Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Important Detail!

For those of you who got a letter from me in the mail, I realized it might not be obvious that there's a very helpful little bit of information on a slip of paper in the pre-addressed envelope you received.

So, if you're unsure of how to make out any checks you may be writing, pull out that little card. But make sure and put it back! Or, just take note here that all checks should be made out to Beltway Park Baptist with "missions" in the memo line.

If the card isn't there, or you lose track of it, its main purpose is to designate who the money is for. Because all these donations go into the church's books and are tax-deductible, they should not have my name on them anywhere.

That's all for now!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Phase 1

The first step in this journey, after I prayerfully submitted an application to WorldWide Witness and was accepted, was to write a support letter. Because my spring semester of senior year was best described as crazy, it took me a while to get this all together. Many of you who are reading this probably received one because I included a note about this blog within the letter. However, there are friends who are easier to connect to online, so I thought I'd include what I wrote in my support letter here.

Hopefully it will provide a broader explanation of why I'm choosing to go and what I'll be doing.

Here's a portion of the cover letter from the director of WorldWide Witness:

"The Halbert Institute for Missions at Abilene Christian University encourages and equips men and women to participate in God's mission. As part of the Institute, WorldWide Witness gives students the opportunity to develop ministry skills by working with experienced mentors, either in summer internships or (after they graduate) in longer apprenticeships. In addition to the good that they do during their internships, many of these students will become long-term missionaries or informed and enthusiastic supporters of missions in local churches...This year WorldWide Witness will place students in more than twenty-five different locations around the world - places as diverse as the Bronx, New York; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Solwezi, Zambia; Auckland, New Zealand; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Nottingham, England."

And here's my letter:

I never expected to come to the end of my college years and sit down to write a support letter. Therefore, I come before you humbly, a bit awkwardly, but thoroughly sincere in wanting to include you in what lies ahead.

It is likely that you know my link to Auckland, New Zealand, was formed many years ago. My family moved there when I was four years old, and in the four years that followed, I learned to read, to write, and to ride a two-wheel bicycle. It was the place I had my first day of school, my first missing tooth, and my first crush.

It is foolish to deny that this common location has not influenced my decision to go into an internship through Worldwide Witness in the four months immediately following my August graduation. However, I am confident that the calling on my heart to love and give back to the land and people of New Zealand has grown stronger than my desire to go bury my toes in the sand at Whananaki beach (a favorite campsite of my family). That is the way it must be. I would not have peace writing this letter to you otherwise.

Here is a glimpse into what I’ll be doing: North Shore Church of Christ has graciously invited me into their small church. I have expressed a desire to walk alongside the middle school and high school girls and work in other forms of youth ministry. I also hope to put my graphic design and photography skills to use if they are of need. I know with a small congregation there will be many different tasks to do that I can’t even foresee, but I’m looking forward to being able to contribute and learn and grow.

What does any of this have to do with the art degree I’m about to hold in my hand? Perhaps nothing at all; only God knows. However, the advantage of being a graduate is that I am able to commit to more than the standard two-month summer period, and I look forward to the extra depth of relationship and personal challenge that will be possible in my extended time. In walking this out, I do not have any set plans beyond the New Year, so please pray about the doors that will be opened when this internship is through.

I must emphasize the importance of your prayers over my life, my heart, the North Shore Church, and Auckland. But, as it goes with these circumstances, I must ask you to prayerfully consider financially supporting me in this endeavor as well. It is an expensive one, totaling $4000, which includes airfare, room and board (I’ll be living with families within the church), other expenses within my internship, and a modest compensation amount.

Love and thanks,

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I am beginning this blog three months prior to my departure because the journey begins long before that plane takes off over the Pacific. In one sense, it began the day I turned in my application for Worldwide Witness, but in another, it began on the spring day in October of 1994 when my family of six boarded a plane and left Auckland.

I always knew I would return.

It is an honor to go back in an attitude of service and thanksgiving to God for all He has done and all He's going to do, which is why I mailed off over fifty letters this week with prayers on each of them.

While I have been cautious about throwing my heart into this too early in the process, now I'm far enough in that I know I'll experience hurt if plans shift. So, if they do - and that's certainly still a possibility - I'll have a good cry, ask you for continued prayer and support from a different angle, and remember back to the many lessons God has been teaching me in the past few years about his faithfulness. His perspective is so much broader and wiser than mine.

Between now and mid-September, when I plan to drive down to Los Angeles with my sister for a direct flight from LAX to Auckland, I'll use this blog to keep you informed on my needs, spiritual and financial.

Feel free to shoot me any questions or thoughts via email (laelvanessa-at-gmail-dot-com) or through the comments section of this blog.