Thursday, November 19, 2009

Journal Entry

 I think I'm finally figuring out why I'm not completely content. Today I heard about Kirsten wolcott, a student missionary in Yap and Katherine's roommate, was murdered yesterday. Murdered. Not even an accident. A 20-year-old. A junior. Not even at home, but across the oceans from her family. It just hit me really hard all of a sudden. Oofta. How could I be content in such a corrupt, diseased place? My heart yearns for what it was created to yearn for. I can't believe how comfortable I've been here. How have I not desired Jesus' return more deeply?? I awnt to want others to come too. Put the burden on my heart for others, and help me make it manifest in my day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Journal Entry

An acquaintance told me today that she feels happier when she sees me. :) It made me think about the legacy I want to leave. I want people to remember me as a happy, vibrant individual madly in love with Jesus. Now I pary I can fall in and show taht crazy love undeniably clearly... or something.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Journal Entry

I've become a Pharisee through the past few years. I do "everything" "right". Adventist college, active in ministry, getting good grades, planning my life out like a good goal-setter, committing (well, attempting to commit) a year of my life to mission... I'm following all the laws, but not the LAW. Over and over I ask God to tell me what to change in my life, and over and over again He tells me to humble myself and be a servant. Service was at the heart of Jesus' ministry; He served others more often than He preached sermons. The more I put others before myself, the more I feel like I've actually taken care of myself, and I have.
Less of me >> more to me.
I feel closer to God each time I serve others. This improves my relationship with Him. And if my relationship with Christ doesn't affect others, there is something seriously wrong.

God, remind me of Your priorities in my life. Help me put others first in all I do and become more like You.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Journal Entry

TRUE service vs. self-righteous service.
Self-righteous service loves to be recognized, applauded. It takes on the big projects, but neglects the little, important ones. I fear I have drifted selfward in the last couple years. Is my desire to become an SM just something that my self-righteous self saw as a self-glorifying opportunity? Lord, I hope not. I want this to be about God, but I'm not sure I've sacrificed my desires, my control of life (temptation). I need to give up the stool... God's one-cheekin' it, if on it at all.

Lord, empty me of self. Put someone in my path today that I can serve, and give me the will/desire/humility to serve as You have and do serve.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Journal Entry

First day back at Andrews. The dreaded explaining-why-I'm-here-not-there hasn't been too bad. I think I've adjusted pretty well. Problem is, I feel people needy and drained and exhausted. I don't know. Even though things are going my way, I feel as though my vim and vigor are gone. What heck? Though most of my friends are here, I miss the ones there (West Coast) immensely. It feels as though I've been here much longer than a day.

I've been questioning myself. A lot. Could I really be a caring SM? Would I have what it takes? Would I be a vocal/visible/obvious witness for Christ? I feel less and less sure. I'm ready to be sure of something. Well, I'm sure of this: Jesus Christ is my Savior and Friend. He can and will sustain me. I must surrender. ALL. Goodbye, pride. Hello humility.
Lord, help me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Update #3

FINALLY, some communication from Jessica. Time flies when you're insanely busy (now at the International Camporee in Oshkosh). I'll back up a bit just because I don't know where I stopped...


Psalm 51:17, 10. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart…create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Campmeeting 2009, teen tent: Are you ready for the truth? I thought I was. 

Halfway through the week, one of the pastors in the teen tent shared a message about being broken before God. I’d heard the phrase, but not really put too much thought into it. He stressed that in order to be healed and repaired by God, we must ask and allow Him to “break” us, to tear away the things that come between us. I felt especially compelled to pray for that breaking, and expected at most a bit of uncomfortable soul-searching and newfound sins to repent.

The very next morning, I received a phone message from the student missions chaplain at Andrews University. “Urgent: missions” the tiny yellow post-it declared. I borrowed a friend’s phone and dialed AU up. “Hey Jessica!” the chaplain said amiably. “I’m glad you returned my call so quickly.” Small talk continued for a few moments…the resounding crack that followed seemed to echo endlessly inside my head. “The call for Tanzania still hasn’t shown up. It’s time to move on.” Mmhmm, I answer, fearing words will dislodge the sob I was choking down. “Is it alright if I send your application to the islands?” Sure, I guess. Wherever God leads. But wasn’t He leading when I chose to apply for Tanzania?

I was broken. Joints and pieces seemed to be falling out of socket left and right. Random loose nuts & bolts clattered along behind me. I couldn’t think normally. Why did I ask You to break me? This hurts! I went through the day mechanically, worried that my smiling fa├žade would crack too.

Four weeks later, I was still healing. I’ve realized that I needed God to break me so that I could see how much I needed His help; that though I plan my life out to a T, I can’t make it without God. I’ve been covering up all my weak spots with duct tape, claiming that what I can’t see can’t hurt me. God peeled off the duct tape, sanded my weak spots down, and put in some heavy duty God-glue. Every time I see the scars, I am reminded that this journey is not mine to govern. My sacrifice is “a broken spirit” and a sorry heart. His return on my offering is a new heart, one that is better and stronger than before.


Now what? No Kosrae, no Tanzania? I don’t know. I’ve never known. After knowing the path ahead for my life up to this point, I’m not feeling too comfortable. Check on Tanzania; are they out of the running, too? No? Oh. Ok, you’ll let me sign on. Just get your end of the bargain complete, and we’re set to go.

Isaiah 30:21. “You will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way. Walk in it.’”

You won’t necessarily see a hand in front of you guiding you, nor see “the light”, nor even hear a voice in front of you. If I start down the wrong path I’ll know it, but I still might stand at the crossroads for a while.

Tick, tick. Time’s running out. When is it time to call it quits on Tanzania? Camp’s ending and school’s beginning…do I postpone SMing until 2010-2011? Do I head back to school? Do I hold out for Tanzania? What is your will, God???

I Thessalonians 5:16-18. This is God’s will for me in Christ Jesus: Be joyful! Keep praying! And always give thanks.


Six weeks later: I receive another phone call. I’ve been emailing and calling all through the week, and the whole camp staff has been praying daily for my situation. I’m heading out to the “Indian Village” for our evening program when I receive a radio message to come to the office. Another urgent phone message…urgent is beginning to develop some negative connotations. I dial up the Global Vessels director, my fingers mechanically dialing the number I’ve dialed so many times before. Oh, hi, Jessica. You see, we have two positions here, and two have been filled. Not enough money for a third…Oh. Ok.

Subconsciously I’ve been preparing for this for many weeks, but it still hits like a sack of bricks. Time to change directions. Time to begin again. Time to postpone a dream. I’ve been broken again. Just when I think I’ve healed myself, I am reminded that I am not the Great Healer. God helped me to realize that in order for His love and joy and mercy to leak out of me, I have to be broken. I can’t do the world any good if I bottle God up and place Him on the shelf. I need to leak; it will require me to return to God daily to fill up again. The cost per gallon of this fuel is a credit: the more I use, the more I gain.

And that was  one week ago tonight. Time flies when you’re busy…now I’m at the International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, and am the freest I’ve been in months. I’m still waiting to deal completely with the current let-down of a change in plans, but thankful for the long-awaited answer. Getting ready for Andrews is the next item on my plate (which seems to have increased in size as the summer progressed). Current plans are to go to school for this year and apply to TZ again next year. Please continue to pray for me as I re-evaluate the direction of my life in school as well.

Thank you all so very much for all of your prayers and thoughts and support. This has been one of the most trying summers of my life, and you have helped me through it. “I thank my God every time I remember you..."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Journal Entry

I'm not doing well at roling with the punches anymore. I'm hoping I find something soon that goes according to plan. I'm looking for some encouragement. There isn't a huge number of punches, but it feels like it. Tanzania trouble. Friends at camp far away as counselors. I can't even flex with the schedule. I feel grumpy a lot. I'm ready to be flexible again.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Journal Entry

I am quite sick of being unsure. Sure, I'm sure that this is a growing experience; I can't trust God completely if my whole life is planned out already. But this whole drifting business is really quite draining. I'm worried I'll make the wrong decision, but I need to make a decision. I feel rushed, but this is a life-guiding, life-altering, life-determining choice.

Being at campt makes it hard, too. I can't deal with SM stuff well enough from here. I have to split it up - camp by day, SM emails and searching by night. It's like a Gospel version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

For someone who hates/deliberates decisions ad nauseum, this is not exactly the recommended route. *sigh* (Psalms 42:11)
I have much to be thankful for.

I want this decision to be for God's will, not mine, but worry that my will is getting in the way. If there is to be a clear "no," I need it soon. I'm now considering going for Tanzania and going to school if it falls through.

I Thess. 5:16-18: That's God's will for me.
I Tim 1:12: Thanks for the appointment.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Update #2

DISCLAIMER: Update emails are long when updates are sent out only every few months. Hopefully the frequency of messages will increase. Apologies to all the weary eyes out there...


I love roller coasters. The anticipation of waiting in line, the fearful excitement getting strapped in, the near-regret when the cars roll out...everything. As soon as the ride comes to a stop, I'm ready to get off and run to the back of the line and start all over again. 

God's leading is like a roller coaster; the worst part is waiting in line. You know the ride is soon to come, but you have no ideas what drops, climbs, and turns there will be. All you can do is hear laughing and screaming (two quite different and frightening things); the feeling of doom is inevitable. 

Faith is knowing that the straps & cams and nuts & bolts will hold, and that the apparently dangerous twists & turns are no more hazardous than a Sabbath afternoon drive. It's knowing that dips and climbs will take your breath away, but no harm will come of it.  When you get off of the ride at the end, the only thing on your mind is how soon you can get back on and how many of your friends you can get to come with you.

I've been riding on a roller coaster for quite some time now. Just as in all other roller coasters, I didn't know how many/which ups & downs I would have. I had thought that the big, scary drop of my Student Missionary experience was already past, but that I suppose would have made the ride just too typical. My big drop came on Wednesday.

I called the missions chaplain at AU on Tuesday just because I hadn't heard anything about Tanzania recently. Since I'm working at camp, methods of contacting me have dwindled to about 1.5. The car climbs the hill...click, click, click. Sketchy internet connection, no cell service...a nightmare for anyone who's trying to help me on the other side. Click, click...I can see the parking lot from here. Anywho, the chaplain left me a message on my cell and the camp phone, and I was able to call her back on a friend's cell. When I finally get a hold of her....click, click, click, WHOOSH. My top three call choices have fallen through, including Tanzania. She asks if I'm willing to apply for a teaching call in the islands, where there is a great need. I agree in a dazed stupor, feeling the sickening weightlessness of the seemingly endless descent. The air has been let out of my balloon. 

Fast-forward to the small rise coming up: After a few flurried emails and calls, I've applied for a Kindergarten/1st-3rd grade teaching position in Kosrae, an island in Micronesia, South Pacific. My application is now in the process of being approved, and to the best of my knowledge, will most likely be voted upon tomorrow (Tuesday). Lots and lotsa prayers are much appreciated. I'm now praying hard for my excitement and anticipation to return after a change in direction. I am sure that God is leading, but Jessica is a bit lost if she does not know where people can address their letters to her in the coming year. Please also pray that I can get as excited (if not more) as I was about Tanzania. I'm not sure how to prepare myself anymore, but I know that this ride has a pre-governed track, and though I might not know exactly where it's headed, the Conductor has already set it up. 

Currently, the coaster is going a bit too wild for my taste, but I look forward to a few months from now when I'll be tugging on your shirt sleeve and begging you to come along for ride #2.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Update #1

Hello friends, family, pets, and other:

It's been awhile . . . so sorry. My original plan was to email all of you when I heard back from the Adventist Volunteers organization regarding my application. Plan B arose when I didn't hear anything, but then finals and papers came up, so Plan C came around now that I've finished 3 of my 5 finals and am giving myself a little break. And no, I still haven't heard anything about my mission application, but no, I'm not worried, because many of the other prospective student missionaries haven't heard any word either.

This is precisely why I had planned to write you when I heard something, because hearing about someone not hearing something is really quite boring. But not hearing from someone simply because they have not heard anything is perhaps more vexing, so here you are, bored.

Ah, I suppose there is 
some news to be dug up. Many of you received "campaign" letters in March, and have been oh so generous! The balance today comes up to $1,250; praise God! Thank-you thank-you thank-you...
If I missed your address and you've felt impressed to support my mission with a monetary gift, you can go to this website: http://www.andrews.edu/life/spiritual/missions/support/donate_funds/index.html .

Because it is the end of the school year, everyone is bidding farewell to one another, their rooms, their books, and their classes (some goodbyes are more jubilant than others). Amid these farewells was a weekend of SM send-off ceremonies, and with those programs came my first testimony (at least the first one that was actually dubbed a testimony). Whew. I dislike speaking in front of people, so this wasn't the most comfortable experience. I realize that many of you have not heard the story I told that Friday night, so here's a snippet (or perhaps the whole thing)...

I've always lived my life according to a plan. For me, spontaneity is planning a trip to Chicago (2 hours away) three days from now. When my plan gets messed up, I get grouchy. Being a student missionary has always been a part of my plan for life. Because I am a Pre-Physical Therapy major, school plans for me are three years of undergrad, three years of graduate school. The typical plan for a PT student/SM is to take the year between the three+three off. Alright, plan in place. 
Last semester, I got to thinking: perhaps taking a year off of school just to come back and plunge into graduate classes isn't the smartest idea. I discuss it with my mom and sister, and they helped me realize that graduate studies would work out if they had to work out. Cool. Now I'm back to the plan. Something must still be working on me, though, because I register for the Preparation for Missions class; you know, just in case. Got to plan for the unexpected, right? So I enrolled in the Passport to Missions class. 
Then Tuesday night happened. I was in said Passport to Missions class and couldn't focus at all on what was going on. I just kept going over and over in my head why I chose to wait, and the reasons seemed less and less important and more and more like me just backing away because I hadn't gotten my act together yet. I pretty much figured that if I was still wrestling with it, I probably hadn't made the decision for the right reasons, and that if doors were open, I couldn't know that until I tried to walk through them. So I went to the missions chaplain's office yesterday afternoon and, after talking with her, went to the Adventist Volunteers website and began filling out the LENGTHY application and searching through a bunch of calls and filling out confusing paperwork from AU.
Late-February put a time crunch on choosing a call. All I knew was that I didn't want to be a teacher – in my experience of helping peers with their homework, I unfailingly send them off more confused than they came. I had it narrowed down to a) orphanage worker in Tanzania, b) high school science teacher in Egypt, c) 1st-4th grade teacher in the Marshall Islands. The orphanage call was still not showing up, so I decided to email the missions chaplain and find out why. She emailed me back and told me to submit my app with that slot blank and they'd call the institution.
Ugh. Now i had to choose, quick hurry fast! I decided to enlist the help of an acquaintance currently volunteering at the orphanage I'm applying to, and send her an email, hoping against hope that she'd have access early enough to send me a reply (since all of our paperwork was due the coming Thursday). That was Sunday night. Monday morning, 6:30 am: I find out that she has added me as a friend on Facebook, just randomly, out of the blue (talk about the benefits of a social networking site)! I sent her a message, asking her to check her AU email and she emailed me back by 10 am with all of the pros and cons, responsibilities, etc. I was getting pretty excited.
Then I realized that I hadn't asked her what the call dates were (with respect to my obligations at summer camp, especially), so I sent another email. At about 3 that afternoon, I was studying, and felt impressed to think and pray extra hard about which to choose, teaching or orphanage(ing?). I decided that if the dates of Tanzania worked with camp, I'd see it as a sign. I checked my email not even 5 minutes later, and...already a response! Even better news inside: she noted that they're very aware of the difficulty for students to spend the summer there, and very flexible with dates. She actually started August 22 and finishes June 1, framing typical summer camp dates. How perfect! 
 
Now it's nearly May, and my application to Tanzania is still being processed. All in all, I feel like i've just run down a hallway, with doors flung open the whole way down; kind of a runner's high + exhaustion. I thank you all for your continued support and prayers throughout the past few months. Expect to hear from me again! Sometime... :D