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It Started with a Broken Heart

11 Jul
Blog post by Mandy M., Team India 2012
My journey to this missions trip, honestly, started from a broken heart.  In the fall of 2010, I was happily engaged and busy planning a wedding to a man I was truly in love with.  I felt confident of the path I was on and content with where my life was heading.  One month before the wedding, however, my fiancé abruptly called it off and my world went into a painful tailspin.  I spent the next year grieving the loss of that relationship. . . and the dreams I thought would come true.  I relied heavily on my faith, family and friends to get through those first few months.
It was during that time that I was lead to Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” It became my prayer for the next year.  I prayed for the favor of God, to be boldly used and that He would spring something new up in my life.  I knew that since my life took such a dramatic turn, He must have very different plans for me and there was a great sense of adventure in that. I also had a burden to seriously started praying for a missions opportunity.  I have felt, for many years, the tug to pursue oversees missions but it wasn’t until the unfolding events of the last two years that I began to earnestly seek a way to serve Him in this capacity.  My desire to be near Him, to serve Him even more, was growing deeper and deeper.  My broken heart was healing and I was seeing the new adventures He was bringing my way.
I have always had a heart for children.  When this opportunity to serve with Journey117 opened up early this year I knew it was a great fit and felt so blessed to be able to serve!  I cannot wait to see how He uses all of us next month and know that this is only the beginning of something even greater in store.  We serve such an awesome God.  He takes you places you sometimes least expect and the road is often extremely bumpy.  But how He loves us!  I simply want to world to know this!  I am truly thankful for this opportunity.
Mandy resides in South Dakota and will be serving with Journey117 this month on Team India. 
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To See Them Smile

10 Jul

Blog post by Lauren Y., Team India 2012

I can’t believe I’m leaving for India in a little over one month! Two years ago when God laid the kids in India on my heart, I never imagined I’d actually be able to go make a difference in their lives. I feel so completely blessed to have this opportunity.

Ever since 8th grade, I’ve attended mission trips with my church or school. Usually these trips involved working with kids in some way. I always got such joy out of playing with them, loving on them, and seeing them smile.

I realized that I am most happy and content with my life when I’m helping someone else to be happy. My mom helped me realize this fact when I came home from helping with VBS just beaming and filled with stories. She said, “You might want to consider studying to become a teacher!” So that’s exactly what I did. As an Education major, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different kinds of kids. I realized that I’m often drawn to those who come from difficult backgrounds or are less fortunate than many. I feel as though so often these types of kids are neglected or overlooked.

This is why I’m so drawn to India. Often times I think people are either unaware of the amount of kids living in the streets, or they don’t know what to do about it. I know I can’t fix the situation these kids are in, but I can at least let them know how much they’re loved and give them hope for the future. When I was looking for organizations going on mission trips to India and I came across Journey 117, I was so drawn to what they were trying to do. Loving on kids, just as God loves us, learning about what God would have us do to give justice to the oppressed, and enlightening others on the topic of injustice in the world.

People often ask me, “Why India?” And honestly, I don’t have a definite answer. All I know is that God has given me a passion for the country and its people. For about 2 years, I have been praying for an opportunity to go, and finally God has said, “Yes!” I can’t wait. Although I am so nervous and anxious, I am so excited that this trip could be the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life!

Lauren resides in North Carolina and will be serving with Journey117 this month on Team India.  

The Journey117 Nicaragua Team is Prepped and Ready

9 Jul

Blog post by Team Nicaragua 2012

Over the past 7 months,  we’ve seen God provide in an amazing way through our fundraisers and letters!  Although the amount we needed to raise seemed insurmountable at first, we’ve raised above and beyond what we hoped for.  We are excited to be able to bless the various ministries and children we’ll be working with in Nicaragua.  Thanks so much for your support of this trip!

During our time of preparation, we’ve learned to work together as a team as we made jewelry, waited tables at our Fiesta Dinner, hosted a golf scramble, priced donated items at our garage sale, hauled rocks for a work project, and spent many hours preparing for ministry with kids.  We’ve also spent hours working on homework and discussing issues such as orphan ministry, Nicaraguan culture, and how to serve effectively on a short term trip.  Even though we haven’t gone to Nicaragua yet, we’ve learned so much already!

With less than a week before we leave, we are in the final stages of packing and last-minute details.  We are excited to begin serving in Nicaragua!  We leave Saturday, July 14 and will return Tuesday, July 24 (at 1 a.m.).  Thank you for your encouragement throughout the past 7 months, and your prayers while we are in Nicaragua.

Team Nicaragua 2012

Team Nicaragua will be serving with Journey117 in July. 

I’m Merely a Vessel

7 Jul

Blog post by Christina D., Team India 2012

Ever since a young age, my heart had an interest in those who are orphaned. As a 12 year old, I apparently had found nothing else more interesting than returning home from school to plop on the couch and watch TLC’s show Adoption Stories.  Something about the reality of seeing children in America and various parts of the world who were never cradled by their birth mother and father was gut wrenching for me, and also the long process for couples to finally meet with their adopted child. My heart was stirred. I wanted to have every single orphaned child from infant to teen in my home. I wanted to scoop them up and hug them, love them and be their new mom….at age12. Hmmm not a realistic dream for a 12 year old, but what I did know from that point, is that one day I wanted to adopt children of my own. As I saw it at the time, why would I be selfish enough to bring more children in the world when there are so many in need of a home and so few who choose to adopt. This is where my heart for the fatherless began.

Throughout the years, God only continued to provoke my heart to compassion for orphan children. I was able to serve one day in high school in an orphanage in Guadalupe, Mexico and it amazed me how loving they were despite their circumstances and how eager they were to be loved in return. Living in the border city of El Paso, Texas during college opened my eyes to the poverty and orphanages just across the border in Juarez, Mexico. This stirred my heart even more.

My view today, at 25, is still the same. I wholeheartedly desire to adopt at least one of my children someday. Till then, it does not by any means, mean that my passionate, God given heart for the orphaned has to refrain from acting now. My love and yearning heart for orphans has burned inside me and while that is great, that is just where it stayed, inside me. Which leads me to my journey to India. I cannot even begin to explain how eager I am to serve the Lord in this way with my team and to finally put actions to my God given desire. I do not want to continue to let time waste away while I yearningly stand back. I want to understand the burdens of this culture and how God is at work there; to know their needs and how we can meet them.

I am filled with satisfaction knowing that it is God’s desire and His compassionate heart and love for the fatherless that fills me. His business of caring for the needy is reflected in scripture in Psalm 10:18, “O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” And my personal favorite James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  This is the Lord’s passion given to me, His heart! I’m merely a vessel that has been given a great opportunity. I can’t say I know how or what God is going to lead me to do in the future, I hope to always serve the Fatherless in any capacity. Right now I know that this is the next step in uncovering more of His heart as a Father for these children. This is my journey.

Christina resides in Texas and will be serving with Journey117 in July on Team India. 

From Spiritual Wilderness to a Life of Compassion

6 Jul

Blog post by Alex E., Team India 2012

The stories of the Old Testament are, unfortunately, sometimes viewed as just that; stories with no relevance for where we find ourselves in the world today. But God’s Word speaks powerful truths into our lives, even through these childhood stories. I have always been fascinated by the story of Moses and the Exodus, a man chosen by God to do the impossible. Little did I know that over the years God would reveal to me that He still does just that.

We’ve all seen the pictures of baby Moses being placed into a basket by his mother and sent down the Nile River. He is brought in by the daughter of Pharaoh and raised as a prince in the splendors of Egypt. But he never forgets his heritage is tied to the Israelites, who are enslaved in Egypt. An unfortunate event sends him from the grand palaces and into the wilderness for 40 years. That, however, is where God meets with him and places an incredible calling on his life. He will return to his former home and deliver God’s people from bondage.

I like to believe that as Moses recounted his life, as he penned the book of Exodus, he stood in awe at the hand of God in his life. I’m praying at this moment that as I recount my own story, I would be amazed at God’s guiding hand in my own life. I don’t know who my birth mother was or why she left me at a hospital in Korea after my birth. But I do know that, by God’s incredible grace, I was rescued and brought into absurd luxury by my adoptive parents. I have been given opportunities to succeed that millions of orphans around the world could never dream of.

But just like Moses, mistakes in my life led me into a spiritual wilderness. I was lost, I thought I knew what I wanted to do, but was never even sure about that. Then, just as Moses had an unexpected encounter with God, I found myself in the same place, and no, I have never seen a burning bush. But about a year ago I read an article about a girl that had also been adopted. In it, she said that she knew she had been rescued for a reason, and that reason was to live her life to rescue others. I don’t know what about that caught my attention, but I started wrestling with deep questions about my life. What was my story? Why was it that story? What did God want me to do? Was I living for the wrong reasons?

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Something to Believe In

5 Jul

Blog post Alyssa G., Team Ethiopia 2012

I joined the Ethiopia team because I love people and knowing that there are kids that have no one to take care of them, love them, or protect them breaks my heart. As Christians, it’s our job to protect and fight for those who can not do it for themselves. I watched a documentary that had a large group of people who were kidnapping children from their homes and would kill the families, leaving the children as orphans. They would use the children for whatever they needed. They used them to make money through human trafficking and made them children soldiers. At one point in the documentary, they were interviewing a boy and he said that he would rather die than keep living. He said there was nothing left to live for and he had lost all hope in a better life. So, it is my heart to go and try to show the kids the love that they are longing for and restore the hope that has been robed from them and give them something to believe in again.

Alyssa resides in Texas and will be serving with Journey117 in July on Team Ethiopia. 

My Friend, Manuel

4 Jul

Blog post by Anna R., Team India 2012

I was around 8 years old when I realized not everyone lived surrounded by a large family and loving parents. I met a little boy around my age who didn’t have a mommy. His dad brought him and his older sister to live with some extended family in the small town in Mexico where we lived at the time. His dad had to work in the city and was not able to care for them so they stayed with family and went to school in town. It was a very foreign concept for me. I could not imagine not having my mom make flour tortillas for me, make large breakfasts of my favorite foods on Saturday mornings, have my clothes laid out for me on a school day, or not being there when I had a nightmare or was feeling sick.

I became very good friends with Manuel all through elementary school. He was a normal kid; we had fun at recess and he integrated to the town with ease but even at that early age I could see in his eyes a somewhat hidden sadness, which I always attributed to that fact that he would never see his mom again. Now that I’m older, I appreciate the many other things parents do and provide to their children: teaching by example, nurture, protection, unconditional love etc. and while preparing for this trip, I dearly remember my good friend Manuel.

I heard about Journey 117 at one of my “Dinner Club” outings. I, along with a group of coworkers, get together around once a month to go to dinner at a new (non-chain) restaurant. We try different and ethnic foods and in conversation, I mentioned that I would love to go on a short-term missionary trip. Diane said her daughter has gone on several trips and she forwarded me some info regarding her daughter’s trip last year with Journey 117.  Once I read about the organization’s mission, the hardest part was deciding which country to serve in.

I’m anxiously waiting for my India trip. I can’t wait to learn and experience a more direct way of serving the orphan and the widow. I have a heart to serve others especially through church programs with children and youth but this will be a whole new level of service. I am exited about what I can do to help some of these children and share the love and care that I am so blessed to have. Most of all, I am ready to learn from them and draw from their strength and courage.

Anna resides in Wisconsin and will be serving with Journey117 in July on Team India.