"Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter..." Isaiah 64:8

Thursday, September 18, 2014

When Summer Has to End...

It’s MUCH harder to keep up with blogging when school is in session, but I at least want to finish writing about my summer experiences.  This is the last post about my internship at the house of prayer, but stay tuned over the next couple months for posts about Wyldlife camp and my engagement!!

I love summer.  At least for right now where summer still means vacation from classes and opportunities to do something fun, adventurous, and life changing.  For me, summer flies by every single year, and the toughest part is always when it ends.  Because, more often than not, the end of summer means that it’s time to say goodbye.  To new friends and new places and new experiences that I may never get to repeat.

Leaving IHOP:EG in early August was really sad.  Chris and I had found a home there among a community that truly felt like brothers and sisters in Christ, but it was just for a short season.  Yet although it went quickly, it definitely left its mark on my life.  Suddenly, the Bible started making sense and actually capturing my attention.  And suddenly, I felt that desire and fire and zeal stirring up after many months of dormancy. 

During our last week, I was finally able to see the shift that had occurred in my heart.  I was no longer frustrated in my relationship with God but was instead thankful for His mercy.  And I was excited to pray.  I felt connected to the Holy Spirit once again and was able to see beyond my own plan for myself.  After ignoring the blind man in Puerto Rico (see previous post), I was determined to obey the Lord when led to pray for someone.  I felt this conviction particularly strongly as our time at EG was wrapping up. 

First, it was in one of the Friday night services.  I saw a fellow staff member who looked distressed and knew I should go ask to pray for her.  Embarrassed that I didn’t know what to pray about, I was less than eager to approach her.  But the tugging on my heart persisted, and I finally obeyed, all the while reminding myself that if I was too scared to pray for another Christian in a House of PRAYER, I was never going to be able to pray for (or witness to) a stranger or unbeliever.  So I submitted and prayed for the woman, who expressed great gratitude.  Awesome.  But that wasn’t the end of the matter. 

During another service a few days later, I spotted a little girl standing in the back by herself.  Again, I knew that I needed to go up to her and at least ask if she was okay.  Completely unsure of what to say, I left my seat, approached the girl, and asked her if she knew Jesus.  She responded that she didn’t but that she wanted to.  And as I started praying and sharing with her, the girl seemed to come alive.  Although she’d seemed shy at first, she began to dance and cry out, “I love you, Jesus!”  I’m not sure what chains were broken that day, but it was clear that something at least had changed in her heart. Praise the Lord!

So I felt inspired and praying for people was awesome, but our last set in the Prayer Room was less than ideal.  Chris did great at leading worship, but my microphone was giving me trouble, and I felt unable to connect to the Lord.  Expecting our last set to be really amazing, I got very frustrated and struggled to focus on God.  In retrospect, it wasn’t that bad...just another opportunity to practice responding rightly to unmet expectations.  And anyway, the reality is that our prayer/worship sets weren’t even really about us at all.  They were all for God, so even when we felt like we were doing a bad job, the time wasn’t wasted.  God was still praised and lifted up, and He didn’t stop listening on certain days just because I didn’t sound as good.  What a relief!

Later that week, Chris and I decided to play on a Night Watch set so we’d have at least one experience of praying in the middle of the night.  We joined the worship team for the 2am-4am set, and it was an awesome time of praise and intercession.  Everyone present seemed more awake than most people who come to the Prayer Room during the day! There is definitely something special about crying out to God when most people are fast asleep! 

That Wednesday, we had our last staff meeting of the summer.  We felt so loved by the community and it was a privilege to share with them how much the summer had impacted our lives.  It was also exciting to hear another man share who had been sent from the House of Prayer into the mission field and was back to visit.  The brotherly love exhibited through his sharing really felt like a visit from Paul to the early church.  I was reminded of how important it is for missionaries to be supported by a loving community of believers. 

...But besides all the events of our last week, there was one other important factor.  You can’t leave a house of prayer without having LOTS of people pray you off.  Each time we said goodbye to a friend on staff, they offered to pray for us.  I love that!  What better gift could they send us off with than a sincere prayer? I was so touched to receive the prayers of these faithful ones who spend so much time at the feet of Jesus.

On out last night, Chris and I decided to make dinner for the staff.  After being teased all summer for our healthy eating habits, we wanted to demonstrate that constant fast food does NOT have to be part of the “missionary lifestyle.”  And plus, we really wanted to serve all the people who had welcomed us into their community and taught us so much.  However...we had never taken on a cooking task nearly so ambitious.  Dinner for 20+ people is no minor task!  We took one of our favorite recipes, multiplied it by 4, and bought a whole cart full of ingredients for ground chicken chili, salad, homemade guacamole, and black bean brownies.  Although the cooking was certainly a lot of work, it really wasn’t too bad except for the very intense moment where we realized that the chili wasn’t all going to fit in one pot.  But noticing it early on, it wasn’t the end of the world, and we were able to split the chili between two pots before anything overflowed or spilled.  Phew!

By the end of the night, neither of my two fears had become reality.  The food didn’t taste disgusting, and we had enough for everyone who came.  In fact, because we’d used Chris’ typical meal size as a serving size, we had PLENTY of food left over (I now know that one serving for Chris is probably about 3 normal-sized servings!).  Or maybe God just multiplied the food.  Also a possibility…

After dinner was our last Encounter God Service.  The pastor called me and Chris up front and asked the congregation to pray for us, which was amazing.  Many came forward and laid hands on us, and it was so powerful to hear a chorus of voices all lifting up our lives in prayer.  I know that God was listening, and I’m excited to see the fruit of all those blessings.  I cried as we drove home and couldn't help but recognize how crazy it is that the places I hate at first always seem to be the places I’m most reluctant to leave.  But maybe that was part of God’s plan all along.

Last night with Hans, our intern director

Chris stole my apron!!
feeding the gang...at least those that came on time, haha!

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