Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. ~Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A solid seven to start

A year is a long time - and yet, it's not. 

As the days tick away, I take each in stride knowing that every day has worth and offers me new opportunities to change, to grow, to learn.

Most of you probably know I'm going to Malaysia in a little over a month. I have tried to prepare for this year of mission work since January, but I have faced the reality that I could never be fully prepared or "ready" for what lies ahead.

However, here is what I do know:
  1. I am serving as a missionary through the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) program called YAGM (Young Adults in Global Mission) with nine other young adults throughout Malaysia for one year.
  2. My placement includes teaching, learning and growing with differently-abled children and youth at Seri Mengasih Center, an independent and secular NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) located on the South China Sea in south Kota Kinabalu or KK. I will live at the facility with a private room and shared bathroom and kitchen space.
  3. The people of Malaysia speak a number of languages, including English, Malay, Mandarin and others. I'm pretty solid on English ;) but I look forward to learning Malay and possibly other languages during our two-week, in-country training in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, when the nine of us first arrive in Malaysia.
  4. God has prepared me. While I might not know everything God has in store for me in this next year, I know the stories I take with me from my previous 25 years will help and guide me on the way.  
  5. I'm nervous. Several people have asked if I'm nervous and I realize I have never answered with a heartfelt, "Yes!" Well, there you go. I believe I am leaving a place of comfort and security and moving from that makes anyone nervous. Nerves are simply the current that keeps us alive and alert when life changes course. 
  6. This isn't about me. I am so excited to share stories about this next year, but I anticipate they will not be stories about me, but about God and God's work in the world. We are all vessels with words to write, pictures to capture and love to give to spread God's abounding love with one another - from San Diego to Sudan, Minnesota to Malaysia.
  7. You are a blessing in my life. Have you ever stopped to think about how the interactions in your life have shaped who you are? It's overwhelming. We simply don't have the capacity to remember each and every meaningful conversation, loving hug, pant-wetting laugh or content sigh contributed to someone we love. At least, I know I don't!! I am blessed beyond words with a cloud chock-full of witnesses. I am eternally grateful for those who love me, support me and are there for me in the past, present and future days of my life. Thank you!
I can't wait to share this experience with you! I will ask for your prayers and also ask that you give me requests in return! I would really like to know what's going on in your lives and I have found prayer is an incredibly powerful way to stay connected - with God as our rock in all things, at all times and in all places.

PB&J (Peace, blessings & joy),

~Jenna B. 

Prayer request: Please pray for the current YAGM missionaries. They have spent nearly 11 months serving, loving and growing in the communities many of them now call home. May God continue to bless their time together with brothers and sisters in Christ and nourish them with experiences that will forever impact their lives and those around them.

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