The Magnitude of God Revealed Through a Week in NOLA

I recently joined a Christian Fellowship club on campus and it has been really wonderful so far. A couple months in, I was asked to come on an "alternative spring break trip" with them. This slightly put me off seeing how I didn't know anyone that well yet. However, I had been asking God to give me opportunities to serve and this seemed like a great way to start. So there I was, sitting on a bus for 27 long hours, with people who I would consider acquaintances.
This week we painted homes in the 9th ward of New Orleans. Prior to this trip I knew little to nothing about New Orleans, nor had I been closer than a few hundred miles from Louisiana itself. I was told that this trip was "life changing," but of course I didn't think that it would in fact effect my life to that extent.

I was wrong.
For me, this mission trip was about love. It was about connecting with people, understanding them and loving them. It was about humbling myself so that my God would be praised. This past week I met some amazing people who love God with all their hearts. I was exposed to people who have different beliefs that I do, and that resulted in me falling in love with God all the more. I looked at the big perspective of who God is and that showed me just how much He surpassed all my prior understandings of who He is. Take God out of the compartmentalized boxes you put Him in and witness how indescribable He is.
This week was about stopping the race that has become the norm in our everyday lives as we sprint from one finish line to the next without stopping to smell the roses. Every moment is so precious. Every moment is a gift.

Leading up to the trip I prayed for internal transformation, softening of my heart, ears to listen and for community. God answered every single one of those prayers in addition to showing me how He was working in the lives of so many other people along the way simultaneously.
As an introvert, I rarely reach out to others. I keep myself in a box and I'm perfectly content that way. Therefore this trip was a tad uncomfortable, as I had to speak with a variety of people who are much different than myself. God puts us in uncomfortable situations for the purpose of making us more like Jesus. I had prayed for internal transformation and God undeniably answered my prayer. Moral of the story: be careful what you wish for.
God softened my heart and gave me the opportunities to listen to peoples stories and hear their hearts. It is a blessing to figure out the hearts of others and what has made them the way they are. Every face has a story. Everyone is struggling with something. Everyone has passions. Everyone has pain. Choosing to love on them is one of our greatest commandments as Christians living in a broken world and what a joy it is to get to do that today, and every day.
My biggest hope and prayer of this week was to cultivate some Christian friendships. Actually, that was a "New Years Resolution" I set a few months back. This week I connected with five other girls who I can now call my sisters. In just one week, God has made it possible for me to now be a part of a seriously amazing group of women. God knows my heart so well because He knows that I do not put myself out there and try to make friends. I've never been good at that. I always assume everyone is already really close and that there's no place for me. Well, this trip I didn't even have to force myself to be friends with people. It was like God literally placed these women in my life and all six of us automatically connected and had this feeling as if we'd been friends for years. How Great is our God?!
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” - Matthew 18:20
On another note, painting homes to me seemed insignificant. I was asking God, "Why on earth are we painting homes when we could be doing something that actually matters?" Something like repairing homes that are impossible to live in. I'll be honest, painting seemed like a waste of time.
I was wrong yet again.
One day the owners of the house we were painting invited us in their home for lunch. She made us lunch and we all talked around the table. We asked her what her favorite hymn was and one of us mentioned "How Great Thou Art," and the woman began to sing the song. Y'all, she must've been eighty years old and obviously wasn't a professional singer. But, that woman stood there and sang out to God, worshiping him right there in front of us and we all sang along with her. This was a moment I will never forget for as long as I live. At the end of the lunch, she began crying as she went around and hugged all eight of us that were painting. She cried and told us how absolutely blessed she is that we are doing this for her family. They had wanted their house painted for so long, it was so important to them. God showed me that what we were doing was not insignificant, it was essential. He is so good.
Our joy, happiness, purpose, etc are the fruit of Who's garden we choose to plant them in. In the Old Testament Moses reminded the Israelites of how God told them what to do and told them that He would be with them through it all, yet they still went in the direction that their own selfish desires took them which led them to doubt, fear and self-destruction. They had even personally seen how God delivered them from Egypt and protected them through it, yet they sill mistrusted God. "The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you...The Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son." Deuteronomy 1:30-31.
I want my life in the hands of the One who has walked every step before me and who has come back to be with me as I walk it myself, and to fight for me every step of the way. I want to be deeply rooted in Him. I want everything in my life to stem out of my firm foundation in Christ. His Kingdom is the goal and I want everything I do to blossom from that.
"Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful." - Colossians 2:7

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