Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Glory of Love

Speaking of The Karate Kid Part II a few posts can you not love this?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I love you Miss Mattie…

Have I told you about Miss Mattie?

No? Well then…
Miss Mattie is quite possibly the nicest person I have ever met. And I know I have never met anyone that has as much pure joy as Miss Mattie. She is an older African-American lady who is a security guard at the Woodruff Arts Center where I work. She watches out for us and she mostly directs patrons to wherever they need to go. She is a customer service dream. I have never witnessed anyone like her. Not even at Walmart.

But the most magnetic things about Miss Mattie are her joy, her faith and her smile. Most days when I leave work I purposefully try to find her so I can hug her and listen to her “word” - her daily wisdom. She always has encouraging words for me. I have even seen her on various occasions praying with other people who work at the Arts Center.

Awesome. I want her boldness.

I wish I could accurately express to her how much she builds me up and encourages me in my faith. I could be having the worst day but run into Miss Mattie and instantly be reminded of the big picture. I think God really smiles when people run into her.

She is just such a reminder to me of how powerful joy is. If you got it…boy can people see it. I love that. And pure joy is so rare these days that when you have it, it really grabs people’s attention. Next time somebody asks you how you are doing, tell them that you are outstanding and see how they react. What? You aren’t just “fine”, no – I am outstanding thank you very much.

There have only been two occasions when I could tell that Miss Mattie was going through some rough times. And in those times, her belief that “although tears last the night, joy comes in the morning” always amazed me. I want to be more like her.

Also, she calls me “Doctor” because I look like her doctor.

I love you Miss Mattie…

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It all happens when you’re 9…

Several years back a few friends and I adopted this phrase “It all happens when you’re 28.” We were not yet 28 of course and it seemed like a good idea to remind ourselves when IT would all happen. You know, when life would just be like great and all that stuff.

Then the first guy turned 28.

So we adopted a new phrase “It all happens when you’re 32.”

The reason I mention this is that this weekend I was watching The Three Amigos and it got me thinking…“I think it all happened when I was 9”

Let me explain. No, let me sum up.

During the years of 1985 and 1986 there were three movies to come out that I think really defined my preferences with the ladies. And I think those preferences are alive and well today.

First there was Berry Gordon’s The Last Dragon in 1985.
My love interest in this film was Laura Charles played by Vanity.
I learned ALL my dance moves from her...

Then, in 1986 there was The Karate Kid, Part II.
My love interest in this one was Kumiko played by Tamlyn Tomita.
She was soooo hot. Especially in that scene in the dock house when she and Daniel shared some green tea.

And also in 1986 there was The Three Amigos.
My love interest was Carmen played by Patrice Martinez.
Her accent KILLED me.

I think that pretty much sums it up.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

If you call, I will answer

A few notes on Pittsburgh before the conference recap:

  • It snowed on Wednesday! (It dried up by noon but still, that was cool)
  • Pittsburgh is a very confusing city. It seems to be a city that you can easily get lost in. And it has a very wonky and non-intuitive layout.
  • One store owner, after he found out that I was from the South, decided to remind me of how badly THEY beat US in the Civil War. He told me they could beat us again if they needed to. I was like whatever. Bring it on.

My brain is officially full right now but it was an amazing three days. The SAMS staff was great and they have an incredible family atmosphere in their office. I really liked that. And although they are a relatively small staff they seem to be a wonderful support system for the missionaries.

There were nine people attending the conference. Four couples and little ol’ me. Quick side note - SAMS only has a few missionaries who are single (like maybe 3 out of 60).

To be honest, it was just information overload. I won’t give you all the details but just know that I was able to get all of my questions answered and I have a full handbook to review and about five books to read. It is very clear that they know what they are doing. They have done this for a while and they have a lot of wisdom and advice.

But here’s the really cool thing – Every step of the way during the conference I felt God confirm to me over and over again that yes, He is calling me to South America. No moments of hesitation during the three days at all. If fact, MY biggest problem is that I want to leave faster than I might be able to. (Remember that whole timeline in my head thing from previous post?) The bottom line is that this is a process and it may take a little longer than I had expected. God is really teaching me some patience here.

Next steps you ask?

Step 1 – Within two weeks I should know if they officially invite me to be a missionary candidate or not

Step 2 – I accept the invitation if invited, become an official missionary candidate and begin to raise funds

Step 3 – I talk to SAMS and create a plan and a budget. The plan is a timeline for when I would like to be in the field and we work backwards from there to try and make it happen. And the budget will determine how much money I will need to raise to get there and also, how much money I will need each month to stay there. (My best guess at this point is that I won’t be certified to leave until I have about $15,000 - $17,000 in my account)

Step 4 – I plan a trip back to Bolivia as soon as possible to determine the exact city that I will be working in and the exact ministry I will be working with. SAMS wants me to go back and meet with various contacts in the country to finalize the best ministry fit for me there. Basically, to evaluate a few different options and make sure that Cochabamba is where I want to be. I will probably check out ministries in La Paz and Santa Cruz as well just to make sure that I am heading in the right direction. It’s the wise move.

Step 5 – Once I finalize my area of placement, and take care of other admin details I will continue to raise money until I have enough to be certified to leave. Once that happens I would move.

One question that I have gotten a lot so far is “How long will you be there for?” And the answer is I don’t know exactly. My first term would most likely be for three years. And then I would evaluate to see if God is calling me to stay longer. The three years would each probably consist of about eleven months in Bolivia and one month in the U.S.

Basically, this is a flat out career change. A quit my job, sell my car and move to South America career change. So it’s hard to answer that “how long” question…it’s hard to know how long one will be at a new job, you know?

Anyway, there is still a ways to go but progress is being made.
I will let you know if I receive that invitation.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Searching for God Knows What

Well, the time has finally arrived.

On Tuesday afternoon I fly to Pittsburgh to attend a three day conference with the South American Missionary Society. The conference is called the Crossroads Conference. Pretty appropriate don’t you think? Given the fact that I am standing at such a crossroad in my life. (Which way to that narrow road again?)

Basically, this conference is an opportunity for me to learn more about SAMS and for them to learn more about me. Part of the conference focus is educational – to let myself and the eight other people from around the U.S. attending the conference know what this whole missionary thing is really about and to let us ask all our questions. There will also be one-on-one interviews and consultations with the SAMS staff. After the conference, SAMS will either invite me to be a missionary candidate or they won’t.

If they invite me and I accept the invitation (And I will) I will then begin the process of raising money and finalizing all of the details (area of placement, training, budget, medical stuff, write a will, etc.)

Once I have raised the money, finalized the details and received the final go ahead from the society I can move south a few miles.

Here’s what that timeline looks like in my head…
Begin raising money in February or March
Quit my job at the end of June
Take July off to rest, prepare and spend time with people
Move August 1 to South America

(I am really curious to know what God thinks about the little schedule that I have created)

Anyway, I will let you know how the conference goes.

If you are the praying kind, please pray for me this next week as I go and continue my search for God knows what.

Seacrest out.

Monday, January 01, 2007

10, 9, 8, 7, 6…

Here are a few 2006 highlights for you...

  • A new nephew (I love you Benjer)
  • God really began to use me in the lives of some of my co-workers (Totally unbelievable. Just be careful what you pray for sometimes. I’m just saying)
  • I found out what it meant to pray specifically for someone else for an extended period of time and through this process God constantly reminded me that I am not His primary focus
  • I am now volunteering with the children’s ministry at church and I get to spend an hour every Sunday morning with about ten first graders (And I now know what Heelys are – sweet!)
  • God totally reworked my finances and showed me the wonderful benefits of sacrificially giving to His kingdom
  • I found out that yes I CAN live without TV (except for some sports on the weekend and Laguna Beach of course)
  • And I went on my first and possibly last SHORT-term mission trip (I think we all know what affect that had on me)

And where am I headed in 2007 you might ask?

1) More focus on my time management – we are all given 168 hours every week to use and I figure that once we take out sleep and work we are probably down to about 80 hours. I am going to totally re-evaluate how I use those 80 hours and I am going to create an hour by hour weekly schedule for myself.

My main point for doing this is to schedule consistent times for reading the Bible and praying. Too often I rush by these two things and I am starting to realize that they are far too important to rush by anymore. I am starting to see the Bible and prayer not as a duty or something that is going to help me win points with God but as completely necessary fuel that I need to get me through each day.

2) My health – I don’t consistently eat well. Way too many fried foods + not enough regular exercise = not a good outcome. I have a difficult time with this. I have never adopted a joy for cooking, I have never had a need to learn to cook, only one person in my life has ever really confronted me about my eating habits and fast food is just way too convenient and easy. I so need a rule for this one. So what I am going to try is what I was able to accomplish for Lent about a year or so ago. I am going to attempt to avoid fried foods altogether and see what happens. I am also going to add three exercising times on that weekly schedule that I mentioned above.

3) Career Change – We’ll see what happens but I might be moving to South America. Most likely Bolivia but not necessarily Bolivia. This would no doubt be a huge life and direction change and there is a lot to be done over the next 6-7 months to prepare to leave. But at every step of the way so far I have felt God giving me an open door to do this. And as of today I have not hit any major roadblocks but I know they could still be out there. I was just telling Warren yesterday that I catch myself daydreaming about South America more and more. And I have these moments sometimes when I feel this intense longing inside my stomach to be there. Totally out of the blue I just feel sad that I am here and not there. As Warren said, God is up to something in this world.

Little did I know two years ago when I stepped foot back into a church for the first time in a very looooooooong time (Thanks Chris for getting baptized) that two years later I would be considering something as big as a move to South America.

Wow. I can’t wait to read my post NEXT January.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Happy New Year!