Monthly Archives: July 2013

Chronicles of Houston – Day 1

Pretrip

When I look back on my time on earth may it not show pursuits full of selfish waste and idle indulgence, rather with stories being faithful and available for God. I always knew that missions should be a compelling priority as a believer and had good and not so good experiences serving in Arizona, Tijuana, and East Asia. Last year I sought an opportunity by asking churches what they had available. The issue was, I only had 5 days allotted off and many of the ones I found were too expensive.
Behold the power of Google. I found Global Frontier Missions which asked to choose a week and submitted an application last year. However, there was limited space and I didn’t apply early enough to join last summer, so I waited and felt a little dejected. However, I’m sure the timing worked out as it did. I read through the information packet and move through my checklist:

– Write and pass out support letter
– Purchase plane ticket.
– Get time off work

Goals: share Christ, make new friend(s), visit Museum of Fine Arts, try Bluebell ice cream

I told my coworkers that I was going to Texas for the first time. Not all have heard the term “missions”. It is a unique way to spend a vacation I suppose. I mean I’m going by myself, don’t know anyone there, and really it’s not the most ideal place to visit. And it may be a risk to go along with a program I randomly found, that’s definitely where faith comes in. There were no negative presentiments when communicating with the coordinator in any case and the application process was well organized. I was humbled by the support given by my friends and prayed with them in the days leading up to the trip.

The day arrives:

630am waking up in the morning gotta look fresh gotta hop on the plane.

I feel unprepared
I fear that nothing will happen
I fear that I’ll fail in some way
I fear my bad side will come out

I cannot.
But God can.
Genesis 41:16

So no, wasn’t feeling too keen on leaving paradise…but I remind myself it’s not for my sake and it’s best to deny oneself and overcome by moving forward.

This would be the first time going on a layover flight. Two for the price of one! So that’s what that feels like. No way I’m dealing with baggage claim and I don’t do well with extra fees. Carry on/ carry on~

ONT > Dallas Fort Worth > Hobby Airport in Houston

I arrived to Dallas Fort Worth airport and reset my Kindle Fire to central time. I saw this when I landed…

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Dunkin’ donuts! When you come to Cali huuuuuuh?!

Why flying is addicting
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I am above you all (y’all) with wings of anticipation suspended on hopes and dreams (don’t think about Titanic or Lost or Flight)

I arrived late in the afternoon to Hobby Airport and was picked up by the coordinator R where we met with the interns and the church group of 7 from CBC Dallas Fort Worth and a local man who drove down. We just missed introductions and orientation was under way. They explained about the first step when meeting with refugees which is clearing stones (misconceptions) with other cultures. After that one goes on to sowing, watering, harvesting, and discipleship which will result in leadership development. And more guidelines such as our position as learners alongside the lost rather than people who try to shake others’ religious foundations which would cause them to hold fast in defense. Our role is to build bridges and not to treat an unbeliever like a project since a relationship should be developed first. There are also invisible cues where it’s not ideal to approach the opposite gender and to eat what is offered to you. And we singles are to refrain from romantic conduct amongst our group or the refugees which could get us sidetracked and mess up our witness. Just as well since my heart is somewhere in South England anyway.

And then we had dinner. They knew about my gluten and lactose intolerance and got me a Domino’s gluten free crust with no cheese. Aw.

We were shown a movie depicting a group of boys who made a perilous journey from Sudan and made it to refugee camps. I feel like my life’s struggles do not compare when seeing the suffering children burying their peers along the way. The refugee camps are considered a sanctuary but do not provide much food or occupation and to me it seemed like a prison where there was little hope of change. This happens to many countries due to violence or political conflicts. Some of them are chosen by our government to relocate to the United States where they have the debt of transportation fees and required to pay it back after a period of 3 months in addition to their housing. Any education or career from their country is void here and they are cut off from their familiar community but still feel pressure to support their family back home and want to do everything they can to bring them here too. I can’t imagine the displacement and isolation which I’m sure was and is still the reality for many immigrants including my parents and a lot of adults in my life. On a lighter note, it was funny to see their curiousity over the concept of light switches and eating straight from the mayonnaise packet. Also, cream of Ritz cracker soup doesn’t seem half bad.

Then we got into groups for the game/ activity where we choose 1 person out of over a dozen individuals of various nationalities, religions, age, and dependents to live in our country. It could be complicated when considering this is only a surface glimpse of the process that actually happens.

I got a ride in a van with the interns to where we would be staying for the week. For some reason they thought I was from Canada, which, not having it, I quickly cleared up. I found that the interns were from various states and they all found the program through Google as well. Boss.

Side note: They have wifi in the apartment complex. I purposefully fasted from internet for the week since it would 1) distract my focus 2) simulate a real missions trip and 3) don’t see its function. NBD!

A group of us went to Sonic for their half price shakes and there was an ongoing peanut butter shortage. It put a damper on things and I remembered when I went to Sonic a week ago and they ran out of pineapple haha. FWP much?

Night y’all.

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Day 2 – The Lord’s Day

I had a room to myself. I guess someone told them who I was. A Cali princess, haha, half joking. Since I was serious about packing light I only had a thin blanket with me which was sufficient. They provided foldable cots to sleep on though I chose to take the floor like I do at home. I left my shampoo and contact solution to avoid dealing with airport security so the girls from CBC kindly shared their supply because there was no chance to buy some. Living with this community reminds me of the time I spent a year in a house with 8 Biola girls, barely a moment to myself. We worshipped with songs that were familiar back home (How He Loves Us, How Great is Our God, From the Inside Out, Cannons, etc.)

Then we took a side trip to India!
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It was a beautiful and cloudy morning – visually. I liked how it sprinkled for a few minutes and the temperature didn’t even let up. This was my first time going to a Hindu temple which I learned is open daily. A guide explained their many gods carved into hand sculpted marble. Incredibly detailed, it reminded me of the Roccoco style in Europe. They described the significance of their decorations, such as the lovely lotus which grows out of the mud which is an example for humanity to imitate despite circumstances. A Hindu’s goal is to reincarnate to a better station and eventually elevate themselves to god status. Also key is to stop desiring earthly things which would tie oneself to earth instead of promoting into a being of authority over a particular universe. The gold U-shaped and red mark on their foreheads symbolize a god’s heel and a heart of pure blood which sets followers apart as children of their god. The string bracelets bring protection based on a story where a hero could not be killed while it was unbroken. I got very mixed up about their various gods and beliefs so I would not recommend assuming that this is all fully accurate. There was a general store selling dried vegetarian goods and books. We walked through a museum glorifying India and its historical contributions to the world.

Side note: I was literally falling asleep the whole day. If the enemy uses drowsiness then consider me the unvigilant watchman. I had to keep pinching my arm in order to pay attention. It also helped when the guide said they believe that during Jesus’ adolescence he went to India. That brought flash of anger which I mentally subdued and did not express.

Then from India why not stop by Turkey? To the Muslim cultural center, away!
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Yet another first. A priest took us around the first floor with their banquet rooms, café, and their mosque where they worship. At the mosque we entered after taking off our shoes where the guide related general sentiments fostered by the media. We may make the assumption their country is one of complete civil unrest and chaos when we hear some radicals set a building on fire or extremists blow themselves up. On their side they may view Americans as anti Middle East due a news story showing citizens burning copies of the Quran. There is misunderstanding on both sides which can be cleared up with dialogue.

Our guide has read the entire Bible (OT and NT) and is studying Catholicism closely. He was very agreeable and welcoming as he encouraged questions regarding Muslim faith. He made sure to communicate that he does not mean to offend us as Christians while presenting his answers such as his personal views. He does not find the writings of Paul validly connected to Christ and does not believe in humanity’s inherited sin. Apparently Jesus Christ was a prophet like the other great ones such as Adam, Abraham, Noah, and Moses. Muhammad to them was the last and greatest who wrote inspired words from Allah. I made a mental note to read the Quran when I returned home.

After the tour we went to the cafe where they served us all Turkish red tea with pretzel sticks and chocolate moon pies. I liked the tea, it brought to mind what they serve in Chinese restaurants and remembrance of things past. I was never interested in visiting the Turkey but would now consider it, especially being exposed to their hospitality which is rare and becoming nonexistent in the States.

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Loving you is red (tea). Another!

We went back in the 15 seat unmarked white van while quoting Napolean Dynamite. I believe this was a turning point in bonding with the team. (Do the chickens have large talons?). That’s where I found out J was Pedro word for word. Also, no one can touch B’s Dark Knight or Bane voice.

Upon our return we met and discussed what we learned. A member of our group, I will refer to as PJ, said he was affirmed in his beliefs. I felt my eyes were opened to how closed off, ignorant, apathetic, and resistant I have been in my views of other cultures. It was a necessary first step in growing and overcoming fears and prejudices I did not realize I had.

Our teaching that night was an overview of the story of the Bible. We read through many verses out of the hundreds in the Old Testament that showed what may be missing in our idea of God’s plan. For example:

Psalm 67:1&2

We are blessed

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us

In order to bless others

so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.

Let us not merely enjoy the privileges of the former while dismissing the need for the latter.

If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a heavenly king be considered a sacrifice? David Livingston

God had to scatter people during the construction of Babel and during the persecution when Stephen was martyred. Now God brought people from all over the world to the United States and continues to dropping opportunities in front of us when we did not go out into the world. We have to be involved. Partial obedience to one’s authority, be it from the government, boss, or parent, has consequences.

Gluten free corn spaghetti!
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Let’s go to Sonic, said some people later that night. Nope. Not falling for that one again. Gonna hit the old dusty trail.


Day 3 – Things I Never Knew I Never Knew

Some of you may be familiar with the 10/40 latitude window for the unreached:
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A people group is one with their own language, religion, caste, and nationality where the Gospel can be shared with minimal barriers. This is from the website: http://www.joshuaproject.net/
We gathered in the community center and learned about the Najdi Bedouin in Iraq. We prayed they would have workers to provide a translated Bible and that the lost will be given dreams and visions about the one true God. Who knows, maybe some of us will be led there one day.

Our teaching revealed the disproportionate amount that is given for support to missionaries and used 3 jars, sand, and Swedish fishionaries as visuals. The breakdown went like this:
Average American churchgoer’s annual income total
> Tithe amount given (stop, I’m convicted already!)
> Missions allotment
> Distribution between A, B, or C categories

C received a massive amount of sand.
B a decent portion.
A had minimal people and sparse funding.

C = countries considered Christian, like ours
B = evangelized locations
A = the unreached people group

It seems unsettling that only a small fraction of missionaries and funding go towards those who need but have not heard Jesus Christ’s name. This is a picture of an overwhelming, seemingly impossible challenge. Many are dying and the workers are few. We are not to have others come to our church and hear. Rather, we are to go out and tell them the gospel.

It was pouring rain for a few hours. I thought it automatically meant we were in for a hurricane which is not the most encouraging thing to voice out loud. They reassured me people were warned ahead of time and someone would have noticed from their smart phone news or whatever. Oh, ok…Is it obvious I’m new around here?

We could choose each day from the following:

– Prayer walk
– ESL
– Kids Club

Since I was considering serving in children’s ministry at my home church I chose Kids Club at the elementary school level. We prayed and sat with a group of kids from mixed nationalities. I was with two interns who always began with stories featuring:

– lost coins, lost sheep, a lost son
– an army that tried to starve out and conquer Jerusalem but disappeared
– a showdown (with fire!) featuring God’s prophet against 400 idolaters
– a king settling a dispute over an infant’s custody

Then we would spend time outside playing tag and drawing before snack time.
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A theology where the owner feeds you, bathes you, and pets you. Who is God?
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Cat: I am

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Dog: You are

That evening we had ESL for women who flooded the living room along with volunteers teaching with Oxford Picture Dictionaries. One of the interns served Turkish tea with milk tea and said they learned in Africa how to make it. I met and taught a girl was there with her mother and said she lived here for a month. She expressed that when she first arrived she felt so lost and isolated. Now her heart is glad to see such a meet in community as this. It was a beautiful scene of women with different stories and uncertain situations meeting to improve their understanding. We don’t notice how much we are accustomed to our settings until we encounter someone who focuses with all their might to pick up terms like “he” or “wearing” or “microwave”. They are so eager for basic education and it is a surprisingly simple thing we can give them. I was struck that anyone who went through 1 or 2 years of grade school without any talent for teaching can be used to share information those who are thirsty for companionship with a local and ready to learn. When they leave it is customary to hug and give kisses on the cheek. I have to say this was one of the highlights of my trip.

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Day 4 – Quality Time in China China Chinatown

This morning we prayed for the Somali people and had Bible study where we discussed Colossians 1:13.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

God initiated in love. We can see His compassion that lifts us up and guides us to His presence.

Then playing with the kids. They are really into the air hockey machine. For some reason they keep identifying me as Hispanic. Que sera sera.

Free fact: “The Houston region is now the most ethnically diverse large metropolitan area in the country, surpassing New York City.” http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Houston-region-is-now-the-most-diverse-in-the-U-S-3384174.php

As a breather that evening we ventured to Bellaire where they said Chinatown was located. Most of the team had no experience with an Asian dominated area but I felt like it would be a reversal of our situations since I stick out in their group.

We got to a plaza consisting of few dozens stores. I tried not to expect too much beforehand but was somewhat underwhelmed being familiar with grander areas in LA (I know, I’m so la di da). We were to split into 2 groups and given a scavenger hunt list of locations to find and tasks to accomplish. It wasn’t competitive and we ended up just roaming around together which must have been quite an unusual sight in the area.

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One task involved ordering tapioca. It was the team’s first time trying it. Thousandth time for me. They said they wouldn’t order it again, and I don’t blame them. It’s not like they can find it easily anyway so just as well.
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It was hilarious in the supermarket. They were like kids discovering an exotic play store.
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A last thing of note was while we were sitting with our smoothies there was a tv playing a reality show with contestants competing to be selected as models. Sorry to say that’s what other countries expect when meeting an American. They might think, aren’t they all individualistic, shallow, promiscuous, gorgeous, entitled, idiotic, profanitizing, immature, alcohol-loving, arrogant, beings in an I-me-mine culture caught up in stuff and status? Basically we’re labeled as hedonists. That may be the case for the majority, true, I have little defense in general. But still, we’ve got a lot of stone clearing to do.


Day 5 – Warning: May Be Offensive to Believers

I dreamt I was on an island with an active volcano about to destroy the nearby inhabited city. My friend and I were climbing to the top where we can be taken to a safe place but the people below were purposely unresponsive to the danger. I think Star Trek Into Darkness got into my head a little.

The dream reminded me of Hurricane Sandy hitting New York and New Jersey last year. Not all heeded the disaster warnings and failed to leave their homes. And so their lives ended. Just like the world is warned of impending judgment and death but do not heed the words of wisdom from Jesus in Matthew 12:

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

On that high note I made my way to our common room to meet the team for breakfast, prayer for the Azeri. Afterwards we were treated to an exceptional sermon by David Platt.

http://www.radical.net/media/series/view/140/a-misson-only-the-church-can-stop?filter=series

In Acts 21 Paul was told by 2 churches not to go to Jerusalem because they feared for his safety. The question was: Is it possible to be completely obedient and have the church try to stop you?

God is active in missions but opposed by the church throughout history. A preacher was told not to go overseas where his gifts of teaching and preaching would be wasted. He responded he does not know why he should stay at home while the people perish. They need a chance to hear. So he left and was killed leaving behind his wife and daughter. Other missionaries would go and suffer disease, lose their spouses, and were rejected when they plead with their church to join their effort.

Was it worth it? The influence of Paul, David Livingston, Jim Elliot, Adoniram Judson, C.T. Studd is undeniable. They knew earning approval from the deaf and blind people in Christian society was useless in eternity. Instead they saught reward from God instead and did not look back. They understand that in being free we own Christ and owe Christ to the least, greatest, poor, rich, the best, and the worst.

I want to God to use me for something like that! I am encouraged by my brothers and sisters who take responsibility participating in missions, the mark of a Christian who is awake and alert. I would not want to stand against the church but there is a real lack of holiness if all you have is just talk with “dainty words” failing to carry out the central command. The ones who attend services, retreats, and tithe are still missing out on God’s plan while enjoying self centered Christianity.

Another point made was that the church may only take the position of sender giving support in monetary form to organizations to relieve the problems of the world. Is that a way to bring peace and security? It is surely a vital part but may be considered shallow compared to what God gave. It was not cash or credit or gold. He sent Himself.

But first let me…
Bury my father.
Finish my education.
Save up money.
Pay off my debts.
Raise my children.

These are not bad things, but it comes down to how big your God is, said S, one of the interns. Family and safety are important but not the most important and cannot be put before Christ. You can say you and your kids are not as safe in Iraq but that implies you know best while in control of your situation. It may be that we need faith in God’s sovereignty and can take care of your kids there just as well as here. That really flies in the face of logic and conventional responsibility in order to to risk it all.

I remember attending a church service in LA last year and was cut to the heart hearing a passionate testimony. A doctor on the fast track to becoming a partner on the edge of qualifying for hospital pension decides to move to Africa with his family for 5 years to serve to meet the country’s medical needs. A Christian would say that is extreme. From a worldly perspective it is unbelievable nonsense (how does this fall in line with the American dream?). He said wants to give his best years and talent now. All the brilliant doctors of the world are coming to the USA leaving many urgently needy countries deprived because they cannot lure them with the same benefits, environment, or recognition. Third world countries are left bereft of progress and healing but thankfully there are those with their talents to help instead of the easy practical route. Whether immersed in a career and role as a parent, this man is using his station in life to follow Jesus’ example.

I’m not called to go.

What a radically unbiblical statement.
You are not called to go.
You are commanded.

On to Kids Club. They are so affectionate. God loves like a hurricane and I am a tree but that doesn’t mean you should climb on me.

We invited the women in the neighborhood over for henna night. I had a Hindu friend in middle school who had her hands covered with ink designs and thought they were messy and unattractive. Women in the Middle East usually have henna on their hands and arms done before a wedding. Men would sometimes have the decorations on their pinky. I guess I’ve never been much for body art since I recoiled a bit seeing them on the interns. They said they fade in a week or two which got me used to the idea conceptually. I declined a few times at first but after being egged on by Nana and thinking that I might miss out on an experience that would invite conversation I gave in since it would show solidarity anyway. As long as it was Biblical.

Look mom, we got tattoos!

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Once you have the ink piped on you are supposed to sit and wait 2 hours to let the ink set in. But I was impatient and washed my hands in 20 minutes. It was faint at first but darkened on its own overnight. How eerie.

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http://hennastories.org/2011/01/joseph-in-egypt/

I chose the story of Joseph, one of my favorites. Here was a man
betrayed and forced to adapt in a country as a nobody with nothing. He chose to persist and his commendable character was recognized all the way up to the pharaoh’s level despite being an unknown foreigner. Not only that but he saved a nation after taking a hit for righteously resisting a cougar and never lost his deep love for his family. It is beyond me how he tested his brothers and forgave them. A remarkable man of God who faced intense storms and displayed competence and divine compassion when he had every reason to quit hoping. I still don’t understand the symbolism of the fire to represent him but it is an honor to have the dreamer’s tale stamped on as a reminder.


Day 6 – An Unexpected Ceremony

Last official day of GFM program.

We piled into the van and parked precariously in an apartment complex that houses Butanese refugees. A elderly Caucasian woman I will call M dedicated her life to providing supplies to people who cannot afford basic products and may have to do without diapers, brushes, or soap. We organized the donated items and handed them out to people who came by to receive them.

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M said she wanted to prevent ridicule that children may face in school should they forego hygiene. Grants have been offered to her and are refused since they specify that she not talk about God (what a great country we live in) so her ministry runs on faith based donations. She described going to Vietnam humbled and brought down to a child’s level having to learn how to say directions and adjust so she can understand the trials a foreigner has here in our country. M said that God is with you as long as you show up to meet a need and serve. The president of the apartment complex who is Hindu recognized she is helping and rents her room for free. She said she has to explain the concept of stealing to the immigrants who are unused to asking but take whatever they like from their neighbors. They were not taught to think for themselves and would not show up if the boss was gone or just take time off for a few weeks which does not fly here. They have to understand in our culture time is money and there are expectations that need to be met. PJ said later that although she may be obscure and the least noticed in life, in the kingdom M will be first.

Back in the common room we recapped our experiences and lessons over the past few days with a time of prayer and reading from Luke. We were grateful that God opened the hearts of strangers letting them into their homes and pray with them. It is a miracle in a sense that we were trusted with so many of their kids as well. It’s moving but saddening that they remember us easily after only a few meetings. I laughed when PJ said that’s like moving to Baghdad and Muslims knock on your door to have you send your kids to play games and be taught about God. Personally, I’d say ain’t gonna happen!

I feel the fire I lost for life in Christ. There are countless newbies to our culture desperate for a kind word and a smile. I have it made with my supportive community, English skills to my advantage, and not a lot of burdens such as children or a traumatizing unstable or dangerous past. Though I would not want to stay and longed for the comforts of home, there are bonds that pull me here too. My background seems so bland and tame when I could be reaching my potential where needs can been be seen and met. Even though we may not be necessarily zealous all the time and confident every day to share the Gospel every one of us can be used to truly live for Him. The CBC team said there is a lot of data they learned that they want to communicate to their church on Sunday. We realize that here on this side of the journey we may have increased in awareness and knowledge but it is unprofitable to be puffed up and possibly make enemies instead of building bridges. Let’s not become one of those missionary psychos, but instead be gentle and meek like Jesus took people alongside Him.

Hours later…

Did we just sit and break bread discussing theology with a group of Muslims in their mosque during their religious observance? Oh yes we did!

We dressed up and went back to the Turkish center banquet room being invited to Iftar (breaking fast during Ramadan). A presentation was given about Ramadan from one of the hosts. He explained it is not a time of suffering but dedication. They are to be cleansed from bad habits and use their time bonding with their family. I think it all sounds like a good thing but seeing quotes from Muhammad made me a little edgy.

Then a Christian pastor (not from our team) was welcomed up and was given time to speak about our perspective of fasting. I did not see this coming whatsoever. He said fasting may not necessarily be from food and it may take place during the time of Lent or otherwise determined personally. He shared how Jesus miraculously survived 40 days and 40 night without food or water. Later Jesus would instruct his followers not to be obvious about fasting but to do it in secret so as not to receive notice or empty praise from men.

We then lined up at a buffet station to fill our plates with braised beef, rice pilaf, and cream of mushroom soup with dinner rolls. Oh and there may have been a salad that I waved over. Plus soda! Dessert was baklava and Turkish delight. It was fulfilling on so many levels. We sat with a few Muslim locals and it felt like the walls came down to discuss spiritual matters and history. I imagined what it would be like to invite Muslim or Hindu groups to church during baptism or to observe communion. It all starts with the food.

How regretful that it is winding down. Even though I had no clue what every day would look like I feel immensely privileged to participate with Global Frontier Missions. It brought out a good version of myself and I am grateful for this chance to work with the team and meet everyone.

Note to self: Stop making fun of R, the Canadian missions leader, but it’s so difficult because I tend to tease people I’m comfortable with, plus Canadians can be so charming, like unicorns. I was being a bad representative of Cali and influencing others with my example. I think he understands me and forgives me though. R makes a lot of Simpson’s references and always good natured even while going through a tough time finding a place to move. He shared that God led him to a house that was for rent and was able to talk to the owner about possibly selling it. I texted my friends that night to pray that God would provide that house for his family to move in. Basically they are moving from one country to another and all their belongings are in storage at this point. God answered the prayer the next day! It seems last minute, but so right that R was provided a highly cutthroat market. He and his family is moving in August to a house that was never listed, hooray!


Day 7 – Bluebell and Steak

It’s Friday Friday gotta get down today – yeah!

In anticipation of the free day I researched any available art museums. Turns out there are quite a few to choose from in Houston although transportation was going to be an issue. I asked the team from CBC while they were making a list of possible spots if we could go to the Museum District. They shot it down. Stars and stones they preferred spending their day in, of all places, the mall. Whhhhy. I admit I got bent out of shape about it. Then after contemplation I figured it’s better not to hold onto my indignant mood but be grateful since they were kind to invite me. They all fit in a Yukon but letting me tag along meant they would have to take the larger van. The interns were free to rest since the next day they were to begin the program for another group.

We went to Droubi’s for a shawarma lunch. I did not eat one, this belonged to G and I just had a lamb plate with pita on the side.
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Something I haven’t seen before or tried:
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From there we drove to the Memorial City mall which I guess counts as kind of a museum.
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Bluebell strawberry ice cream at last. I would maybe equate it with Rite Aid. It was not as creamy or flavorful as I hoped it would be, but not bad.

We then proceeded to the ice rink for some more exercise. If standing around in a circle counts as skating
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The only place we stopped in was James Avery, a Christian jewelry store, to windowshop.
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After a fearsome debate we settled on Monsters University which was less annoying than the first one.

Wassup CS?!
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For dinner I requested not to go to Chili’s or CPK but something more Texas-y. Thankfully they complied and we ate at Texas Roadhouse which is actually like the Lonestar restaurant we have here featuring a staff that line dances occassionally.
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They serve each table peanuts in mini buckets. You were supposed to take the shells and toss them on the ground. How rude. That’s not something I can get used to in the space of a day.

I ordered the salad. NOT.
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I owned that 10oz ribeye. What you see on the side is a baked potato. Correction: a baked sweet potato with caramel and marshmallows! Oh bliss. This was also the first time I had fried pickles. It was unpleasant, like chewing seaweed. Besides that, it was a satisfying meal and lovely conclusion to our day.

Did I mention how welcome I felt with CBC? Between this church group and the GFM interns we shot the breeze about topics such as:

– Movies
– Dystopian novels
– Missionary dating
– Abortion
– Long sermons
– Women pastors
– Smuggling goods between Canada and US
– Letting kids cry or give in
– Batman shirts
– Italian cream cake and buttermilk pie
– You won’t

Were there awkward/ silly/ nonsensical/ shy/ disturbing/ annoying moments? Mmmm. Of course. But they are a dear group and we got along well. We shared about our past church years through thick and thin and how there are good results to the believers who chose truth in love.  Last year half of them went to the GFM program in Atlanta which is supposed to be similar. They said the heat was worse and accommodations more rural. I stuck with Nana for most of the time who confided that when she began her walk she would tell God not to be sent to Africa. She went with a church group last year willingly and had a good report. I appreciated her presence and support throughout the week. It may be goodbye forever to the team and interns…nah, we’ll meet here there or in the air.