Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My First YWAM Blog Post, Yeehaw!

Hello to all of my wonderful friends and family!

I still can't get my head around the fact that I am writing this to you from Smithtown, New York. I live in New York. How weird is that? Very. I think I might actually still be in shock. I am starting my fourth week here at YWAM Metro New York. And yes, I am still loving every single flipping minute of it. I don't think I have ever been so busy so please excuse me for how long it has taken to update my blog. But I thought it would be nice to take some time today and post something new so that everyone has an idea of what I am doing here and what I am learning. 

So as I said this is week four here at YWAM. Our first week was sort of an orientation/get to know you week which was actually really great. The past few weeks we have started lecturing with guest speakers. The second week we learned about intercession, this past week we learned about the nature and character of God, and this week we are learning about the holy spirit. Every morning I wake up at 6 AM and get ready and have what we call here at YWAM work duties. My job is breakfast duty which is essentially waking up every day and getting everything ready for breakfast for everyone here on base. And then of course there's dishes and cleanup afterwards which is usually accompanied by dance parties to gospel music in the kitchen (no seriously one morning the two girls I work with started a conga dance line around the kitchen.) One of the main things I prayed for coming here to YWAM was that I would be put even more out of my comfort zone and this job at first was quite the struggle for this little kitten who really loves her sleep. But now that I look at it as a chance to serve the Lord and serve my fellow students and staff, the more I have come to enjoy it. I actually think it might be my favorite part of my day. Every day after breakfast and quiet times, we always have a time of worship or devotion or intercession. Lectures take up most of the morning, and then there's lunch and other activities in the afternoon. Some nights we have off that we usually spend catching up on Nashville or going to the laundromat down the street to do laundry. Other nights we will have worship and community nights, and then once a week we meet with small groups and do fun things like watch movies or bake or go to town to get ice cream. Fridays are our Outreach days, where we go out into the city and try to serve people and share Jesus. This past weekend we went to Brooklyn and set up prayer stations at a street festival in Brooklyn. But more about that later. We have Saturdays and Sundays off, and we usually spend those sleeping and playing cards and going to church. Even though we are very busy throughout the day, everything is very low-key and laid back which I absolutely love. I never feel the pressure to go out and do something just to do something, it's just as cool here to play ping pong with friends as it is to go to a bar in Tuscaloosa. Needless to say I like it here a whole lot. I haven't even lived here a whole month yet, and I am already dreading leaving this place for the holidays. 

The people I am surrounded with here at YWAM are absolutely incredible. I know I talk a lot and that I usually over exaggerate everything, but believe me when I say that I am obsessed with the students and the staff here. There are 17 girls and 3 boys doing this program with me, and then about 10 or 15 staff that are just the best. Everyone is around the same age, the youngest being 16 and the oldest student is 25. We have students from all over - a few from New York, a couple fellow southerners, a few from Colorado, Oregon, Texas, and Michigan, and then some from Germany, Canada, and the UK! (Yes for those of you wondering to yourself about how I am holding up with a real life British friend at this program with me - I am absolutely obsessed with her and I usually just follow her around and ask her to say things and just smile at her from across the room because she's just so lovely.) I think my favorite part about the people here is just how genuine they are. Everyone here is desperately seeking the Lord and looking for some direction for their life, just like me. No one knows what's next for them and so it's reassuring that we are all taking some time off and figuring out what the Lord wants from us in the future. The first week we were here the students and the staff spent a few days laying in a circle telling our testimonies to the group. And now three weeks later I feel like these people are my family. I can walk into any room here and sit down with anyone and talk about anything, which I just love. I might not know someone's dog's name or favorite color or what car they drive, but after hearing their testimonies and living with them for a month, I really feel like I have known them forever. Every person here is very uplifting and very encouraging, and honestly I just never want to leave. Obviously we are all very different and some of us don't really have anything in common, but we all have Jesus to talk about so it just doesn't really matter if we like the same music or movies or TV shows. I've always thought that I could only be friends with people who are like me - outgoing, extroverted, laid back, loud - but some of my best friends here are actually really quiet and introverted and enjoy silence and solitude. Thank you Lord for putting all of these amazing people into my life. You knew exactly what I was looking for and gave me more than I could have ever asked for!

The culture here in Smithtown is very different from what I am used to. People are weird. Some are mostly angry and easily aggravated. Cars honk their horns a LOT and drive like they are Ricky Bobby trying to shake and bake. There is no Chickfila or Publix here (insert crying face emojis at this point.) I love talking to strangers and making conversations with employees at different businesses but no one does that here. I say thank you and you're welcome and excuse me to people and they look at me like I just said I was thinking about stealing their children. People here on base literally call me Southern Belle because of my accent. I didn't even think I had an accent coming here but everyone thinks I sound hilarious. No one here says dadgummit. No one here wears oversized clothing. NO ONE DRINKS SWEET TEA. Everyone does like Nutella though so we do have a little bit of an overlap, thank ya Lord. So yes, life is very different. But I absolutely LOVE it. And I wouldn't want to be at anywhere else. No one has their cars here so we walk everywhere. And I mean everywhere. We can't listen to secular music or watch R-rated movies and we don't have access to a TV. We play a lot of board games and cards and watch a lot of old disney movies. Life is different from life in Alabama but so far I am just loving it. 

I was just telling my Mumsie last week that I wish I had done this earlier. It's terrifying to get out of your comfort zone because we get so comfortable with our daily routines. But one of the first things I have learned here is that change can be good for you. If God can get us out of our box, we become vulnerable and I think that's when He can start working on our hearts without us getting distracted. I really miss my family and my dogs and all of my friends, but I don't want to go home yet. I have so much more to learn here. I am so thankful for this experience and I wanted to say a special thank you to all of you who have been praying for me and that helped me get out here. I wish all of you could be here and take part in this incredible ministry. I am so blessed that God chose me to stop what I was doing and come here and spend some time with Him. Thank you to everyone who has been calling and texting and face timing me -- it's so good to hear from all of you! I want to stay as connected as possible to everyone at home so please keep updating me on your lives. If there is anything that you would like me to be specifically praying for, please don't hesitate to text or call me. I am literally just sitting around here reading through my Bible and praying and talking to people so I would love to set some time aside to pray for you. 

The last thing that I wanted to mention in this post is what all I have been learning about myself and about God this past month. I think God has put it on my heart to tell people that it's okay to be different. It's okay to not follow the norm, and it's okay to chase your dreams and invest in what you love. I can't even begin to explain to you how caught up I got in college - my sorority, my grades, the parties, the boys, the football games, the list goes on forever - and now that I am out of it I can see so much more clearly. You can't really tell when you are in the midst of it because everyone around you is pretty much just like you - talking like you talk, dressing like you dress, acting like you act. Now that I am looking back on my time in college I am actually kind of disappointed in myself. I always told myself that I wouldn't be that girl who did what people wanted her to do and wanted her to be and that is exactly what I became. I don't know what's next for me in my life, whether it is going back to Alabama to get a degree, starting a photography business, applying to go staff with YWAM, or anything that the Lord tells me to do, but I know now that I have to go about it differently. I want to be different. I don't want to be one of the crowd. I want to do the right thing for me, not necessarily the right thing that society is telling me to do. The world tells us to follow the crowd and try to fit in and try to just get by. But I don't want to live someone else's life anymore. I want to live my own and I want to do it for the glory of God. I want to watch TV shows that I want to watch and go to sleep early and listen to praise music in my car and be friends with who I want to be friends with. I don't want to hang out with friends in bars and I don't want to party. Why do something if you don't enjoy it and if it doesn't please the Lord? When we all can wrap our heads around the fact that Jesus is literally the only thing that matters, the sooner we can actually feel like we are living fulfilled lives because we are living with a purpose. I feel like I have just been flailing around the past three years at Alabama searching for some direction, when all I really needed to do was turn to Jesus and seek Him for everything that I need. I don't even know if this all makes sense but I thought I would at least try to get across what all the Lord has been doing inside of me the past few weeks. All I know is that God made me specifically and has a very precise plan for my life, so I've got to stop looking at the world and at other people for direction. If we say that we are living for Jesus and seeking the Lord but we don't even spend time with Him or consult Him about this life that He has created for us, how can we ever expect to become more like Him? 

I will try posting again soon, life is crazy busy here but I want to keep everyone updated on what we are up to and everything the Lord is doing here! I am going to add some pictures of my first few weeks here in New York! I hope you all (yeah you read that right, these northerners are really rubbing off on me) have the best week! Thanks so much for reading all of my terribly random ramblings. 

God bless you and your family this week! 
Love you and miss you all dearly,
Kitty xoxo

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