Should I go on Missions? (My Story-Urbana 2015)

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Urbana 2015 challenged participants to answer the question -what story wIll you tell? This is my story.

During one of the plenary sessions, David Platt illustrated the problem I was facing in my life without realizing it “There are students who are trying to manufacture a heart for missions but do not have a heart for Jesus”.

I was a student leader within my InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter and had served on the Leadership team for 2 years, at one point I got so caught up in the logistics, goals, deadlines and expectations artificially placed in front of me that that I forgot the one thing that mattered- did I love God? Not, did I fear God, did I acknowledge him, did I do my quiet time with him, did I serve him, but instead- did I love him?

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In the prayer room I prayed with a woman about my confusion and fear and she reminded me that confusion and fear are not from God, but from the enemy. I had received so many prophecies about doing missions work that I felt confused about how my current path of teaching intersected with missions- or if it did at all. .

The woman leading me in prayer asked me- “What do you hear God saying?”. I realized that my confusion stopped me from listening. In tears, I felt the condemnation of forgetting my first love but it was only in the prayer room that I felt God say my work had not been in vain- that he loved and forgave me. I was ready for my punishment but was met instead by my father God’s forgiveness.

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At the end of Urbana I signed up for short, mid and long-term missions. I’m not sure what that will look like in the near future but I know God is using my journey as a Special Education teacher to glorify him. At Urbana I was shocked to see the need for Special Education teachers overseas, I never imagined how perfectly God could use my gifts for his glory. I now realize God is going to use me, but before any of that begins I need to remember that everything is meaningless without my love for him.

Too often I expect to see my big story now. But I forget that we are all on a journey. Joseph saw a vision of his brothers bowing down and worshipping him as a king but his call from God didn’t come to fruition for years later and the years of toil and hardship were all in preparation for a greater calling. This was something  I learned after listening to a sermon from Pastor Felix Chivandire back when I first made the decision to be a teacher.

What I learned at Urbana doesn’t stop here, my work means nothing if it all ends here. This isn’t a mountain top experience- Urbana was my launching pad. As my friends, my readers, my family- hold me accountable. More than my plan for missions, I never want to forget my love for God.

25 Days of Christmas (Day 16)

     053I had the chance to visit this place called Penelope with Peace and Maksim!

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These two got a picture together again after two years of not seeing each other!

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The last time the two of us were all together was two years ago!  Now, unto our Christmas quotes:

Peace:  We were putting up the Christmas tree, it wasn’t Christmas day, it was around that time.  And I stepped on an ornament and this triangular shard went up my toe.  And I was so scared that my mom was going to try to take it out or take me to the hospital, neither of which I wanted to experience.  So I hobbled to my room and I prayed for three hours because it wouldn’t come out.  Three hours later it finally came out.  I never told my mom because I knew I would be in trouble.  I thought I’d have to get it amputated.  It was scary, but I got through it.

Maksim: Thanks to God.

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Maksim: So I’ll tell you what I do for Christmas as a Jew, we actually have a Christmas tradition.  We go to the Rockefeller center and don’t look at the Christmas tree.  That’s the one time during the season there aren’t that many people.  Then we walk down 5th avenue and we pass by FAO Schwarz.  As a little kid it was open on Christmas but now it’s closed and it’s so sad.

25 Days of Christmas (Day 12)

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(Day 12) Samantha Bendernagel

“Warning to all believers.  Stop, do not read.

My family moved when I was in fourth grade and then I was worried that Santa wouldn’t know my address and think the other kids were me and I couldn’t have that.  So I wrote him a letter in July so he would know, [saying]

‘Dear Santa this is Samantha J Bendernagel, I used to live at, my old address but now I just moved here.  I don’t want you to forget about me.  Sorry for the extra trip, but I can make it worth your while.  Do you like chocolate chip cookies?  Do you like regular milk or chocolate milk?’

So my parents were cracking up about this and thought it would be funny to write back.  They wrote me this letter and I’m in school the next day saying ‘Santa Claus wrote me back’.  My mom made the candy cane outline, it was the real deal.  Yeah, so I was so pumped about it.  And a lot of kids were trying to say ‘He’s not real’ and I was like ‘But he didn’t write you a letter though’.

Christmas eve that year I got the cookies and milk he wanted.  Every Christmas eve I would go to bed and my parents and my sister would help put up the tree.  But then I realized I forgot to give Santa milk. I go downstairs and see my parents put presents underneath the tree.  I’m at the top and I went back to my room and cried myself to sleep.

I woke the next day and was like, ‘LIARS!’, needless to say, I was not happy.”

25 days of Christmas (Day 1)

 

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Welcome to my photo project, twenty-five days of Christmas!  Every day leading up to Christmas, I will be featuring someone on my blog.  Now, unto the first person…. (drum roll)

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(Day 1)  Meet Felix Feng!

“I do not ever celebrate Christmas before because I was in China.  Christmas is connected to shopping and people get together.”

Day 26: Your Dream Wedding

I think most guys have heard that girls plan their wedding day from as far back as they have enough cognitive reasoning to think.  I’m not one of those girls.  So many times I’ve been tempted to let my mind imagine and delve into all the wonderful possibilities.  But I stop myself because I know that a wedding is just one day.  And that the marriage that comes from it is far more important.

However, there are some things I need in order to have my dream wedding, hopefully my demands aren’t crazy.

1.  God fearing man

I find it so funny how some girls will go on for hours about the location, colors and ambiance of their wedding and forget to marry someone good!  I remember telling one of my friends that I just wanted to marry someone completely in love with God.  She looked at me kinda weird and said that I should be careful of those guys, they may be a little crazy. But the way I see it, God is the center of my life.  He is my moral compass and my everything.  So why not marry someone who loves God as I do?

2.  Simplicity

I’ve always loved the colors red and white because it looks so classy and simple.  I wish I could have a small wedding but I have way to many relatives to ever wish to do that.  But I can keep things simple.

3.  Lace wedding dress

I don’t know what is about lace.  It just looks so refined and so classy.  I would of course need a sari too, but maybe a lace dress for the actual wedding itself would be nice.  And white looks really nice against my burnt chocolate complexion.

4.  People I love

I want to be around people who actually care about me and my well being.  People who smile and pictures and are actually really happy.  People I’m happy to spend my day with.  I promised my aunt I’d get married in India if she couldn’t come to America.  I want her there.

5. Prayers

I want to start off my married life draped in blessings!  Is that a little selfish?

 

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Day 20: Nicknames

Here are a few of the nicknames I have been given over the years!

Neener

This was first given to me by my cousin Eden and I was kind of offended by it at first.  Over the years I have grown to love this name though, I even find it a little bit charming too!  It just sounds really weird and odd and I love being weird and odd.

Niku

Only my cousins in India call me this.  I get surprised when I see them after a long time and they call me this because it makes me feel odd.  My body instinctively responds to it but my mind may not have consciously recognize it.  I actually like this name a lot!  I think it’s cute!

Nina Cootie

This was given to me by my dad.  It’s my house name and strangely longer than my actually name.  It’s kind of embarrassing!  But I feel like only people who really love me call me this.

Nine-ah

Only a few people call me this and mostly to just annoy me.  I’ve always thought my actual name is easy to pronounce.

Snap

I was Snap, Christine was Crackle and Sherin was Pop.  It was actually supposed to be that Sherin was Crackle and Christine was Pop but I feel like Christine can sometimes come off more as a crackle and Sherin more like a Pop.  All three of us girls have gone through sunday school together for our entire lives and these were the name we betrothed upon us.  I also call Christine Giggles and Sherin Cuddles, I need a cute nickname like that!  Maybe… talkles? nah

Fire

I’m the Fire and Christine is the Ice.  We’re total opposites but I think that’s why our friendship has worked so well thus far.  When the fire get out of control, bring in some ice.   But something you need some warmth too!

Day 17: Something you’re looking forward to (This summer)

As I write this post I can think of so many things I am not looking forward to!  I need to study for my calculus exam, take my actual calculus exam, work hard and take my final!  But with all of that in mind, there are still so many things I actually am looking forward to do and below is a list of a few:

1.  Church Retreat

It’s going to  be at the retreat center we always used to have it and I hope it’s as good as I had always remembered it being!

2.  Finishing my summer class

I’m REALLY hoping I don’t have to retake this class, but regardless finishing this class and REALLY starting summer will be a treat with retreat starting the same day in the afternoon.

3.  Sophomore Hang out

It’s bound to happen some time this summer and I miss all my sophomore friends!

4.  Guyana

I meant to announce this later, but I’ll be going to Guyana for a mission trip!  (More on this later)

5.  Starting School Again

I actually like school!  And as happy as I am to end it, I love the beginning of school too!

6.  BIG Production meeting

The entire team for The Ticket is meeting together again and this excites me!

7.  Apologetic Lesson

My Sunday school class is learning about different religions and at the end we learn some christian apologetic.  I’ve always been curious about these things.

 

Day 15: Bible Verse

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This single bible verse has been coming into my life time and time again, its almost like I can’t escape it!  But this verse inspires me in so many ways.  So many times I’m left feeling out of control of everything around me.  I think this verse constantly speaks into my life when I find myself wanting to take control over the situations around me.

The thing is, we can’t always be in control, never really.  And this can feel really scary to accept, but to know Jesus is in control is so comforting because he knows exactly what we need and has a plan and a purpose for everything.

Whenever I find myself feeling upset, I think of my father holding me and shielding me.  I never actually need to be afraid of anything.  Being afraid is like me lugging a large umbrella when I’m praying for sunshine all day.  God’s in control, never forget that.