Lately, it seems like there’s always a trip or two in the works, and another that I’ve just finished up. I recently counted up my travel with InterVarsity over the past year, and this is what I’ve come up with:
- July 1-14 – Chapter Planting Cohort training in Madison, followed up with visits to ministry partners and family in Iowa and Ohio.
- October 2-4 – Fall Conference #1 – Big Bay, MI
- October 19-20 – UP Team Spiritual Retreat – Little Lake, MI
- October 30-November 1 – Fall Conference #2 – Wisconsin Dells, WI
- December 7-10 – Regional Staff Conference – Green Lake, WI
- December 26-January 1 – Urbana – St. Louis, MO
- March 15-17 – Bible Speaker Training – Grand Rapids, MI
- March 20-22 – Campus Visits to LSSU and NMU – Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette, MI
- April 14-22 – Visiting ministry partners in the Twin Cities and the Chapter Planters Retreat – San Diego, CA
- April 30-May 13 – Chapter Focus Week – Cedarville, MI
- June 5-9 – Regional Staff Conference – River Falls, WI
Adding in a couple of trips visiting family, I’ve spent over two months away from home this year. Yikes! Read More…
When we first heard that our co-worker with InterVarsity was going to be on sabbatical this semester, and that Hans was going to be working with both the undergraduate (American) chapter and with the international group, we knew that this semester was going to be a little crazy. (Especially with a baby due in the middle of the semester!) Adding in normal family and church activities, plus trying our best to get our two unfinished bedrooms finished before baby comes, has made life rather chaotic.
But in spite of the crazy and somewhat chaotic pace of life these days, it feels like we have more of a routine than I can remember since we started with InterVarsity almost three years ago. I’m not sure if I’ve simply adjusted (finally) to the random and non-traditional schedule that we lead working with a campus ministry, or if we’ve figured out how to make that schedule work for our family. In reality, it’s probably a little of both.
I do know that I’ve enjoyed having more of an active campus staff role with leading the apprenticeship (discipleship) group each Saturday morning. It’s been encouraging to see students really engaging in the material and growing as a result. It’s been a bit more to juggle than just cooking for the group, but we’ve had help from people at church who have cooked the large amounts of food needed to feed 25 hungry college students for breakfast some weeks. That has been a huge help, especially as I’m getting more tired in the last weeks of pregnancy, and has definitely kept life a little calmer while I am leading! (Next week is my last week leading my group, and then they merge with Hans’ group and he’ll take over – just in time before baby comes!)
As the days are getting longer and sunnier (though not much warmer…), we’re starting to think of summer. Thinking ahead makes me think that life is going to be crazy and chaotic then, too, just in different ways. We want to have a garden again this summer and the thought of balancing that with a new baby, ministry, and just enjoying summer seems crazy, too. I guess we’ll see what happens, and continue to enjoy the path God has set us on. He’s definitely working around us and in us this semester and keeping us going in spite of the craziness of the semester. Somehow, it doesn’t really seem crazy!
Recently I heard a devotional about Advent, a time of reflection on the coming of a promised Savior. Many churches and families celebrate Advent with a wreath, lighting one candle each week until Christmas, when the center candle is lit. My mom had one that we lit each year growing up and our church also lights one.
Since I heard the devotion, I’ve been thinking about preparation for Christmas. Most of my preparations are finished already – presents bought, decorations up, plans made for traveling. I still plan to make a few Christmas cookies and a few more gifts, but I feel ready for Christmas to come.
I was surprised when the topic of Christmas preparations came up with friends. It seemed to me that many of them feel like there are too many things to do before Christmas to finish it all. And I wondered why that seemed odd to me – I don’t feel that way at all. I’m sure part of it is due to only having one child and that he is still young – we don’t have extra school or church Christmas-related activities filling our schedule. Nor do we have to prepare gifts for teachers, coaches, or Sunday School leaders.
But I think some of it is that I don’t feel like we have to do much to celebrate anymore. The big Christmas excitement for the last few years was seeing the giant Coca-Cola tree go up in the parking lot of one of the supermarkets in Cochabamba, and seeing all of the seasonal Christmas items show up in the market. We listened to Christmas music at home and celebrated with our teammates and our church. And that was about it. Christmas in Bolivia is pretty similar to any other holiday in Bolivia – there is a little preparation, the celebration on Christmas, and then it’s over. There isn’t nearly as much hype in the culture over Christmas, and so it is a lot simpler.
We want Advent to be a time of preparing our hearts to celebrate the joyous news that the King of kings was born on earth. We want our focus to be on God and what He is doing around us – and how we can be used to bless others, especially at this time of year when we remember how He has blessed us. We’re still learning how to do this, and I’m sure it will be different as our family grows. But I’m thankful that God has given me the desire to draw near to him.
O Come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
-Verse 3, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
It’s been awhile since my last post. Even with an active one-year-old, there haven’t been too many blog-worthy activities happening in our apartment.
At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself. But in the past few weeks I have come to the realization that I haven’t adjusted to life in the U.S. as well as I thought I had – and all of the frustrations, disappointments, and unmet expectations have been clouding my vision and hardening my heart. I wrote in my journal the other day that, “I guess that I thought I would be settled into life by now…” and while we have routine in our lives, I don’t feel very settled in my heart. I know that part of being settled in a new place comes with time (it took us years to really be settled in Cochabamba), and that as we form deeper friendships with those around us we will be more settled, but I still have been longing for more now. More relationships, more depth, more meaning, more purpose.
And in the last few days I’ve been finding it. God has been revealing himself to my heart and is softening the shell that formed around it. He’s been opening my eyes to faults I have been blind to and is meeting me where I am. It seems like every time I have been reading books or in Bible study in the past week the idea that faith requires effort has come up. The idea challenged me to start putting forth an effort, but I have found that it is not nearly as difficult of an effort as I expected. Jesus wasn’t lying when he said that his “yoke is easy and his burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).
This song has been speaking to my heart lately. I found it through a friend.
And we have had “blog-worthy” activities happening in our apartment, the most exciting being the small group we have started with college student couples who are in serious relationships. We were a part of a similar group as students and when we heard that it had ended, knew that we wanted to mentor couples in that way. So far, we’ve met a few times and the group is still small, but there are a few more couples we hope will join in the near future. It has been fun to get to know them and to challenge them in their relationships with each other and with God.
We also had the opportunity to host the InterVarsity student leadership team for Pique Macho, and are excited that they have decided to send a group of MTU students to Cochabamba this summer. The details are still being worked out, but there may be 10-15 MTU students set loose in Bolivia for over a month! (Unfortunately, Hans and I aren’t going to make it… but maybe we can live vicariously through the students!)
Plus we’ve had a lot of family-related activities happening. Caleb and I have hosted friends in our apartment when Hans is working, and have become involved in a few different activities. My mom came to visit for a weekend when Hans was away, and I’ve been able to volunteer with the children’s Wednesday night ministry at Bethany. So while I am still settling into life in the States, there is a lot of life here for me to enjoy already. I’m thankful that God has been showing this to me.