Friday, August 31, 2012

Lessons on the Mission Field: Flexibility!

After going on any mission trip, you quickly learn that the motto of any missionary is, “Be flexible!” I used to think I was as flexible as rubber, moving with any environment; having the ability to snap back into place after. I don’t know if it is having kids, being so busy it dictates a closely kept schedule, or simply better self-awareness, but now I think my flexibility is a little more akin to steel. Steel is still flexible mind you, but only after being subjected to intense heat (a whopping 2700° F according to my friend Cha Cha). This flexibility and our mettle was tested on our very first assignment as new missionaries: move to San Diego.

The Plan: Pack stuff we didn’t need during the weeks before Sunday August 5, our moving date. Then have a garage sale on Saturday morning, August 4. Pack everything we weren’t taking into the storage pod except for beds and what we were taking to San Diego. Then Sunday morning we’d go get the trailer my Dad had brought his truck to tow and pack it with everything we were taking to San Diego. We’d also pack up the beds and couches into the pod and then hopefully leave around noon at the latest.

Come Saturday, I was so ready to get it all done that I decided we should go get the trailer and pack that day so we could make sure it all fit and leave earlier on Sunday. My dad and I left at about 1 p.m. to go pick up it up about 15 minutes away. When we got to the U-Haul store we filled out all of the paper work, pulled the trailer over and hooked it all up. Then we checked the lights. Tail lights…check. Brake lights…check. Left turn signal…nothing. Right turn signal…nothing. Not good. We spent about 20 minutes trouble shooting only to find out something was probably wrong with the electric connections from my Dad’s truck. They wouldn’t rent us the trailer unless it was working meaning we’d have to find a way to get it fixed if we wanted to get our things to San Diego with us.

By this time, it was almost 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. We called three different auto electric places only to find out most of them all close on the weekends. I called the place we usually take our cars to find out they do electric, but were closing at 2:00 and couldn’t do it until Monday either. We then decided it probably wouldn’t happen today and if we wanted to leave by tomorrow morning we’d have to fix it ourselves. So, we headed over to Autozone, Kragen or whatever we could find to try to get parts and tools neither of us had. While there, we were telling the worker our problem and he mentioned an RV repair shop down the street that might be open. I looked it up on my trustee YP app only to find it was closed. However, I did see one other option on the other side of town and decided to give them a call. They were open until 3:00!
Now being about 2:20, we told them we’d be there in 10 minutes (really 15, but they didn’t need to know that). We ran out of the store and rushed across town through the normal Santa Cruz summer traffic. We got to the shop at about 2:35. They looked at the connections and found they were tattered and shot. By the grace of God, we were able to get it fixed. I say by the grace of God not only because it was the last place open and we would have had to either try to fix it ourselves or wait until Monday. It turns out that they don’t even usually do repairs on Saturdays, but they had a special project that day so that they just “happened” to have brought someone in from Los Banos (an hour and half away) that day!  He wasn’t even supposed to be there! So we went back, got the trailer, went home and packed it all up. 

All this to say, my Dad and I had quite the conversation about what it meant to be flexible and just to put circumstances into God’s hands. I was pretty upset and frustrated through the process showing me again that I am more like steel than rubber. I hope that I’ll learn to keep my cool a little more next time and trust God that he is in control. I’m sure I’ll have many more opportunities to practice this spiritual discipline in this next season with Chi Alpha.

When was a time when you had to change plans and lost your cool only to find out later it all worked out? Maybe even better than you had planned on your own? Were you able to trust God? Why or why not?
The rest of the story? To be continued…

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It all started on a college campus...


It all started on a college campus... before we even met each other we knew that we were called… Both with similar upbringings, both with a heart for missions and evangelism, both with a story to tell about a radical moment in our young teen lives when we knew we were called...but called to do what?

When you are 18 years old it is hard to see past your 21st birthday let alone try to decipher what a lifetime of fulltime ministry might look like, but even in our immaturity, we knew that our future started on a college campus. College is where we began to form our true identity in Christ, where we discovered the beauty and the hardships of living in the real world, where we came to understand that relationships are hard but so very important. It’s where we truly began to grasp the heart of God, the meaning of the great commission, and the importance of growing in the knowledge and understanding of the Bible. Yes, college is also where we fell in love. We weren't even finished with our studies yet when we decided to commit our lives to each other and get married, knowing full well that our future together would be in ministry. In fact, our wedding was more a commissioning service then a mere exchanging of nuptials. Now, in our almost nine years of marriage, we have served in three different churches, birthed three children, led 10 mission trips, gone to 8 youth winter camps, rocked many a worship band, put on VBSs, led small groups and bible studies, put on outreach events and preached countless sermons. We can honestly say, without hesitation, that serving God is FUN! 

At this time in our lives, we find ourselves at a crossroads. We have spent most of 2012 seeking God's will about a possible job change. The church we were currently serving under, Christian Life Center, was going through a pastoral leadership change which left us feeling uncertain about our future. We spent many sleepless nights and late hours tossing, turning and discussing what our future might hold. During this restless time I went to a conference, heard a missionary speak from a college campus ministry called Chi Alpha and was immediately drawn to it. I had already had a heart for higher education and speaking into the lives of students and that moment was the first inkling of the possible answer to our restless prayers. Over the next few months, we decided to check into the Chi Alpha ministry in our area that happened to be on the Stanford campus. STANDFORD?! We went to one of their meetings and undeniably felt the Holy Spirit while we sat in a room full of college students who were sincerely worshiping and seeking God with abandon. We drove home that night feeling as if we had just witnessed something supernatural and decided to seek God about being a part of this amazing ministry. A few months passed and we remained uncertain with our current church situation. We got word that the board had found their new pastor and our uneasiness increased. We tossed and turned all that night and in the morning I shared with Kendra that I had heard God speak to me during a wakeful hour. God said "I am telling you what to do." I didn't even have to ask, "What is it Lord?" I already knew what is was, God was calling us to Chi Alpha. A few weeks later CLC’s new pastor and the board affirmed our calling and released us into our new ministry. We now find ourselves on this journey back to where it all began...a college campus! This time we will be returning to college as campus missionaries to Stanford University!!! 

I heard a sermon last Sunday that reminded me of something I already knew but may have forgotten along the way and that is, we don't always have to understand what God is doing we just have to know that God is in it! We believe God is in this and we are so excited to continue on our journey of serving him in this new endeavor! 

We are currently living in San Diego with our gracious family and friends. Our goal is to take these next four months to raise enough of our funding to be able to start with Chi Alpha in January. We are excited about the opportunity and flexibility we will have in this next season to reconnect with many of you, to not only share what God is doing in our lives but to also catch up on what God is doing in yours. 

We would love to keep you updated through our facebook page (www.facebook.com/BrandonKendrasChiAlphaPage) and blog (www.bkchialpha.com/). So please make sure to like our page and leave us a comment anytime about what God is doing in your life! We would love to hear it! Let’s walk through this faith journey together. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Much love to you all!