I used to have a hard time imagining missing Abilene, but once you've been gone from Texas as long as we have it really starts to take a toll on you.
Abilene is not the place where most people would plan a "mission" trip, but it really does help you to see that there is mission work anywhere and everywhere- including the Bible belt.
The 10 of us that planned to travel to Honduras where very sad when the group as a whole decided that it would probably be best not to travel there during this time of political chaos. It was a hard decision not reached lightly, and I have continued my prayers over Mission Lazarus and the work that they do there. I would encourage you to add this group to your prayers as well.
With that being said, it was a strange decision to make to travel to Abilene. Our old youth group that we worked with while I was in school at ACU found out about our cancelled trip and invited us to join them for a week that they called Mission Abilene. So, we packed our bags and drove 18 hours to our old stomping grounds. With the new change of plans we lost 2 of our original mission team members, but gained 2 new ones that both wanted to participate in our Honduras trip but were unable to do so for different reasons. With the cancelled trip to Honduras and 2 open spots to Abilene, Lexi and Julia jumped on board for the opportunity. We called the high school kids in the youth group on Thursday and told them that it would be a first come first serve opportunity and that we'd leave Friday morning. So, Julia and Lexi didn't have much time to plan. We were super glad that they both joined the trip.
We had such an amazing time in Abilene. We were blessed to work with Love and Care Ministries and Global Samaritan all week long. At Love and Care we built relationships with some of the homeless in Abilene, we fed them, we cooked, we worked in the food pantry, we worked in the clothing pantry, and we went on Street Feeds. This is an amazing organization, and if we ever live in Abilene again, I know that Lantz and I will work with them again. At Global Samaritan, we did A TON of organizing for them, cleaning, and outside work. The majority of the time was spent organizing medical supplies that will be shipped all over the world. What a great organization!
We also got to enjoy some awesome devo times. Lantz's cousin Brazos did a potter devo at ACU's ampitheater, and it was really encouraging!
We got to enjoy some great food including: Rosas, Whataburger, La Popular, AM donuts, Cajun Cones, Chicken Express, and Chick-fil-a. We have none of these places in Vegas, or none close to them, so it was a real treat to introduce the kids to these places.
We also got to take a tour of LCU and ACU's campuses. Very cool to show off our Alma Mater's to our kids! Um... can I just say that I think ACU's campus is like 80 bazzilion times better than when I went to school there. Why wasn't it that nice when I was there? Crazy how things change!
One huge perk to going to Abilene was getting to see some family and friends. My mom and Lantz's mom both drove down to see us. It was so awesome to get to spend time with them because we probably won't get to see them again until Christmas. We also got to see Lantz's dad, step dad, uncle & 2 aunts, some of his cousins, his grandmother, and he got to see 4 of his best friends. We also got to meet Daniel and Natalie's new baby boy, Kason. He is such a cutie! We also got to meet Robert & Lauren's new baby girl, Reagan, and see little Lindsey who has grown up way too fast! What an encouraging time for us!
God sometimes knows what's best even if we aren't sure why. We were not sure why God worked in our hearts to tell us that going to Honduras wasn't the right thing to do at that time. Well, after our week in Abilene I know for sure 2 reasons why we did not travel to Honduras. One happy and one sad. One reason was for Julia, and one for Shawna.
Julia started coming to church over a year ago, and we've been studying together for a majority of that time. Her family is not a member of the church, and studying with her has opened my eyes and strengthened my own faith. Julia decided to commit her faith and life to the LORD through baptism on Sunday night while in Abilene. Lantz and I got to baptize Julia at about 11:30 pm at Jacob's Dream on ACU's campus! What an amazing thing to get to participate in. Julia is one of the most amazing people I have every known, and her faith is incredible. She has truly become one of my very good friends over the last year, and it was an honor for me to get to share in her baptism. Please keep her in your prayers though, because I know that her family is not supportive of her decision. Her dad is atheist and her mom is Catholic. She has a long road ahead of her. She also wants to try to get to ACU in January. This will be difficult for her financially and also emotionally with her family. She is so awesome, and I just ask that you pour out prayers on her behalf. Thanks.
Another prayer request I'd like to pose for you is for Shawna. Shawna is my age, and she came as a sponsor on our mission trip. She was originally supposed to go to Honduras with us, and was just as disappointed as we were about not being able to go. She decided to stay with the team and go to Abilene. Thursday night Shawna received a phone call from her sister telling her that her mom had been in a car wreck and was killed. Her niece was also in the car and was in ICU. We were able to get Shawna back to Vegas early Friday morning to be with her family, but it was a very upsetting time. My heart goes out to Shawna and her sisters and brother during this awful time. Her niece is doing much better and they think she'll recover from all of her injuries, but are currently keeping her in ICU to watch her lungs. Shawna's mom was a Christian, and so it is a peaceful thing to know that they'll see each other again in heaven one day. Please cover this family in your prayers during this sad time.
So, I think that the LORD blessed our trip through many different avenues. We were encouraged through the faces we saw at Love and Care, the work done at Global Samaritan, the joy of Julia's baptism, the faithfulness of God in allowing Shawna to get back to her family quickly and safely after tragedy, the love of family and friends, and the feeling of yummy food in a familiar place. Here are photos from our trip: