was able to focus more on my relationships with friends, family, and most importantly God. Marching band had always taken up ALL of my time. I had 4 hour practices every day for 3 months. Not to mention 12 hours Saturday competitions and 9 hour camp days for 2 weeks during the summer. To put it simply, my life was devoted to band. When I did have time to breathe, it was spent doing homework or sleeping. With this extra free time, I was able to be a kid again. I went out with my friends and just had fun. My devotion time with God became afresh. I actually spent hours reading His word and just pouring out my heart to Him. I didn't understand why I had to go through what I was going through, but I knew God had the answer. I found that answer in multiple ways. The first was when I found out that one of my best friends was pregnant. When she had her baby on October 19th, 2011, I was able to be a support for her. I was able to stand by her when a lot of people quickly ran away. This strengthened our friendship so much.The 2nd answer was when my little sister got hurt during basketball and had to have surgery on her achilles. This wasn't until over a year later. However, when she lost the love of her life, basketball, I was able to feel her pain. When she thought there was no hope in getting to play ball in college, I was able to relate. God had me to go through what I did April 2010 so that I could help her through such a difficult time in her life.
On April 27th, it will have been two years since surgery. On that day, I will be fully recovered and have no more limitations. The past two years have been a real struggle. But I've learned not to take the things I have for granted. It's the little things that were taken away from me that left the biggest impact. I'm so grateful for this experience and all that God has taught me through out it.
My freshman year of college has been a momentous experience. This time last year, I would have never imagined myself where I am now. I had plans to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga, major in Drama, act in some productions, and hopefully begin my acting career. God, had other plans. While being accepted to the school of my dreams, I had to turn down Spelman, and attend a university that I had only applied to for back up. Never did I expect it to turn out like it has.
I live in The Halls dormitory at Kentucky State. It is safe to say, this is the WORST dorm on campus. But hey, it's a place to live, so who am I to complain? It's just, the craziest things happen there. This past Monday morning, March 5th, at 3am someone decided to pull the fire alarm. This is not an abnormal thing at the halls, to have the fire alarm pulled in the wee hours of the night. Only thing is, there was about THREE INCHES OF SNOW on the ground and it was TWENTY EIGHT DEGREES! I was UPSET! So, I stood outside in the freezing cold for an hour and a half....got hit with a few snowballs in the face, watched two fights, and got a nice little lecture from the police.
Even though it was miserable that morning, the snow was so beautiful. I was able to stare at God's artwork. I find it totally amazing all that God is able to do. And, this quite unfortunate situation was another lesson for this mission trip. It may get rough while I'm in Kenya, and I'll probably find myself in some annoying situations. However, if I take a step back, I'll be able to see God at work and the awesomeness that He is beginning.
I love to share with people about this upcoming mission trip. I am beyond excited. This is an AMAZING opportunity and I'm just grateful that I'm able to play a small part in what will be done. A lot of my friends have questioned me about our plans for once we arrive, what we hope to get out of the trip, and our ultimate goals. Never once have I been able to fully answer this question. Of course, there is the itinerary, but who's to say we'll follow it? We have plans, but who's to say they won't fail? We have goals, but who's to say they won't be changed? Honestly, I'm heading to Kenya with ZERO expectations. That is, expectations of what WE will do. However, I have the HIGHEST expectations in the WORLD of the awesomeness God will reveal. One of my favorite scriptures tells us to TASTE AND SEE THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD. I'm ready to see God's goodness. I'm ready to do what He tells me, go where He leads me, share what He prompts me, and listen when He calls me. So what do I expect to get out of this mission trip? I expect God to show out!
I've never been much on public speaking. Which is kind of odd, considering I'm a theater major and all. There is just something about presenting my own work that catches every nerve inside my brain. Give me a ten page monologue, I'll memorize it in about two days, get the blocking down in three, and be ready for performance in no more than a week. Tell me I have to present my term paper from last fall in a small group setting, and my hands start to SHAKE, my arms are covered in GOOSE BUMPS, I get all TONGUE TIED, and STUTTERING doesn't even begin to explain.
Today, was no exception. I was asked to present a paper at the Kentucky Honors Round Table. Just in case you don't know what this is, it's basically a nerd convention. The honors schools from all over the state gather to talk about really nerdy things, that no one really cares about, for hours, and eat really good food. No one really listens to the presenters, students just jump at the chance to get off campus. So why was I so nervous? I DON'T EVEN KNOW!! All I know is that my "s's" sounded like "th's'"and my "n's" sounded like "m's". Embarrassing right? I've always had a slight speech impediment, I am just normally extremely cautious of it and put forth an extra effort to control it. So, I just took a deep breath and started back where I left off.
Despite, the first minute of embarrassment, I was able to surpass my nerves and do a really excellent job in my presentation. All in all, this was a great experience for me, and I hope to have the opportunity to participate again.