Sunday, October 31, 2010

Made it to Cuernrvaca

Today. Day 71. Halloween. 21 Days left. Tomorrow is November. I can do this!

The past few days have involved a lot of driving! Friday we visited three artisan markets where we saw black clay pottery, beautiful wooden creatures, and woven bags and table runners. Yesterday was a long day of driving from 9 am to 9 pm when we finally made it to our beautiful hotel that we only got to stay one night in...bummer. Today we went to the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan and climbed the sun tower there. It was similar to Monte Alban that we visited earlier this week but much bigger. After spending the morning there we drove into Mexico City to go to the museum of anthropology. It was a really cool museum but kind of hard to appreciate when I was so tired and spent from all the traveling. We finally made it to our house here in Cuernrvaca where we will be staying for the final three weeks here. It was so nice to unpack and have my own space that isn't going to change again. I'm tired and ready for bed but just wanted to send a quick update. More coming soon! Love you all!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Few Thoughts

Today is day 67, 25 days left...not like I'm counting down or anything :)

Quick update on what we have been up to in the past few days. I'm in Oaxaca, Mexico now until Saturday when we will travel to Cuernavaca where we will be for the rest of our trip (besides a 3 day break in Mexico City). The class I am taking now is the Mexican Revolution with a new professor. I like her so far. She is much more aware of our needs and is willing to mold things around us. We have a TON of reading though, and I'm not sure what our final paper is about, but at least the class is only for two weeks!

Since I have been here I have visited a Museum, seen ancient ruins at Monte Alban, tried grasshoppers, and discussed the meaning of Indigenismo. Again, I struggle with being interested in the material, but I am getting better at trying to find something that I enjoy out of it. One of the hard parts about this trip is the way that the classes are set up. I like that we have them in blocks but it is hard to end one and then start another, end that one and find the energy to start again.

Honestly, I am really ready to go home. It is an intentional effort that I have to make everyday to find the joy and be present here. God is teaching me so much through this though!! It's hard to really see what the overall purpose is as I experience it, but I know when I go home I am going to be able to see the fruit of this journey. I have never been pushed out of my comfort zone for such a long period of time.

I was reading Psalm 5 during my quiet time a few days ago and came across this verse.
"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation." Psalm 5:3

I can really relate to this verse and found it comforting. Every morning I wake up and present my requests to God, He hears me and responds lovingly. I have been trying to focus on rejoicing in the pain and suffering that I often feel here. Like it says in 1 Peter 4:12-14, 16
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name."

God has me here for a reason. He allows me to breathe every day and be in this place. It may not be where I want to be, but it's not about me it's about Him. I am focusing on rejoicing in everything happening here, the good and the bad, because when I allow it, the Lord is making me more and more like Christ every day. I don't want to get comfortable when I get back home. I want to continue to be stretched and to grow. I want to be used to further the Kingdom. I want to live a life that makes others ask why? Why are you so forgiving? Why so loving? Why are you the way that you are? I hope that God continues to break me of my sinful ways and grow me into the Christ follower that God knows I can be.

Love always, Shelby

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In My Head and In My Heart

During my GHS class over the past four weeks I have learned so much, been humbled, changed my perspective on things, and felt extremely moved. In class yesterday we talked about how we feel about certain issues in our head and then in our heart I really liked thinking about things that way so I am going to continue to write with that perspective in mind. When we started our GHS journey we were in Managua, Nicaragua. It is crazy to think back on those two weeks when I couldn’t even define sustainable development. I remember thinking there is no way I can write a paper on this, I don’t understand it at all! Now, 6 weeks later, I feel like I grasp sustainable development much better. I also see the importance of sustainability and how it affects our whole world.

In my head it seems overwhelming and daunting to think of all of the unsustainable things that are happing in the world, and Central America specifically. The free trade zone, geothermal energy plant, and large corporations like coke and Wal-Mart, just to name a few. Because of these places many people living in Central America are loosing jobs, barely surviving, robbing their children of their childhood to send them begging on the streets, working with no benefits and horrible conditions, and much more. In my head I wonder how we got to this place where there is such an imbalance in the world. In my heart it tears me apart to see what many people in Central America are living like. I have never been so humbled in my life to see all of the ways God has blessed me. It’s frustrating that there is so much ignorance in the world. For example, this weekend/week has been homecoming at Butler. Don’t get me wrong, homecoming is a fun event, but it is ridiculous how much value people put on little things like winning or loosing just to get bragging rights. I realize that it may seem like a big deal at the time but it doesn’t even come close to the problems that I have seen here. Children are starving, people can’t make ends meet, there is so much sadness, pain, and inequality, and we, as the privileged American’s, get caught up in the little things like which house is the best on campus. That is not meant to bash anyone but hopefully those people will rethink their priorities and see the bigger picture in the world. It’s hard to blame American’s though because most of us just don’t know what is going on in the world. I think I have learned form being here that as a citizen from the United States I need to pay more attention to worldly issues and step outside of my comfortable bubble. I know I will never be able to forget what I learned here and will always have a special place in my heart for Central Americans.

There are some hopeful things going on here though, and I am excited and thankful for those. Earth University, where indigenous people can come and get trained in whatever skill they want is a really hopeful place. It’s almost completely sustainable and gives me hope for the future of Mexico. There is always hope in a new tomorrow. The biggest hope is that we are not going to be on this earth forever and someday, many of us will be living in paradise with our Savior. But in the meantime, I hope progress can be made in our world so that there is a better economic balance and the poorer people can live happier and better lives.

Today we woke up at 5:30, flew to Mexico city, sat in the airport for 5 hours and flew to Oaxaca (pronounced wa-ha-ka). The hotel is pretty and we met our new professor. Tomorrow we are visiting a museum and getting a walking tour. Monday is a free day and tuesday we will start class. Only 29 days of the trip left!! Time is flying!

Love always, Shelby

Thursday, October 21, 2010

By the Way...I'm in Mexico!

This past week has been crazy with tons of speakers, activities, and basically no free time. I haven't even had the chance to get on here and upload a few pictures from Mexico! Since Sunday I have been here, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. The city we are in is called San Cristobal de las Casas. It is a touristy place and would be fun except for the fact that we have had so many papers and assignments that I haven't had the chance to really appreciate it. Speaking of, I have a paper to write today so hopefully I can get that done and write a more detailed post of how I am doing and what has been going on in my life later. For now I just wanted to upload a few pictures and share my current status. We only have one more day of GHS class, HALLELUJAH!! Then 4 more weeks...I can do this!!

Love, Shelby

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Migration Realization

The past few days from the time we left Guatemala to entering Mexico have made a big impact in my life. I had an “aha” moment when so many global realities hit home. One of the things that has really changing my thinking and caused me to reflect is migration as a whole. Willie’s talk was the first step in opening my eyes to the issue of migration, why it exists, what causes it, and how the US plays such a big role in it. I have to admit a week ago I probably would have argued that people should stop migrating to our country and would be annoyed at undocumented migrants coming in the US to work. After hearing Willie’s story it really changed my perspective on things. He helped me to realize that many people migrate to the US to find refuge from violence and others to find jobs that the free trade agreement along with NAFTA has illuminated. I was really taken aback when Willie talked about how much discrimination and hardship he endured in the United States. He talked about how he didn’t even feel like he was being treated at a human at times and was definitely discriminated because of his race. I knew discrimination existed but I didn’t realize that it was so present in the US. Willie worked so hard to better his life through all of the persecution. He ended up working as a chef and is now back in Guatemala with his own project CAFÉ R.E.D. that will hopefully lead to a successful and meaningful life for him.

I have really begun to realize how much money corrupts and how greed is, in my opinion, one of the root causes of many of the world’s problems. It reminds me of the verse when Jesus says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven. When money takes over your life it become the most important thing and some people will stop at nothing to get more. The big corporations in the US and all over the world are generally hurting many people by illuminating “mom and pop” jobs and creating a competition that is almost impossible to compete with. There is such an imbalance of wealth in our world that I had never really realized before. Why is it that so many people are living on a dollar a day, while in the US we would give away or spend a dollar without even thinking about it? How did things get this way and how can it be solved? I realize that one of the root causes is the demand for goods in the US and the power that we have to start factories and corporations that promote cheap labor and horrible working conditions. But it is such a web now, how do we fix it? All of the things that I have been learning are starting to become overwhelming because it is hard to understand how to change those things now. Sure, you could always boycott Wal-Mart, but I have begun to realize that a change needs to come from widespread education and understanding. I really think if people in the US realized all of the horrible things that are going on in the world because of us we would be more willing to give up some of our comforts. I hope that when I go home I will remember everything that I have learned and seen here and find some way to help.

Love always,

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Missing and Thankful for List

Top 10 things that I am missing right now, in no particular order:

1. The beautiful changing leaves of autumn.
2. Apple cider, pumpkins, corn mazes.

3. Q'doba
4. My family and friends of course :)
5. My puppies Tucker and Mallie.
6. Church!! And a Christian community.
7. My car, and being able to drive where and when I want.
8. Butler and my DG sisters.
9. Yummy desserts: chocolate chip cookies, apple pie etc...

10. Taking education classes that I enjoy.

Top 10 things that I am thankful for on this trip:

1. Beautiful mountains and volcanoes.
2. Being tested, pushed out of my comfort zone, and growing.
3. Seeing God more clearly and hearing His voice.
4. Good friends and good conversations.
5. My eyes being opened to the world around me.
6. My amazing support network at home.
7. The opportunity to travel to four Latin American countries.
8. All of the immense blessings in my life, and comforts of home.
9. Technology to keep me connected with loved ones.
10. God's word that keeps me joyful and sane.

Friday, October 15, 2010


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:7,8

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Why is forgiveness such a difficult thing to do? When someone hurts you so deeply it can seem impossible to forgive them for the horrible thing that they did or said to you. Sometimes we struggle with forgiving God for doing something that wasn't in our plan or taking something or someone away from us. But other times the real struggle comes with forgiving ourselves. Forgiving myself for past sins is often a difficult hurdle for me to overcome. Understanding true forgiveness from the Lord that is given to us through the blood of Jesus Christ is something that I don't know if I will ever fully understand. It frustrates me when I know better or knew better and still chose to sin because it was fun, I was afraid, or I just blatantly ignored what I knew was wrong. I know that He forgives me when I truly repent, wipes me clean again, and makes me white as snow but it is so easy to continue to beat myself up about something that God has long forgiven me for. I also know that when we don't forgive ourselves we aren't honoring God and are basically telling Him, it's not good enough that you forgave me, my sin is too big. But NO sin is too big to forgive and Jesus paid the penalty for our constant sin. The true freedom and peace that God allows us to have through forgiveness is amazing. There is so much to delve into with the gift of forgiveness, but tonight I just wanted to share that little bit that was on my heart.

The past few days in Guatemala have been interesting. I will never try to assume I know what is coming next on this study abroad adventure because things never seem to go as planned. God really is teaching me patience and continually revealing to me my areas of weakness. I am at the point in the trip where the little things just start to nag at me. I am praying to rid myself of the frustration and annoyance towards people that I have because I know that it builds up and doesn't lead to anything good. Satan really knows where to get me and attacks me whenever possible. But, I'm going to fight against that and choose every day to wake up and let God lead me through the day. It is really amazing how much I have learned since camp this summer from intentionally spending time with the Lord every morning. I don't know how I ever made it without that time.

We have one more full day here in Guatemala. It really is a beautiful country and I am enjoying the cooler weather and majestic mountain scenery. However, I am not looking forward to our 8 hour bus ride to Mexico and crossing the border. I am definitely going to have to take some dramamine for motion sickness for the drive :/ The positive side is we only have one more week of this GHS class and then we finally get to have a new professor! On Sunday there are five more weeks left and I'm sure it is going to fly. I'm eager to continue to learn about Latin America and find out what else God is going to teach me here.

Much more lies ahead! Until next time.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guatemala's Been Good to Me

Sunday began the next leg of our adventure - Guatemala! We spend a week here and are currently in Antigua enjoying three free days in the beautiful city. I really love it here. There are a lot of fun shops, restaurants, coffee and even bagel places. It is very touristy here but I don't min at all, I need a little taste of home right now. We flew in on Sunday and had an orientation that included a pasta dinner with the group at a local pizza place. Yesterday Jenny, Meen, Jazzmin and I slept in (which was so nice and much needed). We got ready and actually did our hair and put on a cute outfit, so exciting haha! We were really craving American food so we headed to subway and had an early lunch there, yum! We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the city, popping our heads in and out of stores, and enjoying the amazing fall weather. The food is great here and we had frozen yogurt for a snack which was great. After shopping we came back to the hotel for a bit, relaxed and later headed to dinner. We didn't know what we wanted but found a really fun local mexican restaurant called tacontento (how creative). It really did make me feel content! We ordered a special that came with chips and many salsas to split, a large plate of every kind of fajita topping you could want, tortillas, and horchata (a really good cinnamon drink). It was only 5 dollars each and we all left full and satisfied. Monday was a fun and refreshing day.

Today was less relaxing but equally exciting. This morning the majority of our group decided to go on a hike up a volcano that was about an hour away. The hotel set up the tour for us and drove us there. The hike was pretty strenuous. I think the elevation was 2300 ft and it was a very steep 3 hour hike up to the peak of the volcano. It was so worth it once we got to the top though! The views were breathtaking and once again made me step back in awe of the Lord's creation. After we made it to the peak we hiked over the lava, much like I did in Hawaii a few years ago. The hike reminded me of how many awesome opportunities I have had in my travel with my family. I'll never forget our night time adventure to see the flowing lava in Hawaii or our three day hike at 14,500 ft in the Andes mountains in Peru. Today was another great day to add to my belt of awesome experiences. I am so blessed!

Tomorrow is our last free day before we head to another city in Guatemala and resume our GHS class. Time will fly here and soon we will be off to Mexico already. I'm exciting to be on the downhill part of this study abroad experience but taking things day by day and enjoying all that I am learning.

That's all for now. Have a great week everyone!

Love, Shelby

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Picture Perfect Day

The best word to describe today.

This morning we drove to Laguna Apoyo which happens to be the most beautiful place in Nicaragua. I can attest to that! It is a gorgeous volcanic lake surrounded by lush forest in a secluded and quiet part of the country. The water is partly sulfuric, however it did not smell like sulfur at all! We spent the day swimming, relaxing, laughing, reflecting, reading, and just having a great time. It was my favorite day of the trip so far and a great way to spend our last day in Nicaragua.

Tomorrow we journey on to Guatemala as we begin week 8 of our trip. Three free days are calling my name.

Love always, Shelby

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Taming the Tongue

Our words are arguably the most powerful things that we have control of. With our words we have the power to save a life or to take one. With our words we can encourage or wound someone. With our words we have the ability to bring peace or start a war. Our words reveal who we are, our true selves. Just as it says in Matthew 12:34 "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." We are our words.

Throughout these past six weeks the Lord has been revealing to me my weakness in taming my tongue. My nature is to share my opinion and be open with my feelings. If you ask, and often if you don't, I will tell you how I am feeling, why I am feeling this, and what is going well or bothering me. I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in or speak up for Jesus, my Savior. Though I know God smiles upon His children defending His name, He also hates it when we talk too much and complain, gossip, slander, lie, and so on. This area is one of my worst. It is such a struggle for me to hold my tongue in times of frustration and anger. But, the Bible has SO much to say about this issue of words, controlling your tongue, and monitoring what comes out of your mouth.

Here is some scripture that I have been reminded of lately:

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.” -1 Peter 3:9,10

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. –1 Peter 4:11

Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. –James 5:9

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell….With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. –James 3:5-6, 9-10

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgement for every careless worrd they have spoken. -Matthew 12:36

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. –Ephesians 4:29

A few Proverbs:
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicket is of little value. –Proverbs 10:21
The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out. –Proverbs 10:31
With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape. –Proverbs 11:9
From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands reward him. –Proverbs 12:14
The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. –Proverbs 12:22
He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. –Proverbs 13:3
The tongue is the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. -Proverbs 18:21

Clearly what we say and how we say it is very important to God. We, as Christians, are living examples of Christ and His character. James really convicts me and causes me to think when it says out of the same mouth we praise and curse. My mouth is one of the main tools that I use for praising God. I sing to Him, pray to Him, and share His word to others. And out of the same mouth I complain about things, make fun of people, and talk badly about those who have hurt me. That is not ok at all. But how do I change something that is so deeply a part of how I function? In the past when I have held things it I have learned that it just makes it build up and eventually I explode. But I know I need to take my feelings to Jesus. I know that if I truly seek a transformation in this area that He will help me to tame my tongue little by little. I am going to make a daily effort from now on to think before I speak and run to the Lord instead of others with my frustrations and feelings.

One final note. Today I was listening to the song I Will Go, by Starfield which was was the inspiration of the title of my blog and reminded me of the overall theme of my trip. I titled this blog before I left and before I really had any idea what I was getting into. But now listening to the lyrics it is a bit spooky how much it applies to what I have been experiencing and going through.
The song says:
I will go. I will go, I will go. Lord send me to the world, to the lost, to the poor and hungry. Take everything I am. I'm clay within your hands. I will go send me.
Let me not be blind with privilege. Give me eyes to see the pain. Let the mercy You've poured out on me not be spent on me in vain. Let this life be used for change.
I want to live for You, go where You lead me. I want to follow You.

That is just what He did. He sent me into the world to see the lost, poor and hungry. To the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. To live among the poverty and feel what people here feel everyday. I pray that everything that I am seeing is not just something that I view as a memory, but that I take what I have learned and apply it to my life and do something. I don't know what that something is yet but I pray that God will mold that plan and show me what His great and perfect will is for my life.

Tomorrow is my last day in Bluefields and I am excited and ready to move on from Nicaragua soon. It has been a really challenging and testing time for me here. I am glad that I went through it but happy to head to Guatemala on Sunday. There we will have a few free days in Antigua, continue with our GHS class and then head to Mexico where we finish the semester. Time is moving slow but also flying. Today marked our half way point for the semester.

Thanks as always to everyone for your prayers and encouragement. God has blessed me with an amazing support network. I love you all.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Ups and Downs

Being on this trip has already tested me in more ways than I could possibly imagine. I never knew something could be so draining and have such highs and extreme lows. This past week, up till Sunday, was really challenging for me. I still can’t pinpoint what the exact factor is, but I have wanted to go home this past week more than ever before. I have even gotten to the point where I was counting down which is something I don’t want to do and haven’t been doing up until now. It’s frustrating when uncomfortable situations build up upon classes and lectures that I am not very passionate about. I hate when the overall purpose for being here gets clouded by my feeling and immediate annoyances. It’s almost like I can handle a few things, but there is a point where it is too much. But, I know that God is testing me while I’m here for a reason. He is teaching me what true persecution is and what it feels like to be drained and alone. I have never had to rely on God’s promise that He will never leave me or forsake me more than I am right now. I have never had to wake up and literally make the choice to be joyful because I can’t think of one thing that I want to be joyful about. It’s really weird because this summer at camp I went through these same things but in a different and not as extreme way. I needed God to get me through the day but I needed energy from Him more than anything. I was being spiritually filled daily so that my cup was overflowing and most of the drain that I was feeling was physical. I remember reflecting at the end of camp and realizing that God was teaching me not to base my days off of feelings but to find ALL of my joy in Him. But, being here, being abroad is a completely different kind of draining. It’s not as physical, but it is emotionally, mentally, and spiritually draining. Without the Christian community I don’t have anything to fall back on but God himself. At camp I really enjoyed what I was doing and absolutely loved impacting the lives of my campers. Here, it’s not that I don’t like it, but I don’t love it. I have to choose to learn and find the positives out of every day. But even though that can be extremely challenging and frustrating it has been really good for me to have to make that choice to be joyful and hopeful when it is easy to think that there is none.

I think it has also been hard for me because I am getting to the point where I have seen so much poverty that I am almost getting numb to it. I want to help, but we haven’t talked about very many practical ways to help the poor and needy in this country. Day after day I see it and want to do something, but I am getting to the point where it’s almost like, there are so many people how can I care about them all? The answer to this is something that I am still searching for. I know that one person can’t help millions of people and it is easy to get overwhelmed in the big issue of poverty but I want to do something to make a difference.

On a positive note, yesterday in our class reflection I really enjoyed hearing what our group had to say and talking about what we have been learning since we have been in Bluefields. I feel like when we have those discussions and bounce ideas off of each other, it is one of the best ways to learn and process experiences. I feel like I learned so much more last night hearing everyone’s opinions and thoughts that I have in the past week of lectures and talks. I hope that as we continue on this journey we can continue to have those class discussions and unpack what everyone is learning and feeling.

I’m going to try to continue to have the mindset of taking things one day at a time here. It is a gift from God that I wake up every morning and I need to live each day to the fullest and live every experience that I can while I am here. I have so many good things going for me, I’m healthy, my family is healthy, I have a wonderful home, go to a great school, have amazing friends and so much more. Focusing on the positives and working to see those here is something that I really need to intentionally do.

Love always, Shelby