Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas in Florida

I was so happy that I was able to go home to Florida for Christmas this year. It originally looked like I wouldn't be able to go home and would be celebrating with a friend and her family. Due to some last minute changes in my work schedule, I was able to go home for 4 days. It was a quick visit, but it was a great blessing to be able to spend Christmas with my parents.

My flight on Christmas eve was on time and the airport was remarkably calm. To top it off the plane started to descend just as the sun was setting below the clouds. It was so beautiful!

Christmas dinner at my house is not your typical American Christmas dinner. We had bacalhau and passion fruit mousse for dessert. It was fabulous! I'm really not even sure what most Americans eat for Christmas dinner. For special occasions at my house, we typically have Brazilian food (I will get to enjoy more in just a few weeks in Brazil). It was also great to be surrounded by the things that have been in all our homes, like the nativity we bought while we lived in Mexico. Next year I will probably be in Africa for Christmas enjoying completely different food. =)

I enjoyed the warm weather and good food. I got to have some great conversations with my parents about engineering. I slept in everyday and got to really relax. I even did a little shopping for skirts to take to Sudan (much easier to find than in Richmond).

My Christmas gift this year was a new camera which I had a lot of fun playing with while I was home. When we were out a restaurant for lunch I got a little carried away taking pictures. I took pieces of the pictures and put this together. This is what you get when an engineer tries to get creative. =)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prayer Letter

I just sent out the Christmas edition of my prayer letter. I hope you will all forgive any misplaced commas and incorrect grammar. =)

Please let me know if you are interested in receiving my prayer letters by email. Just send me an email with your name and email address. ChristineOlmeda@gmail.com

On another note: This is a picture I took of the BEAUTIFUL full moon a few days ago. It was incredibly bright and clear.

Monday, December 15, 2008


The last months have been filled with many blessings as I prepare to leave Richmond. These are just a few of the ways God has been at work in my life.

I am blessed to be a part of a church that loves missions.
  • I went to wonderful missions dinner where I shared more about my call to Sudan and enjoyed a WONDERFUL meal.
  • I shared in the joy of a young family being called to serve with World Harvest in London.

I am blessed by God's provision.

  • God provided a young engaged couple from RUF who will be able to use the furniture that I won't be keeping.
  • God provided opportunities to share my testimony. Even this past weekend I spoke at a local Brazilian church in my very rusty Portuguese.

I am blessed by amazing friends.

  • I will be traveling to visit my family in Brazil with a dear friend that I have known for more than a decade.
  • I spent a wonderful weekend in State College with my oldest friend from Penn State.
  • My mom encouraged me and helped me prepare to speak in Portuguese about Sudan when my first draft was filled with words in Spanish and made-up words.

I have four weeks left in Richmond, and my preparations for Sudan continue. I am so thankful for the ways God has blessed the time I have left in the US as I spend time with the people I love.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stunning Visualization

A stunning visualization of the interconnectedness of scripture:

"The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect. "


Friday, November 28, 2008


This year I wasn't able to go home for Thanksgiving, but I had a wonderful Thanksgiving right here in Richmond. I rejoiced and gave thanks with a church full of people in support of the lost boys of Sudan and local Sudanese believers, walked through the woods of beautiful fall afternoon, took pictures and laughed with friends, played Settlers of Catan, had a potluck Thanksgiving meal with many young adults who I am thankful to call my friends, and roasted marshmallows on a bonfire in the late hours of the night.

Below you see what happens when you throw a handful of sawdust in the bonfire. Science at work!
It was not a traditional Thanksgiving day, but it was a great day. I was blessed by great friends, the opportunity to pray and rejoice with the local Sudanese community, and conversations by phone with friends and family who I wasn't able to see in person.

This last picture was candid. I really have no idea what I was doing here... =)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What will Sudan be like?

Michael and Karen have posted some pictures in their web album and written about their first two weeks in Sudan on their blog.



It is hard for me to imagine what Sudan will be like since I have never been to Africa, but I am always excited to read their updates and look forward to the day that I will join them with all the other team members.

Also here is a quick update for those who do not get my prayer letters. God has provided 75% of my support! I will be in Richmond through the second week in January, and then I will be very transient until I leave for Sudan. I am so thankful for all your support and prayer!


This month I ran my first race. It was an 8k through downtown Richmond on the same day as the Richmond marathon and half marathon. It was a hot day for November and steamy due to overnight thunderstorms, even at 7 am.

I started running for first time in July. I would not have started running if it weren't for the women in my Bible study. We started running together twice a week, very slow at first with a lot of walking in between the running. As long as they were still running, I would try to keep running. With them by my side it was so much easier to overcome the mental battle in my head and not stop.

It was great running with these women twice a week for months, but on the day of the 8k, it was just me. No one else was there with me. Everyone was running their own race. We had met the night before to eat together and encourage each other, but most of the encouragement I got during the race was from people standing on the side of the road who didn't know me at all. With the finish in mind, I kept moving forward. Finishing the 8k was a great feeling, but there is another race that I am running with eternal significance.

Too often I start to walk in the race I am running for the sake of the gospel. Too often I want to be comfortable and not experience pain. In this race, it is not my own strength that will keep me running (believe me, I have tried). It is only by the strength of my savior that I can keep running. I am running this race by the grace of God and for His glory, and too often I don't strive to finish and win the prize. I say no to the difficult things God is asking me to do, and stop running the race in so many other ways. There is so much richness in the race metaphor!

And so my prayer is that I would run the race with perseverance, not growing weary or losing heart, with my eyes fixed on Jesus as described in Hebrews 12:1-3. I'm glad that running a race has brought me to consider the race metaphors in scripture prayerfully and understand it on a more personal level.

"Thus through him I may lay hold upon him in whom I am also laid hold upon; ... stretching forth not to what shall be and shall pass away but to those things that are before me. Not distractedly now, but intently, I follow on for the prize of my heavenly calling, ..." - Augustine, Confessions (emphasis mine)

Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Sunday after church I met up with a friend, and we went on two short hikes through Shenandoah National Park. It was a BEAUTIFUL fall day, and the first hike we did was particularly fun since it had a long rock scramble with a stunning 360 degree vista. The best part of the day was sharing some great conversation in the car on the way there and on the way home. We discussed the sermons we heard earlier in the morning, books we have read, and a variety of other topics. We enjoyed the beauty of the mountains and laughed with each other a lot. Hopefully I will be able to get in one or two more trips before leaving for Sudan. It was great to get away from Richmond for a day and enjoy a hike with a friend. I didn't think about the details of getting to Sudan, raising support, or work. Sunday I just enjoyed God's creation and reflected on the character God who loves me.

Note: In the bottom right picture my friend is making her shadow tickle my shadow. She didn't know she was in the picture. =)

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I found this article on Christian eloquence interesting for several reasons. (link below)

1) I have spent years taking classes in technical writing were the goal is to convey all the necessary information in as few words as possible. We were taught to write simply and clearly.

2) I often struggle to convey what I think and feel in words. I don't usually aim for eloquence. My aim is usually to be understood.

3) I appreciate eloquence in speakers and authors, but elegance in logic, argument, and design are far more appealing to me.

I don't think I had ever considered the benefits of eloquence (there are 5 that Piper discusses). I appreciated eloquence, but really hadn't thought much else about Christian eloquence. Eloquence isn't necessary. Christ is necessary.

But as I continue to study and practice engineering, my appreciation for beauty and elegance in design increases. In the same way I hope that as I continue to read and hear Christian speakers, my appreciation for eloquence will increase.


If you are going to read the article, you can skip the next paragraph. But if you weren't going read it, here is the conclusion.

"Yes, there is Christian eloquence. It is not the decisive factor in salvation or sanctification; God is. But faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word. That word in the Bible is pervasively eloquent—words are put together in a way to give great impact. And God invites us to create our own eloquent phrases for his name’s sake, not ours. And in the mystery of his sovereign grace, he will glorify himself in the hearts of others in spite of and because of the words we have chosen. In that way, he will keep us humble and get all the glory for himself. Amen." - John Piper

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Retreat and Augustine

The young adults retreat was blessed with BEAUTIFUL weather. I was really looking forward to a weekend of rest, fellowship, and teaching. We spent hours at the beach or playing games, and we spent hours in conversation.

The picture below captures a great moment during Catchphrase. =)

While I was on the retreat I got the chance to do a lot of reading. I hadn't gotten very far into Confessions by St. Augustine when I came across a sentence that really impacted me.

"So too let him rejoice and delight in finding you who are beyond discovery rather than fail to find you by supposing you to be discoverable." ~ St. Augustine, Confessions

It is kind of hard to explain what I was thinking, but I will give it a try.

I liked the statement and it reminded me of my personal testimony in a lot of ways, but I didn't really like the words "beyond discovery". The connotation seemed momentary, as if to say that God could not be discovered by a person, but looking at the larger context that is clearly not the meaning. I talked several people about the phrase and the knowabilitly of God. I consulted some other books when I got home and prayed for wisdom regarding the words of Augustine.

In the end I am able to rejoice in the fact that I am finite and God is infinite. I will never know everything there is to know about God, but I will continue to understand Him more as I worship and serve Him. It is by God's grace that I did not fail to find God because I wanted understand everything about God and the universe before having faith. I can know God but will never know everything about every aspect of God. These sorts of paradoxes fill the first chapters of the book. Augustine says about God that He is "deeply hidden yet most intimately present...immutable and yet changing all things". I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book and thinking about more of what Augustine had to say.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Last week there was a prayer meeting at church for the missionaries the church supports and specifically for Africa. Throughout the night I was listening to the men and women pray to our Lord with trust and faith. The prayers were bold and honest. It had been a difficult week for me leading up to the prayer meeting, but that time spent in prayer agreeing with my brothers and sisters in Christ was a beautiful time of fellowship with God. I was moved to tears several times by the prayers. The confidence I have in Christ and my love for Him should lead me to pray bold prayers, but I often don't pray this way.

Pray for Africa.

Pray that I would pray boldly and often.

Pray for the health of my grandfather (who I call Vovô Moa).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The New Adventures of Old Christine

A friend that I visited this past weekend suggested I call my blog The New Adventures of Old Christine. =) Well since my blog already has a name, I decided to use the title for this post since it seemed appropriate.

Last week I went on a whirlwind trip through Pennsylvania (York, State College, then Philly). I ended up staying with a different friend every night for 4 nights.

The main purpose of my trip back to PA was to meet with my former college professors and share with them the details of my appointment was a water engineer missionary. Hopefully while I am in Sudan, they will be able to answer questions or direct me to resources for information I may need. Overall my professors were excited for me, especially those I knew well. Many are looking forward to hearing about engineering in Africa. I did have a few professors say that I was being irrational (rationality is kind of a big deal for engineers), but all I can tell them is that serving and following my savior is completely rational.

I was especially looking forward to meeting with my former thesis advisor. The title of my undergraduate thesis was "An Analysis of Water Treatment in Developing Nations" (Sometimes I can't help but laugh when I look back at the ways God was working in my life over the years to prepare me for this call). I had talked to him while I was a student about organizations that were involved in water engineering overseas, and his years in the peace corps. He was glad to see that I would now be going overseas after over two years of experience at a manufacturing site in the United States. Not that 4 years of classes, tests, and homework isn't good preparation for being an engineer, but not much can replace the practical experiences of listening to pumps and tracing pipe.

It was a gray and rainy day in State College on Friday while I was visiting professors and walking around campus. I had several surreal moments when I almost thought I was a student again walking to lab or class along familiar paths. I was on autopilot as I walked from building to building... that is until I walked up to a building that wasn't there three years ago. I took some pictures and then continued walking at the brisk pace of a student who is trying to get back to their dorm for a nap between classes. There is something about Penn State that brings me joy as I remember the four wonderful years that I spent on this campus. I am thankful for all the experiences I had at Penn State from playing capture the flag in two feet of snow at 2 am to sitting in a dorm room having long discussions and even having anxiety attacks from a lack of sleep.

Overall it was a wonderful trip through PA. I met with my former campus ministers, the LAST student I know at Penn State (who happens to be the little sister of one of my peers), my former professors, several of my best friends, and then I had the chance to meet and pray with Larissa in person on my way home through Philly. I even got to watch Penn State beat Illinois on the big TV in the HUB.

Today I am getting ready to leave for the weekend again. This time I will be going to the beach for a retreat with the young adults from my church. =)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mission Update

On Sunday I gave three mission updates at my home church. The first two were at the two morning services, and the third was at children's worship. I was incredibly nervous to be speaking in front of so many people. My heart was racing and my hands were shaking. I had no reason to be nervous sharing about what God has been doing in life in a room full of people who are for me, but I was. I kept repeating to myself that it isn't about me, that it is about God. I knew that God would give me words, and that even though I was stumbling over the words, God was in control. I hope that people were encouraged by how good and faithful God has been in my life. I know that I was encouraged by all the prayers that were prayed for me and for Sudan. I felt very loved.

I think the prayer that blessed me the most was prayed by one of the girls in children's worship. She prayed that I would make new friends in Sudan and that I would have fun. I have wonderful friends in Richmond who care about me enough to order me to ice my knee by email after falling on our run. =) I have many friends from high school and college that I am still very close with that I will miss dearly. This little girl's prayer reminded me that although I will in some ways be able to keep in touch with people that have meant so much to me, I need to be praying for the new friends that I will make in Sudan. These are the people with whom I will be sharing meals, taking walks, and reading scripture for two years.

I was wonderful to be a part of children's worship and see a group of 6 and 7 year old children reading scripture, praying in front of their peers, and singing songs of worship. After I gave a quick update to the kids at children's worship, they had the opportunity to ask me questions. They asked great questions about how the children in Sudan live and about how we clean water. It took me until my second year of college to feel like I understood what being an engineer means, so I didn't worry too much about explaining what I would do as an engineer to make water clean. Though at one point I had the impression that some of the children think engineers can perform miracles by turning the ground INTO water. =) Being a part of children's worship was such a blessing, and I am thankful to be a part of a church that loves missions and that shares that love of missions with the children in the church. Maybe in 15 years some of the children sitting in children's worship will be a missionary serving and following God's will for their life.

After the service I wasn't even really sure what I had said. I assume that I said some of the things that I had prayed about and written down over the past week. Some of the wonderful women in my Bible study assured me that I actually did say something that was comprehensible.
I can't say that I won't be nervous next time I give a mission update. I may always be nervous before public speaking, but I pray that it will never stop me from doing what God is asking me to do.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Nightly News

The news today was similar the news on most afternoons. The main stories were the financial problems of the country, the devastation caused by hurricane Ike, and the death toll of a train crash in California. The news ended with a conversation about the lack of confidence Americans have in the institutions that manage their money.

In a time of fear and lack of confidence for many Americans, I am thankful that I know Jesus, who I can call my Surety. I have confidence in my salvation. I am certain that I am loved by God.

Hebrews 7:22 "Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant."

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I have long, extremely curly hair. It can be hard to manage and time consuming. It can even take several minutes to wet all the way through.

Every once in a while (especially in the summer), I consider going back to a short haircut like I had when I was a little girl. It would be so much easier.

Maybe I will consider it before I move to Sudan. =)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Half Way There

This month I reached a significant support raising goal: God has provided over 50% of my support! It has been a tremendous blessing to talk to so many people about Africa, water, and what God has been doing in my life. I am really excited to see how God will continue to provide for me.

Although I enjoy talking to people about these things, some days I am so tired of talking. For a person like me, spending most of my week with people and sharing with them can be exhausting. God continues to provide times of solitude or a good book to sit down and read. Even today I stopped by my favorite used book store with some friends from college who are visiting and picked up Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. As much as I love books, every time I buy a new book, I am now faced with the consideration that I may not be able to finish it before I leave for Sudan. I will miss being able to go to the library or used book store to find new books to read.

Now that my months in Richmond are winding down, I am starting to look for the things I will need to take with me to Sudan. Some things have proven to be more difficult to find than others. I have yet to find a good battery charger than runs on a 12V power source. I was able to find a good headlamp on sale though! I also finally found a few long cotton skirts. I didn't think about how long it would take to find the things I will need for Sudan. It is hard to plan for two years in a continent I have never been to, but I am lucky to have gotten a lot of direction from the other missionaries on the Sudan team.

Now that the fall is here, I am looking at the weekends that I have left and making plans to visit people who mean a lot to me. I have some wonderful friends visiting Richmond even now! Over the last few weeks I have talked to friends and come to the sad realization that I will not be able to see some of them before I leave. I will be working until January and then things will start moving very quickly. I will move the things I am keeping to my parent's house in Florida, visit my grandparents in Brazil, and attend cross-cultural and language acquisition training for several weeks in North Carolina. Then it will be time to start preparing to leave in April or May!

It is amazing to think that this time last year I had just started praying about engineering missions, and I am now over 50% supported and about 8 months away from leaving for Sudan!

For all of my friends who have loved me in different way over the last few years during my journey to Sudan, THANK YOU! I need and appreciate your prayer.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


In my last post I had asked you all to pray for me because I was longing for God. Thank you for praying! I guess this is an update of sorts.

On a particular Sunday over a year ago at church I was talking to a friend about how convicted we had been by the sermon. And then she said something I still remember. She said that the reason that every week she felt like the sermon spoke to her and applied to her life was because every week the gospel was preached.

After work last week I was getting ready to sit down and read, but instead I decided to look over my notes from the recent sermons at church. It was such a blessing to stop and reflect on the truth of the gospel and how the gospel changes everything. I love how God continually brings be back to these truths when I am far from Him.
My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace
~ Caedmon's Call

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sweet Embrace

I was listening to a song and these lyrics really touched my heart. I long to drown in the sweet embrace of my savior. I am empty this week, and I miss God. My savior hasn't left me, and He promises He never will. Please pray that I would ask God what He wants me to do this week (or not do). Pray that I would rest and delight in God.

When I'm faithless, You are faithful

When I'm lonely, You surround me

And when I am empty, You drown me in your sweet embrace

And when I am broken, You come restore my joy again

~ Ten Shekel Shirt, "Sweet Embrace"

Monday, August 4, 2008

Engineering in Africa

I'm a woman, and I'm an engineer. I get asked a lot about what it is like being a woman who works in an industry that is predominantly male. As a woman engineer, I don't try to be "one of the guys". I am still a woman, and that is inevitably a part of how I do my job and interact with people. As a woman in engineering graduating from Penn State, I was able to learn from and work with many other women in engineering. My senior design group, pictured below, was all women. I have no idea what being a woman engineer will be like in Africa. I am sure that it will present unique challenges, but hopefully it will also present unique opportunities.

I work as an engineer in a job with nearly every resource available to me. If it exists, it can be shipped overnight and installed immediately. There are people with expertise in every practical area of engineering employed to answer questions and solve problems. Things will be very different working in Sudan.

The only things that I know about being an engineer in Africa are the things I have learned from conversations and emails with Michael. It is exciting to be preparing for something that I have been praying about in some way for almost five years. Yet even after all the ways that God has made His will for my life clear, I still have moments of doubt as I follow Jesus to something unknown.

I know that God has called me to serve Him in Sudan, but there are times when I think that I don't have enough knowledge or experience, that I don't communicate well enough, or that I won't be able to handle the challenges. The truth is that I need God, and He is sufficient. I hear the lies so often coming from the world, but when the lies start to go through my mind, I know I haven't been putting on the whole armor of God through prayer.

I am always convicted and encouraged by the words of Oswald Chambers on prayer and the armor of God. It is a little long for a blog post, but I hope it is worth the read for you.

You must learn to wrestle against the things that hinder your communication with God, and wrestle in prayer for other people; but to wrestle with God in prayer is unscriptural. If you ever do wrestle with God, you will be crippled for the rest of your life. If you grab hold of God and wrestle with Him, as Jacob did, simply because He is working in a way that doesn’t meet with your approval, you force Him to put you out of joint. Don’t become a cripple by wrestling with the ways of God, but be someone who wrestles before God with the things of this world, because "we are more than conquerors through Him ...." Wrestling before God makes an impact in His kingdom. If you ask me to pray for you, and I am not complete in Christ, my prayer accomplishes nothing. But if I am complete in Christ, my prayer brings victory all the time. Prayer is effective only when there is completeness— "take up the whole armor of God...."

Always make a distinction between God’s perfect will and His permissive will, which He uses to accomplish His divine purpose for our lives. God’s perfect will is unchangeable. It is with His permissive will, or the various things that He allows into our lives, that we must wrestle before Him. It is our reaction to these things allowed by His permissive will that enables us to come to the point of seeing His perfect will for us. "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God . . ." — to those who remain true to God’s perfect will— His calling in Christ Jesus. God’s permissive will is the testing He uses to reveal His true sons and daughters. We should not be spineless and automatically say, "Yes, it is the Lord’s will." We don’t have to fight or wrestle with God, but we must wrestle before God with things. Beware of lazily giving up. Instead, put up a glorious fight and you will find yourself empowered with His strength. ~ Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I have been training my replacement at my current job. It is interesting to see the places communication fails. I am speaking everyday with a vocabulary he is still learning. Acronyms abound at my job. We even go so far as to reuse acronyms, in which case the meaning can only be determined by the context. In the two years I have worked at this plant, I have learned the importance of communication. I've made my share of mistakes. Things that make sense to me can be incredibly confusing. For example, asking someone to increase the vacuum in a process seems clear, but to INCREASE the vacuum you need to DECREASE the pressure. =)

My senior year of college I was taking a Portuguese class to improve my reading, grammar, and writing since I learned the language almost entirely orally from my mom. I had a Portuguese Bible that my uncle had given to me, so I started trying to read the same passage in English and Portuguese. The first thing I learned is that biblical language is difficult, but as I struggled through my Portuguese Bible, I was surprised by the things I had taken for granted when reading my Bible in English. Reading the same story in another language gave the text more depth and beauty. I had to slow down. I had to struggle through the words. I had to read the words deliberately, not just glancing over the words in expectation of the next familiar words.

I am looking forward to learning new languages in Sudan. I will make mistakes. I will be misunderstood. But that happens even when I speak English. I also hope that I will continue to be surprised by new perspectives.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Graduating from Bible Study?

A friend recently asked me if I would still go to Bible study if I had memorized the entire Bible.

For me the answer to that question is a resounding yes. I will never 'graduate' from Bible study. Even if I had obtained a degree in some sort of Biblical studies, I would still go to Bible study.

For me, Bible study is about so much more than studying scripture.

It is about sharing in the lives of women, holding each other accountable, praying for each other, hugging each other in times of joy and in times of sorrow, making happiness kabobs (don't ask), asking questions without fear, encouraging each other, learning about the character of God, praising God when he provides and is faithful in our lives, confessing our sins to each other, thanking God for his many blessings in our lives, making new boyfriends fumble awkwardly for words when they meet us all at once, learning from each other, acknowledging our unique gifts, having wonderful potluck dinners, claiming the truth of scripture, renouncing lies that are told to us day in and day out, and so much more.

I don't want to minimize the actual studying of the Bible that happens at Bible study. If you come, you would find us reading and studying the visions of Daniel, the plagues in Exodus, a perfect love described in 1 John, the acts of the apostles, and so much more. You may think we are strange, laugh a lot, and don't always make sense, but that is our Bible study.

And the Bible is so much more than I could ever describe. Even when I read verses that I have read and studied previously, I continue to learn more about God and what is true. I could say more, but I am repeating words, so I will stop. The conclusion remains that I will never 'graduate' from Bible study.

Psalm 119

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Just for Fun

This is one of my favorite pictures. I was walking with a friend back to our dorm, and this is what we saw. Good thing I happened to have my camera with me. I just got around to playing with the photo in picnik this week (years after I took the picture).

Sunday, June 15, 2008


It has been over three years since I went on a missions trip to Belize City with my college fellowship over spring break. This week I pulled out an old journal from my week in Belize City.

I was a mess that semester. I copied some lines below from my journal specifically relating to the anxiety I was experiencing at that time and my need to control my life.

Day 1 - "Sitting in my last class before leaving for Belize, I was nearly in tears. I didn't want to go to Belize. I needed to do homework, to sleep, and to have a week of personal reflection. Today I felt like a spectator. Things were happening but I wasn't really in it all. I was completely self-involved. I was concerned with how serving God this week would affect the things I have going on at Penn State. I still am not sure why I specifically am here."

Day 5 - "I think if I weren't so anxious about all the work I have to do when I get back, I wouldn't have panicked so much because of the lightning storm. It was a terrifying experience. I'm just not sure of a lot. I don't need to be sure because God has a perfect plan, but I want know and have some control."

Day 8 - "I don't want to leave yet, but I'm excited to tell people at school about my experience and how God showed up at the Burial Grounds in Belize."

Day 9 - "We got back to the dorms at midnight. I did my work and even got about two hours of sleep. When I was actually back and doing work, I wasn't anxious. I didn't do any of my kinetics homework, and I didn't turn it in, but I was okay with that. Belize was worth it."

For most people two hours or sleep and not turning in a homework assignment may not seem like trusting God, but that was a start for me. That semester went on to get much worse leading to staying awake for 50 hours straight, but God met me there at the point where I had lost total control, and I surrendered to Him.

I can hardly describe all the different ways that God loved me during that week in Belize City. That single week was an integral part of God’s sovereign plan to have me appointed as a missionary to Sudan.

I am still learning to trust God, and I will continue to learn to trust God and rely on Him. Good thing that missionaries are not all perfect people who have everything figured out. =)

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I have been raising support for a few months now, and it has been a blessing to be able to share what God has been doing in my life and hear about and pray for the things that are on my friends hearts and minds. Many of you have heard about and seen pieces of the ways that God has been working in my life in the past year and the ways God continues to work in my life. After a perfect day hiking Mt. Nittany with Bekah last month and sharing in each others lives, I thought about the times in college I had spent an afternoon in the mountains with a close friend or alone. I missed it, so I took a day to just pray and be still before God. So much has changed since last summer, and I needed to get away from my apartment and just listen. I spent the day at Maymont, and I was once again amazed by the things God has done for me and the reality of the gospel. There is so much that I don't know or understand about God and creation, but the one thing I really appreciated that day was the beauty of it all. I had written down the lyrics to "In Christ Alone" and some thoughts I had in my notebook at RUF one night, and reading those lyrics again with no music, slowly, and quietly at Maymont, well it was just beautiful. And yes the women in my Bible study will tell you that I think fractals and elegant solutions to problems are beautiful, and the flowers at Maymont pictured above are beautiful, but the truth about Jesus just beautiful on a different order of magnitude.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lost and Found

This weekend I took some time to give a much needed cleaning to my apartment. While I was cleaning I found a ceramic jug that I had painted with stars and moons. After removing the cork, I discovered several folded pieces of paper inside. And then I remembered. My senior year of high school in a girls Bible study at church we had written letters from us to God and from God to us and sealed them up in these jugs. I had been a Christian for less than a year at that time. I couldn't remember when we were supposed to open them, so I decided now was a good a time as any, so I broke open the jug. The words on those pieces of paper were bold, filled with awe at the creator and creation, and joyful. Finding the jug and reading those words this week in particular was a beautiful and perfect gift to me from God. Today I read the words I wrote six years ago about the truth and power of the gospel.

It has been an interesting week. My phone collapsed due to exhaustion most likely. I had fixed it three times recently and this time I resorted to duct tape. I went to my service provider to review my contract and see if they would replace my phone. The best option they could give me was to buy a new phone (the cheapest one they had was $200). After asking some questions about my contract, praise God, I got a new phone for free! So now if I call you to talk to you about God and Sudan, hopefully the call won't be dropped.

This week was hard, and I am still somewhat in the middle of everything and processing. I have felt more under attack this week than I have a in a long time. But God has provided mercy, encouragement, and truth in the most beautiful ways including the words that many of you have shared in Bible study, in blogs, and by email about your trials and doubts and about God's grace and mercy.

I know I have been posting a lot recently. I hope that those of you that are a part of my life and ministry to southern Sudan are encouraged by these two stories of how God has met me in the midst of support raising. I pray that you will also see God at work in the found objects and free cellphones of your life.

And now for prayer requests. Pray for Sudan. Read the recent news online. Pray for me, that I would keep the truth of the gospel central in my life.

DISCLAIMER: Current posting frequency may not reflect future posting frequency. =)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pray for Myanmar

If you have been reading the news the last few days you have undoubtedly read about the cyclone that hit Myanmar and the death and destruction that resulted.

The headline today read "Dead are thrown into rivers as the living wait for aid". The situation is complicated by a political situation which I don't pretend to know much about.

It hurts my heart to know that people are suffering, asking why, and waiting. It hurts my heart to know that people don't know where to turn.

Pray for the people of Myanmar.


Last year I attended a missions conference where one of the breakout sessions was specifically to discuss the role of engineers in missions. A lot of the conversations were focused on disaster relief. Many have a limited view of what engineering missions might look like, but the opportunity for engineers to serve in disaster relief is tremendous. Logistics, organization, and transportation are just a few of the areas that engineers would be able to serve an area after a natural disaster.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Parabéns pra mim

My birthday is always a good time to reflect on the last year. This year I have learned (or relearned) many things. I thought I would share a few of them.

First of all, I have great friends. I have friends that tell me the truth. I have friends that love me even when I am at my worst. I have friends that listen to me when I am wrong. I have friends that encourage me. I have friends that know me well enough to not need words. I hope that I can be the kind of friend that my friends are to me.

Second, God has good plans for me. Those verses about waiting on God's timing are right. I have been praying about serving overseas for a lot of years, and God's timing is good. The path to this point may not have looked straight at the time, but in retrospect God has been working in my life in specific ways to lead to this place at this time.

The third thing is something that I am continually relearning. "O Lord, Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." ~ St. Augustine. I continually fail to rest in Christ, rest in the promises of scripture, and rest in my identity as a child of God. But the joy and hope that I have when I rest in Christ is one of the best evidences that God is real and that He loves me.

This year I couldn't be with my family for my birthday, so I celebrated my birthday early with three wonderful chemical engineering women in NYC. We walked around the city, played spades in Central Park, and had a great dinner together. It was a beautiful day with friends.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I love how God can use the fact that I'm bored and can't get the "5 Why" method out of my head to show me something about His character and convict me.

Last week at work we had several pump failures. So the troubleshooting began. One of the of the quick methods I have learned is the "5 Why" method. It is pretty simple. You ask the questions why five times to get to the root cause of the problem. Essentially you just have to act like a two year old.

The pump won't pump. Why?
The is no flow coming into the pump. Why?
The supply line is plugged. Why?
The polymer got cold. Why?
The heat tracing circuit is broken. Why?
Heat tracing is not on the preventative maintenance schedule.

We could have just replaced the pump...and then the problem would not have been solved. The pump would still not pump, and a pump that doesn't pump is just an expensive piece of metal.

During the week I decided to start using the method other broken things in my life. Some of the results were just ridiculous, and others were thought provoking. I decided to use the method with my "broken" Bible since for a few days the Bible had really become just a book in my life. Where I ended up really surprised me in a great way.

I will leave the details out, but the part I wanted to share is that I love how God can use the fact that I'm bored and can't get the "5 Why" method out of my head to show me something about His character and convict me.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Homework and the Power of Words

I thought I was done with homework in the traditional sense when I graduated from college. I was wrong. Recently I have had homework associated with support raising. I have a book to read and essays to write. Well when I found out that I had some writing assignments to do, I mentioned to Dave, the assigner of the assignments, that I am not a good writer. He was quick to challenge that statement. When he asked why I thought that I wasn't a good writer, it only took a moment for me to say that my 10th grade creative writing teacher told me I was not a good writer, but it was okay because I was good at math and science. Nearly 8 years later I still remember what he said. Then I got to college and they have writing for engineers and speech communication for engineers , which were the easier versions of the classes. The power of words is amazing. I believed for a long time that I couldn't be a scientist and believe in God because of the words of teachers. Praise God it took less than 8 years for someone to challenge that belief.

Over the last few weeks I have really enjoyed writing, mostly because I am excited about the topics and it isn't being graded. Writing about what God has been doing in my life has been a great experience. I usually write in my journal weekly, but writing an essay and keeping to one page has forced me to thoughtfully consider what God has done in me, how He has been faithful, and what I learned about His character. Writing these things down will hopefully help me to remember these truths when I am in the middle of trails. It is astounding how quickly we forget, which is probably why God keeps telling us to remember.

As for my writing, I am not too concerned with the quality, but I hope that it communicates what God is doing in my life, in the lives of others, and in Southern Sudan.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen

Today I went to two very different church services. The first was a powerful reminder of the reality of sin in the world and in my heart and the power and hope of the empty tomb. The second was at a local Sudanese church. I followed the sound of the drums and music to find the room. I didn't understand a word of what was being sung, but I couldn't help but clap and move to the sound of joyful worship. I was there to hear my pastor give an update on his recent trip with WHM to Sudan and to be introduced to the church. Pastor Kevin asked me to quickly talk about my call to Southern Sudan. I stood up and really didn't have any idea how to convey what God has be doing in my heart over the last five years. I talked a little bit about how a conversation with Michael, a missionary with WHM, gave me a vision and desire to serve God in Sudan, and how I would be working to provide clean drinking water in the name of Jesus Christ. As I was talking, I kept thinking that I wasn't really conveying how big and faithful God has been in my call, or the heart of the vision for Southern Sudan. Michael and his family's prayer, and now mine, is that as communities receive food and water in the name of Jesus, they will see this as a sign of God’s gracious kingdom at work among them and that many will be drawn into that kingdom through faith in Christ. Well needless to say I am not known for my public speaking skills, but when I was done talking the people were so excited and clapped louder than I have ever heard clapping in a Presbyterian church for what God is doing in their country. (that is when I realized how silly it was to be worrying what I was saying, because it is all about what God is doing) Kevin then started to go over slides of his trip to Sudan. As he was going over slides, I could hear people saying that they knew the places in the pictures, and then someone recognized one of the men in the pictures. A beautiful dialogue started about what God is doing in Sudan and His faithfulness. Kevin told stories about the things he saw in Sudan including a parade of women who were praying for the gospel to be proclaimed in Haiti because they heard that Haiti needed the gospel. Well if I thought the clapping after I talked was loud, after Kevin spoke and prayed there was so much excitement, encouragement, and hope. I am sure this is just the first of many conversations that I will have with the Sudanese church, and I have a lot to learn from them. They were a true encouragement to me as I start my journey to Sudan.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What I Need

I don't like to admit that I need anyone. I often like to think that I am self-sufficient. Well that couldn't be farther from the truth. I am in DESPERATE NEED. I am in need of a savior. I am also in need of prayer, accountability, truth spoken into my life, encouragement, and so much more. The depths of my sin sometimes astound me. I am so good at deceiving myself.

Sudan is so beyond what I can even deceive myself into thinking that I could accomplish on my own. I have to rely on God. I am not enough, but Jesus is enough. And God will be glorified.

So here is where I ask you all for what I need. I NEED PRAYER.

Over the past few months the power of prayer has been so evident in my life. Not only has God been faithful and answered prayers in amazing ways, but so many times as I pray my heart is brought closer to the heart of my redeemer. Prayer is necessary, and too often there is not enough of it in my life.

Monday, March 17, 2008

God, Water, and New Friends

GOD: I am a missionary appointee with World Harvest Mission! Crazy. I will be serving in Southern Sudan to provide safe drinking water in the name of Jesus Christ for two years. Even crazier. After a week of being assessed and oriented I am left with these two statements. I am weak. God is good.

WATER: I could write a lot here about the living water that comes from within or God's provision of water throughout the old testament. I could talk about how Jesus showed mercy during his ministry on Earth. These are all great to talk about, but instead here are a few statistics from UNICEF.

Lack of safe water and sanitation is the world’s single largest cause of illness.
In 2002 one in six people had no access to safe water.
About 4,500 children die each day from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation facilities.

NEW FRIENDS: My new friends are the staff of WHM and the six other new missionary appointees. I could not be more different than they are if I tried. In fact, the psychological tests we took proved that. =) As we left to go our own ways at the end of the week, I couldn't help but know that we will prayed for. It was a truly beautiful thing to hear how God has been at work and faithful and to just be real with each other. *this is where everyone says awwww*