Sunday, October 23, 2011

She will not fall...

So much for the regular updates, eh?
Life has changed a lot since I wrote my last blog.
I went to Orlando for 3 months, got a boyfriend, and now I have an almost full time office job back in Texas. It is incredible how quickly things change. I feel like my heart is in the process of catching up to my head and body. I am moving and doing and being active, and yet sometimes I feel like my heart is left behind, almost being dragged along by my impulsive nature.

I think I've been in a process of self-discovery. Which I guess you could say life itself is a time of self-discovery. At least for me--I process and analyze and try to figure out why I do the things I do. I try to put myself in a box so I can understand who I really am...and yet sometimes I just feel like I don't fit in a box. As soon as I put myself in a box, I'm scrambling to get out of it. I don't like narrowing down who I am and what I am about. Give me some generalities--and that's good enough for me.

Biggest thing I've had to walk through lately is coming to terms with my identity. Realizing that I need to just embrace being undefined...just to allow myself to BE and not attempt to preform to fit into other people's ideas of who or what I should become. I've wasted a lot of time and effort wanting to be the perfect friend, the perfect leader, the perfect Christian, and perfect daughter. I've wanted to be wanted and desired by everyone. I tried to be a chameleon and fit in with whoever I was with...and I've disappointed myself and others over and over. Turns out not everyone wants me to be the same person. Turns out I can't keep up the charade 24/7. And cramming myself into these boxes, just makes me feel claustrophobic...and I end up frantically trying to escape the box and I end up in a mess. Mistakes left and right. Questionable decisions causing me to constantly feel like I have to explain myself to everyone.

I went to YWAM for my School of Ministry Development, and realized that who I have become is someone wanting to make a change in the world, and yet struggling to get past these fears of rejection, Not wanting to be a disappointment, Hoping I get everyone's stamp of approval, and feeling lost when I don't have it. Now coming back home, I'm feeling lost...I'm feeling unsteady and yet I am holding onto the hope that I know Christ has given me. I am His and His alone. I belong to no one other than Him. I do not care what people throw at me. Sticks and stones, my friends. I have a Father who protects the ones he loves...and it turns out that He really loves me. And the opinions of others need not have a hold on me.

A few months ago, I had this moment with the Lord. One of my top encounters ever. I was outside of my house at YWAM on the phone with Corey...and I just got really emotional. I had to get off the phone and just spend time with the Lord right there on the drive way. I was just overwhelmed. We had a teacher come and he had briefly made a point...and it ended up sticking with me very deeply. He talked about reputation and character.

Reputation-- Who everyone says you are.
Character-- Who God knows you are when no ones looking.

I realized I had been living life attempting to be something great and I had put my reputation over my character. I wanted everyone to think I was something more than I really wanted to be it before God. I was brought to a place of deep deep heartfelt sorrow. I was just weeping. Literally on my knees just bawling...right on my driveway. I was saying "God I am so sorry. I am not a woman of noble character. I've valued the opinions of others more than I've valued yours. Please Please help me." I very clearly heard God speak a couple things to me in that moment.
1. He told me that I've asked him to help me do better and I've asked him to forgive me when I do wrong, but I've never asked him to change me. To make me totally new. ---I spent time then just asking God to change my heart.
2. I heard him say "A woman of noble character who can find? I have found you." I told him...No, no God...I'm not that woman. I want to be so desperately, but I am not who you think I am. Then he told me "Character is found on your knees. You are learning to submit to me. Humble yourself before me and I will lift you up. Character is not something you are born with, it is something you develop--you are in the developing process."

Can I tell you that it does something to you to hear God speak? To be at your lowest low and to hear God tell you that you are being made into something beautiful?
I'm still in this process. I am learning, ever so painfully, my need to submit to my Almighty God. Even writing this blog is stirring my heart to be in a reverent love and awe of my Creator. I don't need to look and be the same way I used to be. I don't need to fit into a mold...I can rest and be at peace knowing that my God loves me, and he is creating something new in my spirit. Ripping apart deep rooted bondage that's held my back for much of my teenage/adult life.

I am about living life to the full. I don't care to sit back and watch others live their lives, nor do I want to live the life others tell me to live! So I am standing confidently (though with fear and trepidation) saying that my life is about more than measuring up to a standard other than the one God has set before me, and I will not settle for life that is content just fitting in and getting by.

"Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth give way...
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day."
-Psalm 46

Friday, June 10, 2011

Its More than Just Salvation

Living the good life and staying away from the bad shouldn't be the driving force of your life. Life itself is a journey of ups and downs. There are times that circumstances take you to a negative place, where you are completely out of control. There are times that consequences of bad decisions take you to another negative place, and there are times that life just gets overwhelming. Sometimes there is no reason to back up the way you feel, but you just feel down. Or the same could be said the other way. Sometimes it just seems like the world is on your side, and everything goes right. You're having endless opportunity or that your hard work is paying off, or that you're getting by without facing immediate consequences to your bad decisions. Either way, there are times that life seems good, and times that it seems bad... but its really all a matter of perspective.
There is always good present. You can choose to disregard it, or ignore it, but good is always there. Sometimes its easy to take it upon yourself to be at a zen place in your life. Where the good and the bad somewhat cancel each other out, or when the good slightly overshadows the bad...but life isn't meant to be lived in a place with zero conflict.

Conflict happens. You can choose to avoid it, and stay stagnant, unchanged, unfulfilled, and somewhat emotionless, or you can take it as an opportunity to learn, grow, mature, and appreciate the moments where conflict is removed. I think I've gone through some seasons of my life where everything is so good...that any one bad thing just really throws me off. I get all bent out of shape when any type of conflict invades my little bubble. Someone wrongs you, or disagrees with you, or you can't afford to do all the things you want to do, and for me...its easy for me to get real down on myself because of those things.
But God has just been showing me that its not about living a life free from tension. LIFE is LIFE. And its not about me doing all the right things to stay a "zen" state of mind. I love this quote from Galatians 5 in the Message

"But what happens if we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way fruit appears in an orchard--things like affection for others, exuberance for life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."

I love it, because it puts plainly what a life lead by the Spirit will bring you in a very practical day to day sense. And note it says that HE brings these gifts. Serenity and excitement for life are gifts that God gives us. This passage just really says everything I want my life to be about. man...a willingness to stick with things? Can you imagine how different the world would be if everyone would just stick with their marriages? Honestly, a whole family bringing forth whole individuals. There would be a lot less pain in the world if people would choose to live the life God has for them. Its not all about rules...its about LOVE.

To fall in love with Jesus. I used to think I would never be at a place where I was truly dependent on God. I thought I would always have to strive to love him more. That I would never actually desire him and it would just always be a fight...or a burden. I don't know where the change took place...but it did. Apart from Jesus I am nothing. I don't know who I am, I don't know my purpose or my calling. If Jesus weren't a part of my life would be 100% different. I am serious. The friends I choose, the places I invest my time, my money, my attention. The qualities I look for in a future spouse, my aspirations for the next several years. The way I view myself...if I didn't know Jesus, none of that would be the same. I wouldn't be fulfilled. It just really burdens me for the people out there that don't know Jesus. Jesus CHANGED whatever my life could have been without him, to something incredible. Its not just about salvation in eternity...its about salvation in LIFE!

Life is so crazy...without the promise of God to bring peace and serenity...there is no peace. Wow, think about it? There is no PEACE outside of God. The world will offer things to escape, numb, or disguise pain in this life...but Jesus offers a way of life that bring peace into every situation.

I am just so thankful and blessed that Jesus is active in my life...its beyond he IN YOUR LIFE. Active...TODAY? If he's not...I would encourage you to never give up...and keep at it...because once you find something worth living and dying can't be content without it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Great Adventure.

I haven't written in about a month, and I don't know why. I think about writing a lot, but I sit down at my computer and I lack motivation or I lack one solid topic to talk on. Not that any of my ramblings have much consistent train of thought to them. I just wanted to share about what God is doing in my life.
I feel like I am getting caught up in a great adventure, a epic romantic novel full of life and love and excitement.

Coming home from DTS, I was expecting it to be a challenge, I knew I would go through some form of depression from missing all my YWAM friends, and that I would have to readjust to life back here, but I had no expectation that I would have such a time of refreshment and vision for my life and my future. I feel like I learned a lot about myself in my DTS. My character and convictions were tested on many levels. I wouldn't say I passed with flying colors, but I DO know that God has brought me to a new level with Him. I've come to recognize that He alone can sustain me. My efforts tend to fail me. But God showed me that He hasn't asked for my efforts--he asked for my heart. So simple and yet so complicated. But what a refreshing change of perspective it is. I don't walk around hoping that my actions and striving will get me anywhere. I don't hope that maybe if I'm good enough, and go long enough without sinning that God will give me a stronger revelation than he would if I just kept on with normal life. I've learned to stop striving. But in no way does that mean I have stopped my pursuit to live a holy life and to seek the face of God. But now when I seek God, I stand in awe and reverence of who He is, knowing that I am absolutely nothing, and he is everything. He has chosen me to live and enjoy life with a purpose, but my efforts aren't anything to him. What delights him, is when I give him praise and honor. So I choose to give him praise and honor by the way I worship Him and the way I live. Now I'm not perfect, but a moment doesn't go by where I'm trying to think of what I can get away with. I look at my life and my decisions and think "God, does this give you glory? What more can I do to show you I love you?"

I'm not trying to write this to make myself seem super spiritual, or that I have all the answers. But the transformation in my life astounds me. I cannot get over what God has done in my life. The way I view everything has changed. I am so much happier, so much more satisfied, and content, but hungry for more of God, now that I have stopped making it all about me. I look at my life, and I think "God, you're so real I cannot even contain it." So coming home, has been an unveiling process for me. God showing me all the work He did in my life during my DTS.

I am doing a School of Ministry Development (SOMD) starting on June 20th, back in Orlando. The whole process of me choosing whether to do SOMD in summer or fall was a much more complicated process than it would seem. But it just proves that God works all things together for good. (Praise the Lord) But after deciding to do Summer, God has confirmed over and over again exactly why that is.

Here is a little piece of my heart: I love youth, I love their fire, their zeal, their unrelenting enthusiasm and drive. I love their reckless and impulsive tendencies and the way they fight for what they want. I believe that youth have such explosive personalities, because God wants to focus their attention on the surrounding culture and make an IMPACT for Christ. I love missions. I love traveling the world and telling people who have never even heard that Jesus loved them that He exists and desires a relationship with them. I love evangelism and service and adventure. I believe youth and missions go side by side. Joining hands, you can see what an impact that combination would make. I believe that training and discipleship is key for youth to be ultimately effective. My heart is to see youth come to know Christ on a deep and intimate level themselves and in turn pour it out into this culture and the world around us to create more disciples. Its a cycle. Save the lost, disciple the saved, and send out disciples to save the lost. :]

Sounds a lot like YWAM...BUT I haven't really been totally sold on going on staff with least not right away. I feel like there is something more. Back home, the MVMNT is just ridiculous. I am seeing some of the most fired up youth I have ever been around. Our numbers grow each week, kids are getting healed, saved, and delivered. The anointing on this ministry is HUGE. God's hand is at work. So my heart starts beating fast and I can I get THESE youth in missions?

ENTER Jamie Bates. One of the most godly women I have ever met, who shares with me a vision for youth and missions. Kindred spirits for sure. A passing comment about eventually leading a mission trip together, and some serious prayer has birthed such vision in me and Jamie both. It was kind of life a huge door just opened and major arrows were pointing at the door saying DO THIS!!!!!!!!! <3 GOD!

So now....MVMNT Missions will be starting January following my SOMD which will be training me on how to be an effective minister, and how to develop my own personal ministry, which God has so kindly lined right up for me to come home to! MVMNT Students meeting once a week for 20 weeks being trained and discipled to be missionaries while doing local outreaches all along followed by a month long outreach to really live in a culture and make an impact. I don't want to get too specific right now, while we're still in the developing process, but God's hand is on this.

I'll be going away for 6months to be trained to be a better leader and more effective minister and I'll spend about 2 of those months overseas. Then I'll come home for the holidays, start school at the local college and work while training a group of students for 5months on how to be an effective missionary followed by a month overseas and who knows what else. The opportunities for expansion on this ministry is huge. I feel like our framework is SO solid, and God wants to expand it even larger than we could anticipate.

OH GOD, BROADEN MY PERSPECTIVE SO I CAN CAPACITATE YOUR CALL! Its too much already...and I'm only 20 years old. I can only imagine what the rest of my life will be. :D

Hmmm...this is nothing like what I was expecting to write. I'll just throw in the idea I was thinking about though. With every major change and excitement in life, there are bound to be critics and people who don't understand or don't agree. I'm in the process of learning that sometimes you just gotta live out what you're saying you're going to do, or people aren't going to believe in you. This goes for several areas in my life. I can't expect people to automatically trust my words, so all I can do is live them out. And that is exactly what I intend to do.

Love you all,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sovereignty vs. Intimacy

Just a few thoughts have been on my mind lately. I’m reading A.W. Tozer’s book “The Knowledge of the Holy” and it has been challenging me since the moment I started it. I love being uncomfortable about what I believe…it makes me want to know more

But on a slightly separate note, I think about Easter…Good Friday. First let me explain to you my view on that. I feel like this Easter means so much more to me. For whatever reason, the cross feels real to me. Maybe its because I feel like I actually know the man that died for me. Let me put this in perspective. I think of someone like my dad. Some people don’t have good feelings when they think of their fathers, but I do. I think…what if my brothers and I really messed up. We did something really wrong and as a result my Dad had to suffer on a cross right in front of us. That rips me up. Seriously, think about that. Dwell on the thought for minute before you continue reading. Let it sink in. Someone who did nothing to deserve the punishment, yet did it willingly out of his love for me…for you. And to think that Jesus is even more perfect than my dad, loves me even more, and sacrificed even more. He gave it all FOR ME.

In Hebrews 12:2 it says “ Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who FOR THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” My grandma and I were talking about this verse. “the joy set before him” what was the joy? I don’t think it was just the fact that he was returning to the father….I think it was the fact that he knew how many lives would be saved through his act of obedience. He had great anguish going into the crucifixion…but he did it knowing that his loss would be our gain. I think of all the missions trips I ‘ve been on, times when I’ve sacrificed money, or comfort to see others come to know the love of Jesus…and done it with great joy…and how that is NOTHING in comparison to the sacrifice of Jesus…but the joy was that much more. To think of the millions that have been snatched out of the hands of Hell. Jesus made my life worth something. Apart from him, my life has no meaning. He is the only good that is in me. I love being used to spread His name.

In a synopsis, those have been my significant thoughts regarding Easter….but back to my talk about Tozer. I think sometimes its easy to forget how far above us, God is. He is worthy of our worship. I think of how often our faith becomes about US. We want to worship God so we can feel His presence. We want our ministry to be as effective as possible, because we want to make a difference. Sometimes we do something wrong and we feel like we can’t go back into God’s presence right away because we are unworthy, or we’re not feeling it that day….but since when has worship had to do with YOU? We worship God, not because we feel like it…but because he is 100% worthy of every bit of honor we can bestow him. He doesn’t need to give us a thing. We don’t need to feel his presence. But we need to honor him because he is GOD. Not because of what he has or hasn’t done for us. And what an honor it is that God humbles himself to our level and draws us into himself. We are nothing in comparison to everything he IS. Its almost embarrassing to think that God listens to me whine all the time. Yet he loves it! He wants to hear my thoughts. He is so far above me and knows so much more than I can even comprehend, and yet he cares enough to see my thoughts.

How often do we feel like God has to prove something to us? Today I’ve been wrestling with the idea of faith. Is faith blind acceptance of what the Bible says is true? Does it show a lack of faith to question concepts? My grandma read me something from Oswald Chambers that talks about how often we expect those moments of inspiration that we receive from God to be the norm. How we expect that God will tell us exactly what we should do for every decision. How faith is believing even when we don’t hear anything. A commitment that is not dependent on consciousness of God’s active presence in our lives. This kind of makes me question. I believe that God speaks to man. I believe anyone can hear the active living word of God, and we can be conscious of his presence at all times. But why do some seem so content WAITING to know more about God. Trusting that eventually they will understand his nature, and know his thoughts….while some are in a constant pursuit to know NOW. Is one wrong? Is faith a marathon or a high dive? Is it both? What is right faith? I think there is significance in both. I think those that believe without seeing, without knowing, and without needing proof are rewarded. Think of Hebrews 11, and all those listed there. But then I think of the men in Acts who stepped out in faith on a regular basis. Both had faith…but Acts seems more instantaneous than the Old Testament. Did things change when Jesus came?

Where is the balance of knowing that God is absolutely sovereign and worthy of all our praise without any NEED to interact with us, and that desire to know God intimately and tangibly on a day to day basis? Both seem to be right…yet it almost seems like belief in one negates the other. But who am I to know?

I will keep seeking and questioning. I will dig until I find and I will sell all I have to buy that pearl of great price. I want to believe what is right. My heart longs to know more. If my longing is wrong, I will find what I must do. Almost seems like seeking is a lack of faith…but I feel like once I find what I’m looking for, I’ll stick with it…and try to find something else. :] Hmm…just thoughts that go through my head.

I’d love to hear some feedback. What do you wrestle with?

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Choice to Get Lost. (Poem)

Where do passion and emotion blur the lines?
Reverence, boldness, and ambition not yet refined.
To stand at the alter and lift up your arms
If your hearts not engaged, it does nothing but harm
Callous, dry, overused, and typical
"I can cry and dance, but feel nothing reciprocal.
The God of Heaven alive in my chest?
Why don't I feel it, if I'm DOING my best?"
The actions, the words, the law and expectation
The anguish of desiring but feeling limitation
Is your heart not engaged or do you just not know how?
Do you stick to repetition or question to stand or bow?
I have a word for both of you
Its not that you're wrong, but I question your view
You lift up your hands while texting your friends
Are you feeling the Holy Spirit when you're pressing send?
Why go through the motions if your hearts not involved?
Why be content with mediocre when your world can be revolved?
You lift up your voice and dance with all your might,
But you're tired and frustrated that your worship isn't right.
You sang this song last time, and you felt the Presence
But by merely going through the motions you're missing the ESSENCE
You desire a heart that desires God
But you're either content maintaining your fraud
or you're constantly striving, but never enough
Faking you've got it, so no one calls your bluff
You don't have it together and you're afraid or you don't care
I challenge you to break down your facades and lay your heart out bare
If you lack the desire and lack the will
Ask God who gives generously to all, and that void will be filled
If you lack the knowledge, just stuck in the emotional draw
Know its all about your heart, and stop following the LAW
The Law kills but the spirit gives LIFE
With freedom like a dagger, piercing strongholds like a knife
Your best efforts combined with apathy yield a wall
But at the cross, Jesus died once and for all.
Walls are broken, and chains are loosed
Your heart and passion with Jesus now fuzed
Nothing separates you from the Love at the cross
So lay your actions aside and go ahead and get lost
To be lost in His Presence, undone by His grace
To be overwhelmed by joy, and broken by just a taste
How great is this God that we serve up on high
How can you walk around broken and unsatisfied?
Do you even know what is at your disposal?
Relationship with Jesus, His eternal proposal
Emotion will come when you've received His grace
Yet one does not determine the other, neither does time nor place
Just get lost in the Lord and let yourself Know Him
The farther you go, the more your walls will dim
To stand, sit, jump, or bow isn't whats at stake
Its about the choice to be in awe, a choice you must make
So make the choice.
You're not a victim to your circumstance, you have a voice.
Let the grace overtake you and shatter your heart
And know that the choice is ONLY the first part.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Revelations of the Love of Jesus

Sometimes I look at my blog, and I want to write something but I don't know what to write. Sometimes I want to have a theme or a topic and write about my thoughts on a specific issue. Or I want to explode everyone's brains with some crazy insight I have that may or may not be unique. Or sometimes I just want to talk about how I'm feeling or what I've gone through. Right now I'm looking at this and thinking I should write, because I know Layne wants me to write more blogs. :]

Sometimes its so easy to get caught up in the big question for college kids-- WHATS NEXT? It's almost like we're constantly under the pressure to be where we're not, or to be aspiring to be at a better place than where we are. I know I've consumed SO MUCH of my time this week thinking about what I should do now. Sometimes the answer is simple, and I overthink it and get confused, or sometimes circumstances change so I have to be flexible and work around them.

Lately, I've been at a place where I've gone back and forth between peace and confusion, and I was letting my perception of other people's expectations of me hinder me from making a decision. I wanted to please others and do what seemed to be the logical thing to do to make everyone happy. I was caught up in it all. I wanted to seek God but my confusion was causing me to forget how to even hear God's voice. I was almost panicking, because coming back from such a mountain top experience (aka. DTS) I was expecting to be some sort of prophet from another land that just could constantly determine the Lord's will. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but I had an expectation of myself to be at a place that I didn't feel like I was.

A good friend suggested I look over my DTS notes and remember the things I was taught during lecture phase, I did so and all the sudden I felt like my confusion came crashing down. I realized I hadn't actually been seeking God. I wasn't waiting on the Lord. I was riding on my DTS experience with God and just expecting Him to answer me. I wasn't being active. I prayed, but more in passing than anything else. I got my Bible out and I just really sought the Lord. I had a few good talks with people and I got my priorities straight and I've just felt so at peace, knowing I don't have to make a decision right now...The pressure I imposed on myself isn't really there. I can choose to be at peace at a time when I have questions.

Tonight, I went to the MVMNT Thursday night service and God really spoke to me. MAN. Matt was giving the exhortation and he talked about Jesus dying on the cross and looking out and seeing each one of us. Jesus from the cross looked at MY life. He called out Rachel Olson. And all he asked me to do was love him back. Thats it! Yeah, missions and ministry is great. I know God wants me to do that...but all it comes down to is the unfathomable, unchanging, motivating, unrelenting love of Jesus Christ. And the fact that all this love is directed towards me as an individual. I don't have to do anything. It makes me think of the attention of a person. How when someone treats you like you're valuable, like you're the funniest, most exciting and interesting person they've ever met...and they're just so captivated with you. And how Jesus looks at me and He's just like "wow, Rachel, you're fascinating to me. I want to know you more. I want to spend time with you. I want you to spend forever with me. I want you to know the depths of how much I care for you. I want you to feel like you are worth everything that you are. I love a you." Literally...that just gets my heart pumping in my chest. How the God of the universe could come in the form of a human, with a human will and emotion and yet choose to fall in love with ME. It sounds so simple. It sounds like the typical revelation you get when you go to church...but I will never grow tired of having a new revelation of how much Jesus loves me. I just LOVE Jesus. He makes me giddy! I get to a place where I'm just blown away, totally in love and thinking...I'm the luckiest girl in the whole world. And its crazy because I know that God loves everyone to the same capacity...and that doesn't make his love less valuable that its so freely given. God's love isn't cheap. Its costly. His love died a horrific death WILLINGLY just so we could know He loves us and He wanted to save us. He did it for us. He didn't do it for himself...He did it for me. WOW.

I get so caught up in the song that goes "I want to look at the face of the one that I love, want to stay in You presence, its where I belong." I feel like that is the song of my heart. I love singing for the Lord. I haven't written anything worthwhile for a long time...kind of breaks my heart. I think its because I sing when I drive...and I don't have a car anymore and I didn't drive in YWAM...but I just think of all the millions of love songs written out there about sex and emotion and heartbreak and pain...and I just think how love between people is only supposed to be a reflection of the love of the Father for us. How twisted the view of love is. Love is a promise to always look for the good other other person. Always. Not a "hope I someday get to be with you" or a "i like you" Its a commitment and a guarantee. I take the words "I love you." SO seriously. I could write a whole blog just on that...and maybe some day I will.

But right now I'm looking at life thinking... Man Jesus LOVES me. Why worry about tomorrow when THIS is what its all about?


Monday, March 21, 2011

Life and Life to the Full

So I am back in the United States. I have been for about a week and a half. I'm sorry for not updating sooner. First let me tell you about the remaining weeks I had in South Africa.

I went to Kruger on 2/14 to a YWAM base there also called 10,000 Homes. Some of you may have heard of it, because of its affiliation with New Hope Church in Wylie. Immediately when I went to the base, I felt at home. There is such a warm and inviting feel to the people and their ministry. The whole heart behind 10,000 Homes is to provide people with homes. Not only a physical home, but the feeling of belonging, love, and support that comes with a family. While we were there we had several awesome opportunities. Each week we'd help out with 2 different feedings. One in Mbonaswani, that was located at the church we'd go each Sunday. We would have a group go out and help the volunteers from the church cook the food, then we'd all go out and have a VBS type program, telling Bible Stories and singing songs. We'd also just love and play with the kids. The other location, Dwaleni, we did a similar thing, with some slight variations. We would go help the nurses from the nearby clinic cook the food, and we'd also go out and do some home visits and pray for people before the rest of the team came for the feeding. On the days we didn't have a feeding, we'd go out to White River in a shopping center, and go do evangelism. We'd do intercession before hand, ask God who we should pray for, and then we'd go and find them! We also helped quilt together knit squares to make blankets for the most vulnerable children in the Dwaleni feeding. We knit about 12 together while we were there, and we had the opportunity to pass them out.

So that was our ministry on a non-personal level. I have a few stories that have just stuck with me. One day we were doing home visits while in Dwaleni. Meghan, Stephanie, Nate and I went out with a staff member to pray for people. After doing several visits, we stopped by a random house. The staff member had never been in this area before, he was just being spirit led. And we ended up getting into a conversation with this 19 year old guy. He wanted to know more about Jesus. We asked him what he knew and he said he knew very little. He went to church on Sundays, but he didn't feel as though he had a personal relationship with Christ. We got him to open up more and he told us that he didn't really like being a Christian, because all of his friends wanted him to do other stuff that he knew was wrong in God's to eyes. He didn't want to fully commit to Christ, because he knew he'd have to give those things up. First, the fact that he opened up that much to us is HUGE. Africans typically don't like addressing their own feelings and their own lives. They talk about external needs, but its rare for someone to open up about the real condition of their heart. But we were able to open up to this guy and tell him all there is to gain from following Christ...that the loss is nothing in comparison. That God loved him and had a plan for his life, and that he wanted to use him. He wanted his heart. We were able to give some testimonies and we asked whether he believed all of that. He said he did, and we ended up being able to lead this guy and his cousin in a prayer of salvation. The staff member got his number has has continued to keep in contact with the guy to continue discipleship. Praise God for leading us to this young man's house.

Another story is that we went to the clinic where all the nurses worked and we were able to pray for the patients waiting to go in to get checked up. Rachel Beck and I were able to talk to this young pregnant women who was waiting to go in. We found out she had had 3 children prior to the one she was expecting, but all of them had died. We asked about her faith in God, and she said she didn't really feel like God loved her because of all the terrible things that had happened to her. We were able to share with her the love of God and she just began to cry. We told her about God's mercy and justice, about how in heaven she'd be able to be with her children again. She prayed a prayer of salvation with us in her own language. She had such a huge smile on her face when she finished. She said she was so happy inside. It was a beautiful moment to see a daughter of the King recognize the love that God has directed towards her.

All of these things encouraged me and blessed me and filled me with boldness for the next person I would minister to. I want people to understand and know the love of Jesus! But my last story probably breaks my heart more than the rest. I was at the last feeding we were going to have in Mbonaswani...I was kind of tired and I really just wanted to sit around and do nothing. I thought that while I was sitting around...I might as well hold a little kid or something. I know this isn't the right heart mentality to have, but bear with me! I went and picked up this little boy I hadn't seen before. His name was Mensi. He was probably about 3 or 4...he didn't say anything. He was just wide eyed and open lipped...just the cutest thing ever. I went over to him and gestured if he wanted me to pick him up and he put his arms up for me to hold him. I picked him up and brought him back to my chair. I sat there just holding and rocking him...just singing to him softly, and he would just watch me and occasionally touch my face. I had him sitting so he was facing out towards what was going on...eventually he slumped over and fell asleep in my arms. He was drooling on my arms, so I positioned him up a little bit...and eventually I turned him around and he wrapped his little arms around my neck and rested his head on my chest. He held on tightly and fell fast asleep again. He slept in my arms for about 45 minutes. I was so honored that he felt comfortable enough with me to fall asleep in my arms. I just started praying for him and holding him close...trying to express as much love from my heart as I could. Eventually he woke up and we started playing together...he wanted to walk around...but he always made sure I was right by him. Kids would come by and start picking on him and he would run over to me and hide his face in my skirt. Later on, he fell down and started crying. His sister ran over and tried to pick him up to comfort him...but he shook her off and ran over to me and wanted me to hold him. I cannot even express how much this touched my heart. God spoke to me at that moment and told me how precious it is to him when I shake off anyone else who tries to comfort me and run to Him. He alone is my safety and my protector. I pray for Mensi just about every day. When I think about heart just rips out of my chest. He's that one little boy that I would want to take home and call my own. I love him. It was amazing to me that God waited until the last week of my outreach to really break my heart.

After we finished our ministry, we took 2 days and went on an overnight Safari,and went to several waterfalls and markets. We came back to states, and after traveling for 30 hours, I had to stay awake another 10-12 before I could go to sleep. I was extremely tired coming back, but now after an extremely tearful graduation, and goodbye to all my friends that I've grown SO attached to the last several months. I am home. Back in Allen, Texas

What is next you may ask? (Or maybe you're asking when this blog will be done, seeing as how its getting pretty long now)
I plan on doing a second school with YWAM Orlando. Instead of a DTS (Discipleship Training Program) I will be doing an SOMD (School of Ministry Development). I am praying about exactly when. They offer schools quarterly, so I have several options. But I do know that it is my next step. The school is focused on individual ministry. I feel a call to full time missions, and this school will help me focus on my giftings and passions, and I'll be able to have a better idea of how I can be best equipped for whatever God will ask me to do with my life. I'll be home for several months, working, support raising, and rebuilding relationships here.

But I am EXCITED about the work God is doing in my life. I am not the same after this experience. I feel like I've grown so much into a maturing and growing walk with God. I love discipleship. I want to see others grow in their understand of God's character and love. There is so much to live for and so much to experience.
Life and life to the full is definitely the life I feel I am living.

Thank you all so much for blessing me with this experience. I cannot even begin to describe how honored I am that you would believe in me enough to invest in my call. I would love to talk about my experience to anyone that wants to know, so please do not hesitate to message me or call me to get together. I am more than excited to give testimony to what God has done in my life.

I love you all!
--Rachel Olson

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I've caught a bug...

Hello from Rustenberg, South Africa! Currently I am at a mall sitting in the internet cafe.
This past week I've spent time at an HIV/AIDS Hospice called Tapalogo. I was expecting patients to be on the very brink of death...and some were. Two passed this week while we were there. But most had very high spirits and were probably going to be released to go home shortly. We would go each morning and bring them treats, play cards, read the Bible, sing songs, Dance. We prayed for several of the women's original designs and I believe one of the women accepted Christ. We had a church service on the last day, Friday, and it was really good. We sang some songs, Jenny told her testimony about how God showed her why injustice happens, Shailah talked about God's love, and I talked about Forgiveness and God's mercy on us. I had an opportunity to sing a song I wrote about the women caught the in the act of adultery. The spirit was really moving through us this week.

I've grown so much in my intimacy with God. I absolutely love being here. God has just been showing me over and over again how much he loves me. I feel like I'm on top of the world. I had my birthday here, and now I am 20 years old. Its weird...but I really do feel a bit older. I feel like God has had to take me away from my comfort zone of family, friends, and America...and really shown me a lot about His character and His heart for me.
I am confident that God wants me to do an SOMD after my DTS...either in the Summer or the Fall. If college comes after that, we'll see. SOMD is really focused on specific giftings and callings. I feel that after I do an SOMD, I'll have a better grasp on what field of missions I should be heading towards. If that requires a degree, I will definitely be obedient to whatever God has called me to.
I'm so in love with Christ, ya'll!

After so many years of not even fully GETTING it...I feel like I have a gold mine in my hands. I don't need money, stuff, or even a real place to say is my home. God has prepared a city for me. I was reading in Hebrews 11...where it talks about those who had great faith. They talked about how this world was not their home...they were aliens in this world. And that was talk of faith...people who knew there was so much more to life than this world. I feel like I'm getting to that place. There is a spiritual battle going on.
I have so much opportunity, and so many blessings...and I know God chose me to be his vessel to carry the gospel. I want to preach boldly without shame. I've caugh this contagious bug that I can't even contain. I could spend this whole blog talking about Africa...but I'm too caught up in how blessed I have to have a God who offers GRACE to cover our transgressions...who PASSIONATELY LOVES us...enough to expand the universe and show me a glimpse of the stars at night, or the clouds during the day. The beauty of the Lord has overwhelmed me and I can't keep it in!!!

Can't wait to get back and show you how I feel. I want each of you to catch it too. I love the Bible. I love Jesus. I love my Father God. I love the power and authority I have throught the Spirit. I literally blush when I think about how good God is to me...He's all I need. Forever.

I have a whole new desire for integrity, character, and living at a high standard.
I pray every day that I'll come back and really be different. I'm tired of the same old thing.


and I'm a little won't let me log into my email at all. So I haven't checked it since January 24th...if anyone is wondering why I haven't responded.

I love you all

Sorry I can't respond to everyone...even my mom and dad who I love deeply. There is a line waiting for internet, and I've already been on for 45 minutes.



Saturday, January 22, 2011

Palapye, Botswana

Well I am a terrible blogger. I just can't seem to update frequently enough. I apologize to all of my supporters, that I haven't been more diligent to provide updates.
Currently I am in Palapye, Botswana at a pastors house. I've been doing hospital visits, school ministries, door to door evangelism, and teaching every night at the church. I am so blessed beyond measure to be here.

Outreach has proved to be a time where flexibility and patience is needed, but there is so much joy and grace found in service. I'm so blessed! I love Africa! I love the people here in Botswana. People are more hospitable and friendly than anyone I've ever met. All the girls on my Palapye team are staying at the Pastor's house. There are 11 of us. He has been giving us all rides to every location we go, back and forth til we're all where we need to be, and he cleared out two of the rooms in his own house so we would have room to sleep. He is bending over backwards for us...and we can see the grace of God on his life. I am honored to be able to partner with and learn from such a godly man.

Going on this portion of the trip to Botswana really was a wild card trip. We didn't know what to expect when we got here. All we knew was there was some form of evangelism and teaching. We definitely have been doing quite a bit of both. One thing that really sticks out to me is a trip we took the hospital. I prayed for a girl with TB and by the size of her, I'd guess she was HIV/AIDS positive too. She couldn't speak much because of her illness, but she could hear out of one ear and she understood English. I was able to pray over her and Corey and I read several Psalms to her. At one point I looked into her eyes and I was able to tell her that God saw her even here in her darkest hour. That he loved her and valued her, and that Jesus wanted to save her. I told her that she is precious and loved and God wants her and loves her so deeply. As I told her these things, her eyes grew wider and wider and she began to cry. I was so moved for her. I really felt like the Holy Spirit was moving in my and guiding my words.
You can't even go into a hospital here without being overwhelmed with compassion. There are people in really bad shape...and they are desperate for anything you can offer them. Patients, Nurses, and Family members are all asking us to pray for them as we walk through the hallways. We even had two women with blindness receieve sight and relief from pain after our prayers. We saw them at the church service that night because they wanted to know what was behind the healing. Praise GOD!

Here in Botswana, we're not staying at a YWAM base, we're staying at a pastors house. So we're able to experience a bit more of the life and culture here than we might have if there had been a base removed from the culture. I feel like I'm getting to experience what a life of full time missions would look like. I'm excited.
God has been speaking to me a lot about my future plans and trusting Him. I know this is what my life is meant to look like. To be on the front lines when it comes to missions. What a blessing!

Pray for me and my team as we end our time here in Palapye Botswana and move onto Rustenberg South Africa. We'll be working with a hospice and at a place called "Freedom Park" which is an HIV/AIDS squatter camp. Pray that we'll be able to have a special grace to endure whatever we may see and experience there. Pray that we'll be refreshed in our time of ministry, that we won't grow weary while doing good. Pray for safety and good attitudes.

I love you all, and I can't thank you enough for the support that has gotten me to this place. I know that with God all things are possible, and I'm trusting HIM alone with my future.

-Rachel Olson