What we do for LOVE

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I leave for Ecuador in two seemingly long, yet short days. I have no idea what is truly to come, yet amidst this I have this unshakable faith. I know there will be hard waters to cross, I know I will struggle to learn a new language, I will be shedding all the comforts I once had. Yet it fills me with this thrill. This sense that there is so much goodness to come. Whether it is through continually purifying my heart or how God is going to minister to the Ecuadorian people – all of this is being used for His glory. I am someone who did not deserve to be saved, yet He saved me anyway. He radically gave me a life that I love living – a life I did not choose, yet I have never felt more blessed in surrendering. How could I not live a life giving that same blessing to other people. How could I not let Him use me to be His instrument of love tuning myself to play His song, to hear His voice, this beautiful melody of love.

I already am flooded with love for people I have yet to meet. I am met with this unsurpassable peace in my heart – this feeling that I already know them. I have been praying for these people daily for the last seven months. I have come to this big conviction that in all that I do I want to glorify our Lord. I can see Him in everything, whether it is a beautiful sunset He painted just for me, in the voice of counsel from a great friend, or in the quiet of my own heart. He is there dwelling in the beauty of it all.

The truth is that it is easy to look at what I am about to embark on and think highly of who I am. I have heard affirmations of “We need more people like you in this world” and “Wow, you are one of the greatest people I know.”  NO.  We need more Jesus in this world – & friends I promise you, HE is the greatest person you could ever know. That is where my eyes are fixed – that is who I am trying to become more like every single day & I can promise you that I fall short every single day. My hope is that when people hear the words I speak or write, they know exactly who I am pointing to. I pray that when I wrap people in a hug that they feel the presence of our Lord holding them. I am in no way or form doing this of my own accord. This big heart that I may have is because the past four years I pray to love as selflessly and mercifully as God does.  I pray to be able to pour His love out on everyone I encounter. To have the capacity to receive His love more and more. He gives me the graces I need. He makes me say Yes, and to step out into boldness, to show up and face the world with courage and mercy. Everything that I am I owe to Him. He chooses to take the broken person that I am and use her to tend to the brokenness around her – friends He does this for everyone not just me. He desires to do it in you. My prayer is that you let Him – with my whole heart I pray that you let Him love you and continue to love you for the rest of your life & to watch it transform into something more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

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As I head to the Amazon Jungles of Ecuador that is what I am going to do – let Him love me and continue to weed out what is not of Him in my heart. Continuing to show up for Him, for my team and for myself because He never fails to show up for me. I want to love so radically that people cannot help but see Him in me.

Life is messy. It is hard, it is not some cliché that we can quote– we have a Creator that words cannot be expressed nor justified enough to explain Him. He is beyond good, beyond perfect, beyond beautiful yet still all consuming– nothing in life ever measures up to Him and to our Home. So, for me – I will be busy at work and play to bring that here on earth.

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Seeing Him in Others in Mexico

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I was in General Cepeda recently for a couple of weeks which was full of all the small ways we serve one another. Which we all know the small things are really the big things. The trip itself was this beautiful realization yet again, how doing Gods work here on earth is truly just a privilege to do. That he chose me; me to do this & all he is asking of me is to love. I think in our “busy” lives or this “busy” world we can forget how many opportunities there are to have beautiful encounters with each-other.

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Kilometer 64 Women – (I was sharing a bible passage aloud)
just the woman of kilometer 64

One of those beautiful encounters happened at Kilometer 64, which is a rancho full of woman who once were and still are prostitutes. The missionaries who started this ministry help them make bracelets and handbags to sell to earn an income. They took a group of us to do bible studies with them as well as share testimonies. These women were so faithful and had incredibly wise things to say about hope. On our last night they wanted to do a big potluck for us. As soon as we finished our bible study, they started a fire outside, brought in someone’s kitchen table and made all of us sit at it. They then proceeded to serve us all these delicious foods, It was the literal definition of a feast. These women are poor but delighted so much in serving us.

The most impactful bond I was able to make was with a woman named Doña Marciana that I met in General Cepeda during a home visit. The first time I encountered Doña she was wailing and crying out. She is an elderly woman who had been bedridden for two months. She was laying on her death-bed and was in so much pain throughout her whole entire body. My fellow missionaries began to pray a rosary to Our Lady of Guadalupe. I climbed into bed with her and just held her. At one point she asked if I could rub some cream on her legs to help with the soreness and circulation. The following day, when I went to visit her, she was sleeping, so we prayed over her quietly. We decided to stay and talked with her daughter Golla in the other room. Her daughter is in her 60’s and is her only caretaker which has been burdensome for her at times. She evangelized to us, as she talked about how we must abandon everything to the Lord and entrust everything to him. Suddenly, her mother woke up but to our surprise she was filled with so much joy. She was feeling no pain, laughing and telling us jokes, telling us how much she loved us and how much these visits meant to her. I got her to eat a big mouthful of bread which was monumental because she hasn’t been eating or drinking hardly at all the past two months. The last day I was to visit Doña she was feeling the worst she had been all week. Again, I got into bed with her as she was wailing out and held her. She let me change her and rub cream on her bed sores. These few moments with this woman imprinted on my heart forever.

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Doña = the reason why I was sent to Mexico

I had one of my best friends named Kristen pass away as I was driving to Mexico to embark on this journey with the Lord. I could not take care of her as she was dying or go to her in her time of need. However, the Lord let me do this for Dona. I had few brief moments where I felt like I was looking into the eyes of Kristen. Most of the time however, I knew the lord was truly just letting me hold him. How humbling is that. To think who am I to be able to do this? The world would say you are just a stranger in someone’s home, but the lord would say that we all are brothers and sisters. The veil between Heaven and Earth is far thinner than we realize. We do not have to wait until Heaven to be united in love, we can have it now.

What is love – is it something that is deep and raw and vulnerable and powerful that we cannot quite grasp. Love by definition is good because it directly comes from our Father in Heaven. He is love. In our own humanness we will never fully reach that, but he is saying, “Child that is enough for me.” Which is true because even when my own human love falls short… He will remain. His love, His healing and what He is doing in all the hearts of the people I encounter is abiding and everlasting in this imperfect world.

St. Pope John Paul II put it perfectly in his encyclical letter titled Mission of the Redeemer:

 “The missionary is required to “renounce himself and everything that up to this point he considered as his own, and to make himself everything to everyone.” This he does by a poverty which sets him free for the Gospel, overcoming attachment to the people and things about him, so that he may become a brother to those to whom he is sent and thus bring them Christ the Savior. This is the goal of missionary spirituality: “To the weak I became weak…. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel…” (1 Cor 9:22-23) It is precisely because he is “sent” that the missionary experiences the consoling presence of Christ, who is with him at every moment of life and who awaits him in the heart of every person. “(pg. 153)

Our god works in all the exact opposite ways that the world would work. As painful as it can be at times to grow or to stretch, the fruit it reaps is greater than anything we could conjure up in our lifetime. His goal is not to rob us. He is purposed to see what you lack and fill it with more of him. He does not leave us without peace to cling to or a truth to have hope in. He is that good. Do not let your circumstances define who he is for you, or what the outcome will be. Where we start to where we will end up is limitless with him. Realizing that our humanity craves easier routes and the avoidance of anything that would entail endurance. – but it’s those hard things that create more endurance in us. We must wait and trust the process, believing in the one who sees over our path – believe him even if the journey looks different from what you expected or hoped because he has something more to give you. Most importantly let him love you in this all-consuming way and see how much you can feel Christ’s burning love for souls.

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People that beat with the same missionary heart that I do

 

 

The Desires of our Heart / My Placement

Life is bigger than the boxes we check along the way –

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A snapshot of Gods creation

I used to be the kind of person that when she would hear people talk about our God being a good, good father that fulfills the desires of our hearts I couldn’t quite believe it in regards to myself. I would think: “yeah, for some people but definitely not me” or “okay, if that is true then “why hasn’t he done so.”

Clearly, I had to learn how to see myself as he does (still a process), Grow more in spiritual maturity and learn to trust who he says he is. That is hard– the world tries to take away the truth of who we are and what actually makes us joyous.

I had to learn to be patient in the midst of my own journey with the Lord – what he was doing in me so I could let hardness or worldly things stop clouding my own desires. He is a good father in the sense of that He is not ever going to give us something that we cannot handle.

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“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.”

I can pick out certain things in my life where the things I was desiring were not good for me – like flying all across the world to be a Peace Core Volunteer when I had a huge love for my Catholic faith and was wanting to serve people everlasting truth as well as addressing their physical poverty – hence being brought to Family Missions Company. At the time I had no idea this is where I would have been led – I did not want to be a missionary by title. The truth though is that I was desiring just that. Looking back on all of the moments where the Lord was taking things or purging things from me – or giving me amazing opportunities to surrender/ heal he was preparing me for this. He has given me incredible gifts as well – like being able to serve in various places like Honduras, Africa, Mexico etc. that were again preparing me for this life moment.

I can say with full eagerness and just complete joy that my biggest desires in life right now have been fulfilled by the Lord. All I had to do was trust in Him. I had to be patient and consent to His call for my life step by step. I am getting emotional as I write this, because I would not change anything about my life – because it all has led me here – to being completely in the center of Gods will. Which if I am being honest there is no better feeling on earth then knowing you are doing exactly what you are made for and having it so aligned with your own passions, longings, and aspirations.

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Small Chapel in Mexico

The Lord is sending me to the Jungles of Ecuador to live in a rural town where I will get to hike to different villages where people have not heard about God or have a minimal understanding of who He is. I will be doing music ministry where I will get to help people express themselves through song and dance. I will get to serve the poor and fulfill as may physical poverty as I can while living in community with them – as well as grow with my fellow brothers and sisters. The most colossal desire/ blessing the lord has granted me with is I have the amazing opportunity to minister to young woman who have been abused in their tribes. For those of you who know me, you know that I have had this desire placed on my heart since my Freshman year in College. I have never felt so seen and known by our Heavenly Father. I love being outdoors surrounded by the beauty of our king and hiking is one of my love languages – desire #1 being fulfilled. I am a huge advocate for dancing with our Lord and believe whole-heartedly that the joy it comes with; can heal any mood – desire #2 being fulfilled with music ministry. I have always had a heart for the poor and have felt it to be our responsibility out of our abundance to serve others – desire #3. I have an incredible team of girls that I am very close to that love me really well – desire #4 being granted a great team. Of course, you already know about the biggest desire. The lord calling me to do ministry with woman that have come from abuse and share my own story and Gods redemptive love in the midst of that making it desire #5.

 

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My letter on placement day

I am in complete awe at the Lord in his perfect timing and for making me who I am today. If you are that girl or (boy) that is reading this questioning how good of a father we have in the lord – I want you to know that He truly gives us the desires of our hearts because without Him – they wouldn’t be there. We do not have to redeem ourselves to the people of this world by convincing them of our holiness of our worth or our greatness. Simply put, He delights in our precious soul and smallness. He rejoices in the ways that we have to depend on him because in the ways that we fail to measure up he does not – I am all of those things above ^ because of Him not of my own accord. So, know that our Heavenly Father is good and is always desiring us and there is no better thing to desire than Him.

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Some of the best people you will meet

You Can Find Treasure in More Places than Just the Ocean.

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Our lives may not always be stable or in this perfect cookie cutter way we have idealized but the invitation is always constant – “Follow me.” We are a month into this radical journey of newness and transformation. Before leaving for Abbeville, LA.  I had this overwhelming zeal and pure enthusiasm, ready to live a life full of radical possibilities and receive nothing but radical love. God has really outdone himself this time (leaving me in awe day after day because of his goodness and intense understanding of my heart). This is where I belong – there is no other place I need to be in the world except right here with 61 other missionaries in training; to go and spread life giving news to the world = The Lord. To say I wake up every single day blessed is an understatement. My life is already so very different from when I first walked through the doors of Big Woods. I must share the Good News about the Kingdom of God in other cities or towns because that is what God has sent me to do. “The lord takes delight in his people, he crowns the poor with salvation.” We are called to a poverty that glorifies God, that reflects and embodies who Jesus is. He was poor, he chose to be born in a manger and to be a son of a carpenter. We all will never fully understand what it is like to be poor in another country but we are called to give away all of our abundance.  “We can’t love God if we do not share what we have with our brothers and sisters in need. 1 Jn. 3:16-18. “The proof of our faith is that we live in Gospel Poverty in order to share with others: Luke 3:10-11. I am blessed to be able to be this funnel between my support here in America and in other countries to serve from that abundance.

So Enough about me – I want to talk about what the people here are like and what we are all doing. We are made in the image of God so we all reflect a part of him. I know that to be true as I look into the faces and hear the truth in the voices of these incredible people I am surrounded by daily. The stories, laughter and intimate conversations with my fellow missionaries as well as the special talents they have unique to them to serve people are all proof of the body of Jesus at work AND of course at play. We are studying the whole book of Acts together, the mission of the redeemer encyclical, Si Señor classes that specifically tie into being effective missionaries led by our leadership team and teaching workshops where we work on developing thorough teachings that we will be giving in the field. We have chores everyday for two hours and four hours on Saturday to continue to practice our servant hearts. They are my family, we are all on this journey together, walking step by step. The lord has given me people who have just as crazy and big of a heart as I do.

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Most importantly and my favorite thing we have been able to do is serving and ministering to people in downtown Abbeville. Last Tuesday, I got to do a type of ministry called Treasure Hunting, finding people needing a touch from God, prayer, or even a simple kind word. A group of us gather in the chapel and pray for fifteen minutes – asking the Holy Spirit for words of knowledge, visions, people’s names, or a place we should go. Then we by ourselves we write it down on piece of paper, forming a list. Word by word, my group and I  received revelatory “clues” from the Holy Spirit and ended up driving to a Park. As I stepped out of the car there was a man in a walker and a woman playing with her daughter. “Go to her, go to her, go to her” kept replaying over and over in my heart. I knew this would be the woman that god brought me. I started to make small talk with her and she immediately knew I wasn’t from Louisiana – that opened the door for me to introduce myself and for her to say her name. To my utter astonishment her name was Simone – which was the name of the woman on my list along with the clues of hoop earrings and a purple shirt that she was wearing. I told her about what we were doing and how she was on my list (which she made me show her) an she allowed us to pray and was profoundly touched, so much so that she stood in a daze after we were finished and couldn’t help but praise the lord. Now the team had more confidence and faith to follow the next clues. Which led us to Walmart were the lord quickly led me to a man who’s brother in law is dying of cancer and has only a couple of days left to live. He was so shocked that the Lord sent people to pray with him and his wife. As we prayed over him, he began to cry, and was deeply touched and thankful for the comfort in such a desperate time. We had three more people the Lord sent us that night, two beautiful families that needed prayers and healing, as well as woman who was in emotional distress and who I continue to pray for daily. God wants us to explore every adventure with Him and take us on a wild supernatural treasure hunt. It is not solely for our benefit, although we become blessed in the process, but for others . . . we never know which random person we may encounter whose life will ultimately be changed by our pursuit.

My last and favorite way I get to minister is by volunteering at the Crisis Pregnancy center and  speak to low-income woman who need the free resources, testing, ultra-sounds, diapers, formulas, food etc. that are offered but some who come in because they are contemplating abortion. These woman come from all walks of life but mainly are sometimes in abusive situations or are homeless. What I do honestly is so simple but yet so needed. I just talk to them, show them how loved they are, show them that they are dignified and that it isn’t contingent on external circumstances around them, but mostly I just listen to them.

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On Thursday, We pulled up to the Christen Service Center (where the clinic is) and we already had a line waiting for us in the Louisiana humidity. I immediately noticed a woman wearing Nike Flip-flops and polka-dot socks, holding a newborn. This normally wouldn’t stick out to me (hello I am always a fan of fun socks) but yet again even though it was two days later – God decided to give me another clue from treasure hunting. We talked and as she was showing me pictures, I found out she has two other daughters. I told her about treasure hunting and how god brought me her by her socks. She opened up about her oldest daughter that was deaf and all of the struggles they have been having lately. How it has been a big strain on the family. They have to go back and fourth from Abbeville to Lafayette to make all of her doctor appointments (which is an hour away). It was beautiful to see how she asked for prayers before I could even offer. Afterwards of course we got to hug (my favorite) and away she went with a little love from the Father (God).

Later that day, a woman walked in and I could feel a heaviness about her. I did what I always do and made conversation. One of the other missionary girls Kellie joined me. We talked and she was so kind but nothing about her was on my “list.” Still I felt a pull to her. She came to the clinic for her check up and to get some diapers. When she started to head back with the nurse for her check-up, we separately prayed to see what the Lord wanted us to do. Kellie heard the Word “Uncle” and was mulling it over when she turned to me and said “I really think God is calling me to pray over Andrea”, (changed name) and I looked into her eyes smiling as I said, “I received that same call.” So, we went outside and told each other what the Lord told both of us – Kellie’s  word  of “uncle,” and I felt she needed to be reminded of her value and that she has a purpose here. Since there was such a big difference between what God spoke to both of us, we decided to do another prayer to make sure what we heard was from God. As we were about to start our prayer – Andrea walked out and headed for her car. Kellie and I did the only thing that we could do – we jogged over to her car where her and her mother were- apologized for how weird it all looked and how much weirder it was about to get. Kellie told her about what the Lord told her and how she received the word “uncle” and immediately the girl was saying how her uncle has a bad heart condition. We prayed over her and that situation but the Lord would not leave my heart alone. So, after we finished, I asked Andrea if she needed prayers for anything, and her mother responded “yes, yes she does” with an impacting voice. So I told her everything the Lord was telling me. I told her how valued she is, how she is needed and has a purpose – wether that is to be a great mom to her child or for whatever else she is called to. I said something along the lines of “no matter what people say to you or do to you, you never stop being loved or lose your value. That is something that cannot be taken away.” As I opened my eyes Andrea and her mom were crying. Andrea began to tells us how her and her husband are not in a good place which has caused a ton of fighting. She opened up about it being really hard for her. We hugged and as she drove away I couldn’t help but praise the Lord and how much he loves all of us.

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I am in awe of God every single day – He never fails to fill me and to inspire me. He never leaves me and I know that he is always walking with me through everything. Wether it is as my bare feet hit dirt as I walk to the chapel or my hair flows as I look out at his creation on the porch or as I read his truth in scripture or see kids screaming as they run through the fields here. He sees it all and takes it all, as so do I. He dwells in our hearts and is always pursing us, because Kellie and I said yes, and pursed that woman, it was him pursing her through us. We are a society that is full of love and we have a whole world that is a hidden treasure chest. So we must treasure each other. I believe that Love is the most powerful force in the world and that one day, only goodness will remain.

“We must allow ourselves to be interrupted by God” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

With so much love and Prayers – Bonnie