Back at it again with another update on my OTR endeavors!
Here’s the thing, folks: writing these blog posts has made me realize one very important thing about myself…
I AM A SLOTH
(Madeline, if you’re reading this… I hope you’re happy -___-“)
So much has unfolded in the month of April by now! Baptisms… Easter Service… Kids Club winding to an end… UC Alpha Course starting up… and so much more!
But by nature of being a sloth, those particular updates will have to wait indefinitely *cricket noises*
Because of course, how could I forget about our JAM-packed (pun-intended.. you’ll see later on if you missed it) SPRING MISSION WEEK ayyyyyyy.
Some highly esteemed philosopher out there in the world who’s probably dead by now once stated, “A picture is worth a thousand words”
For this post, I’ll try my best to let the pictures do more of the talking 😛
*Spoiler alert – I think I did most of the talking…. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*
Enjoy the ride, folks!
Sunday Worship (3/26)
Interestingly enough, the one Sunday service when the visiting missionaries came to worship with us just happened to be my most difficult Sunday service to date. Was it the worship? Nope. Leading the congregation in announcements, memory verses, and prayer? Nope. Certainly, something must have happened with the kids in the Sunday school classroom during lesson time! Hahahahaha guess again.
Just when I thought I was in the clear when the kids get to meal time after Sunday School… and aggression breaks out between two of the 8-11 y.o. boys in the middle of dinner. I must have spent a good 20-30 minutes restraining one of the boys lighting a fuse while the other boy was sitting in his chair laughing and instigating a fight that most likely he couldn’t have won (Whyyyy do kids start fights they know they can’t win? *___*”).
The pressure was on. So many eyes were on me and the boy in restraint. He kept shouting, “LET GO OF ME!!!” and I kept praying, “Lord… Please have mercy… Soften his heart…”. For a brief moment, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and let him go, and to *nobody’s* surprise, he chased after the other boy and landed a punch on him.
Both of the boys were immediately escorted out of church, and I couldn’t help but stand there in the middle of the fellowship hall feeling utterly defeated… Tears abruptly broke out and I had to escape into one of the classrooms just to cry out to God:
“What just happened….?”
I did the best that I could do for the boys at the time. Sure, I could have found ways to handle it better in hindsight, but God really had to reassure me in that moment that no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot control everything. The boy wasn’t the only person I had to let go of – I had to let go of my pride and leave the rest in God’s hands, and trust that this was surely a part of His perfect plan…
And praise be to God that the boys are doing a tad bit better now as they continue in Sunday School with us. The aggression is still hovering around the boys, but I’m praying that showing them God’s love in discipline and patience is somehow breaking through to their hearts…
Labor Work (3/27-3/28)
For a couple of days, the brothers spent a couple of hours doing manual labor work in the Sycamore house yard (At this point, I’m realizing that I probably should have done a before/after picture… oh well ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). To put it into perspective, let’s just say that after digging through a bunch of stones, old dirt, weeds, and bricks, I discovered that the yard actually has a path to walk on! I dunno – I felt like this was symbolic of the path that God paves for us as we labor for His kingdom. It’s a messy process, but He is cleaning our hearts and making some sort of way for us!
And of course, it was great bonding time with the brothers! It was a humbling reminder that the behind-the-scenes of missionary work isn’t always as “glorious” as we’d imagine it to be with straight evangelism and whatnot… But nonetheless, we labor not by sight, but by faith. Who knows what this yard will be used for in the future?
Teen Boys Hangout (3/27)
Monday night, the missionary brothers spent time with the teen boys while the sisters went out with the teen girls. Our night consisted of dinner, a brief discussion based on a powerful testimony shared by our brother, Chris Koo (shout out if you’re reading this!), and glowing mini-golf. It was pretty neat seeing so many of the boys coming together and bringing out their own friends! We had quite a bit of newcomers invited by some of our regulars, and it seemed like they had a pretty neat time. We’re hoping we can facilitate more opportunities for the boys to invite more of their friends out in the future!
UC Outreach & Edge House Dinner (3/27-3/29)
Is there more to life?
That was the name of the game for UC Outreach that week.
40 Lipton Tea Bags
3 Days of Outreach.
This was essentially our campaign for our Alpha Course – an 8 week course (which we just started up 3 weeks ago) that creates a safe space for people of all spiritual backgrounds to ask questions and investigate the many facets of Christianity.
For our outreach, we prepared flyers, a “Proxe” (Interactive display board), surveys with questions like “What makes you happy?” and “What is the purpose of life?, aaaaaaaand sweet tea (hence, the ridiculously excessive amount of 40 tea bags… Turns out we only needed like… 12? We retty much let Elaine down here… hahaha)
This wasn’t your typical southern-style sweet tea… If anything, the mysterious concoction tasted more like honey (also a big no-no – Use. SUGAR. ONLY *___O”) trying to merge with the black tea, but not quite getting there…
It was a progression of:
Hmm… Sweet tea… BREW IT…
Hmm… No sugar? Honey..? DO IT…
Hmm… 20 Tea Bags and God-knows-how-much-honey/sugar-we-put-in-that-pot…? SCREW IT add more!!!
Hmm… What on Earth does this taste like now…? BLEW IT.
But alas, in the midst of failure and some shame… There was much grace… and laughter ^___^”. Honestly turned out to be one of my fondest memories of the week!
After 3 days of flyering and tabling around campus, we ended up having some pretty meaningful discussions with all kinds of students! I was astonished by how honest some people were, especially in answering “no” to living a purposeful life. It reminded me of how college is such a pivotal time for everyone – people discover their purpose through different means – faith, relationships, success, etc… It was a reminder that I, too, was in the same position back when I studied at UCSD – struggling to find an unfailing purpose to live for…
Our UC Outreach concluded with our Wednesday night Edge House dinner, where one visiting missionary, Youn Lee, shared her testimony of finding purpose in her life in the midst of a strenuous working life. We had some pretty nice discussions based on her testimony, and it was so encouraging to see how open people were in talking about spirituality… We saw familiar faces from past outreach events, and met newcomers – a good mix of US natives & internationals!
Sure, we may have had only 10-15 UC students come out from the tons of flyers that we passed out, but we are still very thankful to God! Numbers aren’t everything… and who knows what massive things God can do through the few that came out. Jesus started out with 12 disciples… and look what has become of his ministry today?
Big things have small beginnings! We can only pray and hope that all the other hundreds of students were touched by God in some way to consider purpose beyond the things that we see in this world on a day-to-day basis…
And to my fellow readers out there, I also want to challenge you with the same question: What makes a purposeful life for you? Are you currently living one…? Why or why not?
Spring JAM (3/30-3/31)
Spring JAM (Jesus And Me)… Does the pun make sense now…? (insert sloth joke here). Two days of spectacular fun with the OTR kids! We had about 40+ kids come out to our church for each day! The kids were engaged in bible storytelling, crafts, games, and dancing for the first part of the afternoons. I was assigned to bible story telling, so I wasn’t able to get a peek at what the other stations were like… But I heard nothing but good things from everyone!
And time after time, I am reminded… Kids really love obnoxiously exaggerated acting haha. I advise you to consider it if you’re struggling with keeping the attention of the children you’re working with!
But the most amazing part about Spring JAM? The kids were ridiculously well-behaved!!!
I cried so much on the inside…
*Roughly translated to: “WHY CAN’T YOU BE LIKE THIS AT KIDS CLUB OR ON SUNDAYS!?!?!? T_______T”*
But who am I to complain? It was awesome seeing our kids worship together and fully participate in the activities, let alone even just show up during spring break when they could be hanging out at the park or at home instead! It was also really cool seeing some of the teenagers serving as role models/assistant line leaders for the kids!
I’m telling you… The kids may not know it, but there is definitely something that God is doing in their hearts to bring them back to church… It’s not just the friends, or food, or time to kill… Spring JAM really showed me that there is a genuine hunger for God that is coming about in the children’s hearts…
Refugee Children’s Visit (4/1)
A few of us had an opportunity to spend time with some of the Syrian refugee families that OTR LWC has been reaching out to lately. Aghhhh!!!!! My heart melted so much as we spent time with the children! They were super stoked with story-telling (I’m telling you… They thrive on obnoxiously exaggerated acting), praise dance time, and crafts… But really, they were just stoked to see new company!
These were perhaps the happiest children I have ever had the privilege of seeing in my entire life. And it’s amazing considering the hardships that their families have to go through with their circumstances as refugees. They may not fully know the implications of the gospel for their lives, but it’s encouraging to see that they hold hope for something… Praying that they will one day discover that their hope rests in nothing but the blood of Jesus…
Aaaaaaaand that just about concludes the major events from Spring Mission Week! Here are a couple more pictures to close out this month’s update (:
I can’t get enough of this goofball haha. Admittedly, I think Jonah is the manifestation of the inner child inside of me that I’ve always wanted to express without being judged…. ^___^”
Some other dead philosopher also stated, “Home is where the heart is” … As much as I’ve made OTR my home in these past 4 months, it felt really nice to have a piece of home-home (Kairos!!!) with me for a week ^___^ (Where my home-home-homies in SGV at!? Mom & Dad… Aunt Janie… Uncle Marty… Mom & Dad… Gennie… I know you’re reading this… Special shout out to y’all though ^___^”)
Brief prayer requests as of now:
- Alpha Course – We are 2 weeks into our Alpha course with the UC students! Pray that God may continue to open their hearts and be at the center of our discussions and fellowship!
- Sunday School – Pray for more children to regularly come out to our Sunday School! It’s great that we have kids visiting for events like Spring JAM, but we really want to build relationships with more kids in the community!
- Pastor Johann & Sister Grace – From 4/24 to 5/18, our flagship captains, PJ and SG are embarking on a mission trip to China to share the gospel with churches and communities that they have been previously connected to. Please pray for their health, safety, and diligence in sharing the gospel and God’s love in their ministry (:
- Personal Prayer Request – For me to not dwell in my past and/or failures as they come up, but to really take God’s grace to heart and to keep moving forward in thankfulness rather than condemnation (Feel free to message/e-mail me if you need me to elaborate – running out of space for this update haha)
And in summation, as the OTR kids would say…
Yo, that was LIVE.
No, really though!
^ That was live.
Peace & Blessings,