September 14, 2011

Remember The Blackout of 2011? Good Times.

Last Thursday at 3:20pm all of our power went out. I immediatly noticed how quiet it was in my home. Soon the neighborhood was buzzing with reports that the electricity had gone out in all of San Diego County, Imperial County, parts of Arizona, New Mexico, old Mexico down to Ensenada, Orange County, and parts of Riverside County. This was a HUGE power outage. 5 million people were without power in one instant! The things I observed post-blackout were so interesting! First of all, I grew up having periodic blackouts because of Thunderstorms, so this wasn't completely foreign to me, however, 1. Things have changed a lot since I was a teenager. 2. There are never thunderstorms out here, so power outages are highly infrequent.
It was hilarious to see people responding. It was 100 degrees outside, so people were just outside sitting in their cars to get air conditioning. The radio station asked people to call in if they knew gas stations that were open - not much luck on gas stations,but you know who was open? Casinos. They had enough generator power to have gas, food, ice, A/C and gambling. Hilarious. Adam and I had to run to the church around 7pm and what we saw was incredible. Families taking walks down Alpine Blvd together. Neighborhoods gathering outside visiting. Large groups of people BBQing together. It was awesome! And I love reading what several teenager wrote on their FB walls about how their night went. 15yr old Ashley said, " if the power didnt go out i wouldnt have met the ppl i was a good time." A 14 yr old girl named Alyssa said, " i never knew the people who lived next door until the power went out. we all played yahtzee. :)". I read so many posts about family time and great memories shared.  At our home we had some of our students over for a candlelit game of Monopoly. It was a blast!
Since then, everyone I know has talked about the blackout with fondness. Electricity is no doubt a wonderful thing, but in one night people all over SoCal realized what was really important - the people in our lives. No TV, lights, video games, few had internet, computer battery was limited, restaraunts, microwaves, electric stoves, the list could go on. Work was let out early, school was called off. Some entire apartment complexes had get togethers. Neighborhoods chatted together and families played in the dark. Most people went to bed early and got a good solid night's rest. It was a little Wall-e ish. It's funny how one mistake at a power plant in AZ could cause so many people to rethink what is important in their life!

September 8, 2011

Goodbye, Alpine

I should really be packing right now, but instead I'm listening to Pandora, enjoying some coffee and writing. I guess this could be considered packing. Packing up emotions, some memories, unpacking parts of myself that will always be left here in Alpine. In a couple of weeks, Adam and I will be moving away from Alpine. Often people call it "starting a new chapter", but are you ever really this sad about ending a chapter in a book? I don't know. Either way, we are closing up our time in Alpine with lots of hugs and tears. We've accepted a Youth/College Pastor position at another church in the SoCal District. There's plenty of excitement that comes with beginning something new, but right now I'm savoring in the memories of the past few years that we've spent at Bethel and the relationships we've built here.
 I will never forget the long drive from Dallas to San Diego. We were so excited and had no idea what to expect from Southern California or from Youth Ministry. 3 and 1/2 years later, we couldn't have asked for a better Youth Group or Church to get us started in Youth Ministry. I've decided to make a list of things I will miss/special memories I've created. In no particular order:
  • I will miss living in the mountains. I live in a truly beautiful place. Huge boulders, Palms and Pines living harmoniously. After 3 years, I still note what a beautiful drive from Walmart to my home. I can count on 2 hands the number of thunderstorms we've had since I've lived here, but when it does thunder, the sound of it echoing off the mountains is magical.

  • I'll miss the quiet small town feel of Alpine.
  • Panda Machi. I don't care what anyone says about Panda vs Ahi Sushi, I still think Panda Machi has the best sushi in Alpine. Maybe in SoCal. Maybe on Earth. When I visit Alpine in the future, I will be dining at Panda!
  • I will miss our students. Our kids. Past and present. I thank God that He has honored us by giving us the last few years with them. We've met some incredible teenagers and I love them. We've shed tears over death and divorce. We've walked through addictions, depression, impurities, and life in general. And they will always be our first youth group. The trial and error crowd. ;) (If anyone is wondering why this isn't further up on the list, I can assure you that I wasn't shedding tears over leaving Panda Machi.)
  • A couple months ago, I was at a graduation and I had the privalege of holding the baby of one of our former students during the ceremony. It allowed me to get a glimpse into the future of my ministry. I'm still young, but to hold the next generation of those we've begun a ministry to was very special. Thanks for that moment, Marielle.
  • Tapatios. Tapatios, you changed my mind about Mexican Cuisine. Marty, when you visit me, you better bring me a shrimp burrito! PS - My first shrimp burrito from Tapatios was brought to our door by Josh, Mary, and Judah our first week in Alpine! I've been loving them ever since.

  • My dear friends, I will miss you. I've made some great friends here. Stephanie and Marty ministered with us the entire time we were here. There isn't much as awesome as sharing a passion for ministry with someone for a long time. They weren't only fellow ministers, they're close friends. My partner in crime, Renee. Joe and Damara, who else would come over and kill zombies with us? I'll tell you, no one. (Except maybe 15 yr olds) There are really too many friends to name, but I could go on and on. I will miss you all.

  • Pamela. God sent you out here to us. Having you so close warded off homesickness more than you know. And your sweet family brings me immense joy.
  • Yogurt Mill.
  • Dr. Friday and Marti - How will I ever find Chiropractors like them? Marti sent me a recipe in the mail for Eggplant Parmesan the other day, just because she thought I would like it! They are good people.
  • I will miss beating Taylor up at every camp.
  • Our time in Haiti with our Youth was immeasurable. I loved every second of it.
  • I will miss outreaches to Alpine. Parades, Flower hand outs and Halloween Festivals. Bethel loves the community of Alpine, and I love that about Bethel!
  • I'll miss the eccentric elderly people at our church. They were one of my favorite parts of the week!
I could write so much more. I've been very blessed!
Here is a video we made a couple of months ago in memory of our time as Pastors of The Chozen Student Ministry:

April 25, 2011

Widows & Orphans {Haiti 2011 Part 2}

"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27
-The Good Book         
Widows - Alone in this world, but highly favored by the King
During our very first day of ministry in Haiti, we walked around the streets ministering and inviting people to an Easter revival service. Part of our group ran into a widow named Annalise. She was very old and lived in a house that was partially torn down by the earthquake. She told them her story of how she slept on the street for the first few months after the quake. She had a self sustaining business before the earthquake, cooking fresh meals everyday and selling them to folks on the street, but now, she lacks the money to get started again. As they spoke to her, she told them about some cysts she had on her abdomen. They were noticibly large and painful so the crew gathered around her and prayed.
Then they went on with their walk.
That night as we gathered to talk about our day, Aaron (one of our students) and Sophia (our AIM Project Leader) both shared a burden to return to pray for her again. So the next morning as we headed to a tent city, we stopped by her home to pray with her. We talked to her for a few moments, and then we shared our burden to pray. As Sophia placed her hand on Annalise's abdomen, an astonished look came over Sophia's face...the cysts were completely gone! Sophia ran her hand all over this woman's stomach area and the cysts that she felt so clearly just one day earlier had completely vanished! It was a true miracle! Annalise smiled and said, "God has been working on me!" We made several other visits to Annalise as the week went on and at the end of the week, Sophia went and bought a large amount of rice, beans, and oil. Enough for her to begin her business again. God used us once again to care for those he loves. What an honor.

Orphans - Children of the Most High
On Wednesday afternoon, we spent the afternoon ministering at an orphanage. We acted out a Bible story, we sang songs with them, and played organized games. And then things got personal. This orphanage was the home to 20 girls. There used to be 60, but there former orphanage was completely destroyed by the earthquake. (Obviously, this earthquake affected everyone in this city) The place they were living in now, wasn't very safe either. We asked the girls to give us a tour of their home and the director of the orphanage took us from room to room. It was devastating. The girls slept in 3 rooms, but only 2 rooms had beds, the other one had only a stack of pillows in the corner. Their play area outside was stacked with rubble and half fallen walls.
After our tour, we went outside and sat together playing games and talking through our gracious interpretors. One little girl, Nunez, walked hand in hand with me through our tour and when I sat down, she crawled right into my lap. We sat quietly for a long time as I stroked her back. Soon, I looked down and she was asleep on my chest. It was one of the sweetest and most humbling moments of my life. I didn't have the power to take sweet Nunez out of her situation. I couldn't rescue her. But I could be the hands and the touch of Jesus for a short moment in her life.
The orphanage director told us a story about Nunez. He said that after her mother died, her father felt incapable of taking care of her. He planned to kill her, but he told an friend and the friend begged him to take her to a pastor. He decided that he would let his friend have her, and the friend delivered her safely to the pastor/orphanage director. Her life was saved.
All of the girls:
Some living conditions:

Part of our team plans to go back to the orphanage to help rebuild. We were also fortunate enough to leave several sleeping mats, sleeping bags, water bottles, towels and pillows at the orphange for the children. They should all have something to sleep on now! Thank you Chaffees for making that possible.

So Far Away, So Close to Home {Haiti 2011 Part 1}

"On the street I saw a small girl cold and shivering In a thin dress, with little hope of a decent meal.
I became angry and said to God: 'why did you permit this? Why dont you do something about it?'
For awhile God said nothing. That night he replied, quite suddenly: 'i certainly did something about it.
I made you.'" -unknown author
I returned from Haiti a few days ago, it was Adam and my's 2nd trip to the country. We went last year, only months after the 7.2 earthquake rattled the devestated country and as we left there, we felt compelled to return. So we did. And this time, we took 5 of our students and 2 of our youth leaders along for an amazing ride. During our week in Haiti, we went to 2 church services, we put on a VBS, we worked at an orphanage, we climbed 2 mountains to pray over Pastors homes, we worked in a tent city, we helped build a temorary shelter for a family, and we ministered on the streets of Carrefour - all for the glory of God..
Rebuilding their City
Adam and I were amazed at the progress of Port-Au-Prince and Carrefour. The people of Haiti have been working very hard to clean up the rubble that ran rampant last April, and rebuild their homes and business'. They have a long road ahead of them, there is still a lot of destruction and too many people still live in tent cities, but there is hope.
One day when we were walking through a community in Carrefour, we stopped near a home where a few people knew partial English. They invited us into their "broken" home and my heart was moved as we saw the cracks in the walls and the rubble at our feet.
They had been living in a tent in their courtyard for a year + 4 months, but that same day a temporary shelter had been delivered to them from a ministry in the USA. Praise the Lord! A couple of our students asked if they could stay and help build - how could we say no to that?! So 3 students and I stayed to help them build, while the rest of the team went on to a tent city to minister. It was a wonderful few hours with the family, a true appointment from Heaven. The following are a few photos from the build:

And the final product:

That day, we were as blessed by them as they were by us. And they sent us home with some delicious Mangos.