When I am weak, God is strong. My tears are absorbed in Jesus Christ. He has suffered, so I need not suffer.
I pray that the hurt and pain I feel will be swallowed up in service. That I may be able to reach beyond my own hurt to lift another. That my broken heart may be healed TO serve others. Even if that service is nothing more than humble prayer. There are so many who need help. Who need love. Who are hurting much worse than I. I pray that I may forget myself and serve. In this way, perhaps my own pain may also be alleviated. Perhaps I can break this numbness with arms stretched out to others.
3 Nephi 9:13 reads"...repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you."
That I may heal you. Christ WANTS to heal us. He wants to take our pain and suffering. But we must trust in Him completely. We must place our yolk on Him and walk with Him at our side. I don't think I have that courage yet...to place this on Christ and let Him take this pain from me...let Him heal me. I am too afraid. But I will work on it. I will pray for a change of heart...that I may have the FAITH to be healed by Christ.
Our lesson this week in church was about fear. It was a powerful lesson. We are not given the spirit of fear, but the spirit of strength and power. I pray I will let go this fear that Satan has placed in my heart and take up the spirit of strength and the spirit of power that God has given me.
I just found a blog that touched my heart! Like kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com it is about a young woman serving in Uganda (don't you love how I introduce it like a book review?! That is because this blog and Katie's are like good books...and I can't stop reading them!!). I feel re- motivated in my service efforts.
I will admit here, I still struggle almost daily with the desire to go to Ghana, and the confusion about why I was called there but unable to serve there. Why? I have thought maybe it was to find Katie's blog. Tonight, I thought maybe it was to also find Renee's blog. Reading their words feeds my soul and gives me strength.
Recently, I went through a difficult time. I saw no way out of the situation in which I found myself. I was desperate for help out! And I could not find it anywhere. Jeremy did what he could, but nothing was changing what was happening. I was sinking and fast. Then, I read Katie's blog and everything turned around. It truly was a miracle. Like in The Scriptures when Christ heals the sick, or a prophet raises someone from the dead...I was "unhelpable"...completely lost...so far gone there was no hope for me. And I really had lost hope. But Katie changed that. Her blog changed that. Her faith in Christ rejuvenated MY faith in Christ...not that I had ever lost faith in Christ, but somehow I had not allowed Christ to save me in my most desperate time. Reading Katie's blog enabled me to reach out to Christ. It took the numbness I felt and brought it to life.
Maybe that is why I needed to be interested in Ghana and Africa.
God's ways are mysterious, but they are never wrong.
I have been faced with another challenge. I had planned to go to Ghana. In my excitement and enthusiasm, I had told EVERYONE I was going! I was so full of desire to go I didn't listen to the quiet warning to keep it secret. Well, as you all well know, things fell through and I could not go to Ghana. It wasn't "bad" that I had told the world I was going, but in some ways it made me feel like people thought I was just being very fickle. Like I just do things on a whim without really planning them, and therefor never actually accomplish anything. Well, when I felt so inspired to go to China, I decided to keep it a little quieter until things were finalized. I didn't tell Jeremy, or all of my family, or other people I know. I posted it here because not many people I am close to actually read this blog, and I HAD to tell SOMEONE, I was SO EXCITED! :)
Well, once again things have fallen through. I will not be going to China this summer. I am devastated. But I KNOW God has a plan.
Here is what happened: I planned to go teach at HaiHui and live in my old house. I planned to use that as a base to start doing some service...feeding homeless, etc. If I taught there for a year, they would pay my airline tickets, housing, electricity, water...plus I would be in an area with which I was really familiar! I know my way around that city, it is close to the school where I wanted to enroll Taiger, etc. Besides, Mr. Chang is like my Father-In-China and I felt safe working for and near him. I knew his family would help me if I needed anything with Taiger (if he got sick and needed a dr, or something like that).
Well, I emailed Mr. Chang and asked him if there was a job opening this summer. It was, in my mind, more of a formality to "ask" him, as he is always emailing me and begging me to come back or to find teachers for him as they are ALWAYS short handed. My Mom even told me not to worry about emailing him this early because he would always have room for me! Well, I was SO SHOCKED when he wrote back saying he has all the teachers they need for this year! I really was so so so so so shocked!!!!!!!
So, I thought, "Well, I will just go alone and find a house and live on my own." But how will I pay for a house? Electricity? Water? Plane tickets? All of these things I was planning on getting through the school. Not to even mention I was anticipating the income and planning to use that to feed the homeless and needy, not to mention (again!) Taiger and me!!
But I do think it is good because I was worried about how I would work at the school AND juggle everything else.
Anyway, so I have been thrown for a loop...again. I feel like my feet keep getting pulled out from under me. Like I want to shout, "What the heck?!" LOL! But then I remember I am dealing with GOD. ALL mighty. ALL knowing. ALL merciful. HE knows what is best! This is not the right time.
So, I am aiming for next summer (SHHHH! Don't tell because I don't want to have to look like a fool for the third time! Although I should never worry about feeling foolish when I am just doing what God wants...See how "puffed up in the vain things of the world" I am?!?!?!?!?). By then there will either be an opening at the school and I will go that route, or I will have raised enough mula to go it alone! Either way, God's will be done!!!!!!!!!!!
It is difficult to be patient. But, as my Mom reminded me, and I remind myself daily, maybe this is the part where I am supposed to learn the patience spoken of in my Father's Blessing.
Okay, I just HAVE to share how i found out I would not be going to China.
So, I wrote Mr. Chang and waited for three days for a reply (I thought at that time that THAT was me learning patience! HA! How foolish I was "back then"!). My Mom went to pick Bryttan up at a friend's house early one morning and I checked my email. There was the email from Mr. Chang! I opened it all excited, and it said, as I have stated, that there are no openings this year. Well, I was devastated, of course. But I was PRAYING MY HEART OUT to know what it meant, and what to do, and if that was right! The SECOND my Mom came in the door I told her what happened and she said this: "I am not surprised." (I was like, "WHAT?! YOU are the one so sure there would be a spot for me!" Again with the, "What the heck?!" :D ) (She continued:) "I was just driving to go pick Bryttan up and I suddenly got this distinct feeling that you were not going to go to China this summer but that you are supposed to wait. Something, I think, to do with me...with me going with you, or something. You are supposed to wait a year." (At this point a scream, "A YEAR?!?!?!" Listen to me of little faith! Even as I am being told of a Divine inspiration I am put out. I am a Spiritual JERK!) My Mom said that probably she got that inspiration at about the same time I was reading that email. I didn't tell her about my praying, but I think that is probably about the time she was inspired.
God knows me SO WELL. He knows that I listen to my parents so closely when it comes to matters of inspiration, spirituality, and being directed in God's plan. He knew if He told my Mom the same thing, it would be easier for me to accept. GOD IS SO WISE. GOD IS SO GOOD! God is ALWAYS GOOD!
I posted about this in my other blog, manygrandadventures.blogspot.com, so sorry if you have heard some of this from that blog.
Taiger and I have decided to go to China. We will leave in June or July of this year. We are both SO excited to go!
I am going to spend a lot of time reaching out to the homeless and orphaned while I am living there. I always wanted to go help, but didn't know what I would do to help! Katie inspired me, totally!!!!!! (If you don't know Katie's story, PLEASE read her blog kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com. Start with her first entry and read all of her entries if you really want a good read. You will feel so inspired and uplifted!!!!!) I want to set up some kind of food aid program, somewhat like hers. She sponsors kids for school and provides those kids with food. I want to first feed them, and then see about school. I am not sure if attending school is an option for many of the children, but we will see. God has a plan for Taiger and me. We will serve as He wishes and follow His guidance to know how to help. I THINK I will have a certain time each day when those who need it can come to my home and have a meal and sit in my house and get warm. I want to have a kind of "Dinner and Rice Bag" program, where they can come and eat dinner and get warm with a rice bag (those are those fabric sacks sewn with rice in them. You microwave them and they heat up). I don't want to send the rice bags with them for fear they may be stolen for the rice inside. So, they can come and eat and get warm. I have a feeling I will not be able to take back the rice bag and kick everyone out, so I am sure I will have many visitors sleeping in my home! I wouldn't have it any other way, really. :D I was thinking of doing a family food sponsorship program, too. Some families have shelter and maybe even work (farming, for instance) but still cannot make ends meet so they beg on the street. I want to provide them with food. I would like to distribute food to those in the countryside who may need some extra help, especially in the winter when work is slow (especially for farmers, but also for migrant workers). I think I will try and grow a few veggies at my house to have on hand to add nutrients without adding a huge cost (I won't have tons of money). I think I will grow tomatoes, zucchini and beans. It's not a lot, but it will help feed people who truly need it. Anyway, I will be teaching school and also taking care of Taiger, so I am just praying and having FAITH that God will give me the strength to do everything, and give me enough hours in a day to accomplish it all.
I wanted to write a little about some of my plans. I know this will not interest most of you, but I want to write it down and here seems to be a good place to do so.
For any of you who have been to JingMen, you know the bed covers they use to keep warm. For those of you who don't, let me TRY and explain. They use things that are similar to feather ticks. They are a thick blanket filled with some kind of filler...it reminds me of sawdust. I am sure it must be some kind of fiber, but it is almost grainy. Anyway, they cover them with duveys (how do you spell that?!??!!) and use them as bedspreads. They are quite warm in the winter...although I still suffered miserably with a form of frost bite from the severe cold. Anyawy. It gets very, very cold in JingMen in the winter time (hence the frostbite!). My apartment is made of concrete and has tile floors, so needless to say, it is quite cold. NOWHERE in JingMen has central heating, so when you walk into a store you THINK you will go in and warm up, but really it is just as cold as the bitter cold outside. It is just out of the wind. There is no reliefe from the cold!! The classrooms where I teach are also cold. There were four windows down each wall (single payned, of course) which were not only very drafty, but were usually opened. Anywhere we ate was outside...yes, OUTSIDE, and even many of the shops where I bought things were small, cold stores, sometimes without a door or even a front wall. The food market was, of course, outside, with produce and vegitables spread on tables in the open air. (I didn't shopt there much though...too cold, dirty AND SMELLY!) Although I had a heater in my room, it did little to take off the chill. When the school found out how cold we were, they bought us space heaters. I pulled my desk next to my bed and put my heater on it so it radiated heat to me all night. I used it until it burned out. I got another and the same thing happened. That was the end of my attempt at heating a concrete and tile room with a space heater!! Needless to say, I woke up cold, I worked at the school cold, I went home cold, I ate cold and I went to bed cold.
Well, in my matured and more thoughtful state, I have decided there are more measures I could take to keep warm. Things I never thought of before (I was young and foolish...?). So, here are my ideas for keeping warm:
* I will be bringing rice bags, sewn three and a half sides. I will fill them once I get there and hand stitch them closed once they are filled with rice.
* The Chinese cook over these indoor "outdoor fire pits". They are a brick that looks like some kind of charcoal. They light them from the inside and place pots on top to cook. I will buy one of those and use it in my home. If I don't cook on it (which I probably won't because I have a gas stove!) at least it will warm my house!!!!
* I will buy a space heater and take it to school with me. I won't be able to heat the classroom, but I can set it by me and warm my hands and feet. I can also let the students warm themselves by it.
* This idea may seem TOTALLY crazy, but I think it is the best idea yet (or at least a very good one). I will buy several of those "ticks", cover them and put them on the floor in my bedroom. I believe they will really help insulate the room and keep the cold from coming up from the floor. They will stay clean with the covers and will hold the heat. Also, because they are so thick and soft, if someone needs to sleep at my house they can just sleep on the floor and be comfortable enough.
* I will be cooking more at home and this will serve three purposes. One, I will cook the food for the homeless there, so I will be able to provide more food. Two, it will keep Taiger and I in out of the cold night air. Three, it will heat up the house!! Especially if we are cooking things like stew that simmers for a while and can warm things up.
* I am going to either cover the windows and door at my house or put draft-stoppers at the base of windows and doors to keep out the draft.
I am very sick and right now I am so so so so so so tired. I will finish tomorrow.
If anyone has NOT read the blog, kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com, PLEASE do so! She is an amazing young woman whose service is incredible!! Serving in Africa, she takes care of orphaned and less-fortunate children. If you just want to hear about her, read her most recent post. If you have a few hours and want a GOOD read, but don't want to brave this winter snow to go to the library, start at her first post and read through...you will be SOOOOO GLAD you did!!!!!
I am not an eloquent writer. Sometimes, I like to write and it sounds so lovely, and I LOVE that! But this is NOT one of those times. Perhaps it is too soon for me to see a grand moral of this story. Perhaps there is nothing poetic or lovely about this story. Anyway, this is a story that means something to me, and I feel like sharing. It means something simply because it is about serving others, and following the promptings of The Spirit. Nothing great happens in this story. No one is rescued, and no one yells I LOVE YOU to the sky...nothing wonderful happens. But MY spirit was saved, someone showed love, and to me, it is always wonderful to SERVE!!!!!
Last night, Jeremy and I went to a movie. It ended around midnight. As we were walking to the car, we heard someone crying. Sitting under a street lamp, near one of the theatre exit doors, was a woman, and she was crying. I didn't want to be rude and stare, so we continued walking to the car, but I said under my breath, "Why is she crying? I hate it when people cry! I wonder if she is okay?!" Jeremy and I spoke softly under our breath as we walked to his truck. When we got in the truck, we continued talking about the woman. We wondered if we should go help her, etc. We decided to drive past her and get a better look to see if we could more thoroughly evaluate the situation. As we drove past to the exit of the parking lot, we saw she had a bike with a trailer hooked to it. It seemed some belongings were in the trailer. We took this new information and continued deliberating as we drove out of the parking lot. Jeremy wondered what I wanted to do, and I just wondered the same from him. He asked if he should turn around. We thought of all possible situations: she was drunk, she was strung out on drugs and we couldn't really help, she was handicapped and needed someone to help her get home, she was just down on her luck and needed some money for some warm food. It was so cold out!!!!! We thought she didn't seem like a scam artist, because she hadn't actually ASKED anyone for money. I thought of the blog post I had read by Katie and her challenge to reach out to others more. She had said that we should reach out to those in need, even if it be a homeless person. She said that if they had a knife and pulled it on you, so be it. I thought of that post and thought of her challenge and that I should take it!! Anyway, we ended up turning around. I thought maybe she would need some money, so I got out a five dollar bill and we agreed if she needed it we would give that to her. Maybe she just needed to use the cell phone...As we pulled in to the parking lot, I wondered if we were doing the smart thing. I heard the words in my head, "Even as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren...ye have done it unto me." With that thought, there was no hesitation! OF COURSE, if The Savior were there, cold and sitting outside at midnight, I WOULD TURN AROUND!!!!!!! When we got back to the parking lot, I began to pray in my head. I was busy asking God for guidance when Jeremy stopped the truck in an empty part of the parking lot and asked me if we could pray together before we talked to the woman. Of course, I said YES! We held hands and Jeremy prayed we would be guided in how to help that woman. We pulled up in front of her and got out of the truck. Jeremy had told me to kind of stay behind him, but as we approached the woman, I stepped forward and asked if she was okay. She was crying and said she was not okay. She said she was sick and couldn't ride her bike. She said if we could give her a ride it would be great, she lived not too far away. I didn't think that it would be a good idea to give her a ride ourselves. I asked her about taking a taxi. She said it would only be about eight dollars to get to her house via taxi. I gave her the five dollar bill to use for taxi money. Just then, a police officer came up and called the woman by name. We realized he could take better care of her than we and we left quickly without any more incident. When we got in the truck, we both expressed how much better we felt. The police knew her, so she obviously did this sort of thing often. But it didn't feel like she had taken advantage of us (even though we both realized that maybe she had!). We felt we had done the right thing in going back, and in giving her the five dollars. I said that if nothing else, we had proven to God our humility, our gratitude for what we have. Jeremy, in his spirituality, pointed out to me the miracle we had just witnessed! How quick God is to hear and answer our prayers! Jeremy pointed out how quickly the police had arrived after our prayer. We discussed the possibility of that woman being a test for us. We spent much of the ride home discussing it, and just as much time in quiet reflection about what had transpired.