Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Impossible + God = Possible!!!



"For with God, nothing is impossible. And Mary said,
Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."
Luke 1:37, 38
* * *
God has been teaching me a lot in the days leading up to my trip! He is teaching me that I have to depend completely on Him for everything... okay, He's been trying to teach my this lesson for some time, but I'm not always the fastest learner! (That's what makes me grateful for a very patient Heavenly Father!) He is teaching me that integrity calls for me to stand alone, even when it hurts. He is teaching me in my weakness, that true strength is displayed! And He is teaching me that He is able to provide for my every need!

The fundraiser we had was a huge success and I was able to raise almost half of the money I had borrowed to pay for the camp and my ticket. (I had to get a loan to pay for both.) A few other gifts of support have trickled in since then.

Then, I felt impressed a couple days ago, to start praying that God would take care of the rest of that loan before I leave for China.

The next day, I got an email from my friend Christy, from Bring Me Hope. It read like this:

* * *
Nicole ... Great News!!! You have been awarded a $150 scholarship from BMH.
This money can be used towards your camp fees... Christy
* * *
I almost burst into tears! I didn't even know they had a scholarship program! (And don't ask me why I was chosen.) Then today, I got a money order in the mail... one hundred dollars. I was also given an anonymous gift of five dollars. Every penny counts and is a blessing! This takes the balance on my loan down to a mere $464!!! Praise to God!!!
What seemed like an nearly impossible task, is suddenly a reality! Please pray with me that in these last fifteen days before I leave, that God can lay it on people's hearts to give as lead, so the rest of this balance can be taken care of. I know He can do it and I can't wait to see how it happens. Isn't it fun how God is full of surprises!?
Thanks again for each of your prayers and financial help! It means so much! Stay tune for rest of the story!
* * *
"For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle
upon a thousand hills."
Psalms 50:10

Monday, June 25, 2007

FYI

I guess I've never actually posted when exactly I leave and return. So for all you wondering folks, here's the low-down:

Departure:
July 13; 9:31 am - Fly out of Cedar Rapids
July 13; 10:33 am - Arrive in Chicago (special prayer at this time; I hear it's a big airport!)
July 13; 12:40 pm - Fly out of Chicago on a Boeing 747 for Bejing!

...fly for hours and hours and hours - thirteen to be exact!

July 14; 3:00 pm (About 2:00 am Central time) - Arrive in Bejing!!! (special prayer at this time too, since I will have already been awake for about twenty hours and it will only be afternoon!)

...have the best ten days in my life...then say goodbye to my new, close friends!

Return:
July 24; 4:20 pm (About 3:20 am Central time) - Fly out of Bejing
July 24; 4:13 pm - Arrive in Chicago (Wow! I actually will gain three minutes!)
July 24; 6:45 pm - Fly out of Chicago
July 24; 7:48 pm - East or west, home is best!!!

Continued thanks to everyone for their prayers. It will be great to know I have to many dear friends lifting me before the Father!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Story - Part One

Where does my China story start???


...the day I signed the camp application with Bring Me Hope?

...the day we first heard of that ministry?

...the day I responded to God's call on my life and asked Him into my heart at our kitchen table before lunch?

...the day I was born?

...the day my parents were married?

...the day God first thought to make me apart of His world?


Or... was it when He first thought to create this universe???


I guess I will never really know, because none of us can really understand the deep workings of God's mind. But I like to imagine that it has been on His mind since the day He thought of me. No, not just imagine, but know!


Just like I don't know when the story first started, neither do I know when I really knew I wanted to be a missionary. I know there have been seeds planted along the way; riveting stories of brave women like Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael, and Gladys Alyward; a message preached by our friends who spent four years in Guatemala, on what it takes to be a missionary; those words my mom spoke to me after a frugal move in the kitchen when I was only thirteen - "Wouldn't Nicole make a great missionary?!"; monthly reports from friends who had left our church to be missionaries to Ghana, Africa; sponsoring a little Kenyan girl and learning more over the years how needy so many people are across the world.


Each event was like a log thrown on a fire and it has grown from little sparks to a burning fire in my heart from when I was just a young teenager, that I wanted to be a missionary. I never really cared where I would go... so long as there were children there. They were what tugged at my heart the hardest, deepest and longest. I remember one time I thought I wanted to go to Vietnam. Then there was Africa. Central or South America would have been fine too. But never China. That was the country my Dad had a burden for. Not mine.


Funny how God has His ways of changing our minds!



"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?
and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
and how shall they hear without a preacher?"
Romans 10:14

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Around the World This Summer

Kip

My cousin, Kip, was suppose to be heading to Ukraine in about one week to travel around to orphanages and do ministry work... that is until his passport was stolen out of his car a little over a week ago. With his ticket purchased and all the plans in order, it's devistating to say the least!
Please pray that whoever committed the act would be convicted and return the manditory document before his plane leaves the country! Most of all, pray that God's will would be brought about - Ukraine or not!


Allison and Yours Truly

Since I am asking for prayer, I'll add two other very dear girls - adopted cousins! - to the list who are headed to Africa this summer! Allison and Kelly will be in Kenya doing mission work in a clinic and orphanage - respectively. They are very excited and I'm sure would appreciate your prayers!

Kelly

What a blessing to see young people who don't just say they want to serve God, but walk it out in daily life! Love ya guys!

* * *

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness
and all these things shall be added unto you!"
Matthew 6:33

Monday, June 18, 2007

Standing Together


Saturday evening - it was typical Iowa, 'almost-summer' weather. We gathered at our favorite little church in the 'blink-n-miss' town of Joetown. Seated in the hard, wooden benches were about fifty of our family's close friends who came out to show their support for my adventure to China.

Our family started out by singing a very fitting song for the setting:
"I recall a slender steeple, a church house filled with people
And voices lifted up in happy song!
With music so exciting, so warm and so inviting
I had to enter in and sing along!"

After we sang several more songs, our friends from HeartStrings played Amazing Grace and a very unsure version of Orange Blossom Special. (We failed to practice with our pianist before the performance! Not such a good idea.)

About midway through the program, it was fun to welcome the Ockenfels family to the small stage to share three very upbeat, bluegrass songs. The crowd really enjoyed their version of Cripple Creek, where they mixed in several simple, but very funny jokes!
Aaron: Alexander -
Alexander: What -
Aaron: Why were the little strawberries sad?
Alexander: I don't know, why were the little strawberries sad?
Aaron: Because their parents were in a jam!

During the time of the freewill offering, I had the privilege of showing a special DVD showcasing the ministry of Bring Me Hope and also what the summer camps entail. (Visit the site to see the same DVD!)

Tiffany and I closed by singing the song Handmade by God. It really summerized the reason I am going to China; to show those kids that they were made for a purpose, that they are special, and that I am so glad to be there spending time with them!


It was a special night of connecting with dear friends and seeing how they are standing with me this summer - both financially and in prayer! I know I am not going over to China alone! Thank you all again! You are all so special!
* * *
Of course no Chmelar event is complete without a game of football!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

He IS My Supply!

The benefit concert was a smash-up success! The music was a very uplifting. Another quarter of my trip expenses were raised (That means I'm halfway there!) The prayers from precious saints were encouraging. And the cookies and fellowship was sweet. Praise God - it's all because of Him!
God's finger has been all over this trip thus far. It amazes me over and over again how the doors are thrown wide and you better believe I am walkin' through!
A more detailed report and pictures will follow soon!

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way."
Psalms 37:23

Friday, June 15, 2007

Preparing to Perform


I have learned a lot the last ten weeks about international travel.

First, you need this thing called a passport. I guess it's what gets you in and out of the country... or something like that. Oh, they also want to you to have a special picture taken for the passport. No family snapshots. Though I must say I look a lot better in those. In my passport picture, I look like a jailbird because of my shirt - black and tan horizontal stripes. (Not such a great idea!)

You need shots... if you want to lessen your risk of contracting a disease like Hepatitis.

Then there's the visa. The cost of room and food. Luggage - kinda important for all the Chinese loot I plan on bringing home. (Kinda ironic since most the stuff from Wal-Mart is made there anyway!) I needed more clothes since I can't plan on washing all ten days. Toilet paper - for the squatty-potties.

All this makes the sound of 'ching-ching' in my mind. I've learned it's not exactly cheap to head halfway across the word!

Thus tomorrow night, we are having a concert fundraiser to raise awareness of my trip and help people see what I'm gonna be doing and to ask people to pray... and, ahem, to ask people for money. (There's no nice way to say that.)

On the serious side, I most of all covet people's prayers. I can always work more hours, get other jobs, and stop buying chocolate to pay for my trip. But no amount of money can buy the Holy Spirit going with me over to China. That's really the most valuable thing!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

China Bound!


I am so excited that in a short 30 days, I'll get on a plane in Cedar Rapids and head to China! So excited there have been times I literally can't think straight!

I almost have all my 'legal stuff' done:

- Passport

- Hepatitis B Shot

- Airline Ticket

Now I just need my visa... I guess that is kinda important when it comes to getting into the country!

Over the next couple weeks, I will share the beginnings to this story, The Journey of Hope.
Until then... Goodnight!