Tuesday, December 31, 2013


It's been quite the year.

In the wee hours of the morning on January 1st, my dear friend Emily and I stood outside watching friends setting off fireworks and having a conversation which we have since looked back on with great amusement. We reflected on God's faithfulness through the past year, and one of us said something along the lines of, "I wonder what all God will do and where He'll lead us over the next year?" For me, the answer came much faster and more dramatically than I ever could have anticipated, because it was that very night that I read of the Talbots and their need for a homeschool teacher. I wrote about this already, but though the idea launched a fair amount of emotional turmoil as I considered the possibility of being so far from home for so long, though it was some time before I could think much about it without fighting tears, and though I prayed and prayed for God's leading, deep within I knew in the moment that I already knew the answer to the questions that I was asking: "Go."

One year, and so much has happened since then. All of the tears and anticipation and prayer and preparation leading up to going, and now I've been here for five months. God has led me somewhere I never would have chosen, and given me peace in it. New relationships have grown and old ones have deepened, even from far away. I can see him working in the joy and the pain, teaching me to obey and follow Him, and changing my heart and preparing me for whatever He happens to have next.

There's more to this year even than what I've written here, but I'll save the rest for another time. To say a lot has changed is just a bit of an understatement. It might be more accurate to say that God took my life, turned it upside-down and shook it a little. Some of it has been painful, some has been wonderful, and I'm deeply thankful for it all, because it drawn me closer to Him!

I sit here in the Philippines and wonder, as Emily and I did a year ago, what 2014 holds. It's hard to imagine that it could be more dramatic and full of surprises than 2013 has been, but hey, following Christ is always an adventure! I don't dare say that I'm ready for anything now- bring it on! but I guess I'm at least a little more ready to expect the unexpected! And I do indeed trust the One who is in control of it all. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

New Country, Old Friends

6 years ago I was in CYT's production of "Scrooge." I was one of the Cratchit children, and a wonderful lady named Mrs. Nikki played my mom. I've enjoyed getting to know her over the years, and have prayed for her family as they adopted several children from the Philippines. That dear family moved to the Philippines less than a month before I got here! Right now, among other things, they have a learning program for special needs orphans, and their long-term hope is to begin a special needs orphanage. (If you'd like to read more about their ministry, scroll to the bottom of this post on their blog, or check out www.bartimaeusproject.org). This past week, CYT performed Scrooge for the first time since I was in it, and I'll be honest, when I found out they were going to be doing that, it launched one of my more painful periods of homesickness. God is so good to me though! This past Thursday, while the cast back home was in the midst of their final dress rehearsal, I was in the Philippines arriving at Mrs. Nikki's house, getting a giant hug, and enjoying talking about people and places we both knew. That night we even watched the old Scrooge DVD! Being with that family on this side of the world was so surreal, and I'm in awe of God's perfect timing. Whoever would have imagined 6 years ago that we'd all be here together?

I spent a week with them, and it was so much fun. I got to see areas of ministry quite different than what I've seen so far, and even participate a little. I got to spend time with some wonderful kids during their Saturday program. I had my first up-close encounter with some beggar girls, which deeply impacted me. And I saw other areas of Luzon, striking both in poverty and beauty, as we drove to visit their older son for an afternoon. It was both horizon-broadening and refreshing, and I'm deeply thankful for the blessing of time spent with old friends, even so far from home! 

The Cratchit family of 2007

6 years later, watching the Scrooge DVD with my on-stage mom and reliving old memories... and during the opening night of Scrooge 2013, no less! 

Reading to one of the Bartimaeus Project kids on Saturday

Bartimaeus kids again- such sweet girls! 

Philippine Reindeer 

Helping decorate the tree was good medicine for this girl who loves Christmas and is missing her family!

Squatter houses

More squatter houses, with Manila in the background

I've been in the Philippines for over 4 months now, and this was the first time I got around to taking a picture of a jeepney! 

Visiting their oldest son at the shelter for former street kids where he works