Category Archives: Quizzing

Finding The Love of my Life

This is not another post about how being a Quizzer impacted my life, (or at least not exactly). However, if you would like to read some of those posts, (and/or posts about my Kenya trip and its impact on my life) those can be found here. This is a reflection on my first year not being a Quizzer. Because it was more wonderful than I ever could have imagined.

Honestly, I was a bit doubtful about coaching after I graduated, but I had promised the Quizzers– two in particular– that I would come back and help them get to the next level. The more I thought about it, however, the more I thought I couldn’t do it. How could I help these Quizzers compete well and reach their dreams of winning the Alpha and Omega when I couldn’t even do it myself? I mean, my study strategies included memorizing all 4 chapters the night before a tournament and not prejumping questions because, quite honestly, I was terrified of taking chances. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was a good Quizzer. I may have even been great– I was consistently top 15 in the nation for my division all 7 years I quizzed– but, I was never an Alpha and Omega winner or a national individual finalist, and give these kids a year or two and they could easily out Quiz me.  So, I doubted that I’d ever be able to help them reach their goals. And, I didn’t think I’d make a good Quizmaster. I thought I’d be too harsh, or too nice, or that I wouldn’t be comfortable enough or confident enough in myself to do a good job. I didn’t think I’d be an effective, or even a good, Quizmaster. I wasn’t sure where my place in this family I had found 7 years ago would be, and I was terrified I wouldn’t have one. But, I never imagined I’d feel even more at home as a Quizmaster and coach than I did as a Quizzer.

The things I love the most about Quizmastering and coaching are the same ones I loved as a Quizzer, but they are so much more beautiful viewing them from the other side of the table. I love watching the joy on the Quizzers’ faces when they win a Quiz. The excitement mixed with disbelief when they answer a question correctly for the first time or quiz out for the first, or even the 50th, time. When they’re excited, my heart is filled with joy. When they’re sad, I break inside. And, as much as I love my church and our Quizzers, I view every single Quizzer I have ever Quizmastered or coached as my Quizzer. My friend. My little brother and sister. And I love them all so much. My heart fills with love and joy when I see them come into my room excited and smiling. “Hi, fun Quizmaster!” they say with bright smiles, as they reach for a piece of candy, a high five, or a hug. The sadness on their faces when they find out I won’t be Quizmastering them that day, or when they realize they won’t be in my division the next year, breaks my heart. I love being able to watch them grow up over the years, and even over the course of a year.  I am so incredibly proud of them– every time they answer a question, get a prejump, win an award, or have a fun time. When New Hope won the Alpha and Omega, I felt that I had won it myself. When other Genesis Conference Quizzers succeeded in finals, or their teams won, I was beyond joyful. When the Pearce teams did well, I felt their joy and their heartbreak in their losses. And, when the ones I’ve Quizmastered all year, or even all week, accomplished something, I couldn’t wait to give them a high five and tell them how proud of them I was, even after they eliminated Pearce from the tournament. And I am filled with joy because I know that they are committing themselves to learning the Word, and they will become servants of God, thoroughly equipped for every good work. And that is what Quizzing is really all about.

That’s why I continue to help with Quizzing and can’t imagine walking away. It’s watching the Quizzers discover who they are. It’s giving back to a ministry that has given me so much– a ministry that has impacted, and in some cases even saved, so many lives. It’s watching these incredible young people learn and memorize the Word, knowing that will lead them to amazing places. It’s hanging out with them and writing ridiculous stories that make no sense, three words at a time. It’s reading the longest joke in the world every time we go on a long road trip. It’s listening to the testimony of a shy, quiet young rookie who said she was so glad her mom made her do Quizzing because she was so excited and impacted by it. It’s hugging the young Quizzer who’s sitting behind you, whom you’ve coached, Quizmastered, and quizzed with, when he breaks down in tears. It’s kneeling at the altar with your teammates, friends, and Quizzers. Hugging them all as you leave. Talking to a Quizzer who knows your name and your story, even if you didn’t think anyone knew who you were or remembered your story. Finding a group of girls, from all different churches, praying for each other, and going over to pray with and for them, as a coach, Quizmaster, former fellow Quizzer, and most importantly a friend. Feeling incredibly honored when young Quizzers ask for your autograph and do a cool handshake with you. Offering the Quizzers a high five, a “great try,” and a piece of candy. It’s about finding your best friends, who live next door, or who live hundreds of miles away– whether they’re 12, 22, or 52.  It’s about igniting a passion for God and His Word that you didn’t even know you were capable of having.

It wasn’t until I went to Kenya and experienced Quizzing there that I realized just how important Quizzing really is. It wasn’t until the charge given to us at the coaches’ meeting to expand Quizzing to our neighboring churches, whether Free Methodist or not, and I almost stood up and said “Send me anywhere and everywhere. I’ll do it.” that I realized how huge my passion was. And, now, here I am, hoping to spread that passion to others. In fact, I am seriously considering and praying about going back to Kenya next summer, and all your prayers for me in this process would be greatly appreciated too. But, honestly, I’m just hoping to spread my passion to anyone who’s willing to catch it.

And that is what I have learned the most this year about being a Quizmaster and coach. I may have been terrified of messing up, I may not have been confident enough in my abilities, I may have thought I wouldn’t be good enough, or I may have thought I’m too much of an introvert to be a good Quizmaster. But, I have learned that anyone can be a good Quizmaster. Anyone can read questions in a loud, clear voice, look up the passages in the portion, and make a wise and fair decision about whether or not an answer is correct and worthy of 2o points. Anyone can know the rules– when to re-read, when to throw the question out, and how to handle appeals. Anyone can say “that’s correct,” or, “I’m sorry I cannot accept that.” But, not everyone is an effective Quizmaster. Not everyone can make the Quizzers feel comfortable. Not everyone can make Quizzing fun, keep the quizzes moving, be encouraging, and take control but also not be intimidating. And that’s what makes an effective Quizmaster. I don’t know if I am an effective Quizmaster or not– I’d like to think I am. I mean, I’ve been told I’m the fun Quizmaster. Coaches and Quizzers have told me that I have done a good job and have made Quizzing fun. The top Quizmaster for Senior Teen Vet A, and the former question writer, has told me that her kids enjoyed my Quizmastering. So, maybe that’s evidence enough to prove I’m both good and effective. I don’t know. But, what I do know is that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Because maybe it’s the candy. Or maybe it’s the fact that I have an uncontainable passion for Quizzing and a seemingly mundane yet incredibly inspirational and impactful Quizzing testimony which puts me in a unique position to share and encourage. Maybe it’s my constant attempts to make all the Quizzers feel encouraged and loved by my “good tries, ” “nice jobs,” candy, and high fives. I don’t know. But, I know that I love it so much that my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest. I love it more than I loved it when I was competing. Which I never thought was possible. 

I received a message from a parent and coach earlier today. She wanted to thank me for giving up my time this past week to be at Nationals (which, to be fair, is the furthest thing from a sacrifice– there is no better way to spend my time) and for talking to her team and expressing interest in them– especially her daughter, who had never had that before. She was excited and happy that I had shown interest in her. As I read the message, my heart broke a little. I hadn’t done anything special. I simply talked to her, offered her high fives, and made sure I acknowledged her, even when she wasn’t in my room. And to think that made her happy filled me with joy, but it also made me a little sad to think no other Quizmaster or person had done that before. But, it reminded me that, just like how in Quizzing there is more than winning, in Quizmastering there is more than just asking questions and keeping the rounds running smoothly and timely. There’s encouraging, high fiving, loving, and laughing. And again, I don’t know if this makes me an effective Quizmaster, but I know I impacted at least one life, even if it was just in a small way, and that is why I do what I do.

Quizzing has taken me to Kenya. It has taken me, and three of my friends, to local churches in order to put on a skills clinic for other Quizzers. It has taken me to four different and beautiful places for Nationals. It’s taken me to different churches and led me to volunteer at two different church’s practices. It has taken me across oceans, under bridges, over highways, and into people’s hearts. It’s led me to go on a missions’ trip, help plan service projects, and help start a fund for growing international Bible Quizzing. But, it’s also led me to learn more about myself and about God. I learn more about my passions, my gifts, my talents, and most importantly, God and His Word. And I could go on for hours about the impact it’s had on me in my own life, both as a Quizzer and as a Quizmaster, but until you experience it yourself, you won’t understand. You won’t understand my passion or my love. So, if you have no idea what Quizzing is, go out and discover it. If you have experienced it, go out and share your passion, your light, your joy, and your love for it and for God. Because if it were up to me, every person in the world would have the chance, and the desire, to experience Quizzing.

I never thought I could love something so much it physically hurts. Yet, I constantly feel a pain inside me when I’m Quizzing or when I’m talking about it. But, it’s not from sadness. It’s from unimaginable, inexpressible joy and love and passion. It’s from a desire to encourage every teen to try it, every adult to watch it, and every person to fall in love with it. I never thought I could love something so much that I’d rather die than be separated from it. Because making me give it up would be like ripping my heart out of my chest. In fact, that would probably hurt less. Because I love Quizzing more than anything, and I don’t think I will ever love any person, place, or thing more.*

*obviously this excludes the One who makes Quizzing possible and who gave me the ability and opportunity to participate, and who is the reason I Quiz. 

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Kenya Post? 6 Months Later.

A little over six months ago, I returned from a missions trip to Kenya. (If you want to hear about those adventures, here is a link to those posts). And a lot has happened since then. I started college and survived my first semester. I went to my first Quiz practice as a coach. I Quizmastered my first tournament. I made my first college best friend. I ate my first exotic meat (although to be fair, I did that while I was on the trip. But that, plus the kissing of a giraffe, are pretty noteworthy). I got my wisdom teeth removed. I discovered the first romantic chick flick I didn’t actually completely hate. And, I experienced my first true emotional roller coaster of pain. However, more important than any of that, and more painful than the previously mentioned pain, is the roller coaster I’ve been on since I returned.

Okay- here’s a little back story into my life. I have always been a person who loves serving. I believe that God has given me the gift of service and the ability to serve with a joyful, willing, loving heart. And, before I went to Kenya, I was using this gift in whatever ways I knew how. I was volunteering with Kids’ Ministry programs at my church, serving at fundraisers for missions trips I myself wasn’t going on, teaching Economics to kids at a local elementary school, and helping with various projects at my church when, and if, I was needed. I was doing what I felt needed to be done with the skills and abilities I felt I had to do it. I was satisfied doing what I was doing. Until I went to Kenya.

If you read my last Kenya post, you’d know about some of the things that God revealed in and about me while I was in Kenya and upon my return. If you haven’t read it, you should. But, what you don’t know, whether you’ve read that post or not, is what I have done, what has happened, and how I have felt since then.

Since returning, I have started college. In one of my classes, we read a book and talked about the slavery that exists all over the world- even to this day. And it broke my heart, hearing all the stories of all these people- primarily females- who have been forced into labor and oppression. And while these conversations didn’t make me think about Kenya specifically, they did make me think. They made me think about my “I want to change the world” attitude. They made my heart ache for the people affected. And, they made me wonder if there is more I have been called to do.

I’ve been involved a little on campus with some anti human trafficking things, and I’m helping in whatever ways I know how. However, as I said before, I have an “I want to change the entire world” attitude, and I never quite felt like I was doing enough. And, recently, there have been so many things happening that have been making me question where to go and what to do. We had Free Methodist missionaries come to one of our classes and talk to us about their work. We had a chapel speaker from Compassion International come. And all the things they talked about- all the situations they’re dealing with and injustices they’re fighting made my heart hurt.

So, now here I am. Looking at old photos from my short lived trip to Kenya. Thinking about everything God has said to me and shown me since coming home. Wondering if I am in the right place doing the right thing. Because, here’s the thing, I love Chemistry- I do. But, I also feel this huge pull to do something more. I’ve gone in circles, asking myself if there is a good reason to be here doing what I’m doing now, if there are better reasons not to, or if there is even any reason to think about all the reasons.

I left a piece of myself in Kenya. And the further into my past it gets, the more I forget so many of the once so fresh memories, and the more I feel the ache of that missing piece of me. I look at the photos from my trip, trying to piece together the missing pieces of the story and of my heart. But, I can’t. All I want to do is hop on a plane and go back. But not just to Kenya. I want to go anywhere and everywhere possible. But it’s also difficult, because I don’t know where to go and who to help, because I can’t help everyone everywhere.  And I also want to stay here and continue my education and pursue my love for learning, and for Chemistry.

And so, where do I stand in the midst of all this questioning? Well, somewhere between super gluing my feet to the floor and impulsively buying plane tickets to Kenya. I’ve done everything from convincing myself to stay here and get my bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate, settling down and waiting to see if I am given an opportunity to return, to trying to adopt a Kenyan child and almost crying because adoptions are closed from Kenya to the US. (And then I remembered that I’m like 12 and am not actually ready to adopt a child yet, so that doesn’t matter). Really, I’m trusting God and trying to listen to what He is calling me to do and where He is calling me to go. I’m praying and reading and listening and searching. Searching for my place. I’m searching for what God has called me to do, to study, to be, and to go. And searching for that piece of me I’ll never find but one day hope to fill.

“If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place.” Mercyme- Homesick

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Kenya Post? After Kenya. 

Last week, I came back from Kenya. I have written posts about what my group did while we were there, but now that I have returned and had a few days to recover, reflect, and regroup, I want to talk about how it all affected me. Because it did affect me, a lot. And it affected me in ways I never could have imagined.

Going into the trip, I had no expectations. We were told by our leaders, and by others who had gone on missions trips before us, not to have any. So, I didn’t. Not really. I mean, I expected it to be a little difficult at times. I expected it to be outside my comfort zone sometimes. I expected God to work somehow in someone, or someones. But, I didn’t expect Him to work in me the way He did.

I knew that God wanted me on this trip. There was never any question that He wanted me there. I just didn’t know why. But, I knew that after the trip, I would know why. So, I waited. I went on the trip, did all the stuff, and waited.

However, about halfway into the week of Quizzing, I began to become a little discouraged, and I began to wonder if God really did want me on this trip. I had listened to stories of others’ experiences so far, and I was realizing that I didn’t have an experience like that. I didn’t have any moment, or even group of moments, that answered the question for me of why God wanted me on this trip. So, I began to wonder if He really did want me on this trip, or if I had gone for my own selfish reasons.

However, as the week came to a close, I began to realize my purpose for going on this trip. The reason God called me to do it. The ways it had impacted me, even if they were less obvious than others’.

God wanted me on this trip, I believe, for two main reasons. One, He wanted me to share my incredible passion for Quizzing and love for others and for Him. And two, He wanted to teach me while I was busy teaching others.

He wanted to teach me more about His purpose and plan for my life. He wanted to show me things about myself I didn’t know. Passions I didn’t know I had. Strengths and talents I never would have discovered alone.

You see, I have always known some of my passions. I have always known about my passion for science, for Quizzing, for learning,  for words, for people, and for serving. But, I never knew how much of a passion I had. Because, although I like people enough, I am not a “people person.” Social situations are sometimes awkward for me, and I am uncomfortable around large groups of people and with people I don’t know well. And I like children, but I don’t have a personality that naturally attracts children. It takes a little more effort on my part to interact with them than it might take others. But, God showed me that, despite that, I can be an inspiration, a teacher, and a friend to others. He showed me how passionate I could be about others, and for others. By the end of the week, I wanted to adopt every single child from the ICCM school we were working in. I fell in love with them all, even those whose names I didn’t know, or couldn’t remember, and the ones who I never actually talked to or met.

While I was teaching the kids Quizzing, I couldn’t help but be incredibly excited. I have always loved helping the Rookies at my church improve their Quizzing, giving them suggestions, and coaching and encouraging them. And that’s exactly what I was doing all week. Except I was doing it in another country- half a world away. And that awoke in me a passion I didn’t know I had. A passion not only for Quizzing and seeing that ministry succeed, but a passion for seeing it spread. Everywhere. Kenya, Togo, the Philippines, and anywhere and everywhere else possible. Because it is an amazing ministry that every young teenager in any part of the world deserves to have an opportunity to take part in.  I have a passion to see others succeed in Quizzing. I want the young Pearce quizzers to do what I tried but never could do and bring back an Alpha and Omega and individual awards. I want to see the Genesis Conference win more Nationals competitions and continue to put New York on the map. I want to see Quizzing grow so much in the US that there are too many Quizzers and coaches to hold at one place for Nationals. I want to see Quizzing spread to so many other places, both near and far, so that we will have an Internationals Finals with dozens of states and multiple countries. I want to clone myself so that I can start a quiz program in another country, spread the quiz program in Kenya, and stay here to help my church succeed.

God showed me that, by giving up my own will, I can do His. I gave up my time, my finances, and my energy to serve Him. He showed me that I may have a plan for my life, but His plan is even better.

He left me with a lot of questions. I am stuck with questions of what He wants me to do with my life and where He wants me to go. I am left wondering if my current plan for my life is also His plan, or if He has something much better in mind. I am left wondering, if He does have something else in mind, if I will be willing to abandon my plans and my interests to pursue His will. He left me with questions of whether my passion for science is what He wants me to pursue, or if He wants me to follow my newfound love for far off people and places. I am left thinking about all of the kids I met, the people I talked to, and the Quizzers I taught, and I am wondering if God wants me to do something with that newfound passion for spreading Quizzing, and His word, across the world.

I am left with joy. A feeling of excitement for all that God is doing in the lives of the children we interacted with. A feeling of assurance that I definitely want to go on another trip. Whether it’s another trip to Kenya, or somewhere else. Whether it’s for Quizzing, or ICCM, or with Roberts, or with Pearce, or none of the above. I am left with a sense of hope for the future. I have an open mind, and an open heart. God opened my heart for Kenya, and I left a major piece of it there when I left. 

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Kenya Quiz? My Students Can. 

Bible Quizzing. As many of you know, it has impacted my life greatly, and it has become one of my biggest passions. This trip allowed me to spread that passion and to see how it has impacted others, both in the US and across the world, and that is a huge, important thing to me. Quizzing has impacted me more than words could ever describe, and I am excited about Bible Quizzing, I always will be. I want others to be excited too. I want others to have a chance to be impacted as much, or more, than I was by such an amazing ministry. I want others to have as much joy, passion, and love for Quizzing as I have, and I am always wondering how to spread that to others who may not have it and maintain it in those who do.

When I walked into the 6th grade girls’ classroom, I expected apprehension, both by myself and the girls. I expected them to be shy and nervous about learning this new thing and being taught by strangers. I expected myself to be worried about what to teach, how to teach, what to do,  and how they would respond. But, the girls were beyond excited to be learning this new thing from these interesting people. And I was excited and happy to be teaching them. Initially, it was a little more difficult than I had anticipated, because I had to figure out what they already knew about Quizzing and what it was, and how much I had to teach them. But, after I figured that out, I had a great time teaching them. And they had a great time learning.

The knowledge these kids had was astonishing. They knew Acts 1 and 2 well- better than some of the American Quizzers I had seen. I asked them questions, and they answered most of them correctly with little or no hesitation. They were prejumping questions left and right- although they struggled to grasp the concept of completing the question. But, they were beyond excited. And that made my beyond excited. It has been a long time since I have seen such joy, passion, and excitement for Quizzing from such young kids. It has been a long time since I have had so much fun teaching something and helping others learn.

During our “study breaks,” Lydia and I taught the girls the macarena and did the roller coaster with them. And they loved it so much. In fact, the next day, on one of our breaks, they asked to do the macarena, simply by extending their arms and starting the motions. We had fun, and we taught them Quizzing.

During this whole experience, I was left wondering how much of what they were learning were they actually learning. I mean, their entire education system is rote memorization. They memorize something and recite it back. And that had me wondering how much they were absorbing. How much they were understanding. Were they just memorizing the material because that is what they were told to do? However, my questions were answered when it came time for the girls to quiz the guys.

Before the quiz, my girls decided to say a prayer. It was totally their idea. And there were so many volunteers to pray, I was taken aback. It made me think about our prayers before quizzes. How many Quizzers, myself included, pray because it is routine? It’s like a checklist. Introductions. Prayer. Practice jumps. When we pray, we spit off some routine prayer that we use every round and have used every round for seven years. We don’t really mean it. Or maybe we do. I don’t know. But, regardless, this prayer was not like that. This was a genuine, worshipful prayer. It really challenged me to begin thinking about my prayers and how, when, and why I pray. It challenged me to begin to pay attention. To stop praying at certain times for certain things just because it’s “normal.” To start praying for things at certain times because I mean it.

During the break between the two quizzes, the girls began singing worship songs. Again, unprompted. They just began singing. These children memorize the Scripture, yes, but they understand it. They know what it says. They understand the depth of what it is saying. They live it out. They really are the prime example of what it means to live out the Scriptures learned through Quizzing. They are the Quizzers I always hoped I had been. The ones who compete well, and know what the Scripture says, but who also visibly live it. They accepted their loss with love and joy, and their win with excitement and humility.

This whole experience meant so much to me. It reminded me how exciting Quizzing can be. It showed me how excited kids could be for Quizzing. Because I have not seen such excitement in a long time. It showed me how passionate others are for Quizzing. It solidified my passion for Quizzing and allowed me to share it with others half a world away. It was an experience and an opportunity that I am glad I took, and one I would love to take again.

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Kenya Have Fun? The Kids Can.

One of the major things we did during this trip was have a Vacation Bible School  (VBS) program for the younger kids at the International Child Care Ministries (ICCM) school in Mombasa. During the program, we did skits for the kids and had crafts or games. It was very similar to what VBS looks like here in the US. And the experience was amazing.

The kids were great. They really got into the singing, and they even sang for us and taught us some songs. It was unbelievably adorable. During the crafts, they were so excited and happy. And that was a humbling and inspiring moment for me. Here the kids were, making octopi, lobsters, fish, or jellyfish out of egg cartons, paper, glue, and string. And they were beyond excited. They played with them. They ran around the room with them, pretending they were in the ocean swimming around. They made a paper craft- something most American kids, including myself, probably would have thrown out as soon as it was brought home, and they played with it like it was the newest video game or IPad or whatever. And I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty and a little humbled.
I felt guilty because I could go home, even “home” to the guesthouse, to more. I could go home where I had a laptop, cellphone, IPod, television, computer and numerous other electronic “gadgets” and otherwise expensive “toys”, that a lot of these kids didn’t have. I didn’t have to be entertained by a paper octopus or a bunch of balloons, because I have Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, and so much other entertainment in the palm of my hand. And I don’t know exactly how much these kids had, but I can’t imagine it was much. Just by looking at how some of them were wearing dirty, ripped, old, sometimes too small, clothing, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. i had so much more than these kids do, and how many times have I complained because I couldn’t get the wifi to work or my phone to update?

And I was also so humbled. Because it reminded me that I should never, ever, take anything for granted. Yeah, my parents aren’t millionaires. They can’t afford the newest car, or phone, or whatever. But we have a car. And phones. And college tuition- a chance at education. Something most of these kids could only dream about. Some of them don’t know where their next meal will come from, not to mention how they’ll afford high school and college. The next time I go to buy textbooks for school, or food, or whatever it is I may need, or think I need, I won’t complain about the very little amount of money I have in my bank account. I may be frustrated that it is so little, and I may think it’s not enough to cover what I need, but I won’t complain. Instead, I’ll thank God. I’ll thank Him for providing for me and giving me something. Giving me enough. Giving me a family who may not be rich, but who is still always able to provide. And I’ll remember and pray for those who don’t have that. Whose family can’t provide. Who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. Who don’t have enough.

Those kids taught me to find joy the little things. To smile amidst any pain or struggle I may be having. To find happiness in the laughs and smiles of children. To have fun playing with a balloon or a paper octopus. To take every opportunity I have been given. To use what I have been given. To trust God. To live life.

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Kenya Church? The Kenyans Can. 

On Sunday, I had my first experience at a church not in the United States, and it was an interesting experience.

Everything you have ever heard about African churches is totally and completely correct. They are upbeat, welcoming, and crazy. There is dancing, clapping, greetings, and singing. And for me, that was a bit of an adjustment.

You see, I’m not really a “social” person. Yeah, I like people enough. But, I prefer to have conversations with few of my close companions than go around talking and meeting a lot of people and socializing with a lot of people at once. And, as far as dancing goes, I don’t do that. Like ever. I was the kid who stood in the corner at prom taking pictures instead of dancing. And they get so into their worship. Which is great, and I love it, but I’m not really that type of person either. I mean, when a song gets really intense and I am really feeling the Spirit moving, I will get into it. I will close my eyes, lift my hands, let the Spirit speak to me, whatever. But, I don’t usually get that into it. I don’t dance. Sometimes, I’ll sway, but I don’t full out dance. I also don’t really clap. I’ll start and then give up because I can’t clap and sing. And I sometimes feel that I get so focused on the clapping that I don’t allow the Spirit to move or speak to me.

So, this was a transition for me. The first thing we did when we walked in was shake hands with anyone and everyone. We introduced ourselves, and then sat down and waited for the service to start. As it began, there was singing, dancing, and clapping. It took me a while to get used to it and warm up to it, but eventually I got into it. And it was a pretty cool experience. I felt the Holy Spirit moving in ways I hadn’t felt before. I noticed myself getting into it in ways I never could have imagined. It was different. It wasn’t better or worse than my normal church services. Just different.

And, I didn’t understand all of what was being said. They had a translator, but everything was still not understood completely. The Swahili songs were not translated into English, nor were the prayers. And sometimes, even when English is being spoken, the accent is difficult to understand. So, understanding what was happening was not always easy. Fortunately, Lyle, one of the leaders on the trip with us, gave the sermon, making it easier to understand. But, regardless of the communication barrier and the difficulty in understanding and mixing in with the culture, it was a pretty great experience. I was reminded that the same God is being worshiped in Kenya that we worship in the United States. The same Spirit is moving them that moves us. We may be worshiping differently, and in different languages, but it’s the same God. And He understands everything. What we are saying, what we need, what we are thinking. Even when we don’t. And that’s amazing.

Our God is the same as their God. He is the same as the God worshiped in Europe, Africa, America, Australia, the Middle East, everywhere. He is the same God who is worshiped in a church, in your home, on the street, wherever you are. And this experience helped remind me of this. It helped me to remember that the church is not just a building. It’s not just a group of people. It’s not just a country. It’s everywhere. It’s experienced differently and done differently, but it’s the same celebration and the same God.

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Kenya? Apparently Our Bags Can’t.

Okay, so you know how you always hear those stories around and you always think it’ll never happen to you. Well, it happened to us. Our luggage got lost at the airport. Or rather, it didn’t get put on our connecting flight from Paris to Kenya. It apparently wanted to sight see a little bit. I’m jealous. But anyway, we went the first day without luggage. 

And when this situation arose, I had many emotions. Understandably, I was frustrated, sad, and upset all in one. What a way to start a missions trip- no luggage. It was an interesting experience.

On the plus side, we didn’t have to drag all of our luggage from the airport to our guesthouse, trying to squeeze 14 people and 27 bags plus our carry-ons onto a small bus. We were so exhausted we didn’t want to do anything that night but sleep anyway, so we didn’t have to try to lug our luggage. On the negative side, I didn’t have sunscreen and my allergy medicine, which meant my first day was filled with sneezing and the constant fear or being burned to death. (And I got a little pink, but it’s hardly anything. It’s not bad.) 

So, we got to our guesthouse, and the girls began sorting out who had enough clothes to share with those who didn’t. And we talked about what we were doing the next day and when, and then we went to bed. And we woke up the next day, some of us wearing borrowed clothes or clothes we had worn for 36 some hours straight. But, we got up, had breakfast, and began our day. Thankfully, it was a pretty low key day with not a lot to do. We exchanged our money, had some lunch, and then headed over to the school. We watched some Quizzing, hung out with the kids, and even quizzed an “all-star” team made up of the Quizzers who had quizzed out during the rounds. We then left, had dinner, and went back to play games and wait for our luggage to arrive. And although some of us hadn’t showered in over 48 hours, or hadn’t changed shirts in at least that long, we had fun. We laughed. We talked. We experienced new culture, and we learned new things. 

This experience was an interesting one. I was worried, and frustrated, and mad all in one. But, despite it all, I was okay. Our team was okay. We survived. And, although it was a very unfortunate situation, it was an important experience. It began our trip by forcing us to trust God completely. It forced us to believe in Him despite unfortunate circumstances. We all got a lesson in preparedness. And, we now have a great story to tell. So, it may have been frustrating or sad or whatever, but we are better for it. And I believe it has set the precedent for the trip- blind faith in God. So, yes, we went a full day without our luggage, but we had a full day of laughs and love, and that’s more important anyway. 

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