Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Amarillo Mission Trip

This post is a couple weeks late, but I really want to share about the mission trip I went on over spring break! I went with The Church on Rush Creek (Mira Lagos) to Amarillo to serve the community. Going into the mission trip, I kinda had an idea of what to expect since I have been on previous mission trips and lived in Mexico as a missionary, but what I didn't expect was what God did in my heart.

The first day we were in Amarillo, we went to a lady's house to help her clean out her backyard. As soon as we walked into the backyard, I saw a mess! There were piles of wood, rocks, and metal, trash scattered, random tools, kitchen supplies, decorations, etc. We didn't really know where to begin, but then we started to clean things up, organize, and throw away trash. While working, the lady came outside to talk to us and give us a little bit of guidance. As I started talking to her she opened up a little bit about her life. She told a couple of us that she hadn't been in her backyard in a long time. She then told us that most of the mess came from her son that used to live with her who had bipolar disorder. When he didn't like something in the house, he threw it in the yard. As she told us this story, I could see tears in her eyes. It hurt me to hear what she's had to go through. It reminded me of how fortunate I am. Not only for the material things that God has blessed me with, but also for the family that I have.

One of the other mornings in Amarillo, we went to a different lady's house that had burnt. The house was still standing with all of her belongings inside, but a lot of what she had was ruined by the fire. We cleared everything out of the house and then helped her organize between what was ruined and needed to be thrown away and what she could keep in her storage building that she had next to her house. She helped us the whole time! While she helped us, she told us that she had recently lost her father who lived with her before the fire. Not only did she lose a lot of her belongings, including her house, but she also lost her father. Even though she had lost a lot, she remained joyful and grateful for the things that she did have!

My favorite part of the trip was the afternoons! Everyday after lunch, we went to a low income apartment complex to hang out with the kids that lived there and share a Bible story with them. Everyday when we got there, the kids were already waiting for us. Some of us played basketball, some of us played on the playground, some of us played soccer, and some of us just sat and talked with the kids. Although it was simple, we could see in the kids that they were so happy just to have somebody loving on them. It was so obvious that they do not receive much love at home based on how quickly they became attached to us. It broke my heart to see how broken they were, especially after hearing some of their stories. Some of the students on the mission trip shared that seeing these kids really showed them how fortunate they are for the families that they have and that so often we take our parents for granted.

Not only did I have the opportunity to serve others and spread Christ's love on this trip, but God also humbled me. Towards the beginning of the trip, I sometimes let my selfish desires and mindset get in the way. I thought, "I'm really tired. I just want to do the easiest job," but as the week went on, God showed me that it wasn't about me and what I wanted, but it was about serving Him and doing what He desires for me. God wouldn't ask me to do anything that I couldn't handle. No matter how tired I was, with Christ, He can give me the energy and strength to do His work. This isn't something God showed me just for the mission trip, but I can apply this to my life at home, at school, at church, and everywhere I am. There are so many times that I am selfish and only want to do what I have planned for myself. But God has other plans. He wants me to always put others before myself and serve them. He wants me to use everything I've got for His glory. He wants me to follow Him and trust His will for my life.

I am so thankful that I was able to go serve in Amarillo. God is so good!

"Serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind,
for the Lord searches every heart 
and understands the intention of every thought."
1 Chronicles 28:9

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Life Change

On Sunday, March 2, 2014, I chose to take the step to proclaim my faith by being baptized. When I was five years old, I accepted Christ into my heart, and I was baptized; however, I didn't know exactly what I was doing. Ever since then, I had always loved Jesus and wanted Him to be a part of my life, but I didn't desire Him completely. In high school, I began to slowly start straying away from Him. I still believed in Christ, but I stopped relying on Him. I stopped focusing on Him. I stopped reading my Bible. I stopped going to church. I was lost. But God gave me a wake up call. My senior year of high school, I lost my best friend, Kayla, to suicide (I've written more about her in previous posts). I was in complete shock, but I felt this overwhelming sense of God, like He was telling me, "I am here, Haley. Trust in me. This is all a part of my plan. Lean on me." So, I listened. I trusted in Him. I remembered Jeremiah 29:11 that says, "'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.'" God had a plan. I hate that I lost my best friend. I think about her everyday. There are still days that I cry just thinking about her. But I know that God had a plan, even through such an awful situation. I have already seen part of his plan unfold in my life. I've learned that our time on earth is short. 2 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So,whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." We are placed on this earth for one reason, and that is to glorify God. Kayla lived a life that glorified God. Her time was short, but it was full. After her loss, I realized that I want to live a life like her. I want to live a life that shines Christ's. I want to live a life of serving and loving others. I want to live a life where Christ is my number one desire. I want to live a life where I put all of my hope and my trust in The Lord. I want to follow Him with my whole heart. I finally made that decision in December of 2012. My life is different now. I'm not perfect and I still sin every single day, but Christ is now the center of my life and my number one desire is to glorify Him in all that I do. After a year of contemplating whether I should be baptized again to proclaim this new step of faith, I finally decided that it was the right decision. I want to proclaim my faith and my trust in Jesus Christ to the world. I want people to celebrate this life change with me. I want fellow believers to help guide me and hold me accountable as I have made this new life change. I am so thankful that I have Christ by my side. I'm thankful that He has taught me to trust Him. I'm thankful that He is always here, even through the most difficult times. I'm thankful that I have Him in my heart!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away,
and look, new things have come." 2 Corinthians 5:17