My Trip to India
It seems surreal to have already gone to and returned from India. I met with other members of my graduate cohort to tour and learn about different faith groups, and to think about religious pluralism.
Our week was packed with a visit to a mosque and a boys’ orphanage, an Islamic school for young men, a Jain temple, and a Sikh temple. We had a question-and-answer time with a yoga guru, and later a Hindu scholar. We traveled to one of the largest Tibetan settlements in Bylakuppe, India, and visited the Golden Temple. We also received a guided tour of the Mysore Palace. We attended a Christian church and finished the week by presenting our thesis proposals.
While out and about taking photos in India, my creativity was flowing. There was so much to see all around me. I captured many photographs that I really like.
Traveling in India is interesting. We mostly traveled by van. Painted lines on the road mean nothing. Honking is constant as drivers warn others of their presence. Rolling stops are more often the case than full stops. Drivers maneuver around vehicles and pedestrians with inches to spare.
One night, we walked back to our hotel from a restaurant. In walking like the locals, we walked through a roundabout in the middle of traffic and the vehicles parted around us. Later in the week, we rode in a Tuk Tuk to a mall for 80 rupees or $1.15. That was a fun, noisy and exciting ride.
I’m often mistaken as Indian, and I anticipated that I would either have many people come up to me and assume I speak their language or I would have the exact opposite response and people would notice differences in me and not do that. At the airport just before departure, a woman walked up to me and asked me a question in her own language. I simply smiled and said, “I speak English.” She said sorry and looked for someone else.
Leaving India, I followed two men in front of me to the shortest line at the airport security checkpoint. I began to grab a bin for my things when a security guard had asked me to move out of that line to what I thought was the next line. So I moved to the next security line, and he tapped my shoulder again pointing farther. I looked to where he wanted me to go. It took me a few seconds to realize that the line he was pointing toward was a women’s line and I was standing in a men’s line. I laughed at myself, apologized and moved over to the women’s line.
India is the most populous place I have ever visited. I’m thankful all that I was able to see and experience. The trip was so quick that I wish I could have spent more time exploring.
Stoked in Costa Rica
This trip to Costa Rica was filled with papaya, pineapple, and people. I traveled with a group from Sioux Falls First to capture the trip through photos and videos.
Within the first couple of days, I got to see a glimpse of a 25-year long story come full circle for one of our leaders as we prayed for a man who was recently diagnosed with cancer. My leader had prayed for his salvation for all of those years. We talked with him and learned that within this past year he received Jesus in his heart and he is now going to a house church in his community.
I had such anticipation of what else the Lord would show me as we headed from the beaches to the mountains.
We arrived at a Youth With A Mission base and started to build a cabin that will house mission teams, missionaries in training, and YWAM staff. During the trip, we got as far as finishing the frame of the cabin.
At the same time, one of the leaders taught classes on Community Health Evangelism to seven students. This course is geared toward training leaders to empower people within a community to solve their specific social problems. The approach is holistic, dealing with all aspects of life.
The Lord helped me realize the opportunity to reach out to the missionaries there and offer them my photography talent and equipment so they could share their stories better through high-quality photos or videos. This is something I have dreamed of doing for years.
In all of this, God spoke to me about my future, and without thinking about which word to use, I described my excitement to another person by saying, “I’m stoked!” That was the best way to describe how I felt and still feel.
Stoke: to stir up or tend a fire; to feed abundantly. This trip was one of God stoking the fire that is in my soul. Halfway through the week, I woke up with the song in my heart called Set a Fire by Will Reagan.
“Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of you God. I want more of you God.”
I couldn’t get that song out of my heart or head. The fullness of God’s love surrounded me, and my heart felt full and heavy all the way home to South Dakota.
I’m excited for the future. I believe God is going to do far more than I could ever ask or imagine.
My Ever-Present Tutor
In July 2013, I was overseas looking out at some mountains as that Lord began to show me which desires of mine He had placed in my heart. One of the desires was to earn a master’s degree. I had no idea when this would take place or where or what program to go into. I distinctly remember thinking and praying about how I would love to travel the world as a type of apprentice with people who have already traveled the world over. My prayer was more of a comment to God telling him how awesome I thought that would be.
Fast forward three years to September 2016. I was overseas again and preparing to return to the U.S. I was mandated to complete classes that would help me get a job and reintegrate into society. In the process, my mom suggested that I consider graduate school. I prayed about it not knowing where on earth I would go or for which degree. I looked up many biographies and graduate programs in the world. I prayerfully narrowed it down to a couple places that I was interested in.
Over five days, God showed me which college and why this was the time. He often confirms things in my life through my mom, and this was no exception. He had shown my mom the exact same specific reasons that I was to move forward in this at this time.
Trinity Bible College and Graduate School was never on my radar before September 2016. I had never visited there. I applied while still overseas and was accepted. I’m now working toward a master’s degree in global theology. What I like most about this program is that I travel the world with people who have already been there before.
Long before classes started, the Lord promised to help me through graduate school, and I am so thankful for His help. He is my ever-present help.
“God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46: 1-3.
I remember struggling for weeks with a research paper during my first semester. I had read and re-read the syllabus, and I didn’t know what to do with the paper. I needed feedback. The staff at TBC&GS is excellent in providing feedback and encouraging and praying with their students. This time, however, I asked for feedback and was directed to read the syllabus. Mentally exhausted, I decided to take a nap and set my alarm for 40 minutes. I slept for two hours. I would have been upset by being that much closer to the deadline, but something happened. While napping, I had a dream. In my dream, I was reading my paper, and I saw how I could finish it. When I woke up, I typed it before I could forget it and was done with it.
I find this very unusual, and I do not encourage procrastination with hopes that this will happen. God knows that I was not procrastinating. I’ve honestly never heard of this happening to anyone. What doesn’t surprise me is that I was dreaming about a solution. I often dream about solutions to problems. Some of the solutions to world problems that I dreamed as a child were quite silly.
Last semester during a late night of studying, I felt God impress upon my heart that He enjoys helping me research and draft my papers. I understand that He knows everything there is to know about everything. Sometimes He gives me better words to use and sometimes he encourages me to read another book. I’m thankful that He helps me discover and understand things I’ve never known or understood.
This semester is well underway. I’m studying religious pluralism. Books for this topic are pictured above. Globalization and pluralization on all levels make for exciting times that we live in. Although there are serious challenges in our world, we are not without hope. God is not surprised by any of the changes taking place.
This program has helped me think about things I’ve never thought of before. Every semester has gotten better. I’m halfway done, and I’m so thankful that God is helping me. He is so good.