- Bring good news to the poor
- Bind up the brokenhearted
- Proclaim liberty to the captives
- Comfort all who mourn
- Repair ruined cities and the devastations of many generations
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
On Sunday afternoon, I arrived back to Dallas seriously needing a hair cut, averaging 3-4 cups of coffee a day, thinking Dallas was suddenly a small city, and desiring to stay in the same time zone for a while! I'm looking forward to getting some much needed rest and talking with friends and family before the school year hits.
As usual, I’ve struggled to figure out what to write about! Where do I start? It has been one incredible trip- full of unbelievable sights, incredible people, beautiful cultures, and an overwhelming thankfulness for people like YOU who have helped to make this trip possible. While I know I probably won’t see the effect this trip has had on me for years to come, I did want to take a short moment to share one thing that has really stuck out to me the last couple of weeks. Due partly to my hangover of over 2 continual weeks of jet lag, it may not be the most well-thought blog, but it may be one of the most honest! :)
(And for those of you that are wondering, I am planning on continuing this blog past this post! So.. if you so feel inclined, please continue to check it out!)
During the past 6 weeks, I’ve been immersed in different cultural extremes: the laid-back, relationship driven Europe, the mysterious (at least to me) Arab culture, and the ever polite and friendly Asian culture. One thing that has amazed me is to see how much a person’s culture effects the way they behave, dress, think, and most importantly to me, believe. For example, the majority of the Montenegrins are Orthodox, most of Qatar is Islamic, Thailand is mostly Buddhist, and Hong Kong is a combination of Buddhist and Taoist. During much of the summer, I was in areas where the Christian population was under .01%. That's one in 10,000 for those that didn't pass 7th grade math. :)
One of the most challenging and refreshing processes I have gone through this summer has been thinking about whether I believe Jesus to be the “way, the truth, and the life” because I grew up in the buckle of the bible belt or because I truly believe He is the ONLY WAY to eternal life. Is it prideful and/or close-minded of me to think that my religion is "right" and everyone else’s is wrong? How can I be sure? Is Christianity the same as all the other religions?
Here's a pop quiz: What is the one thing that distinguishes the Christian faith from all other religions in the world? Well, besides the fabulously trendy t-shirts. The answer is GRACE. Every other major religion in the world (stop me if I'm wrong) tells us that in order to get to heaven or a better afterlife, we are to follow a set of rules and/or be a good person. The bible tells us that we are saved through the gift of God, and all we are to do to inherit eternal life is to accept that gift (Eph 2:8). It isn't based on us going to church, reading our bible, staying away from R rated movies, never dropping the F bomb, and refraining from spaghetti strapped shirts (gasp!). Its all about accepting the fact that we can't do it on our own, and believing in the ONE who can give eternal life.
While I know this may shock some of you (okay, not really), I don't have all the answers to life's difficult questions. Heck, I don't even have answers to life's most basic questions. (My ACT scores will prove this.) But one thing I do know is that there is no way that I could ever EARN my way to heaven. If heaven is a perfect paradise inhabited by a perfect and holy God, how wrong would it be to think that I, a person who sins daily, could come into that place on my own? That would be like me dousing myself with liquid food coloring for 25 years, jumping into a clear pool, and expecting the food coloring not to spread. There would have to be something that would be able to make me completely clean to not contaminate the cleanliness of the pool. That is what the gospel is all about- Christ's blood cleansing us in order that we may enter into the kingdom of God. (Not to make this sound like a southern baptist sermon, but if anyone has any questions about any of this, I would love to chat with you.)
Let's be honest here- this is not what I was planning on writing a blog about. Shouldn't I have something more "profound" to say after a trip around the world? But really, what is more profound than the simple truth of the gospel? I thank the Lord for showing me first hand the uniqueness of the gospel. I also thank him for showing me how it can not be held back by cultural, language, and geographical borders. But that's a whole other blog in itself. :)
As I mentioned before, I do plan on continuing this blog for a while, and hope to post more thoughts from the trip once I have some time to reflect more on it. Thanks for checking in once again. Enjoy your last few weeks of summer!
Till next time...
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Hello devoted blog watchers, thankful procrastinators, bored summer-ites, and everyone in between!
Well, I have had a very eventful few days! I definitely expected some craziness in Athens and a few “aha!” moments in Thailand, but I wasn’t expecting what happened in the middle! First things first…
My time in Athens started out pretty rough with sad goodbyes in Montenegro, delayed flights, and lost luggage (found 2 days later). But, I am thankful to report that I had a great time in Athens. I was able to meet up with another single female traveler (a specific prayer request of mine) that could stomach hanging out with me for 3 straight days. Plus, through the awesomeness of facebook, I was able to meet up with a college friend also traveling in the area. The picture above is the three of us doing what they did best at the Parthenon. Not posed at all, of course!
While I did love all the sites in Athens, I would have to say that my time in Ancient Corinth was my favorite. It lacked the tourists feel of Athens and contained more authentic Greek culture. It also got me out of the busy city and included a pretty sweet hike, which is always a plus for me. (for you facebook-ites, this is where my new profile pic comes from)
From Athens, I flew from Greece to Qatar, and Qatar to Thailand. This was an unexpected cultural experience. For those of you that don’t know where Qatar is (I didn’t), it is next to Saudi Arabia in the Arab world. Talk about being in the minority! When I checked in for my flight, I was the only caucasion and one of only 2 girls.
I’m embarrassed to admit that due to my stereotypes, I was more anxious about these 2 flights than any before it. The majority of those on the plane were dressed in traditional Muslim attire and many of the women wore full black hijabs that wouldn’t allow you to see their EYES. As I’m sure you can imagine, this part of the trip got me thinking. Is it really fair for me to be extra-anxious on this plane ride because most are wearing Islamic dress? I REALLY don’t think it is. But is there a way for me to not think those things if I'm ever in a similar situation? How is it right to judge an entire culture on the extremists? I really don't know enough about this culture. Maybe I can add that “learning more about the Arab world” to my growing list of things to do once I get back.
I will also add that out of all the airlines that I have flown on, Qatar Airways had the best customer service and facilities on the plane... just a note...
I guess I will talk more about my experiences in Asia once I arrive back on home soil. I will hopefully have more time to put together some complete thoughts then. :)
As always, thanks for all the support, interest, and encouragement!
Till next time..
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Greetings Friends, Families, and Random bloggers!
Friday, June 20, 2008
So, here comes my personal epiphany. The thing that I have found to be most surprising about taking risks in the name of the Lord: after you take one, you will probably be asked to take another one. And another one. And another one. And while the risks may become even tougher, the rewards become even greater.
We’ve all heard the story of Peter walking on water (Mark 6). Don’t loose sight of what was happening before that: Peter was in the boat with the rest of the disciples. They look out and see Jesus walking on water. What does Peter do? He asks Jesus to command him to walk on water towards him.
Peter didn't have to ask Jesus to command him to come out of the boat. Peter didn't even have to get out of the boat after Jesus commanded him to. He had the choice. But Peter chose to ask AND then chose to get out of the boat. And because he did, he was able to experience that extraordinary moment of walking on water. What an incredible feeling that must have been. I wonder how much of an impact this had on him later on in life?
Every time I've asked the Lord how I can know him more, he always seems lead me a little more out of my comfort zone and a little more dependent upon him. It has meant taking on a leadership position that I was terrified of (Phi Lamb), become increasingly involved at church, living with less "stuff," confront a loved one, take a job out of state, and go on various short term mission trips. I don't know what my next "boat" will be, but I'm willing to bet it will involved a considerable amount of risk and reward.
Let me get this clear, I don’t think anyone should do anything in the name of “risk” that is contrary to what the bible says. I also don't think that everything turns out "perfect" because you followed Jesus out of one of your comfort zones (Peter did sink, after all!) But I have found the most significant spiritual growth to be in the times of FOLLOWING Jesus out of my comfort zone. Of taking risks. The more I get out of my comfort zone, the more He asks of me. The more He asks of me, the more I am reminded of His faithfulness. The more I see how faithful He is to His promises, the more prone I am to follow Him wherever He leads me to go. I have no idea what is next. But, I do know that the Lord is faithful to His promises. I know he is worth running towards, even in the midst of stormy waters. If following Jesus out of your comfort zone brings you closer to Him, I'm starting to see it more of a risk not to follow Him out. Do you have a boat He's asking you to get out of? Have you asked him?
“His divine power has granted to us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness…by which he has granted to us his PRECIOUS and very GREAT PROMISES, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:3-4
I adore you all! More to come...
Monday, June 16, 2008
Welcome to cultural lesson number one. Keep this in mind the next time it is 100 degrees and you are without an air conditioner. Did you know that Montenegrins believe that sickness can be traced to two distinct causes: drafts and not wearing house slippers? They will not let you keep 2 windows, a door AND a window, etc. open at the same time. For example, if it is 100 degrees outside, you will only be able to roll down one window in your car. No more. Another example: you can open one window in your room, but only if you close the door first. I badly misinterpreted this belief. I was assuming a closed door meant the same that it did in America: stay out! If I had followed my cultural expectations and “stayed out” every time the door was closed, I would never have had any opportunities to talk with my host family. It has been the little things like that that have been the biggest surprises for me.
I’ve had the opportunity to take pictures of the absolutely beautiful surroundings. Pictures could never do it justice, but I’ll share one anyway. Imagine gorgeous mountains plunging straight into a ridiculously blue sea, decorated by quaint towns made of stone. Above you find my favorite of the bunch. You can’t see Herceg Novi (where I am staying), but you can see the Bay of Kotor and the mountains. You should be able to find this area on a map if you wanted to.
I have also had the opportunity to begin learning about the culture. Like many cultures, there is usually not a distinction between personal beliefs and cultural expectations/traditions. The dominant religion is Orthodox, but the majority do not attend any sort of weekly worship service . It is a big change from the “church on every corner” found in the bible belt. Out of an estimated 40,000 natives, there are an estimated 5 believers in the area.
I'm looking forward to spending 2 more weeks here, but am afraid the time will go by too quickly! I hope all is well on your side of the world!
Friday, June 13, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Okay..... I admit it. I used moving day as an opportunity to put a shameless "my-niece-is-cuter-than-your-niece" picture up, but I couldn't help it. Can you seriously blame me? Meet Karlie, born to the Moy family on August 14th, 2007. Although my brother and father did all the heavy lifting, Karlie helped us a lot on moving day by giving us a smiling face to come "home" to!