|Posted by Alyssa on December 19, 2014 at 10:40 PM||comments (2)|
I have an overwhelming amount to be thankful for this year. Ready?
Second trip to South Africa, God’s continual and ever-present teaching in trust, the end of months of migraines, a spring semester not completely lost, God’s grace through depression, first publication rejection, a manual car, a job close to home, the blessing of fundraising, time with family, renewed excitement for JAM year, the protection of my sister, a car for when I return from South Africa, spiritual vacation to Nehemiah House, the improvement of my health, my return to Cornerstone, strength through the struggle, a job near school, fantastic roommates and friends, an amazing flight itinerary to South Africa, speaking engagements, my parents trip to Cancun, the love of a God whom I often treat like dirt, passed my German class, didn’t have to make a trip to Chicago during finals week, stamina during finals week, my father’s help throughout this visa process, 97% of my support…
Yes, that was a bit exhaustive and, yet, not nearly exhaustive enough. God has been overwhelmingly good to me this past year. I am thankful to Him for all His goodness and I am also thankful to all of you for all your prayers and support. I can’t believe God has brought in almost 100% of my support with a month still left to go! I am so thankful to each of you for your obedience and faithfulness in prayer and financial support that has helped me reach this level of support. I have seen your prayers answered time after time this year. Please don’t stop! I will need them all the more once I am finally on the field.
I can’t believe I will be getting on a plane in thirty days. It just doesn’t seem real.
Not too long ago, the thought terrified me; literally. I was so focused on what I would be leaving behind, loosing, that I lost sight of my purpose for this coming year. But God is faithful. During a chapel service at my school the worship team asked us to take time to talk to God. I used my time to ask Him to renew my excitement for South Africa—to show me what I would be gaining. And He did. Of course He did. He holds nothing back from us that would be for our benefit. He is good.
This year has been hectic, painful, rewarding, a blessing, and a time of learning for me. I can’t honestly say that I am thankful for every minute but I can honestly say that I am thankful for the place each of those minutes has brought me to as I prepare to leave my home for a year working in my beloved South Africa.
There is always much to be thankful for, no matter how bad it gets.
|Posted by Alyssa on November 20, 2014 at 12:05 AM||comments (0)|
I’ve written a few posts centered around the word “overwhelmed”. This one is different. I’m overwhelmed by God in a way I’ve never experienced before.
He continually chooses to bless me, even when I act like He’s nothing.
This song posted below completely describes my feelings toward God right now. Please take five minutes to watch this video and rest from all the craziness of life as you revel in the overwhelming goodness of our God.
|Posted by Alyssa on October 27, 2014 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
Haven’t seen a post in a while? Well, as you can imagine, life is a bit hectic right now.
I am currently (a little late, by the way) working on collecting all of my paperwork to submit for my visa. And let me tell you, it’s a lot! But it’s getting done, slowly but surely, and I have every confidence that God will provide my visa just in time.
I am also working on a few fundraising ideas that I’m really excited about! One in particular will be a way you can financially support my ministry without spending any more than you already do! How cool is that? Coming soon.
Now that I am an expert speaker (please note the sarcasm) I want to continue to use my presentation to share my passion for South Africa. I am currently in contact with the pastor of the church I’ve been attending while at school and hope we can work out a time for me to share but I’m also open to suggestions! Are you a part of a small group? I would absolutely love to come and share! Learn about the awesome work God is doing in South Africa and pray about whether or not He has called you personally or your group as a whole to support my ministry.
Oh, yes, and then there’s school. That is also happening.
And working at Jimmy John’s—that is happening too. God provides.
God has been so good to me this semester in particular. I have amazing, supportive friends and roommates; a job with the hours I need; and a class schedule that isn’t trying to murder me. Things may be crazy, they may be downright stressful at times, but things are good. God is good.
|Posted by Alyssa on September 28, 2014 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
I placed the order for t-shirts this week! Thank you to all who purchased one to help fund my year in South Africa. My plan was to be done with selling t-shirts but, as always, God seems to have a different plan. The Cornerstone University paper, The Herald, will be writing an article about my selling t-shirts to raise money to go to South Africa so I guess I better keep selling them! I'm excited for this opportunity to share my passion for South Africa with my fellow students. I pray it will incite interest in purchasing a t-shirt of their own but, more importantly, I pray God will use this article to increase JAM's staff in South Africa! Wouldn't that be amazing? So, if you realized you made a terrible mistake by not ordering a t-shirt, don't worry. They're still for sale.
On October 12th I will officially be a full-fledged missionary. No, I'm not going to South Africa early, I'm speaking at First Baptist Church of Vestaburg in Vestaburg, MI. This will be my first time ever speaking about South Africa like this and I'm excited for this new phase of support raising. By now, hopefully, you all know that I am a writer. You may have inferred from this fact that since I am a writer--a person who records thoughts, edits them and re-edits them--speaking is a bit terrifying for me. There are time constraints to worry about, preparations, travel plans to be made, and dress to be determined. Not to mention that ever difficult question: What do I talk about? I can't possibly tell them everything in 30 minutes so what do I leave out? This is the first church my dad ever pastored so many of these people have known me my entire life, they are like family. This gives me great comfort as I prepare my presentation and I’m sure they will be merciful to me as I stand before them and stumble over my words.
In other news, my support has risen to around 50%! (I don’t have an exact number at the moment as I don’t currently have a firm number on the amount raised from the first shipment of t-shirt orders.) My support raising journey began like a rushing faucet and has since diminished to a slow and steady drip but I am ever so thankful for those little drops. It seems that every time I begin to get discouraged God drips another little drop in the bucket. He has been faithful. Now we’re nearing the end and it’s time to test my trust in God’s plan. I believe He wants me in South Africa in January of 2015 and so I believe them second half of the money will come in. God is always faithful and He always provides, in His time.
|Posted by Alyssa on July 29, 2014 at 11:45 AM||comments (3)|
I am an awkward person. I generally feel awkward in “normal” situations. I’m working on it and I’m getting better but I generally take great pains to avoid as many awkward situations as I possibly can.
Then I became a missionary.
The life of a missionary (I’m learning) is like a never ending carnival of awkwardness. No other profession in the world requires its workers to ask people for money with no promise of material goods or services in exchange.
Fundraising is terrifying. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s worth it.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when someone understands your passion and is willing to sacrifice to make it happen.
I’m discovering that there is a lot more to fundraising than I ever realized.
For past mission’s trips I’ve sent out bundles of letters and participated in auction dinners and garage sales but for the most part, I wasn’t the one doing the planning. Now, in case you don’t know, I LOVE to plan. Sometimes I love it so much I never actually get the thing done that I took months to plan.
As I began to piece together my fundraising strategy I scoured the internet for ideas. And I found them…a lot of them. Which ones do I choose? It’s all a bit overwhelming. And like I said before; I’m good at planning, bad at executing.
I’ve written letters. Boy, was that a different experience. This is the big leagues now. I can’t just write a measly letter, put it in an envelope, add a stamp, and call it good. No. I wanted to show that this is important to me, I wanted to be professional. Sometimes professional is downright exhausting!
I had no idea how much work would go into sending out those packets. And it was completely worth it. God began bringing in the money immediately. I had prepared myself for slow responses but I’ve experienced the exact opposite. I have felt so loved and encouraged by the outpouring of support and funds for my ministry.
But it isn’t time to rest. God has brought in almost 40% of my support (which I still can’t even comprehend) but we’ve got another 60% to go!
I have some totally awesome t-shirts in the works to help raise support and a Thirty-One party. (https://www.mythirtyone.com/forms/frm_event_my_events.aspx) But there’s so much more I would love to do. Auction dinner, change drive, movie night, craft night, garage sale, internet/Windows courses, slave labor…I can’t decide and I can’t make it happen on my own.
Help me choose! Or help me do them all! I want to hear your thoughts and opinions. If you have other ideas, throw them onto the pile. But most importantly, I need some executers!
There’s five months to raise my remaining support. Is it possible? Completely. But I can’t do it alone.
The locals absolutely love to watch American's attempt the traditional dance pictured below. I was petrified. I hate looking like a fool and could not bring myself to step out of my comfort zone during my first trip. But I forced myself the second time around. I was still nervous and felt like an idiot but, this time, I was not alone.
|Posted by Alyssa on November 20, 2013 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
I have made my fundraising debut. The shares and page views are beginning to pile up. It's been awesome to see an increase in the views of this website and blog as well. I usually know who is reading my blog based on geography but it's an added joy to see that I'm getting new traffic from GoFundMe! There's nothing more exciting at this point than getting the opportunity to share my passion for South Africa.
Please pray that God would bless this fundraising campaign, keep me calm and patient, and that this campaign/website/blog would get people excited about the work God is doing in South Africa. I ask that you would also be in prayer about whether or not God has called you to support my ministry financially. I read once that God already has all of my supporters in place, I just have to find them. I love knowing that all the hard work is already taken care of! While you wait for His leading, share my page with as many people as you can. "People can't give if they're not given an opportunity."
Thank you for your continued support and love.
|Posted by Alyssa on November 20, 2013 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
I've begun the fundraising process! I created a fundraising page at GoFundMe.com and launched it today. Check it out, start praying, and share the link with everyone you know. http://www.gofundme.com/5cqfac
This all seems unreal. This time last year I had no idea what I would be doing after graduation much less had any inkling I would end up in missions. This year has been insaine. Not to mention, I'll be in South Africa in a little over a month!!
|Posted by Alyssa on September 4, 2013 at 7:35 PM||comments (0)|
My time away was relaxing, refreshing, and frustrating. The first couple days were great. On Wednesday for my devotions I read Ephesians 6. The verse that struck me the most was, "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." I know that I have access to God's great power through the Holy Spirit, we all know that. But do we access it? I know I sure don't. I know it's there, I know He wants me to use it but I just forget, or am afraid He won't give it to me. Psalm 84:11, "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless." Again, something I know but rarely bring to mind. This was a great reminder that we possess the ability to defend ourselves again spiritual attack.
Then on Thursday I began reading Philippians. I love this book. Paul was in jail and yet he took time to encourage the Philippians and let them know he was praying for them. What a great reminder that even in the midst of our own struggle we have no excuse to make our prayers all about us. Paul has such amazing perspective when he talks about being in jail. Instead of focusing on the fact that he is locked up, away from friends and family, and unable to preach like he had been, he tells the Philippians that because of his circumstance, the whole palace had the chance to hear the gospel. God never makes mistakes and He always places His people where they can be most effective. And because Paul was in jail, other Christians were incited to spread the gospel. Paul could rejoice, even in jail, because his focus was where it was supposed to be; on God and the spreading of His Word. He ends by asking the Philippians to pray that he would fearlessly preach the gospel. Paul was carefully not to let himself, or others, put him up on a pedestal of the "robotic evangelist".
Then on to Philippians 2. "Who being in VERY NATURE GOD, DID NOT consider EQUALITY with God something to be grasped, but MADE himself NOTHING, taking the very nature of a SERVANT, being MADE in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he HUMBLED himself and became obedient to DEATH-- even DEATH on a CROSS!" I will never fully understand the gravity of these verses. Here's a bit of what I wrote in response:
"Jesus had everything. He was everything. And He CHOSE to give it all up, for me. He was poor, He could have changed that. He wasn't handsome, he could have changed that. He was humble, He didn't have to be. He let them mock, beat, and kill Him, He could have stopped it all. He got sore feet, for us. He became a fetus, for us. He limited His power in every way, for us. He put Himself in danger, for us. He was mocked, for us. He ALLOWED Himself to be captured, for us. He was beaten, for us. He suffered, for us. He died, for us. He went to Hell, for us. He came back to Earth, for us. He sent His Holy Spirit, for us. EVERYTHING He's EVER done, or EVER will do, has ALL been for US."
The things that were reiterated in these passages are the same things He has been teaching in since before the beginning of this whole missions process. So, you're probably wondering, why did I open the post by saying that my time was frustrating? There were times that I felt God was ignoring me. I was crying out, asking for direction, for Him to definitively tell me what to do next. But He didn't answer. The saying, "God can't direct you unless you're moving" frequently came to mind and I felt Him saying, "I've BEEN leading you but you haven't been paying attention. You've been too scared. Scared I will change My mind, scared you will make the wrong decisions, scared of trusting Me. I told Abraham to go and he went. He didn't know where I was planning to take him; I did. I always have a plan. I do everything for a purpose. Start moving and I will guide you. I'm teaching you to trust Me so I'm not going to share My exact plans with you just yet. Trust Me."
So I am trusting in my God and I am on the move. I will be applying to Christian World Outreach (CWO) as an intermediate missionary (meaning I will be working under JAM and not CWO, officially) and I will begin raising support to return to South Africa as early as January of 2015. I ask that you would pray that I would learn to trust Him and be attentive to His leading and that the application and support raising process would go smoothly and speedily. =]
|Posted by Alyssa on August 14, 2013 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
I recently finished reading the book "Friend Raising" by Betty Barnett and am now in the middle of reading "Funding Your Ministry" by Scott Morton. I have already learned much and the task of fundraising seems more daunting than ever. I love sharing my heart for South Africa and the work God is doing there through Jabulani Africa Ministries but I am not looking forward to fundraising. In "Funding Your Ministry", Morton said that God has already chosen my supporters. This is very comforting to me. It doesn't mean that I do nothing in the area of fundraising but that all the hard work has already been done!
These last couple days I've found myself feeling down. It may be attacks from Satan due to my extra time in the Word lately or it may be because I feel completely overwhelmed by...well, everything. (School coming up in a couple weeks, fundraising, ministry decisions, practical errands...the list just continues.) I am in need of extra prayer. Prayer that I would use my time wisely and prayer that I would learn to relax and take life one task at a time.
|Posted by Alyssa on May 23, 2013 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
Finally finished the video's and page for my bracelets; Fuel. (< Check it out!) It's been a lot of hard work but so exciting to actually be raising money to return to South Africa! I sold the first of the bracelets at my garage sale this past weekend. It was such a blessing to be able to share a bit of my passion for South Africa with strangers and then also to have them support me by buying a bracelet. God used that garage sale to bless me in so many ways. He's fantastic.