Best Christmas Gift

Teachers feel the need to ask interesting questions on the first day of class to get to know their students. Usually questions that aren't very original. This year the most common was, "What is the best you've ever given?" I tend to choose gifts for people that remind me of them, which actually rarely equates to a good gift. My answers in class sucked.
I remember now, though, that what I gave my grandma this year was pretty cool. Her husband, my biological grandpa, died over 50 years ago when my dad was about five years old. He was a POW in Germany during WWII, and he has a pretty cool story.

Grandpa Aaron Mickelson
However, since his return from the service his pictures and documents have been sitting in Grandma's office gathering dust. She's asked me various times to make a scrapbook for him, and I always cringe at the thought of having to be creative and craftsy, telling her that a different cousin would be better at it. No different cousin has ever taken on the task.
This Christmas my gift to Grandma was to assemble a history of his life. I tell her it's a scrapbook, but the truth is that I don't have skills to "scrap".
I started digging through the giant "Aaron pile" and uncovered more than just history. Tears came to my eyes when I found the notebook he sewed out of cigarette wrappers during his time in the prison camp. The pages are filled with lists of foods he missed, written because he was on the brink of starvation. Grandma laughed and cried when I found the album full of pictures he had taken of her while they were dating. I couldn't wait to show my dad when I found Aaron's Honorable Discharge papers. Newspaper articles about him filled in holes in the story.
This man dropped bombs on Nazi bases, parachuted out of a burning plane, marched countless miles across Germany, nearly starved, came back to his family and started a new life for himself, and his blood flows in my veins. As I put telegrams in sheet protectors and type out stories, I'm finally understanding heritage.


What am I doing for Haiti? Good question!

I have a plane ticket to Bolivia over Spring Break. I'm praying about calling American Air and seeing if they'll let me switch it to Haiti. I could help for two weeks. Not many people can just pick up and do that. However, it would mean not getting to see my sister and spending my $750 plane ticket to go somewhere that doesn't cost that much to go. Any suggestions??


Urbana Thoughts: Working in poverty

Lord willing, I’m going to be posting a series of entries about my experience at Urbana, a student missions conference I went to at the end of December. I heard a lot of things throughout the week. I gained valuable insights from some things that were said, there were some things that I didn’t agree with, and there were some things that will change the way I do missions.

One of the issues that was discussed in some detail was coming alongside those who live in poverty and working with them rather than just doing things for them. For some time I’ve felt like someday I’ll be living in near-poverty conditions by my own choosing, so this topic was really interesting to me.

I heard Jean-Luc Krieg talk about working in urban slums. He said that a huge problem in Mexico City, where he works, is that the people lack hope. Building healthy local churches that are willing to reach out to the poor is a huge focus of their ministry. What better hope can we give people than that there is a God who cares for them, something greater than themselves to live for?

What interested me much more was hearing Ruth Padilla speak about her mother, Kati, who raised her family in a regular, middle-class neighborhood in Argentina, sent her kids to public schools, opened her home to the poor and oppressed, and went into the dangerous slums (often by herself). This woman was an American who had learned what it meant to live with the poor and see the face of Christ in people, no matter what the looked like. This is how I want to live my life. I want to actually listen to what people have to say, and I want my love for them to flow from the love I receive from God.

I can’t change that I’m white and privileged. That’s who I am, and although I can’t yet say that I’m proud of that, I’m learning to accept that my upper-middle class rural Caucasian heritage has given me something unique to bring to God’s mission of reaching every tribe, tongue and nation for His glory.


Faces of 2009

Women who have made 2009 special for me:



What would January be without a post of my resolutions? Here they are.

Resolutions for 2010

1. Help translate for Living Hope.

2. Go to Spanish Bible study, Spanish church, or salsa dancing every week to work on my Spanish.

3. Every other week put considerable work into my meal for my roommates (here’s a new recipe I want to try.

4. Once a month read Revelation out loud on Sunday.

5. Make it a point to call or hang out with one person I don’t see very often once a week.

6. Figure out what I’m going to do after working at camp this summer.

7. Take advantage of my time. Not watch so many movies.


Culinary Culture Crossing

The foreign exchange sister that we had from Germany two and a half years ago, Kirstin, sent us German chocolate for Christmas.
It's SO good. I started thinking about foods from other cultures that I like and realized that there are certain foods that take me back to places I've been.
Empanadas and rice prepared a certain way remind me of Bolivia. Also, for meat while I was there I relied heavily on those kind of gross, salty, pre-formed burgers that you can buy at the grocery store, so eating those makes me feel like I'm back in Heather's kitchen.
When I was in British Columbia this summer we could buy really cheap produce, so I ate sandwiches with cheese and all kinds of vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, onions, green beans (they added a nice crunch), and cucumbers. Eating a sandwich like that takes me back to those beautiful mountains and practicing crazy sounds for phonetics class.
Refried beans remind me of my time in Mexico only if they're flavorless and really soupy. Sadly, my food experiences there weren't what I wish they were.
Do you have a food that takes you to a place?


I'm Back

After over six months of concentrating on my studies, months that allowed me to say that I feel a little like a linguist and that I'm content to sail through my last semester, I am back to blogging. I have journaled this whole time, but for me journaling is just getting what I feel on paper. I'd like to really reason through what I think in this blog, even if I'm the only one who reads it.
I had planned on blogging this semester for several months because I've thought through a lot of things lately, but my recent return from Urbana 09 has given me the added motivation I needed. At this student missions conference, I heard a lot of things that will take me a long time to process. My plan is to weave these thoughts between my other posts over the course of the semester.
Before I begin all that, let me give a few general impressions of Urbana.
1. God made real to me His love for all peoples. Woah.
2. For the first time, I understood and experienced how and why missionaries on the field don't get along. God has given us different passions and gifts, and sometimes these conflict.
3. I feel called to fight injustice with my actions more than my words.
4. I have a huge respect for those who have gone into God's harvest before me.
Throughout 5 days of the Holy Spirit's presence in challenging addresses, "neighborhood" worship, and a focus on the incarnation, 16,000 college students felt called to be a reflection of Jesus-in-the-flesh where we live now and wherever God calls us. He dwelt among us; we must dwell among those God loves.
Revelation 5:9
"... You were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation."