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Posts Tagged ‘Dominican Republic’

Where, God?

Somewhere along the way, I got lost. I thought I was striving toward the glory of my Lord, but somewhere along the way, I ended up here: questioning, desperate, and alone. It’s my own fault, and no one else’s. I became so focused on what I thought was God’s will for me, when in reality, I was focusing on what I wanted God’s will for me to be. I wanted something that in my mind I defined as “big”: years overseas, a prestigious church job, another summer as a big shot videographer at camp.

And then, ironically, the big ice storm, and how I spent my time during it, snapped things into perspective. God has always gifted me a servant’s heart for those around me. It manifests itself oddly sometimes, whether volunteering to walk through the storm to Kroger, attempting to shovel the parking lot, or buying a new pair of pants, but I always do it because I want to serve those I love.

But what about those I don’t love?

Unfortunately, there are too many people that fall into that category. I have continued to question why God kept me here in Lexington, and I believe now it was to knock me off my high horse, to destroy my pedestal, and show me where I needed to improve in life. Well, it’s working. I have nothing here I am passionate about here in Lexington anymore, except my church. Passion is such a vital part of my life that it’s been difficult feeling as though I am invested in nothing for the Kingdom right now. I feel like my life is on hold, but then again, I’ve felt like that for a while now. In fact, one of the few times I didn’t feel that way was when I was in the Dominican Republic.

I read my Bible for the first time in over a month today. I wrote in my prayer journal for the first time in almost 3 weeks. I believe working on my relationship with God is the first step to loving those I don’t right now.

I know there are different seasons in life, and each is necessary (Ecclesiastes anyone?), but I don’t know what this season is for, and I don’t think God is going to give me any answers. It’s hard. You’re only young for so long and you’re only single for (hopefully) so long. My hopes and dreams for this insignificant amount of time on earth have changed drastically in recent years, and I’m not fulfilling any of them sitting here in the Dungeon feeling like an annoyance.

I’m strong now. I’m strong enough to be free, and I’m ready to go.

Where, God?

Veil of things to come.

So I just got home from about 6 hours at church: playing bass, worshipping, listening, eating, cleaning, and learning. I love my church, it is so filled of love and service and giving. But during the financial/vision meeting today, I got to thinking about how much our church strives to be like a New Testament church more than anything I’ve ever been a part of in my life. We bathe everything in prayer, spend oodles of time together, and revolve around home meetings and giving of our time and money. I am so proud to be a part of the body, and am always encouraged when I spend time with my church family.

But all this got me thinking even more about the gospel, how Jesus is seen today, and why God gives us the different passions that He does. I used to not have a heart for missions, and would admit it to your face. I was more concerned with relationships here with those I spend time with everyday, and that is how I shared the gospel: discipleship. It used to make me angry when people were so missions minded that they forgot about growing here. All of that changed when I went to the Dominican Republic. I’ve been on a lot of missions trips, but that is the one that God used to change my heart. I still believe wholeheartedly in discipleship and strive to incorporate it into my relationships everyday, but now I realize how much growing and living together includes talking about our separate passions for missions.

God has been so faithful to me since my decision to return here to Lexington. I found a good job doing something I like in less than a week, am enjoying a renewed relationship with my best friend, and am diving headfirst into some goals for the next five months or so. But I have been struggling spiritually with purpose. I am so long-term minded, and I don’t want to waste the time I have being young and out of school and not tied down. I want to see more than what the Southeastern United States has to offer. It doesn’t help that my best friend from camp just drove to California and back, regaling me with tales of all that’s “out there.” God has placed in me a passion for missions, and maybe more than a week or two. I’m talking a year or two. That’s right – little ol’ Ashlyn who loves sitting on her mac wants to spend extensive time where there is no electricity, much less Internet, doing manual labor and planting churches.

But as for now, I’m going to pray. Pray that God continues to grow my passion. Pray that I will remain open to opportunities. And pray for those who are already gone or going: Peggy in Costa Rica, AC in Cambodia, and the gang going to Africa in May: Erin, Paul, Tracy, Josh, Evan, and Kim.

I’m starting to fully realize the truth of the verse incorporated into my new tattoo: For from Him and through Him and to Him are ALL things. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Confusion reigns.

So I’ve been back from the Dominican Republic for 11 days now, and more has happened in those 11 days than has happened most of this year.
The culture shock wore off sometime this weekend, but the confusion about how what I experienced is going to translate in my life had only been heightened, and the events of last night and this morning have only muddied the water further.

I thought I was going to graduate early. I mean, I only need 16 credits. And then I thought I wanted to work with Edge or some ministry like that full-time, but I felt stupid talking about it because who’s calling gets defined by one Spring Break mission trip? But the more I thought about it, it was no small feat how I got the money to go. It’s true that God has shown me where I’m going to use my skills for video and graphic design – to educate the world about the water crisis and continue to take more trips like I just took.

But I did jump the gun. I’m not done here. But I ignored that feeling until God decided to wake me up in the middle of the night Sunday night with an overwhelming need to pray. So I did. And he brought to mind some people I need to be here for to disciple and lead for an entire year next year.

I’ve even talked with some people at Edge about it, and still plan on taking part in their ministry while I’m still in school. Well, that settles it, right? Case closed. Wrong. Last night and this morning I think I got more confused than I’ve been since I’ve been back. If I’m not done here in Lexington yet, how are the decisions that have been made wise ones? They don’t make any sense. I’m not trying to say I know what’s right, but I do know what’s wrong, and I do know I’m not alone in thinking these things.

I know time is supposed to heal things and God will show His plan through this, but I am so angry right now that I don’t feel like I’ll ever not be. My anger is so strong I was irrational, and almost was disrespectful in ways that would not have been appropriate or wise. But I feel as though my anger is not unfounded.

I understand that sometimes we must live with the consequences of our decisions, and God will even take our wrong ones and use them for His glory. I just pray, oh boy do I pray, it’s not at the expense of some people who want to do nothing but serve unselfishly. But this fear is already materializing. I do not want to judge, but I feel whole-heartedly that selfishness was chosen over selflessness.

I am not happy with this, at all. And I don’t care who knows it.

The Dominican Republic Trip – How it’s STILL changing my life

March 19, 2008 1 comment

First off, I wrote this on the evening of Wednesday, March 12, 2008. That was while I was in the DR.

“It’s the third full day and it was another early one. Biembo, our crazy driver we have come to adore, was sick and so our new driver was 45 minutes late. While waiting we worshiped with the YWAM staff (where we are staying). It was amazing because we were singing the same praises in 2 different languages at the same time! It was awesome to realize they love the same God the same way and just as deep.
Being the third day, we have started to rub on each other, the kids really act as a buffer. They loved our cameras as always. Today I brought my guitar and they swarmed me! I sang ‘Open the Eyes of my Heart, Lord” in Spanish and they had me repeat it 4 times! Then I sang almost every song I had memorized. The kids came and went, but Jeffrey stayed. He was my buddy. All the work with the water system paled in comparison with Jeffrey asking me if I was coming back tomorrow and then banging on the window to yell “Hasta manana!”

So now it’s my second day back to normal, scheduled, college life. I was excited to get back to Kentucky and see my friends, and my family this weekend, and was especially grateful considering the effort it took to make it on the plane to Louisville (good story, ask me). But some things took me by surprise yesterday and have continued on into today. Please don’t take any of this as my judging anyone, I’m still confused as to how I’m feeling.

First, I had a hard time seeing everyone go right back into the swing of things like they didn’t just have a week of their lives that was so separate form everything. Now I know everyone didn’t go on a mission trip, and that’s fine. This is the first one I’ve been on. But my week in the DR was a removal from everything I knew: my language, my culture, my values. I am having a hard time being the same I was before Spring Break, and I am having a hard time seeing everyone else do it.

Second, some of the things I did that were completely normal and routine somehow seemed wrong to me. And they were random things like picking up a Kernel on my way to work, talking about the NCAA brackets, and filming the Kyle Craft and Kahne show. I don’t know how, but these things seemed wrong to me. I can’t explain it further.

It’s just like this week of my life without air conditioning and clean water doesn’t fit into my life here in Kentucky. How can I see the things I saw down there and come back here and pretend to be happy with how I’m living and how we’re living? It’s not that I’m mad at America. I realize we’re blessed and that’s just how it is. Life isn’t fair because of the sin in the world.

But the Dominicans were SO happy. The kids in the village only had chicken and rice to eat, but they didn’t care. I have choices of pretty much anything I want to eat, and I complain. The Dominicans don’t always have electricity, even in the city. So what do they do? Open up their homes to nature and enjoy the landscape. When my power goes out I complain ’cause I’m not comfortable. The Fathers at the church we were at are facing elimination by gold mining with cyanide, and they keep teaching the kids how to read. I lost a presidential election and got upset that I wasn’t picked to be the ultimate leader. I should be thankful I get to serve in any aspect.

And so I feel stuck. I am used to the luxuries we enjoy here in America, and there is NOTHING wrong with that, and I don’t want to stop using them. It’d be stupid if I didn’t take advantage of the heat in my house. But I don’t want to live as if I haven’t experienced this. And I don’t want to have this one week be the only time I travel to the Dominican, or Costa Rica, or Haiti, or wherever.

I could go on and on about this because I feel so full, but I won’t.
Things have changed, and even though I thought they might, and even though I was warned they might, I’m still having a rough go.

Not your typical end-of-the-year reflective post.

December 14, 2007 Leave a comment

I pray that I can keep captive your attention long enough for me to share everything I have on my heart. I am about to be very transparent.

I finished with Finals on Monday, so I’ve been hanging around and working all week. Monday evening I got a phone call telling me the mission trip I was going on the next week was canceled. I was immensely disappointed but went on enjoying my night with friends. Later that night, a thought came into my head about the trip to the Dominican Republic in March. I pushed it away because I’ve never been anywhere really, much less even contemplated going out of the country.

But the thought wouldn’t go away. Tuesday afternoon I told Daniel I wanted to go. He gave me the fund raising letters, and all of a sudden I got real nervous. There is a $1,000 deposit due at the beginning of January, and I hadn’t even thought about telling my parents.

Wednesday I ran out of money and had to swallow my pride in order to pay my utilities, and I’m not working over Christmas break. I got desperate and frantic. My money has run out and there is no $10/hour at Chick-Fil-A to look forward to like most Christmas breaks, and with my dad on Social Security and both parents without jobs, the money will continue to be run out.

Why should I go to the DR anyway? It’s way out of my comfort zone. I don’t deal well outside my comfort zone. It’s way too expensive, and it seems very stupid to try this right now. So why won’t the thought go away? I so wish it would…

So today (Thursday) I was driving home, half way “praying” God would pull a loaves and fish miracle with my gas tank to get me home, ’cause I couldn’t afford to fill up, and a song came on that I hadn’t heard in a very long time. It was a song I first heard last year at this time, and this song has some very strong and extremely bittersweet memories attached to it. It was TobyMac’s “Made to Love.” Here’s what caught my ear and kept me from turning the channel:

Whatever happened to a passion I could live for?
What became of the flame that made me feel more?
And when did I forget that…
I was made to love You
I was made to find You
I was made just for You, made to adore You
I was made to love, and be loved by You
You were here before me
You were waiting on me
And you said You’d keep me, never would You leave me
I was made to love, and be loved by You.

I cried. It finally clicked. I knew it would happen, but I wasn’t expecting it like this, or at this time. I haven’t been myself lately, and I might be on my way back. But please pray that I will be able to make sacrifices with my finances (or lack thereof) and that I will find confirmation on this Dominican Republic thing soon, ’cause I don’t have anywhere near $1000, that’s for sure.