Wednesday, September 28, 2005

School Daze

So Monday was our first day in class. We started the day with breakfast and an 8am class time. Brandon commented how in undergrad he never really got to class early (this is as we were approaching our classrooms at 7:45). Funny how things change.

We have enough homework to last us the semester already. I think we're going to have to figure out what of the assignments is SUPER IMPORTANT, and what is simply "important". I guess it's all going to make sense some day.

We've been hanging out in the library. Actually, in the basement of the library where Brandon got 'shhshed' in broken English by another student as he was trying to pronounce his Greek. Speaking Greek, I mean, speaking OF Greek, Brandon came up with a catchy song to learn his Greek alphabet. We've enjoyed singing it together. What other wife would learn Greek just to help out her hubby? Actually, probably a lot of them.

Today, I met with two girls from class to do a project. We had to pretend that we are Martians, and go to a public place (we chose the main gathering area on campus) and observe the people. We wrote down lots of stuff like: "Why do some of them wear protection on their feet, while others only have straps?" and "What are some of them doing with these tin cans up to their ears? Are they getting energy from that? Maybe they are relaying information back to their leader." Anyway, it was a pretty fun project, and we are going to meet again and write a paper (they are really big on papers here in seminary) about our findings and hypothesis. If it's any good, I may share a bit with you.

Well, I would love to stay on this and share my thoughts, but what do you know...I have some more reading to do!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Taste of Home

What a great day today was. After waking up and spending sweet time with the Lord, Brandon and I headed over to the Dream Center. There we met up with some friends from home...Jodi Felty and Josh Surratt. Jodi is the missions and outreach director at Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant. Josh is the small groups pastor there as well. They were in CA for a Saddleback P.E.A.C.E. confererence and afterwards spent some time with us. What a refreshing time of fellowship. There's just something about sharing our new lives with old friends that makes things even more special. What a great time for God to remind us of His faithfulness to us as we have been able to tell story after story of the adventures He's taken us on, the way He has provided for us, and the direction He is leading us towards. And what a wonderful way to hear about what He is doing in and through the church that I've loved, attended and served in for the last few years. Man, it was just so great. We got to share the Dream Center with them and take them on a tour. Josh had been before with his dad, but this was Jodi's first time, and she loved it. We went to our home and spent time together in our new town, eating, talking, sharing ideas and testimonies to God's goodness. I just feel filled up (and it's not just all the wonderful food we ate at the Cheesecake factory). Brandon and I have been so blessed with wonderful, encouraging people in our lives. We thank God for each of you who mean so much to us.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


A lot of friends and family have asked how school is going. Quite simply, it isn't yet. We began New Student Orientation this week, and have really enjoyed the time getting to know other students, faculty and staff at Fuller. Brandon, who is beginning the Masters of Divinity program, is planning on taking Greek, Greek, and more Greek this term (it's ALL Greek to him). Nicole, who is pursuing a Masters in Cross Cultural studies with an emphasis on Leadership Development, is taking two classes on cross cultural communication and transformation, and one class entitled Lifelong Leadership Development. The professors in the School of Intercultural Studies (affectionately known as SIS--everything here has an abbreviation) are dynamic and have so much experience on the mission field. Even after the introductory sessions, she feels that this is EXACTLY where she is supposed to be. Classes start on Monday.

As for making friends...well, anyone who knows us knows that we jumped right on that! Generally, people from California are...different from our Southern friends back home. Maybe a little more reserved. And it's funny to get made fun of for our accents (what accents?). But usually, it's a good ice breaker if nothing else. We have made a couple of young married friends. One couple from church is a candidate for lifelong friendship...We really hit it off with them, and look forward to seeing what God does in the relationship. We also really enjoy getting to know Slyvia, Sandy and Craig. They came in from Pheonix to help out with the Katrina relief at the Dream Center. We have all worked closely together for about 2 weeks straight. We have been able to really get to know them, and they are some of the most wonderful, hard working, committed people ever! What a blessing they have been to us. During Fuller orientation we have not been able to help out at the Dream Center, and though we don't miss the used clothes, dust, and sun beating down on us, we do miss interacting with them and serving beside them.

Mainly, we are really excited to discover that with each passing day, WE become better friends. Our time together has been extensive in the last two months, and we are so glad to see God's hand in it as He binds us closer together daily. The other day when Brandon went to the SOT (School of Theology) and Nicole went to the SIS, we really missed each other. We know that our situation has been an anomaly lately, and we're ready to get on with real life, but we have taken full advantage of our quality time together.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Make Room for the Broom

We were working over at the Dream Center the other day, and there were about 200 students from Pepperdine helping us. All of the sudden (as suddenly as 200 people can possibly disappear), they were gone. Where did they go? Brandon went to look for them, and found them in the gym getting ready to go on Adopt-A-Block. We were not able to go that weekend because of all the donations, and it was really great that they got a chance to experience that kind of outreach. Anyway...so Brandon went into the gym and there was a guy speaking to the volunteers. He was up front along with two girls. One girl was holding a broom up in the air. The other girl was holding a microphone. This man, Jason Hamlin, (who, by the way has an amazing ministry feeding the poor all over the world), was speaking so passionately that Brandon had to stay and listen. Pointing to the broom, Jason said,
"The kingdom of God is about THIS!" (pause)
"But we think it's about this" (points to the microphone).
"So many people want this" (microphone), "but are not willing to become acquainted with THIS" (broom).
"God wants you to know how to use THIS (broom) and MAYBE after you learn how to use it, He may give you the opportunity to use this (microphone), BUT ONLY so that you can point people back to THIS!"

It's so simple, but so true. Our society today wants to be successful so quickly. We want to rise to the top, or rather, start out on the top. Very few emerging young leaders understand the concept of "Make Room for the Broom", and yet, some of the greatest leaders in history have been SERVANT LEADERS.

It's our prayer that if God ever gives us the microphone, that we will already be well acquainted with the broom...that we will know how to serve, how to be in the trenches, how to do the jobs that don't get any glory...we pray that God would keep us out of the spotlight so that He can develop us as we humble ourselves and do the dirty work. Then, and only then, will we have something to share with others.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Guests to the Dream Center

On September first our pastor, Matthew Barnett, announced to the church that God had given him a vision to help in the Hurricane Katrina Relief effort. He was driving down the road praying and wishing that the Dream Center was in New Orleans so we could help them. God said, 'you can still help them out in L.A.' He then received a call from a pastor buddy in Baton Rouge who asked him if he could house 300 guests at the Dream Center for up to a year to help them get on their feet again. Pastor Matthew agreed to it, and started making arrangements and phone calls. The dream was birthed, and the church backed it up wholeheartedly. By Sunday, there were 10 evacuees who had been flown in on a donated private jet at our morning service. They are now our guests, part of our family. Over the course of the week, over 200 more were brought in to join them. Each guest will receive free housing, food, clothing, medical care, grief counseling, childcare, job training and placement and help to get back on their feet for up to a year. The media took hold of this and ran with it. Our parking lot was filled to capacity with news trucks. Celebrities came out to offer support...Magic Johnson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Dr. Phil, just to name a few. In fact, Dr. Phil did a show from the Dream Center and gave three families homes and apartments, and it aired on 9/13. Donations and volunteers came pouring in, and before we knew it, we were put in charge of both. From 8am to 6pm we were responsible along with three other folks who came in from Arizona, for anywhere from 50-1000 volunteers and over 5 hospital floors full of donations. We've been working our tails off, and have both gotten sick from all the dust and lack of rest. After over two weeks of work, we've had to take a little time off for school orientation and to make sure our bodies are ready to take on the vigors of seminary and ministry.

Thanks so much to all who have been a part of our journey so far, both prayerfully and financially. It is such a blessing to have the support of so many friends and family who love us and believe in us. God is doing amazing things, and we are so excited to be a part of it.