Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the last 5 Julys of my life, Knee Pain, Roofing Tar and Zerubbabel and Me...

8 days.

I leave for San Jose, Costa Rica in 8 days. It is starting to set in. I am beginning to be really, really, really, really (...continuing forever reallys...) excited.

Since I was 14 years old I have been on 6 mission trips. *Crazy huh? In 2005 I went on my first trip, with Merge Ahead, to Temuco, Chile and helped to finish the building of a Church for the Mapuche Indians. It was a team of around 50 people and I was young, totally clueless about missions (and a lot of stuff...) and further away from home than I had ever been. And it was cold, rainy and hopelessly muddy like...the entire time. But I loved it. I fell in love with South America and the beautiful people there. The Mapuche are pretty much the greatest people on the planet. I have never again encountered such loving people; they have next to nothing, but it doesn't show in their unending generosity and joy.

*oh, hello ridiculously awkward 14 year old Bella wearin' a flame hat...
Putting up a fence next to the keep the sheep and cows out of the house of God...

2006 I went to Morelia, Mexico, again with Merge. Smaller team, totally different mission. A sports camp/VBS, helping at a conference, hanging out with kids in an orphanage just lovin' on them, and lots of church visiting.
*still very awkward 15 year old me, with a translator.
Giving a morning devotional teaching before we spent the day playing soccer at the sports camp.

2007/2008 I went with a team, associated with Mission to the World, to Fairmont, West Virginia. We did construction/work on houses and also ran a Vacation Bible School (VBS) in the mornings.
*Hi, 16 year old Bella, who roofed almost all week.

*I love working. Being dirty and sweaty after gettin' the job done is like the best feeling in the world

17 year old me *...look, it has been a year but I am still wearing the SAME shirt! That shirt will get its own blog post some day...* once again on a roof of West Virginia. Me and those 6 guys became the "dream roofing team."

Last year was complicated. I was in Costa Rica AND West Virginia. Back to back. 17 days of missions work. Got home at 2am Saturday morning from Costa Rica and left at 6 am the same morning for West Virginia. Holy. Insanity. Batman.

Costa Rica was intense. We ran a conference at a masssssive church (going back, baby!) in the center of San Jose. We traveled to some of the 28 churches associated with that church and did ministry there. We went out on the streets and did dramas/dances and then prayed for people. We saw some crazy healings and salvations. And then at the end of it all, on our day off, we bungee jumped of a 265 foot bridge.
And I get to be part of that again this year!!!!!!! (...minus bungee...)

Then it was straight off to Fairmont to roof some more (we don't just roof. Tons of painting, frequent deck renovations, dry wall, flooring, drain digging, etc... I just happen to be a team member who actually knows how, so they stick me on roofs frequently.). I discovered then that I liked good, old shingles over the tar and roll- roofing I used that week on a flat top roof. Tar is a tedious beast...


*praying for people on the streets of San Jose

*doing dramas, both in and outside of churches.

*puppets to christian (Spanish) kids songs

*Me and my boy Quixote. I have a strange attachment to this puppet...working with puppets absolutely KILLLLS my bad knees but, the kids are worth it.

*dirty hands of me (with bungee cord bracelet!), my friend Nathan, and our leader Bill, after pulling up ancient really dirty, really rusty tin roofing.

*what is sticky, stinky and hot enough to melt your skin off? ROOFING TAR.

So that is a little taste of what I have done with my life for the last 5 years in the month of July. And I am about to do some of it again.

Costa Rica this year involves another conference at the big church, Kingdom Takers, working with their youth group (of like 6,000 kids), more ministry at their smaller churches, a VBS, tons of street ministry and whatever else is thrown at us. 

No mission trip is ever the same and no matter what you prepare for there is always something that comes as an unexpected curve ball. And I think that is one of the reasons missions is so cool: you can't ever get good enough to do it on your own, in your own strengths and talents. You can never have enough prep meetings so that when you get there you actually know what is going on. You have nothing to give the people that is of any lasting value. And you can pretty much never make it to the end of the week without wanting to fall over with exhaustion or at least take out your frustration on some people.


And what is really amazing is that He always shows up and comes through for us. Some Christian youth traveling the world and painting houses or doing some nice little dramas and puppets is great. But it is totally pointless without God. I always pray that, at the end of the week or 10 days, people don't remember me, but that they instead remember God and how He touched them with His great, unfailing, never ending love through some random kid from CT. That right there is life changing. And not because of anything I did, other than be obedient.

That is what it is all about. My life verse is Zechariah 4:6.

 "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, 'Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty.

I try and read it every day to remind myself to not try and do things in my own strengths. It is written on a sticky note on my desk. It is written on the floor boards under my rug, under my desk. And in all three places where it says "Zerubbabel" I have put a line through that and written in "Bella".
That verse doesn't stop applying to me when I am on missions trip; if anything it applies MORE.

And I cannot wait to be back in San Jose to see what God is going to use me and my team to do this time! I am only 8 days, what feels like endless practice meetings, 3 Sunday services of people praying for us, and 1 needing-to-be-packed suitcase away from it. I seriously cannot wait!


Amie said...

That is awesome! Awesome! AWESOME! Please be sure to write and take tons and tons of pics!!!!

Kimmie said...

Praising God at His hand upon your life. May your knee always be bent before Him and may He use your life to bring Himself Glory.

Excited for you too.

(your Mama)

Sarah Louise Upjohn said...

I love you Bella!! I'm so excited to find out how God is going to use you THIS year. I'm praying for you and your team everyday so if you have any last minute prayer requests let me know. :-)
Also, I like that in one of the pictures of your dirty hands you still were wearing your rings. Keeping it classy.
Oh, and thank you for taking care of my dad on the roofs. Somebody needed to do it.

江婷 said...



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