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Kazakhstan: Rewind

God has a great way of reminding you of things when you need it most.

I had one of these great reminders this past week.

In the summer of 2006, I went on a 2-week humanitarian aid trip to Kazakhstan. We traveled the big cities of Taraz, Almaty, and Shymkent. This trip definitely changed my life.

The latest assignment in my speech class was to give an informative speech about anything. I really wanted to share with my class about Kazakhstan. In order to prepare for my speech, I started by reading my old Myspace post that I wrote shortly after I returned.

Wow. God is amazing. I just returned home tonight from a 2 week trip to Kazakhstan. To be a believer in Kazakhstan is a huge committment, and lots of times it splits families and even endangers lives. We have it so easy here in America…

This was one amazing trip. So amazing in fact that it rocked my world. We traveled half-way across the country just to bless people. We weren’t on a trip to save the world, but instead to show them God’s love by blessing them in ways beyond their wildest dreams. I spent 4 days working at an orphanage in which one woman took on 4 children who were all cast out by their families because they had disabilities, as small as they may be. This woman had hardly any money, and barely a place to live, but she knew that God would provide. We completely fixed up her home and showered her with love and gifts from us. Seeing the tears in their eyes was enough to break my heart.

We also traveled Kazakhstan and saw some of the other villages. It’s an amazing and a once in a lifetime chance to experience another culture first-hand. These people live with so little everyday, yet they make the most of everything they have. Nothing is wasted; everything treated as a precious gift. We could learn a lesson from the people of Kazakhstan.

This trip taught me a lot about my life. From speeding through the busy street with real laws to speak of to having to throw away my toilet paper in the trash can since it isn’t to be flushed, we were given quite the experience. I ate the rare delicacy of a sheep’s head, and in respect shoes are always taken off before entering a Kazakh home. I spent two evenings with a Russian youth group having only 2 translators and the love of God to link us. I learned that a smile goes a long way and it works in every language! I climbed the mountains in Kazakhstan and shopped at the local bazzars. It’s amazing to see the things that we hold in high regard in comparison to the people in Kazakhstan. I went 2 weeks without the internet, my cell phone, Starbucks, McDonalds, and air conditioning. Those things all seem so common to everyday life, and I had no idea how much I depended on them until they weren’t there. It’s amazing to learn where the line between need and want is really drawn. Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t gone psycho and decided to give all of that up, but I have learned to appreciate it so much more. We have so much, and we shouldn’t feel guilty, but we need not take advantage of it, but rather use it to bless other people; bless the world. Giving a gift of an electric oven, something that no one in America lives without, changed a woman’s life on the other side of the world. Thank God for everything He has blessed you with, and ask Him how you can use it to bless other people.

The best part about this whole experience is that I’m still the same person! I can’t wait to go out with my friends and go to the movies and enjoy all of the wonderful things that America offers. I’ve never been so excited to come home to Muncie in my life! I can’t wait to see all of my friends, because I missed them so much. It was hard being away from my family for 2 weeks as well. We have so much, even if it seems like we don’t sometimes. Just always keep in mind that we live for a purpose, and we have so many resources that to not live for that purpose would be a waste. God works in amazing ways, and He showed me all of the blessings that I have in my life!!! I love my friends, I love my family, and I love all of the opportuinites that are just waiting for me to take them. I can’t wait to see where I go next………………….

It was great going back and reading this post. It was such a refreshing reminder of how I felt when I got back, and the feelings that the trip inspired. Then I went back and read the articles from the paper written about our trip. Hopefully I can scan them and get them up here too. That’ll come later. Then I went back and looked through all the picures from the trip. They brought back some amazing memories, and I wanted to share some of them with you.

the 8-hour, hot, sweaty bus ride we took when we first arrived, after 20 hours of airplane time....

the 8-hour, hot, sweaty bus ride we took when we first arrived, after 20 hours of airplane time....

 

 

 

 

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our amazing team 🙂

teaching our Kazakh translator and a Kazakh student how to play Uno. Talk about a language barrier! We learned the colors in Kazakh, and he learned them in English. It was really cool.

teaching our Kazakh translator and a Kazakh student how to play Uno. Talk about a language barrier! We learned the colors in Kazakh, and he learned them in English. It was really cool.

the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten. And it was my first Kazakh meal.

the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten. And it was my first Kazakh meal.

Doing some sight-seeing.

Doing some sight-seeing.

“]]

Eric and I sang Karaoke when we went to a big street party with the Russian youth group. We pretty much became famous. :

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This was the crowd that gathered around us 🙂

The amazing family whose house we fixed up.

The amazing family whose house we fixed up.

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When she first saw her new kitchen 🙂

Pure joy and gratitude. Their faces made up for every pain and complaint and drop of sweat put into those tough 4 days of work.

Pure joy and gratitude. Their faces made up for every pain and complaint and drop of sweat put into those tough 4 days of work.

Lucas and our translator, Aigul.

Lucas and our translator, Aigul.

The longest climb ever. I can't even remember how many hundreds of steps there were.

The longest climb ever. I can

But it was worth the view when we got to the top.

But it was worth the view when we got to the top.

The view back down. At the bottom you can see the practice center for the Olympic athletes.

The view back down. At the bottom you can see the practice center for the Olympic athletes.

Kazakhstan spelled in Kazakh.

Kazakhstan spelled in Kazakh.

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A really cool coffee house we visited on one of our last days. Love coffee, love people. Sounds kind of like Dialogue 🙂

 

A few other highlights were going to a Kazakh home and having authentic meals with the families, having a formal meal with the delicasy of sheep’s head, and a trip to a Kazakh amusement park.

This was definitely an incredible experience that I can’t even begin to descibe with words. I would love to go on another trip again, it is so amazing serving other people, especially on the other side of the world. And the coolest part was I was part of the first youth delegation sent to Kazakhstan. It was so inspiring to work with other youth who love God and put Him first.

1Timothy 4:12 says:

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

And that is exactly what we did.

simply adorable.

I like puppies.

This is pretty much the cutest thing I have ever seen. Today my homie (because we live in the same house, not because i regularly use this term in everyday conversation, haha.) Lindsie showed me this and I have become oddly obsessed. It’s simply a streaming video following the every move of the 6 most adorable puppies in the world. I’ve kept it tabbed all day, and every once in awhile i just pop over and watch them. They really are fascinating. Sometimes they sleep, sometimes they get crazy energy and jump over each other. But let me tell you, if you’re having a bad day, watch these puppies for 2 minutes and they’ll turn it right around :]

check them out! 

Can you tell I want a puppy? 🙂

The First Snow!

It’s not much, but the season for snow is here :]

A little snow has been spitting out a few days this week, but last night/this morning the first consistent fall of snow began. It’s not really sticking, but it will soon enough. The forecast calls for snow all week! It’s funny, because during the Christmas season, snow is so exciting and romantic. The biggest hope is that we will have a white Christmas. The first month after Christmas though, snow is not as fun anymore. So I’m excited to enjoy the next few months while I can!

Now I know y’all down south don’t get much of this winter magic, so I will try to post regular pictures so you can live vicariously through our snow :]

Here’s a little taste of the snow….

snow1

…when it starts to stick, I’ll take lots more!

Twilight!!!

I admit, I have an obsession with one of the greatest book series ever written.

There are a few exciting reasons I have to write about Twilight. First of all, my youngest sister is the sweetest ever. She had her annual book fair at school the other day, and she came across the section of Twilight merchandise. She saw something for both my other sister and I that she knew we would love. She then had me come home and she surprised Jessica and I each with this poster:

twilight-poster3

….we were both speechless. If you haven’t read any of the books, it’s hard to understand the excitement level. Secondly, just last night I finished the 4th and final book in the series. It was incredible, and tears were rolling down my face as I completed the last page of this heart-wrenching series. My goal is to go back through the books and pull out my favorite passages and share some of them with you. Hopefully that will help give a bit of insight into why I am so involved in this amazing story.

And last but not least, just one week from right now I will be sitting in the movie theatre at the midnight showing of the Twilight movie!!!! It’s going to be amazing, and I will probably go see it multiple times….

If anyone else has experienced the amazing world of Twilight, I’d love to hear your thoughts! All I know is that the moment I finished the last book I wanted to pick it back up and start over again. Now that indicates good writing.

Georgia :)

My trip to Georgia with Kyle was a breath of fresh air… literally.

Sorry it’s taken so long to give my thoughts on the trip, but since we got back I’ve either been in class, at work, or sleeping. Let me just tell you, coming back to Indiana was not easy. Not only did I have a cold, stressful reality check here waiting for me, but I did not want that trip to end. It was awesome weather, but even better company…. :]

Ok, here’s a few key elements of the trip, (more detail will follow):

  • Seconhand Serenade
  • HORSE aka Ho and Hor
  • Guitar Hero
  • Sonic
  • Driving up and down a mountain
  • Football
  • Video games
  • Taxis
  • LOTS of coffee
  • Rocking out in the car
  • Amazing cousins
  • And plenty of Mexican food

Ok, we left Wednesday evening after saying goodbyes to friends and family and headed to Greenfield, OH to visit my cousins. They are so amazing, and even a 4-hour visit with them is refreshing. We left there at midnight to start our 8-hour trip to Gainesville, GA. Bad idea. Staying up all night is not as ‘fun’ and ‘rebellious’ as it used to be. We just wanted to be there and be asleep. But, thanks to Kyle’s fabulous driving, (and my naviagtion skills, though he will tell you differently…. haha) we made it there safely and exhausted. We were joyfully greeted by his Aunt and Uncle. After a short nap, I met the cousins. These kids were freakin’ awesome. They let me jump into all the chaos right away and included me in everything. We played basketball and football, went video game shopping, took pictures in a taxi, and ate a TON of amazing Mexican food. It was a great meeting/visit with them.

Speaking of great visits…….. THE NAHRSTADT FAMILY!!!! What an amazing, unexpected blessing out of this trip. God set up a great situation for us, and I’m so glad Jenn took a chance and acted on it! We met an amazing family, shared dinner and brownies and played Guitar Hero… all the while building some fantastic new friendships. We just jumped right into conversation about each others’ lives, and it was neat to hear different stories and testimonies. Not to mention Kyle and I were given rooms and beds and bathrooms to enjoy without kicking someone else out! We had such a good visit with them, hopefully we can see them at Christmas!

……………. we crammed a lot of fun into 4 days let me tell ya…………..

Then it was blog party time!! I don’t think I have ever met so many people and had conversations and made friends and took pictures and laughed and ate and so much more in only a few short hours! It was definitely not enough time, but wow we met some cool people. The Faboulous 4 who came from Florence, SC, Ruth Robin and Kayla, the lovely ladies from California, Robert & Rene, Adam & Kristy, Stephanie, and of course Carlos and Heather!! Thank you guys so much for organizing such an awesome event!!

Last but certainly not least Kyle and I visited Buckhead Church Sunday morning. ……wow. It was such a great service, and we got a little insight on the behind-the-scenes from our tour! It was so cool to see how a church on such a large scale functions from week to week. However, that was not the main thing on my heart Sunday morning. All I could think about was Dialogue. I missed them, I missed the service, but mostly I was thinking about how amazing Dialogue is. Going to Buckhead showed me that sure, they are doing amazing things in Georgia, but we are doing just as amazing things in Indiana. Giving people unconditional love does not have a point system, it’s all love in God’s eyes. It made me excited to go back home and bless the people in our surrounding community and apply everything that Buckhead was doing in our own, personal, Dialogue way. Plus I just missed my church family a ton. What an inspiration!

The drive home was nice and somewhat bittersweet for me. That breath of fresh, Georgia air was exactly what I needed. Not to mention I had an amazing time with Kyle. I never would have thought a year ago that spending a total of 20+ hours in the car with him would be one of the greatest parts of our relationship so far ;] But really, he was an awesome driver, and the best company I could have ever imagined. Thanks for taking me along, babe.

As you can tell from my excitement and the way everything fell into place, God made this trip happen for a lot of reasons. Some I can see right at this moment, and some I think will surface a little further down the road.

Regardless, I wouldn’t have traded those 4 days for anything.

Finally….

…leaving for Georgia today!

Pray for safe travel, and just a good, relaxing weekend away. I am so thankful that God made it possible for us to make this trip to come see everyone!

I’m excited. 🙂

Come What May…

Do you ever have those days where you wake up in the morning and you absolutely cannot wait to see someone?

 

It’s like your day doesn’t even start until you see their smile. The anticipation is enough to get your heart racing, until the time finally arrives and ends up being worth every moment. All it takes is one hug, and you know the rest of the day is going to be wonderful no matter what happens.

 

Today was definitely one of those days. 🙂