It is only natural for someone to expect changes in their life when they make a big move, especially in a case such as ours when it’s a move halfway across the country. The initial change of location only scratches the surface of the other changes that are necessary, like finding a new place to live and new jobs. Changes in culture, finances, and relationships happen whether you’re ready for them or not. Everyday life brings about small yet noticeable changes for us all the time, like the fact that yellow traffic lights last significantly longer in Orlando than in the Midwest (and I’m talking a good two to three seconds longer—definitely a win!). On the other hand, people hardly (if ever) use their turn signals while driving. For the first time in our lives we live in a city where there is so much to do! It’s so much so that we don’t even know where to start, and anything is probably a 30 minute drive and probably costs more than what we’d like to spend.
This past month has been FULL of so many awesome activities and opportunities for our family. We’ve already had a few friends come down and visit us, and even just having them stay with us at our apartment was an encouragement. Our church had their second ever VBS near the end of June, and we had about 50 kids come and participate! Last summer they had about ten kids for VBS, so it was awesome to witness and be a part of that growth. We’ve started volunteering with the high school youth group and getting to know the teenagers, as well as hosting a men’s bible study at our apartment every other Friday morning. We’re starting to really get into the thick of working, serving, and volunteering in a variety of different areas in the church, not just worship, and it’s bringing us so much joy!
We have seen the kingdom being advanced in small and big ways in Lake Nona, and I got the cutest, most beautiful glimpse of that during VBS. Our VBS lasted four days and I was one of the group leaders for the 2nd and 3rd graders. On day two my group had significantly more kids in it than the previous day, and before I knew it I was sitting with about four to five new girls in my group as the session started. Soon, one girl admitted to me that she was scared because she didn’t have any friends there. I reassured her that I could be her friend, and that we’d all become friends as we went through all of the fun activities together! Immediately the other precious girls started chiming in with similar fears that they had about their first days at VBS, and I lovingly reassured them that we were all in this together and that much fun lied ahead (all the while appreciating and admiring their willingness to be vulnerable and admit their fears out loud right off the bat; THAT is bravery!). One last girl admitted to me that she was scared because she didn’t speak English very well and was only fluent in Spanish. I had a split second of panic because even though I can comprehend some Spanish and I remember some vocabulary words from my elementary and high school Spanish classes, I am nowhere near fluent. But just as quickly as the panic set in, I knew that I had a way to help this girl.
“See that guy over there?” I asked her as I pointed to Lauro, who was running sound and tech for the sessions, “He can speak Spanish, and he is in our group, too! So he can stay with you and help you during our activities! Does that sound good?”
She nodded, and the most beautiful glimpse of the Kingdom happened right in front of my eyes as my husband stayed with this precious girl all week, doing crafts with her and helping translate and explain the games to her. If she had any questions at all he was always right there ready to help her understand and give more clarity. Of course my heart absolutely MELTED every time I watched them working together and as he took her under his wing. It was so incredible to know that this girl was able to participate, have fun, and hear about our God who created her and truly understand it in the language that she knows best. When that language barrier disappeared I believe that was one less obstacle in the way of this little girl knowing that she is loved just as she is, that she is valuable, that Jesus cares about her, and that she is His daughter.
It made me think of when John describes a vision of heaven in Revelation 7, saying that “every nation, tribe, people, and language” will be present in the eternal Kingdom of God, and what a beautiful sight that will be! We are all children of God. We are all valuable and precious in His sight. We are all loved by Him deeply, eternally, and unconditionally. We all belong in the Kingdom. There is room for us all and all that is in us: our fears, our doubts, our insecurities, our temptations. There is room for our whole beings because Jesus is there, and He is our deliverer and our healer. He has overcome it all.
This past month has had its fair share of high and low moments for me personally. As much as I love new experiences and change on the surface level, I’ve learned that deep down I really struggle with it. I crave familiarity and routines and find comfort in steadiness and predictability, and we have had very little of that since moving here. While my mind is loving all of the changes we have dove into and my heart knows that we are where God has called us to be, my emotions have lived in tension with those things as well. I’ve experienced doubt, complacency, homesickness, and questioning of purpose and provision here. But I have also experienced hospitality, generosity, authentic community, family, and love here. I’ve experienced Jesus here. I’ve learned that there is room for my struggles and personal hardships in not only the church, but in the Kingdom of God. The best growth happens when I am vulnerable and honest about where I’m at because that opens the door to healing.
And so I’ll continue to serve and love where I am at, seeking Christ and learning more about myself through the struggles and the times of ease for the sake of being His light in this dark world.
We are His, after all. If He is for us, who can be against us?
Thank you so much for your prayers and support of our ministry here in Orlando! We are deeply grateful for the love we have been shown and how we’ve been able to see prayers answered!
- We’re praising God for His financial provision! Our financial support is right on track, and thanks to generous donors we can continue to walk boldly in the ministry we’ve been called to without worrying about that monetary burden.
- We’re thankful that God has provided me with a job! I’ve started training for my job as a scheduler for an OBGYN office that is a five minute drive from our apartment. God was definitely working in that situation, and we’re so thankful for His answer to our prayers!
- Please pray for Thrive Church’s second launch as we relocate to Innovation Middle School this fall. We’ll have our second grand opening on September 24th, and our prayer is that this will broaden our influence for Christ’s glory and strengthen our ties with the community of Lake Nona.