Life since Engage 5 has been going well. Keeping a missionary mindset is a lot harder when you're not around the team who taught you it 24-7 and when you're not working solely on building relationships but also balancing a job and other commitments. But it's been really encouraging how many people I've found in my current circles who have a heart for missions as well. I'm so very thankful for His grace which has kept me fighting to serve this last month.
Speaking of fighting, I’ve been learning a lot about what the “fight of faith” looks like on a daily basis. Or more realistically, moment by moment. It’s so easy for me to forget that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). It’s easy to think that what’s in front of us is all that there is. That the person we are struggling with is the one right in front of us. Not Satan. It’s easy to forget that we don’t have to give in to all of the sinful impulses and that we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us to fight against it. I don’t usually do things like this, but because I’m beginning to take this much more seriously, I realized that I needed a daily reminder of what I’m up against, and so wrote the word “Fight” in sharpie on my arm. If you’ve seen that and wondered what it was, now you know! =) This has been a big encouragement to me, and it’s been encouraging to see how many more battles I’ve been able to win in because of this reminder. It’s during times like these that I’m thankful for that bit of stubborn determination that comes in every now and then, that I can channel into a good purpose. =)
I have been enjoying one of the slowest months that I have had in a long time, and it feels so good to not be constantly rushing to one thing and then to another. In previous years, I’ve never really had a great system for organizing my time and would be constantly stressed trying to get a gazillion things done, not really doing much prioritizing and doing too much procrastinating. But with the institution of some categories to help me figure out what absolutely needs to be done this week and what can wait a couple days, weeks, months, or years, it has become much easier for me to get things done. And to still have time to relax and have fun! It’s amazing how much sleep can help too! Gone are the days of consistently getting 5-7 hours of sleep. Certainly don’t miss that part of high school! Just wish it didn’t take me almost a year AFTER high school to realize that it isn’t necessary to be doing that anymore.
Between trips to Knotts Berry Farm, hiking with friends, and camping, it’s been a more outdoorsy month for me. Getting out in God’s Creation is something that I’ve been enjoying more and more lately. It’s even more awesome with friends! Thankful for all of the opportunities this month to do that. It's awesome how many places there are to go hiking in Orange County! The pictures below were taken on a hike in Irvine. I’m hoping to go more the rest of this year.
The highlight this month was a short weekend trip to Mexico to build a house with Amor Ministries. A couple people from my church and I joined some other young adults from the First Chinese Baptist Churches of LA and OC. Most of them I had never met before. But I was incredibly blessed by how friendly everyone was! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend a couple days getting to know and working alongside these wonderful people.
Despite the short time that we were there, there was a lot of learning and growth packed into those 4 days. For starters, I hadn’t been camping in four years, and I’ve never built a house before. Previous experience with a hammer and other tools included hanging pictures and re-upholstering a piano seat. Not much else. But that weekend, I learned how to mix and pour concrete, smooth it out so it can properly dry, build frames, put up wire and paper around the house once the frames had all been erected, etc. Electric tools were completely banned from the worksite, in order to do it how the Mexicans would. Some of the jobs I felt like I was able to learn quickly; others, not so much. The most frustrating task for me that first day was hammering nails into the frame. No matter how many times I kept hitting that nail, it just wouldn’t seem to go properly into the wood. But thanks to several patient people who were willing to give advice, by the end of the second day, my hammer and I were getting to be very good friends. I kinda miss it now…I have to resort to hanging picture frames now if I want to use it... =P The various aspects of making the concrete were really hard work, but I really enjoyed those. Seeing that flat surface after all of that work was awesome!
The work was certainly challenging and I went home thoroughly tired at the end of the 8-hour day. But I learned that I really enjoy doing hard work like this, especially when you can watch something grow before your very eyes. I think I may have found a new hobby! I actually looked up Habitat for Humanity soon after getting back home, but it looks like getting involved with them would be a little difficult for me because of my work schedule.
Getting to camp each night was an interesting experience. My former declaration that I love camping (based off of a memory from four years ago) was seriously challenged on this trip. I would not say that I hate camping now (I would-and will-totally do it again), but I have a greater appreciation for my more comfortable bed, protection from the elements, and the ability to clean-up easily. However, I did appreciate the different perspective that it gave me. Where I live in California, the sight of homeless people is not too uncommon, and you don’t have to drive very long before you’re in a poorer neighborhood. I fear that I have seen it so often, that I’ve somewhat become desensitized to it. This trip was a powerful look into their lives, which I am very thankful for. Solely, because of that, I don't think I would change anything about the camping. I need that reminder...
So far, there are no more trips planned in the near future. ;) Taking a break for a while! I'm still praying about what to do long-term, and will try to keep you all posted!