The Faith and Helplessness Required in Accepting God's Provision

I am in the middle of writing thank you notes to supporters to send home with my sister, who leaves in just two days for the US.  With each new card I take out to write on, I am amazed again at the way that God has provided for me while I've been here. 

Although a few of my supporters are consistent monthly, I didn't really have time to ask for people to commit to giving to me while I was here.  Most of my gifts are one-time donations, and I continue to be blown away at the way that God knows exactly what my needs are and provides for them through His body.  In my first six months here, I have never been without the funds to pay for basic necessities-- food, rent, utilities, even internet and transportation.

That said, I am learning a lot because, sometimes, God leaves me waiting to see how my needs will be provided for.  I am in a place of faith that I've never been in before.  I feel helpless at times, not knowing where next month's money will come from.  I'm learning to trust that the same God who has brought me here sustains me.  I'm even learning to love the way that He does it.  

One of my favorite examples:  In my first month of being here I wasn't yet able to ask for any support because my application to work with my mission was still being processed.  I was already teaching at the school and living at my current house, but my first month's rent was almost due and, although I had sufficient funds in my account, I hadn't even brought my bank card with me from the States to withdraw anything (only planning on being here two weeks).  In the crazy rush of the first three weeks of teaching, I didn't even have time to think about needing money.  But God was thinking.

I opened my desk drawer at the end of my third week of teaching and found an envelope with my name on it.  Opening it up, I found the exact amount needed to cover rent, utilities, and transportation for the month.  There was no note enclosed, no signature, no name except mine. I still have no idea where the money came from, but that envelope was the beginning of my trusting in God's provision.

I'm thankful to those people from my church back home and my friends who are supporting me here, and I am thankful to God for the lessons He is teaching me.  I am unworthy of His grace, but unbelievably thankful to share in it.


Half Way

Today marks it!  I am halfway through my year here today.  I can hardly believe that I have spent six months in this country.  I can hardly believe that I have six months left.  

I have no inspiring thoughts on this, my half way day, but I wanted to post and let everyone know that it was happening.

Thank you everyone who has helped make the last six months happen.  God is faithful, and I have been humbled to see His faithfulness in Bolivia.  May we see His goodness more each day.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
- Ephesians 2:6-7



It's early December and staring at the white that covers our big front yard makes me squint as we drive home from church.  The snow is still a novelty and is beautiful.  We woke up early yesterday because shoveling isn't a chore yet, just fun.  There are neat piles down the sidewalk, a straight line runs from our driveway to the end of the block separating snow from concrete.

There is a mad rush to get lunch when we get home.  Frozen pizza is thrown into the oven, leftovers are pulled out and microwaved.  My dad brings up a beer from the basement and puts it in the freezer, setting the timer so he won't forget.  Lindsey disappears into her bedroom with her computer; for her it is just another Sunday.  

First quarter.  Me and Dad.  Packers.  Pepperoni frozen pizza.  Snow outside.  He in the lazyboy; me on the couch.  I drove home from college for many reasons, but mostly for this.  I get into the game and make lots of comments about everything, and he goodnaturedly lets me talk, his eyes fixed on the screen.  Mom's cheerful humming is heard from her sewing room.  She's flipping between the game and a cooking show.

Second quarter.  This begins my favorite part.  The house is cold, so I pull my Dora blanket tight around me.  My eyelids get droopy, and I stretch out on the couch.  The game is less exciting, and I am asleep.

Half time.

Third quarter.  Dad shouts at one of the players, and I am startled awake.  Stretching, I get my head back in game mode.  He explains things I don't know, and I try to make smart-sounding comments.  I think my dad is so cool.

Fourth quarter.  We watch to the end whether it's a nail biter, a clear loss, or a definite win.  When the time runs out, we feel like true fans.  The house is cold (I keep saying this because I forget what that actually feels like).  The evening has begun and life is still lazy.  There is no worrying about tomorrow when the Packers play.

For my dad, because I won't get to watch the Superbowl with him.


Feeling Cared For

Care package number two has arrived for me!  I am feeling very loved these days.  Nicola (my roommate of three years) and the girls I affectionately refer to as "my Twin Cities family"  sent me a Christmas package.  The contents:
My favorite granola bars, trail mix (hello crasins!), Instant Snow (can't wait to try this with my class), and a beautiful necklace.

Closeup of necklace
I got to open my package with my friends over Skype (Thank you 21st century!), and I can't even explain how encouraged I felt. 

I write this post to let people know what is going on in my life, but also to encourage anyone who is reading this to think of how you can encourage missionaries (cross-cultural workers) you support or pray for.  I am only here in Bolivia for one year, but think of the long-term workers you know.  My sister, for example, has been in Bolivia for about nine years.  I know that she is unbelievably grateful for even a letter from home, much less a care package.  Or think of families who would love to know that they are thought of.

Here are some practical thoughts if you want to send a package to a cross-cultural worker you know:
- Ask them what they can't get where they are serving.  Can it be packaged?
- Gift cards that can be spent online (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) can even fit in letters
- Think of the workers' children.  How can you let them know that the family of Christ is looking out for them in the country their parents left?
- If you can find someone going to the place where the cross-cultural worker lives, you might be able to send your package in their suitcase and save a lot of money.
- Maybe you don't have the money to send a care package.  A handwritten letter says just as much.
Missionary care has been on my heart for years.  Now that I have some first hand experience about how to encourage cross-cultural workers, I thought I'd post this.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24


That's Why I'm Here

Thanks to Amy for the title of this post!

Warning: Cute teacherish story below.

Today I was wearing a cute necklace that a friend gave me for Christmas along with the ring that I have worn to school every single day of the year.  However, because my students were finally noticing my jewelry thanks to the necklace, Erynn and Gracie came up to me after class to ask me about my ring.  It has an icthus (sp?) on it, which was a symbol in the early church.

I explained to my girls the symbol on the ring and that I bought it on a short-term missions trip to Mexico in high school.  Then I said, "I wear this ring to remind myself of my mission: to share God's love with people all around the world."  

And Erynn said, "That's why you're here!"

Sometimes little words can make up for a day full of crazy kids.

Hallelujah moment


Prayer Works

Heather and I have the privilege of having our cousin, Anton, visit us from Texas.  He's here for about two weeks shooting a documentary about Heather's work here, and it has been amazingly encouraging to have a visit from "home."  
Taking Anton and our friend Sammy to the zoo!

Today, he reminded me of a verse that I try to live in light of, although the exact words are not always in my mind.  James 4:2 says, "You do not have, because you do not ask." It is true, true, true that God answers prayer.  He doesn't tell us to pray to Him only because He wants to hear from us or only so that He receives our praise (although those things are both important).  He also tell us to go to Him and make our requests known (Phil 4:6-7).

Thank you for making your requests know to God for my class!  God has been answering your prayers!  Are my students perfect?  Not quite.  But I see ways that God has answered directly some of the specific things that I asked prayer for about my individual students.  I also have felt prayers in that I am more peaceful and joyful about the upcoming four months. Please keep those prayers coming!  These cute kids thank you!


Faithful for the Long Haul

One week in.

The difference between going into my first week of teaching second semester versus first semester is unbelievable.  I actually know what a teacher is supposed to do.  I know what's expected of me.  I know what my kids are like.

I still have things that I'm facing this semester that sometimes make me want to go hide my head in the sand.  But this I know.  The God who was faithful to me last semester is going to be faithful to me this semester.  His compassions never fail.

Working hard.  Glad to be Miss M.


3 Books in 2011

Ok, I am completely stealing this idea from Missional Mama, my friend Amy's blog, but it's just because I LOVE reading!  So, the top three books that I want to read this year:

I've been waiting to read all three of these books for at least a year now, some of them for two.  By December 2011 they will all be read!  

Pray With Me?

There they are, the beautiful class that I go back to next Tuesday.  As I get ready to stand in front of these students as a teacher who has only slightly more of an idea how to teach than she did last August, I admit to you that I am overwhelmed by the idea of being held responsible for these students' learning over the next four and a half months.  I'm asking for your help.

Would you pray for my students, my classroom, and me as a teacher on Monday from 7-8pm CST?  I'm spending the day prepping and praying, and I'm taking that hour to really "dig in" for my students.

I'm asking that those who will commit to praying during some or all of that time (or at least sometime on Monday if that time doesn't work for you) would:
1. Leave a comment on here
2. Respond to the email message I will send out
3.  Email me at kayleenmickelson[at]gmail.com
4. "Attend" my Facebook event.

Here is what you can pray for each of my students.  It's a title, phrase, or idea that I wrote for each of them in October and have been praying for them since.

Jasmine- Conscious Devotion: Matthew 22:47
Noelia- Unconditional Love: Isaiah 43:4
Matthias- Forsaking This World: Philippians 3:8
Graciela- Clarity of Mind and Purpose: Psalm 27:4
Natalia- Gospel Understanding: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Jeremie- Grasping Grace: Ephesians 2:8-9
Jose Daniel- Accurate Reflector: Matthew 5:16
Nathan- Humble Follower/Leader: Mark 1:17
Jadon- Devoted Laborer: Colossians 3:17
Rafael- Unshakable Faith: Mark 9:24
Aram- Serious Commitment: Luke 9:23-24
Gracie- Spirit-filled Power: Acts 1:8
Andres- Act on Truth: Matthew 7:24
Hye Sun- Bible Craver: Psalm 63:1-6
Erynn- Lover of Truth: Psalm 119:105
Benji- Humble Helper/Leader: Philippians 2:3-8
Jorge- Faithful Follower: 1 Peter 1:13-15
Bruno- Follower of Jesus: Matthew 16:16
Hernan- Faithful Disciple: Romans 12:1-2
Lucas- Persistent Speaker of Truth: Hebrews 10:24

Miss M- Joy in Christ: Philippians 4:4-7

I have also been praying Ephesians 3:14-21 over my class this year.

Thanks for thinking about joining me in this!  Prayer is the most powerful weapon that we have, and my class needs people to fight for us.



Recurring theme in the Bible and in my life.

I have been MIA for blogging/Facebook/Twitter the last few days, and it's because Heather and I went here to get away before I start teaching again.
I have much to say about next semester, next year, and life.  It's coming soon.


Faces of 2010

People who have made 2010 special for me.

I definitely missed people, mainly because I didn't have pictures of them.  Thank you everyone for friendship!


As my missionary friend Catherine said, "I suppose today of all days would be the day to blog."  I agree.  How could I not blog about 2011, especially considering that I will spend the majority of the year here in Bolivia?  How can I not make a plan and share it?

So, I will share three things.

1.  Being.  I want to be in God's presence this year.  Every minute I rely on His provision, especially as I teach, but I so often forget or take for granted His presence.

2. Encourage.  This year I am serving out of my weaknesses.  It's humbling and sometimes disheartening, but I am confident that God is receiving the glory.  However, during this time, I want to make sure that I am also using my gifts.  I want to make 2011 a year of encouraging others.

3. Simple.  I don't want to use more than I need. I want to be generous.  I don't want to complicate my life just to complicate it.  I want time to be quiet.

Ok, so if I could have a fourth it would be that I want to fight for joy each day, especially as I teach. 

What are you seeking this year?