One body. Many parts.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

19 days left on this side of the world. That's kind of crazy to think about. In my time over here I have been to some amazing places, met many incredible people, and seen some indescribable things. 

And there is still more to come...

One of the coolest things I have experienced since I have been over here is the unity of the Church. 

There is this cool worship event every month in Istanbul called Taze (tay-zay) and anyone is welcome to come and there are scripture readings and songs being sung in Turkish, French, English, Italian, Spanish, and German. It was incredible. Hearing the same passage read in so many languages. It really gave me a really cool picture of Revelation 5 where there are people from every tribe and tongue singing praises to the Lamb that was slain. 

I have met people I can barely speak 3 sentences with, but when I hear them pray, and I hear the name Jesus (Isa in Turkish) and I hear the passion in their voices, my heart explodes with joy for the Kingdom work that is happening in this country, and all over the world.

I have met people that were living incredibly comfortable lives in the states and sold everything to come over here and live in tiny apartments in order to have their lives poured out for the spreading of the Gospel. 

I have met people from the ages of 7 to 70 and everywhere in between who gather regularly for the edification of the body of Christ and where the only thing we have in common is our love for Christ. But that's the only thing that has mattered.

I have seen friends from OCU over here because they are performing on cruise ships that happen to be traveling through Istanbul for a day or two. Can I just stop for a moment to say how cool that is? I don't know the next time I would have seen some of these people, if I ever would have! But because I dropped everything and moved across the world for 3 months, I got the opportunity to take them to lunch, open my heart to them, share this city with them, and love them. It's been incredible.

I have had to opportunity to walk the same streets as Paul, Barnabas, Timothy, John, Mark, and Mary. 

I have stood where the Apostle John's body was laying buried in the ground for over a thousand years. 

I walked in the same marketplace where Paul and Barnabas first shared the gospel on their first missionary journey.

And I have sat in the amphitheater where letter to the Ephesians was first read in Greek two thousand years ago. 

The thing that continues to blow my mind in the midst of all of this, is we are all connected. By the blood of Jesus. 

I am a little spoiled living in Oklahoma City because a lot of the churches in the city are very connected and like to do a lot of work together, but to see that happening with churches in Oklahoma or Missouri or Minnesota being partners with churches in Turkey, it is a really cool experience. 

There are definitely differences in some theological issues, and I think there will always be that until Christ returns, but if we can agree on the majors and have healthy conversations about the minor things, I think we're in a really good spot. 

Last night I was talking with someone about the state of the church in the U.S. and I said, "It is becoming harder to be a Christian in the states now," but as I sit here and think about that statement, I don't think it has gotten any harder, we're still called into the exact same things as we were 10-20 years ago, but I just think it isn't going to be this culturally popular thing, which is good. Jesus didn't come to Earth to be popular, he came because we were sinners in need of a savior. We were sick and needed a cure. We are sick and need a cure. 

Something my pastor, Sam Storms, once said during a sermon was, "I think we forget that God never made a covenant with the United States of America. He never said, 'This is going to be my nation now.' I am more connected with a believer in Russia, than I am with my non-believing next door neighbor in Edmond, Oklahoma.'" 

It's true. And I've been given a beautiful picture of that over the last 2 1/2 months. 

Every blessing in Heaven and on Earth. 

Thunder Up

So...I have a confession...I am a Thunder fan. Like a big one. Being here in Istanbul, I have even set alarms (sometimes unsuccessfully) to wake up and watch the Thunder games that are happening while I am over here. Part of my day involves reading stat lines and seeing what awesome thing the organization is doing in the community (because seriously, one of the best things about the Thunder is how well they love the people of Oklahoma).

A few months ago, my girlfriend, Emily, and I were asking each other random questions we found on the internet to try and learn new quirks about the other. For instance, Emily would rather have her head be the size of a grapefruit than a watermelon, just FYI. One of the questions that came up was what is your favorite sports team, out of every sport? After thinking briefly, I said, "the Thunder" and this actually surprised Em. "Not the [St. Louis] Cardinals?" she asked. And I must admit, the Cardinals are a very close second, but I said the Thunder because I live in OKC. 

The Thunder are a part of the community in Oklahoma City. It is not strange to go to a restaurant and run into a player, coach, or other member of the organization. The city, and even the state, loves the Thunder. It's a point of unity for the people and a regular topic of conversation. If I were living in Missouri, where I grew up, without a doubt I would say the Cardinals, because they serve as a unifier in the state (although I must congratulate the Royals on their World Series win a couple days ago). 

In talking with people about this, I've learned that I have chosen one over the other because I am surrounded by people who help stir my affections for one or the other. Last Wednesday, it was funny to scroll through my Facebook feed because it was extremely evident where everyone was from. I had a large group who were posting #TaketheCrown and Go Royals for the World Series from Missouri, and than a large group who were rejoicing in excitement about the return of Thunder season that day. 

So what does that mean for my spiritual life? Am I surrounding myself with people who are stirring my affections for the Gospel? Or am I with people who simply see church or Christianity as something to do on a Sunday morning and the occasional Wednesday night? 

I was reading in John the other day and was in John 8:31 where Jesus says, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples," And I started thinking, what does it mean to abide? I began doing definition searches and seeing where else the term was used in scripture and time and time again, the definition came up as "to live in" Jesus is calling us to live in His word, and not simply just visit it from time to time. 

If you live in something, it becomes a part of you. Abiding in Istanbul for 3 months, it has become a part of me. Living with my roommate Liam in OKC for almost 2 years, he has become a part of me. Spending most of my junior high and high school years with Tim Howe at my side, he has become a part of me. Living in Oklahoma City, I choose the Thunder over the Cardinals. 

So my question is, what do you live in? 

Blessings!

Living in the Borderland

Living in the Borderland
I don't feel like a boy.
I don't feel like a man. 

These are the first lines to the title track off of John Mark McMillan's album Borderland, and these are also the words that can aptly describe the last 2 or 3 years of my life. Being in Istanbul, a city literally on the border of Europe and Asia, I have spent a lot of time in transition going from one continent to the other. I have places to stay on both sides and so it really depends on my schedule that day where I am going to sleep which has helped add to the feeling of constant transition. 

If I think about my spiritual life, I would say it's always a transition. I believe in the theological idea called progressive sanctification and what that means is that when someone becomes a follower of Jesus Christ, they don't automatically become this perfect person and never sin again, but rather, since we are living in a sin-soaked world and were born sinners (Psalm 51), while we are still on the earth, our lives are going to be a continuing sanctification process. The ideal is that we look more and more like Christ each day, and that is through fighting sin through the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26) and continuing to take up our crosses daily (Luke 9:23) in order to be a testimony of the love of Jesus in this world. (Matthew 5:14-16) 

That being said, I am someone who loves to see progress. I have an app on my iPhone that shows me how many steps and miles I've gone throughout the day and I am continually checking it to see how close I am to my daily goals I've set for myself. I used to be on an iPhone app called "Lyft" that I could check off my daily Bible reading so others could hold me accountable and see if I had a 5-day streak or so on, and I have to confess, I am a competitive person (ask Emily or any of my friends) and some days I would read just so I could keep my streak alive and not to nourish my soul. This sometimes leads me to become frustrated when I slip back into sin that I thought I have overcome or didn't think I had to worry about and to beat myself up about it. 

Fortunately, I have community in my life. I am so thankful that I have surrounded myself with people who not only call out my blindspots, but also encourage me to keep fighting when the going gets tough. My friend, Adam Zodrow, has recently reminded me, "It's not your job to forgive yourself. Own the sin. Give it to Christ. and leave it. If it were up to you to do the forgiving, it would never happen. That's the gospel." Amen. That is the gospel. Even greater than having community in my life, I have Christ. And in Hebrews it says that he will lives to make intercession for his brothers and sisters. He goes to the uttermost, always for his family. 

So while I am in the Borderland, I remember that I have Christ on his throne praying for me. One day we'll be out of the Borderland, but while we're here, we make the most of it and we keep pushing through the darkness, cause our King is coming back. 

Blessings!

 

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

The amphitheater in Ephesus

The amphitheater in Ephesus

Last week I had the awesome opportunity to get away from Istanbul for the weekend and travel down to Kuşadası with a couple of English teachers from Ankara. It was an awesome trip! We got to spend time on the beach relaxing, go to a little village called Şirence that is famous for its homemade fruit wines (that were so delicious), and eat meals with a breathtaking sea view. All those amazing aspects aside, my highlight of the trip was getting to go to the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus.

Before we got to Ephesus however we went a little further up the mountain to where it is believed that Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived with John after Jesus was crucified and John was given responsibility to watch over her. It was incredible. There was a tangible presence when you stepped onto the property. Completely enshrouded in huge trees, there was this little stone house that you could walk through. 

This lady probably took 50 selfies in front of this house...needless to say, we didn't get a picture of the house without her in it

This lady probably took 50 selfies in front of this house...needless to say, we didn't get a picture of the house without her in it

People from all over the world came and visited this house and there was a wall where people could hang mementos and notes with prayers and thank yous. Seeing that wall gave me a little taste of home reminding me of the memory wall at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. 

Now this might be a little weird, but our taxi driver continuously insisted that we go to the bathroom while we were at Mary's house because it was free and it would not be free at Ephesus. We all obliged not wanting to have to pay to use the bathroom, but it turned into a testament to how beautiful Turkey is. There was an opening at eye level above the urinals and this was definitely the best view I've ever had while going to the bathroom. It is crazy to think that one minute you could be by the beach, letting the water and sand engulf your toes, and 15 minutes later be surrounded by huge trees that are reminiscent to the Redwoods of California.

Not a bad view...

Not a bad view...

Now our journey had brought us to Ephesus, the same city we read of Paul, Silas, and Timothy going to in Acts 19, it was this city to which the book of Ephesians was written to. As we walked onto the cobblestone streets I could not help but think, "Are these the same streets Paul and Timothy walked on?" "Were they telling jokes to each other as they walked by the fountains?" "Where was it that they prayed over the Ephesians to understand the power of the Holy Spirit?" All these thoughts rushed through my head and I was so overtaken by emotions as I walked the streets and looked at the ruins. 

We got to see some awesome things, and we are told that Ephesus is one of the best cared for ancient cities in Asia Minor. As we walked through the streets with the help of our audio tour, it was neat to imagine chariots rushing by and what the fountains looked like in their former glory. To imagine the sounds of city officials arguing in the city hall or to hear soldiers laughing and picking on each other as they patrolled the streets. 

We got to see the underground houses that have recently been excavated and are continuously being restored in order to learn more and more about what life was like back then. Some of the floor mosaics were amazing! To think that they still look so good and detailed after being buried under rocks for hundreds of years! The craftsmanship! 

Speaking of craftsmanship, that is something that I love about the Turkish people. They really care deeply about what they do. They are always asking how their food compares to other food I have eaten, how my tea was compared to other teas. Hospitality and care run deep here in Turkey. Even with barbers, I had one of the most intricate haircuts I have ever had in my life here in Istanbul. Normally when I go get my haircut (shout out to Caroline and Mazey!) I am in and out in 30 minutes and it looks great. Here, it took 1 1/2 hours, they washed my hair twice, made sure I had no stray hairs, gave me a head massage, deep cleaned my face, lit a cotton ball on fire and burned off my ear hairs, and cleaned my face with mineral water. I am officially ruined for any haircut I will get in the states...

Okay, back to Ephesus.

The size of some of the buildings we saw was amazing! They were the equivalent of ancient skyscrapers (not nearly as tall, but HUGE for their day). The ruins of the three story library in Ephesus was incredible. I found myself thinking if Paul would go in and have conversations with the Ephesian academics, and to walk by the once prominent shrine to Artemis and know about the riots that happened there because of Paul's ministry, I was smiling ear to ear. 

Finally, we came to the huge amphitheater in Ephesus. It is said that it could hold upwards of 25,000 people, which, to put in perspective for my fellow Okies, is 7,000 more than what can fit at Chesapeake Arena! The acoustics in the amphitheater were incredible, I was sitting on the top row (that they still allowed people to go to) and I could hear things said from the stage. How did they know so much about acoustics back then? It's fascinating! 

It was at this point that I took out the small Bible that I brought with me and cracked it open to the book of Ephesians and began to read. I began to read the same words that were first read in that very place almost 2,000 years ago in Greek. "To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus" wait a second. That was me. I was a saint in Ephesus at that moment. I was floored when that hit me. The power that surged in those words for the following 20 minutes was amazing. Time and time again I was brought to tears by the beauty in those pages. "I was dead in my trespasses and sins,...but God, being rich in mercy,...made us alive together with Christ" YES! SO GOOD!

I will look back at that day fondly for the rest of my life and I cannot wait to go back again and share that experience with so many people. It was in those moments, walking the same streets that Paul, Timothy, and John walked, sitting in that amphitheater, and standing before the tomb of John, that the Lord stirred by heart for the beauty and importance of discipleship. Today, the church is standing on the all the work that was done by believers almost 2,000 years before us did. We are, to quote my friend Thad's blog last night, on a mission from God. It is our responsibility to continue to raise up new believers on the same truth that the Ephesians, Colossians, and all the First Century Churches were raised on. It is the same gospel. We needed the same good news yesterday, we need it today, and we'll need it tomorrow. 

As we are standing on the shoulders of giants, let's begin to prepare our shoulders to be stood on. 

Blessings!

image2.JPG


New Language and New Perspective

As I have been settling into life in Istanbul, one of the challenges I have taken on is learning the language. Turkish is a totally different language than anything I have ever experienced. They have words for seemingly everything. For example, they have a word for your grandpa on your dad's side as well as a different word for the grandpa on your mom's side. OR a word for your the aunt that married your dad's brother and another word if the aunt was your dad's sister. 

The way Turkish works is it is a language built on suffixes and grammatically it is put together opposite of English.

Filme izle mac için dişari çikdik (Movie the watch in order to out went we)

We went out to watch the movie. 

I have to totally flip the sentence structure in my brain when trying to speak and listen, which for a person who likes to speak at the rate of a million words per minute, can be really stressful and frustrating. I think this is one of the reasons I came to Turkey though, to slow down. Which is really funny considering this is one of the fastest moving cities in the world. People walk with purpose, drive with purpose, and talk with purpose. To try and slow down a Turkish person is to frustrate them. But here I am, a yabanci (Turkish for foreigner), slowing down from my lifestyle of going and going and going in the United States. 

Looking back at what life was like a mere month ago, I was always going. I had things planned out, and when I didn't have anything on my calendar, I was confused. Was I forgetting something? Was I going to get a phone call asking where I was because I forgot a meeting? Even planning time to relax was exactly that, planned. There was an order to everything, but here in Istanbul, I don't have an order for anything.

I have learned here that life simply happens. You can set all the meetings you want with people, but you have to know that there is a 50/50 chance that you will actually have that meeting. 

My girlfriend, Emily, often makes the joke (although it's more of a statement now) that we can't go anywhere in Oklahoma City (or anywhere in the country for that matter) without running into someone I know. To drive home the point, we were in St. Louis at a Cardinals game where there were 60,000 people and lo and behold, walking up the steps to the section right next to us was one of my high school best friends, Brock Lamkins. I quickly got, "are you kidding me?" from Emily when I waved down Brock and went to give him a hug. She couldn't believe I knew someone there. 

Community is a very important thing to me. I wrote a little about it in my first post. I am very passionate about living life in community, and it's not a rarity for the group message (which group messaging is a beautiful thing by the way) that includes four of my closest friends I have in this world (the group message is called Uptown Funk) to be blowing up our phones at any given time of day. It has been dramatically different for me to go from a place of such tight-knit community to spending many of my days reading by myself in coffee shops with people speaking a language I barely (on a good day) understand. 

That's where the Lord has come in. So many days (and nights) I find myself having long, deep, and honest conversations with the Lord where He allows me to share frustrations and confusions, but calmly points me to his word and promises of intimacy and sovereignty. "I am with you always, until the end of the age"

The Lord has used the total reversing of my mindset and perspective on life here to draw me closer to Him, and for that I am thankful.

Now don't get me wrong, I love it here! Turkey is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and I am constantly in awe of the creation that is here. The people I have met and interacted with here have been encouraging and welcoming. I have shared many wonderful meals, cups of coffee (the coffee game in Istanbul is so strong), and afternoons. Getting to hear the heartbeat for worship from people here has been great and I am excited to see what I learn and what I can bring to the table in teaching them about worship. 

In the midst of my being stretched and "isolation" my perspective has taken a complete 180 it seems like. The Lord has pressed in on why I do everything, highlighted where I run in the midst of weakness and shown areas of strength and weakness. My prayer is not to pray away days here when they are tough, but to press in for the Kingdom and to know that each day is a gift and mission in itself. 

Blessings!

Memories Rush Back and Familiarity Sets In

Holy wow. So many memories came rushing back to me as I was sitting on my flight from Houston to Istanbul. 

They showed the same commercial promoting Turkish Air showing all these memorable places in Turkey, The Grand Bazaar, Taxsim, the Bosphorus...

(Warning! If you watch this video, you will be flooded with desire to take a trip to Istanbul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyM141zwRzU)

The flight attendants walked around passing out Turkish Delight (I was never actually a big fan of Turkish delight, but there was no way I could say no); even the free slippers they give everyone brought back memories of my last flight there in May.

After the 12 and a half hours cruising at 35,000 feet our plane had landed at Ataturk Airport and they opened the airplane door. 

The smells of simits (if a pretzel and a bagel had a baby it would be called a simit) and çay rushed into my nostrils and all of a sudden it hit me: I am in Istanbul...for the next 3 months...

My heart started to beat a little faster and I could not possibly get off the plane fast enough. I was here! The sun was shining, my backpack full of books was on my back, St. Louis Cardinals hat on my head and I was ready for my adventure.

I remembered the airport. The familiar walk to customs. The long lines. The annoyed customs agents. I finally made my way through, grabbed my checked suitcase and my guitar and made my way to where Kay Z (basically my Mama Bear for the next 3 months) and Yesua were waiting for me (In the words of Ryan Gikas, only in the Middle East can you get away with naming your kid Jesus). I saw them and the familiarity continued. Familiar hugs. Familiar smells. Familiar voices. In this mostly strange land that was to become my temporary home, I had my first glimpses at familiarity. 

As we got in Kay Z's little Ford Focus (of course the Oklahoman would drive an American car even in the Middle East) and began the drive back to her apartment, I began to remember the roads we were traveling on. The familiar, but always awe-inspiring sight of the Bosphorus Straight. The endless sound of car horns from annoyed drivers. The beautiful mosques. I was suddenly overcome by the amazing love of the Father that I get to live in this beautiful place and partner with him in order to teach people how to love Him more. What??? How did I get to do this? 

We reached Kay Z's apartment and I unpacked my suitcase and the three of us went on a little walk to find something to eat. My feet touching the same stones they had 4 months earlier and seeing a lot of the same shops. I remembered the road to her apartment. I remembered the way to the closest metro station. I remembered where I was. I remembered all the Lord had done in me only a short time ago here and the thought of what He was going to do in 3 months as opposed to a week was breathtaking. 

The next day I started my Turkish lessons. Kay Z took me to the place I would spend 4 hours a day, every weekday for the month of September. We jumped on the metro, got off at Taxsim (one of the two stops I remembered) and started walking down Istiklal (the main pedestrian street I remembered) towards my class. This was good. I knew this street. 

The Lord was/is/and will be so generous that in the midst of this unfamiliarity, of this leap of faith, He keeps handing me little familiar things to show His faithfulness, as if He is saying, "Remember what I did on this street? Now we get to remember it together." It is exciting. 

One of the verses I have been clinging to in my time here is found in John 8, "I do nothing on my own authority, but speak as the Father taught me. And He who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone..." I am so thankful for the faithfulness of the Father. He sent me. He is with me. And He won't forsake me. I can say with confidence that even if I didn't have the familiar streets or landmarks to cling to, knowing that I have the ultimate familiar landmark of my soul to cling to. In the midst of unfamiliarity, my anchor of the soul holds fast. 



Beginning an Adventure

This whole blogging thing is very new to me. So many questions to answer.

Who am I writing for? Myself? Others? The Lord? 

What am I writing about? 

Do I need to publish everything I write?

These are questions I get to continuously ask myself with the help of Adam Zodrow (read his blog here) and Liam Bernhard (read his blog here). These two men are two of the most creative people I've met in my life and they are constantly challenging me to think outside the box and push myself in different creative avenues.

There is a lot of power in a word, which immediately debunks the fallacy we are taught as children, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Yeah, right...

Just think about all the power that hinges on receiving a message correctly.

Your order could have been heard wrong at your favorite restaurant and, all of a sudden, your whole dining experience has changed.

A short email or text could be misinterpreted and an office war could break out.

Even more seriously, you're at the doctor's office and you're hanging on everyone of the doctor's words regarding your blood test.

You propose to your girlfriend and your heart stops (so I hear) just waiting for a simple yes or no. 

We are all reliant on specific information and that information comes in the form of words. 

Words help make milestones.

A baby's first word.

A graduation speech.

A prayer of salvation. (We can get into the theology of this one later)

An engagement.

Your vows.

Beginning this blog, I hope and pray that the posts I publish provide a helpful insight into a few things, first of which being my heart. I am an avid believer in living in community, and especially for a Christian I believe it's of the utmost importance. One of my favorite passages in scripture is Hebrews 12:1-2, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." It is partially because we are surrounded by other believers that we shed our weights and sins and through repentance and that we begin to look more like Christ each day.

 Second, this is also going to be a creative outlet for me to share what the Lord is doing while I am here in Turkey. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me to just drop everything and move to another country for 3 months, but it is also terrifying. I am learning new customs, a new language, trying new foods. In future posts, there will be plenty of pictures and stories as I am meeting with people from the church (I will probably not include names for the sake of privacy) and teaching them about corporate worship.

Finally, as I come back from Turkey, I will continue to use this blog as an outlet to flesh out ideas about worship and theology both practically as a daily discipline, but also on the corporate scale in our weekly meetings as believers. 

I pray my words are found to be encouraging and exciting to others as I share my travels through this beautiful country and as I return home. Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Blessings. 

A Constant State of Goodbye

If you were to ask me one month ago what I thought the rest of the year held for me, I probably would have responded something like this: 

"Well, I have a vacation planned to Michigan to finish out the month of August. Things at work will be winding down from busy season, so a lot of being proactive and planning on that end. A lot of the same ol' same ol'. Maybe go to Colorado with Emily's family for Thanksgiving or something."

But how I am responding now? 

I still went on my vacation to Michigan, but everything else is different. On August 3rd I was asked how I felt about spending 3 months in Istanbul, Turkey training the worship team at a local church there...wait, what? All of a sudden I am debating in my head whether I want to drop everything and move halfway around the world. 

So of course I said yes.

I quit my job and started getting my things in order. Everything happened so fast that it was not truly public knowledge until a week and a half before I was set to leave. 

It all seemed to work perfectly though (as the Lord's timing always does) my vacation to Michigan with some of my closest friends in the world would serve as a perfect way to springboard me into Turkey. We had an absolute blast. We went to a Microbrew and Music festival, swam in a freezing lake, spent a day at the Shedd Aquarium, played in the City Museum in St. Louis, shared a couple meals with my mom, and before I knew it we were back in Oklahoma City and my weekend was full of coffee meetings, meals with friends, laundry, and so many other things to fill up my check list until I would jump on my plane. 

In the midst of hitting 6 cities in the course of 12 days (7 if you want to include Istanbul) there were a lot of hellos, but just as many, if not more, goodbyes. My roommate Liam said it best when he said, "We were doing so much everywhere we went, that it just seemed like we were always saying goodbye to something or someone." The goodbyes would come to a stop for Liam, Ezra, and Ariella, but they were just getting started for me. 

It's a radical feeling telling someone, "I'll see you in December" when it's August; the weekend was filled with lots of lasts (at least for 3 months). My last time eating chips and queso, my last Dr. Pepper, my last trip to Cuppies and Joe, last trip to the corner booth at Braums, last Sunday at Bridgeway, last night in my bed, last kiss with Emily... I have been having all the feelings...

Driving home from my surprise going away party last night, Emily looked at me and asked how I felt. I chuckled and said, "Awesome. And Awful."

I have felt such love by all my family and friends since the announcement of me making this journey and I am sad to leave them, but I am thrilled to be going on this adventure and pouring myself for the good of the Church. This will be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but it will be one of the best. 

As my trusty sound guy, Bryan, told me last night, "You may be going by yourself, but you're definitely not going alone" (Sound guy wisdom is the best)

It's with that confidence that I'm sitting here waiting to board my flight, waiting for the adventure that awaits, knowing I'm covered, knowing that my goodbyes will very quickly be turning into hellos. 

Blessings.