Overcast With a Chance of Frog

Me on the Great WallI spent the last couple weeks in an East Asia country, and the next few posts will be about various aspects of that trip! You will quickly be able to figure out which country I am speaking of, but I am choosing to not name it specifically, on purpose, and I ask that you not comment with the specific name either… There is a reason for this, one of which I cannot directly mention, but just know that it has to do with the big man upstairs, and the type of government and control the country I visited has.

This was the first time I have visited a non-third world country, and it was a lot the same in some ways (such as squatty potties, and some retched smells in the large cities), and totally different in other ways (hello smog/fog…translated accidentally into frog).

I found out once again that my natural reaction to trying to communicate in a foreign language is to fall back on Spanish.. “Ni Hao…” “Hola!..” *facepalm* Thankfully, most of the time I was able to catch myself before I responded in a totally different language haha

I have never been so intensely interested in bathroom facilities.. Western toilets are a wonderful and lovely thing!

I have never thought a bathroom could smell better than a food court… Uhm. Ew.

Who knew that red beans could be used for more than Mexican food… Much less in a shake, and taste, not horrible. lol

I was able to cross off seeing the Great Wall from my bucket list!.. Not to mention a few other famous places that I was oblivious even existed before this trip!

I found a camera hidden behind a mirror (without snooping behind the mirror), I was able to see the recording light by standing in front of it. It was a sobering reality of the government control/snooping, and a slightly amusing realization that they likely saw a foreigner’s butt…

Internet use is frustrating at best, and if by chance you put in the wrong word choice for files or in an e-mail, suddenly a website doesn’t work, the internet shuts down or goes so insanely slow that you just get annoyed and give up. All of the rumors you’ve heard about the content control is no joke, and the stories are likely true!

Foreigners are watched constantly, and if you have blue eyes you will likely be asked to take a picture with someone.. Ironically my pink stripe got very little attention haha

The locals take pictures ALL THE TIME… and the peace sign is a local girl favorite pose.. Not even kidding.

Fashion is unique, and I am not sure what some of the people are thinking when they get dressed in the morning. Seriously, the best way to describe it is cutesie anything is the “in” style.

The food was amazing! Seriously! And, much to my surprise, we ate way more noodles, and hardly any rice in the areas we visited! I also tried a piece of shrimp (what?!), but somehow was able to find non-seafood things to eat for the majority of the trip!

More thoughts and info to come, but for now that is all of my random thoughts on the trip!

Traveling…

Kimono Shirt Phone Dangle!

Kimono Shirt Phone Dangle!

In a couple days I am getting ready to travel out of country, and I am super excited about it!

I get to be a tourist and, see the Great Wall, Tienanmen Square.. AND, I get to visit some markets, plus get a BUNCH of phone dangles (yup I’m going to make it a new fad!).

Feel free to spend some time talking to Father about my travels while I am gone!

Stepping Into Dancing…

I have begun looking into the possibility of heading to Seminary in the fall. I have two main motivating factors:

1. If I am going to truly do this “full-time ministry thing” as a career, it might help if I have more education in the realm of Jesus and religion in general!

2. I will need a new/larger vehicle soon, and I cannot afford a car payment and loan payments at the same time… So, staying in school is a good way to differ my loans while I pay off my car at record speed!

I am well aware of the slight ridiculousness of my reasons, but I also tend to be a go big or go home kinda person, and I pretty much always choose to go big… No, really, I do.

This past week, I began checking into various programs, and decided I will likely pursue a Master of Divinity because let’s be honest, it is among the higher levels I could get. Which sadly means it is a three year program (noooo!!!). However, I might be able to get between a semester to a full year off due to my MS in Leadership degree I will have completed in April (woot woot!)!┬áSo, off to visit a seminary I went last week.. And, while the courses seemed incredibly interesting, and a couple of the professors seemed amazing, I was less than excited about the other students I encountered.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that a lot of Christians are very conservative, but I was incredibly discouraged with the degree to which the students exuded their identical conservativeness. — I also realize that I am making a pretty judgmental statement when I say that… However, I was very overwhelmed with the level at which everyone (and I really do mean everyone) I encountered seemed the same. Like carbon copies of each other.

Which left me with the thought: “WHO ARE YOUR PEOPLE!?”

In ministry I feel like we have two distinct callings:

A. Minister to people like you.

B. Minister to people dramatically different than you…

Or possibly third variation C. At various seasons in your life both A. and B. are your calling.

But, what struck me when I was in a room with about 40 other students; who theoretically are in seminary to be the next generation of Christian leaders, and that they seemed… boring and exactly like each other.

Never in my life have I been in a situation like that… It was such an overwhelming feeling that it is actually hard to describe accurately.

Again, I am well aware that I am taking a fairly judgement position on all of the students I encountered, but I cannot help but feel as though Christians will miss large swaths of people if we forget to be exactly who God has made us to be!

We were not created to be like each other, each of us are created unique!

When we step into the uniqueness of who God fashioned us to be, we are exhibiting His creativity and diversity.

I also recognize that there are a lot of people who do not yet know who they are, and/or have not yet become comfortable in their own skin… But, it was very discouraging to be in a room with so many other Christian-leaders-in-training and feel like I stood out like a sore thumb simply because I did not look nor act like them. — I know that this is a viewpoint based off of 30 minutes, but never in my life have I been so overwhelmed by a feeling based off of a group of people around me.

I left feeling like although the program/education itself would be amazing, I did not fit, and the other students would not be “my people.”

Conversely, I went salsa dancing for the first time last night since August, when I injured my hip/leg, and since moving to MI.. Which means, it has been almost six months since I have danced last. I was a little unsure of the location and venue, but after quite a bit of online research, it seemed like one of the better places to go, especially by myself for the first time… And, while it was different in regards to the type of venue I am used to, the evening was perfect. The other dancers were fantastic, and I was asked to dance on a very regular basis despite being a new face.

My first lasting thought was, I am ridiculously out of shape. But, I was incredibly pleased that my hip and leg did not give me too much of a problem. I was also thrilled that I had numerous great dances, and, more than a few patient leads as I re-figured out my rusty and careful dancing.

At one point in the evening, I sat watching everyone dance (one of my favorite things), and I realized that I felt more at home with these diverse looking people moving to the rhythm of Latin music, than I did with a group of people aiming to learn more about the God of all… — In that moment, my heart broke. Not for myself, but the students I encountered last week. My heart broke because in the 30 minutes I spent with them, not a single one exuded an understanding that in Christ we have an infinite amount of creativity and uniqueness at our fingertips. In Christ we do not have to fear being who we are…

We all look different, love different, and are drawn to different styles because we were meant to show the diversity of our God with those things.

We were meant to point to the God who is creative enough to make an endless number of galaxies that each look different, while simultaneously creating billions of people each unique and different.

It always amazes me the things I learn or am reminded of when I go dancing.

In a perfect world, we were meant to each be unique, created to move to the rhythm we hear in our hearts, and encouraged to express what touches us, all in an effort to glorify I AM.