My Calling

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My youth group in 2011

I just wanted to share with you guys what God has been doing in my life and just some of the different passions He has given me over the past few years and the ones that I have recently discovered.

I’ll start off with my passions first. Growing up in an amazing youth group has given many chances to go on mission trips. Now when people think of mission trips, they usually have the stereo type of either Mexico or some distant country on the other side of the world. I have been to Mexico as well as Ha├»ti, Ecuador, and The Philippines. But I have also served missions in Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colorado; and San Francisco, California. My youth pastor wanted us to know that there was need in other countries but also in our own back yards as well. It was on these missions (local, out of state, and out of country) where I developed a passion for the broken, the lost, and the needy.

The most recent passion that God has given me is a passion for youth, which is also tied into my calling. I feel God is calling me to be a youth pastor. I think that one of the most important times for building faith is in Jr. High and High School. If kids have a strong foundation in Christ during these years, they will be less likely to brush their faith under the rug or abandon it completely during college. To be able to shepard youth would be a huge responsibility, but also a great honor and pleasure. I have recently joined my church’s youth group as one of the adult leaders. Baby steps, right? So I invite you to pray with me and for me as I persue this passion and calling.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

In God’s grip,
Alex

Philippines

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God has blessed me with an amazing opportunity! This summer, June 4-18, I will be going on a mission trip with my youth group, Fusion, to the Philippines! I am really excited about this opportunity.

Here are a few facts about the Philippines: as of 2010, the population of the Philippines is 92,337,852. Most of the population is about 15-64 years old. The sex ratio for the entire population is about 1. The main religion there is Roman Catholicism, about 80%. People over the age of 15 and over can read and write. On June 12 1898 was when the Philippines declared independence from Spain and on July 4 1946 they declared independence from the U.S.

God has blessed 30 people with the ability to go on this mission trip. While we are down there we will be doing kids ministries, minor construction, and evangelizing. I pray that God does amazing things in and through us as we embark on this journey. I ask that you would pray that we could make our financial goals. We each have to raise about $2,000 for this trip. I also ask that you would pray for our safety, but most importantly, please pray that we could grow closer to God and that we could do the work He has planned for us. I thank you for your support.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)

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Experience in Haiti

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How do I explain my experience in Haiti? If I really tried I could probably write a whole book. But for now I am going to try to talk about all the things I did and experienced in the poorest and richest country in the western hemisphere (more on that later) in this post.

Just by flying into the country you could tell how bad of a situation that Haiti is in physically. Before I even stepped foot in the country my heart was breaking for the Haitian people. Flying in was one of the biggest culture shocks I have ever had. There are these things called tent cities and they were everywhere. You could fit at least six or seven tents in my living room to kind of give you an idea how of small and packed together these tents were. For miles all you could see were tents. That really got at me because I realized that entire families lived in these tents and I have a room that could fit four or five tents in my bedroom. It just shows how much abundance we Americans have compared to countries like Haiti. When we were in Vegas waiting for our plane, we were walking through a casino and my youth pastor, Brent, asked us to take a mental photo of all that was happening in this casino. Flying into Haiti, that mental photo was brought to mind, and it made me sick. Americans have so much in abundance that we can go and gamble away our money, and the people of Haiti and many other countries live off two or less dollars a day.

After landing in the airport, getting through customs, and getting our luggage, we met our group leaders, Josh, Jenny, and Tiffany. We got on a bus and started the long drive through Port au Prince to Carrefour. Driving through these two cities, I noticed that a lot of the buildings were still in ruin and the rubble had not even been cleared, even after eighteen months. Haiti doesn’t really have people hired to pick up trash so there was a lot of that laying around. Of the whole time I was there I saw one garbage truck. But the whole country is not like this. On one bus ride we were out of the major cities and got to see the country side. Haiti is a very beautiful country. Right now I am trying to paint a picture of the physical description of Haiti to you. To get the full picture you would just have to experience it for yourself.

In the physical aspect Haiti is a very poor country. But in a spiritual aspect, Haiti is one of the richest countries in the world (this is what I meant earlier). The Haitian people are so full of life and they have a faith in God like I have never seen anywhere. They know that God will provide for them. And I think that because the United States and many other richer countries are so independent that we have lost the ability to depend on God for the things that we need.

Throughout the trip we would go on prayer walks. We would walk around Carrefour to pray and talk with people. We would also do these in the tent cities. I remember one time we were in a tent city and a woman walked up to us and told us that there was a sick man and the she wanted us to pray for him. We learned that the week before this man had had a stroke and had lost all feeling in the left side of his body. So we prayed for him and he was very thankful. Another time we were walking around Carrefour and we were talking to a young woman. We prayed for her and afterwards an elderly man, who was blind in one eye, walked up to us and asked us for prayer. We asked him if he knew anything about Jesus and he said he didn’t. So I talked to him about how Jesus was a man but he was also God and that he came to Earth to die for the sins of the world on the cross. I also told him that Jesus was resurrected three days later. After I was finished one of my friends, Austin, told him about how Jesus healed the blind man because he had so much faith that Jesus could heal him. He decided to accept Christ as his lord and savior that day. Our very first prayer walk, another group was approached by a man and he told them that his wife wanted to know Jesus. So they followed him to his tent and when they got inside he told them that him and his wife wanted to accept Jesus. I heard it was amazing and I wish I could have been there. I got to meet them though because they were at church with us on Sunday. God is moving in amazing ways in Haiti.

Church was definitely a different experience. People were dancing and worshiping the Lord with such passion. You don’t really get a lot of worship like that in the states.

We also did Vacation Bible School at the local church and at an orphanage. These kids were amazing. We had a lot of fun with them and we also got to teach them about God. The orphanage was run by a woman named Madame Gustave. The kids there were so full of life, even though some of them had come from bad backgrounds. They loved bubbles, jumping rope, and playing soccer. We also broke out the sidewalk chalk and construction paper and crayons. These kids loved to draw. These kids were so amazing and the spirit of God was alive in them.

My first experience in a tent city was something very hard to see. As we were walking around, we saw many people did not have shoes. There were also many kids who did not have clothes. Many of the babies did not have diapers. The tents were very hot and very small. These tent cities are all over and all the people are displaced because of the earthquake. A few nights it had rained really bad and Josh was talking to us about how he was wrecked at how these people and children had to sleep in a flooded tent city. We take so many things for granted that we don’t even realize how easy we have it. We have food and a place to stay to keep us out of the rain and other types of weather. Most Haitians don’t have these comforts.

Even through all the stuff the Haitian people have been through, they still have a very strong faith in God. And this is what I think is the most amazing thing about them.

One of the things that we learned is that all the money that was donated to Haiti after the earthquake only 10% made it into the country and of that 10% only 3% was used to aid the people. Haiti’s gov. gets 75% of its budget from foreign countries, so throwing money at the country is not going to help.

Haiti is a broken and hopeless country. It cannot be fixed with money. The only thing that could fix this country is God. Thank goodness God can do things that we humans cannot.

Coming back into the US was one of the hardest parts of the trip. Just in the airport alone there were stores dedicated to perfume and purses and many other things. After seeing Haiti and how much need that there is, I was disgusted by how greed has taken over the US.

I hope I have given you a glimpse of what it was like for me to be in this amazing country. If you ever get the chance to go to Haiti, I would take it. It is something that will change your life forever.

In God’s grip,

Alex

Mission Trip to Haiti

Recently God has blessed me with an amazing opportunity. I am going to Haiti this July as a mission trip with my church’s youth group. We are leaving July 7 and returning on the 18.

So before I get into how God did this for me, I’m going to give a little background on it.

Last summer I went to Ecuador with my church on another mission trip. We had been out of the country to Mexico before but nothing like this. Ecuador has been the farthest that we have ever traveled away from home. It was an amazing experience. About the end of summer last year my youth pastor decided Heirforce (our youth groups name) would go to Haiti. Nothing was set in stone. He found an organization that we could go through and it would be cheaper than the Ecuador trip. Heirforce was going to Haiti.

This is where God comes in. I wasn’t originally going to go because of money. I had sent out sponsor letters to family and friends for Ecuador and I didn’t want to do it two years in a row. So for the 6 or 7 months they were planning this, I had no part in it.

Recently one of the members that was going dropped out because she was getting married shortly before we were to leave. So m youth pastor, Brent, talked to my parents and they were willing to pay if I could pay them back. They told me about it and I wasn’t very excited because I had just gotten a job and didn’t know if I could get the time off. I told my mom and stepdad I would ask.

So the next day I asked my manager for the days off. She said yes. I also had to ask my dad because he’s always been over protective, as any parent would. He was against it when it was just starting out before I knew I could go. My dad also said I could go.

So through this process I could totally see God clearing a path for me to go on this mission trip. Another guy who is blessed with me to be on this trip, Carter, is now going to. I know that God has big plans for me as well as my group to grow in our faith and witness and serve the Haitians who were affected by the earth quake.

Some of the things we will be doing in Haiti include:
We will be repairing/destroying buildings depending on how structurally sound they are. We will also be building water systems for sewage to help keep drinking water clean. The thing that I am most excited about is playing with and teaching children about God. This has always been one of my favorite things to do on a mission trip. I think little kids are so amazing and for those who have grown up in a Christian home how unwavering their faith in God is.

I am very excited for this opportunity and your prayers would be greatly appreciated!

Philippians 4:13- I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

In God’s grip,
Alex