First Day at Camp

Hey y’all! Yesterday was an eventful and exciting day. We got to worship with the congregation at Cristo del Restaurador (Christ the restorer), which was our first interaction with Peruvians. It was such a sweet, blessed, and partially nervous time since I did not want to break a social rule without knowing it.

Our group went to the Davenport (Scott and Julie) missionary family for lunch where we got to try some delicious Peruvian food and fellowship with a few of the missionaries and their families.

The highlight of the day was definitely when we got to meet the Peruvian staff.

We played games together, sang songs, and prayed for each other. There was also plenty of fellowship as we all had dinner together. Language barriers for sure makes communication harder, but it is only impossible if one doesn’t even try to communicate with them.

Knowing Spanish is by no means a prerequisite for this trip. There are people who know Spanish and English who are available to help.

Monday morning started early and we were all eager to meet the campers. It was a wonderful day full of activities, dancing, singing, food, fellowship, and prayer. I got to spend all day with a group of 23 ten-eleven year olds alongside three others campers: two of them being Peruvians. There were definitely times I wish I knew more Spanish to be able to talk to the kids more one-on-one, but I start to realize how much can be communicated by one’s energy and passion through one’s actions.

Our evening ended with dinner at the Johnson family (Josh and Elisabeth), where we were able to spend time with them and encourage them as well in their hard work.

 The theme verse for camp this year comes from Ephesians 4:1: “Andad como es digno” or, “walk worthy”. Please be in prayer as we try to communicate God’s grace through this verse, and the famous story Pilgrim’s Progress as we point them to Christ.

We made a bracelet at the crafts activity today that had 5 beads: green representing creation, black representing sin/death, red representing the blood of Jesus, white representing the righteousness of Christ imputed into us, and finally yellow representing eternal life given to us as a gift.

Please pray that the kids may understand this: that they may understand their need of salvation because of sin so that they may indeed desire to know, love, and worship Christ.

Why be a Resident Assistant? (For a third year)

It is now official. I will be a Resident Assistant for my third year in a row. It will be my last year that I will have my own dorm room, my own micro fridge, the RA tag on my door, and… wait what? These things are actually not what first pops into my mind. Rather, it will be another year in this position of influence. Is it wrong to want to influence people? Is it wrong to want to be in a position where it is easier to influence people? It completely depends on what I would like to influence my residents with. If I would like to use my position to elevate myself, then yes, it is entirely wrong. However, if my aim is to elevate my residents, then it is appropriate for me to want to influence them.

Whenever we speak, we want to influence people. If we wouldn’t want that, then we wouldn’t say anything. So when I speak and act, toward what end do I want my residents to be influenced? How exactly do I want to elevate them?
Through words of kindness and acts of love. I know that I have not been on my hall as much as I would have liked this year. I know that I have not gotten to know my residents as well as I would have liked to. I know that there are times I have not spoken words of kindness or acted in ways of love. It is for all these things that I am thankful for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who always overflows us with grace. Timothy Keller, in his book Every Good Endeavor, says:
“Your work will be only partially successful, on your best days, in bringing that world [a healed world] about. But inevitably… the beauty, harmony, justice, comfort, joy, and community… will come to fruition” (30).
I can do my best and fail, knowing that God is sovereign and will one day bring a new Heaven down to the new Earth, where all these blessings are there in full.

“But will you not be tired of doing the same things again for a third year?” I was asked. The answer is a simple no. When you work with people there is not a day that is like another. Even less does a semester or a year look anything alike.
Every day brings a new challenge when you deal with people made in the image of God who are daily dealing with the consequences of sin. Especially since you are one yourself. It is therefore, with reliance on the Gospel of peace, that I intend to finish this semester, and prepare myself for the tasks that God has prepared for me in the future.

Peruvian Time

Yesterday was our third day of camp. It was extra special for the campers since they today had the opportunity to ride horses! The day flew by, and we had a smooth transition between activities and the kids seemed to enjoy all day!

We had dinner at the Smith’s (Allen and Sandi), where we had almost an hour of debriefing. We talked about the highs and lows of the week, what has been encouraging to see this week, the importance of camp, and much more. The team leaders ended our debriefing with some last words of encouragement in reflection of these past few days, and in preparation for our last day.

One of our Peruvian brothers shared a story of how when they were riding back to the churches with the kids, two campers (who are both mine) had told him how they wanted to go to church the next Sunday. It made my heart leap of joy to hear that.

Today was our final day of camp. We had shorter activities so that we could finish earlier because we had to make it to our plane leaving at 730 from Trujillo to Lima. We had a spectacular horse show right after lunch for about twenty minutes that all the kids got really excited about. We had a good bit of time to say our goodbyes, shed some tears, and wish our brothers and sisters a great year (and that we will hopefully see them again next year!)

One of my campers gave me a letter that he had written and drawn pictures on, which is definitely something that will remember to remember him, the kids, and this whole week as a whole.

Photo on 1-3-14 at 3.47 PM

Please pray for safe travels for both the ones of us going to Jackson, and to our brothers and sisters going to Savannah, Georgia.

Pray for the Peruvian counselors that we have worked with all week: that they may use their time at camp to further invest into their churches and neighborhoods.

Also, please pray for the campers that we have poured into this week. Pray for the ones in whom God has convicted of their need of Him, and also the ones whom God has not yet worked in. Remember, God promises in Isaiah 55:10-11 that as God’s Word goes out, it will not come back empty, but it will accomplish God’s purpose. Therefore, we can be certain that God will use this time at camp today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or even in ten years. And all the honor and glory goes to Him!


For more photos from camp, check out this link:
Twin Lakes in Trujillo 2014

Second Day at Camp

Yesterday, our second day at camp, was even greater than the first day.

We made sure to shows the kids our excitement, and to make them thrilled about being at camp as soon as they got off their buses. As soon as all the buses had arrived, and we welcomed them, we started by singing great songs, led by our amazing band mixed with both Americans and Peruvians.

There was also plenty of watermelon (sandia) to go around! Here is Tuan and Alleen in the picture.

When camp ended, we got back and a few of us went to play soccer with a few of the Peruvians, and a bunch came to watch. We had a great time furthering building relationships between our American and Peruvian staffs.

We had a peaceful New Years celebration. Several of us walked down the town plaza and then watched the fire works from our hotel. New Years is probably the biggest holiday in Peru, and we still saw people celebrating the next morning.

We did not have camp the next day because, as I said, New Years is one of the biggest holidays. Instead, we were able to visit the different ministries connected with Peru Mission. We saw the woodshop were Hermes works, a clinic, a microfinance clinic, two of the churches, and the brand new clinic right next to Cristo del Restorando, the church where we also had lunch today. The work that’s being done here is not merely done for the spiritual need of the Peruvians. The woodshop focuses on teaching men to be Christian businessmen; it teaches them to be honest in their paperwork, to pay taxes (which is not too common), and to work six days and leave the seventh for the Lord. The clinic enables people in the community to get healthcare, dental healthcare, and medicine. The microfinance clinic helps women with businesses. There is, as you can tell, a view on the whole self, and on the whole community.

We had our Farewell Party today (because there is not enough time Friday before our flight leaves) along with the Peruvian staff. We exchanged gifts with eachother, had a few from each staff sharing the things on their heart, and, of course, played games together.

 Their gift was a keychain, which had on the one side the camp theme picture and verse, and on the other an image of the beach west of here (there were 5 different key chains that all had different pictures of iconic Peruvian things on the back). A very nice gift, and a great symbol that will always remind us of this week and the ministry of Peru Mission.

As I looked back on the week so far, I was reminded of Genesis 11. God commanded His people to go and fill the earth with people, but they said no, and they decided to stay in one spot and build a tower high enough to reach the heavens. So God punished them by giving them several different languages so that they could not communicate. They were thus separated because they were working against God. This week, we have faced the same obstacle; we have been in a different culture where the Peruvians speak a different language. However, God has united us. Since we are working not against him, but for him, He has blessed us to be able to display our love for the others on the staff and to the kids despite these barriers.

Praise be to God for this grace.

Arrived in Trujillo

Hey yall!

 Here is a picture of our Peru team:

Here in the picture you can see:
Dylan Varner, Daniel Sluis, Tuan La, me, Mallory Stokes, Andrew Vincent, Jonathan Kelley, Rachel Fournier, Mollie Coker, Emily Sluis, Anna Kristen Mitchell, Ethan Vincent, Mary Claire Jussely, and Emily Anne Smith.

 Tuan is our fearless leader who will lead the group throughout the week.

We set out from Jackson 2:20 PM and finally landed in Lima 1:20AM by way of Dallas. We had a good time and did not suffer from any complications besides a minor delay.

 In Lima we met up with our partnering group from Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, Georgia as well as Alleen Tomas, the Team Administrator for Peru Mission, and her husband Hermes.

 We made it straight for the hotel in Lima where we got our glorified nap of four hours before waking up to yet another beautiful day. We spent a few hours finding souvenirs in Lima and getting to know each other before it was time for our flight to Trujillo.

 We have now made it to Trujillo, we are checked in, we are full, and we are ready for a good night of rest to recover from all the traveling. It has been a wonderful day of connecting with the others from Savannah, as well as with Alleen and Hermes. I know we are all thankful for those two without whom we would be completely lost.

Tomorrow will be our first day integrated into Peruvian life. We get to go to the local church at Arevalo. There we get to participate with the local congregation in the worship of our God.

After the service and lunch, we finally get to meet the Peruvian staff that we will be working with at camp. Please pray that the Peruvian and American staffs will connect well, and that we can get alongside each other in serving the same Lord for the same purpose of making Jesus known to as many that we come in contact with.

I will end with a quote from C.J. Mahaney that Tuan referenced in our meeting tonight:

Sleep is a picture and a parable of what it means to be a Christian. Your sleep tonight will be a small but real act of faith. You’ll lay your full weight on a bed, trusting this structure to support you. You can fully relax, because no effort at supporting yourself is required; something else is holding you up. And in the same way, throughout the night as you sleep, Someone else is sustaining you. This is a picture of what it’s like to belong to Christ

About to Take Off

Hey y’all!

It’s now only a couple of hours until we take off to go to Peru. The flight leaves at 2:20 today, and we’re expected to get back on January 4th at 10:50AM.

Please keep our team as we’re in Peru. Here is a list of prayer requests:
(1) that the team may be united by the Spirit in the bond of peace;
(2) that the Holy Spirit may give us the words to say, and the campers the ears to hear and hearts to understand the Gospel;
(3) that God will draw near to himself not only the campers, but that he may draw the counselors closer to Himself;
(4) that God, because of our love displayed, and His love preached, will be glorified.

Thank you for your prayers and thank the ones who made this possible through their monetary donations.

Mission Trip

Dear friends,

It is now one month until I will be at Twin Lakes together with the team that I will go to Peru with (I will be going to Trujillo, Peru, from December 27th to January 4th, with a team of 13 others to support a Christian summer camp. We will help them run it and help teach them how to run it.). We’re getting together on the 26th of December to make sure that we have everything and to spend time in prayer. Then we will be leaving Jackson and go to Peru to fellowship with our missionary brothers, work and play with a bunch of kids, share the Gospel with these campers and whomever else God puts in our path, and through this experience grow closer to the LORD ourselves; hopefully realizing how our American/Western culture is not the only one nor the superior one.

I am so thankful to the team leader, the session of First Presbyterian, and ultimately God for giving me this opportunity to stretch me further in how I view “missions,” worship of God and for allowing me to serve.

I have thus far $2000 out of #2630 covered, which I am very thankful to the Lord for. I have also many people committed to pray for me. Here is a list of the things you can pray for:
(1) that we may cover the cost for airfare and lodging; (2) that the team may be united by the Spirit in the bond of peace; (3) that the Holy Spirit may give us the words to say, and the campers the ears to hear and hearts to understand the Gospel; (4) that God will draw near to himself not only the campers, but that he may draw the counselors closer to Himself; (5) that God, because of our love displayed, and His love preached, will be glorified.

I will journal during my time in Peru and will post it later on this blog. I hope you will be encouraged by reading what I feel God has put on my heart to share with y’all.

Quest of the Designer

The Quest of the Designer is a dance is the dance department’s spring performance.

“This is the story of the Great Designer and His interaction with the masterpiece of His creation as He combats the Destroyer and captivates followers for His unending and everlasting realm”

I had the privilege to watch it today, 1.5 hours ago.

It was, without any doubt, the best dance performance I have ever seen. Why? Because it moved me more than any other performance I have seen.

The show consists of six different scenes.

1. The Majestic Designer Exists.
2. Creating His Masterpiece
3. Journey Among the Workforce
4. Encountering the Impoverished
5. Circus of Sin
6. The Followers Enter the Designer’s Realm.

The show reveals reality as it really is. It starts off by showing us the great Creation, and also the fall of angels with Satan (the Destroyer) in the lead. We witness a battle between the good and the evil; between the Designer and the Destroyer.
The battle is much like the battle that takes place every day; it seems like the Destroyer is winning, but the Designer will ultimately defeat all evil without being challenged at all.

My favorite scenes are the fourth and the fifth ones.
We see in scene four how God comes to His people, to the impoverished. They all draw near to Him and they have an opportunity for a rich, eternal, and joyful life. However, they walk astray as soon as He leaves. The Destroyer shows up, and almost all of them decide to follow them; He snatches the seed from their heart. It made my eyes tear up. It is such a powerful and accurate analogy of everyday life.

The few believers continue to the next seen, the Circus of Sin. They all watch this scene that is full of sin, and it does look tempting. Several of the believers are tempted. The others try to hold their friends back; they try to save their friends from walking astray. Unfortunately, a few decide to leave the communion of God; they decide to worship the created rather than the Creator. This, yet again, shows us the daily struggle of a Christian. I also believe it reveals to us the need for a brother or sister in Christ to hold us accountable so that we may not fall into sin.

Now, the performance is so much more than I have described here. The scenes I described are the ones that made my eyes tear up, my heart beat faster, and chills go through my body. They were the scenes that reminded me of where we all are today. But we have to keep in mind that there would be no hope if there was no sixth scene. Praise be to God that there will be that day when
“the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8)

“death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

and God will
“create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.” (Isaiah 65:17-18)


Why be a Resident’s Assistant?

The time is upon us! It’s time to apply for leadership positions – the position as a Resident Assistant being one of them.

So, what does it mean to be an RA?

First off: Being an RA is not merely a job; it is also a ministry. As an RA, you have to understand that from the start. You are not an RA because you need the money, you want your own room, a “free” fridge, or because you think it would look good on your resume. You are an RA because you want to make a difference;  you want to have an impact for the kingdom of God; you want to be put in a position where you can use your God given abilities to reach people that you either would not meet or that you would not be able to get to know in the same depth.

So, it is a ministry: it is a place to use your God-given gifts for His kingdom sake, and it is also a place where you will grow. Yes, you will grow. When being an RA, you will be stretched in one way or another. For some people, the initial reaching out will be the hardest. For others, it will be the stage that comes after the beginning, the phase when the superficial relationships become in a sense “real.” This is where you share your life with the residents, and they share their lives with you. This goes in line with what the apostle Paul tells the Thesselonians in his first letter to them,
“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” (2:8)

Or maybe your challenge would be the enforcing of the rules that is a important part of the job. It is tough at times. There are times when you don’t want to address dress-code at that given time, but you know you have to, so you do. The hardest part comes now: The part when you enforce the rules firmly and at the same time do it with love. (1 cor 16:14)

There are other ways that the job may be challenging to you, but I think these are a few good examples.

So why did I apply at the first time? Honestly, being an RA was my second choice. I made it second because I was afraid; I was afraid of the responsibility. Because there comes a responsibility with being an RA. You will have 15-25 guys/girls on your hall that you are to serve. If you take this position and do not put any effort down, how would God view such a wasted opportunity? Jesus tells us:
Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:48).
I was afraid of wasting this opportunity. I told myself, I will make the RA job the second choice on the application. If I get it, that’ll be God. He had my first choice vanish, and he opened the door to the RA job. I knew that God, being sovereign who is in control of all things, wanted me to take on this responsibility. He calmed my heart.

So, am I re-applying? Yes, I am. I have thoroughly enjoyed this year. It has been challenging for me, but I have by God’s grace overcome the challenges; He has sanctified my daily. He has given me the ability and opportunity to have an impact in the lives of the guys on my hall. And I feel that if I would have to account for my deeds this year that God would call me faithful rather than rather wicked.

So, have I done my job perfectly? By no means. I have fallen. But thank God that He does not demand perfection. Thank God for the abounding grace that He pours on His children.

So, should you apply to be an RA? From what you have read here: Does it make you excited? Does it make you nervous? Does it make you feel slightly intimidated? Good. Now, go and pray. If you have opened the webpage with the application, or if you have already started it, shut it down. Pray about it. Ask God if this is the opportunity and responsibility He wishes to bestow upon you. Do not think he demands perfection; he doesn’t. God uses imperfect people for His glory. The applications are due February the 6th. Don’t stress it. If you still aren’t certain by then: apply. Merely applying doesn’t mean signing up. I know those that weren’t sure by the time they applied, so they did. And then in March they received their Hiring Letter and God made it clear to them that the RA position was not in His plan for them, and they decided to decline.

If you have any questions regarding how it is being a Resident’s Assistants, do not hesitate to send me an email.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Prepare for change

So many students! Yes, this freshmen class is the biggest in Belhaven history. This is so exciting. College in general is such an exciting phase in life. There hasn’t been anything like college prior to life. These kids leave home and sometimes even states or countries to come to a whole new environment in which they many times do not know anyone. In some cases they may have met someone they connected with during Discovery Days or B&U day. But still, it is frightening, overwhelming, exciting, emotional.

During the first time at college what we often see is the tip of the iceberg of who people really are. In some cases what we see is in matter of fact not people for who they really are. This is not saying that people purposefully are deceiving others but simply that because the first week is so packed of meeting new people, excitement, activities, etc. that one’s old self in many cases get put to the side. This ‘false face’ may hold on just a few days, a week, several weeks, or for a longer time. In fact, this ‘false face’ may become your ‘real face’. With this I mean, you may in fact change. Completely.

When you come to college, liberation is a word I believe is true in many cases. You are liberated from who you were in your old friend group, you are liberated from the control of the parents, you are liberated from the expectations of people that were around you. In fact, you can start all over. You can simply change to whoever you want to be.

Change is simply something college freshmen face. Now all do not change, but many of them do. Either they change involuntarily as stated first, or they change voluntarily. Neither of these do necessarily have to be bad, but they both could be.

The first could be bad in the way that you become someone you wish you would never become. You may look back at today in 5, 10, 15, 20 years and realize that you have been on autopilot the whole time and walked astray. The way to avoid walking astray is to hold on to the most important in your life. Now is the time to ask yourself what is most important in your life. If Jesus isn’t your immediate thought I pray that it will become the center of your heart. It is time to go to church, read the Bible and pray every day, and serve others.

The second could be bad if you wish to change as a way of rebellion. The reason for change should be because you believe that you are not living the way you should live. If your reason for change is any other than “I want to change this in my life to better glorify my God or serve my neighbor,” your intentions for change will probably lead you astray like in the first example.

Enjoy God. Enjoy college. Enjoy friendships.

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
(Deuteronomy 6:5)

Observe: These are my thoughts and my thoughts only. This is not Belhaven’s official standpoint.