Monday, April 17, 2006

Highlights of the past 2 months on the Gulfcoast

I'm a little behind on my weblogging here which irks me because I have so many exciting story's to tell.
I am witnessing miracles everyday, but I just don't have any time to write about it!
So I'll put down the highlights now and fill in the details later =)
1.) Learning very quickly that I definitely do not have the gift of office administration.
Frankly I hate it with unrelenting passion! I'm much to fidgety and hands-on to be sitting at a desk all day answering phones and filling out paperwork...I do love visiting with the people who come in and helping them to fill out paperwork to get help from CBMI. But everything else about this office with no windows is driving me crazy!
So I'm learning alot about the importance of being willing to serve in a position I dislike merely because there is a great need - for the greater good of all/the mission (this sounds kind of like the Communist Manifesto but I'm pretty sure this is something God is telling me =)
2.) About once a week they let me out of here for a few hours, to work outside with a missions team, and this has definitely been the highlight of my trip. So far I have learned how to operate a Bobcat! yes! heavy machinery (I can upload a picture to prove it) and a Chainsaw! I cut down a tree! granted it was a very small tree, but it was a tree! =) I also helped put a roof on a house; measure, cut, and fit drywall; Install fiberglass - itchy but the slap-stapler was alot of fun; Discovered there is an actual tool called a "Stud Finder" ha Becca, I am so buying one for you at Christmas =) and I learned how to wire a house. All in all I had so much fun building the houses I can't wait to build one of my own someday when I grow up.
And it was such a beautiful thing to watch the excitement and hope on the people's faces as their broken homes were put back together. Praise the Lord for this ministry, and all the volunteers who come down every week to help!
3.) Another highlight has been getting to know the people we're helping, outside of the context of work and CBMI. I have been able to have lunch with a few of the sweet older ladies CBMI is helping, and those are friendships I will treasure forever.
One of the Ladies is Miss Gracie Nesbitt. I ran over a turtle in her yard when I was bulldozing/clearing debris. And we (Miss Gracie and I not the men we were with) were mortified. We called all the Vetenarians in Gulfport, but no one could offer any help for the poor little guy. His shell was fractured in 6 places and there was nothing I could do but take him home and wash him and bandage him together with gauze, and give him a little crushed up Tylenol for the pain. I kept him in a box for a few days and he started to get better, so I brought him back to Miss Gracie and she's taking care of him. Since then Gracie and I have become good friends, I'm not sure if she is a believer so please be praying for her salvation, and opportunity's for us to talk about about Jesus because every time we start to talk about spiritual things something else comes up.
4.) Another highlight of this month was going to Billy Graham's final crusade in New Orleans. That was a lifetime experience! I drove down there with my new Big Brother Shannon. We made quite a pair walking in there, he's a huge biker man, all tatted up in his leather gear, and I'm frolicking alongside him in my hot pink sparkly sandals and sunny surfer-girl look. He actually got kicked out halfway through Billy Grahams sermon because he was trying to help a little elderly lady from Germany - and so I went down to look for him during the alter call and I'm sure everyone was thinking I was going to get saved which was ackward because I had just been praising the Lord and totally into the worship before the service.
But anyhow, it was a great experience.
5.) I joined the Grace Memorial Baptist Choir! I have always wanted to sing in a choir, and I learned that I'm a Saprano (surprise?!) It is great fun. I sit next to a lady named Jean Allgood who is 85 years old and has been a missionary all over the world. Jean is going to China to teach English for the month of July, and she asked me to go with her. So I think I will. Why not go to China for the month of July? =)
So these have been a few of the highlights of my last few weeks in Mississippi - it never ceases to amaze me how God will take you crazy places and to meet amazing people.
Isn't God good? =)


about the passover last week.


my post about Passover.

Moving to Mississippi!

Hey ya'all!
I know it's been awhile since my last e-mail from Trinidad, you probably suspected I was eaten by alligators or something - but I haven't. (!)
Actually, you will not believe what has happened these past few weeks!
I left Trinidad on February 3rd, and spent the weekend in Chester packing up my car, saying many sad goodbyes to all my loved ones there, and in the meantime being near death from my very first case of food poisoning. Nevertheless I was on the road by Sunday heading south for my Grandparents house in Georgia.
On the way I stopped in Maryland at the Naval Academy to visit a friend, who ironically took me out to an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet. Yeah, not the best cure for lingering food poisoning, but it was still fun Kyle, thanks! =)
That night I drove down to Virginia-Tech to visit my friend Rob who invited me to stay a couple of days for his superbowl party...Go Seahawks! well...maybe next year.
I eventually made it down to my Grandparents home in Geogia, they live in the cutest little country town called Thomson, where the people are so sweet, and soooo country.
I absolutely fell in love with the people at their little country Baptist church, Union Baptist. Which was good because my Grandma had volunteered me to speak on a couple of occcasions about my experience as a missionary...I hate public speaking with a passion and would never volunteer for it, but for some reason everyone thinks I do.
So I learned some good lessons on humility: learning to do something I hate to do, doing it for Jesus, and thanking people for allowing me to be so uncomfortable. =) But you can't hide your light under a bushel you know? - When God teaches you something or allows you to witness miracles and His've got to talk about it right??
I was just talking with my new Biker friend, and new big brother, about that last night, he was sharing his testimony about how he was a murderer, drug dealer, theif, hitman, and biggest baddest biker dude there was before Jesus saved him. Because of that he has been able to share his testimony at Biker bars and church youth groups...he was telling me that we're all witnesses to God's miracles in our lives, and we need to be sharing it.
Those 2 weeks in Georgia were lovely though.
I learned alot about peace while I was there. I helped my Grandma in her garden everyday, and took long quite walks on lonely dirt roads with just me and Jesus. It was heaven.

I was only planning to stay in Georgia for a couple of weeks to rest and process all that I have been learning this past year, and also to seek and listen for God's guidance on what to do next...I was supposed to be truckin' acrossed country to check out a job I've been offered in Colorado, but the Midwestern winter is getting so bad my parents strongly suggested that I stay in the South for a couple more months.
Soooo I was praying about it, saying "O.k. God why do you have me here for the next couple of months? Two weeks is more than enough rest for me, could you show me specifically what you want me to do/how I can serve or work?" and wouldn't you know it, God answered so fast!
That night I went with my Grandma to a Baptist Womens Missionary Union meeting and after dinner ( let me just interject something really importnant here: =) In the South people are really big on cooking and eating, especially if you're Baptist, apparently "church folk" can't have a Bible study, revival or any gathering without first sitting down to some fried chicken, grits, collard greens, sweet potatoe pie, pickled Okra, and sweet tea! It's a good thing I've been running 6 miles everyday 'cause everyone's always fixin' something to eat. =)
So after dinner we had a guest preacher come to talk to us about the devastation in the Gulf Coast of Mississipppi, from Hurricane Katrina. He said there's a pastor down in Gulfport who is organizing missions teams to work on different projects and people's houses to rebuild the community. The pastor needed someone to come down and help full-time for at least 2 months.
So I'm sitting there thinking "Praise the Lord! Sign me up!"
I called the pastor the next day, he said he and his wife had been praying for me - so this is how God answered both of our prayers!
I packed up my car again, and drove down to Gulfport a day later, after my Grandma's church laid their hands on me and prayed for me.
So I've been living here in the church nursery for the past 3 weeks and it's been Awesome! Hard work, but I get to meet so many great people from all over the country who come and stay with us for short-term missions....
Working in the office gives me a chance to sit down with people from the community as they come in to fill out work orders. I get to listen to them as they tell their story and share their burdens, and pray with them, and cry with them, and just listen. I think sometimes that's the best thing you can do for people who are hurting like this.
All of us in Mississippi sure do need your prayers, please.
There is so much work to do here, we're working 14-16 hours everyday. It is going to take alot of time, alot of prayer, and alot of people to rebuild the homes and lives of the people down here. I think hurricane Katrina may have destroyed Gulfport worse than New Orleans, but for some reason the gulf coast isn't getting much media coverage so most of the nation thinks things are back to "normal".
Hey! If any of you have spring break in the next couple of months and don't have any plans we would absolutely LOVE to have you here. I have some room with me in the nursery, and we would feed you for free, there's so many different interesting projects to do, and you can learn good skills while helping people! I just learned out how to cut, fit, and finish sheetrock in a house the other never know when that'll come in handy.
But good grief I didn't mean to ramble on so long! Thank you always for your love and prayers!I sure appreciate you all and pray for you everyday.
much love!
- Jen
"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear: your God will come'." - Isaiah 35:3-4a

Thursday, April 13, 2006

January 30th - Alligator Hunting!

So the alligators here are called "Caymen", and they live in the swamps and rivers in Trinidad. As soon as I heard about them I started begging the locals to take me hunting, because I plan to experience every source of adventure this Island has to offer! (While continuing on with ministry work which is, of course, the main reason I'm here - just so none of my supporters are worrying about my motives =)
The Caymen hunters refused at first, claiming that Caymen hunting is for big tough men and they weren't going to take some sissy girl along. But eventually I persuaded them.
Whether it was by batting my baby blue's or demonstrating my knife-fighting ability is debatable. In any case I soon found myself tromping through the swamp at night - weilding my AA-flashlight, ready for anything!
We saw several Caymen peeking out of the water. watching us. looking very hungry. making me very nervous. But every time we came withing 15 feet or so - enough to throw out the bait and set a trap, they would dissapear.....
We spent much of the night playing this game before the guys - emphasis on the guys here - gave up.
So, sadly we have yet to catch any Caymen. But I am determined to get one before we leave - and I'll see about getting some Caymen jerky to you through customs, if you want.
Auntie Hazra even promised to teach me how to season and cook the Caymen tail if we catch one.
mmmmm... speaking of cooking =) that has been another major highlight of this trip.
The women have been letting me help them in the kitchen everyday. So they are teaching me how to cook Curried Chicken, and Potatoe Chana, Choka and Roti, Beef/Rice Pilaf, special rice dishes with chicken, spices, and coconut milk, and sweet breads with fruits and coconuts.....mmmm
When I get home you'll have to let me don my colorful little Trinidadian apron and cook you up lots of Trini food. =)
Our ministry and outreaches are still going spledidly.
Thank you so much for your prayers!
Nicole and I actually dropped off the other 10 members of our team at the airport last week, and changed our tickets to stay here until February 2nd. So we've been helping the TTUM missionary's, and different missions teams that come from the States.

We're primarily focusing on how we can help and encourage the full-time missionary's here at the base. Spending the past year as a missionary in Chester has really helped me to appreciate the missionary's for all the daily, less glamorous work they have to do to keep the ministry running, and to cater to short-term missions teams.
So God has really put it on my heart to bring them some cheer and encouragement, and help with whatever needs to be done around here. I am learning so much from them, and am inspired by their steadfast hard work for the Lord.
They have this carefree joy from their love for Jesus (and I think also from all this glorious sunshine that is making me brown as a coconut =) I think Heaven must be a place of constant sunshine, beaches, palm trees, and cheerful little missionary's cooking Roti and Chana and Caymen Stew =)
But I digress.
I should probably go now - thank you for hanging in with me thus far - I'll save my Prison ministry and Steel Pan drum lessons story for next time =)
Until then my friend, God's blessing to you. May you find yourself "Limin' (resting) in His presence" today and always! love, Jen

January 23rd - Trini Style

These past two weeks in Trinidad have been the adventure of a lifetime! I met the other 12 members of our college-age'ish missions team in the airport right before the trip, and I'd say we bonded pretty well during the 6 hour flight.
Upon arrival we stayed our first day with the TTUM missionary's in St. Helena for orientation and planning. Then we drove the two-hour-long-crazy-roller-coaster-make you sick jungle roads ride at night to Toco.
Toco is a beautiful small fishing village on the edge of the Island. We stayed there with a little elderly lady named Auntie Patsy who hosts surfers and missions teams at her home. Auntie Patsy makes green protein shakes out of sea moss which she sells to Nestle in the U.S. =) I think you can even buy them in Stanwood!
She is also an amazingly wise and fiery woman of God. During every delicious exotic Trini/carribean meal she fed us, she preached against the evils of sex and house insurance. no joke. We only spent a couple of days in Toco but it was a great time of ministry. Our team put together dramas and Bible presentations which we led at local schools, orphan homes, and drug rehab centers...
One of my favorite things was doing home visits in the village. Our team split up into pairs and visited different people, talking with them about Trini culture. Once we all became comfortable with eachother we began to ask them about spiritual things, which led to sharing the gospel. I think that is my favorite type of ministry, because I love to meet new people and share with them personally - it was a huge stretch for me to lead messages and gospel presentations in front of hundreds of people at the schools- but the home visits were lovely.

Aside from official ministry time we had countless daily adventures in Toco: some little local boys taught me how to night fish on the beach Trini style. Our team hangout place became the top of a huge lighthouse where you can see some of the other carribean islands acrossed the sea at night - We sometimes do our devotions there at night under the stars. Worshipping and singing so loud up there with the stars and beauty all around us, the wind whipping us around - I'm sure that's what heavens going to be like.
The beaches here are beautiful, and the surf was pretty decent. Much to my chagrin I did not bring a board but I am determined to borrow one from someone while I'm here. I have also gained all new respect for anyone who can husk and chop up a fresh coconut, and some locals let me climb up their mango tree to gather lot's of mangoes for our team (I am in heaven with the hundreds of variety's of tropical fruit). We saw beautiful sunrises on the beach, and hiked out into the jungle one day to a beautiful waterfall.... (sigh)
I could go on forever about this beautiful island and the beautiful people and a million other things I love and am learning but I need to go now because my team is leaving the internet cafe...soooooI'll save my Alligator hunting story for next time =)
Thank you so much for your prayers and encouraging e-mails! The ministry has been amazing so far - God is at work and some people have been saved already, and we are all learning and growing and stretching and having a glorious time doing it!
O.k. so take care my friend and be filled with God's great joy today!
Much love to you,
Zacheriah 4:6
p.s. Here are pictures: 1 of my group and 1 of me with some sweet little girls from Bible Club


I drove to a synagogue last night in Biloxi to celebrate Passover.
It was my first time celebrating a Passover meal, and it was a beautiful experience. I have always had a heart for the Jewish nation, I love their culture, traditions, family closeness, and just their personality. I believe we're supposed to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and I love them. So whenever I get the chance I try to visit a synagogue to learn from them and worship God with them.
Last night was quite the experience - I had no idea the meal and ritual was so complicated. They had different types of kosher food which we ate ceremonially at different times to represent different sections of the Exodus from Egypt. We would eat a little something and then drink a glass of (dreadful) wine, then sing a Hebrew song, then someone would share a little anecdote or read from the Torah, and then we would eat another bitter herb, sing a song, drink another glass of wine, and tell another was alot of fun. Oh and I was on TV! I guess they had a video camera there because Jean Allgood told me at lunch today that she watched me on TV eating the Passover with the Jews. Between two very fine single Jewish boys, who were very helpful in explaining all the details of the Passover meal and why Yiddish is a legitimate language =) Maseltoph! Too bad I'm leaving Mississippi tommorow - but they will be in my prayers, and I hope yours as well. Shalom my friends!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


After graduating from Westmont College in 2004 I spent a year as a missionary intern living in the inner city of Chester, Pennsylvania.
This is a city where God is working miracles, everyday bringing beauty out of the ashes.
Chester is the third most economically deprived city in the nation; it has one of the highest crime and drug ratings nationally; and it frequently makes news headlines for it's deteriorating school system and corrupt city government. Most people who know Chester think of it as the city to drive around.
Living in the heat of the projects with 10 other missionary's that year taught me alot about prayer and spiritual warfare. Although there are no easy answers for all the problems of the city, our God is mighty to save. So starting a church and spreading the hope of the gospel is the best place to start.
As an intern I was able to get involved in a little bit of eveything World Impact Missionary's are doing in Chester.
I taught Phys. Ed. at World Impact's Frederick Douglass Christian school. (Here are pictures of my 3rd grade class stretching, and my Kindergarten class). I had a blast teaching K-5th grade classes!
Every week was a challenge coming up with new lesson plans and teaching strategy's but my students and teaching Staff were a joy to work with.
On the days and hours I wasn't teaching I was able to help lead Bible clubs for kids, youth, teens, and family Bible study's every week. Here are some pictures from each of these. Sometimes we picked up the kids around the city and brought them to our houses, and other times we held Bible clubs in empty lots or the FDCS gymnasium.
Throughout most of the year I discipled two teen girls, Ashley and Vera, my dear "sistas". They were saved in our Teen Bible club the month I moved to Chester and I felt like God wanted me to start meeting with them throughout the week. "We was kickin' it together with our other homegirls and homeboys" all the time and studied the Bible together. I would take them places outside the city, and did my best to show them what it means to be a Christian.
In Chester I was also able to help lead a scrapbooking club, and a gardening club most weekends. This was a great way to get to know the adult women in the city to build relationships with them.
Occasionally the other Missionary's and I would take groups of kids and family's up to the Pocono Mountains for summer or winter retreats. World Impact has a camp called Harmony Heart, and they allow us to take family's in our ministry, to gain fun camp memories they may not otherwise be able to have.
God allowed me to see Him work through many other ministries in Chester. I dearly love that city and the people there. Please keep praying with me that Satans strongholds will be broken and be replaced with peace. There are thousands of people there that He loves.
"Should I not be concerned about that great city?"- Jonah 4:11

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Casting My Bread

I just want to start this new Blog by saying what I always say =)
Life in Christ is the most thrilling adventure I could ever hope for!
And after 21 years it just keeps getting better and better!
Since graduating from college I have had this strange and wonderful life as a Nomadic Missionary. I have only served in a few official missions fields so far, but everyday I witness miracles and stand in awe of the way God is working in the world.
I never know where I'll be next month, God just keeps opening doors, and I'm flinging myself through them with wild abandon. Yet everyday I am completely secure, knowing that no matter where I go or what I do I'm never far from His love, protection, and provision.

Life is so short you know? I think we ought to be living it up - being about our Fathers business. He is good and there is a great big world of adventure out there, learning and loving Him!
Soooooo this is a little bit about who I am and why I am starting this Blog.
I never want this to be about "Jens wild adventures" or anything dumb and self-serving like that - I really want it to be about reflecting on God's goodness. To open my eyes and maybe opening yours to see how God is at work in the world.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good!" Gods church and His missions work all over the globe is so diverse and creative it blows my mind. I can't wait to see it all and be a part of it!
I was inspired to name this blog after reading Ecclesiastes 11:1 "Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again." My footnotes for that verse said "be adventurous, like those who accept the risks and reap the benefits of seaborne trade. Don't always play it safe". I know that sounds like a fortune cookie saying, but it is so true - and it inspires me.
So I'm casting it all out there!
How are you casting your bread my friend? I would love to hear about it.
I would also love love love your prayers in this new season of my life, and would love to know how I can be praying for you.