Today Monday April 16th,2018 was my Gigi’s funeral. We got up early this morning to drive down to swainsboro, GA to go to the church and cemetery where she was going to be buried. I knew today was going to here hard but didn’t know it was going to be that hard. Well a few days ago my grandmother asked if I wanted to speak at Gigi’s service and I said I would have to think about it. Well the other night around 2 am, I woke up randomly and words just started coming out of my mouth. I felt like God was telling me exactly what i needed to say at the service. Well I didn’t write any of it down at 2am, so yesterday I sat down and wrote the whole thing out. I started crying just writing it and thought to myself how in the world am I suppose to get through this tomorrow. Well I talked to my grandmother, Mom and aunt and they were all hesitant for me to read it just because it was long and they knew it would hard to read standing in front of Gigi. We got to the cemetery today and I went out earlier than others from the church were people were meeting to the gravesite. Man, I haven’t cried so hard ever, but even with the crying and sobbing I knew that Jesus was right there with us crying too. So the service started and it was amazing. The preacher spoke and some of Gigi’s closest friends spoke of her so beyond highly. Well my papa was up next and seeing him so vulnerable and sadden was just such an indicator of Gigi’s impact on everyone. My aunt read a sweet poem to Gigi and then it was my decision to go or not. I told my mom earlier I couldn’t just do to the fact that crying and talking don’t go well together. So I knew that I needed to read what God had put on my heart so here it is:
“Hi, I’m Lindsey Lawton, Gigi’s oldest great-granddaughter. I just wanted to take a minute to appreciate the impact Gigi had on my life, and everyone’s here. Recently, I had to go through my mom’s computer to find homework for a class and came across a poem I had written about my Gigi when I was just 10 years old. My 10 year old self described Gigi perfectly:
It was called Gigi. My great grandmother Gigi is my best friend. She is always there for me. Loving, caring, that’s the way she is. Fishing, reading, painting, and sewing. She loves to do those types of things. And she loves me very much.
Isn’t that perfect, and isn’t that what we all know Gigi for. She is everyone’s best friend. She will forever have an impact on my life and my heart. I know this is a strange thing to say at a graveside service, but I want to tell you all about the day Gigi met Jesus in my perspective. When I woke up that morning after I had found out, I looked at my YouVersion App which is just a bible app and the verse of the day was John 11:25-26: Jesus told her, “ I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never, ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” Well, that right there gave me some peace, but I was still pretty frustrated with God taking my best friend, my great grandmother, my Gigi. I got up, went to church to lead my middle school group, and the series was named Death Was Arrested. Wow, God’s timing. My co-leader wasn’t there that Sunday, so I had no other choice but to lead these girls about this topic. The preacher was talking about the story of Lazareth. I’ve heard that story so many times in church, but wait wasn’t the verse of the day about the same thing. I started really listening to the service, and the preacher continue to tell the story of how Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen to Lazareth, but He still wept with Mary and Martha. He had compassion for the people because He saw how much they hurt. Something that really stuck out to me in that service was that every time Jesus addressed death, He said Lazareth fell asleep. Over and over he spoke of death in that way. Fell asleep. Then I started thing about Gigi. Jesus is right here weeping with us, but Gigi is just asleep. She is right up there with Jesus, and I know that one day I will see her again. God has perfect timing. He planned the whole thing. Gigi, thank you for your everlasting impact on my heart, and especially leading me to Jesus by reading the Bible together. We will most definitely miss her everyday, but I know that I will see her again one day.
Lastly, Gigi gave me the book called I’ll love you forever when I was maybe 5 years old. For so many years, she read that book to me as we went to sleep at night. When she was in the hospital, I had the opportunity to read her the book one last time here on earth. She loved the song. It sang:
I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.
Well I changed it that day a little bit…
I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my Gigi you’ll be.
Love your favorite great granddaughter named Lindsey”
With tears in my eyes and sadden heart, I am hopeful that she is just asleep and that I will see her again soon. Today has been in of the toughest days because it’s a realization that I will never see her again on this earth, but I got to spend 18 years with her. With the sweetest, most loving woman on earth. She will be missed so beyond dearly but I know that she is up there partying with Jesus.
When fear comes knocking, there You'll be my guard
When day breeds trouble, there You'll hold my heart
Come storm or battle, God I know Your peace will meet me there
Again and again
Oh, be still my heart
I know that You are God
Oh, fear no evil
For I know You are here
- Prince of Peace by Hillsong United
As most of you know, Christian music is a huge part of how I am able to connect with God. I realized tonight that I have been so caught up with everything around me that I haven't really been able to sit down with God and just be with Him. Which is so sad because I LOVE spending time with Him, and I missed out of all those valuable days with not having true quiet time with Him. When I sat down with Him tonight, I just started flipping through my Bible and randomly (not so randomly--a God thing) started listening to listening to this song and reading the first part of Romans 6. First of all, the song that came on "Prince of Peace" is amazing, so I definitely recommend listening to that! That part that says that "Oh, be still my heart" just reminds me that Jesus desires that one on one time with us and just wants our attention. I found that it is so much easier to lean on Jesus through some difficult times rather than remembering to rejoice with him in the great times. He wants to there with us throughout the whole thing. But sitting down with Him and just let your heart be still and listen to the Holy Spirit. He will always be here for us no matter what we do or how we feel. But that kind of leads into what the first part of Romans 6 says as well. If you have time, sit down and take your Bible out and read all of it, but here is one part that really stands out to me.
1. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
It talks about even though Jesus is always here for us and will always give us grace He doesn't want us to take that for advantage. He wants you to see a relationship with Him as an opportunity to live differently. Yes of course He knows we will make mistakes and sin, because we are not perfect not will ever be. He later on says in Romans 6:6 that "we should NO LONGER BE SLAVES TO SIN". We are free. YOU are free from whatever is holding you back, but don't take that for advantage. Take that as an opportunity to live out your potential and live for a God who sent his One and only Son down on this earth to die for YOU. You are priceless, you are worthy, you are loved, you are one of a kind, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You can make a difference.
Now in the craziness of life, I challenge you to do the same. I am guilty of putting so many things before my time with Jesus, but it is so incredibly important to sit and be still with God. The business of your life will follow you wherever you go and might not ever slow down, so you have to train yourself to take time for you and Jesus. Because He died on the cross for YOU, you will forever be able to talk to Him whenever and wherever.
Well here are a few updated in my life during this craziness season:
- I officially decided I will be attending University of North Georgia in the fall of 2018 (plan on majoring in nursing with a minor in Spanish--and I have an AWESOME roommate who loves Jesus and I am so excited to get to know her better)
- Graduation season is coming upon us, so I am trying to sort all the grad part invitations and announcements out. As well as, my family and I need to start planning for the party.
-We just attended the State Leadership Conference for HOSA, so after studying hard and practicing... I received 7th in the state of GA for Sports Medicine.
-We just had our last Walking Wisely for our 8th grade girls. I am going to miss them tremendously next year, but I know Jesus has huge plans for each of their lives.
-In February, we had senior night for basketball, and it was so amazing. I couldn't believe that those four years went by so quickly.
-I recently took some senior pictures!! Can't believe I am a senior!
*I will post some pictures of all the events that happened in the photos section!*
Merry Christmas All!! Hope your day has been awesome!!
On this day in history (HIS-STORY), our savior was born. The light of the world entered into this sinful world as a baby. God sent his one and only son down on this earth in the form of a baby, The most simple yet marvelous ways God works. With the spirit of Christmas and Jesus being a baby and all, I thought it would be a perfect time to reflect on this child like faith God calls us to have. In the Bible app, today's verse is "For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus, THE son of God, came down to this earth for us. This little baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger came down to save you and I. Like how incredible?!?
For the past month in Transit, where I am a middle school small group leader, we have been talking about the Trinity. One of the Sundays, we talked about Jesus and how can we relate to Him now. Our girls felt as if it was hard to relate to Jesus because He was perfect, but we later dove into that a little more. Kate, my co-leader, and I began to ask the girls what temptations they struggled with, and some temptations were lying, gossip, boys, and many more things that anyone struggles with. From there, we looked at different Bible stories and compared their temptations they have now to the ones Jesus dealt with. It really opened their eyes, but my eyes were also opened to the fact that yes Jesus is perfect but he still struggled with temptation. With His struggles with temptation, He showed us how to handle our struggles. Just a man did that. A baby born in a stable while there was no room in the inn became our savior who walked through temptations and struggles and died for us.
Going back to child like faith, I want to go back to that complete trust in God. Darren, our youth pastor, explains it so well by comparing it just to his little girls, and when they get tired, they ask Darren to hold them. So, go back to that faith in your Dad (Heavenly Father) and just let Him hold you. God knew exactly what He was doing when He decided to send Jesus as a baby into this world. God wanted us to have someone who we relate to on a certain level, and someone that serves as a middleman for God. When Jesus died on that cross for us, that vail fell. How marvelous. I don't know about you, but I need a savior to love me and pull me out of my struggles.
The little girl in the video is a chica de Costa Rica (a girl from Costa Rica). This video was taken when I went for the first time in 2015 and has continued to make an impact on my life ever since. Her beautiful voice and love for Jesus inspired me to follow Him even more. Her child like faith inspired me to be more open minded, trusting, and just to lift my arms to my Father in Heaven. He was thinking about me and you when He sent Jesus down to this earth as a little baby on this day thousands of years ago. If you haven't watched the full video yet, please do because her faith and passion for Jesus is contagious. Yes it is in Spanish, but just watch her and her love for Jesus.
My prayer for you and I is that today will be a start to our child like faith as we are remembering the birth of our savior.
Merry Christmas and love,
The past Thursday (10/5) and Friday (10/6) I had the opportunity to go to the Catalyst leadership conference, which was INCREDIBLE. It was awesome just to hear all different points of view of leadership and how to be of good courage. Throughout the whole conference, it was so cool just to sit back and listen to the ways God has moved through people. His will for us is far greater than our will for ourselves. I don't know about you, but I want a life worth living for Him. I just wanted to share some of the really cool ideas each speaker spoke about how to lead with God's plan first and have courage to trust His will for you.
1. A single act of courage can be a catalyst for something extraordinary, so what story do you want to tell?
2. Focus on people not problems & take a step toward what scares you
3. You only have so much time here, so what do you want to do with the rest of your time?
4. Don't be Jesus' lawyer- Sink it up! Cut out what is hanging you back. What can God do with what you already have?
5. When roots go deep, branches will grow wide. Pause and focus on him.
6. Fake it till you feel it. You don't have to feel courageous to act courageous.
7. Your greatest title is child of God so live differently!
8. He didn't promise easy. He promised that He would always be with us.
9. Endings have huge impacts on us. End with gain/positive outcomes
10. We will always be walking from water (Jesus' baptism-Jesus high) to wilderness (fear, doubt, temptations, hard time)
11. Always remember: I am loved, I am a child of God, and He is pleased with me!
12. How will you handle the temptation of the wilderness?
13. Don't be two faced. Your inner world has to match your outer world.
14. Take another lap in the name of Jesus Christ (Wall of Jericho)
15. What are you filling yourself with everyday?
16. Ask great questions that reveal values, reinforce values, and reinforce behaviors
17. "What would a great leader do?"
18. We have to rise about all the hate in the world and just love others
19. People are hard to hate up close. Move in. Hold hands with strangers. Strong back, soft front and wild heart.
20. Make disciples through all the nations. Bring light to God's visions.
Those are just some of the many notes I took over the wise leadership advice God has called us to do. Leadership is difficult. Being courageous is difficult. God doesn't promise us easy. He promises that His will is better than ours and that he is always with us. An old song they played at Catalyst (I bet you couldn't tell by now that I loved worship songs!) was called "Heart of Worship". It talks about going back to the heart of worship and that we are sorry for the things we made it. Talking about that everything we do goes back to God. It's all about Him. And that's hard as well. But we have to remember constantly what is the purpose of this mission: to make disciples of Jesus by loving others unconditionally the way Jesus has loved us. Our job isn't to force religion on people, but rather to love and be there for people always. Be the light in their life.
Well... I have some exciting news. Today, I received my first acceptance letter from Auburn University!!! I am beyond excited for what the future holds!
Though that is SO exciting, we have even better news of acceptance. Our acceptance shouldn't just come from these earthy things of getting into college or getting into the popular girl's group chat. It comes from a source so much greater and has so much more love than just the temporary things in this world. Sadly, it is so easy to allow ourselves to fall into that trap of outside love. Temporary love. Social media, boys, make-up, popularity and so much more. We strive to be accepted. Our acceptance and worth come from our incredible Heavenly Father. He has accepted us with arms wide open. He has never had second doubt if we are "good" enough. Side note: Darren, our youth pastor, had a great point of questioning what is good, and that none of us are remotely good enough for God. God is perfect, but He accepted us for who we are. Not what we have done or how we messed up. No matter what you have done or will do in your life will never change God's love for you. God meets us in the middle of our mess. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for YOU. With all your baggage, He wants you. He accepts you. He sent you an acceptance letter a long time ago, and now all you have to do is accept it. No strings attached.
I have fallen in love with the new song by Tenth Avenue North called "Control". It talks about how God doesn't need us, but He still wants us. Strange, right? God is an almighty God who can do anything. But He still wants you, He still accepts you, He still loves you for you. You are His focus. When we realize where our acceptance comes from, we find our true identity. I challenge you to dive into God's truth to find your true identity instead of relying on earthly acceptance.
"Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh He is my Song
Let the King of my heart
The fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh He is my Song
You are good, good, oh
You’re never gonna let me down
When the night is holding on to me
You are holding on"
-King of My Heart by Steffany Gretzinger
Just let that soak in... "the King of my Heart.... You are good...." I mean that right there just gives me chills and so much joy. He is the center of my life. My passion. My rock; my cornerstone. He is never changing.
This weekend, I had the opportunity to go to my last VR (Vertical Reality). My fourth and final one. Over this time, our sessions consisted of talking about the Bible. I mean of course we did, because it was church camp, but not just talked about it. We DOVE into the Bible and why it is so important. My words can't describe how fired up I am about this book called the Bible. 66 individual books that span over 1500 years. How does that happen? 4 people (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) all have the same stories of Jesus, which by the way is not about them. Jesus left an everlasting impact on their lives, but mine as well. Each scripture is GOD breathed (2nd Timothy 3:16)! Like God wrote that. He spoke through people. Like holy cow. I am just in awe of how special this book is. Most people are like oh, it's just a Bible. Yes, but it is SO much more. It is the greatest opportunity, because it is a letter from God to US. Throughout the Bible, God prevails through everything. He equips us, prepares us, loves us and so much more.
The Bible is awesome, but you can't experience that until you open it. Each scripture has it own specific meaning for YOUR life. In the past, I really struggled with finding the time to sit down with God and just read and talk to Him. I thought it was awkward. I can be, but don't give up! There is so much knowledge and truth in it. God tells us exactly who we are. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are altogether beautiful (Song of Songs 4:7), we are children of God, we are hand picked, we are knitted together in our mother's womb. The list is endless. His love is endless. Recently, I have become close with one friend, and she is awesome. Her love for others and for Jesus inspires all that are around her. She has really started to encourage me to sit down with God and just have some one on one time with Him. I can't thank her enough for that advice. When you sit down with Jesus and let Him be in control, some amazing things happen. He fills me back up when I am empty, He sets me back on the right track, He reminds me not to give up, He cares for me. The reason I am so passionate about this is because I can see the work that God is doing in my life and in my heart. I am so much happier with Him right by my side. Everyone desires to have that amor of God ready for battle.
If you are reading this, I hope you can see the passion I have for the Bible. If you are thinking 'yeah, that sounds great but I don't think I can do that', let me encourage you that you can! It will be so worth it in the long run. When you get in a situation, a specific Bible verse will just pop up that you read and protect you! Living for Jesus is the most amazing experience.
Wondering where to start?
If you know Jesus: Read Ephesians!!! Amazing!
If you are unsure about the Jesus thing or just starting out: Read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Get to know who Jesus is and see what He has done in people's lives.
Tonight, my friends and I went to the Gwinnett Church night of worship. It was incredible! We got to stand right in the front row, worshiping our hearts out for Jesus. Thank you Lauren for inviting us to come with you! But a few things really stirred in my heart tonight.
This word AGAIN. When we were singing the song "I Fall", something inside of me just began to have a realization. If you haven't heart of this song before, PLEASE go listen to it know so you can experience what I am feeling about this song. One of the lines in the song include "I fall at your feet again, here's my heart again." I never realized this until tonight but the word again demonstrates that we continuously fall at the feet of God. Not once, not twice but again after again after again. And you know what, God's grace will never run out. We have to continue to push ourselves back to God and fall and give Him our hearts. Time after time.
The second thing that really stood out to me today was A.S. K. Jeff Henderson is the pastor over at Gwinnett and he was talking about Matthew 7:7-8 which is about ask, seek and knock. He continued to include that his challenge for this year is to ask for BIG and BOLD things, seek God even when things don't go as planned, and continue to knock even when you don't know when it will happen. Which is so cool because ask, seek and knock all add up to the word A.S.K.. Cool right? This year, I am asking that God does something huge in Chattahoochee and open people's hearts to everything coming their way, but to also seek Him when things get busy and tough and when things are going as planned and to make time to continue knocking on God's door. Chattahoochee has HUGE potential. I just pray that God will open their hearts this year to the greatest gift of them all, Jesus' love. I pray for there to be light in such a dark place. I pray for kind hearts that will be willing to help others. I pray for a change of heart in Chattahoochee. Its a long shot, but we are praying big and bold. I am willing to surrender everything to Him to help make this happen. One step at a time. By no means is this going to be easy, but in the long run it is going to be so worth it. Lead by example.
Thank you Gwinnett church for putting on such an incredible night of worship. You all are doing awesome things! Those were just some of the awesome things I learned tonight. Jesus, I fall at you feet AGAIN.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go to my last flood leadership. I can't believe it is my fifth and final year. So, I thought it was about time to sit down and write out fully what my flood story is. It really isn't my story; it's God's story and HE just allowed me to be apart of it. Let me just try to begin to explain the way God used someone like me (broken and messed up) to impact the community for HIM.
Coming back from a mission trip from Merida, Mexico the summer before 8th grade year, I wanted to continue this passion I found of serving others. That's all I wanted to do..... SERVE. I kept praying and praying that there would be an opportunity for me to continue to serve our incredible Heavenly Father. So, one day I was just hanging out outside on the computer. I randomly came across this website called Flood Student Missions. Looking back, that was not a random mistake; that was a God thing. Well I looked into it more and kept falling in love with the mission. To SERVE God and His people. Eventually, I emailed Mrs. Scales and asked if I could "start" a middle school chapter. She was like "hold on a second. I am not sure about that, but I am sure we can work something out that you can get the 8th graders involved and you can be our '8th grade representative'." I was all in. That year, Taylor Road (our middle school) really dived into all that Flood could offer. I attended every leadership meeting at the Chattahoochee, got a few friends to attend the chapter meetings with me, gathered friends to come serve out in the community, hosted a sock drive and collected over 400 pairs of socks, and so much more. God had His heart set on Taylor Road. Even though that year was tough, love and service was so present at Taylor Road.
Moving into high school was tough. Personally, I am not the best with change. I constantly am asking God to guide me in that challenge. My friends and I started going down separate paths, and high school just got really hard. I felt as if I had to be perfect. Freshman year for flood, I was on leadership for the second year as community outreach which was my passion. I LOVED to lead others at the service projects. Seeing the joy come out of someone's heart was incredible. Jesus just blessed me with the gift of serving. Our chapter struggled a lot that year. All chapters go through phases of hardships. But going back to the struggles of trying to be perfect, serving with flood allowed me to take time away from myself and serve someone else. No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone can serve and love others.
Something I learned really quick in high school was that life is HARD. And sophomore year did not make life any easier. At this point, I didn't feel like I had anyone in such a huge high school. Mrs. Scales says this all the time but it is so true: high school is such a dark place. My faith started to weary. Thoughts start to consume your life. But this is where my flood story gets a bit interesting. The summer before sophomore year (maybe like 2/3 weeks before the flood leadership retreat) I get this phone call from the person who was suppose to be the chief organizer that year. She was stepping down and asked if I was willing to step up to be chief organizer. If you are unfamiliar with what chief organizer is, it is the person that leads the group by organizing/leading meetings and notes and much more. Well, I was the youngest one on our team. To be honest, I was a little shocked when I got the call. I took about a week or so to pray over it and ask my closest group of friends their thoughts. God placed this heavy weight on my heart to accept the position and give it to Him. That's what I did. We went to the leadership as a team and at that retreat we shared our testimonies. That has been one of the most incredible memories that I have. Our team that year bonded and started to come together to build up Hooch Flood. We gave our chapter to God, focused on Him and we started growing. Life outside of flood got difficult, but realizing what God was doing with flood reflected over into my own life. Serving allowed me to stop focusing on myself and focus on what God has planned.
Oh junior year, stressful but incredible. Something with junior year changes people. My personal experience with junior was amazing. My best year in high school so far. Right before I started my junior year, we had our Flood leadership retreat. Hooch Flood had 100% attendance! That right there sets the year off right! We bonded, became super close and excited for the upcoming year. Boy was that year amazing. We started a freshman breakfast so that freshman could feel so beyond loved. Our chapter meetings were rockin'. We had like 60 people show up at almost every chapter meeting. We started host team. The sports teams were serving out in the community. Class council partnered with us for an in-school project. People were loving flood. But NONE that would had been possible without the help of God. God was the center of everything we did. He was our focus. God did some incredible things in our chapter. Meetings became more personal, more engaging, and more exciting. People were pumped to be at flood. A light began to shine at Chattahoochee. Even in such a dark place. At the end of year celebration, Hooch Flood ended up receiving an innovation award. We didn't do it alone; God was always before us. Most of our team was seniors, so they graduated. Their legacy of trust in God to help bring up Hooch flood will always be remembered.
Going into senior year, there are many anxieties of college apps and school, but with the help of Flood I learned that trusting God will produce an outcome more incredible than you, yourself could ever imagine. This is going to be my 3rd year of having the opportunity to be chief organizer, and my 5th year of flood leadership. My hope for this year flood is that our leadership can bond and lead by example. Lead by loving others, serving within our school and out in the community, building a personal connection with people, and trusting that God has a bigger and better plan than we do. Quality is always better than quantity.
God has taught me so much with this opportunity. I have learned to be a leader: to delegate, to love, to give grace, to trust God, to serve with a better purpose, to be real, to be honest, to communicate, to be flexible, to support people, to have joy, to be kind when it's hard, to have patience and so much more. Stepping into this when I was an 8th grader, I had no idea how much I would learn. I have given Jesus my life for Him to use me for His greater purpose. BUT I am no where near perfect. I still struggle as a leader and a follower. It's not easy. It takes work and time and energy. But I wouldn't trade it for a thing. Thank you Mrs. Scales for allowing me to step into these different roles, thank you Mrs. Kris for loving me and supporting me, thank you Mrs. C for being there for all of us and teaching me each and everyday, thank you to our leadership teams (past and present) for having patience with me and loving me even when I would make a mistake, and thank you God for choosing me to step into these roles and learning how to serve you. I encourage you to be a light in your school. Look at your school as an opportunity to serve others and change someone's day by just smiling. Learn someone's name. Take your headphones out and talk to people. Build a personal relationship with someone you don't know. Make the most of your time. And finally, trust Jesus with your life. Following Him is the best decision you can make.
That is my Flood Story. To be continued :)
Jesus, use me this year to serve you. We give you Hooch Flood. Please protect us this year from evil. Open our hearts and our minds to everything you have in store. Use us to be your light.
My heart is so beyond full.
This past week, God blessed me with the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with 70 other high school seniors. To start off, I was a little nervous to go on this trip. Originally, I applied to Honduras, but Darren (our youth pastor) called me and asked if I would want to go to Costa Rica instead since there weren't a lot of seniors going on that trip. It took me a while to pray over it and decide that I was going to trust Darren and go. Boy, Darren was right. This trip was nothing less than amazing.
The children. Man, oh man. Those children have my heart. My team was at a public school named Leon XIII. This was in deep San Jose in one of the poorest parts. When we first walked in, all the children started smiling, screaming, laughing and giving us high fives. SO much joy was in the air. Some of those children had nothing, but they had so much love. We would spend about an hour and a half with each classroom. Monday and Wednesday were our days with the kids. The language barrier was very difficult, but something kept reminding me that love has no language. One of my favorite moments of that week was when I had the opportunity to talk to these two girls for almost an hour and a half. All in spanish, but it was so amazing to build a relationship with them. One of the two girls had so much grace that even when I apologized for my broken spanish she replied with, "it's okay. You are still learning." Just like that, she showed me so much grace at such a young age. She was 9. Another moment that stood out to me was that when I was painting one day a little girl ran up to me and asked, "when are you coming to my class?!" It broke my heart. These kids strive for affection and love and attention. Words can't begin to describe the way I love those children.
Tuesday and Thursday we painted. Compared to building a relationship with the children, painting seemed so little, but I found out quickly it wasn't. When we started to paint, all the kids ran up to us to see what we were doing. With smiles on their face, they were so happy that we were painting. During the day, they ran up to us to help us paint and talk to us. Our team painted two hallways and decorated the walls with trees. The way just a simple act of painting changed the whole atmosphere in that school.
Words can't begin to describe how blessed I am to have been able to go on this mission trip. Part of my heart will always be in Costa Rica. Thank you to all our leaders, OpenHouse and our team for being incredible influences and helping us deepen our faith. I am so thankful for my team and how we all just bonded so well. Senior year watch out, IO seniors are coming for you!