I decided to actually write a letter this year...so I am going to write it on here. For whatever reason I do not feel compelled to send any cards or letters out this season but I do want to connect with friends and family in some way...so I guess this is where it will happen.
2009 has definitely left a mark on my life. I would say this has been one of the hardest years that I have experienced. I don't know if it is because I turned 33(which some people have said was a hard year for them as well - possibly because it's the year Jesus was crucified?) or just because sometimes life is hard. When I say hard - I don't mean that hard is always bad. Just hard.
I am still serving at the Director of Youth Ministries at FUMC in downtown Pensacola, FL. I have been here for 5 years and still absolutely love what I do. I get to walk with 7th-12th grade students as they figure out what they believe and who they are in the Body of Christ. I also get to pray, cry, laugh, serve, ask questions, travel, explore, hike on the A.T. every summer, sing, get messy, tell stories and so much more with all of them. It is truly an honor when I see each one of them really work hard to hear God's voice and respond in their own unique way.
In April, I had the opportunity to take 7 students along with two dad's (supposed to be three dad's but one wasn't able to go at the last minute) to Ihiala, Nigeria to help dig a clean water well in a village that didn't have access to clean water. After 6 months of raising money and awareness - we boarded a plane that took us to Nigeria. It was an honor to watch the students from my church adapt to the heat, the attention, and the overwhelming need that surrounded us every where we went that week. They played with children in the village and at an orphanage. We were invited to lead songs for 4 hour long worship services. We attempted to help with the well. But most of the time...we waited and shared and talked and watched and prayed and learned and laughed...and cried. I don't know if any of us will ever experience the kind of attention that we received that week and I know that none of us left that country the same. It is an amazing and frustrating experience to know that there isn't much we can do for the people in that area...but we offered our time and our lives. Here is a link to a video that one of the students created when we got back.
I also was given permission to take a month off to hike this year. So on October 3rd - I flew to Sydney, AUS with one of my dear friends and explored the eastern coast of Australia for two weeks with her and then hiked around different parts of New Zealand by myself. It was one of the most incredible experiences I have had in my life - the people that I met were amazing AND I got to hike across glaciers and volcanoes and near fjords. Seriously. It was incredible.
But the best part of the trip - was the time I had to be still. I am learning that I need to give myself time to be still so that I can hear God voice through all of the chaos that echoes around me most days. My favorite day was in New Zealand - I was sitting on the side of the road looking at beautiful NZ scenery and listening to a Derek Webb album. I cried. I prayed. I wrote. I listened. I was able to just feel like I wasn't alone and that I was particularly loved. At this point - all I know is that I long to be a willing participant in the story that God continues to tell through my life.
I get to see some of you every week. I miss many of you. But no matter what I am thankful because each one of you is in my life.
Blessings and prayers to all of you as we enter into 2010 together!