Reviving Wanderlust Wednesday

Wanderlust- a strong desire to travel

When this blog was first started we used to do something called wanderlust Wednesday. Videos and musings on places we have been or long to go to.

I’ve been home only two months but the longing to wander and see the world is creeping back in.

In just a week part of our team will head out to spend the next year in Budapest, Hungary. For the first time my heart is slightly sad not to be going with them, to be going home. My sister lives there now, drawn back to the place of our childhood. Her wanderlust brought her home.

So here are some of the best and most beautiful parts of my home, and the soon to be home for half of our team!

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It’s been a little over a month since everyone arrived home from the second summer mission trip to South Africa. Here in Orlando we are quickly getting back into the swing of things. We are starting up our ministry focused here in Orlando and we are beginning to plan for our upcoming conferences.

Our interns are all at their respective schools starting classes, reconnecting with friends, and being involved in ministry.

Our students are all home and have been in school for about a month now.

Even though it has only been three weeks, South Africa feels like a lifetime ago.

Life here in the present is taking over the memories of the summer and there is little time to remember or to focus on what this past summer held. Living present where we are is essential, but for us TCKs it can be hard, because home, the place we belong isn’t in the present. The place we belong is somewhere behind us, or maybe ahead of us, spread out with people we care about all across the globe.

We may have come back to our houses and towns and schools and friends. We may be with our families and our pets. But for some of us this past summer gave us a taste of home that we have never before experienced.

Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”

-Sarah DessenWhat Happened to Goodbye

Simple Questions

By Genny Rice, from her blog Tea Time Traveler

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During my short twenty years on this earth, I have learned the very useful skill of conversing with people who I am not supposed to have anything in common with. I have spoken with people who grew up on the other side of the world from me, those who have never flipped a light switch because they don’t have electricity where they live, those who have never used a western toilet before, or those who have six toilets in only one of their many houses. These are just a few examples of the groups that I have interacted with and with each of them, I have been able to find a way to connect. Do you want to know the secret of making conversation with people from so many different walks of life? Questions. The answer is to ask simple questions where you can find commonalities between your life and theirs. My connection with the villagers who haven’t used an indoor toilet before was our numbers of siblings. I connected with the people who hadn’t ever had access to electricity through our pets. I connected with the girl whose family owns a string of hotels and houses over how much we both love bread. There are points that hold the entire world together in a huge web, we just have to know which string to tug to draw humanity a little bit closer.

But what happens when one of these fundamental questions doesn’t apply to you anymore? What happens when one of the most basic small talk questions makes you panic and your answer stops all conversation? That is the boat that an entire culture, myself included, finds themselves in. You might be wondering what simple question causes such panic and here it is, the dreaded “Where are you from?”.

For years, this question has remained unanswerable for me. I am a Third Culture Kid or someone who has spent their developmental years outside of their parents’ home country and culture. My culture is not what it should be. I am not American like my parents, and I am not Hungarian, even though I grew up there. Home is an elusive creature that I am running after, trying desperately to discover, yet completely unable to ever catch a glimpse of. I have searched in the back alleys of the city that I grew up in, Budapest, Hungary. I have wandered down dark alleys between the bright sunlit cathedrals, searching, always searching for a place that might help me to understand that missing piece inside of myself. I have searched in the country that claims the cover of my passport, America. I have spent two years searching at university, looking for someplace, someone that will finally make me feel at home. I have even searched within a community that shares my culture. Culture is what makes a large part of home after all, but while I have found a cultural identity, I have not found Home.

Finally, I hit a wall. I broke. I have searched in every place I can think to look, I have pushed through the pain of loss, I have sacrificed my past and my culture to make others feel more comfortable, and I have lived in the solitude of being completely and utterly lost. The past twenty years have not taught me where I belong; I still hesitate when people ask me where I am from, my mind hopelessly bouncing between Hungary and America. However, on the roads I tracked over these past years, I did find something.

I discovered that home is more than a place when I went back to Budapest after my family left and found the streets of my memory strangely empty even though they were full of people. Home is defined by the people that live the endless summer days and the sleepy winter nights with you, not just the landscape you live it in.

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I found that home is more than a group of people. My family still comes together every year for the holidays. We sit in my parents’ house and reminisce about the days when we knew where we belonged even though we were in a land that did not legally claim us. Now, even when we are together, we are lost in a country that does not make cultural sense to us anymore, even though my passport is blue and has a gold eagle on the front claiming me for some culture that I don’t even completely understand.

I realized that home is more than a culture when I spent three months with seventy people that identify as the same culture as me: third culture mutt. While these people didn’t cringe when I talked about vacationing in Croatia, unlike some of my other friends, they left me feeling empty. We were a group of unknowns, unmentionables, vagrant nobodies dwelling in our homelessness together. While that sounds like community, it also sounds like despair. These people can’t fill the hole that a home identity should, they just remind me that it exists.

Home is not a place, Home is a choice.

I know that all that I have learned sounds hopeless, but when put together, it creates something more. I discovered that home will never exist for me in the same way it would if I had lived in my passport country, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a home. Home is not a place, Home is a choice. A choice to love where you are. A choice to invest in the community. A choice to invite other people to know you, all of you, even if it doesn’t make sense to you.  A choice to continue to try even when all hope is lost, because home doesn’t have to be the same thing to everyone or even one thing to one person. So, no I don’t know where I am from. But I know that I am from a bluish grey house in Hungary. I am from a huge cherry tree, perfect for hiding among the birds. I am from Lufthansa, Delta, and Malev, the airlines that carried me across the ocean to my extended family and back to my pets, school, and friends. I am from the summers spent in America and the winters in Hungary, teaching me Fahrenheit for warm temperatures and Celsius for the cold. I am from my university’s magnolia trees and white columns (yes, I live in the South). Home is where I create it.

So, what have I learned?

Home is not a place, person, or identity, Home is a choice. Today, I choose Home, not the other way around.


16113171_10154297427540667_2394945470773448630_o - genny riceGenny Rice is an associate with MK2MK. She grew up in Budapest, Hungary and is now a junior at Anderson University. This semester she is studying English abroad in London. She spent the summer in South Africa helping to lead mk2mk’s summer project and writing for our blog. Find more from Genny on her blog Tea Time Traveler.

Summer 2018… Its a Wrap!

By Donna Kushner

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Focused. Routine. Present. Constant. Early mornings. Late nights. These are words that describe what life is like during internship and summer mission trips. It takes some time to hit my stride but once the rhythm sets in there is a glorious sense of not needing to think a lot about the rest of life. We are all fully engaged in the tasks at hand. Worship, outreach, small groups, logistics, and endless combi rides together. Seeing God work in and through our team was an inspiring reminder to me of why I do what I do. It reminded me why I love MKs, mission trips, and developing leaders.

 

Now everyone has scattered to their homes and universities. Buckets of tears have been shed. But that is because our time together mattered to each one of us. Deeper friendships have formed, significant ministry has happened and we have each been changed. The inconveniences have been mostly forgotten and the crazy logistics turned out to be well worth the effort.

 

Hopefully you have taken the opportunity to read about our summer and get a taste of what God has done. We celebrate His good work and the many ways He provided and grew us through all of our experiences. We are grateful to the parents, friends and churches who have prayed and given to make this summer possible.

The Envelope Challenge

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By Donna Kushner

I was moved as I read the front page of our local newspaper.  The story was about a teenage girl who accepted a challenge to feed 1000 people for Thanksgiving.  At youth camp that summer she was part of a group of students who were asked to consider if they would take a risk, step out of their comfort zones and be ready to see God work in and through them. The way it worked was that each chair in the meeting space had a sealed envelope on it.  For each student who chose to open their envelope there was something written inside that they were challenged to do. The opening of the envelope meant a commitment.  The girl fulfilled this challenge.  I was inspired.  And thus was born. MK2MK’s “Envelope Challenge”. At the end of each summer mission trip our students are given the opportunity to accept a challenge, sight unseen. We emphasize that this is between each of us and God and that there is no obligation except to pray and act as God leads.  All of us participate—staff, students and interns.

This is truly one of my favorite parts of our trips.  It is amazing the way God knows exactly where each of us will sit, and is completely sovereign over each person’s challenge. Personally this has been stretching for me.  We have been doing this challenge since 2010. Most years I do sense God nudging me to open the envelope. One year I was so weary and couldn’t imagine adding one more thing to my life. But I knew He wanted me to open it so I did. Inside was a Sabbath challenge; a challenge to take a Sabbath rest one day a week for a semester! How sweet of God to give me exactly what I needed—I didn’t need to fear His call.

Challenges include sharing the gospel weekly, a “simplicity challenge”, a social media fast, starting a Bible study, memorizing some of the Bible and supporting a missionary or Compassion child.  Last month’s mission trip had a wonderful response to the envelope challenge and we are excited to see how God will use this challenge in our lives and communities.  There were a couple of students who felt God prompting them to take more than one envelope challenge. Wow!  It can feel scary to take the step to open the envelope but so many students were eager to step out in faith and do so.  I am spurred on to take risks for the Lord as I watch them embrace taking this risk.

I imagine that our second mission trip team will have a similar response. That is just the way these students are.  And I can’t wait to hear about the amazing things each one does as a result of choosing to accept the challenge.

Three Week Check-in

By Genny Rice

Photographs by Hannah Broadwell

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The past three weeks have been full of joys and early mornings, which can be directly correlated for some of us. The students have spent time leading better choices training in high schools, working at the Genesis Care Center, and going on house visits in the afternoons. The amount of love and energy that they have put into the local community is beautiful. At the beginning of the week we asked them about what they have been challenged by or enjoyed and what God is teaching them. Here are their answers:

“One girl in my small group, Analisa, cried the entire last day. It really hurt to say goodbye even after only a few days. God uses sadness to show us His glory. I knew this already, but I’ve really noticed this lately. The biggest reason I and others here praise Him is because of our pain. God is so intentional with our pain and it is so cool to see.”

-E.M.

 

I think I’ve learned a lot about how God is able to work through those who step out in faith even if we feel we’ve failed or messed up. His power overcomes the struggles of communication and His love is made so clear to many of these people. I learned that even if I don’t have the words to say just approaching people in love and compassion has often been enough, and the thing that sticks with people. That has comforted me as I’ve approached ministry.

-S.E.

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An unexpected joy has been the connections I’ve made so quickly in my small groups during ministry. Through that I’ve discovered that God can use me to impact one life deeply, and that’s enough.

-M.N.

 

God really doesn’t give us the challenge I can’t overcome. Socializing can be difficult but thankfully there were some people I could talk to and get encouraged to push through. God also gave me unexpected rests when things got hard for me.

-G.T.

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I did not expect to enjoy the house visits/random evangelism or the care center visits, but I ended up loving them. It was so beautiful to see the joy our presence and actions brought to people around us. I love to care for people, but I often depend on my own strength for that and become exhausted. With this, I became emotionally drained. Through this time, I talked to some of the leaders and discovered the cause of my exhaustion. Now I know this about myself and am trying to learn how to let God pour into me so I can pour into others

-Anonymous

 

I think one unexpected joy is seeing God give me peace about some spiritual doubts I’ve been having. Also a joy was meeting a man in the hospice whose wife basically told me about wrestling through watching her husband be sick. She also told me that I was a blessing over and over again. One unexpected challenge was that I am discovering that sometimes I’m just selfish and don’t want to do ministry.

-E.M.

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A challenge has been trying to relate to these girls and their stories. And also feeling like my story won’t encourage. But I have been learning that God works even in small broken things. He is using that story to encourage and impact. Even if I don’t s ay the right things He still uses that. This is something that I’ve always known in my mind. But truly learning it here and knowing what it actually means.

-A.S.

 

I learned that with God all you have to do is put yourself to what God wants you to do and once you start he will handle the rest.

-J.H.

 

The “success” which we get from talks/sharing the Gospel has been encouraging, which is seen by a lot of people saying it was great is not our success, but God’s. I need to be less proud, because that’s not my work.

-J.C.

 

The students have completed three weeks of ministry and are looking at their last week. They are preparing to say goodbye and leave the ministry of the past month behind. Your joining us through prayer over the past few weeks has been so encouraging and we hope that you have enjoyed seeing a peek into the students’  heads.

Staying Present

By Genny Rice

August 5, 2018

Our last week of ministry started today. For our students, this was the last week of three, but for the interns this marks the last week of our two-month stay in South Africa. As I look around the dining hall during lunch, I see weary eyes watching me from across the table and tired voices echoing among the flags hanging from the rafters of the room. The students have just completed a Junior Youth Camp that we held at Skogheim and they are still in the recovery stage of an intensive youth ministry. However, despite their fatigue and the intense pull of an afternoon nap, they have amazed me by their intentionality in community. For not only is this their last week in ministry, this is their last week together as a Project. They may be exhausted, but they are not ready to surrender the time that they still have together to the unforgiving silence of lost community.

Every day, they can be found exploring the prayer garden together, playing card games, or organizing Ultimate Frisbee tournaments. Community is something that MKs build well, but they are also pros at leaving them. Often MKs leave a community before they even board the plane or say final goodbyes. When they realize that community is ending, they say cut off relationships in order to protect themselves from the hurt of saying goodbye. However, Project 2 has done the opposite of this. They have pulled closer and are making the most of what little is left.

This is not only true of how they interact within our community, but also of how they are diving into the final ministries in South Africa. They are using the rest that they find through community to dive into serving God well in Port Shepstone. Every afternoon we have been stepping out into the local community doing house visits. I have witnessed the amount of love and care that the students put into their questions and encouragements as the reality of poverty and corruption becomes real for them. They have entered tiny one-room houses that are the homes for entire families. They have brought food, clothes, and school supplies to students from the local youth groups. In all of the struggles that they have encountered and the brokenness that they have come face to face with, they have come to realize what it truly means to live out of God’s strength and not their own. They have allowed the hard realities of life for many people to open their eyes to how God sees, not how we see those around us. These realizations have given them new hope and excitement for the work that God is doing in this country that we have called home for the past months. It has also taught them how to come together as a community that is serving in humility, even as they begin to think about going home.