It's been far too long since I've written on this.
I have spent over 36 hours waiting in airports, sleeping on the floor flown on too many planes to count learned how to Samba drank more soda than I would ever put in my body by choice walked up miles of hills lived on the west side and east side of Brazil attempted to learn Portuguese made dozens of bracelets eaten more mangoes than I can count got a tan on beautiful beaches seen more neon colored shirts than I knew existed Slept in a little brick house in the jungle
But when I really think about the last three months of my life... Those are not the memories that stick out in my mind
I remember my team and how we became a family
I remember the homeless man I sat next to on a city bus in Rio de Janeiro
I remember the sunrise God woke me up to see coming over the mountain in a slum
I remember the thirteen little boys and girls who gave their lives to Christ
I remember the tiny baby I held and prayed for because her mom is far too young to take care of her
I remember the many tears and hugs I shared with my team members
I remember the nights I was too hot to fall asleep, yet I couldn't deny God's faithfulness from the previous day
I remember the lonely woman in the jungle with sores in her mouth I remember that I didn't want to stop hugging her
I remember Carlos, Lucas, Max, Martin, Fernanda and Aline
I remember the pride and joy I felt for my "brothers" as they got baptized in the ocean
I remember the selfless hospitality a widow in the mountains showed our team
I remember the joy and excitement I felt when I was back in Montana and welcomed home my friends from Haiti, Guatemala, Turkey and Thailand
I remember the lifelong bonds I made
I remember the pure beauty of life that I discovered
Most of all, I remember that no matter what I felt in over the past two months -
God never let me down There was not ever a burden too big A problem too complicated He took care of everything.
His grace is sufficient...not sometimes...ALWAYS
Be thankful, have joy, praise the one who sits with - "Heaven as His throne and earth as His footstool"(Acts 7:49a)
He was never forced to look on us with care and love - He CHOSE to desire relationship with us, to long for a relationship where we share our every care and concern with our father in Heaven.
I do not know what the future holds.
I do not know what tomorrow holds - but I know that right now and for always, I am a loved daughter of God. He never stops protecting me or caring for my every need.
I know that life is beautiful and I would be careless to not look at the intricate way I am blessed by people and creation, every. single. day.
This morning the first two teams left on outreach - Thailand and Haiti. We all dragged ourselves out of bed at 4 in the morning and hugged our friends with teary eyes. They are going out into the world and God is about to use them in incredible ways. This week has been one of equipping, commissioning and quality time spent with one another. It's so hard to see these people go who I have come to love and spend most of my days with. God has orchestrated the teams in a perfect way. I can't imagine having to say goodbye for two months to the people on my Brazil team. It's amazing how He works things out. Our plane leaves for Brazil on Wednesday morning and we will be there by Thursday. It will be a long day with a 12 hour layover and 3 flights. Once we get to Porto Velho, we will stay at the ywam base for a week for an orientation before venturing out in the jungle. Our contact lives on the Amazon River in a house with no running water or electricity. We will be building him a new bathroom while we are there, as well as going out by boat to the Riverside villages to do ministry. The boat ride out to his house could take up to three days, we don't know for sure how long. What an adventure! We will go to Rio de Janeiro at the end of December and spend the rest of our time there. We have dramas planned, soccer ministry will most likely happen and the love of Jesus will be shown. I cannot wait!
Please pray for the safety of our team, good health, unity with one another and boldness to show the love of Jesus to everyone around us. I appreciate all of your prayers!
We went up Black Tail Mountain today for a few hours and it became one of my favorite memories in the past 3 months. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING was completely covered with snow. I felt like I was in candy land...but better. It was completely silent up there, so peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful. I have never seen anything like I saw this morning up on the mountain. Beauty made by my God surrounded me on every side, it was untouched. These pictures speak for themselves.
I feel like I always start or end by mentioning how good God is. But the fact is - HE IS. There will never be a time when praising Him gets old or a thankful heart becomes overrated. He is more faithful than our comprehension will ever stretch. Learning more of His love will never get old, seeing His faithful blessing in every day will never end. As Thanksgiving comes to a close and I think of all I'm thankful for, my heart is overflowing with all He does for me. He literally has filled my heart with a fire today that cannot be quenched. Be encouraged - He NEVER loses hope in us. He NEVER gives up on us. He NEVER stops loving us. " But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9 I can't even count the number of times I have read this verse and thought "oh yeah that's nice, I guess that includes me." But for the first time today I read it and I believed it. The word of God is TRUTH and so often I read the words and even if a verse hits me I don't always believe in my heart of hearts that it's true and applies to me. But it is, it's true it's true it's true. He has chosen US, to further His kingdom and we have responsibility to live that out. Believe what He has written about you - it is truth and it is life.
It amazes me when I step back and think about the mixture of people and cultures I live with. Melissa from Norway is incredible at the Cello, the girls from my dance track all have their own beautiful way of putting passion into dance, Jessica, Leah and Seth are all in music track and have voices that are going to take them places. Then everyone in the art tracks who just blow me away with their creativity in everything from painting to photography. The list could keep going on and on, I get more amazed every time I think about it. Last night was cafe night and all of these talents plus many more were displayed for everyone to see. It was so nice to listen to songs, see art and watch dances that we have all been working on for the past nine weeks. Yet another confirmation that every single one of us was brought here for a specific purpose, we are all so different yet work together in ways that astound me. The downstairs lecture hall was set up like a coffee shop last night, complete with candles, Christmas lights, couches, cookies and coffee and wonderful people. Definitely a fun and exciting night for everyone.
Imagine this with me - your very best friend in the entire world asked you to go to lunch with him. You can't wait to talk with him and have been wanting to have a good turkey sandwich at Panera and are looking forward to it with everything in you. Although the sandwich is an important part, you are even more excited about spending time with your friend. Hearing what is on his heart and growing in closeness with one another. He means the world to you, and even if you didn't eat a thing while hanging out with him, just being there together would be enough...Thirty minutes before you are about to meet, your friend calls up and says he really isn't feeling Panera any more and would rather have a coffee at Starbucks. Yeah admit it, you were super excited to eat that Turkey sandwich, but changing where you eat has absolutely no effect on how much you care about your friend or he cares about you. Where you eat or the type of food shouldn't change the rich conversation you can have or the ease of being in one another's presence. In just the same way, how we expect God to meet us or what He will teach us doesn't change how much He loves us - it also shouldn't change how much we can feel his love. I might be sitting enjoying His creation by the creek - His love letter to me. I may have a friend walk up to me and tell me something they appreciate about me - His love letter to me. Maybe I am in worship and the presence of the Holy Spirit brings me to my knees - His love letter to me yet again. God comes how He wants to come. The truth remains - "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." He loves us, He loves us, He loves us. It might feel like God is a million miles away - well He's not. There's no ifs ands or buts. God grace and mercy for us is bigger than we will ever comprehend. He wants to be with us. DESPERATELY. I hear about people "putting God in a box" then have the realization that I was doing it myself. He was teaching everyone around me new things about the Holy Spirit, while He wanted to teach me about being His friend. Just hanging out to be with Him. All of it is good, all of it is perfect because it's from God - but it took a wake up call from the Lord to recognize He will speak to me in the way He wants to break through to ELIZA, not the people around me. Through all of that, He would continue to draw me to His presence - reminding me that He is three in one. I can feel the love of my Father God, closeness of Holy Spirit and kindred friendship of being with Jesus. Sometimes it seems like God is coming through for everyone around you, but just not you. It's not our job to judge what God is doing in other people by what is or isn't happening to us. Every person has a unique and beautiful journey with God. UNIQUE and BEAUTIFUL. He is writing his love letter to you, in just the way HE PLANNED IT. Find your love language with God. Spend time with Him. Tell Him your fears. Search out a new and raw honesty in the way you talk to God. He is not oblivious to your fears or frustrations - as a matter of fact He already knows all of them, but He wants to hear them coming from your heart. He is so gentle and wants to invade your life in the way He knows is best for you.
"Change your life, not just your clothes. Come back to God, your God. And here's why: God is kind and merciful. He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,This most patient God, extravagant in love" Joel 2:13(The Message)