Newsletter 6/29/12 – Four days and counting!

It’s hard for me to believe that in four days, I will be leaving to serve in eleven nations all over the world!

This past month has been a worldwind of goodbyes, prayers, packing, moving, and lots and lots of details.

June 16 – Goodbye to friends

Time of prayer and commissioning

First, I said goodbye to friends from all over the city at a send-off party at Nahant Beach. I’m so thankful for everyone who was able to join us. There was bocce ball, kites, food, and a great time of prayer. It was a bit chilly, but a few of us even braved the cold went for an ocean swim.

If you weren’t able to attend, you can see more pictures and watch a video of the prayer time on my blog post Beach Time!

June 24 – Goodbye to New England

In the distance – the first four peaks of our journey

I said goodbye to New England last Sunday when I hiked the Presidential Traverse. This hike was AMAZING! The vast majority of it was above treeline – we bagged the eight mountain peaks in the Presidential Range in one day. Over 24 miles of hiking and 9,000 feet elevation gain means that I was super sore, but it was so worth it. I couldn’t imagine a better way to say good-bye to New England.

Our group at the top of Mount Washington, New England’s highest point

June 26 – Goodbye to Boston

The Top of the Hub with the UniteBoston team

I had the privilege of saying goodbye to Boston at the Top of the Hub restaurant with the UniteBoston team.  This month, I’ve been training and equipping the people who will be taking over my responsibilities with UniteBoston. They are doing a great job already! I’ve also been encouraged to see how God has continued to send people to serve with us – most recently a young woman from Korea who will be helping with social media and advertising. This is an answered prayer – we know that in order for UniteBoston to truly be UNITE Boston, it must be built on a group of people with varied backgrounds and experiences.

June 29 – Goodbye to the Atlantic Ocean

In the cold winter months, late one night at Trader Joe’s my co-worker Ann and I dreamt about going surfing. She surprised me by taking me to Rhode Island earlier today to go boogie boarding. We were blessed with an amazing set of good-sized waves. Who knew you could go surfing in New England?

It’s your turn! What piece of encouragement, scripture, prophetic word, or advice do you have for me and my journey? I’m going to be writing these in a journal that I will take with me… I’d love to hear from you!

The next time I write, I will be in Ireland!  To the nations I go…

May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples with equity
and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
(Psalm 67:4-5)

In His love and joy,

Kelly

4,882 cubic inches

If you had to put your life in a backpack for one year, what would you take?

  • Extra underwear, or another pair of socks?
  • More shirts, an extra skirt, or a pair of jeans?

These are the sort of dilemmas that I’m facing. Because I’m finding that you can’t take it all.

People have said that the hardest thing about preparing for the World Race is packing, and that’s what I’m running into.

THE CHALLENGE:

                                         To turn this:                                                                   Into this:      

 

 

 

 

 

It’s going to take a miracle to get everything in there. But Jesus is in the business of miracles. He turned water into wine, so me stuffing the contents of my room into my backpack shouldn’t be so bad, right?

They gave us a packing list, but the printed packing list is five pages long, which is actually taller than my backpack itself. According to REI, my pack can hold 4,882 cubic inches, but those inches go fast once you get your tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad in there. Basically, with the remaining room, I’ve just been able to fit in a few outfits – skirts, shirts, pants, flip flops, tennis shoes, and a few athletic clothes for running. Then there’s the 8 1/2 months of malaria-preventing pills, shampoo and other toiletries, a few months worth of feminine products (did you know they don’t sell tampons in Africa!?!), a clothesline for washing clothes and a whole lot of hand sanitizer. And a swimsuit, of course. Finally, in my daypack – my passport, camera, bible, journal, netbook and waterbottle.

That’s it. That’s all I have room for. Just fourty-four stinkin’ pounds.

It’s like Tetris meets The Biggest Loser – a real-life jigsaw puzzle, combined with making weight. Yet I’m confident that the past two years bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s has given me the skills that I need to fit everything in my pack in classic Tetris-style.

It’s been fun going through my room and getting rid of things. While some people are packrats and can’t bear to part with anything they own, I find that I’m the opposite – the more I give away, the lighter I feel. I don’t feel a tinge of regret donating that random sweater I never wear or those shoes that don’t go with anything. In getting rid of things, I find that life seems simpler. Lighter. Easier. It’s empowering for me to know how little I need to sustain my existence. But can I get everything I need inside one backpack?

I heard that a popular item for Racers to bring is a hammock for down time. My dad gave me his old rope hammock that he used to backpack with. I ended up taking that instead of a roll of toilet paper :-)

Watch out, world! Here I come…

Boston

One thing you’ll learn about me is that I have a huge passion for the city of Boston. I never thought I’d end up in a city, as there’s nothing that I like more than hiking, biking and camping out in nature…but here I am and I can honestly say I love this city.

I went on a run the other day, and for those of you who don’t live in Boston I wanted to give you a quick video tour of the Longfellow Bridge with views of both Cambridge and Boston:

In the video, you also hear an exhortation by Pastor Tom Griffith about his perspective on God’s destiny for Boston. Boston was founded by John Winthrop as a city on a hill and a light to the nations. Today, Boston has been referred to as the hub of the world. If you’re living in this city, I’d encourage you to really take to heart what Pastor Tom shares here – it’s filled with wisdom.

In the Perspectives in the World Christian Movement class I took earlier this year, I learned that since the beginning of time God has worked by bringing people in and then sending them out. What I’m realizing is that this is exactly what happens here in Boston. I attend various meetings of pastors and leaders throughout the city, and nearly once a month, I meet someone new with the same story, saying something like: “I felt like God told me to come to Boston, and here I am.”

God truly brings people here from all over the world – Did you know that 1 in 3 Cambridge residents was born in another country? It’s also been deemed a gateway city for immigrants.

Not only this, but another unique characteristic about Boston is the number of college students – during the school year, nearly 10% of Boston’s population is in school (over 329,000 students). This city is filled with young innovators – there are more non-profits per capita in Massachusetts than any other state.

Yes, Boston is truly a unique city among the cities in the nations. People come here, get trained, and then get sent all over the world. For these reasons, Pastor Tom Griffith of River of Life Church says that Boston is meant to be a training ground for the nations. He encourages us to take hold of what God has for us in this city, because what you learn in Boston will be good anywhere in the world…

In nine days I will be leaving this city, heading to the nations. I will miss you Boston!

Beach Party!

I’m convinced that there’s nothing better than hanging out with friends at the beach.

This is my “I love the ocean” pose

Last Saturday, friends from the area gathered for a time of prayer and commissioning, as well as a lot of food and beach games, to send me off to the World Race.

I think my favorite thing about the beach is the spontaneous, creative fun. Multiple times in the afternoon I found myself sprinting down the beach, feet pattering on the wet sand, to finally hurdle over the waves that were lapping into shore.

It was a chilly day but Kole was the first to brave the water

I have the best friends ever!

Some more awesome people…

I even learned how to fly a kite!

If you weren’t able to attend, you can watch the time of prayer & commissioning here:

(my apologies for the muffled sound – it was windy!)

Although we were shivering during the prayer, Ilse and Sung Yun were brave enough to join me for a swim in the ocean. A swim is definitely a requirement whenever I visit the beach.

Then after swimming we took jumping pictures. So much fun!

There were more smiles than tears. The general feeling was of excitement for the next – a “Hello, world” and a “Goodbye, until we see again.” Or as my sister and I used to say, “TTFN” (Ta Ta For Now)…

I love you guys so much!!!

Enjoy the ride

Yesterday I took a morning bike ride out to picturesque Walden Pond. As I was pedaling home, I came across this little guy right in my path:

Who would have thought you would come across a turtle in Greater Boston area? Now I’m not a “signs” person, in that I dictate my life by external signs and circumstances, but whenever I think of a turtle, I think of slowing down. And slowing down has definitely been the theme of my life for the past month.

It started at the World Race training camp. I had the mentality that I just was going down there to get the training camp done, to check the box so I could get on the mission field. But God had different plans. The first night during worship, He showed me a picture of me riding a horse. I was kicking my legs trying to get it to go faster and faster.  I was so focused on where we were going that I wasn’t enjoying the ride and taking time to enjoy the scenery. That night the speaker talked about how the “Next” is the death of the Holy Spirit. I realized that a lot of times my mind is three steps ahead of where I am – I’m always thinking about the ‘next’ thing. But the Holy Spirit doesn’t know yesterday or tomorrow, it is here and now.

Since then, I’ve been trying to pay attention to my thoughts, and I realize that a lot of times my thoughts about the future are based on worry – worries about whether I will have what we need tomorrow, next year, or even ten years from now.

Jesus himself had a lot to say on this topic. He said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?…. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-28, 33-34)

He promises that all we have to do is seek God first, and everything else will be taken care of. All we have to do is live in the moment, because God’s got our back. Birds, animals, turtles must live in the moment – they have no choice. So why do we worry so much, obsessing about the “next?”

Jesus himself tells us to pray for our daily bread (Mt 6:11). It’s a day-to-day thing, a minute-to-minute abiding, rather than a massive collecting and storing. In the desert, God gave the Israelities manna bread every morning. Whenever they tried to collect more manna than their share, it would rot. Why should we be any different?

God set it up this way because first and foremost he desires relationship – our love and devotion. He gives us a compass, rather than a map. He knows that if we are given everything we need at the beginning, we tend to rely on our own means, rather than the one who made all means. Over time, I’ve learned to seek God for who He is, not just what He give me. In my life, He went from being a gift-giver to a Father and the lover of my soul.

Maybe you’re like me in that you’ve stood in the middle of public squares, watching everyone around you rushing to get somewhere, hurrying to do something. But what? And more importantly, why? Is the next really that important that it neglects the now?

One thing I’m looking forward in this coming year is to take time to live in the moment, to enjoy the ride. I can’t wait to be on “African-Time” – to take off my watch and not freak out if I am twenty minutes late to where I am supposed to be. It seems like living this way will be so much simpler and stress-free.

When I was growing up, my dad always used to stop me on my way to school and say, “Kelly, what’s the most important thing?” And I would respond, “To have fun.”

The point is not to go and go and go in order to get somewhere. The point is to go and abide in Christ as we are going. To slow down, have fun and enjoy the ride.

Today, will you take time to be present to where you are at every moment?  Will you slow down, seeking Him in the moments where you tend to worry,  and enjoy the ride? Remember, what’s the most important thing?…

A Love Story

We’re made for a love story, not a performance. The desire to be intimate, to have someone know us and us know them is knit into the fabric of our being. This theme is so evident in the stories we tell and types of movies that we create. Yet, life has taught us to live in an external world where efficiency and performance are everything.

Similarly, many times we are taught that being a Christian means to read the bible, go to church on Sundays, or recite passages of scripture. Thus, our communion with God becomes replaced by activity for God.

The past few months, God has begun to reveal that this was true in my life. In leaving my current ministry work, I thought God was going to use this time to teach me about the nations. More than that I’m finding that God wants to use this experience to teach me about my relationship with Him.

Nearly every time I have opened the bible for the past month, God has led me to John 15. I’m coming to realize the significance of God using a vine and gardener to explain our relationship with Him. Fruit doesn’t come because the vine performs, rather the fruit happens as a result of simply growing in the vine.

Yes, we’re made for a love story, and our relationship with Jesus is less like obeying a bunch of rules and more like dancing on our daddy’s feet. God is less like a mastermind moving around chess pieces throughout the world and more like man in love passionately pursuing his bride at all costs.

Ultimately, this life we live is all about abiding – a seeking for, longing for, staying with, and waiting for Christ’s love, at every moment. In this message, I share about the love story between Jesus and His people, and my personal journey of discovering that life isn’t about doing more for God, but being with God more.

Listen to it here:

http://www.jcboston.org/audio/6-10-12KellySteinhausLoveStory.mp3

http://jcboston.org/category/podcast/

Here’s a Youtube Video I reference during the sermon called “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus”

Don’t Sign Up for the World Race…

Jessica Fischbach is a current World Racer – she wrote this blog and it’s really great! Tons of us have been forwarding it along to one another and I thought you might appreciate hearing her perspective. You can follow Jessica’s blog at http://jessicafischbach.theworldrace.org

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It is possible that the World Race has become romanticized. As racers share stories of adventure, travel and incredible God moments… it is easy to sit at home wishing you were living this life as well. I know, because I was there once myself. Sitting at my desk (when I was supposed to be working/studying) reading blog after blog…sound familiar?

I am going to be honest, this race isn’t for everyone. Thus, I am going to give you a few reasons why you should reconsider signing up for The World Race.

1) Don’t sign up for The World Race if you like being clean and smelling nice. You may go an entire month with only one quick bath in a muddy creek. But God will give you a new picture of what it means to be beautiful.

2) Don’t sign up for The World Race if you love wearing fluffy dry clothes. In addition to smelling bad, you will probably go the entire year without a clothes dryer. In fact, sometimes a rusty fence, outside, in the middle of winter is your only option. But God will show you step-by-step what it means to sacrifice your comfort.

3) Don’t sign up for The World Race if you plan on calling a tow-truck at the first sign of car trouble. When you are in the middle of the African bush, you just have to get out and push. But God will teach you to depend on him, not on a list of numbers to call when a problem arises.

4) Don’t sign up for The World Race if you are adamant about wearing your seat-belt. Our philosophy is: if you squeeze people in tight enough, no one is going anywhere. Our record is 22 people in a pickup truck, 10 people in a 5 person car, and 8 on a 4 person trike in the Philippines (although this one may have flipped). But God will show you his divine protection and you will depend on prayer more than ever before.

5) Don’t sign up for The World Race if you hate snakes, spiders, mosquitos, and other strange bugs. They will soon be your housemates and chances are your bug net won’t keep them off you at night. But God will supply laughter as your team spends 30 minutes trying to find the softball sized spider that fell into a pile of backpacks.

6) Don’t sign up for The World race if you like drinking clean water. Our food budget is small and when bottled water is to expensive the only option is to haul buckets of water in and purify it yourself. We do our best, but sometimes a water-borne bacteria sneaks through and you end up puking 7 times on your travel day. But God will show you love and care, as numerous squadmates rally around you to provide juice, baby wipes, and clean buckets.

7) Don’t sign up for The World Race if you depend on clean bathrooms. I wish I could count how many times I have had to step over poop and plug my nose, while trying to balance myself in a squatty-potty. But God will give you compassion for the people who live in garbage dumps and the children who walk barefoot through sewage daily on their way to school.

8) Don’t sign up for The World Race if you would be embarrassed by a friend picking something out of your teeth. When you go months at a time without looking in a mirror, you grow to depend on your teammates’ honesty (and sometimes their teeth picking services). But God will give you the courage to open up to a group of strangers that become your family.

9) Don’t sign up for The World Race if it is your dream to be a fashion icon. Numerous times I have seen a cute guy checking me out, before realizing that he was actually staring at my socks with sandals or my coat over a sweater over a dress, with jeans and snow boots combination. But God will teach you that you don’t need a man to romance you, because there is a Divine romance already at work.

10) Don’t sign up for The World Race if you always want a hospital nearby. When the local clinic fails you, the next best option is to pull out a book called “Where there is no doctor.” But you will find dependence on prayer, and you will see the healing power of God over things you used to depend on medication for.

11) Don’t sign up for The World Race if you need a bed to sleep. This year I have slept on the floors of gas stations, with homeless people in Poland, numerous airports, and in every form of transportation possible. But God will give you rest and you will be grateful that you typically have a bed to call your own.

12) Don’t sign up for The World Race if you hate living in community and love your independence. For the past 8 months, I haven’t even gone to the bathroom in a restaurant by myself. You will be with your team 24/7 and an iPod/eye-mask combination only gives a temporary sense of being alone. But God will push you in these moments, he will challenge you through your teammates and they will call you into greatness.

13) Don’t sign up for The World Race If you are comfortable with who you are, because I can promise that this experience will change you. The journey is not easy, but if you are willing… God will take you on an adventure of love, service, abandonment, and surrended. YOU will never be the same.

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“Don’t Sign Up for the World Race” from http://jessicafischbach.theworldrace.org/?filename=dont-sign-up-for-the-world-race