Sunday, July 28, 2013


Nicknames are things that are given by those who know and love us. I have been given many over my lifetime such as natalie rattalie, cookie, natasha, mondegini, sujata, muzungu mulalu and natal snake. These names all represent very specific times/events in my life so when I hear people calling me these names it brings back a flood of memories.

This week at camp a youth group that I worked with for four years was there and from the opposite side of camp I hear "NATAL SNAKE" and I knew exactly who that student was. It brought back all the good times I had with that group but also the growing pains of being asked to move on from that group. It was fun watching two of my worlds collide as my staff learned more about me through my students and they vow to start using "natal snake" which I am okay with.

A very real anxiety I have about moving my life to Peru is that I will not find community that will love me and allow me to be broken. The community at Forest Home is so comfortable for me because this is my second summer and God has brought people around me who will walk with me through the fear and anxiety of these next steps. I often compare camp life to Disneyland because we are all living, working and serving together which gives us time to be intentional with each other. I know God is a God of provision and He knows the desire of my heart and will provide community for me in Peru because He is calling me there. I will choose to trust in His provision as I leave camp for the last time in a few weeks. I trust that He will bring people around me at home that will listen and pray through my fears but also encourage me in my joy. As January draws nearer and the pre-departure checklist becomes a priority, I know God will provide for my every need and I will trust that He will guide every step and conversation along the way.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Camp Life

Reality set in this week. I am leaving in 6 months. I am leaving the comforts of Southern California to pursue living and serving among the poorest of the poor in Lima, Peru. This means leaving many things that have meant so much to me over the last few years. As summer speeds by, it means that I am closing out my time at Forest Home where I learned the beauty and hardship of living in community as well as watched God transform the lives of students as they seek Him. As the fall approaches, I will start my last semester of substitute teaching and saying goodbye to kids that I have watched grow up over the last five years. January will be filled with goodbyes. Goodbyes to people I have known my entire life as well as goodbyes to people who I have just recently met and love.

One of the things I am currently struggling through is grieving things that I will be leaving like working at camp. Forest Home is a special place where last summer I so clearly heard God call me to serve in Peru. I have learned how hard but good it is to live in community and be transparent within a community setting. It is so life giving to have youth pastors pour into me as I serve their students. They have spoken life-giving words in a way that renew my spirit in the midst of difficult weeks or teach me how to find real rest and real joy while doing ministry. God has surrounded me with people that have loved me well this summer. I am so grateful for one young lady in particular who is also being called in to full time missions so we are able to be honest with our fears and anxieties. The conversations I have everyday with my new friends on staff have become such gifts and they are able to encourage me as I process through leaving. I realized how much of a gift time is. I value the rare moments where I can have real conversations with one person in my room while getting ready or while sitting on Tucker porch and watching bloobers fly through the air. I value the friendships I have made this summer as well as the ones that grew from last summer.

I am learning to lean into God's calling and I have full confidence that He will provide for my every need along the way. I am learning what it means to leave well while also enjoying and embracing every moment.

"Jesus said, 'Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life." Mark 10:29-30

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Joy in the Little Things

Life at camp is usually a million miles an hour. We are usually working from 7am and don't go to bed till 1 or 2am on average. I love it and could not imagine a better place to spend 3 of my last 6 months before I head to Peru. I get to sit and listen to high school students as they process through what their faith really means. I also see how God works in and through youth groups as they have a week free of distractions. One of my favorite things each week is taking my team on a night hike up to Inspiration Point where I challenge them to sit in silent awe of God's beauty in the mountains and stars and realize they are more important than even the most beautiful, star-filled night. At first the counselors and students are hesitant and reluctant when I pitch out the idea because they don't want to hike or they would rather sleep. I convince them that it will be a good thing and let God do all the work once we get up there. Nuggets of joy are what I look for when I am tired or exhausted and surprisingly that is enough. I have an awesome group this week from El Paso, TX on my team and they have been a huge encouragement in the way they love each other well. This week, I have been more aware of the fact that God does not need me in order to work in the lives of the campers. So many times, I feel that I am doing nothing when I share my story or when I am eating dinner with my students but then there will be nuggets of joy such as a really cool conversation about how God is working in their week at camp or a student will ask me about going into full time missions. Nuggets of joy are gifts from God. I am grateful that God has allowed me to work at Forest Home for a second summer and there is no where I would rather be.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I have decided to pursue God's calling for my life by committing to living and working among the poorest of the poor in Lima, Peru. There are so many things that go through my mind when I think about the reality of life in a foreign country as well as all the things I am leaving behind. I am working at Forest Home again this summer with high school students and I get to share my story/journey with about 300 people a week. I get to share a little bit about my time in Kolkata, Spain and Uganda and I realized how good God has been in my life. He has provided ways for me to invest in those around me and opened my eyes to the reality of life beyond my little bubble. I have seen God's joy on the faces of Ugandan children as I chased after them with all the energy I had each day. I have seen the reality of hope for women coming out of the trade in Kolkata. I have learned the importance of community through my time at Forest Home and the friendships that have been encouraging me as I prepare to leave. I am preparing to leave in January 2014 which seems like it is a long way off and so soon all at the same time. As I begin to process through what it means to leave, I am comforted in the fact that I have never been more certain or more scared about anything in my life. I am fully confident that God is calling to serve in Peru and will provide love, joy, peace and hope in very real ways just as He has done in the past. As I was preparing to speak this week, I ran across a prayer that I wrote during a silent retreat in Kolkata which reminded me of the brokenness I experienced as I lived among the poor. I asked God to break me so that He could create a beautiful mosaic out of my broken pieces. That is my prayer for this summer at camp as I share my story and learn how to live well in community. That is my prayer as I look to the future and join a new community thousands of miles away from home. That is my prayer as I begin to dream of my new life serving among the poor. God, continue to break me so that You can be glorified.