Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Heart of our Mission

Hello my faithful readers! I promised that it wouldn’t be so long in between each of my posts, and I am just barely making the deadline at two weeks. The past few weeks have been jam packed with activities and I will try and give you an update of what is going on.

I left off my post last week telling you of the exciting opportunity we have to do a photography club. We spent that week prayer walking the greater South Acton area and the South Acton Estate (SAE). Since the area that we were covering was large, we decided to split it into three days, two days spent in South Acton, and one day on the Estate (SAE).

What is prayer walking you ask? It is something that I was not unfamiliar with, but had little practice till coming to London. Prayer walking is just that, walking and praying at the same time. Specifically, we are praying for the area that we are walking in, and the people that we come into contact with. Prayer is a vital part of our ministry and without it we can do nothing. It can be a bit odd at first walking and praying without closing your eyes and formally sitting, but it brings to mind that we are to be in a constant state of prayer. We are talking to our Heavenly Father, and it’s just like talking to a very dear friend. While prayer walking, we also made it a point to go out and try and meet teens and pass out flyers for photography club.

Our focus while we are here is to be SAE. The Estate is comparable to public housing in the States. London is divided into different boroughs (kind of like different parts of the city; in Jacksonville it’s like you live in Jacksonville, but you are in the Mandarin area; in the 727 area, you live in St. Pete, but you are in the Old Northeast area). Acton is in the borough of Ealing and the SAE is on the edge of South Acton. The council (like city governments) owns these huge apartment complexes, which are all in the same area. The estate is a bustling place. There are people from all walks of life; recent immigrants, lower income residents one-step away from being homeless, single parent families, families that have been there for a few generations and families that are in transition. Our field supervisor, Chris, truest desire is to be able to get forms of church that are relevant to that area, reproducible, and are mission minded and can be multiplied throughout the city. Our focus specifically is the teens on the Estate. From our conversations from some teens on the Estate there seems to be a prevailing sense of hopelessness and a feel that they can never rise above their circumstances.

One way that we are trying to connect with teens is through the Photography Club. We meet on Saturdays and then go into central London to take pictures. Our first week we had one girl come, Daniella. She is 17 and has lived in London for 10 years. We were able to go to St. James’ Park (right by Buckingham Palace) and take pictures and have good conversations with her. While out taking pictures we were able to converse with her and start to build a relationship. We were able to initiate a faith conversation with her, but she like other Londoners doesn’t see a need for God in her life.

This is where culture shock has hit me the hardest, the post-Christendom society in which I now live. Coming from the States, and from the south at that, there are churches on every corner, and often multiple ones to choose from. There is a host of options to choose from, and if you can’t leave your house, you can turn on your TV a given Sunday morning and have a plethora to choose from. It is quite hard to go thru daily life without hearing or having been exposed to something ‘Christian’. In London, the opposite is quite true. There is a HUGE population of Muslims. Not only your traditional Muslims, but there are Somali and more strict Muslims. There are also Sikhs, Hindu, and others of the like. Those beliefs are very connected with the culture from which they come from. Londoners are quite content with having never thought about God, and His place in their lives. It is a hard reality to face, and something that we, as Americans have to face in our sharing of the Gospel. It brings to light the need to share of Jesus and the power of His love and how that Jesus is more about ‘religion’, it’s a relationship. The way that people are going to want to change is to see how Jesus changes lives. That is our goal, to share life with people and in sharing life, sharing Jesus.

How do we go about sharing life with people? That is something that can be a bit hard to grasp, but with perseverance it can be done. It means going out of our comfort zone and meeting people to build relationships. It can be a bit hard because people can be skeptical of what you are doing. Being upfront and honest with who you are and what you are doing is the key. We are sure to tell people that we are followers of Jesus and that we have come to share that with others. I ask that you pray that we can continue to be bold and have no fear in sharing Jesus.

This post has turned into something entirely different that what I started out for it to be, but that is ok, because I feel it is important to share with you the heart of our purpose here. I ask that you continue to pray for the work we have here.

Praise and Prayer requests:

1. Hillary arrived yesterday! She received her visa on Thursday and was on a plane Sunday! We were able to pick her up from the train station yesterday (she flew into Paris and then took the Euro star into London). Pray that she can quickly become acclimated to London. Pray that Team London can bond well and that we can become focused on the task at hand. Pray for unity and that Satan is kept away.

2. Pray for September 26th. We are participating in a huge street Party on the South Acton Estate. There is a team from Canton, GA coming on Sunday and will be here for a week. We are in charge of helping out that week and leading them while in London. I’m a bit nervous about leading a group into central London, but I know God will see me thru!

3. Pray for me to further acclimate to the weather. Today we had our first rainy day and it was cold and rainy. It was a bit depressing because it rained ALL day. Not only that, but it was cold, and there was no sun whatsoever. I know that I have been blessed with good weather these past few weeks and for that I am grateful. Now I must prepare myself for the cold, blistery weather, but I know that God has called me here for a purpose and the cold will not be a hindrance.

4. Pray for our relationships that have started. Dave, Daniella, and Anthony specifically. We hope to be able to start a Bible Discussion group with them; they have all showed a positive response to studying the Word.

I thank you for taking the time to read this. I thank you for your prayers and ask that you continue to lift up my team and myself.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hiya from the London Land!!!

Hiya! (That is British slang for Hello!)

I apologize for the lack of updates since I have been abroad. I fully intend to rectify that situation right now!

My last weekend at home was spent with family and friends. I want to thank everyone who was able to come to my going away party and I cherish the memories that were made. I also thank those that I was able to spend my weekend; it meant more to me than I can fully express. My family was wonderful, and my last meal at home consisted of my favorite food, shrimp salad, mashed potatoes and pineapple upside down cake!

My flight here was quite uneventful. I flew from Tampa to Chicago and had a nice layover where I was able to meet up with 2 girls from my team, and others with the Hands on Program. From there, we flew to London Heathrow. Thankfully, I was able to sleep for about 6 hours of the flight. I credit that to getting about an hour of sleep the night before, and my on-flight TV did not work so I could not get distracted by watching it instead of sleeping.

Once we had landed it was on to face the monster known as the Customs agent/Boarder Control. While standing in line I was going over in my head what to say, and making sure I had all my papers in order. The line went fairly quickly and before I knew it, it was my turn to face the Customs agent. My teammate Lakan and I were the last ones from the Hands on Group to get to the agents. Our other teammate, Hillary, was ahead of us facing her agent. Lakan and I each step forward, and a tense 20 minutes later, stamped passports in hand, were allowed to enter the UK! Unfortunately, our third teammate, Hillary, was unable to enter the country and was sent back to the States. Right now, she is working on getting her visa and then will join Lakan and I in London. Pray that her visa process goes smoothly and that she can join us as soon as possible.

Once we had all gathered our luggage we were off to the church where our orientation would take place. We were able to change clothes, wash our faces and then were off to sightsee! No sleep for us, so we could start the fight against jet lag. It was here that I was grateful for those 6 hours of sleep on the flight over. We were able to go and see Big Ben and Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, The Tower of London Bridge, Camden Market, and Buckingham Palace. To be at the places that have been on my screen saver these last few months was a bit overwhelming, but completely rewarding.

Orientation Week was packed full of information. We learned how we are going to succeed these next few months. The entire Hands on Western Europe team bonded well and we look forward to seeing each other again in December. There are teams going to Cardiff Wales (a team of 9, 2 boys, 7 girls); a Paris team made up of 3 girls; a Spain team made up of 1 girl and 1 boy; a Malta team made up of 2 girls; and then there was Team London, made up of myself and another girl, Lakan Britt. She hails from the mighty land of Missouri and over these past few weeks, I am learning how different Florida and Missouri really are. For instance, did you know that you can catfish with LIVE goldfish? I didn’t either, but it’s just one of these new facts I am learning from Lakan. She and I get along quite well and I she loves to cook! We make a great team, she cooks, and I clean the dishes. But besides her domesticity, she and I compliment each other well and I look forward to the months ahead of working with her. I know that when Hillary gets here, she will fit in quite nicely to Team London.

On Sunday after orientation we were able to move into our flat (apartment in the states). We hopped on the tube (the underground) and 2 stops later we were here! We live in South Acton, right across from the Acton Town Tube entrance. We live on the 2nd floor (the UK calls it the 1st floor, the American first floor being the ground floor) and we have a BLUE door!!! Our flat is VERY nice. We have 4 bedrooms (our team originally was going to be larger) so my snoring will keep no one else awake! My bedroom is on the 2nd floor of our flat, facing the street. I have a double bed with a blue bedspread, a desk, drawers, and a wardrobe! (Have no fear, I already tried to go to Narnia, but Aslan hasn’t called me there yet ;-). ) My bedroom is larger than I was expecting and I have managed to decorate quite nicely with all my pictures of family and friends. The other rooms are comparable in size and we have a living room and an adorable kitchen with a washing machine so we can do our laundry here and not have to go elsewhere. I feel like I am living in the lap of luxury because I was not expecting lodging this wonderful.

Lakan and I have become quite adept at taking the public transport. We have our oyster cards and we have managed to not get too lost around London. I have ridden on a double decker bus, and the tube quite a few times and each time it is very exciting!!! We were able to go and see the New Harry Potter movie here and were quite excited because we had been in the very part of London that is in the beginning of the film!

Last week we hit the ground running with exploring our surrounding areas. We have been able to go out and meet quite a few people, get acclimated to the area and get everything a bit sorted as to what our time in London will be spent doing. We were able to meet a nice young man named Dave. I am very encouraged about him. He is interested with meeting with Lakan and I in our time here about once a week and we will be open and honest with him in sharing the gospel and building a relationship with him that will have lasting impact. I ask that you pray for him, that with our time with him will be full of vulnerability, and that we can in our time here be able to show him Christ. I am encouraged because he does not like to drink, and is very interested in why we are doing detached youth work here.

This week we are prayer walking Acton and gearing up for our first event, Photography club! I am excited about that and hopefully we can begin to build lasting relationships with the teens here.

Random side note, the reason pictures have not been forthcoming (I know many of you have been asking) is that I forgot my camera cable in the States. I now have the task of finding one here and once that is accomplished, you shall see what I am seeing in the London Land!

I end this post with a few prayer requests:

1. For Lakan and I to be bold in approaching teens. Pray that we can connect well with them and that they can see that we are genuine.

2. For Hillary, that the visa process will go smoothly and that she can be joining us soon.

3. For Lakan and I to continue to get along. Pray that we will have good team communication and that we can be focused on the task at hand.

4. For me to get acclimated to the weather. Being from Florida has ill prepared me for the chilly weather ahead and I’m already wearing long sleeve shirts and my fleece jacket at night! Pray that I can stay warm and that I do not get sick from the weather.

I thank you for reading this VERY long post and I promise that it won’t be another 3 weeks till my next one.

I love you all and miss you, but I know that God has me here for a purpose. I see the work that needs to be done, and I am thankful and honored to be apart of the team here in London.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

prayer request

To my dear family and friends:
I have one week left in the country and I want to that you for your encouragement and support as I get ready to leave. I write this to ask for your prayers as I am in my final week at home.
1. Pray that my time left will be filled with precious time spent with my family and friends. I pray that this last week precious memories will be made that I can look back on while abroad.
2. Pray for traveling mercies. I fly out from Tampa on the 17th at 11:07am to Chigago to meet with most of my team and then we fly out to London at 5pm. We land at Heathrow at 7:10am the 18th (2:10am FL time).
3. Pray for my last week at work, that my last week there will be filled with God-ordained conversations.
4. Pray for my time in London, that the teen I am reaching out to have their hearts open, and their minds willing to listen. Pray that I can be relevant in their lives and that we can bridge the gap and that we can have lasting impact.
5. Pray for my team and I to have unity and be a chord of strands that can not be broken. Pray that my team and I can work to build each other up and where one of us lacks, that the other is strong. Pray that Satan does not bring discord and strife and temptation into our lives and that we ALWAYS look to Jesus.
6. Finally, I ask that you pray that I look to no one else but Jesus. Pray that my heart is in London with the work that I have there and not at home. Pray that I don't get homesick and I think about what I am leaving behind. Pray that my focus will be on the work at hand and that nothing will distract me from the call that Christ has for me.

Monday, June 1, 2009

"I have learned that even with my $500 European-designer bifocals, I cannot see into a person's heart to know his spiritual condition. All I can do is tell the jagged tale of my own spiritual journey and declare that my life has been the better for having followed Christ."

For all you that know me, books have had a great impact on my life. I have always had large amounts of energy and as a child, I am sure that I greatly frustrated my poor parents. To help calm me down, my parents encouraged me to read and since then I've never stopped. My favorite part about books is that someone had something that impacted their life so much that they must share it with the world.

One of my very dear friends gave me a book called "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and and Denver Moore and it has quickly become one of my books that I want everyone to read. It is the true story of how two men from two very different backgrounds meet and impact each other's lives. Ron came from humble beginnings and became a very wealthy art dealer absorbed in his own world and oblivious to the hurt around in the world around him. Denver came from virtual slavery to homeless on the streets with nothing but anger and resentment for the world around him that didn't seem to care. This book shares their stories of redemption and how Ron's wife brought them together.

The above quote is from Ron's perspective and it sums up exactly the message I hope to bring with me to the UK. As much as I long to be able to see into some one's heart, I cannot. It's not about what I can do, but only what Christ can do. I have been reading the book of Mark and in chapter 2 verse 8 it says that "immediately Jesus knew in his spirit what they were thinking in their hearts...". Only Christ has that power to read the heart! As for my 'jagged tale of my own spiritual journey", I might not have the most wild, adventurous story of how I came to Christ, but I think the importance of my story is the consistency of staying with Christ. One think I do know is that my life has been better for having followed Christ. Without Him, I AM NOTHING. I love God with everything in me. Without Him I have no hopes of accomplishing anything from the tiny and insignificant to the world changing dreams I have.

I encourage everyone to read "Same Kind of Different As Me". It's one of the best decisions you can read and hey, it's the summer time. Take an afternoon to sit back and relax and be prepared to have your mind blown!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


so these past few weeks since I found out that I was accepted for this great adventure, part of me was holding back.

what part you ask?

I found out that I was accepted, but did not receive a funded position. What does that mean? Instead of paying $2600, I was responsible to raise my entire support of $10,100. I have always been raised to believe that when God calls you to ANYTHING, God will equip you. I firmly believe that money should not be the reason to stop you from going on a missions trip. Before accepting, I prayed and realized that God was just holding me accountable to what I was saying. It was now time to put my words into action.
I prayed.
and waited for a confirmation from the Lord
and prayed some more
I was feeling uneasy about sending out support letters asking help in raising such a large amount of money. Something was holding me back, but what?
questions kept circling my head.
Was this really what I was suppose to be doing?
Was selfish Kelly getting in the way with her desire to travel and explore other areas of the world?
Is this what God REALLY wanted me to do? Was he trying to teach me the same story He taught Abraham with his willingness to sacrifice something so close to his heart? (Granted it wasn't a son I was sacrificing, but once again, letting go of MY desires and MY plans)
I realized that I need to COMPLETELY let go. If God REALLY wants me to do this, He WILL provide a way. This was my decision on Wednesday night.

THURSDAY. I'm at work.

My phone rings.
I answer it.

It's my missions coordinator. She calls to tell me that she is able to offer me a FUNDED position.
God is TRUELY in control. His power, His grace, it's INFINATE. God has me in the palm of His hand. He has called me, He has confirmed that this is what HE wants, He has equipped me.

$600 down, $2000 left!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


This is my prayer: (Psalm 42)

"As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for you, O God.

My soul thirts for God, for the living God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night, While they continaully say to me, 'Where is God?'

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar.

Deep calls unto deep at the noise of your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.

The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night, His song shall be with me- A prayer to the God of my life

I will say to God my Rock, 'Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?'

As with the breaking of my bones, my enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?'

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God."

This entire passage of Psalms has always been one of my all time favorite. When I was little and couldn't sleep my mom would come in and sing the song, "As the deer" and I would fall asleep knowing that all is well. My soul was comforted not only because my mommy was there, but that God loved me and I was safe. I say all that to explain how this passage called me to missions.

For the past year and half, it has been the fervent prayer of my heart that God RADICALLY take hold of my life. I wanted him to take everything in my life and make it so that I knew nothing in my life was a result of silly Kelly.

I say to you, don't pray something you TRUELY don't want to happen.
God WILL hold up His end of the deal.
Why do I say this?

Last year I was in a really bad car accident and my Stella was totaled.
I stopped working.
I transferred schools.
all this happened in the matter of 4 months.

While my life around me seemed in shambles, I cried out to God, Why is this happening? Where do I go from here? God showed me a Job 23:9-12.

"But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread. "

I stopped in my thought process. No matter what, thru losing my car, transferring schools, confusion with my job, God was in control. He knew where I was, He had never left me, I would come forth as gold.

Where would I go from here? I knew God was in control and I knew that God had something special for me in the rollercoaster that had become my life. I began to pray and God showed me Psalm 42. The one clear message that came screaming thru was a message of Hope. All I knew is that I wanted to place my hope in Him. The intensity of God's presence overwhelmed me with that passage. I knew that I would have to put my complete reliance in the power of Christ. Where would that reliance lead me?

I was re-reading some of my favorite C.S. Lewis, The Magicians's Nephew. In my infinate nerdiness, I decided to look up stuff about Europe. When I enjoy a book, I like to lookup stuff about the location of the book that I am reading. Get a sense of where the author is coming from and, I like to learn. The things that I was reading overwhelmed me. The sadness, the hopelessness that seems to grip Europe and the younger generations there.

I wanted to do something about it. So I went looking for opportunities. There were 3 places that interested me, The UK! Belgium! and Mexico!

Any of those options would have been an adventure. the UK, because my heart was breaking for a country with such a rich spiritual history; Belgium, because the story of the Holocaust has deeply touched my heart; and Mexico, where my passion and heart for missions first entered my life.

I prayed.

I talked with my mom.

I applied.

I waited.....
and waited...
and waited.
while waiting, I woke up at 2am and just layed it out to God. I wanted to truely make sure that my decision to apply and take that leap of faith to serve Him for 6 uninterrupted months was what HE wanted and not selfish Kelly. I was up to about 4 and then fell into an exhausted sleep.
I slept
woke up
and received the e-mail that told me I was a go!!!

Now I am here, not really knowing what God has in store for me come December when I come back. Right now, my plan is to finish school and then see where God leads.
It scares me because I've always been the girl with the plan, known where I was going and how I was going to get there.
Now, Kelly is out of the picture and God is in control.
The desire of my heart is to serve God with my life. How God wants me to accomplish that, I am unsure. But one thing I know, I must leave everything behind and push forward to the goal that He has for me.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


This past weekend, I was able to reconnect with a very dear friend. It's funny how little things get in the way and build up to create this wall that seems impossible to get over. But, once you are able to face that wall, see the cracks, and break thru, how much clearer things become. The sense of joy that came over me after we finished talking was truely something only God could have provided. A weight was lifted from my shoulders and my heart was happy. It makes me think about how we connect with God. When we let little things in life get in the way, whether it be pride, stubbornness, the thought that we can take care of it ourselves, severely hurts God. I think about how many times I let selfish Kelly get in the way of my relationship with Christ and how many times I've hurt him in the past. The sense of sheer JOY that I had when my friend and I cleared things up was only God give. How much more JOY does Christ have when we re-connect with him?

random side note: This verse REALLY spoke to me and came to me this weekend at the PERFECT time. God is AMAZING and tells us exactly the right thing at exactly the right time

"Why are you in despair, O my soul?
Hope in God"
Psalm 42:5