Friday, December 27, 2013

London Lights and Christmastide

I spent Christmas in London this year, with my English family here, playing carols at the midnight service in Notting Hill, celebrating Christmas Eve with a party with the Argentinian side of our family and Christmas day with my American girls, running through deserted streets on Christmas morning, avoiding Oxford Street on Boxing Day (and wandering through Covent Garden instead), and eating loads of donations from Waitrose.

Christmas here is different from the American Christmases of my childhood, but they are still full of family, food, and love.

Christmas celebrations started on the 19th for me, because my friend Stephanie, who studied here in Canterbury with me three years ago, came to London for a few days. We met in Victoria Station, the very place we left each other exactly three years before, and spent the evening wandering our old haunts in London and remembering the freedom and excitement of being international students.

Christmas Eve is the day celebrated by South Americans, so we had a massive, base-wide celebration all night, with all sixty of us crammed into one of our homes, Argentinian barbeque, games, worship, and Secret Santa exchange.

I, however, left early to play the piano and lead carols at the midnight Christmas service at Notting Hill.

I spent Christmas in various living rooms of the houses on base, around tables, eating left over barbeque and spending time with people that I love. I keep learning how important it is to spend time with people who are dear, how time is what cannot be stolen away later. The conversations around the table, the snuggles on the couch, the laughter that fills our houses daily, those things remain.

I love actually having time with my friends, too, time to explore and drink coffee and stare at Christmas lights and have deep conversations on the bus.

And it's fun to inter-mingle traditions from all of our cultures. In this picture we have three Brasilians who live in Spain, one Argentinian-born English girl, and me, all eating English breakfast in London.

I miss my family's traditions back home, but I am young enough to enjoy making new traditions, to find the beauty in running around the Strand in the icy cold, to laugh when I get soaked to the bone for the fourth day in a row, and I am so loved. So wonderfully loved. In Luke, Jesus says that the people who give up their families and lives to follow Him will receive much more on Earth, then eternal life in Heaven. I have a taste of that much more here. I have such a large family here, such free-flowing love, such warmth. I can see the "much more" of His love.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

prime ministering

This morning, just before church, I chatted to David Cameron in a shop in Notting Hill.

Yes, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister.

I had been greeting people at the door of the church when one of the members said, "Oh, there goes Cameron!"

I thought he meant one of his friends.

A moment later, Christian, my arts team leader, came in and said, "Cameron and his family are just around the corner!"

By then, I realised that he meant the Prime Minister. We popped round the corner and discussed what God would want to say to David Cameron. Then Christian showed me which shop he'd gone into, and I went in to speak to him.

It was a little bit bizarre, strolling into a shop and chatting with David Cameron. To be fair, I did not know what he looked like very well. I also do not know a lot about his politics, other than what I read in the news. My only motive in speaking to him was to invite him to church.

It was just Cameron, his son, the clerk, and me in the shop. He told me that he'd just come from church, and we talked about it for a moment. Then I asked him if there was anything we, at our church, could pray for. His eyes grew tired, and he said, quietly, "Pray for Syria. We need to pray for that situation."

I started back for the church, then thought to ask him what I could pray for, but for him specifically. He said, "Pray for me. Please pray for me."

Then I left. I did not want to ask anything of him. I do not have an opinion on his politics, and I do not need anything from him. It seemed bizarre to me that I, a 23-year-old American, could stroll into a shop and talk to the British Prime Minister. Nobody introduced us, there were no formalities, and I talked to him about what I have talked to people about a hundred times on that very street.

And I saw that he is just a man. He is a man that wakes up in the morning, reads the newspaper, and feels despair about the situation in Syria. But instead of just wishing that things could be done, he is the one who has the responsibility to do something. And on top of that, he has to take into consideration his party and the British people and the leaders of the world and alliances and world politics. He knows what is really going on. And still he goes to church, goes shopping with his family, and lives a normal life.

What a burden.

But I also realised that he is the leader that God appointed. He is the God-ordained authority in this situation. And when he asked me to pray for him, I realised that I have been remiss in praying for him. He has so much responsibility, and I pray for him once a week, during intercession. But it is a responsibility he carries every day.

He needs our prayer. He asked for our prayer.

And I pray that God gives him wisdom. He is the one appointed to lead us in Great Britain, and I am certain that God has a way for all of this to be worked out. I am praying that God will speak clearly to David Cameron about His solution for Syria, and for the other issues at large in the world right now.

Will you join me in praying for Great Britain's Prime Minister?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

the promise of jewels

Sometimes, when I read the book of Revelation in the Bible, I get overwhelmed. The prophecies and visions of the end of the world (and after, in Heaven) should delight me, but they tend to confuse me.

This morning, I was reading Isaiah, and when I read chapters 60 and 61 where Isaiah prophecies about the time when Jesus will return, I got excited. He will be the sun. We, His followers, will inherit a double portion, and everlasting joy will be ours (Isaiah 61:7). But I have to admit that my favourite part was verse 10, when it says that the Lord will clothe me as a bride clothes herself in jewels. I cannot wait to look that beautiful for my Beloved.

I recently also finally understood why John called himself "the one that Jesus loved." It was not because he was unique in being somebody who Jesus loved (although he and Jesus did seem to be particularly close); part of Jesus' character is that He loves everyone and died for everyone. But John understood Jesus' love for him, and it was his understanding, in his heart, of that love that changed his life.

I am one that Jesus loves. And better than adorning me in physical jewels, which are of no value to Him, since He has control of all of the jewels in the world, He is making my heart beautiful. That means so much more to Him. It's the reason He came to Earth, took a human body, died, and descended to Hell to take the power of death from Satan. He did all of that for the chance to make my heart beautiful. He did it for the chance to prepare me to spend eternity in His light, instead of the light of a gaseous star. He did it for the chance to spend an eternity with me, to give me a double portion, to give me everlasting joy.

That is why I have to be holy. That is why I have to grow in righteousness. Those are more precious than jewels.

Those are the jewels my Beloved wants to dress me in.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

passing through my hands

I have a confession.

When I first became a missionary, I did not really understand how it was possible for me to give offerings. After all, all of the money that allowed me to be here in London was from an offering. How do you give an offering out of an offering? Is that even fair to the people who support me?

I understood that I had to tithe, but when God asked me to give money to others, sometimes I thought He was crazy. Even as I obeyed, I thought He was crazy. How can a person who has no money give money to somebody else?

I needed to grow a lot in my faith. And in my obedience.

I remember now the widow who put all of her money in the offering at the temple, and I remember Jesus' response to her sacrifice (Mark 12:44). He said that she put more into the treasury than all of the rich men, because she gave all that she had. What must that have been like for her, to give everything that she had, even her money for food?

My teammates and I have talked about this quite a bit recently, because we are trying to raise $3,000 each for our team outreach to Argentina in March. However, God keeps leading us to give offerings out of the money that we would otherwise save for Argentina. It seems counter-intuitive to give out of what we are trying to save to also do God's work, but God keeps asking us to give.

All of the money in the world is under God's control; I am just a steward of the bit of it that comes through my hands. So of course God can ask me to give offerings. He could even ask me to give up all of my money. It is hard for me, with my Western mentality of earning what I spend, to comprehend that. My parents raised me to be responsible with my money, to only spend what I had, and even to save money. It has been quite a task for God to undo some of my requirements about money and to change my heart into a heart that is willing to give an offering, even when it is the last money in my wallet, as it sometimes is. But the truth is, that money is not my money. It is a gift from God. And if it is God's plan to use it to bless somebody else, then I am just lucky to be the one who gets to do the blessing.

And after all of this time, I can finally say that it is a blessing. God is teaching me a lot about depending on Him, not only for direction, a ministry, and putting down roots in London, but also about depending on Him for the money that comes into my hands and the money that goes back out.

How many times have I been the recipient of that offering? How many times have I been the one blessed by somebody sacrificing their weekly Starbucks coffee, or their new cabinets in their house?

Just this week, I found out that my church back in the States is giving me a monthly offering of $100, which is 1/6 of what I need to live here every month. That money comes from the offerings of the people in that church, and they are faithful to God, who in turn provides for me. It is also one of the only monthly offerings that I receive, and I am so thankful for God's provision.

As the holidays draw closer, it is time for me to think about what I want to give as an end-of-the-year gift. It is something that my parents do every year, and it is something that I want to do, as well. They close out the year by giving an offering to a ministry of their choice, which in the past has been church ministries or individuals that God laid on their hearts. I do not have much money this month, but I trust that God will be faithful with the offering that I am going to give. I also trust that what He leads me to give will be exactly what is needed. God's funny that way - He already knows exactly what is needed, and I'm willing to bet that He's going to tell me what it is.

I am so thankful that God moved in my heart to show me the blessings that come with being faithful to give as He leads, even when I don't understand. I am also thankful that God provided for me for another year here. There were times when I had no idea how I was going to pay for plane tickets back to London from outreach, or how I would make rent, but God showed up every single time. That is a real Christmas miracle.

And if God moves in your heart to share with me this season, you can send an email to, and my mother will help you, or you can send a donation directly to me at by sending it to and putting my name in the subject line.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Here are some pictures from my time in Italy. The post detailing my time there is here.

In Florence, Italy, we stayed in a Christian camp. This is the container that we stayed in - Florence, Italy

The toilet in the camp (aka, a hole) - Florence, Italy. I used this for two weeks.

In Florence, Italy, we did daily street evangelism.

This is me in the Tuscan hills that appeared right behind the camp. I ran or walked here almost daily to talk to God.

Ezra and I led worship for the services nightly in the camp.

Sometimes I also sang during evangelism.

This is Florence in mid-morning, with the Duomo dominating the skyline.

This is our team in Ancona, Italy, a town on the Adriatic Sea.

The church that we served in had a radio station in the church.

This is me in the town where accordions were invented. The church took us to the museum and everything.

The church also drove us to Loreto, which is called the Second Vatican.

This is the beautiful coast of Ancona. 

Oh Mamma!

I have been back from my counselling school outreach in Italy for a week, and people keep asking me how it was. When they do, I never know quite what to say. Italy was the very top of my list of places I wanted to go, but it was still unlike my expectations. We ate pasta for lunch and dinner every day - as the first course. Bread, vegetables, and meat followed. Gelato is one of the most delicious delicacies I have ever had the privilege of tasting. The boys on the team picked olives in Tuscany, and they were given a bottle of fresh olive oil in return. It is exquisite.

But Italy is more than food. In one of the teachings that I gave, God told me to read Ezekiel 37, the passage about the dry bones. As I read it aloud (and waited for the translation), I realised that the passage describes Italy. There are so many dry bones in Italy, so many people who wander around, brushing by religion daily, but remaining lifeless. The Catholic Church reigns supreme, but there is not a god to be seen. The true god of Italy is probably seduction, which permeates magazines, advertisements, and the streets. Italy is known for love, but I would define it as lust. Women are a commodity to be bought and put to work, and to a certain extent, I experienced that within the culture. I am a Southern girl, and I am used to being a little bit taken care of. I am not surprised when doors are opened for me, when men walk me home after dark, or when I am helped to carry heavy things. But in Italy, those behaviours are not normal.

The outreach that I was doing in Italy was my counselling school outreach, and as such, I was frequently invited into people's homes. It was such an interesting experience, to be welcomed into various homes, to eat with families, and to watch the way that they interacted. Italy is a warm country, culturally, and is different from both England and the place that I was raised. Families are in and out of each others' homes constantly, and a problem in a family is often the business of the whole community.

I had the privilege, while we were in Italy, of seeing a man come to Christ in his home. His wife accepted Christ two months previously, and I got to watch her face as he prayed to receive Christ. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen; the lines actually fled off of her face.

Ezra (my classmate from Minnesota) and I also led worship every night, and on some nights, we led some of the songs in Italian. That was one of the areas during which God showed up and ministered the most to my heart. I trained in opera growing up, and I was surprised by how easily I could sing in Italian again (and by how much of it I understood). God spoke to me through my rudimentary understanding of the songs, and I was so blessed to be able to worship with people of different nationalities, in a language that I do not speak, and to see how the Holy Spirit can sweep through a room, regardless of the language or my own comprehension.

I also did quite a bit of teaching on the outreach. Teaching is not my favourite activity, ministry-wise, but it is an area in which God always stretches me. When I taught about worship and heard the story of God humbling me in worship translated from English to Spanish, and then Spanish to Italian, I was reminded of the way that God always has a plan for me, and of how He has taken me away from my own plans and back to His plans for my life.

The counselling school was such an important five months in my life. It was hard; God pruned a lot of unhealthy things out of my life. He even pruned some things that were not bad, but that were keeping me from following His plan. On the other hand, God also showed me some next steps for my life, and He amazed me by how He has been preparing me uniquely since I was a tiny girl. So many of my interests, talents, and even childhood games have been preparing me for where God is leading me.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Viva Italia!

Tomorrow morning, I embark on a grand adventure. I will wake up early in the morning, take two buses and an airplane, and arrive in Italy to meet the rest of my counselling school. Together, we will go to Florence, where we will run meetings in tents for two weeks. We will teach the topics that we were taught during our counselling school. I am not an experienced teacher, but I am excited to give back what I received for three months.

We need a lot of prayer in this time. God told us to go to Italy, and the team saw a lot of fruit during the month that they were in Spain (during which time I was renewing my UK visa). However, we face several challenges while we are in Italy. Firstly, none of us speak Italian. We speak English and Spanish, though, which will help us communicate. Secondly, we still need finances to pay food and hospitality costs in Italy. We are following God's path in faith, but the truth is that we do not know where the money for our flights back to London will come from.

Please pray for our safety and provision in this time, and also that God will lead us to the people to whom we need to minister. And if God is leading you to contribute an offering to our cause, you can email me at or my mother at (for those of you who are Stateside).

To be completely honest, I need people to support me in this time. London is an expensive city, and Italy is even more expensive. Even small contributions help, especially for my Oyster card (the transportation card for London Underground and buses) and groceries. My visa is a religious worker's visa, which does not allow me to hold a job, so contributions from others are what keep me here. If you are led to support me, it will be an answer to my prayers.

I am also praying for a miracle regarding a new camera. As you probably know by now, I am a photographer. God gave me the gift completely, and four years ago, my parents gave me a camera that led to my discovery of that gift. Since then, I have used my Nikon d3000 almost daily. It has been an amazing camera. However, this next season of my life holds a lot of photography for me and my ministry, and my poor camera is petering out. I have grown beyond the capabilities of the Nikon d3000, and the camera that I would like to upgrade to is the Nikon d300 (or Nikon d700 or Nikon d7000, as long as we are talking about miracles and a limitless God). As you know, I am having to walk by faith just to pay my living expenses here, much less to buy a camera. If you could pray with me for God to provide a miracle in this area of my life, I would appreciate it.

I will probably be absent for three and a half weeks now, but when if you want to contact me, please don't hesitate to email me! I love hearing from you guys, as well.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

"What am I doing here?"

A couple of weeks ago, we had a talk from Alejandro Rodriguez, the leader of YWAM Argentina. The talk was aimed at the new Discipleship Training School students, and he told them, "One night, you will be lying in your bunkbed, staring at the bunk over you, and you will wonder what you are doing here. And you will want to pack up all of your things in the middle of the night and run away. Don't worry. We've all been there."

I have that thought sometimes. Not necessarily when I am in my bunkbed, but when I am walking down the street and my Oyster card is empty and I've just seen a post on Facebook about a former classmate buying a new house, or when I am wondering if that ache in my mouth is a cavity and if I can make it until I go home next summer before getting it looked at. And I think about how easy it would be to get a flight home, to be picked up at the airport, to get a job and a car and a boyfriend to take me on drives to the beach on weekends. To be the only person sleeping in my bedroom at night. I think those things, and then I immediately feel guilty, because I am living in London, one of the biggest cities in the world. I get to do all of my arts every day, if I want to, and I get to use them to investigate different aspects of the Creator of the Universe. I get to use art to tell people about my Beloved. How can I have thoughts of running back to the life I am used to?

Last night, Angelica Vega, the leader of my counselling school, spoke to the base about our callings. She used Jeremiah 20 as an example, and verse nine really stuck out to me. Jeremiah says, "But if I say, 'I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot."

A calling from God is not something that we choose to do because it seems cool to us. We don't choose to frolic across an ocean and share a room with three other people just because it seems like a cool adventure. That kind of motivation will keep you motivated for a few weeks at the most. It does not help you keep sacrificing your rights to a salary, possessions, space, or time. It does not help you concede to God, giving in to Him when you have said, "Okay, God, here is the line," and He says, "No, keep going. Keep giving."

God's call for me was put in me in my mother's womb. That's what it says in Jeremiah 1. I did not have a choice in my calling, but I was made perfectly for it. People tease me for my height, but really, I fit fantastically into bunk beds. Because God's call for my life was written on my heart before I took my first breath, it is not something to which I can say no. I could go home. I could get a car and a job and even a hunky boyfriend to drive me to Tybee Island on the weekends, but I would not be happy. I would be suffocating, because I am called here, to London, to a bunk bed and a street with corner shops run by Muslim men and an Oyster card that takes continual praying over so that I have enough money in it to take the bus to church.

I don't think that it is wrong to some days think, "I could get on a plane and go home and sleep in my own room and go to the dentist," or, "I could go home and get a job and not have to worry so much about money." How many times did I think, "I could get on a plane and go to a foreign country and learn a new culture and bring Jesus to them," when I lived in South Carolina? There's a comfort in realising that the life we are in is not the only one we could live.

But the life that I am living is the life that I am called to live, the one in which I can daily see Christ with me like a mighty warrior (Jeremiah 20:11). And I will stay and fight, and sleep in a bunk bed, and inherit my housemates' hand-me-downs, and sing praises to the Lord who had the amazing foresight to send me to this city and to write this adventure on my heart.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

a breath in thankfulness (8 things I am thankful for RIGHT NOW)

I am immensely thankful for so many things. When I was having a hard time several months ago, my discipler encouraged me to wake up every morning and write down the things I was thankful for right in that moment. That started a habit for me of turning to thankfulness in the middle of struggling, and for just a second, I'd like to share some of that thankfulness with you.

1. The primary thing that I am thankful for is all of you. I am so blessed to have people who support me in what I do here. I live in London and get to talk to people about Jesus all of the time, but really, you are here, too. The people that pray for me and support me monetarily are as much a part of this mission as I am. I don't fully know how to express how humbled I am that there are people who care enough about God's work and my place in His great work that they will send their hard-earned money to me to keep me here. It's more than a happy dance and a shouted, "thank you, Lord!" You are the hands and feet in my walk of faith, because you are the instruments that God uses to keep me here. I cannot wait to say it to your face one day, but for now, thank you.

2. I am thankful for living in a team that is my English family. I lived away from home for four years while attending university, and it was a lonely experience. I spent some holidays alone, I ate dinner alone, and I did not always have people to share what I was going through. I always had friends, of course, but that is different from living with people. Here, I have eleven people around me always. If I feel lonely, all I have to do is step downstairs to find my family gathered around the kitchen table. They're always there for a hug, or to listen to what's going on, or to go on a crazy adventure. Right now, we are renovating an attic in our church and building a recording studio, and we get to spend all day sawing things and cracking jokes, and the days are so full of joy for me.

3. I am thankful that Spanish is apparently one of the easiest languages to learn. I have been attempting to learn it for over a year now, and can you imagine if it was one of the harder ones to learn? I'd be stuffed!

4. I am thankful to walk in favour as God's daughter. My eyes have only really been opened to it recently, but there are tiny circumstances in my life that look like coincidences to the human eye, but, when I look more closely, I see God's fingerprints all over them. Jesus Culture gave away a free song by my favourite artist, the money for a guitar anonymously appeared in my bank account, the Overground was shut and I got a free bus ride home, the pastor bought me coffee on a long afternoon at the church...that is only a short list. It's amazing to see the ways that God spoils me.

5. I am thankful to my mother for forcing me to take piano lessons for ten years. We fought so much about it, but for the past few months, I've been practicing the piano again, and there is such beauty in being able to worship God at the bench of a grand piano.

6. I love living with children. I love their giggles, their loud excitement, and how they always seem to know when you need a cuddle or a hug. I love their honesty. And I love that their parents are willing to share them with us, because it completes a feeling of family.

7. I am so thankful that my parents raised me in church and still make it a priority to pray for me. I have a family that stands behind me - my grandparents are some of the loudest supporters of my work here. A lot of my friends don't have the support of their families, but my parents, grandparents, and brother always take the time to remind me that they are proud of me, and that means so much to me. My parents faithfully supported missionaries my whole life, and it is an honour to be a missionary today and to know that their faithfulness is part of the reason that I am here.

8. God. I know it seems obvious, and I don't have words to explain all of my thankfulness for Him, but I hope that it is evident in my life, because it is still incredible to me that I am daily allowed to see more of my First Love's heart.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Looking Back; Looking Forward (season wrap up)

Life at YWAM Urban Key goes quickly; it seems as if a new season begins every few months, and I pack my suitcase again and switch houses or travel the world. Another season is coming to an end for me now, and the theoretical phase of the counselling school ends in a week.

A month ago, we were in the base's Notting Hill Carnival outreach, at which I photographed and made videos of the evangelism and parade that we created. It is the largest evangelism event that we do every year, and it lasted for ten days. I love getting to go out and do evangelism every day, because it is a time when we go out, all different nations, to encounter the nations on the blocks around us. I paired up with some of our Bones participants from Italy and Austria, and even though we do not speak the same language, we joined together for the common purpose of telling people about Jesus. Some days, we used stilts, live music, and drama, but some days we just approached people in Portobello Market to tell them about the One who changed our lives.

During Carnival, I also went out with Cris Barrios, one half of our husband-and-wife media team at the base, to interview people about what Carnival means to them. It has always interested me that people come to Carnival for no apparent reason; it is not a holiday (although it is a bank holiday, which means that everyone has the day off of work), and there is not a common cause being celebrated. A lot of people mentioned coming to see the different cultures and celebrate with everybody, because it is a weekend that everyone comes together and doesn't mind if you talk to them. England is a pretty closed culture; rarely do you just speak to strangers on the bus, Underground, or street. It is really cool to see everyone speaking to each other. And it's a great chance to talk to them about the reason that I am in London. 

Here are some of the people I talked to:

We are also coming to the end of the counselling school, and yesterday, we all went to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to see a show for Micah, one of our members', birthday. It was my first time seeing a show there, and it was amazing.

When the theoretical phase of the school ends, we go on outreach to Spain and Italy. The outreach is two months, and I will join the team once I receive my renewed visa. The outreach focuses on restoration, and we will go into schools and churches to talk about areas such as eating disorders, true love, co-dependency, family relationships, etc. It will be a good time to give back what we have learned, but it will also be a challenge, because it means putting into practice what we've spent three months discovering.

You can join my journey by praying for me or supporting me financially. When you pray, please pray for us as we enter this phase of our school, that we will be safe and that the details will all be under God's control. Please also pray for those of us who do not speak Spanish or Italian, that we will be able to communicate clearly with those to whom we will be ministering. We also need prayer for our hearts, that we will remain pure and united, and for the hearts that we will encounter.

I would also appreciate it if you would pray about supporting me financially. The visa that I renewed was $375, and I will also have additional outreach travel and accommodation costs this month. You can support me monthly, if you are so led, or at any time that you want. For those of you who are in the United States, you may contact if you would like to support me. My mother handles all of my contacts in the United States. If you are elsewhere in the world, feel free to email me at I appreciate any support and prayers that I receive. It helps me to stay here in London, doing what God has told me to do. I rely on your support to remain here.

You can also email me if you'd just like to chat or find out more about what is going on in my life, or if you would like me to pray for anything for you. I may not be able to come and have coffee and a deep discussion with you physically, but I'd love to talk, anyway.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

and so my home is much larger (nine things I've learned in 14.5 months across an ocean)

I just renewed my visa to stay in the United Kingdom, and as I have filled out the application and gathered all of the materials, I thought about my last fourteen and a half months in the United Kingdom. My life is different than it was fifteen months ago, when I graduated university and moved across the ocean. I am also different. But God? He's the same.

Here are some of the things that I learned:

1. I do not need a room to myself.
But seriously. My whole life, I had my own room. Except for my freshman year at university, I have always had a place where I could shut the door and breathe, where I could block everybody out, and where I and my possessions were safe. I thought that it was necessary for my sanity. I thought that it was my right.

But having my own room is not my right. As I write this, I am in a room with three other girls, all whom I love dearly. I have half a cupboard to my name, and I sleep in a top bunk, and let me tell you, I am just grateful to have a bed.

Even having a bed is not my right.

It is my privilege to be here. It is my privilege to share a room with these three women of God. I learn from them every day, and when I go through hard times, I don't even have to lift my head; they are right there.

Sure, there are times that I want to get away. But I can always run or take a walk or take a shower. Being an introvert and living in community is a challenge, but it has also taught me how to be vulnerable. It has taught me how to live life without hiding from things that overwhelm me. And if I had to guess, I'd say that it's probably preparing me to have a family.

2. I am just as loved when I am struggling as when I am doing well.
Part of living in community means that I am around people all day, every day. I cannot hide my bad days behind a smile and a tight-lipped, "I'm fine." These people that I live with are my family, and they genuinely want to know how I am doing. And when I'm not doing well, they love me just as much as they do when I am good and lovely and caring and giving. In fact, when I am really struggling, they show me love even more clearly. God is a relational God. He created me for a relationship with Him, but also for relationships with others. It is in those relationships that I often see His love for me acted out.

3. Home is not necessarily where you have a bed or a key. Home is where you wake up and know where the breakfast stuff is (and how to work the shower).
By this definition, I have three homes in this YWAM base. And while I do not sleep in all three of our base houses, I know where the breakfast stuff is in all three, and I definitely know how to operate the shower. I also know that, if I knock on the door, I'll be greeted with a hug, coffee, and a lot of love. I think that is really what home is: being greeted at the door with love.

4. Showering is overrated (at the same time, showering is a way to feel sane again). 
When we do Notting Hill Carnival, we live in a church and have to walk 20 minutes one way to shower at a sports centre. With all of the preparation and evangelism, there isn't time to shower every day. And during Carnival weekend, we go for four days without showering and with all 90 people living in one church.

It can get pretty gross.

But at the same time,  it has taught me that I don't need to shower to be a human. People can rarely tell that I have not showered every day. Showering is another thing that I grew up with and assumed was my right. But showers have not been around for long. Millions of people lived before them, and they seemed to do just fine.

However, I also know that, when things go really wrong, a shower is often what I need to feel sane again. Just the act of cleaning my body helps cleanse my mind and spirit. Which brings me to,

5. Cleaning is a great time to talk to God.
In YWAM, we do this thing called work duties. Basically, the whole team comes together to clean the house. It is a daily activity (when you live in community, you need to clean the house every day), and it is one of the best times that I have with God every day. While my body is busy scrubbing toilets or mopping floors, God has a chance to speak to me without being interrupted. It has gotten to the point where just the thought of washing dishes makes me think about God.

6. You do not need to talk to somebody daily (or weekly) to keep a strong relationship with them.
This was one of my big fears when I joined YWAM. I did not want to end my relationships in the States just because I was moving to England. Everybody says that, with Skype, it's easy to keep in touch, but I think we all know that that's a bit of a lie. It takes a lot of time to Skype people, and to set up Skype dates. With a time difference, there is even more of a challenge. But I have learned that when I finally do get to Skype with the people that I love, it's as if the past fifteen months have only been a month or two. The love and communication is still there.

7. National Holidays are still important, even if you are not in your own country.
Today, we celebrated Chile's Independence. We ate empanadas and danced to traditional songs. At Thanksgiving, I ate three Thanksgiving dinners. The base also celebrated Norway's independence day, and we have Argentinian barbeques several times a year. I love getting tastes of other cultures and seeing the pride that people have for their homeland, even when it has been years since they've lived there. I also appreciate that the people I live with will celebrate days that are important to me, even though they may not understand why it is necessary to sing "I'm proud to be an American" seven or eight times on the Fourth of July. Living in England does not mean that I was not raised in the United States, and it does not mean that my Chilean teacher does not feel pride for her homeland on their special day. It really just means that we have more reasons to celebrate.

And more reasons to fiesta!

8. My value is in who I am, not what I do.
Having a university degree does not make me more valuable. Being able to speak more languages would not make me more valuable, nor would being the best toilet cleaner, or the best email writer. My value is that I am God's creation and daughter. My value is equal with Christ. I have security in that fact alone, not in who loves me or where in the world they are. Certainly not in my bank account. Not in where I sleep or what I do during the day.

I know this seems a bit deep and poetic, but it is a revelation that has taken me 14.5 months to come by. I am valuable. I am just as valuable as I was when I was born, and I cannot lose that value. It does not depend on you. It does not depend on my family here in London, or my family at home. The same is true of you. I do not determine your value. Neither does your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, roommate, boss, or professor. You are worth the life of Jesus. Your value is the same as the son of God. That is exactly what you are.

God loves me (and you) just as much as He loves Jesus.

9. I love the God I serve.
This is not new, but my love only grows as I learn more about my Father.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

and you should come join our family

Every year, our base does a base-wide outreach called Bones that leads up to Notting Hill Carnival. Notting Hill Carnival is the second biggest carnival in the world - a time when millions of people come to Notting Hill to drink and eat overpriced food and "experience cultures" (really, though, I think they mainly experience Red Stripe beer and rubbish-lined streets). Still, despite that, the carnival time is one of my favourite times of year on the base.

For the ten days leading up to Carnival, everybody on the base moves out of our three houses and into the church that we attend, which is right in the middle of Notting Hill. We sew, paint, glue together foam, and practice drumming, dances, and dramas to perform in the street. This year, I was helping with media, so I ran around with a camera the whole time. We invite others to join us, and we had teams come from Italy, Brazil, Spain, Austria, Scotland, the States, Canada, and more. There were 90 of us living in the church by the end.

Each day, we had worship and evangelism as well as preparation for carnival. We stayed up late at night working together, and in the afternoons, we filled the streets with the news of Jesus. During one of these evangelism times, I was accompanying Ezra, one of my counselling school classmates, as he walked on stilts. We stopped and talked to a man, Raj, at a bus stop, and we invited him to church. He showed up at the church that night, and after prayer and talking, he accepted Jesus.

Raj is the first person that I have led to Christ in London. I could barely contain my excitement. Here in London, we talk to a lot of people, and we even get to pray for many of them, but we rarely see people get saved. Raj told me that he had friends from the States who prayed for him, and I know that I got to reap a seed that had been sown a long time ago.

During Carnival, I put down my camera long enough to take part in a flash mob, and also to talk to a lot of people. Many times I just had time to explain that Jesus loves them, no matter what they do, but one woman allowed me to pray with her and gave me the chance to explain how to hear God's voice.

I'm sad that Carnival is over, and I'm back to the busy life of counselling school, but I just wanted to share what happened in the past two weeks and to encourage everybody to actually go for it when you tell others about Jesus. Don't be afraid to tell people the truth - that Jesus love them and that they need to take the step to accept Him as their Saviour. Maybe you aren't the first person to tell them, and maybe you will get to be the final person that they speak to before they take the step to join our family.

(Here is a link to the video of the flashmob. I am in the front right, wearing black).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

and the seasons change

A week and a half ago, I had a significant change of season in my life.

I am taking a brief sabbatical from the arts team. While they are headed to Paris and Edinburgh on outreach, I have joined the first-ever counselling school that my base is offering.

The lecture phase of the school is three months long, and the slogan is "Receive to Give," which means that, while we are learning how to counsel others in a Christian way, we are receiving healing ourselves. I am receiving a lot of healing at the same time that I am being prepared to return to my ministry with the skills to help disciple the nations - and our future teammates - with Godly wisdom.

It's been an unexpected blessing to be here, to have peace and the chance to spend extended amounts of time with God. This is the busiest season for the arts team, and my leaders were gracious enough to allow me to leave the internship that we are running so that I can come be a part of this school.

As you pray for me in this time, please pray that God gives me the strength to say yes to the decisions that He places before me. It is a huge growing time for me, and I am only too aware of my own fragility. But I also know that He will not ask me to do anything that He is not preparing me to do.

One of the best parts of the school thus far has been how we focus on giving back. We do evangelism every week, as well as going to the Salvation Army to serve dinner to the homeless on Wednesdays. I have always loved going to the Salvation Army, and it has given me the chance to have weekly conversations with the people that are there, and to follow up with them about prayer, illnesses, and the evidence of God working in their lives.

God has also been using music a lot in this time. I began playing the ukulele this past winter, and I have been playing the piano again, as well. I am currently praying about purchasing a 3/4 size guitar (because it fits my size better than a full-size guitar). God has spoken to me a lot about the place that worship has in my life, and I am trying to take concrete steps to move in the way that He is leading me. Music has a way of bypassing the mind and touching the heart with truth that I find hard to accept when I filter it through rational thought.

Monday, June 24, 2013

when we stand and fight

Over the past two months, I have gotten to experience a different side to being a missional artist. In the month between internships, we fixed up the house, but we also partnered with an organisation that stands up for Christian opinions in the politics and media, and along with them, we worked to champion some of the causes that we feel passionate about. I went to the meetings that our leader had with the organisation, and I got to watch Christians fight for their beliefs in the political arena. I've never helped organise something of that magnitude before, and it was an honour to stand outside of British landmarks and declare the Lord's presence and ask for His grace and mercy to come down. There were hundreds of people there to sing God's praises and declare our love for God and the other people of the nation, and it was powerful to see so many people take a stand for God's heart.

The process also allowed me to use gifts that God has given me for which I never understood the purpose. I've never understood why God let me do one year of a broadcast journalism degree before having me change to theatre. I didn't know why I had taken so many public speaking classes, or why God led me to do an advertising minor with my degree. And yet, through our work with the Christian organisation, I found all of those aspects of my education useful. I attended planning meetings, helped with the publicity ideas, and did an on-camera promo for the events. God has a funny way of preparing me years in advance, and while I was complaining about the difficult exams and wasted classes, He could see how necessary it would be now.

That's something I'd like to remember now, as I prepare to do the first counseling school that our base is offering. While I may not understand how it will effect my life, I know that God is using what I am learning now to prepare me for His plans for my future. God's timing is perfect - even in the preparation stages. That is a truth that I am standing on.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

river views and sweet buns

Our last location on our January Internship outreach was Linkoping, Sweden, a city about an hour and a half away from Stockholm. We were invited to visit by our friends, Anders and Sarah, and since they've blessed us by visiting us with a team this year, we traveled to their base for a week.

Linkoping is a university town, so our first project was to give a concert at the university. The concert was planned by the Christian group on campus, a group that has only 20 members. For a university with several thousand students, that is a bit discouraging. However, I was really impressed by the amount of work the students put into meeting new students. Their passion for Christ is evident, and not only did they host a concert that included a free lunch, but they also joined us for a talk on intercessory prayer later in the week. They are up against a lot at the University of Linkoping, which is the most humanistic university in Sweden. It takes a lot of energy and strength to fight in that kind of environment, and the students are fighting for souls as well as attempting to keep up with their degrees. Their dedication was quite impressive.

While in Sweden, we also had the opportunity to work with several youth groups. I gave my testimony a few times, and afterwards, I got to talk to Swedish teenagers about what it meant for me to surrender my gifts back to God. It's not something that I think about a lot, but really, surrendering theatre, music, and photography to God is one of the best things that I've ever done. God took back the gifts that He gave me, and He called me into this life. I could have held on tightly to my talents and used them for my own fame, but where would I be then? I'd be struggling alone in New York City, poor and desperate. But now I'm living in a family in London, working with other Christians to use our arts to speak to people's hearts about God. It's incredible.

My favourite part of our trip to Sweden was the Jesus Bus. It's an actual bus that has been converted into a cafe, and every Friday and Saturday night, a group of senior citizens drive it to a central square in Linkoping and hand out cinnamon buns and coffee to the people coming out of pubs and clubs. They stay out there for hours, even in the cold, and talk to the young people. I was amazed at their dedication to the youth in their city; even when younger people went home, they stayed. We joined them with our music, stilts, and painting, and it gave all of us the chance to talk to people. I accompanied one of the girls on stilts, and when people stopped to ask her why she was on stilts, we got to tell them that we were in Sweden to show them God's love for them. Swedish people are surprisingly open to talking about their faith, and several times people let us pray for them or asked us how salvation worked.

The most encouraging thing about Linkoping was how it is able to be grasped. Taboo is faced with a daunting task here in London: to influence a city of millions. But Linkoping is much smaller, and with a few more people on their team, the YWAM Linkoping team has a fighting chance for taking that city for God. While we were there, Christian, our team leader, met with the vice mayor. They have connections at the University, as well, and with prayer and resources, the city of Linkoping could be won for God's Kingdom. We should pray for the team there, that God provides them more workers and connections. They were so hospitable to us, and I would love to see them blessed with resources to make their fight a bit more manageable.

 The concert at the university

 Talking to university students

The Jesus Bus

Daniela on stilts by the Jesus Bus

Sunday, May 12, 2013


For the second phase of Taboo Arts' outreach, we traveled to Lyon, France. The trip to Lyon was terribly stressful, with a delayed train leading to a missed train and an unexpected night in Brussels, Belgium. But when we arrived in Lyon, we were greeted with blessings. It was sunny, and the team at YWAM Lyon took us to the park for the afternoon. We got to leave our jackets behind for the first time this spring. They also prepared amazing French food for us every day.

For the week that we were in Lyon, we taught our arts to the DTS teams that are leaving on outreach. Patricio, Micah, and I taught theatre to six of the students who are going to Asia. We spent the first few days doing workshops in which we taught them some warm ups and acting techniques, and we also taught them several dramas that they can do on the streets in Asia. It was a blessing for me to be able to teach dramas that I have actually performed on outreach, and I am always surprised at the new ways that God speaks to me through the dramas.

At the end of the week, we went into the center of Lyon to do evangelism. As the director of the dramas, I got to stand in the audience during the performances instead of performing. Several times, I got to talk to people about the meanings behind the dramas - about how God can save them from the lives that they are living now, and about how His death on the cross is relevant to our lives right now. One of the men that stopped next to me asked me if God could really save him the way that the man playing Jesus was saving the girl in the drama from the demons of her life. His friends kept calling him away, but he stayed for the whole drama, and at the end I explained what a life with God means - being healed of the things that are killing us and walking with the Creator that loves us.

I think the coolest part of the day was when I actually spoke to people about God in French. It was clear that the Holy Spirit was with me, because I took two years of French in high school, and I did not remember very much of it before we set foot in France.

My birthday also took place while we were in France. I share my birthday with my roommate, Marta, and in the evening, our team threw us a surprise party that included a delicious cake and ended with Marta teaching me how to break dance. I was also sung to in five languages: English, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese.

What surprised me most about Lyon was the openness of people to discuss God and their lives with a random American girl. People opened up to me about their lives and struggles, and they gave me glimpses into their hearts. Sometimes I'm amazed by the privilege that I am given to see into people's hearts and to get to tell them about the God who saved my life. I often forget the urgency of what I'm doing, but in the streets of Lyon, as the team performed the dramas that we'd taught them, I remembered.

Teaching dramas in the beautiful weather.

The DTS team performing the drama "Everything" in the center of Lyon's old town.

With some of my family here (from L to R): Heather (England), Juliette (Holland), Marta (Portugal), Sebastian (Argentina), Melody (Puerto Rico, but she's growing up here in London), and me in front of them all.
Marta and me with our birthday cake.

Monday, April 29, 2013

below sea level

It has been a long time coming, but I have once again returned from traveling with the Taboo Arts team. We spent the past month in outreach around Europe, and we went to Amsterdam, Lyon (France), and Linkoping (Sweden). We also managed to go several places in between.

Our first stop was Amsterdam. We stayed at the YWAM base in the middle of Amsterdam, and on the building it said "Jesus Loves You" in English and in Dutch. The proclamation on the building reflected our attitude the whole time we were there - we were bold. Amsterdam is a tough city, and it requires a lot of fighting to do God's work there.

Our main purpose in being in Amsterdam was to work with teenagers and children in the Biljmer, which we were told is the "ghetto." While it's true that the Biljmer is a bit underprivileged, we were amazingly blessed in our time there. We taught stilts, dance, music, and graffiti to the children and teenagers that we met in the neighborhood. It was interesting to talk to them in a mixture of English, Dutch, and Spanish, and still find ways to communicate, but by the end of the week, we had made several friends and promised to try to come back at a later date and host a festival for their neighborhood.

What struck me most about the Biljmer was the sense of community that we found there. In London, people are isolated from one another. We live in a row of houses, but we only meet our neighbors when the kids kick a ball into their back garden or when we bake cookies for them. In the Biljmer, the families share a common garden area and spend a lot of their lives with one another. You can tell that, although they don't have a lot of material wealth, they don't lack for friends or love. The children were polite and enthusiastic, not at all like the children that we work with in London. I loved working with them.

When we weren't in the Biljmer, we got a chance to use a prayer room in the Red Light District. All around us were windows lit up red and full of women selling sex, but in our window, we knelt and prayed for what was going on around us. We also led a night of music and testimonies at a youth hostel in the red light district. It was a really bizarre dichotomy - all around us filth, but we were able to be a little bit of light.

On our final day in Holland, one of our team member's parents treated us to a boat ride and dinner at a pancake house. They took us all around their country, to Utrecht (the city in which they live), a tiny town with windmills, and to Rotterdam. At the very end of the day, while everyone finished up their dinner, I managed to catch a beautiful sunset in the fields nearby. It reminded me a lot of the wanders I used to take in the States, and for a few seconds, I was really amazed by how full and blessed my life is. A year ago, I was a university student, but now I'm privileged to serve God around Europe.

I serve an amazing God.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Taboo did our first production this past week! We did a show called Relentless, a combination of physical theatre, stilt dancing, harness dancing, and live music. Our leader, Christian, even did a painting on stage before the show began.

It was an important time for our team, not only because it was our first production, but also because of the location. We performed in the Tabernacle Theatre in Notting Hill. The theatre has been used by many famous artists throughout the years, but most importantly, it started as a church. We took our production as an opportunity to invite God back into the building.

I narrated in the production, which we wrote (including the music) and rehearsed in the seven weeks leading up to the production. It was a massive undertaking, not only from the production standpoint, but also spiritually. It was also amazing to see the ways that God's strength shown through in the rehearsal process and in the show. It was my first time performing in a Christian context, and I think that what I learned the most was that God's presence takes away a lot of the pressure on the performer. I  knew that God would be present in the performance, because He was present in the rehearsal, and because I didn't try to do the show in my own strength. When you go into a show knowing that you are doing it for God's glory and that He will be glorified, it takes all of the responsibility for the performance out of your hands. God will be glorified, because it has been surrendered to Him and is His.

What an amazing thought.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

a glimpse of a global family

One of the best parts of being a missionary in such an international city is getting to join with people from around the world to spread God's love. This week, our team joined an Indian church in an evangelism event that took us to three different parts of London. Our team provided the spectacle that drew people in, and then we got to tell them about God. I spent a large part of the week playing my ukulele and singing God's praises in the middle of busy London streets. I also had a few conversations that I will never forget, including one with a man named Tony who, when I was done telling him about how much God loved him, sat and silently wept for several minutes.

On Saturday, the members of the church congregation took us back to their church, and I got to experience an Indian worship service. How crazy is it that I am a part of a family that extends around the world, and that, if you follow Christ, you are as well? In what other setting would I be invited to eat and worship with people from India, in the middle of London, with my Argentinian, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Swiss, Dutch, and English family members? God is so global and unifying. Sometimes I forget that, and yet, this year alone, I have been invited into churches of at least seven nationalities, including Afro Caribbean, Ethiopian, traditional Anglican, Catholic, and Irish.

God is moving in this place, and I am so privileged to be a part of the movement.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

marching as to war

The arts internship that I am a part of began on 26 January, and since then, I have been kept busy with rehearsals for the production that we are putting up at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill (a pretty famous theatre) in the middle of March. But we have also gone to Camden, Soho, and all around London together.

Instead of telling you about it, I thought you'd like a taste of it:

This is a horse outside of a hair salon in Camden that specializes in false hair with a side of witchcraft:

We also do praise and worship sessions outdoors, in public, frequently. I play the ukulele and sing (although Heather is carrying my ukulele in this picture).

People often talk to us when we are out and about, because it is odd to see so many people from different nations all together (in this picture we have Ecuador, Switzerland, Argentina, Holland, and an English woman):

We also prayer walk around London, and sometimes we end up in creepy art exhibits that open our eyes to the ways that people who don't have God see life (aka, a life without hope):

Last week, I even managed to make it down to Kingston-upon-Thames to visit some missionaries that I worked with in summer 2011.

Last weekend, the drama track and I went to a roadshow to prepare our production for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August (photo by Micah Orsetti).

And finally, discipleship is a founding principle of YWAM, so here's a picture of me with Marta, my discipler/roommate/the lovely cake baker: