United Kingdom: Day 27

I want to start by thanking everyone who has prayed with me for healing over the past couple days. I woke up Thursday morning with fever, chills, aches, and a wretched headache. Praise God my fever and aches are completely gone and most of my energy restored! The headache lingers but he’s on his way out in Jesus name!

As I was praying this morning, I was moved to share something with you. As some of you may know, over the past few years I have wrestled with God in the areas of faith, joy, anxiety, prayer, emotions, and what it really means to rest and find joy and peace in Him. About a year ago, He gave me some words (a rare occurrence lately, for me) that are very dear to me, and I believe that they are also for some of you as well, if you will take them to heart. Here they are:

A new time is coming for you.
It is a time of learning to stand on your own,
just you and Me.
Listen more than you speak and you will hear Me, always.
This coming time could change everything for you, if you let Me.
___________ was a good thing in your life for a time, but that time is coming to a close.
Keep on loving, keep on laughing.
Do not become bitter.
I am doing good things in your future already.
Wherever we go, do not be afraid.
Be at peace. Rejoice.
Remember I told you in front of all of my people that I, The Lord YOUR God, hear your heartfelt cries, and I am answering them.
Be prepared- a day is coming when you will need these words.
You are never alone.
I love you more.

One last thing, if any of you are also struggling with any of the things I listed above and would like someone to listen or discuss it with, I can’t promise answers or even profound advice, but I would be honored to be a part of your journey. Give me a call, shoot me a message. Seriously.

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On a more adventurous and visually stimulating note, here are a few pictures from the last week:

Hillsong Conference Night! I got to see Hillsong United (Oceans live!), Bethel, and hear a message from Pastor Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv. Absolutely brilliant.

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Various statues throughout the London area that I love:

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UNITED KINGDOM: Day 19

Today is my nineteenth day in amazing country of the United Kingdom, and what a trip it has been. I want to begin by thanking Tyrone and his amazing mother Sandra for sharing their space and letting us stay in their flat. This fantastic month would not be possible without their generosity.

So what’s happened so far? Well my trip began with an interesting adventure from Stansted to Heathrow, and then all around the Heathrow airport to try and meet up with Lindsey. The first tube ride out to Leytonstone, where Tyrone lives, was also an adventure dragging around 100 lbs of luggage in rush hour underground traffic.

I have visited the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, SoHo, Covent Garden, St. Paul’s Cathedral, had fish and chips twice, played guitar in the street, watched the World Cup in a pub while drinking a Guinness on tap, made friends with various Londoners of all shapes and sizes, doctored foot blisters from walking more than I have ever walked in my life, seen one of the best guitarists in the world live, visited a local farmer’s market, The British Museum, the British Library, run in the Olympic Park, toured 221B Baker Street, had lunch in the Crypt of St. Martin’s Cathedral, and there is so, so much more to come!

This week Lindsey and I are in breathtaking (and chilly) Scotland. We are renting a room in an adorable flat close to the city center of Glasgow. Yesterday I went to the University of Glasgow, where they filmed some of the Hogwarts scenes in the Harry Potter movies. My camera died, so I didn’t get to take pictures myself, but here are a few of the places I saw that you may recognize:

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We also went to The Cathedral of the Church of Scotland and the Glasgow Necropolis. The cathedral was enormous, very old, and absolutely stunning. I had never heard an organ played in a stone cathedral before, and I won’t try to describe the feeling of the sound, but if you’ve never experienced it, you should find a way. The Necropolis was one of the coolest things I’ve seen so far. The giant cemetery spreads up twisting pathways on a towering hill overlooking the city from the east. Graves date back to the late 1600s, and it is still a working cemetery today. I personally love angel statues, so I went on an angel hunt yesterday. More pictures of that soon!

Today if all goes well, we will go for a hack (trail ride with horses) in the moors just north of here. Well it’s time to get my trail riding stuff in order. Hope you enjoyed the update, and if all goes well I will be posting again sooner rather than later!

Jess

Day 87: Last Day in the Shelter

I said goodbye to my girls today. They are so sweet (when they choose to be) and thankfully today they chose to be :) Baked me a cake, made me jewelry, wrote me cards, and blessed me with their love. It really is an honor to receive love from girls who have every reason not to trust any human being ever again.

I am thoroughly convinced that there is no experience like interning in an aftercare shelter in the whole world.

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Day 61: In which I receive a fantastic package, visit a magical natural saltwater pool on the island of Thassos, and continue to be grateful for all the prayers headed my way

I won’t be posting this until later, but as I write I am currently enjoying the amazing Greek countryside on the drive back from the island called Thassos. We interns took another much needed break this weekend, this time overnight to the northernmost island in Greece. It’s about two hours by car and another hour on a ferry to get there, and it’s worth every minute of the trip.

Before I recount our daring adventures on the island, I first want to mention that I received the package from my church family on Friday and say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed, and especially Amy Tyce who put the whole thing together! I can’t even say how much it means to me to know that my brothers and sisters back home are still supporting me in this work even when I am so far away. The encouragement of your love and prayers is such a blessing to me. Thank you!

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I am still needing the prayers, by the way. The stress of sleepless overnight shifts has subsided, at least temporarily, however we are still in a transition period that is testing the attitudes, skill sets, and patience of everyone involved. God is definitely doing a work in me. And I will leave it at that.

So… Thassos! What a place. Gorgeous scenery, turquoise waters, a sense of adventure. Me and my girls here are not the kind to just lay around on a beach all day, so we did some research and found out about a rare occurrence in nature at the south side of the island. In the rocky cliffs at the bottom of the island, there is a naturally formed saltwater lagoon called Giola. In order to get to Giola, you drive an hour to Asteris, the nearest town, hang a right on an unmarked dirt road, drive until you can’t, and then follow the blue arrows painted on the rocks to your destination. Of course we couldn’t resist. Along the way we made one wrong turn that took us down a Guatemala-worthy bumpy road, ran across a quarter mile of goats being herded bell collars and all from one farm to the next, and several naked babies. (Apparently it is common in Europe to let children under three or so run around on the beach (or lagoon in our case) completely naked.)

The lagoon itself was fantastic. The rocks were white and worn off in interesting square patterns, and the pool was a clear green with little black fish and sea urchins. I didn’t get many pictures, but I will be stealing some from my roommates who brought their fancy cameras along. Here’s a couple to hold you over though:

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Saturday evening we found a hotel room back at the port city for only 60 Euros! Not the fanciest place, but I was grateful for clean sheets, A/C, and a flushing toilet.

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The next morning we got up bright and early and, after a delicious (included in the hotel fare!) Greek breakfast of fresh bread with cream and jam, boiled eggs, ripe fruit, and coffee, hit the nearest beach! It was a bit too chilly to get in the water, but beautiful for laying out and enjoying the scenery.

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And then it was time to load Kevin* back on the ferry and head back to Thessaloniki. Altogether a wonderfully adventurous weekend.

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*I can’t remember if I happened to mention Kevin in a previous post. His exact description will remain undetailed on this blog for security purposes, however I can tell you he has four wheels and more personality than many people I have encountered. He gets us where we need to go, but man will he let you know if that hill is too steep. And he changes the song when he feels you’ve played it too many times.

Day 58

Thank you so much for all of the prayers! We have seen God come through in so many ways in the past week: healing for the girls, a calm atmosphere at the house, a normal routine, AND a chance to hit the beach last Saturday! Armenistis was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, and we got to spend the whole day just enjoying the slightly chilly turquoise water, fresh fruit, summer sun, and amazing mountains in the background!

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And you will never believe what happened whilst I was toasting on the rocky Mediterranean sand, enjoying my jar of birthday peanut butter… An earthquake. Two tremors. The whole beach just shook back and forth like a herd of something enormous was stomping around for about five seconds. And then it was still, back to normal, kids out splashing in the waves, Pappou sitting under his umbrella next to Yiayia. Windsurf guy finished putting his kite thing together and took advantage of the bigger waves.

Honestly, it was so freaking cool. Any bigger and I might have gotten a little nervous, but I have now officially survived an earthquake in a foreign country. That’s right.

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In other news, please PLEASE keep the prayers headed this way. Things are calm now, but there is the chance for them to blow up again at absolutely any hour of the day or night. There are so many fantastic opportunities and ideas we interns have, but it takes a calm, well-planned house to pull them off. One month to go! Let’s make it a good one!

Day 48

I am halfway through the Greece portion of my trip.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Because I know you were all wondering, it is not because I’m lying on a remote internet-less beach somewhere too busy soaking in the Mediterranean sun rays. Nope. Haven’t even seen the beach yet. We interns were actually hoping on heading out to a beach for a few hours this weekend, but duty called, we answered, and several (more) sleepless nights have ensued. It’s great work, don’t get me wrong, but your prayers and love are truly appreciated now more than ever.

I can’t give specific details at the moment, but here’s what you can pray for:

- Energy for the interns! Spiritual and physical renewal even when we have very little time to rest.
– The physical and mental health of all the shelter girls
– That God would help me not grow weary in doing good
– For the new intern we picked up yesterday, (her name is Jessica as well!) that she would recover from jet lag quickly, and be physically and spiritually prepared to jump right in and add a much needed pair of helping hands.
– That everyone around us would be understanding about our need for rest and grace at this point, and our schedule goes back to normal ASAP.
– For good communication all the time, from everyone, everywhere.

And that’s pretty much it. If I could have those things, I would be one happy lady. I love you guys lots! You will never know how much your prayers and support mean to me during this time. Chao, baby.

Day Thirty Seven: Matthew 19:29

Well it’s taken over a month here in Greece, but I’m finally missing home. My loving parents and fantastic little bro, the loyal friends and family, the supportive church, the variety of food, the east Texas sunsets, the mix of cultures, the mold-free bathroom, and having time to work out. It’s funny though, because just as my longing for home grows, so does my passion for the work I’m doing in this season of my life. A21 is doing amazing things not only in Greece, but around the world. I am honored and humbled to know that the work I do here not only helps the girls in Greece who have been rescued achieve their dreams, but also has the potential to influence the perspectives of government leaders across the globe who can then make legislation that willchange this world for the better. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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In other news:

We pulled the sombrero and beard out again for my party at the shelter. Any excuse will do:

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Here’s my Oreo cake:

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And me eating my Oreo cake:

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And Kitchen bar, the restaurant we went to for my birthday dinner (SO GOOD):

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I am so grateful for all of the birthday love I got yesterday! You guys are the BEST!β˜ΊοΈπŸ‘‘πŸŽ‰