Thursday, August 25, 2016

Freshman Year

As we were preparing to help with the college group in our church, it was brought up that I could easily relate to Freshman because of my recent move. It was the first time I had thought about the similarities of the two but I am in a Freshman Year type transition.

Much like Freshman Year you are struggling to find your place and your people. You're confused and sometimes uncomfortable. Freshman year is refreshing for most because it means a new start. No one knows if you were a nerd in high school or even that you might have been popular. Everyone comes in with a fresh start. I loved that about my freshman year of college. I've been thinking a lot about that year lately. Probably because it was 10 years ago {letting that sink in...} or because I feel like I'm there again except this time I'm coming into a new city as the only one starting new. I'm the only person on campus running around confused about which building to be in!* Moving is tough. I never realized how hard it could be. I have a new respect for military families who find themselves making this adjustment ever 2-3 years.

I look back on my Freshman year of college fondly. It was by far one of the more difficult years of my life. I remember in one of the early weeks of being at OBU my dad came for a visit and I begged him to take me home and he almost did but as he has shared with him more recently he knew I had to stay and taking me home would have been the easy way out.

Had I gone home to where I was comfortable, I would haven't been roommates with Bethany Swift. I wouldn't have lost Bethany in a car accident just 3 months into my freshman year. But I also wouldn't have seen the Lord work through that. I wouldn't have made the friendships or the memories and let me tell you - there's too many to count.

That year required a lot of faith and trust and there were a lot of parts that weren't comfortable, but I wouldn't trade that time of my life for something easier. It's made me who I am today. Its part of my story. Just like this new "freshman year" is going to be a part of my story. I could go home. I could quit. But that would be the easy way out. There's new friendships to be made and memories to make.

I'm going to stop looking at all the things that are different in my life now that I live in Texas because that's the equivalent of still wearing your letter jacket in college. I'm gonna embrace my fresh start and be thankful that this time - I'm not having to take Chemistry!!!

*On my first week of college I was in a building looking for my class number. I found the number and the door seemed to be locked. I was so confused, I wasn't late for class....turns out that classroom was a closet. I was in the wrong building. Luckily, a friend's sister/an upperclassman was kind enough to point it out and never mention it again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Next Big Adventure

It's interesting that last post on this blog was from July 18, 2013. I had no idea in 2013 just arriving home from what at the time felt like the biggest adventure of my life that that date years later would be start of another adventure.

I don't find it ironic though. I feel like saying YES to going to Ecuador was part of how I ended up in Texas. The Lord needed me to be willing and able. He needed me to be open to saying YES to Him and knowing His plans are perfect and good. (It's hard typing that because I've struggled so much with actually believing that at times but more on that later.)

Shortly after returning from Quito, I began dating Clayton. I love our love story and maybe I'll blog about that some other time. It was almost a year into dating (immediately following basketball season which is a hectic time in our lives) that Clayton took me on a date to Oklahoma City. Driving home, Clayton looks at me and says "Chris called...there's an opening at DBU"

It was like the world paused. I knew that was his dream job and there wasn't a doubt in my mind what his answer would be but I didn't know what that meant for us. Our relationship was relatively new but we both knew in our minds where it was headed and I knew it meant I was headed to Texas.

Coming to Texas has been one of the most difficult things for me. I knew I loved Oklahoma but I guess I didn't realize just how much! I've almost lived here two years now and still wake up feeling in a funk about being in a new place. I think it's because there are so many daily reminders of how things are different. Don't get me wrong, we've found wonderful friends and we love our church, both of which we are so thankful for. I just sometimes I feel like I'm living in the witness protection program. New name, new home, new friends, new phone number, new husband - not much in my life looks the same as it did 3 years ago when I returned home from Ecuador. So this is where I pick back up...with our next big adventure.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A little piece of my heart is forever in Ecuador

I've postponed writing this post because I feel like it's a vulnerable one to write. Leaving Ecuador last Friday night was so difficult and bittersweet. Don't get me wrong, I was excited to come home and see my friends and family (and sleep in my own bed) but I loved Ecuador. I loved the people I met. I loved our host home and family. I loved the culture, the language and food. There is no doubt that I left a little piece of my heart in Ecuador. I also know why so many of the team members return each year! Writing this post is hard because I know I'm probably going to cry while writing it because my heart aches for Ecuador. (I hate crying!)

I'm so incredibly thankful that God put this trip on my heart and I'm also so very thankful for those who helped make the trip possible for me. Many of you selflessly gave money to my trip and it was paid in full, something I had been worried about. I was able to leave work for a week, I'm appreciative for a boss who not only allowed me to take a week of vacation but encouraged me to take the trip. This trip was a prime example of when you say "yes" God will do the rest. I've been raised in church my entire life and know this in my head...God will provide. I've seen Him provide but this trip made it so real and true in my life. For weeks I laid awake thinking about the trip. I daydreamed about the trip and one day I called about it and then literally everything fell into place. From my passport, to the funding, to getting into Ecuador with 20 bags of medicine...I can say that God had complete control over this trip. (I doubted it Friday before we left..thanks to the encouraging words of my mother, I still packed my bags and went!) I saw God move and work. We were there for physical healing but also spiritual encouragement. Also, let me state again, I was raised in church but something that never dawned on me before was how we are an encouragement to the churches we visited. Just like Paul visited the churches of the New Testament and encouraged them, we were able to go into small churches in Ecuador and encourage them. They are doing incredible things. One of the churches, Maranatha, is very much the hands and feet of Christ in their community. The testimonies they shared with us are amazing and they are not only winning people for the Lord but are actively disciplining them. We are fortunate enough to have our associations and organizations like the BGCO to encourage and rejuvenate our church leaders and we were able to go and help revitalize them. I found  that to be so refreshing. The reverse of that is we are also encouraged and revitalized through them. I'm so glad it works both ways.

I pray for the 3 churches we visited. I pray that although the clinics for the physical healing of the community are over, that the spiritual healing is just beginning. I pray for great revival in their communities and growth for their churches. I pray that the leaders of the churches be encouraged in what the Lord is doing through them for their communities and churches. I cannot wait to return next year (or hear from the team that goes next year) about the work that will be done in this coming year.

Writing a few posts about Ecuador doesn't do this trip justice so I hope we get to chat in the coming weeks about my trip and I have tons of pictures that I'd love to show you!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Quito: Day 4 of clinics

On our bus ride this morning I gazed out at the city and realized in 48 hours I'll be back on American soil. It's crazy that you can come to love place so much in just 7 days. Learning the language, the culture, the people and then sharing Jesus and encouraging the believers here, I have loved every minute of my time here in Ecuador. The whole experience has been amazing. I'm so glad God brought me to this place. It will always hold a place in my heart. I cannot wait to come back here. I want to bring my family here. I want to better my Spanish so I can be more effective here. Oh and the food here has been incredible too! I've probably gained 20 lbs! I figured by the end of the week I would be so ready to come home but my heart is so heavy as we make preparations to return home. I have love getting to know my team. We have laughed and cried together and had so much fun together! I got to make 19 new friends! (Not to mention all my Ecuadorian friends!)
I knew the church/school we were going to today was special. I had heard about Maranatha all week. As soon as we pulled up, I felt what everyone was talking about - instantly. Walking into the school that day, I felt loved immediately. Not only did they spoil us with coffee and snacks but God is definitely at work in this place and you could feel His presence among these people. We pulled up to the school with quite a crowd awaiting us. The church has advertised our clinic and people lined the block waiting for our bus. It's the closest I've ever felt to being a celebrity. As we walked off the bus  people smiled, took pictures and waved. (This is probably how Justin Bieber feels everyday.)

Today was our longest clinic. We saw 377 people and it felt like every bit of that! I just drank 4 cups of coffee which might be a bad idea but then again I do need to go pack. How is it already time to come home?

McKenzie, my BFF, for the week. It's crazy that I've only really known this girl for 8 days but am so thankful God put her in my life and crazy that we've been in a lot of the same places at the same time without meeting previously!

The Young Girls Room. My roommates for the week! 

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Quito: Day 3 of clinics

Today we head to Olmedo, a small village located at the base of a volcano. Each morning we pray together, share scripture and also get a brief of what to expect that day. Mark started the morning more somber than other mornings telling us that the community we are heading to today is a spiritually dark place and the presence of Satan is evident. Having two team members out sick is already discouraging but I know so many people are praying for us as we enter this village and I know God will do great things through us today.

We knew leaving the house that Satan would try to stop us and that he did. We got halfway to the location when our bus overheated. The bus was smoking on the inside! So we went to the restroom and got a snack and loaded back onto the bus. About 15 minutes down the road we had to stop again and the bus was smoking again! We finally got to our destination and The Lord provided for us. We had no idea how the clinic would work at this location. The church was one room but the pastor had transformed the room into small consultation rooms and the layout worked out wonderfully. The people in that area are Quechua people. They are much more traditional and dress in a lot of clothes they make themselves! They were an interesting people group. Very hard-workers but very healthy people. Most of their complaints are pain associated to years of hard manual labor.

Seeing Satan's many attempts to stop us from getting to the clinic that day we knew God was going to work in mighty ways and He did. This day was probably one of my favorites so far. The view from the clinic was incredible and it's so evident that we were an encouragement to the believers in the church there.
Also, I'm so glad a smile is the same no matter the language.

When our bus broke down!

If you look VERY closely behind those clouds and above the visible mountains there is a snow covered volcano, Cayambe, in the distance. It was cloudy that day and we never got a clear view of  Cayambe but I've seen pictures from team members from last year and it is BEAUTIFUL!

This was the church where the clinic was located. 4/5 consultation rooms were set up inside and right of the building - you'll see a wooden add-on...that was the pharmacy! What you can't see in this picture is the outhouse!

my pharmacy!

She doesn't look it in the photo but she was happy to take a picture with me. 

This woman was 92 years old and her friends/family carried her to our clinic. 

The view was absolutely breathtaking..from every angle. I couldn't get over it! 

This couple was ADORABLE. I was taking picture with a lady next to them (see above photo) and she asked if I would take a picture of them. (So I did) When I showed them the picture they were tickled pink and kept smiling and laughing!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Quito: Day 2 of clinics

Today was the second day of clinics. It was our last day this location. We got to the clinic and had quite a few people waiting for us! Apparently the word had gotten out around the neighborhood! Over the course of the last 2 days we saw over 600 patients. We have been extremely busy and I'm exhausted. Today was a full day for me. Yesterday was my first day as a "pharmacist" and then today I was thrown a new challenge - working the pharmacy alone. The lady who has been working in the pharmacy for years and has been helping me this week got sick and had to go back to the guest house. Luckily someone was able to come help me for the remainder of the day! It made the afternoon run much smoother, but I left the clinic feeling so exhausted! On the bright side my spanish is improving wonderfully! I have been able to write most of my labels without help from my translator! She even told me she was impressed!

We have a clinic in a community almost 3 hours from here tomorrow so I'm sure we will all head to bed early.

But first I have to go prepare meds for tomorrow! That's a quick update from today. Also, please pray for Phyllis my pharmacist helper to have a quick recovery!

This little girl asked me my name and then told me she named her new toy cat "Jennifer"

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Quito: Day 1 of clinics

Today was our first day of clinics. I could hardly sleep last night because I was so nervous. I had no idea what to expect but once I got there it all came together and we established a good flow.

I'm obviously not a pharmacist. Which would matter if we were in America..last night we went through an express pharmacy licensing process. Thanks to the "5 Minute University" and about an hour discussion about meds we were trained for our clinics. That refresher course was beneficial in the pharmacy today.

(Follow this link for the 5 Minute University!)

My translator saved the day! She was so quick to learn things and starts medical school in the fall and will be amazing! She also helped me on my Spanish. "Mi espanol es muy malo."

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