Saturday, October 16, 2010

ireland, home, ireland, and home again

"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
-1 Peter 4:11

Alright, two entries in the same month. Pretty soon the whole "Liz being horrible at updates" thing will be nothing but a distant memory! They'll be so many updates people will be sick of them/me! Awesome. Man, what a crazy past few weeks. Things have been pretty hectic since my last update but have also been so rewarding... once again I'm in shock and awe as to how good the Lord is with the opportunities and doors He's opened and the ministry He's allowed me to be apart of. The last couple of weeks have really been an encouragement to me in the fact that I've gotten to see first-hand the work going on in another part of Europe and not only that, have been blessed to have a small part in it. So, here it goes.

About two weeks ago, I led a group of students (nine of us in total) to the first ever Calvary Chapel conference to be held in Ireland. The fact that it was the first ever Calvary conference in that country really got us excited to be there to help out... but not even that excitement could have gotten us ready for everything that happened that weekend. The conference mostly consisted of families from the churches of the 5 Calvary Chapels all throughout Ireland. It was so awesome to get to meet so many different people, missionaries, pastors, church planters... but just to be around so many people who genuinely loved the Lord and had a heart for Ireland was probably the coolest thing. The way the weekend worked was simple- teaching and fellowship. The conference itself was held at a 300 year old manor house. This place was amazing! Pretty much as soon as we drove up to it all of the girls in the car (okay, myself included) started screaming "Pride and Prejudice! This is just like Pride and Prejudice!". Ha. No, but really the house was crazy. All together there was about 150 guests who attended. Adults were fed the Word in sessions and the kids had their own sessions too. Bible college students from Italy and Germany also came out to help so between the three campuses there to serve we had a pretty great team. I was put in with the kids which was AMAZING. We did it VBS-style, lots of games, crafts, activities, different work stations... and the theme of the conference (both for the adults and the kids)- "The Kingdom of God "(Parables) was conveyed through short skits we did for them every session. I got to play Suzy, the bratty (keep comments to yourselves, please) older sister of the main character Johnny....Sooooo much fun!

Throughout the whole jam packed weekend, I just kept thinking how awesome it is to get to meet people from all over the world who love Jesus. Sounds simple and pretty elementary, I know, but I think it's something that you don't really comprehend until you see it yourself- the vastness not only in culture but in background of the body of Christ. There were people there who, in normal circumstances, I would have had absolutely nothing in common with but through the bond of Jesus we were as close as family. It was also really neat to hear some of the student's reactions to the weekend... alot of these kids are somewhere between 18-20 years old, never lived away from home, some of them never have been outside of the States and here they are in a brand new country serving not only the family of God but Jesus Himself. Their faithfulness and up-for- anything attitude blessed so many people there that weekend.
And that was just one more blessing- knowing that we were serving so many pastors and workers who don't normally get a break or a rest to be fed Scripture the way they got to that weekend.... SO cool. Jesus is awesome. This is a photo of most of the team helping out that weekend- I think Germany left early that morning to go home before we gathered for the shot. It's taken in front of the backside of the house.

The weekend came to an end and we all flew back home to Mallorca. I was home for a few days and then prepared to go back to Dublin. A couple of weeks before the first trip the pastor of the church in Dublin who hosted the Conference had asked if I could help him out and come over for the weekend to lead worship at the church as he not only preaches but leads worship and was going to be in America and needed a worship leader. I went back not knowing too much of how things would go or anything really besides that I was leading worship for a church... but it was such a great weekend. I arrived in Dublin and was brought to the home of my hostess(es) for the weekend- the lovely Mariana and her daughter, Julie. These wonderful ladies made my weekend soooooo sweet. There was a whole lot of time to be spent making dinner, eating cake, and listening to Julie play the piano and watch her do amazing cartwheels (seriously, they were PERFECT, I could never pull them off). Here's a couple of pics of the amazingness that was Mariana and Julie....
...yeah... that cake was gooood.
The only kind of annoying thing that happened was the fact that I had a really weird cough that weekend... I could feel myself starting to get sick on our way back from the first trip and prayed it wouldn't get worse since I knew I was going back to sing the next weekend... And I did get better for a few days... until about the night before I left the second time. I was stressing a little bit, especially the night before church as it was the worst it had been... but through much prayer and Mariana filling me with lots of herbal tea and Vitamin C :), we made it through all three services (in three different locations!) on Sunday. Talk about total dependence on Jesus. But as always, God showed up and it was such a cool experience to meet different people from the different services. To see a different fellowship and group of believers and how they gather together is always a neat thing. The next day I was scheduled to fly out to make it back to Mallorca for work Tuesday morning... but before I did I got to spend some sweet time in prayer and sharing with Mariana. I was sooooo blessed by her heart for Jesus, she was more than a hospitable host :)

So as you can tell it has been a crazy two weeks. Being back in Mallorca has been great... I know that sometimes when you come back from a really great trip somewhere (especially a Missions/ministry trip), you can come back kind of amped up for the place you just left, maybe even a feeling of discontentment for your current location may creep in there... But I can honestly say how awesome it is to return with nothing of the sort! I just keep saying "Wow Lord, what a great trip! Had a great time and got to meet some amazing people who I will genuinely miss! But I'm so glad to be exactly where you want me to be right now at this point in time." Something else that has been imprinted on my heart is that although I know I'm so blessed to be where I am doing what I'm doing (serving in Spain under a great Pastor and an amazing staff, getting to meet and hang out with all kinds of young students from the Bible college, enjoying opportunities to travel and serve in places like Ireland), would I still be able to say "God is so good!" or "I am sooooo blessed!" even if things weren't so great? Am I only blessed because of God's goodness in all of the things that are happening right now for me, or am I blessed because He died for me and rose again? If nothing else good or pleasant in my life ever happened again would I be able to tell others or even write on this blog just how deep and sacred God's goodness is towards me in the fact alone that He saved my soul from the pit of hell? Don't get it twisted, I'm not trying to look for areas to condemn myself for no reason. I'm not saying that I shouldn't be excited or whatever about the amazing ways the Lord is blessing me right now but what I am saying is how inexplicably blessed I know I am in His saving grace alone... I deserved hell and instead He offered me life and not only just life, life with Him. It's completely befuddling to me why He would choose to bless but I know that He is so good to me, more than I could ever have hoped for. I know this has gotten kind of heavy and maybe even a little off-track, but it is something I really feel is heavy on my heart... God desires so much to give good things to His kids. But will we choose to worship and love Him no matter what, through suffering as well as blessing? I'm speaking to myself here mostly... It's my prayer that no matter what happens in the future I would be able to say a big, fat "YES" to that question- Jesus, give me the strength and steadfastness to worship You in all areas of my life, not just the ones that are easiest to.

Well, I hope this has been a blessing to someone... I know it's crazy long and maybe a bit scattered at times... but it's my heart :) God bless whoever it is reading this, hopefully it will have encouraged you even in the tiniest bit to draw closer to Jesus and seek out His heart more.

Until next time!

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