China to Chile (and everything in between)

Welp ladies and gentlemen (although I am sure it is mostly ladies), today the Dawn asked me to do a guest blog post since she is crazy overwhelmed with school, work, and trying to finish up her comps paper that is due in the next couple of days.

Before attempting to write my first blog post I asked Abigail to give me a couple of topics to choose from that she thought the readers would enjoy.  She sent me a list of different things to talk about and I think I am going to do a bit of a blend of some of the topics. So here it goes…

Growing up I moved around to a lot of different places.  I was born in St. Louis, Missouri and lived there for just over two years before moving to Connecticut (not really sure what city we lived in since we only lived there for about a year).  After Connecticut, we moved to Danville, California where we lived until I was in third grade.  Danville, near San Francisco, is beautiful and we still have many family friends that we visit from time to time that still live there.  After California, we moved to Tampa Bay, Florida.  Living less than a 45 minute drive away from Disney World, Universal Studios, and the beach when you are in elementary school is a little kid’s dream.  Boy did my siblings and I have some fun in Florida!  Side note I have a brother who is currently my roommate here at Mizzou in his senior year (he’s single ladies, a charming accountant to be that any girl would find extremely dashing).   I also have a sister who is a sophomore at Pepperdine University (she won’t be dating until she is 30 and after the boy has passed rigorous tests proposed by my brother and I).  Sadly my stint at Florida was short lived and by fifth grade we were off again to the great state of Texas!

Texas, as any Texan will tell you, is simply in a league of its own.  A little place where the state pride instinctively flocks like the salmon of Capistrano.  I say all the time that most of my formative years were spent in Plano, Texas and I am so blessed to be able say that.  Plano is surrounded by tons of incredible churches, massive schools, and football games that draw close to 18,000 people on a fall Friday night.  My graduating class was about a 1,000 people strong.  The thing I enjoy the most about Plano is the incredible community of believers that forms deep and long lasting relationships.  I grew up in a church that valued community, teaching from God’s word, and missions.  So this leads me to the meat of this post.

My first mission trip was to the Navaho Indian Reservation in New Mexico at the ripe old age of 13.  I spent two weeks in New Mexico building a house for a local Native American family, leading vacation bible school for elementary aged kids, and growing in God’s word through nightly devotionals lead by our trip leader.  This trip really began my desire to travel, see the world, and see God at work in so many different cultures and countries.  Every summer for the next four years I would go on a mission trip through our church.  I went to the Dominican Republic and then spent three summers in Honduras where I fell in love with the missionary family and the people of Honduras.  The orphanage and attached hospital I worked at was rurally located about two hours outside of Siguatepeque and served the local people in the community.  It was fully funded by donations and worked much like a foster family system did but would take married couples who did not have children of their own and have them live in the orphanage for a commitment of 18 years.  Each couple would have six children in their house and they would raise those kids as if they were their own.

Aside from mission trips, I was also blessed to travel to many other places around the world thanks to my best friend Tim whose mom is a flight attendant for Delta.  We went to Chile, Argentina, China, Israel, Croatia, Sweden and many other incredible places during my time in high school and college.  Last year I was also able to study in Rome, Italy for a semester, which gave me the opportunity to travel throughout Europe and parts of the Middle East.  These experiences allowed me the opportunity to interact with so many different types of people and cultures.

The reason why I tell you about all of these places is to give you some insight into how it has shaped me and continues to shape me.  Stepping foot on the land Christ walked, seeing the people he ministered to, and visiting the old city of Jerusalem puts things in a completely new perspective.  I was able to stand atop the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem that overlook the entire city and see how appealing it might have been as Jesus to accept Satan’s offer to have all the Kingdoms of the World.  Christ came alive to me in ways that I never even knew before.  I met with underground pastors in China who had a deeper passion for the Lord than I had ever seen before and gave true meaning to suffering for cause of the gospel.  I stayed with families who treated me as royalty in their home and made friends with the most unlikely people through my broken Spanish and Italian.

The key thing that I think I took away from all of this is to go into every new situation, every new culture, and every new environment with pure openness, no expectations, and zero understanding of what they may be going through.  This has allowed me to fully hear what each person is saying and learn from their life experiences without being hindered by my judgment.  I know we say this stuff all the time “you never know what someone is going through” or some other trite saying such as “never judge a book by its cover” but if we can really live that way it is life changing.

My challenge to you all is to make an effort to experience other cultures and countries if possible.  Put it in your budget to go for a week on a mission trip to Central or South America.  Take a vacation to Europe and see the incredible cathedrals that litter the landscape.  Go to Israel and see where Jesus taught and the historic wailing wall in the old city of Jerusalem.  If you aren’t able to make it to any of these places make plans to do it in the coming years and in the meantime serve in ministries or organizations that work with other ethnicities besides yourself.  The stories you will come away with and the things God will teach during those times will grow you in tremendous ways.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share with you all and hopefully I will be able to share again if you like the post.  Oh yeah we check the hits on this baby, shooting for an all time MeetingDawn hit high.

Trail through Cinque Terre in Italy
Trail through Cinque Terre in Italy
Rock Tim, Andrew, and I climbed in Greece that overlooked the city
Rock Tim, Andrew, and I climbed in Greece that overlooked the city
The monasteries of Meteora
The monasteries of Meteora
Paul's letter to the Corinthinas in Corinth
Paul’s letter to the Corinthinas in Corinth
Northern Italy skiing
Northern Italy skiing
Mosque near the former home of my good friend Russell Hildebrand in Abu Dhabi
Mosque near the former home of my good friend Russell Hildebrand in Abu Dhabi
Oktoberfest traditional lederhosen
Oktoberfest traditional lederhosen. Munich Germany
Zlatni Rat beach in Croatia
Zlatni Rat beach in Croatia
Positano, Italy with my brother and mom
Positano, Italy with my brother and mom
Little bro
Little bro
My great teammate and friend Anders Melin in southern Sweden near where his family lives
My great teammate and friend Anders Melin in southern Sweden near where his family lives
Jerusalem
Jerusalem Wailing Wall

Hawleywood out

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