June 22, 2012

Visiting a Friend

     As most of you reading this might not know, the mission trip I left for today was not my only mission trip of the summer. Last weekend I got to go to Mission Houston with my church through a group called Center for Student Missions (CSM). At this mission trip I was able to gain some really great experience to help prepare me for Nicaragua.
Mission Houston Team
     The first thing we did on this trip was go on a prayer tour. We drove around downtown Houston while a CSM leader told us about the needs of the places we passed. It was a major eye opener. My city is so selfish. We cover up the poor and try to send them away, instead of fixing the problem.  While we drove through the rich, partying and modern parts of town I just got such a sad feeling in my heart. This is what the world wants us to strive for? Hanging out with these selfish people who shun the homeless person walking down the other side of the street? No thank you, I'd rather be a Jesus Freak and love on those people, who are unloved, and "want" on those people, who are unwanted.
     The next day we went to two ministry sites. I helped out with a kids' club in an impoverished apartment complex and a kitchen in a rehabilitation mission called Open Door Mission. At the kid's club I learned something that I will always store in my heart for when I work with those who need love.

In the Bus
     When the team and I arrived at the kids' club it was pretty awkward. We wanted to help, so we just bustled around trying to talk to kids, smile at each one, etc. It just wasn't working; the kids stared at us like we were crazy. Once everything calmed down though and each of us got into an assigned job the kids started to come up to us.
     The CSM leader assigned to our team had encouraged us all the night before that, since we would only be visiting these kids for one day, it would be a very good idea to just focus our energy and attention on having a connection with one child instead of trying to have a time with all the children. The analogy the leader used was that we should be a rifle, and not a random shotgun. When we first got there I picked this one girl to focus on, her name was Maria. After an awkward time of trying to talk to her in the beginning I was just about to give up. We all split up into groups. I was assigned to the craft group.
     First to crafts was the youngest group (me, preschoolers, language barriers, glue, scissors, and magazines make for a funny mini-disaster). Then we had the middle aged group, and then finally the older kids that included Maria. To my surprise when she came in she saw me and called me over to come do the craft with her. So, of course, I came and spent the time getting to know her and just hanging out with her.
I don't know why exactly she decided to hang out with me, but I'm thinking it was because I made her feel wanted out of all the other kids there. I chose her.
     I learned something important there, the concept of just hanging out with people you're ministering to. Think of it this way: imagine you are going to visit a friend in the hospital fighting with cancer. You, most likely, don't have any clue what they are going through, much like most of us don't know what impoverished people are going through. When you get there you bustle around trying, in not know what to do, to make your friend more comfortable. "Do you need a blanket?, do you need a pillow?, should I call the nurse?" you ask. In all this what your friend really wants is for you to just sit next to them. To be there for them peacefully so that they know you are truly there for them, to listen, to ask help of, or the cheer up. Just be there.
     Today as I go to be a missionary to Nicaragua for a month I want to keep this in mind. This is how the Lord is wanting me to love these people. To just be there for them. To smile, to hang out with them, to do fun things with, to do special things with, to encourage and sometimes just to sit there with them radiating the peace of God. I am so grateful to God that He would answer my prayers for preparation through that little girl, Maria.It is such a humbling thing to learn from your mistakes 
     I have such a mixture of excitement and nervousness welling up inside of me for the mission trip to Nicaragua. People have been so supportive, it encourages me so much. I feel as if I am encased in prayer as I go on this new adventure. It's a wonderful feeling. God is with me. 
     I found myself worrying about what was going to happen and if God was going to abandon me now that the mission trip is here. God reminded me though that I need to have faith. Right now I'm walking out of the boat, just like Peter, Jesus is holding my hand, do I have enough faith to keep my eyes on Him? 

For I am the Lord your God
    who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13

June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day, Daddy

     Once upon a time there was a family of four. The man and his wife had two daughters whom they loved immensely. They would do anything for them.
     One day the wife found out about a father/daughter camping program with the YMCA. Thinking it a perfect way for her husband to develop a relationship with their daughters in a world where father/daughter relationships are not always a strong thing, she suggested it to him. He liked the idea and thus began many adventures with his daughters.

     If you have not  guessed yet, that is a story of my family. Ever since I was 5 years old I have been going on weekend camping trips with my dad. On those camp-outs I have gotten many of my favorite memories. Whether is was seeing a fawn in the middle of a forest, learning how to set up a tent and propane gas stove, falling into a cactus (ouch), singing silly songs while riding horses, learning how to shoot a bow, a rifle and a sling-shot with my dad by my side, falling into rivers ("accidentally"), going on bike rides just about anywhere, eating freeze-dried beef stew (waaay better than is sounds), attending a piano concert in a cave (they lowered the grand piano down from a hole in the cave's ceiling), finding just the right tree to hang our rope swing on, tubing down a river, or going on hikes at night in the company of a full moon, I will never forget all those indescribable times. 
     The camping group we joined is set up sort of strangely. It's kind of like an Indian nation. We are this one big "nation" which is composed of smaller "tribes". These tribes have a chief and the nation has a chief, storyteller (wise man) and other roles that I cannot think of. You know what's cool? My dad was the nation chief, so that meant I was the chief's daughter- I was like Pocahontas! Ok, maybe I wasn't that cool, but I did have an Indian name: Sunflower. My dad was either Rock that Rolls or Warm Breeze depending on the day, or what he had eaten the day before... Each person had an Indian name and each tribe had a name. Ours was the Nez Perce Ground Squirrels and once I switched to the older group it was the Raccoons.
     At each camp-out the tribes would come together and have a council fire. The nation leaders (chief, storyteller, and such) would lead a type of meeting with a lighting of the council fire, a story, and skits done by each of the tribes. Those were always fun times. When my dad was nation chief part of the script he had for the council fire had him come out of the woods with his daughter saying that he had just been seeking wisdom. Well, even though we didn't have time right before the council fire we still made a point to go out and do so sometime that weekend (we couldn't very well lie could we?). 
     It was always fun to have those daddy times away from the other girls in my tribe. We would go on hikes talking about what my dad would teach about that Sunday morning at chapel, or we would talk about how to identify Sassafras (the only leaf my dad can identify- so he makes sure everyone knows it), or we would find rivers to cross or trees to climb. Those are more memories I'll never forget. For at those times he, as Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, impressed God's commandments upon my heart as we sat eating, as we walked along the road, as we were going to sleep or as we were waking up.
     On these camping trips I got to know my dad better. My dad has always been such a great provider, but that does mean he has to work a lot. We are a home school family, so that means my mom has to be a stay-at-home mom and can not help provide. My dad is wonderful, he made up for that by having 4 jobs once. Even now that he is retired, he still has a part time job to help provide for us. I am so blessed to have the hard working, man of God father that I do, and I am doubly blessed to have been able to get to know him better in such fun and memorable ways. 
     If I had to choose my favorite memory from camping I would have to choose the times that my dad told me bed time stories. There were 3 types of stories he told. One kind was Christian stories he had heard while working at a summer camp. Another kind was Princess Brooke and Princess Devin stories where I, Princess Brooke, was the good princess and my sister, Princess Devin was the evil princess who always behaved wickedly and got into trouble (of course whenever my dad took my sister camping the roles were always reversed). The final type of story was Jimmy and Susie stories. In these stories Jimmy and his sister Susie would go by the post office and receive a package from some random relative asking for their help with some sort of adventurous problem. My dad never ran out of ideas for those, and I never got tired of hearing them. 
     These stories are such a great memory that I wrote a poem about them for my dad a year ago. Here it is:

By Brooke Budewig 

Come, come oh storyteller. 
Come tell us a story; 
Come weave us a tale.

Come lead us on to a land 
Full of truth in fables,
Come teach us of life.

When our work at day is done,
And we gather around,
Enlighten us all.

Out of your mouth springs forth words,
Words that captivate us 
And inspire us.

You teach our young ones 
The news of saving grace. 
So we now thank you.

If you were not here with us,
To tell us of these tales-
We would all be lost.

So we ask you to come,
Come tell us a story;
Come weave us a tale.

Come lead us on to a land  
Full of truth in fables,
Come teach us of life.  

June 11, 2012

Waiting for Home

     I just came home from camp a couple days ago. My last week of school was finally over and it was time to go to camp where I could be stress free. I could just focus on having fun and growing closer to God.
     Now I'm home and home is such a lovely place. Every time I leave on some sort of adventure and then come back I grow more and more attached to home. My beautiful and peaceful home where my family is faithfully there. Home is where I can just collapse on bed and cuddle with my stuffed animals and fluffy pillows knowing that when I wake up my mom is there to talk to about all the things I learned while I was away. She always understands.
     As I think on my next adventure, the Nicaragua mission trip, I am scared. I don't want to leave my home for so long. I haven't felt like this before. Ever since I signed up to go on the trip I've been so excited for this adventure that I could not wait to go on.  I don't completely feel like that anymore.
I'm so scared now, and I'll admit it, I'm worried. Though I strive to give all that to God, I'm struggling. It seems like I can't go back to the carefree Christian I use to be, but the Bible says I should, so it must be possible somehow.
     I am no longer that child that believes that fairy tales are true. The world has taught me that adventures are not always happy while they happen. They are more like the Lord of the Rings than anything else, if you know what I mean.
     I guess only the Lord can help me have child-like faith again. That carefree, trusting, go with the flow faith that runs to God my Strong Tower and my Refuge like ducklings run to their mother, or like I run to my mother's arms after a week away from her.
     As I sit here writing this I know that God will work out all things for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His good purpose. It is just very difficult to continue, unwavering, in complete trust when things pop up that aren't according to plan or when I'm tired or having an emotional day. God is continuously giving me hope though. He is in the process of revealing more of Himself to me. I learned a new name for God today, Jehovah Shammah. This name means THE LORD IS THERE (Ezekiel 48:35). He has given me a fresh revelation that home doesn't necessarily have to be where I grew up or where my family is. Home is wherever God is, and God is always there.
     Just as I have grown accustomed to collapsing onto my bed when I get back from an adventurous day, I need to grow use to collapsing into my savior's arms before the thrown of grace. For my Lord is faithfully there waiting for me to let go of all my emotions and worries into His hand that are far more capable then mine. He is waiting at home for me to unwind.
     God is continuously with me, holding my hand, and will help - I completely believe that deep down no mater what. The Lord has proven His faithfulness through Bible-stories, the lives of others, and my life. I KNOW He will never let me go. If He never let go of the Israelites He will never let go of me.

 "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; 
he has become my salvation."
Isaiah 12:2 
Here's a song that goes along with this post:

     So no matter how far I roam away from my earthly home, I am still at home. God became my home when I chose to accept Him as my savior from sin. My Lord is Jehovah Shammah; He is always there.