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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Oh, Hong Kong


“But did I do a good job?” I feel like a 3 year-old. God’s not surprised, and He's giving me the affirmation I'm looking for.  

It’s been a wild two years and three months. 

It was an unpolished “yes.” But I handed it to Him anyway. He said “thank you,” smiled, and held it like a treasure. The good He made out of that jagged weak thing is still going. 

Years ago, in a time when thinking about the future created stress, I was riding on a bus in Hong Kong, wondering if I was supposed to move back here. I wanted to, but didn't feel qualified, didn't know how it could work out. On that bus ride, Jesus put a picture in my head that was so pretty and so big, it shoved all the stress out. I saw myself dancing like a little kid, standing on Jesus' Feet. He decided all the steps, and all the impressive graceful movements were His. I just held onto Him, and looked up into His face. It was easy. And He made me look like a good dancer. 

My parents are in Hong Kong with me right now. It's the fifth time they've flown across the world together to hangout with me. Five times they’ve taken off work, locked up their house, paused their lives, and loaded onto an airplane for a 15-hour flight to see their youngest daughter. They don't fly to where I am so I can impress them, but because they really like me. And they feel proud of me simply because I'm their kid. God's like that.

I've lived a messy, weak, regularly-falling-apart life in Hong Kong. Here at the end of my time in this city, I've been terrified that God is disappointed. 

But God's been silencing that fear with the most gentle and steady “Good job, Lover.” He calls me lover! And His “good job” has this sense that it’s not about the “job” but more about just the way I am. He's enjoyed our time together in this place. He knew how messy it was going to be when He moved me here, but He also knew I would look at Him and that love inside of me would grow. 

My first year living here was spent crying in the floor because I missed my family. But in the middle of my intense homesickness, I was helping start a safe house for girls leaving the sex industry. We named it “Family Home.”

Oh the things He can do with weak attempts to love! 

When I wasn’t crying in the floor, wondering what my loved ones were doing and how long I was going to have to live here, I was sitting in the living room with my new African roommates, eating with them around the kitchen table, hearing stories about their families back home. We read the Bible together, we worshipped together, we came closer to Jesus together. Before we knew it, we’d become our own sort of family with each other. When we let Jesus lead us, He will always lead us into intimacy with Him and He will always lead us into family. 

I’ve sat with Him in an attic in the Philippines, on porches in Thailand, in children’s homes in India, on an island in Malaysia, in gardens in Hong Kong, in a hotel room in Sri Lanka, in my farm bedroom in Illinois; these simple quiet moments have kept my feet on His. He's danced me through nations. Man I love Him. His eyes are made of fire and His heart contains endless wonder! Those morning memories we’ve been making for years; cups of coffee, colors scribbled in a journal, His mercy covering my failures, red words written in the Bible getting written across my heart; they’re our intimate history, they're our dance, and they're making family grow. It's really simple what He's wanting; for us to experience His love and to love Him back. Let's read the Bible! Let's talk to Him! Let's let Him dance with us!

My family has a lot more variety and color in it than it did two years and three months ago. People who give me money to live on, friends who pray for me, Africans who joined their lives with mine, colleagues who had slumber parties with me, ladies in prison who hugged me tight when I walked into their world, Indian girls who opened their hearts to Jesus in front of my eyes; I've got a lot of family. Dancing with Jesus has made it grow. 

He can take failures and make beauty out of them. I’ve watched Him do it for two years and three months. 

In a few days, I’ll be flying back to America shame-free, with His "good job" written all over my heart, sitting right next to my mom and dad.

"Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces many seeds."
-Jesus
John 12:24


*pictured with my Julie, my Brittney, and my Kelley (colleagues who became family), in a bus on our way to a slumber party

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Being Close : The Lovesick Evangelism Tour 2018

When we searched for and found two unreached people groups in India, we were chased out of both villages. But we left groceries, prayed, and learned more about God’s nature as a searcher. He’s searching for a Bride. 

We’ve been loving through Southeast Asia for 46 days today. After 13 flights and six countries with lots of kids, pastors, trash dumps, cries, support, and bowlfuls of rice; many more human beings know that being close to God and being close to each other- it’s the “being” He has created us for. 

Missionaries in India, raising their kids in a town that’s half Muslim and half Hindu, giving their lives away for their Muslim and Hindu friends to know the Savior of the world; they hosted us and fed us and let us into their extraordinary days. 

Kelley and I had a nasty fight in a small town in southern India. After several mean words were thrown, we turned our attention to Jesus, sitting at His feet in the hotel room with Indian horns honking loudly on the street, and listened for His voice. 

A taxi ride and few minutes later, we stepped out of the car into a parade; it was held in our honor by 70 kids who know how to launch yellow flower petals and drum a cadence and set off fireworks and squeal their affection all over us. 

God’s like that. We have a fight, our self-centeredness beams bright, and He throws yellow mercy-soaked flowers on our heads. 

Adam on the flight from Malaysia to Singapore, a young guy from England, just found out his dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He felt guilty that he’d started praying since the diagnosis, only because he wanted God to do something for him. “Do you think that’s bad?” he asked. I told him that big beautiful truth: “God likes the sound of your voice, Adam, and He likes hearing it even if you’ve been ignoring Him for awhile.” Adam spent the next hour asking questions about God and what to do with suffering. By the time the plane landed, Adam, Kelley and I had held hands across row 23 and asked Jesus to help Adam and his dad, holding them close. 

We went to a church on a mountain in Kalimpong, India. “I have many things to do, but you’ve reminded me to just sit before God,” said the beautiful old Indian lady at the end of the service. 

It was a simple sermon. And similar to the ones I’d been sharing around India- Jesus enjoys our company and wants more of it. As my friends and I prayed for the ladies, Jesus met with them and showed them how kind He is. They cried and He hugged. 

That little boy, about 11, wouldn’t stop holding my hand. We were in a church in a garbage dump in Manila. And there was a little girl, bright eyes and pretty smile, who was determined to stay by my side. She sat on me, hugged me, kissed me, smiled that smile at me. 

“Gosh. This must be a little glimpse of how God feels when I give Him my attention.”

God made us to be like Himself.

He is the loves-being-loved Lord Jesus. The reason I enjoy when a kid chooses to lather their love all over me is because I’m like Him. He loves when we love Him.

I didn’t know what to do so I started braiding hair. Those kids in the trash dump in Tanuku, India keep showing us God’s Heart. It’s got “the broken,” “the poorest of the poor,” “those who suffer” written all over it in all caps. I’m not sure her hair had ever been washed, but it’s now been french-braided. 

Pastors in India, driving a little car with huge pans of rice in the back to feed 200 hungry people every day, then going home to the 30 kids they’ve brought into their family; they drove us around and shared with us their dreams and showed us more of His hold-mankind-close desires. 

The missionary who hosted us in Thailand wouldn’t let us wash a dish. Not even one. We had hours to pray and eat and sleep and let Jesus hold us. 

Living at His feet, aware of His wanting-nothing-but-to-be-close-to-us style; He’d like to make it a lifestyle for all of us.  

Isaiah 60:13
“I will glorify the place of My Feet.”

I want to live at His Feet- looking at Him, listening to Him, feeling His eyes look right at me, both of us in love with each other. 

There sure isn’t anything wrong with praying before bed. But God wants more than that. In and out of approximately 452 cabs in the Philippines; many of the drivers responded to questions about knowing Jesus with saying they pray before they go to sleep. That’s wonderful. But He’s wanting un-interrupted, 24/7, love-filled dialogue. May He get it from all of us. 

Our team, comprised of beauties from Michigan to South Africa, have been warrior-esque. We have bonded and prayed and cried and gotten frustrated and learned and God’s made love inside of us grow.

There were other foreigners around, but that day, the little boy and girl in the Philippines picked me to be the recipient of their time and attention and hugs. Being chosen feels nice. 

Us choosing, volunteering, to give God all our love, choosing to be close to Him; it’s what He’s always wanted and it’s what He will all ways want. 

The Gospel is being preached and Jesus is getting a Bride. With my own brown eyes and small but growing heart, I’ve watched Him reach down and touch nations with fire-like affection. It’s quite a sight. There has been a large pretty assortment of people and churches involved in the Lovesick Evangelism Tour. Thank you very much. Jesus is excited about all of us and we get to live close to Him, in love. 


Isaiah 62:12


And you will be called Sought After.

Monday, November 12, 2018

hope sat the table


In one of my favorite towns in the world, in southern India, we took nine kids who live in the garbage dump out to eat. They wore their nicest clothes and hugged me so tight I thought my heart might explode all over them. 

I have no idea what it’s like to have a mom who makes me dig through the new garbage every morning and beats me if I don’t find enough sellable items. 

The kids had never been in a restaurant. Their eyes were wide and filled with wonder and it was one of the prettiest scenes I’ve ever lived in. They sat at the table as royalty, with their bare feet, and they ate chicken and fish and drank soda and Heaven’s symphony played a pretty melody that filled all of our hearts. The Great King smiled and nodded. 

What I do know is that we all need the same thing: love. And lots of it. And I know where it comes from. 

The smallest boy sat on Kelley’s lap. He’d never used a spoon before, but as he watched her eat, he wanted to try. He clutched it in his fist and, three grains of rice scooped at a time, committed to using that spoon for the rest of the meal. I think he could tell Kelley was proud of him. 

As they were loading into the vehicle to go back to the trash, the smallest boy, who doesn’t know how old he is (none of them do), kept clinging to me. I held him and kissed him and kept telling him, in my poor Telegu, “Jesus. Jesus is good. Jesus is happy. Jesus.”

Being in God’s presence-just being with Him, talking and listening-we experience love there. Friendship with Jesus fills us with more-than-enough-and-we-can-do-anything-because-of-Him love. I needed the little boy to know that. 

There was desperation in his hug. His arms were begging us to take him with us. To keep up this holding and tickling and loving. He didn’t want it to stop. We couldn’t take him with us, but the source of love, King Jesus, was going back to the dump with him. I wanted him to know this, and that he could talk to Him and trust Him and cry to Him. As I mumbled out my broken Telegu words, he looked up at me and shook his head in agreement. 

The little boy and his eight friends who are sleeping in the city dump tonight- would you ask God to protect them and to lead them and their families out of that place? 

If you want to give to the ministry that’s feeding and loving them, you can do so through this website, and write “hope” in the note. We will send it to them. 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 
‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Monkeys, Camels, Goats, and a Holy Moment

The Indian dress I pulled on this morning had B.O. soaked into the armpits so I sprayed perfume on top of the odor.

We drove to an unreached people group, the Koya, and after five and a half hours, we reached the jungle to begin the two-mile hike to find the one Koya man left in the village. 

The perfume was a gift from my girls in Hong Kong. The scent is called “family.” It covered the odor nicely. 

Today is the biggest Hindu holiday, Diwali. So Jesus escorted us on a lovesick adventure to find some people who need Him. 

Family is the story. 

My hands keep smelling like oranges. We’ve been living on a steady diet of white rice, oranges, and chai. 

When we got to the edge of the jungle, to where the big temple is, we asked a couple for directions. They told us that only one man lives in that jungle village now, everyone else moved. 

The monkeys came out of the trees and came close, wanting the bread in our hands. 

The direction-giving couple were Hindu, kind, and Jesus was wanting them. So we told the best Story ever told. We told them the Creator is a really good Father who wants us to know Him. They listened to the love-filled words that keep living through centuries and bringing sinners into Heaven. And right there, in front of the Hindu temple and the jungle, on Diwali, by the monkeys, they said they wanted to enter into conversation with the Hero of the Story. So they did! We prayed and they told Him He was welcome into their lives. The Hero smiled and touched their hearts with His gentle Hand and into His family they came. 

The hike ended at the one man’s house. From inside, he yelled that he had a knife and would come out and kill us if we didn’t leave. So we sat our bread outside his house and we left. We prayed and sang the whole back through the jungle. 

When we first started sharing those love Words with the listening—intently couple, they took their sandals off. I think they knew a holy moment was happening. After their first ever prayer to King Jesus, we asked them to listen for His voice for a few moments. They did. “I feel like I’m coming closer to God” the man said.

God’s affections, they’re pouring out of Him. “I want you to come into My family!” He’s singing loudly and beautifully to the angry man in the jungle village, to the couple by the temple who said “yes” to Him, to my fellow-hiking friends, to all the Diwali celebrators, and to me.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

How Love Grows

It’s the story with the tall tree. I’ve read it about 3 million times. 

This morning I sat on a patio behind our hotel and read it again. The tall tree, a sycamore, helped bring a mean man into the company of Love Himself (Jesus). And love grew. This tale continues to impress me. 

He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:3-10 

Intimacy with Jesus-living aware of Him, in conversation with Him, in love with Him- is the purpose of life. Jesus wasn’t interested in glancing up at Zacchaeus from several yards away, He wanted to get close, touch him, and hangout in his house. As the sycamore held that little sinful man up in the air, he was able to see Jesus’ eyes, hear Jesus’ voice, and feel Jesus’ invitation into close companionship. So he climbed down and they went home together. 

He’s the God who calls us out of trees and walks with us into our houses and there He makes love grow. He wanted to be with Zacchaeus in the place where he lived. The space where he did his eating, his relaxing, his day-preparing, his world that was private and unseen by the outside. This is the space Jesus still wants to come into- inside of me, inside of you, inside of mankind.
Our hearts are His interest, and He wants to stay with us there. And where He is, love is growing.

We’ve been on The Lovesick Evangelism Tour for 23 days. 

We’ve been driving through mountain roads in God’s Heart lined with pine trees and longing, finding the villages He’s been wanting to flood with love. We’ve been feeling His desire for all these people who don’t know Him, and His desire for us. 

I’m living with Him inside of my heart and He’s touching places deep in there, and love is growing. I’ve still got immaturity, doubts, unfruitful spots in my life, but He’s drenching me with love and all those places are being amazed by His mercy. As I pray for people of other faiths in villages, my own heart gets changed, too. When we let Him touch us, love happens. Zacchaeus went from being a mean selfish man to a kind generous man, because Jesus’ company always makes love. There’s no one like Him. 

I still want to be a sycamore tree. Helping people see His eyes, hear His voice, feel His invitation, and launching them into intimacy with this Man- more of Him is what we all need. He is the lovesick God. 

“So he scurried down the tree and came face-to-face with Jesus.”

Luke 19:6 TPT

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Lovesick in India

I’m not sure how old she was, but old. Her cheek wrinkles were piled on top of each other and as she told us about the diarrhea she’s had for a year, her two adult children, both unable to hear or speak, smiled and held our hands. They were happy to have company.

Seeing God’s Heart - what it feels, what it’s passions are, the desires inside, the love it’s made of - has become my main interest in life. 

So I’m in northern India. He keeps trying to fill my life with His love, so I keep letting Him. 

His Heart has looked like a missionary hero holding balloons and pampering us as we stepped off the plane in Thailand. We rested, ate our favorite food, and listened to Him. This space in His heart was glistening gold and full of “You mean so much to Me” whispers. 

Now in India, He’s invited us into small tin huts where families sleep under piles of dirty blankets to stay warm. They smile at the unusual-looking visitors as they allow us to see a part of God’s Heart scripted “TREASURE” largely across their tired faces. 

Today, He brought us into a church on top of a hill, full of wooden pews. The Indian women, dressed in color, listened as we shared the song we’ve been hearing His heart sing: “I’m in love with you.” Together, the Indian women and our team from Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa, and the U.S., with our different colors and different faces and different histories, we all leaned and listened to His Heart’s song, in awe of the lyrics He’s writing.  We were glad for the kindness we found in there, and as we looked, love grew inside of us. 

If we’ll look, we can see new depths in His heart. And if we’ll listen, we can hear Him singing: “I’m in love with you. I’m in love with them. I’m in love with everyone.”  
(Zephaniah 3:17
Song of Solomon 1:15)

We left the church and went to a park to share Jesus. Two young men heard and believed the Gospel, then gave their lives to Jesus. His Heart in that park looked like a garden and sun rays and His desire for company. It was beautiful. 

Everything God does is motivated by love. He sent us on a 2-month journey, called it “The Lovesick Evangelism Tour,” keeps encouraging people to join us with prayers and money and faith, and is filling every day with love. He loves loving. 

We’re preaching sermons of His love, we’re playing musical chairs and feeling His delight with kids who He’s made a safe home for, we’re feeling His heart move in these cold tin huts as we pray, we’re watching Him love through each other, we’re experiencing family, and we’re amazed that we get to be His. 

Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Your love is better than wine.
-Song of Solomon 1:2 



Written in Darjeeling and Kalimpung, India

Sunday, October 7, 2018

coffee and friendship in hong kong (plus a super professional coffee review of the shops in central)


A million conversations and just about as many tears, sitting together in coffee shops in Hong Kong.

Best friend and I have sat in (almost) every coffee shop in Central (that’s a busy and cool party of the city). Other best friends joined us along the way, and holding hot drinks in our hands, we filled coffee shops with stories and laughs and cries and hearts connected. God loves coffee dates. That’s what I think. 

It's easy to think "I've got way too much to do to sit down for an hour with a friend and chat about nothing related to anything I have to do."

If I'm too busy to talk with a friend for an hour, then I'm too busy. 

It's similar to this post I'm currently writing. There are so many things happening in my heart and in my schedule right now that I can't keep up with it all. I just watched four of my family members fly out of my house and back to Africa, then I moved out of the house myself. I’m going on the 2-month Lovesick Evangelism Tour tomorrow. But in the middle of this huge life transition, I’m thankful for the way Jesus is loving me and I’m thankful for all those coffee dates. 

We decided the world needed to hear about what we’ve discovered. We set up a scale and gave every shop a score. 

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Points given on a 1-10 scale based on ambiance, coffee taste, staff kindness, and price. If they have a rewards card, we gave them a +1. Or anything else we liked, we gave more bonus points. It's our scale and our game, so we did what we want. 
Uncle Russ 
19
(at ferry pier 6) 
A-1 C-5 S-5 P-8


(the name is a percent sign)  
21 
A-3 C-7 S-4 P-7 
Some prime real-estate in IFC mall, nice coffee, seating for only about 3 people at a time

Elephant Grounds 
22.5
A- 8 C-8.5 S-3 P-3
Being in there makes you feel cool. A little pricey. 

Fuel 
23.5
A-6 C-9 S-7.5 P-2 
New Zealand coffee, pricey, good coffee, great carrot cake, top floor of IFC mall, it’s a chain but a cute one 

Interval 
24
A-6 C-8 S-3 P-7
New shop with quite a bit of space, lots of plants, giant windows, cool leather chairs, and coffee we like.

Amber 
25
A-4 C-7 S-7 P-6
Crowded, but nice location, friendly staff, and rewards card +1

Blend and Grind 
25
A-8 C-6 S-5 P-5
Small cup of coffee, but nice huge open door. I like open doors. And fans. They take really good care of their plants and they let us eat our own food. Rewards card +1 

13 peel 
25
A-6 C-8 S-5 P-5
Coffee only, no food, the coolest to go cup (I saved it), oatmilk, garden patio out back, rewards card +1

1:16
We went in and but they had rules about how much money to spend so we left.


TOP 5

Hazel and Hershey 
26
(Been 3 times!) 
A-7 C-7 S-6 P-5
Awesome outdoor sitting area that’s on three levels +1. It’s where our friend Terri gets her beans and Terri is classy.

NOC 
29
A-8 C-9 S-6 P-5
Birthday surprise! Some of my favorite people were sitting there so all the bonus points +1
“Their coffee was the best for me.”
-Kelley 

Zero one  
29
A-5 C-8 S-10 P-5
Cool view - tons of huge windows +1. I got a great oat milk cappucino (first one I’d ever tried and I’m a fan). They give 20% off drinks before 11 a.m., have awesome gold spoons, and they’re super nice. It’s owned by person who’s friends with our friend so we feel a heart-connect.

Habitu 
30
A-8 C-10 S-3 P-7  
It’s a local chain and our all-time favorite coffee shop in Hong Kong (the one in Wan Chai), however, this score is based on their location in Central. We load money onto the app on our phones and get a buy one get one free every visit +2. Great coffee, great food.  We love you, Habitu. 

And the winner is....

Fine print 
31
A-9 C-8 S-6 P-6
Winning coffee, winning food, cool decor, and the staff ran down the hill to give me a scarf I left at the table +1. The best avocado toast with tons of feta cheese +2. Community table, not our favorite, but it’s not terrible. You can sit on the side of the street and they come outside and serve you. And it’s a pretty street (pictured). 

-----

I hope you hangout with a friend this week for no reason other than just being with them. And drink some coffee. 


When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.
-Matthew 26:20

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It's really Good News


It doesn't even weigh that much. 
And they put a couple solar-powered flashlights in the backpack, too. 

I was five when my mom told me the Gospel. I've been friends with Jesus since then. But there are 3.1 billion people in the world who've never heard about the Man my mom introduced me to. 

This season in Hong Kong's red light districts is ending and a new one is coming. I'm moving from a home full of African family in Asia, to a home full of American family in Kentucky. 

But first, beginning October 9, I'm going on a two-month trip through Southeast Asia to tell people about Jesus. My best friend and I thought it was a good idea to fly to some places and let God spread love around, and shrink that 3.1 billion number. So we bought lots of plane tickets, invited loved ones to join us, and dubbed it the "Lovesick Evangelism Tour." Jesus is in love with all of us, and He wants us to love Him back. We're so excited. 

We told friends we needed $2,000 to buy some Gospel-sharing supplies. So our friends gave us $3,000 and we've got our backpack projector to show the Jesus film to people who've never heard about Him, audio Bibles so people can hear what God has to say, and cash to buy medical supplies and food for people along the way. And a guitar for a children's home. 

The Gospel-sharing backpack arrived and it felt like Christmas morning. We unzipped all the compartments and took out all the treasures- projector, batteries, sim cards with the Jesus Story in Nepali, Hindu, and Telegu, flashlights, and bug spray.

We laid in the drop-in center’s floor in the middle of the red light district- the same floor where we've cried and laughed and sang and rested and met with Jesus over and over- and we projected the Jesus film onto the ceiling. We tested out all the languages (they work!) and asked God to use that movie and this backpack to help lots of people get to know Him. 

The projector is solar-powered so it can be used in places without electricity. 

A few hours later, at 1 a.m., we were with our friends on the streets. Ladies from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda got to hear that He loves them. 

The point of life is to know Him and I keep being amazed that I get to. Red light districts, villages in india, the suburbs of America; He wants our love. 



Thank you to all of you who are giving into the Lovesick Evangelism Tour. The Gospel is getting preached and God is thrilled! I'm still raising support to help fund my trip, and if you'd like to help, you can do so here. Thank you!

*Please pray for us! All our lovesick teammates and every person we will meet along the way! We're believing for signs and wonders and souls and lovesickness! Pray specifically for the Raji people in India- for success getting to them, open hearts, and the love of Jesus to be embraced by everyone.