Saturday, July 27, 2013

When I look at them, I see me

There's Tom, a young 30 something, wandering. Abandoned by his father and orphaned by his mother who died too soon from a game of Russian Roulette, he is searching. Will he ever find what he's looking for?

There's Martha, a grandmother of many precious babies. Her neighbors are her relatives and they are persistent in giving her grief. Taking her to court, arguing over the property line, and even losing 40 baby chickens to their dog. When will it end?

There's Charley, a pastor of the local church. He's caught between serving God and maintaining some of the Navajo tradition. He is faced with opposition for his position. He is looked down upon and  people have left his church. What did he do wrong?

There's me, a young woman attempting to serve God each day. I'm out of my comfort zone most days, struggling with my insecurities. Am I sure I can do this?

Today marks three weeks I have spent on the reservation. Each week has been full of its own surprises, its challenges, its joys. Some days I don't know how I'll survive with the heat, the sand covering what seems to be every inch of my body. Showers turned into quick rinses by the garden hose. And how about that dirt between my toes that I can't seem to get rid of. Might as well forget about the smell of my feet too because it isn't going to get better any time soon.

That's when I meet people like Tom, Martha, and Charley. They struggle every day too. They wonder about how they will survive, how they will make ends meet, how to face the difficult challenges that come their way.

I have realized that there truly are no differences between them and me. In fact, when I look at them, I see me. I see a heart that just wants peace. I see a heart that just wants love. I see a soul yearning for understanding and meaning. Navajo or white, we're all the same. 

This past week was a challenge. Our pace turned from teaching and talking to physical labor: remudding an adobe, taking everything out of a incredibly dusty and cough inducing shed just to put it back in, rebuilding an entire fence, digging a 5 ft deep hole for an outhouse, and rebuilding a sheep corral. We spent our nights sleeping on the cement floor of a hogan, where we had a few 'visitors' overnight. 

There were a few moments when I felt like quitting or at least crying. But God reminded me of a few things.

"Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised." 
-Hebrews 10:35-36

Whether it's me, Charley, Tom, or Martha, we will all face days where we feel like giving up and letting go. But God has called us to holdfast, to not let go but to remember his faithfulness and love. Instead of letting challenges separate me from others, they can be used to bring us together. They can be used to let someone know that I hurt too, and that I'm not the strongest person. Although maybe the Navajo and I come from two different worlds, we both come from the same Creator. Through him, we can be whole again.

Friday, July 19, 2013

What Off-Roading Can Teach You

There we were, sitting in the desert as the sun beat upon us from high in the sky. We gazed over at the massive puddle the heavy rain from the night before had brought. It was so heavy that it was called a 'once in a 5 year' rain. It had washed away many of the "roads" in Bisti. The roads are not as you would imagine. Rather than paved roads, we traveled upon dirt trails, sometimes only big enough for one vehicle. The reservation is known for its windy, bumpy, and most definitely adventurous, dirt roads. Our attempt to avoid the deep puddle was successful, but getting back onto the dirt path did not turn out as well. We had taken our only other option: off-roading. Although it had started out as a fun and bumpy ride, it soon ended in our Ford Escape stuck deep in the thick mud with a back tire up in the air. Oops! We quickly jumped out and attempted pushing the car, but we quickly found out that our man power was not going to get us out of our dilemma.

In fact, earlier that day we had found ourselves in another dilemma. Our team had been putting on a VBS and adult Bible study at a sweet little church called White Rock Baptist Church. 

It was located in another town on the res near Bisti. It was our second day and although the Bible study led by Rachel and I (Rachel squared as they say :)) was going well, VBS had presented the other team members with many obstacles. It seemed like the odds were against our team. The number of children had doubled since the day before, adding up to nearly 40 children. Although having more kids come was exciting, it was also difficult feeling like there wasn't enough of us to lead and help in certain areas. In addition, some kids didn't want to be there, they weren't having it, which was followed by a bit of disrespect and lack of participation. Despite not being a leader for the VBS, the stress and frustration other team members were feeling affected all of us. We were all discouraged. All we wanted was for them to enjoy this week, to have fun and learn more about Jesus. What could we possibly do to fix the situation? 

That was the same question we began asking ourselves as we viewed our only form of transportation stuck deep in the muddy road. 

It was then, sitting in the hot sun, waiting for our other friends from Bisti to rescue us, that it all came together.

No matter how hard we pushed the car, all we were doing was digging it deeper into the mud. It was the same with the kids at VBS, no matter how hard my team tried to have them cooperate, we were only digging ourselves deeper. 

What we needed was God's help. We had been searching in ourselves for the answer, for the perfect solution. Our Ford didn't get stuck for no reason. It was God saying "Hello! I am the answer! You need ME!" We quickly realized that it was God who would change the hearts of the children, not any of us. 

It was something I needed to hear too. Co-leading an adult Bible study for the first time, in a new place with new people, was intimidating. I kept wondering how I would seem well organized and prepared. What if I didn't know what to say? How would I handle those foreseen awkward moments? What if I didn't have the answer? I found myself seeking to find the answer within myself rather than God. Instead of trying to go in all put together, I realized that God is the only one who can truly work through the Bible study and people there.  Letting go of the control I had, (as if I had any), allowed God to use me in better ways than I could have on my own. 

Thankfully Rachel had experience and I was able to learn so much from her. I am also thankful to say that the awkward moments were few and the meaningful moments were plentiful.

Eventually, an hour and a half later, we were rescued by some friends from Roger Deal Memorial Baptist Church, which is where we had helped out the previous weekend. The EM Staff there served us a delicious dinner. 

That's not where it ended though. As we finished up dinner, I walked outside to feel rain sprinkling on my arms. Looking up, I saw a beautiful rainbow. God's presence was there with us and I was reminded of his faithfulness once again. 

Some photos from the past week (cuz everybody loves those!):

They were having a dance off! 

A yummy Navajo Taco! Included fried bread, beans+meat, lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa and sour cream! NOM NOM!
My team at the Badlands :)
My team with the amazing Rhonda from Roger Deal Memorial Baptist Church
Can I get a holla for a sillhoutte!? 
Some of our awesome Bible study! I will miss them so much! <3 On the top right is Ethel and Nancy.  Bottom right is Esther, Rachel, and Mary. On the left is Bernice, Felix and me. :)

All of us on our last day! I love this little church.. And I will miss it!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Big News!

My team and I were informed of some pretty significant news during our training yesterday. Due to some complications, we are unable to go to Mozambique. That's right. Mozambique is now out of the plan and instead we will most likely travel to Namibia. Namibia is a country northwest of South Africa on the coast. It is essentially opposite of Mozambique. 

Although we were all a bit disappointed in the news, we are also very excited to know that God desires for us to be somewhere else instead. Please continue to pray for this new update as plans and opportunities for us to serve in the community are being worked out. Hein, EM's community partner/leader for all of our work in Africa, lives in South Africa but is originally from Namibia. Not only is it exciting for us to see what God has in store but it is exciting for Hein as well knowing that we are going to experience his homeland. 

As for the team, we are spending a lot of time in training. Yesterday we spent a total of 8-9 hours together discussing various topics such as doctrine, approaching other cultures, our worldview, and so much more. There is so much preparation happening as we approach diving into the Navajo Reservation as well as Africa in the upcoming weeks. Please pray for our team as God works to prepare us to go into these new places with open hearts, ears, and minds so that we may love deeply, listen well, and understand greater.

Lastly, I have really enjoyed getting to spend so much time with my teammates. I feel that God has definitely handcrafted this team and although we will experience this journey together, He also has many things to teach us individually. Please pray for my teammates and I as God reveals these things to us.

With love,

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Beginning


... to New Mexico that is. :)

After an early morning flight and three hour layover in Chicago plus a four hour drive from Albuquerque, my team and I have arrived at Many Waters Mission. We are located near a town called Farmington, with the Navajo Res. only a few miles away.
We are spending the next few days training with our leader Lindsey, Heather (part of EM Staff and she also went on the first Africa Immersion trip with Lindsey last year) as well as Chris Clum, the director of EM. 

Pretty awesome stuff thus far! We have begun talking about what our part in this six month journey looks like. A huge part of EM is not going into cultures and communities with an agenda as the in charge white Americans. Instead it's about entering communities and joining along side of projects already in motion. Consequently, a lot of our days aren't scheduled with a structured plan from 9-5. Instead, we are able to be open and flexible to not only the people's needs but wherever God may be calling us to serve. 

I am excited to see the next few days of training unfold, as well as spending more time with my team and appreciating the beautiful New Mexico landscape.

New [Mexico] Experiences:
-Everything is mostly dirt and desert. Forget green grass and trees.
-Beautiful mountains surround me and amaze me constantly, the hills of PA got nothing on these beauties.
-IT'S HAWWWWT. But it's a dry heat, so although I sweat, at least I don't melt like in the humidity of PA.

With love,

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A New Way to Donate

Some of my other team members have been using this website to receive donations so I thought I would give it a try!

It's much simpler and doesn't require you to have a login or create an account. If you have a few spare dollars, anything at all, please consider donating! Every bit helps! :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Little Update

As of today I mailed out another set of letters. In case you weren't someone who received one, here's your own internet version. :)

       Approximately four months ago I mailed out my first set of letters describing my upcoming trip to Africa. The response was overwhelming. In fact, in the first month alone I raised more than half of the total cost of my trip. It became even clearer to me that Africa is where God wants me to be for the second half of this year.
       When I mailed my letters in January, it marked 184 days out from the day I leave. Now it is almost less than 70. It always fascinates me how quickly time passes by. Thinking about my continually shortening time left here in Pittsburgh, it causes me to reflect about the time I have left here on Earth and each day that God gives me. Each new day that I can awake to morning light and be given another opportunity to live differently today for God. There are times when it becomes habit to think that being different is a goal, rather than a lifestyle. In this I realize that being different does not come tomorrow unless it begins today.
       As my time here in Pittsburgh shortens, my appreciation for my family and friends grows ever more. Knowing that I am leaving has reminded me to appreciate all of life for what it is now, because what today is may not be the same as tomorrow. At my age, with most of my peers as young adults trying to figure out where to go, I consistently feel the pulse of wondering when the next big ‘life event’ will happen. Everyone is waiting until they get to college, graduate college, get a job, get married, etc. We are always waiting for tomorrow rather than finding the priceless value that exists in today. I love how God is teaching me so much from this trip, even though I have yet to experience it. I do believe these blessings and lessons will continue to be given during and surely after my trip.
       I wanted to thank and encourage all of those who have previously or are currently supporting me in my endeavors. You have shown me the love and generosity of God and it is such a beautiful thing! Currently I have obtained $7,100, leaving $2,200 left to raise. Knowing that God has brought me this far, I rest assured knowing He will bring me the rest of the way. For those who have not financially supported me, consider if this is an opportunity for you to give. Giving is not simply fulfilling the temporary trip I am adventuring onto, but it is also fulfilling and supporting the eternal kingdom of God as well as the people of each country I visit. As always, please continue to pray for not only me but the rest of my team as well!

If you are excited about my upcoming adventure and would like to support me in it then please view the instructions on the right side of this page which will tell you how you can!

Thanks a bunches!

With love,

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


As most of you reading may know, I do some photography as a hobby. I have taken pictures for families a few times now and am looking to use my little hobby as a way to raise some funding for my trip. If you know anyone looking for senior pictures, family pictures, or any photos taken in general, please let me know or give them my info! You can connect with me on Facebook or e-mail me at All donations I receive from taking the photos will go towards my trip.

Thanks! :) :)

With love,

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What this blog is all about...

Chances are, if you are reading this, you've received my letter. If you haven't, but stumbled upon it through Facebook or some Providential way, this is what it's all about.

     Since before I graduated high school, I have had a growing desire to experience more than the typical route of most young people—finishing high school, attending college, settling down, and working a 9-5 for forever and a day. I came to realize that the American Dream was certainly not for me, that God wanted me to see more than my own little world in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. Nearly two years ago, I acquired a little piece of this through my trip to Ecuador, which some of you reading may remember. Nevertheless, those ten days in Ecuador were not enough to quench the passion in my heart to see, experience, and know people and cultures around the world. When I began my two years at my local community college, my plan was to take a year off from school after finishing and fulfill the tug that God has had on my heart. Time has passed quickly and soon I will begin the last semester of my two years.  But as the adventure of college is going to be paused, a new adventure will ensue.
            Beginning in early July, I will depart on a 6-month long overseas mission trip called Immersion. The trip was planned and mapped out by an organization entitled Experience Mission, which I found through hours of online research of different organizations. The trip begins July 6th, where I will fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico to spend a few days training and preparing. My team will consist of 15-20 people, all between 18-30 years of age, as well as several leaders with us. We will then remain in New Mexico and Arizona for the next month and spend time on the Navajo Reservation there. After this, we will travel to South Africa, then Lesotho (which is in South Africa), and finally we will spend time in Mozambique, which is located in Southern part of Africa as well (I have included a picture at the end of this letter to give a more clear visual of the locations). I will remain in each place for approximately 4-6 weeks. The work my team will do will vary from place to place but it will consist of mostly relationship building, but also physical needs such as HIV/AIDS education, water sanitation projects, and church outreach. Each of these locations has specific needs, for example, 40% of the people in Lesotho live on $1.25 a day, and consequently necessary resources are limited. Nevertheless, the people in Lesotho thrive off of agricultural opportunities, and though they are few, the farmers are seeking for any and all possibilities for growth. Furthermore, part of my time spent in Lesotho will be working alongside the farmers and community toward these agricultural opportunities. My trip will end on December 19th, when we travel back to Albuquerque. We will spend a few days debriefing and then on December 21st, I will return home to Pittsburgh.
            Truthfully, I am a little scared. But I am even more so excited. I feel as if I have been waiting all my 19 years for this kind of opportunity. It is so easy to forget the rest of the world that God created when we are busy with our own lives. I am more than willing to give up these six months of my life to give to the furthering of God’s kingdom. Though I am just one person, I know if I am willing, that God can take my weaknesses and little offering to create big changes in the lives of many. The biggest thing I need right now is your support—whether that is through prayer, financial gifts, or encouragement. The cost of the trip is $9,000. This number scared me at first, but after breaking it down, I realized that it is not so big after all, especially with God’s provision! Although I am working as much as I can, as well as attempting to get a second job, I know I cannot raise the money alone. As of now, I am mailing letters to 63 individuals and families. If each of these 63 recipients gave about $145 dollars, I would reach my goal. But maybe you are thinking that $145 is too much, and I understand that financial gifts are not easy to make, especially in this economy and job market. This is why I have provided a second option of giving. Through Experience Missions’ website, you are able to sponsor me through monthly donations. Instead of giving $145 all at once, you could split this amount into however many months you choose up until the month I return. If you did this for the next 3 months, it would be around $48 a month. If you did it for the next 6 months, it would be around $25 a month. Say that is still too much per month. If you began giving in February and gave each month until November (the month before I return), that would be 10 months of giving less than $15 a month! Please do not feel obligated to give the amount I listed though, I will value and appreciate any and all of the donations I receive, whether that is a onetime gift or monthly. As always, all donations will be tax-deductible. If you feel that you want to be a part of this journey with me, please consider giving through prayer or financially. The easiest way to give, either by a onetime gift or a monthly donation, is by following these simple steps:

1. Go to

3. Create a UserID and password by filling out the information at the bottom of the page.
4. Follow the instructions for making a donation. My UserID is RCHI1001.

I know giving is a huge sacrifice and that I am asking for a lot. I want you to know how much I value and appreciate your giving, and consequently I will send you a small gift in return. It is nothing big, just my way of saying thanks and reminding you to pray for the rest of the team and me.

I can’t wait to see where God leads me through this experience. It will challenge me in ways I have never endured through before and ultimately will mold me more into the example and character of Christ. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

If you have any questions or would like more information, please don't hesitate to contact me via commenting on here or through sending me an email to

With love,