Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We are NOT going for Jesus...

We are going WITH Him.  
We are going to do His work right by His side, just as He will be along ours. He tells us so in Matthew 29:20: "And surely I am WITH YOU always, to the very end of the age".

These were the words that struck me last night as I sat in on the meeting where I'd eventually meet the rest of my team.  About 50-60 people gathered in the room where display boards and colorful pamphlets had been neatly placed, along with 3 ring binders with the names of the places where the teams would go.  Red for Europe, Orange for North America, Blue for Latin America, Green for Africa and Yellow for Asia.  Of course, we were told to sit at any open chair at a table, as they were not yet splitting us up by group.

I chose to sit at one of the tables, and in speaking with those there, found myself surrounded by both veteran mission trippers, and newcomers as well, which made me very comfortable.  I was secretly hoping that my own group would be the same in make up; that we'd have veterans, as well as a first timer to share my experiences with.

After a prayer and an icebreaker, we sat and discussed some of the basics of the trips.  I found that I had been one of the first people chosen to go on one of the trips (I turned my application in as soon as I could after they had been released), and that they had still been interviewing people for the trips, as late as just before the meeting began.

One of the biggest things we talked about last night was health issues.  Not only do we want everyone healthy during the trip, but we want to make sure that everyone stays healthy enough to go!  Immediately, I put a reminder in my phone to make an appointment with my own doctor, so that I could get a check up, and make sure that my asthma is in check before I go.  I also need to see a dentist, since we all know that one little toothache can kill anyone's good time anywhere in the world.  I am so grateful that we have doctors in my church who are not only willing to share this information and their services with us, but are actually going on these trips with us, to serve just as we will.  We were given reminders and tips (with more to come, I'm sure) to keep all original prescription containers (boxes for my inhaler and daily meds), to pack those in carry ons, to bring about 25% more than we think we will need; bring a personal first aid kit and pain medications; walk around on long airplane flights to prevent bloodclots, etc., etc.

Also, explained briefly, was the issue of fundraising.  While each person is to make efforts to raise their own funds, we are working as a team.  For instance, let's say that I work hard, but only get 75% of my funds raised.  Another person on my team may raise more than enough, and then would be able to share their donations with me, ensuring that I am able to participate fully.  Your donations will not go to waste.  They will be used fully, to ensure that all needs are taken care of.  Also, periodically, we will be given a tally of how we are doing (financially), as well as who gave (amounts don't matter here!)...so please, if you plan to donate in my name (or for my team) share with us who you are.  I would personally like to thank you for your gift, and keep you up to date on what is being done with your funds.

Finally, we were asked to gather in our groups to finally meet and greet one another...I was so FIRED UP to meet mine!  I had already been given the head's up that we'd have a pretty small group, but that's cool with me.  I see it as an opportunity to be a tight knit group.  Last year, there were 81 people who went on one of the trips, so I am sure that not every person got to have one on one time with all of their travel mates.

Disclaimer:  Once meeting my group, I did inform them of this blog, and asked their permission to use them in the blog.  I may or may not use their real names, but the experiences we share, along with some of their personal thoughts will be used.  From each of them, I was given permission, though at any time, if they are uncomfortable with the information I release, I may edit the blog with revised information.

As I mentioned before, I knew of my team coordinator, as she was one of my interviewers. "Liz" is someone I have seen around the church quite often, as she serves in great capacities there.  Her son "Taylor" will also join us on the trip, though he wasn't at the meeting last night.  Taylor is completing his third year in college now, and joined our group by phone last night.  This is cool, because it will be the first trip that Liz and Taylor have ever taken together, and he is using it as a learning experience.  Taylor and I met about a year and a half ago at the North American Christian Convention, where we both served as a part of the Worship Team; I as a singer, and he as a musician.  He's a cool and talented guy, and I look forward to sharing this experience with them.

"Jeff" is another servant I have seen around church, and can now include a name with his face.  He is going on this trip because he wants to serve the Mudrik's themselves.  He once went on a business trip to Rome, and had some downtime, so he wanted to find some missionaries in the area.  After contacting home to find out who was in the area, he met the family, went to dinner with them, and found out that they had never had anyone come and seek them out, just to show them support.  "Cheryl" is another woman going on our team that shares in this feeling with Jeff; she has the heart to go and serve the Mudrik's, and provide them with whatever support they need.  After reading the Mudrik's Blog, I, too, feel compelled to go, and be for them whatever they may need (my daughter is also wanting to serve them, and suggests that we send some goodies over for their children!).
"Phil" has been a member of our church for years, and actually taught one of the classes The Mudrik's attended when they were members of our church, back when they were newlyweds (before the children and the move to Prague), and has a relationship with them already, and can't wait to go and serve them, and see what their life is like, now that they are parents, and teachers.

"Becci" is another who, like myself, had intentions on going on another trip, but God felt that she'd better serve with the team in Prague.  As it turns out, He knows best, because she LOVES carpentry and building, which could be alot of what we will be doing on this trip.

As it stands right now, this is our team.  Right now, there are about 70 people being sent on the Mountain On 5 (MO5) mission, but there are a few more still being interviewed (Reminds me of Luke 10*!).  We may have one or two more join us within the next week, but its still looking like we will be the smallest group being sent out.  I look forward to getting to know these folks, growing as a team with them, and preparing our hearts to go out into this world as The Hands and Feet of Him, collectively.  When you support me, in finances or in prayer, you also support them, as well as The Mudrik's.  We look forward to adding your name to our team.  

Let's Go, Team Red!

So, is there anything else you'd like to know about our team?  Anything you'd like to know about The Mudrik family?  Myself?  Our trip to the Czech Republic?  Please ask!  Comment away!  Let me know what you think, feel, or suggest anything you'd like me to blog about.  You are taking this journey with Team Red, and I want to make sure you feel welcomed.  You are the reason why this blog is here, as YOU are The Hands and Feet of Him as well!  Comment away!

*Luke 10:1-3: After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So I asked...the story of HOW...

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

So, after years of watching others go on missions trips, watching them come home, and watching their lives change once they came back, I said to myself "I want to go and serve. I have seen an entire family (husband and wife, 5 year old, 3 year old and 8 month old) go from the east coast to New Mexico. I have seen a small group go to Jamaica, to teach Vacation Bible School and put a roof on a church, while sleeping on the church's floor at night. I've seen a large group of teenagers go to the Dominican Republic, and help a church start a youth program similar to the one we have at our church, of which they went into the neighborhoods and brought their DR peers to church. And last year, I witnessed 81 people, from teens to the elderly, go to the slums of Mathare Valley, Nairobi, Kenya, to do a number of things. They taught sewing classes, so that people could start and run businesses. They taught Bible classes to children. They had leadership workshops, and went door to door, trying to get people to come and get AIDS testing done.

One group even went to different homes (shacks, to us here in the USA), to 'bring light'. See, each home is basically 4 walls, made of whatever building materials the occupants could find...be it plywood, cardboard, tin sheets...anything. The roof is usually made of a slab of tin. They have a door to get in and out, which stays open most days to let the light in. This one group actually went into the home, cut a hole in the roof, and installed a square of plexiglass to let light into the home...so often, we take for granted that we can open our curtains to let the sun inside. For me, a twist of my wrist opens the blinds...yet there are people around the world who do not have this. Amazing.

So after being inspired when the Kenya team returned home, and shared their stories, I decided that it was finally time for me to go and serve. Of course, their stories were not pretty AT ALL. In Kenya, the smell (I'm told) is worse than any sewer or garbage dump, and it was hard to not let it show on the team's face. They saw what the citizens were living in, how the water was contaminated with both human and animal waste, and how the children still played in it regardless, because it is all they have. The people who call this home are used to it, and are proud of what they have, so the team could not be rude and turn up their noses, as that is not what Jesus would have done. Jesus accepted everyone for who they were, and came to them, wherever they were, with open arms. If we are to be the Hands and Feet of Him, then we must do the same.

After much praying and fasting, discussion and thought, I decided that I was going to Kenya to continue the works where the 2011 team left off.

When it came time to begin missions applications for 2012, I did what I was supposed to. I went to the information session; heard about all of the trips that were being offered, asked a few questions and picked up my application. I prayed before filling it out, and asked that I be sent to serve where I can best be used.

So I began filling it out. When it asked which trip I was applying for,in choice 1 I put Prague, choice 2 was Mexico. Once I had filled it out, I thought I had made a mistake, since I wanted to go to Kenya. At the time, I didn't have any white out on me, so I figured I would take it to work with me the next day, and make my corrections then. I completed my application, and readied my reference letters. Then I prayed again that He "send me where I can best serve His needs".

The next day, I forgot my application at home. The day after, I took it to work, but forgot to make the changes. I then made sure to set a reminder on my Outlook to make the change...but set it for 9p.m. instead of A.M. It took me a minute...and then I realized that maybe I wasn't supposed to make that change, and that this was the Holy Spirit's way of letting me know...and who am I to argue with the Holy Spirit? Yep...NOBODY.

So I prayed to submit to the Spirit, and be glad that I am fit for service. I began the drive to the church, to drop off my application, and prayed along the way. When I took the application into the office, the woman taking it was happy to receive it from me, and asked me where I was applying to go to. With a smile, and a heart of gladness, I was able to tell her "the European trip, to Prague to serve with the Mudriks".

You know, when people say "Let Go and Let God", I always think 'how cliche'...though its a true statement. Sometimes, we get in the way of what the Spirit wants for us. We have our own wants, and we think that our want is whats best for us, so we focus on it. The fact that I made known to Him the desire of my heart (wanting to go and serve), He has heard (Psalm 20:4). He has also heard me ask to be sent to where I can best be used to serve...and while I thought I knew where that was, He knew better (Hebrews 12:9).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Songs that remind me Why...

As a worship leader, I am called to prepare and encourage others to worship.  In doing this, I need to know and understand lyrics, to prepare the hearts of those singing for whatever message they are to receive at that time...

and then I woke up this morning, wondering why I awoke so much earlier than usual...wondering why I couldn't sleep so well through the night, I began humming a couple of different songs...and now I feel peace (versus the anxiety I was feeling).

Heal my heart and make it clean 
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
Break my heart from what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I walk from earth unto Eternity


God of Justice, Savior to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Chose to serve and not be served

Jesus, You have called us
Freely we've received
Now freely we will give

We must go live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go

To act justly everyday
Loving mercy in everyway
Walking humbly before You God

You have shown us, what You require
Freely we've received
Now freely we will give

Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out Lord

This second song, God of Justice, will probably be my 'theme song' for this trip...and the thought of that excites me.  Not that its a fast song that gets you hyped up...but the words are challenging and charging to me...and I look forward to the challenges and the charges, both.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23
"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

Monday, January 9, 2012

We may not have a lot, but we have more than enough

Tonight was my first time going to a meeting of our GO (Global Outreach) Ministry.  This is the ministry that runs the Glocal Missions program at my church.  It was an eye opening experience, that's for sure.

As I walked in, I saw a few people that I knew by face, but had never really connected with.  This is quite possible, since my church has close to five thousand members.  We have a Saturday afternoon service, 3 services on Sunday mornings at our main campus, and 2 other services at our satellite campus to serve all of these members.  Even though I am on the worship team, and see alot of the members from the stage, I still don't know every face...so I was a little nervous and shy...which is completely out of my character!  Luckily, one of the few faces that I did know invited me to a place at their table, and began to talk with me, and introduced me to others at the table.

I looked around the room, and saw the information about the different missions trips that were being planned for they year, and instantly got excited.

Anyway...that is not the point of this entry...my heart is.

At this monthly meeting, a meal is served.  I learned that every time the meal is offered, it is from a different region of the world.  Tonight's meal was made by a couple in the church who were originally from Burma.  They offered us a traditional Thai meal, something I have always tried to stay away from, thinking that it would be spicy (and I can't handle spice).  It was AMAZING!  Certainly, I have had a mind change there.  Each person was asked to give an offering of $2.20.  An odd number, I thought...and then it was explained.  It is based on Colossians 2:20, "Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules". Of course, the scriptures go on to explain what these rules were, such as not touching, not tasting...so since dying to self, and being born again into Christ, we no longer have to follow  the rules of the world.  We are supposed to handle and taste and touch all of these things that God has made...

okay...I am getting a little off topic.  Anyway, $2.20.  First of all, most of the world can feed itself on $2.20 a day.  A DAY!  I often can't even spend that little on coffee, let alone an entire meal.  And it was a great and filling meal at that...

And I am full as I type this.  Which makes me think...I just paid $2.20 for a meal, and got my fill.  What a blessing to be able to go to bed, and sleep comfortably, versus going to bed to forget about hunger.  

Makes me think of other things I take for granted...like how I am overweight.  How my gas tank is between a quarter of a tank and half.  How I went to college, and now go to work everyday to take care of my family's needs.  How I am a single mom, taking care of my 3 kids. 

I could be like others in this world.  I am overweight because I have plenty to eat...whereas there are others
who don't.  My lack of gas for the week means I have a car...92% of the rest of the world does not.  I
went to school and got a degree to get a good job...while there are kids around the world who cannot go 
to school, because they need to work.  And I may be a single mom to my kids...but at least they are not 
orphaned and left to fend for themselves.

I have been blessed with abundance, even when it doesn't look/feel like it.
1 Timothy 1: 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown 
mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me 
abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that 
deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

From the beginning...

I guess I should begin at the beginning (duh) of how I got onto the team going to Europe.

My church has a Glocal (Global and Local) outreach ministry that is serious about serving the needs of others around the world.  They have been charged with making sure that those who are sent to serve do so with a pure heart.  Afterall, the purpose of these short term missions (STM) trips are to serve!

Once I had it in my head that going on an STM trip was something I wanted to do, I seriously prayed about it.  This is a huge deal, and I didn't want to go into it blindly.  I talked to others who had gone on trips about their experiences, and they were real with me.  "Not everyone can do it", "When you know  you're called to go, you WILL know" were some of the things they told me.  There was even one woman who told me"while it sounds great, that just isn't something that's on my hear to do".  Clearly, this has been on my heart for years, but it was never the right time.

Well, the Glocal team was pushing a new thing, called MO5. This stands for Mountain (my church) on 5 different continents/regions of the world.  There are needs that need to be served everywhere in the world, and we are planning to send 5 teams out at the same time.  Teams will be going to Mexico (North America), Arizona (USA, North America), Mathare Valley in Nairobi, Kenya (Africa), Southeast Asia (exact location is not being made public, for the safety of the team), and Prague, Czech Republic (Europe), which is where I will be going.

Of course, when I finally felt the call to go on a missions trip, I just knew I'd be going to Kenya...but clearly, God had other plans for me.  I'll talk more about that in a later blog...

So I filled out the extensive (12 pages!) application, prayed and turned it in.  I had gone to an informational session to hear about the different works that would be done on the trips, and had scheduled my interview.  These trips are pretty popular, and we even have some people who a veteran STM servants, which is why interviews are needed.  The ministry staff wants to make sure that the people who are sent on these trips know that this isn't a vacation; that they are spiritually ready for the task; that those who go on the trips know what they are getting into and can handle the stresses that come along with being a missionary.

So I prayed and prayed...and asked for prayers, and had my impatient and anxious moments...and then i finally got my notice.  I was accepted onto the team!

Now I am sending out e-mails, drafting a letter to send out snail mail with an insert to describe my trip to supporters and praying, still, to be prepared for this trip.  Net week, I will be attending the Glocal Ministry's monthly meeting, to hear what they have been up to, and what plans I can help out with.  I don't yet know who else is on my team with me, but I have met our leader (I had no idea at the time, but she was one of my 3 interviewers!).  All of the teams meet together at the end of the month for a big celebration, and then we will begin team building on a monthly basis.  Just before we leave, we will be meeting more and more often, to learn personalities and conflict resolution styles, etc.

I look forward to these next 5 and a half months, and cannot wait to embark on this journey.  Glad to have you along for the ride!

Welcome...Here We Go!

So...for the past few years, I have wanted to take an STM, or Short Term Missions trip.  I watched as teams from my churches came and went, and felt myself wanting to go and serve as well.  I never really looked into it, since I am a single mom and all (what about the kids?  what about the cost?).  Then, I moved and changed churches, and the church I am now a member of is BIG on Glocal Missions (global and local...ya like that, huh?).  After seeing so many people return from times of service, I felt an even greater pull on my heart to go and serve...so I began praying about it. (Isaiah 6:8, "Here am I. Send Me.")

And here I am...now blogging about my first upcoming experience!

It is my plan to keep this updated as much as possible with the process leading up to the trip.  To start, let me post the letter of support I am emailing...and we can go from there:

Hello there!

2011 was a great year for the kiddios and I.  We moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and everyone is happy and doing well at their schools and job.  We were blessed with a great home to live in, and a wonderful church family; though we don’t have a lot, we certainly do have enough.  What more could we ask for?

I am writing you today to let you know what an exciting year 2012 will be for me.  I have been invited to participate on a short term missions trip with Mountain Christian Church to The Prague, Czech Republic this summer.  I am ON FIRE with excitement about this, as I have wanted to serve in this way for years!

From Operation World:  “The Czech Republic has had quite a long and turbulent religious history.  Believers suffered, especially under the Communist regime.”  The freedom they have since gained has resulted in a significant ‘falling away’ of religious influence, to the point where the country is now over 70% non-religious.  Can you imagine living in such an area, where beautiful churches are used as concert halls and theaters, yet never to be the house of God?

From June 22 to July 6, my team and I have been charged to go and help Marek and Elaine Mudrick and their family, who have been living and teaching in the Czech Republic for years now.  With my own personal experience as a school teacher, I am hoping to use those skills to assist their ministry through their “UpWord Project”, which allows access to the public education system, helping to further language studies and multicultural education, among other things.  We will also participate in the construction of the Rivenhill Retreat Center, and meeting the local needs of the ministry with cleaning, organizing, and LOTS of prayer walking!

It is such an honor and privilege to go on this trip and I am humbled by the opportunity to do so.  Would you consider partnering with the team and myself on this journey?  If so, you can serve our team by praying for us, making a financial contribution, or both.  You can donate financially by going to https://www.nfpsystems.com/contrib/contrib.asp?org=139 Short Term Missions, and specify Europe/Rayona Young.  Your support, in any capacity, will be most appreciated.

Thank you so much for your consideration in helping me fulfill not only a personal dream, but also God’s call to The Prague.  Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.


So...there we go.  It's a beginning.  I can't wait to go on this trip of service!  I have been researching and blog following (the Mudrik's have a blog, http://mudriks.blogspot.com/ ), praying and researching some more, all to make sure that I am ready to go and be The Hands and Feet of God.
I look forward to this journey, and hope that you'll join me every step of the way!