#100: Get a passport.

Today, an envelope from the State Department arrived at my house, containing my very own passport. Ten days ago, I applied for it, and I did not have it expedited. I’m not really sure how the government managed to be so on top of things, but I’m glad.

God willing, the first stamp in my passport won’t be for England or Canada or any of those other countries I’ve always thought I would visit. Instead, it will be Haiti. In January.

A month or so ago, NGU held their annual Global Missions Conference. A few days before, I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom, grading papers, when I realized I’d been staring off into space for about 20 minutes, thinking about the upcoming missions conference…and thinking about applying for a L.I.G.H.T. team, one of the missions teams NGU sends out every year.

The idea came out of nowhere. I cannot explain it (which is what makes it so good). A few days later, I went to the first chapel of the missions conference, and then at lunch, I picked up an application for a L.I.G.H.T. team, knowing that I was taking a huge leap just by opening the brochure.

I knew that, in the past, NGU had sent teams to Greece. I very much want to visit Greece. It sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Spending spring break in Greece, working for Jesus? But God had other plans.

Many of the missions teams are specialized: you have to play a musical instrument, you have to take a certain course, you have to be a football player. Only a few of the teams was I actually qualified for, including Greece. But Haiti seemed to be beckoning me.

You see, my church Radius has had a partnership with a church in Pignon, Haiti, since last fall, well before the earthquake occurred. Our church made a decision to sponsor a school and provide meals so that every student would be able to eat for a year. We raised the money, sent it to the missions organization, and the food arrived in one of the Haitian ports…in January…right around the time of the earthquake. Instead of supplying food for the school, we were instead able to feed refugees.  This year, we renewed our partnership, raised much more money in a shockingly quick amount of time, and we’re supporting Haitian school students, including some recent orphans from the earthquake, for the next year.

All that to say, I’ve been able to hear stories coming out of Haiti for over a year. “Coincidences” that are so obviously God-ordained; stories of redemption in tragedy. Added to that, I took a course in Caribbean Women’s Writing at Gardner-Webb in the spring, and I read Edwidge Danticat’s book Krik? Krak! and fell in love with the Haitian people through the writing of one of the most talented women I’ve ever encountered.

The day that I picked up the application, the only word that I could think of to describe that moment was that I was compelled to do so. God has been lining this event up for me for a long time. To be quite honest, I’m scared. When I take my eyes off my Father, and I start to think about crime rates and cholera outbreaks, and I start to have these doubts of “What can I possibly do in Haiti?” then my fear returns, and I wonder if I’ve made the right decision. It’s been an almost constant battle, this week especially, to remind myself that my obedience is more important than my safety, that God will accomplish great things with or without me, and that apart from Him, my life is meaningless. Nothing in my life–my job, my friends, my education–nothing matters if I’m not following my Creator.

So I cast my cares upon my Lord, and I pray that God prepares my heart to follow His will. I pray for the Haitian aid workers there now who are dealing with the cholera pandemic that blew up just two days ago. I pray for the missionaries and pastors, the students and teachers, that my fellow missionaries and I will be working with. Please, please, please pray with me and for me as this adventure approaches.

[Also…I bet this wasn’t the entry you were expecting when you saw I had my passport, was it? 🙂 ]

September Books

Previously unread books:

66. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. My literary theory class is reading this book to analyze.

67. Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic, Suzanne Weyn. She’s a liar. The Titanic doesn’t enter the story until around page 200, and more time is spent on discussing the main character’s sister’s wedding that’s going to take place on board. The collision with the iceberg and the sinking are abbreviated into about two pages. Really. The book is much more about the spiritualism movement and Nikola Tesla than the Titanic. But I’m sure more people will read it (as I did) if it didn’t say Distant Waves: A Novel of an Intriguing, but Crazy Inventor and Even Crazier “Mediums” with Some Time Travel Thrown in for Good Measure— right?

68. Keep Out, Claudia, Ann M. Martin (BSC #56). I found some BSC books that I didn’t own at Mr. K’s! I have a weakness for the books I loved when I was little.

69. Claudia Kishi, Live from WSTO!, Ann M. Martin (BSC #85)

70. Ralph S. Mouse, Beverly Cleary. Somehow, I never actually read all of this book. I’ve read sections of it (I know because certain scenes seemed familiar), which I’m sure I probably read during snack time at the after-school program that I volunteered at during college. But the whole middle of the book, when Ralph stays at school and the class builds a maze…I have no recollection of that part of the story at all. So it’s going on the previously unread  list.

71. My Beautiful Disaster, Michelle Buckman. The companion novel to Maggie Come Lately, which I read last month. Not bad.

72. The Lonely Hearts Club, Elizabeth Eulberg. The main character’s name is Penny Lane Bloom, and her parents are huge Beatles fans. After getting fed up with the boys that she meets, she decides to start the Lonely Hearts Club. Soon, many other girls in her high school join because they’re fed up with boys, too. But of course, once Penny Lane swears off boys, she meets one who’s actually worth dating. I like the change Penny and the others make in the book–they turn from being girls who are defined by the guys in their lives to being girls who can date but not give up their close friendships. And of course, the book is chock full of Beatles trivia, lyrics, and other references, so I loved it. 🙂

73. Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher. The main character receives a package in the mail containing tapes recorded by his crush Hannah, who had committed suicide two weeks before. On the tapes, she explains every event that took place leading up to her decision. It seems that her goal was to either make her classmates feel incredibly guilty for not recognizing the signs or to encourage them to notice the signs of suicide in others (as the main character does in the end). Maybe I’m finally too far removed from the high school experience, but I didn’t relate enough to Hannah’s character. She seems to want to blame everyone else for not recognizing her subtle cries for help; however, at so many points in the narrative, she could have prevented some of the actions that led to her decision. She could have asked for help. I guess that this book does do a good job of revealing a high schooler’s narcissistic mindset. She’s so wrapped up in how cruel everyone around her is that she sometimes fails to notice others’ pain as well.

74. God is in the Pancakes, Robin Epstein. I really enjoyed this book. The main character Grace is a fifteen-year-old who works at a nursing home and becomes friends with an old man who has Lou Gehrig’s disease. When he asks her to help him die to escape the pain, she has to deal with the ramifications of just his asking the question. At the same time, her parents have recently divorced, her sister is dating a jerk, and Grace won’t admit that she’s interested in her best friend Eric. The great thing about this book is that Grace deals with typical high school drama as well as the heavy burden of losing a friend that she cares for.

Okay, so 3 months to go to the end of the year, and 26 more books to read. I’m not entirely sure I’ll make it all the way to 100, but I’ll keep going.