Archives For Summer

  1. Always bring snacks (and toilet paper).

  2. Start packing earlier.

  3. When in doubt, pray first.

  4. Don’t be afraid to speak the language, even if you embarrass yourself.

  5. Be a listening ear for verbal processors before lecturing.

  6. Care deeply about the nationals and get to know them individually.

  7. Missionaries are sinners, too.

  8. Always confess your sin and seek forgiveness first.

  9. Look like you know where you’re going, even when you have no idea. Walk with purpose. 🙂

  10. Comparison is deadly, hinders ministry, and dishonors Christ.

  11. People are not less intelligent just because they speak less English than you do.

  12. Deep conversations are worth missing sleep for.

  13. Allow at least 30 minutes of extra time in the morning so you’re not rushed.

  14. Talking to Mom and Dad won’t magically solve your problems.

  15. Spiritual warfare is a constant reality, and it affects things more than you know.

  16. That person you have the hardest time with can grow to be a kindred spirit.

  17. Sometimes loving and serving looks like being ridiculous on stage––deny yourself!

  18. Sing loudly and dance how you imagine in your head.

  19. Don’t live for affirmation. It won’t satisfy or bring lasting joy.

  20. Don’t underestimate the power of reading Scripture throughout the day.

  21. Keep an internal dialogue with the Lord––thanking, beseeching, praising, processing.

  22. It’s okay to smile and be warm behind a microphone.

  23. You’re probably less awkward than you think you are.

  24. Too much sugar throughout the day will make you irritable at night.

  25. The world will not end if you don’t check Facebook for a few days or don’t respond right away.

  26. God is always working, even when you can’t see it.

  27. It’s okay to be sweating a ton––wear dark colors if you don’t want it to show!

  28. Forget “cool.” You’re called to be faithful, not enslaved to others’ dictates/standards.

  29. It’s better to humble yourself and admit when you’re not okay.

  30. If you’re tired and rambling, just stop talking and go to bed.

  31. Having no concrete schedule is actually really freeing, even though it terrifies you.

  32. Notice little details to anchor memories to.

  33. People love and affirm in different ways. Learn to recognize and appreciate those ways without being enslaved to them for happiness.

  34. It’s not about you.

  35. Just do the dishes.

  36. Choose the adventure.

  37. When you’re weak, that’s when you’re strong.

  38. Music isn’t your savior.

  39. Always go to the bathroom before you leave—you don’t know where the next one could be. 🙂

  40. He is able to do far more abundantly than all you can ask or think.


“So, how was India?”

It’s hard to find words to respond to that inevitable question.

Certain words swirl in my mind:

Incredible.

Vibrant.

Paradigm-shifting.

But words can’t do justice to the daily sounds of vegetable vendors calling out their wares, the voices of an Indian congregation singing jubilantly, the variety of languages heard as an audible backdrop to the Taj Mahal’s majesty.

I will tell you, though, that I have never been humbled so consistently. I learned so much in 6 short weeks, and learned to love ferociously––to love my wonderful team, the lovely nationals, the mesmerizing place.

My time in India challenged me to appreciate the beauty of life, its challenges as well as its high points. In new ways, I saw that true fullness of life and joy is only accessible through Christ.

Some favorite experiences included:

  • Fellowship with Indian believers at slum small groups
  • Exploring the city––taking rickshaws, the metro, walking around
  • Deep, soul-nourishing conversations with new friends and teammates
  • Cultural immersion: from the food to the clothing to witnessing temple worship
  • Being caught in a monsoon at midnight––after being locked out of our flat!

What sights I saw. From the begging mother pounding on my car window to seeing an elephant casually walking down the highway…alongside a camel.

Countless other memories could be recorded: English and computer teaching, developed friendships at an academy and kids’ camp, and several stunning scenes.

But more than all that, I saw God at work tangibly and beautifully in an oppressively dark place.

Spiritual warfare is real, friends. The problems and heartbreaking realities of India––its poverty, corruption, and hopelessness are large and seem impossible to overcome.

But I hold Christ to His Word. He promises that every nation will bow, worship, and glorify Him as King. And I pray India will be lit afire for the Savior of the world, to magnify and exalt Him.

“All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.” –Psalm 86:9

Nothing compares to the glorious and exceeding joy I had to share the gospel in at least 4 different settings––3 of them in front of larger groups. After all, that is my life’s purpose (Acts 20:24).

Was India easy?

No.

Was it worth it––to build friendships entrenched in eternity, to see God’s miraculous love fully and abundantly on display?

Yes.

Yes, it was worth it. God knew I needed to see my pride as the ugly monster it is––to view my insufficiencies so He would be my sole strength.

I tasted more deeply of His goodness––I saw more of His sustaining grace. Toward me, my team, and the people of India.

All through 120 degree days, frequent 12 hour workdays, late talks, sweaty afternoons, vibrant colors, loud laughs, heavy cries, and great praise.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” –2 Cor. 4:7

The power belongs to Him alone. And yet, in His perfect providence, He ordained my team––8 other weak vessels and I––to be His ambassadors and servants.

So. How was India?

Amazing.

Challenging.

Transformative.

6 weeks of life-altering experiences, lessons learned, and grace lavished. I will never be the same.

And by God’s grace, I will see my Indian friends again. If not on this earth, in eternity, when every tribe, tongue, and nation will encircle the throne of the Savior who loved us and commissioned us to proclaim Him in all the world.

Gazing Toward the Future

Carissa A —  October 3, 2016 — Leave a comment

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In quiet moments, my mind revisits cherished memories – like a late-summer swim in the dimming waves of a San Diego sunset with a kindred sister in Christ.

Gliding through the water, we faced the distant horizon of the sea and the horizon of our futures. Sunset orange, crimson and purple melted down to light up the ocean around us.

Brilliant colors in the sky faded into dark blue, and our voices sailed over the waves in soul-nourishing conversation. We became misty-eyed as we pondered the mercy of God in light of our insufficiency.

We are prone to nautical wandering – we truly don’t know how to navigate the ocean-like immensity of the future.

Time is an ever-fluctuating and vast sea with an unreachable horizon of tomorrow. Still, we feign knowledge of the unknown future because of our natural craving for control. Desperately and hungrily we reach, longing for a sure stability of safety.

We might as well try to conquer the ocean. Time is unforgiving – she has no concept of care for individuals caught in her flooding tides.

But the Eternal One alone commands the sea of time. 

“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” –Mark 4:41

He is all-merciful and all-powerful, even over the inevitable and oft ominous currents of time. I aspire to be a woman always basking in humbled wonder at the great magnitude of His providential and sustaining mercy – even when the future looks like a murky expanse.

Looking back, I remember the taste of rippling, moonlight-drenched waves, the depths of His faithfulness, and the arrival of hope. I see a season of euphoric joy sometimes eclipsed by shadowy pain and sorrow.

Looking forward, I gaze toward the horizon of the future. I do not know what it holds, although I seem to glimpse fragments–a journey to India, a not-so-far-away college graduation, and post-education ventures into the exhilarating unknown.

I do not need a precise awareness of what my future holds because I know the sovereign One outside of time. The Alpha and Omega who knows the beginning from the end in His timelessness.

My grandmother’s words return to me: “You may not know what is to come, but you know the One who knows.” Security in the face of a fast-approaching future is only found in pursuing Him, the One who holds all the waters of time in His hands.

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Here is a sampling of the books I read this summer! With the exception of Bible reading and various ongoing devotional readings, this represents a substantial amount of what I read over the course of the past few months. I am a firm believer in one’s reading list reflecting a lot of who they are, so welcome to a bit of who I am, embodied in my summer reading list.

  • The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Leo Tolstoy (fiction): Ivan Ilyich is a haunting exploration of one man’s foray into the heights of worldly success and his ultimate downfall – a dire diagnosis leading to a rapidly dark confrontation with death.

Why you should read it: At some point, every person must come face-to-face with the sure reality of death in their own life and the lives of others. This book excellently chronicles the struggle of a man devoid of hope, echoing the turmoil of millions even today. For Christians, this should drive an increased urgency in sharing the gospel with those around us. Thanks be to God, through whom “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:55)!

  • Into All the World: Four Stories of Pioneer Missionaries, Vance Christie (biography): One of several missionary biographies I delved into this summer, Into All the World succinctly chronicles the lives and ministries of four pioneer missionaries into previously unreached areas: David Brainerd to Native Americans in colonial America, Adoniram Judson in Burma, Robert Moffat in South Africa, and John Paton in the South Pacific.

Why you should read it: Stories of the Lord’s faithfulness throughout the history of His church are manifold, and I often found myself in chills reading about the tenacity and courage of these pioneer missionaries as well as others, such as Amy Carmichael and Gladys Aylward. Missionary biographies provide a wonderful opportunity to worship the Lord for His great power worked through the lives of redeemed sinners for His glory!

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