God at Work Blog

Ariana: Before & After Poland

I had a revelation yesterday as our plane flew into Chicago. ‘Shepherd’ by Amanda Cook started playing on my iPod and I was looking down over Lake Michigan meeting the enormous, glistening skyscrapers and I had a thought that took my breath away.

“God wants me.”

I started to feel this overpowering feeling of joy and I could not wipe the smile off my face even though I really tried, because people were starting to stare. God wants me. He chose me. He has planned something spectacular for my life. Do you know what the best part is? I have NO IDEA what it is! I am totally and completely clueless as to what God has in store for me and I could not be happier about it. I decided right then, sitting in seat 28C that I would live everyday seeking the Lord. Calling for Him and listening for Him, not the world.

I keep trying to plan out my life. Trying to shove it into a mold that just doesn’t seem to fit. Convincing myself that I should have accomplished certain things or have had certain milestones in life and then beating myself up over not being “normal”. I’m not normal. I’m not conventional. I’m exactly how God created me, beautifully and in His image. That’s good enough for me.

I think as of now my life has two parts: before and after Poland. Before Poland I was trying to set up all these different paths that I could see my life going, so by the time I got back I could just kind of settle into one and go from there. God had set up another path. The one where I walk alongside Him. I think I prefer that one. My plan as of now is not having one. I have goals and ambitions, but I’m done making “plans”. Poland wrecked me in the best way possible. God changed my heart there, even leaving a piece of it behind, which is why I must go back.

I’m finally open to life. I’m open to change. Believe me, this is a first for me and a very big deal! I want to be used by God, fully and completely. Maybe that’s here in Chicagoland, maybe in Poland, maybe even somewhere completely new. Maybe it’s through missions, or maybe it’s through counseling or teaching. I have no idea, but God is my shepherd and “You make my footsteps and my path secure. So walking on water is just the beginning. Cause my faith to arise, stand at attention. For You are calling me to greater things.”

See Ariana's blog post here

Sandy: Uganda

God had great things in store for us on our trip to Uganda, but then doesn’t He always! The schedule was packed before we left and we even added some things along the way!  For Julia and I, who had been there in 2013, our return trip was filled with joy as we met up with old friends, enjoyed fellowship, and thoroughly enjoyed the truly organic, delicious meals we remembered with them! Three years ago the children were so much smaller!! But now they have grown, are thriving, always happy, it seems.

We visited five care points teaching and loving kids of all ages!  For older high school and ABIDE students we taught out of Ephesians 6:10-17 the Armor of God, used visual aids by making a poster, which for the language-accent issues, was very helpful.  For middle school age we taught out of Acts 2:1-13 and Galatians 5:22-26 about the Holy Spirit and the fruit it bears in our lives.  To the youngest we taught F.R.O.G. (fully rely on God) and used the story of Moses/plague of frogs and how he fully relied on God to get his people out of Egypt.  We find the children ready and anxious-to-learn, especially the older ones.  The younger I’m sure picked up some of the teaching, but they often times are just so amazed that we are from America, our skin, our hair, etc., it is hard to keep them focused!!! Regardless, we saw happy, well-adjusted children throughout the care points and know that they have great hopes and expectations for their futures because the Lord loves and cares for them!  We prayed with staff, visited ten of our own sponsored children, and saw the new Heal Clinic and learned about their outreach ministry to a nearby needy village. 

Outside of the JAM ministry we visited and brought supplies to a refugee camp in Kisoro and we loved and served an orphanage in Kampala.  The refugee camp was a transitional camp where most refugees were there for only twoweeks.  Then they transport them to another refugee camp where they give them more supplies, and get this...land!  They can use for farming to get themselves started to survive on their own.  We prayed with the entire camp gathered and they were thankful, not all of them were Christians, but hopefully we planted some seeds by our prayers.  At the orphanage, children ranged from ages birth to age 9.  We loved and read to the children, did chores to give the staff a break, and brought clothes, and supplies.

It was hard for all of us to leave this country and its beautiful people.  There is such evidence of a reliance upon God that I think we miss in the U.S.  But now that we are home, we rely on our memories, our pictures, and the greatest bonding experience of a lifetime between our teammates to get us through until we return.  Praise the Lord… God bless Uganda!