Monday, September 28, 2009

But a breath...

I see life in music lyrics and lately a subject that has been heavy on my heart is our time here on earth. In the middle of dissecting this matter I heard Brooke Fraser's "C.S. Lewis Song"... if you haven't heard it you should, it speaks volumes....

When I hear this song, rather when I belt this song out at the top of my lungs in the confines of my car (or occasionally at home) my heart just melts at the bridge where she sings about our time here on earth being but a breath and so we better breathe it in. I always think back on my life during this part and I think how quickly time passes and life changes and lives end. I write this because it gives me a voice I can't find otherwise. I write a lot about my nephew, Billy, who passed away in March 2008. I guess you can say I'm still feeling the effects and with my studies to become a counselor I can't help but continue to dig deep within me to allow God to bring up that which is not my most glorifying. I have emotional vomit on a regular basis these days and when I think of Billy I think of how much I missed with him and how much I continue to miss as he grows up in Heaven and I continue life here on earth. It's hard, but deep down somewhere within me there is that realization that hope is coming. I've already seen parts of it through Billy's younger brother, Nathan, who is now 6 months old and without realizing it has a lot of the same mannerisms as B did. Don't get me wrong, I don't see Nathan as a replacement, I see him as a wonderful and beautiful gift from God and I choose to believe (whether right or wrong, I don't know) that Billy guided Nathan before he got here. I just have this feeling that he told Nathan that their older sister, Avery, is a total ham and he would enjoy playing and laughing with her. I believe B probably told Nathan the little things that would bring joy to his mommy and daddy. I believe he encouraged Nathan to be his own little person because that in and of itself would bring so much healing to a broken family.

I lose way of my thoughts very quickly when the Spirit moves, but the fact of the matter in all this is don't make up excuses or reasons not to do things, not to follow your dreams, or not to get to know someone... life is but a breath... you better breathe it in before it is gone. For me I began to finally chase a dream March 15, 2008.... two weeks later God took Billy home and it crossed my mind to give it all up, to just forget it, but I didn't. I breathed it in and now in less than 13 months I will have successfully finished my masters and on the path to becoming a licensed professional counselor. When I get tired or weary with my studies I remember the little boy who brought so much light and life to all those around him and I'm encouraged to keep pressing in.

"If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the felsh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
then ofcourse I'll feel nude when to where I'm destined I'm compared

Speak to me in the light of the dawn
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just found? On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
is this a soul that stirs in me, is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?
Cos my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
An avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become

For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you
Hope is coming for me
Hope, He's coming"

~ C.S. Lewis Song, Brooke Fraser

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ecuador: Adventures from the land of Guineas!!

Hello dear friends! Well, it has been 5 full days since I've returned stateside and I'm still recouping from lack of sleep... but then I realize I'm a full-time multi-tasker (work, school, volunteer, babysit, aunt) that sleep isn't really one of those things I do anyway. I wanted to hit some highlights about our trip (and promise not to bore you with every detail... that's what coffee talks are for).

Overall, we had a great time and an even greater team. A team of 13 of us went and spent 2 weeks in Cuenca, Ecuador with Steve and Bobbie Clark. Steve and Bobbie are not missionaries with my home church (Trinity Church Dallas), however their daughter (Krissy) is on staff and a great friend of mine as well. We became the first team that Trinity has sent to Ecuador and I have to say I truly believe we set the bar pretty high ; ) The people of Ecuador were so gracious, warm, and welcoming....

... okay, so maybe they weren't there to greet us, but I think we are way cooler (and cuter) than some crazy soccer (or futbol...whatever) team they were really waiting for. Our first day was spent sight seeing in Quito, Ecuador (the capital) as were unable to get to Cuenca until that evening. We had a great time taking team pictures and exploring the center of the world...

It's a little difficult to see, but we are all there and lined up along the Equator line. After spending a day in Quito, it was time to get down to business and head to Cuenca where we worked with Steve and Bobbie and their church for 2 weeks. Every person on the team brought such excitement and talent and it was truly an honor and blessing to travel, sleep, eat, laugh, and work with these 12 other guineas for two weeks. We did quite a few projects at the Clark's house. I started off my trip by cleaning Bobbie's kitchen for 2 days straight... she says it sparkles : ) But don't tell my mom because then I'll have to clean her kitchen too : O The boys worked diligently on building a sidewalk and extra classrooms for the church... here is what we left behind as a reminder...

... so you kinda have to tilt your head to the left, but you get the point. We also worked on washing the tent (inside and out), wiping down chairs, and painting classrooms that were already existing (word to the wise, painting cinder blocks not an easy task... oh and it might be a while before I enjoy the color blue again). We truly enjoyed working together and with the assistance of many different iPods we even brought a little karaoke to Ecuador. We were constantly laughing with and at one another. In addition to all our laborous work we held a few workshops in the evenings for the worship team, children's church team, and drama team. I got to work with the drama team and that was awesome (I know, I know... you're probably not surprised that I worked with the dramatic teens). Friday night of our first week we split into groups of 3 and went to 4 different small groups to speak. I had the opportunity to share what God has been doing in me and through me since the loss of my nephew, Billy last year. It was truly an honor to share with these people, despite the language barrier. So many warm, welcoming hearts and homes... it was truly a blessing to be there.

I have so much more to share, but yet I feel like I need to leave something to talk about over coffee. I will leave you with the end as that was pretty interesting. With only one flight (meaning one plane) out of the city we were in at the end of our trip (Guaygil, Ecuador) we found out early Friday morning (Sept. 18) that we would not be heading home at our allotted time. Oh well, that meant we got to stay a wee bit longer and American Airlines put us up in a pretty swanky hotel... the Hilton. It was beautiful and the buffets of food were never ending... so much food, so little space for me to fit it in. In addition, upon arrival at the hotel we found out that the Ms. Latin Americas beauty pagent was occurring that weekend and the contestants were staying at the Hilton as well.

After a hearty second breakfast (we had already eaten before traveling to the airport to find out our plane was no bueno) we ventured out to the pool area. Of course at the same time the contestants were filming and being photographed. The boys were ooing and ahhing, the girls were just laughing at the whole experience... what a strange way to end a mission trip. Here is the photographic evidence so you'll see I'm not making this up....

You may not even care that much, but never in a million years do I believe another trip will end the same (unless another team goes the same time next year and ends up in the Hilton as well). In addition the President and Vice President of Ecuador were supposedly there, however the secret service was so minimal you would never have known (except someone told us).

There you have it... lots of adventures, lots of stories, and so much more to share. Let me know if you want to hear more. Thank you for the support as we traveled, your prayers were greatly received and appreciated.

With My Utmost Gratitude,
Cristyn : )