What am I going to do with a Spanish degree?

The question of the moment. Generally asked by caring people. It’s definitely cultural. I notice myself asking other friends what they plan on doing with a Biology or English degree. It comes naturally. Why? Because that’s how we are as a culture. We want to know what comes next. We want to know the final product, immediately.

So to derail that speech, I tell them (truthfully!) that I might double major in Social Work.

But that doesn’t mean that it will happen. I might very well graduate December 2014 from Wichita State with a Spanish degree.

And what will I do with it?

Honestly? No idea.

But do you know who does have an idea? God. The creator of the universe, of you, of me, of the trees, and flowers, and time, and ideas. He knows what He has in store for me. He knows what He will use me (and you) for.

You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you.

– Nehemiah 9:6

Me? Not really.

We can make our plans,
but the Lord determines our steps.

Proverbs 16:9

And that’s kinda really cool.

To be completely honest, my biggest spiritual growth in Chile was learning that my plans are garbage in comparison to the perfectly scripted plans of God. I waste my time forcing my plans to work. I see that I’d like to go from Point A to Point B, and can give you 32 ways to get there, 3 that are the most effective, and the one I like the most. But really, God wants me to start at Point 7, jump  to Point 3, and cartwheel to X34 (something completely off my radar).

God is not limited to my plans. 

You can make many plans,
but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

– Proverbs 19:21

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

– Jeremiah 29:11

In fact, it’s kind of selfish for me to follow what I think is right, when God has so much more in store.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

– Ephesians 3:20

Chile was not in my plans.

Not at all.

But it was in God’s plan.

It was God’s leading and nudging that derailed the Jean train and put me on His track.

It was God who showed me the importance of flexibility and openness to change.

It was God who demonstrated peace in the midst of confusion.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

– Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT, emphasis added)

God’s got this.

It’s not my responsibility to worry. In fact, I’m told not too.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  – Matthew 10:29-31  (NIV)

So you’re telling me that I’m worth a great deal to God?

Yes.

You’re telling me that God has a plan for my life?

Yes.

You’re telling me that God has a better plan for my life than I have for my life?

Yes.

You’re telling me that God might surprise me with His plan for my life?

Absolutely yes.

God’s not limited by our human expectations or dreams. He’s so much more. If we let Him work in our lives, He can and will exceed even our wildest dreams.

So no, I don’t know what I’m going to do with a Spanish degree. I know that I want to continue to follow God wherever he leads.

That might mean another major. Or grad school. Or teaching. Or moving across the world.

But as long as I serve Him, all else falls away.

Also, our message this Sunday at Northridge was over God the potter and us as the clay. Something our pastor said struck me.

“What should you do when life falls apart?

Let God remake you

As I type this, I’m reminded of one of my favorite songs. “Beautiful Things” by Gungor.

If you haven’t heard this song, take a listen and soak in the lyrics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR7VOKQ0xJY

“You make me knew. You are making me knew….You make beautiful things out of us”

God will refresh us. He will renew us.

God is enough.

He is all we need.

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The end of one adventure, the beginning of many more.

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I’m home. I’m sitting in my bedroom. In Kansas. Five thousand and some miles away from the place I called home these last four and a half months.

Returning home is a weird feeling. I had to say goodbye to some people that I have grown incredibly close to these past few months. They were my support system, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of the goodbyes were more like see-you-laters and some had more of a tone of finality.

But one thing is for certain: I’m back from Chile.

And I’m different.

Time changes people. God changes hearts. Experience changes perspective. Travel increases awareness. Study abroad changes lives.

I’m coming back different.

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I’m leaving Chile a different person than when I arrived. I’ve seen God work in my life and the lives of those around me. I’ve grown in my faith and in my relationship with Christ. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people. I’m sad to leave, but I’m also excited to see what God has in store for my life. I’m not sure where He is leading me or what He has in store, but I know that He has the best in mind. And I know I can trust Him. God has shown me that He can do wonderful things through His followers. He can do so much more than we can think or imagine.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (NLT)

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

God’s been at work in my life and in the lives of those around me. He’s shaped me to work for His kingdom. The process hasn’t been all enjoyable. He had to weed out some bad habits and prune back my own desires. But what God has done in my life has all been in love. He’s been working to  shape me into a better follower, friend, and person. He’s shown me my weaknesses and my strengths. He makes all things work together for our good.

Romans 8:28 (NLT):

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

God’s changed me. He’s changed my heart. He’s changed my desires. He’s changed my life.

And now comes the hard part: adjusting to my ‘old’ life with the ‘new’ Jean. The culture shock returning home is harder than the culture shock of going to a new place. When you enter a new culture, almost everything is different, but you expect that. You know that you need to be flexible and open to differences. When you come back, the culture is familiar, but you are the different one. People expect the same person that left. But you have changed. You have grown. Sometimes in ways that you’re not even sure of.

So clashes happen.

People are confused.

You are confused.

But thankfully, God is a steadfast refuge:

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

– Psalm 46:1 (NLT)

He’s there in times of confusion, struggle, and conflict. But He’s also there to share our joy and happiness.

God is a steadfast companion.

And I know that I can lean on Him.

I’m ready to see what He has in store for me. He has something wonderful planned, and all I have to do is trust Him.

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 hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

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Noche de Alabanza (Worship Night)

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This post is a little late. On June 8, The Intercambio team from Union Cristiana hosted a praise night. I was given the incredible opportunity to sing with the English team. The rehearsals were a little rough. We were confused as to what they really wanted. Then, a week before, we had a meeting to understand the real purpose and the real idea behind this night.

It was to be a night to adore our Savior. Our Creator. Our redeemer. It was a night to flow in worship. To be free. To just happen.

We’d been trying too hard. We had taken our American idea and forced it into Chilean culture. And it wasn’t working. Definitely some cultural conflicts.

But we stopped trying. We stopped forcing. We let it happen. We let God be the center and lead us. And it was phenomenal.

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Here’s what I wrote the day following: “Wow. Last night was amazing. Just a time to stand in the presence of God and worship Him. Why don’t we do that more often?”

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

“These verses still get me. God can do so much more than we can imagine and HE deserves the glory. …GOD DESERVES THE GLORY. He created us. He created this world. He is all powerful. He deserves the glory.”

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God deserves the glory. Now and forever. This night taught me so much more about worship and so much about who my identity in Christ. Worship isn’t something that is scheduled into a church service. It isn’t a hymn sung with perfect harmony. It isn’t a rock concert. It is adoring our creator. It is thanking Him for his blessings. It’s personal. It’s important.

Psalm 95:6 (NLT)

Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,

Glory to God.

 

New friends!

I love meeting new people. Especially when I’m familiar with the cultural context. And I got to do just that this past week!

The new Veritas girls and the other ISA summer students are here! I’m definitely really excited. I spent some time with them and some other students on Sunday. We went to church, some historical sites, watched the sunset at the dunes of Concon and ended the day on a good note: Bravissimo.

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I’m so exited to get to know everyone more and see the wonderful things God has brought us together to do.

Viña and Valpo didn’t give them the best welcome: it’s been pouring the past few days. Nothing like walking through flooded streets. It’s supposed to clear up tomorrow. I’m so exited to hopefully see some sunshine!

San Pedro de Atacama

Our Lovely Hostel Group!

Our Lovely Hostel Group!

Fuimos a San Pedro de Atacama! The driest desert in the world. And it snowed. And rained. And our hostel leaked. And the power went out. And I showered in cold water by candlelight.

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But it was absolutely GORGEOUS.

Just a glimpse of the beauty I saw.

Just a glimpse of the beauty I saw.

During this trip, I could not help but think of how the mountains and the scenery screamed of a heavenly creator.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.

Psalm 19:1

There was so much untouched beauty in this place. I literally felt so close to God in the moments when I just absorbed the splendor of His creation and praised Him for the work of His hands. We were able to see for miles and miles of just nature. No buildings. No signs of humans. Just pure natural beauty.

And it was amazing.

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I climbed mountains of salt. I soaked in hot springs. I watched snow fall over geysers. I hiked to a mirador (viewpoint) near Incan ruins. I saw flamingos in a lake with snow covered mountains in the background. I floated in a lagoon 5 times saltier than the ocean. I ate llama. I stood at the point where the Tropic of Capricorn intersects with an ancient Incan trail. I saw the moon and Saturn.

Floating in some salt water.

Floating in some salt water.

I experienced God’s marvelous creation.

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Homesickness

It’s funny what makes you miss home. 

A guy playing guitar and harmonizing along. 

Your host-niece screaming downstairs. 

The first rainy day of the season.

Graduation at your old high school. 

A song that comes on the radio. 

Karaoke night. 

Looking at facebook or the photos I brought that hang on my wall, talking about the States. Those things don’t make me homesick. They don’t make me miss my home. Homesickness hits you when you least expect it. It comes from the face of someone that reminds you of so-and-so. It comes from the guy singing on the micro as the rain pours down. It comes from the time you spend with your new friends. It comes when you aren’t even thinking of home. 

I love being here. Absolutely love it. But sometimes I miss what I know. I miss familiarity. Being in Chile has taught me so much about who I am and who I have the opportunity to become. 

But sometimes, just sometimes, I’m homesick. 

Fantasilandia!

The best group :)

The best group 🙂

Chilean Amusement parks are a lot like American ones.

Minus the safety restrictions.

Basically, there is a ride, Tacada, that spins in a circle, slows down and jumps up and down. Without seat belts. You end up flopping all over the place and holding on to the bars behind you for dear life. Apparently some Chileans like to dance in the middle. Asi es la vida… I guess.

The craziest ride I have ever seen in my life.

The craziest ride I have ever seen in my life.

Wednesday, May 1st was the Día del Trabajador (Labor Day). Therefore, we did not have class. Chileans take it so much more seriously. Almost everything (minus public transportation and this amusement park) was closed. Even all of the supermarkets. Definitely a cultural shift.

Anyway, I went on my first ever real roller coaster! It went backwards and upside down. I think I blacked out, but I’m not quite sure. Definitely an adventure.

Before and After. I was a mess.

Before and After. I was a mess.

It was a great day filled with friends and fun and food. Going to Santiago was a great break from life here in Viña and Valpo. I saw the sun set over the Andes. Hope and I met some random people. I enjoyed the day I’d been given.

Sometimes you meet people on amusement park rides.

Sometimes you meet people on amusement park rides.

It was something completely different, and completely awesome.

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La mitad.

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I’m at the halfway point of my trip here. Somewhere amongst the micro rides, late night chats, ice cream stops, feasts on bread, school, trips to las dunas, and beach days… time passed. 65 days. I’ve been in Chile for 65 days and I have a little less than that left.

In some ways, I miss home. I miss knowing where I am. I miss my friends. I miss comfort food. I miss familiarity.

But reversely, I love it here. I love going on adventures in Viña and Valpo. I love my new friends. I love Chilean food. I love learning.

So I’m in an interesting spot. I’m finally starting to feel like this is my home. I’m finally making that transition from tourist to resident. And I have to leave soon.

But I don’t want to whine about the lack of time I have left. I want to enjoy every second of it.

Noche de Intercambio

Two things I love: friends & food. 

Last weekend I had a superduper awesome time with my friends at the Noche de Intercambio fiesta. Basically everyone brought food from his or her home country and shared it. SO. GOOD. 

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LOOK AT ALL THAT FOOD

 

C.J. & Maria (the totally precious married couple studying with ISA) made apple pie. APPLE PIE. There were tons of American favorites and some German and Brazilian dishes as well. (The Chileans supplied Choripan: Chorizo on Bread. SO GOOD.) 

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Amigos!

 

Also we played games. And I was on the best team ever [even though we didn’t win, we had the best spirit! …and that’s what counts, right?]

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Shenanigans!

 

And also, we’re a really large group:

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Familia Chilena

I love my family here in Chile. Absolutely adore them. So here’s a post about them!

With mi mama chilena, Julia and mi hermana chilena, Coni :)

With mi mama chilena, Julia and mi hermana chilena, Coni 

They are super duper fantastic. Julia is a Realtor and Coni is a high school student.

Feliz Cumple a Mama!

Feliz Cumple a Mama!

April 1st was Julia’s birthday. All of the family came over the weekend before and we celebrated with a giant asado (barbecue). It was definitely delicious. And it was definitely a fiesta (20+ relatives in our lovely home). It’s always fun to have the family over, because we get to experience la vida chilena. And spend some time with these precious children:

Borja, mi "sobrino" (nephew). He is literally the cutest thing.

Borja, mi “sobrino” (nephew). He is literally the cutest thing.

Antonia, mi "sobrina" (niece)

Antonia, mi “sobrina” (niece), who lives next door!

Family meals are always the best because we get to sit down and just chat about life. I’ve definitely learned the most about our family during meals. We’ve also shared some pretty comical times (hielo and yellow sound a lot alike). I’m so thankful to be living with such a fantastic family.

Also, we have a dog. Her name is Mimi, and she is a spoiled little thing, but so precious.

Mimi loves me. Or I love Mimi. Or both?

Mimi loves me. Or I love Mimi. Or both?

And last but most certainly not least, Lisa, my fantastic housemate. She puts up with me quite well. So here’s to one of the most awesome girls around:

I Love Lisa!

I Love Lisa!

I’m incredibly thankful for the people God has placed in my life here in Chile, especially my family. They make this experience so much better and so much more worthwhile. (: