Big News!

IMG_2711On Wednesday, I found out that I was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to Germany for the 2017-2018 program year. I will be working as an English Teaching Assistant, which means I will be placed in a public school classroom somewhere K-12 to help the main teacher. This program is the flagship exchange program of the United States, and has been run through the department of State since it was started in 1948 by senator William J. Fulbright. It’s aim is to foster intercultural dialogue, understanding and ambassadorship, and you can read more here if you’re interested!

I applied for this program back in October, and it was quite the involved application process to say the least! But it was SO worth the wait. I leave around September 4th and will be placed somewhere in the German state of Hessen, which could not be more perfect, as that is where my grandpa lives and where I spent my internship last summer in Frankfurt. God is so good.

I have been thoroughly enchanted by Germany for the past four years, and knew I had to find a way back. The country has completely stolen my heart, and I could not be more thrilled for this opportunity to give back to the people that have already given me so much. I am deeply humbled and profoundly grateful.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this journey so far:

My parents who helped me study at Pepperdine and then abroad in Heidelberg.
My brothers who encourage me in everything I do!
My internship supervisors and supporters.
My friends here in America and in Germany who keep me motivated.
Pepperdine for educating me, particularly my German professors who introduced me to this beautiful language.
God, who has never and will never leave me.
A million others who care for me in countless ways every day.

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.” –Romans 1:9-10

Thanks for reading friends, I can’t wait to blog my way through this next year in Germany!

 

 

 

 

Another Lesson Learned in Heidelberg

IMG_6584This summer has undoubtedly been the most violent, tumultuous periods of time in the world that I can remember in my life. It seems like every day there’s a new shooting, bombing, or terrorist attack of some kind (if not multiple). Many of these incidences are centered in Europe, and now in Germany in particular, and it breaks my heart to watch them unfold. Reading the news has become even more depressing than usual, and often leaves me posing the exasperated question, “What is this world coming to?!”

This weekend I returned to Heidelberg, the city where I studied abroad for eight months my sophomore year of college. It is such a magical town, a town that fills me with incomparable joy every time I step across its boarders. I still can’t believe I was privileged enough to call this place home. The sheer beauty of Heidelberg is enough to take my breath away. As I strolled the charming cobble stone streets munching on a sweet from my favorite local bakery, my body was flooded with an overwhelming sense of peace. I realized that even if I were to be killed by a terrorist attack today (which is a real possibility), I would be satisfied. I have been able to experience more in my short 21 years on this earth than many people are able to in their entire lives. I am richly blessed, and all I have to do is look around to know it.

As Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” I don’t know the future, but I do know it is my duty to appreciate the present. As Christians we are set free from the crippling fear of death, for Christ says in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” The darkness and devastation in our world are real, and should not be overlooked, but take comfort in the fact that we can have abundant life despite the present darkness.

Thanks again Heidelberg, for teaching me exactly what I needed to hear at the exact moment I needed to hear it. You never cease to amaze me. Until next time little city!IMG_6595IMG_6570IMG_6573IMG_6579IMG_6591IMG_6604IMG_6608IMG_6617IMG_6624IMG_6628IMG_6632IMG_6639IMG_6640IMG_6655IMG_6689IMG_6693IMG_6699IMG_6705IMG_6732IMG_6739IMG_6744IMG_6753IMG_6760IMG_6768IMG_6764

Hidden in Plain Sight

IMG_0503.JPGSince the time I started thinking about college around age sixteen, I’ve been obsessed with the concept of finding “God’s will for my life.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the word vocation during my years in the christian community, and at my university in particular. In my mind, God’s will was this giant, life-altering thing that was up to me to decipher, and if I missed the mark, might as well just throw in the towel on the good life right now.

The thing is, up until a few weeks ago I wasn’t even allowed to legally drink alcohol in America, so how could I be trusted to discern God’s will for my entire life at age 21?! It seemed an impossible task for a flawed human like me. Couldn’t someone else just tell me what God wants for me?

Then when I arrived in Germany I started reading the book “Follow Me” by David Plath as part of my summer internship. Plath’s writing is filled with convicting, even radical, truths about the Christian life– truths moderns cultural Christianity often wishes it could just ignore. He writes:

“With good intentions, we try hard to use various methods to find God’s will. But what if God’s will was never intended to be found? In fact, what if it was never hidden from us in the first place? What is God the Father has not sent his children on a cosmic Easter egg hunt to discover his will while he sit back in heaven saying, ‘You’re getting colder…warmer…colder…’? And what if searching for God’s will like this actually misses the entire point of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus?…God has a will, and he has made it clear. From cover to cover in the Bible, God wills is to redeem men and women from every nation, tribe, language, and people by his grace and from his glory.”

Lightbulb! It’s so simple, why didn’t I realize it sooner? God has no specific will for my life. Yes he created me with unique gifts and talents, but he also created me with a functioning brain and free will. We don’t have to ask God to reveal anything to us, he has already revealed his will for all of us. We just have to ask him to help us align our lives to his will. His will is not something intended to be found, but rather to be followed.

I no longer have to stay up at night nervously asking God, “Do you want me to live in Germany or America? Should I major in Creative Writing or Journalism? Should I date this person or wait for you to show me someone else?”

The holy spirit lives in us and is constantly in the process of shaping us to be more like Christ. Therefore, our decisions should naturally be coming ever more and more in line with Christ’s decisions and our lives organically looking more like his. When you are in constant relationship with Jesus, you experience total liberation, ease and delight knowing that if you make a wrong decision he will check you. And if he does check you, stop at once, reassess, and keep moving forward. To be able to do that is a sign of true spiritual maturity and friendship with God. And who doesn’t want that?

I hope this was somewhat interesting and helpful! I would highly recommend reading “Follow Me” if you get the chance. Have a good one friends.

 

 

A Prayer to Remember

IMG_4810As I mentioned in this post, I am a part of a weekly small group made up of nine or ten Iranians and Afghanis, my internship supervisor, one other American missionary and myself. We were having a great time singing, talking, and praying last night. Towards the end the leader turned to the three Americans and said something in english to the effect of, “We want to pray over the three of you and ask forgiveness for our country’s hatred towards America. We were taught from an early age that America and all Americans are evil. You three are ambassadors of your people, and this small group is an example of the inter-cultural love and unity that is possible when God is involved.”

We stood in the middle of the circle and the group prayed over us in Farsi. Though I couldn’t understand the meaning of the words they were speaking, I could understand their hearts. Soon enough, big fat tears sprang into my eyes and began to roll down my cheeks. I just kept thinking, This is what the world needs more ofnot political peace talks or conferences or charismatic leadersbut God. If we could all interact with one another as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ instead of adversaries, how much pain, suffering, hatred and death could be avoided? How many misunderstandings could be sorted out through the power of the Holy Spirit? 

When you travel, power is automatically bestowed upon you as an ambassador of your country, whether you realize it or not. Your behavior is a reflection of your culture and it absolutely does matter. I am just glad that although I am an American, I am a Christian first and foremost, and therefor am filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, who is infinitely greater and wiser than I could ever be in my human weakness.

Last night was powerful. I will remember it always and carry it with me where ever I go, reminding me of the only true healer and best politician this world will ever know.IMG_4823IMG_4904