Pre-Trip Anxiety

Courtney Noya traveling with Athentikos I AM ART

If you are reading this blog, then I hope it means that you’re interested in an I AM ART creative arts mission trip. I’m not saying you must be 100% committed to going in order to read this. In fact, even if there’s only 1% of you right now that thinks it might be a good idea, then I ask that you get comfy, settle in for a minute, and hear me out.

I know going on a mission trip is a lot to think about, so if you didn’t sign up on day 1, that’s okay. I had a lot of protesting going on in my brain when I was first presented with the idea of joining a trip. My protests included:

  • You’ll have to take time off work and school during exams.
  • You can’t afford this, you’re in college.
  • You’re not even really artistic, you just sometimes do crafts, SORTA.

I initially said “maybe” and “we’ll see”, but I knew the answer was going to be “no” because doubt and anxiety chimed in first. Why would I even consider it? But then I did consider it and began to wonder what I should do. I looked for some sort of magical sign from God, like a winning lottery ticket even though I don’t play the lottery. Then I realized that I might be hoping for something a bit too theatrical, so I changed my game plan. After about a week of simply praying for guidance, I realized I was already planning my trip, thinking about how I would get my professors to work with my schedule, how fundraising would work, and what kind of skills I had that might benefit others at camp. God had already led me where He wanted me to be. He was just holding on to the seat of my bike until I realized my feet were on the pedals the entire time and started moving.

And if this were a simple story it would end: “Then, all my fears were gone and I went on my trip with no trace of anxiety and everything was perfect.”

But these things are not perfect and this is not a simple story. Quite often, our stories just don’t work out that simple. The truth is that I was still anxious about a mile long list echoing in my head of everything that might go wrong. But, instead of ruminating on that list, I put my heart in God’s hands and tried to remind myself all of the things I was excited about like:

  • You’re going to be able to travel to the beautiful country of Guatemala.
  • You’re going to be able to meet people who are a lot like you.
  • You’re going to be able to meet people who are a lot different than you.
  • You’re going to be able to see what God had been so excited for you to experience.

These are just a few of the benefits that my doubts and anxieties could never conquer. There are so many more. The I AM ART trip changed my life!

I hope as you read through the blogs on our website, or talk to friends who recommended IAA to you, that you also start feeling excitement and joy for all of the potential experiences you will have on one of our trips. We would love for you to join us! From a practical level, the earlier you register, the lower the initial fee and the cheaper the airfare. However, from a more emotional level, the earlier you register, the sooner you can start to let go of some of the nervousness and doubt and replace it with excitement and passion. We would love to have you. If you want to know more about the trip, I encourage you to explore https://athentikos.com/iamart/ and https://athentikos.com/blog/.

Adventure awaits. You just have to start pedaling the bike.

Celebrations, Diarrhea, Prison, and Awe

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In January 2008, our lives were changed. We celebrated New Years in Guatemala with our family, and then received our son Elliot on Amelia’s birthday (Jan 2). It was awe-inspiring to celebrate this trilogy of milestones with our family in such an incredibly beautiful place!

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Fast forward a week … Our family returned home to the US. Amelia and I were waiting for Elliot’s immigration papers in Guatemala, not knowing exactly how long it would be until we could come home as a family of four. Suddenly, we felt extremely ill-equipped to handle reality. I’ll never forget … We were sequestered in a hotel with our two year old, Micah and 8 month old Elliot, who was just getting to know us. I’m pretty sure he didn’t like us at the time. But who could blame him? His whole life was turned upside down. Our lives were turned upside down. And the kicker … we all started getting sick. I don’t mean a little cough. I mean epic proportions … diarrhea. Yep! And, what wasn’t exploding out our downstairs, was rocketing from our upstairs! Imagine eating breakfast in a hotel, surrounded by businessmen in fancy suits … and here we were, the circus sideshow, but not the kind with funny clowns. We were more like the freaks. And … As if it couldn’t get more awkward, the hotel kicked us out due to security concerns because international diplomats were arriving for the Guatemalan Presidential Inauguration. Perhaps they couldn’t risk of an international epidemic of the trots???

Picture us walking down the street to another hotel, with all our baggage and two kids in tow, covered in poo and vomit like unfortunate vagabonds in search of shelter, comfort, and healing. Some might call it uncomfortable. In the middle of it all, it felt quite … horrific. We weren’t sleeping, couldn’t keep food down, and were becoming quite delirious. AND … There was no clear end in sight, because we didn’t know exactly when we would get our embassy appointment. In that moment, it felt like an eternity of torment. Thankfully, I had enough sense to press record on the video camera.

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You might ask why I would want to record such a seemingly bad time in our lives. I didn’t put a lot of thought into it then, but now I know. I wanted perspective. I wanted to look at that moment of time through a different lens – a different chapter of my life. 

Looking back now … It wasn’t really that bad. And, no matter how horrific it might have seemed at the time, it was all worth it. All of it was worth it because it brought us our son, whom we love dearly. I guess it was like our own version of the delivery room (I don’t really know for sure, cause I’ve never experienced it, but I can imagine) … anticipation … discomfort growing into pain … confusion … screaming … body fluids … delirium … and not knowing when any of it was truly going to end. But, we kept breathing, and pushing, and breathing … running for hot, wet towels …  and then, in the right time, our tears were turned to joy. Our personal conflict was resolved. We got the paperwork we needed, and we flew home a family of four, greeted at the airport by people we adored! It was awe-inspiring! All of it was awe-inspiring, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, because it’s part of our story. It shaped who we are today.

People say hindsight is 20-20. I don’t know if we ever see with perfect vision, but we can certainly try to connect dots and see patterns as we reflect back on our life’s events. I didn’t know it at the time, but two days after I recorded this video, a missionary friend invited me to meet some of his friends. His friends just happened to be gang members in a Guatemalan prison. Hidden behind their frightening tattooed faces were stories of children who were simply trying to survive in an environment with very few options. When I left the prison, I asked the guard to stamp my passport, so I could never forget that I was there.

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Later that night I returned to my hotel (which used to feel like a prison, but not so much anymore). I couldn’t erase the contrast of the gang members – those young lives “left behind”, and my son – the precious baby I held in my arms and rocked to sleep. My heart was stirred to respond. All of our stories collided into a new story, that ultimately birthed our nonprofit, Athentikos.

I watch this video every year as a reminder of how blessed we are as a family. I still tear up when I watch it, but it also makes me smile. In January 2008, our lives were changed … for the better.

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Between Today and Tomorrow

Kati joins Athentikos I AM ART

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I’m currently fundraising as part of my Athentikos I AM ART Trip this summer, and my emotions include: frustration, hopelessness, doubt, despair, shame, anger, guilt, anxiety, panic, fear, rejection and loneliness.

This process of preparing for my journey to Guatemala has been MUCH more intense that I could have imagined. Yes, ALREADY. I find myself in an extremely humbling and uncomfortable place now: contacting people who I haven’t seen in years to ask for money, Trying to explain why on Earth would I work for free, and even PAY to do it, retaking video clips again and again only to find out it’s impossible for me to speak one minute of English language without pronunciation AND grammar mistakes.

I ask, am I really sure about this?

There was no voice, there was no assurance. But somehow, it felt logical and possible, surely inspiring and exciting. So, I jumped in. I wasn’t sure what I would be doing when I signed up, and I’m not sure of the details even now. I do know that traveling to Guatemala has been on my heart for 13 years! I also know that this journey is not about me …. And it’s not about the kids there either. It’s not about the donors, and it’s not about the man sitting next to me in the plane. It’s about all of us … together …

I was told that I will be amazed how much people will want to support me, how much I’ll feel blessed and believed in. I must say, I’ve been struck by how people actually DON’T want to give me support, or don’t think this idea is very smart at all.

But Also …

There are other people who are thrilled about this vision and want to help support my trip, including my colleagues, and people I hadn’t contacted in years. To my surprise, there are also other people who I don’t even know who wanted to help. I DON’T EVEN HAVE A CLUE WHO THESE ANGELS GIVERS ARE!

So, it is true. I AM AMAZED. This IS mind blowing. This is humbling. This is hashtag blessed hashtag seriously, with capitals. It’s not even about the money, weather or not I will be able to gain enough of financial support. It’s about what kind of a person I, we, you, are becoming in this process. It’s somehow about… Transforming pain into purpose? YUP. And I’m assuming this is only how it starts…

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_button dimension=”flat” corner_style=”rounded” size=”large” url=”http://athentikos.kindful.com/i-am-art-vidas-plenas-2016/connect-campaign-kati-korosuo” target=”_blank” bg_color=”#dd3333″ btn_hover_bg=”#000000″]Help Kati Fund Her I AM ART Trip to Guatemala[/mk_button][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Prince Is Dead. Long Live Prince.

Purple

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If you’ve logged on to social media in the last 24 hours, you’ve probably noticed the incredible response to Prince’s death. I’ve been pondering the phenomenon for the last day … it’s overwhelming .. so much outpouring of respect and sadness. I’ve asked myself over and over, why? Why are people publicly sharing their memories of listening to his music like he was a best friend? Why are skyscrapers being lit up in purple at night in his honor?

I think it’s because his art connected us as a culture. Certainly, he had the advantage of being a “mega-star” of 80’s music. But, I believe his notoriety was result of more than just marketing. Prince was an artist, and whether you liked his music or not, he connected to people through his art. But he did more than connect himself and his art to people. He connected people through his art (incidentally, that is why the marketing dollars were spent to promote his art). His art disrupted and transformed culture. In some way, his art and our response to it defined our culture. Most of us didn’t know Prince personally, but if we experienced his art, we experienced an intimate outpouring of his story. We connected to something intimate that connected us to each other. So, it is not surprising that when someone like Prince dies, we feel like we lost a close friend. That is the power of art.

So what does that mean for artists?

As a creative artist, you’re a blessing to this world and everyone who lives in it. Maybe you don’t have the platform of MTV, or stadiums full of fans. Maybe your work isn’t displayed in an international art gallery. Maybe your film will never be seen in a theater. But, I propose that we have a greater purpose as creative artists. Our purpose is to be who we are, and create, disrupt, transform, and connect culture and communities great and small. Our purpose is to invite people into intimate reflection and dialog to heal and unite. Our purpose is more powerful that we realize. We are more than artists. We are art.

How do you see art impacting culture?

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_button dimension=”flat” size=”large” url=”http://Athentikos.com/iamart”]Learn more about the Athentikos “I AM ART” community and mission[/mk_button][/vc_column][/vc_row]

GO-ing for God and I AM ART!

I AM ART - Jen Galvin Blog

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“ Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”

My journey to Se Luz began when I took a class, a class that changed my “perspective” and my life. In the winter of 2011 I took the Perspectives class. A class that teaches you to be in a mode of looking to GO and tell ALL peoples that Jesus loves them and is there for them. This class did literally change my perspective and my life and made me go from wanting to help people locally, to really look to needing to help people for God both locally and globally.

I want to live to glorify God through my art and to take the love of God to people all over. I truly believe that we all have creativity and art inside of us and that God wants us to use this creativity to glorify Him. When I work with people and get to play and make art with children or adults, I want everyone I make art with to feel empowered and creative. I often find myself telling people, “If I handed you a basketball, you wouldn’t expect to make the shot the first time, maybe not even the fourth time.” Or, “ If I say you down at a piano, would you expect to play perfectly?” the answer is no, but we expect, somehow that art is something a person is born with the innate ability to either do or not do, and I am here to tell you that maybe some people are that way, but most of us, myself included, need to practice! Just like anything else we want to be good at, art is something that we can do that will glorify God and it can also just make our souls sing, but first we need to give ourselves the grace to as Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus used to always say, “get messy, make mistakes.” Getting messy and diving in and letting yourself make some mistakes is sometimes one of the hardest things to do for me as an artist, but sometimes ends up being the most rewarding. I want to help children learn that art doesn’t have to be perfect the first time, that it can be fun and healing and just good to do for the sake of expressing ourselves. And, that as we do this, we keep getting better, and this practice is what makes us better artists, the mess and the mistakes. Just like in life, living through the mess and mistakes with the forgiveness of God makes us better humans.

Also, as we use art to glorify God and just to express ourselves, it heals our very souls. Whenever something happens in my life that I can’t vocalize, I need poetry and drawing and painting. I can’t talk it out, so it just comes out in my art. This is what I hope to bring to the children in Guatemala is to help them to tell their stories through art. And, not just for the week that we are there, but to give them some lifelong ways to use art as a form of hope and also of just getting out the feelings when we feel hopeless. When I pray before I create, my art is somehow different, always better, and this too, is something that I hope to help the students to see, that when we involve God in our lives, it matters!

Stepping out and GO-ing is always amazing, but usually involves some of those getting messy and making mistakes kind of moments. In order to be able to show God’s love and grace through Jesus to other people, first we need to give ourselves the grace to go and just be humble and experience another culture and hope that in that minute of joy and art and love that God Himself can only provide that we can be part of something greater than ourselves, part of the plan of the great I AM. And, through art, we can share love, share compassion, and show God’s love. Art can help us all to get messy and make mistakes together to grow and discover who we are for God![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_button dimension=”flat” corner_style=”rounded” size=”large” url=”http://athentikos.kindful.com/i-am-art-se-luz-2016/jen-galvins-i-am-art-se-luz-2016-mission-fundraising-campaign” bg_color=”#dd3333″ btn_hover_bg=”#000000″]Support Jen Galvin’s I AM ART Trip[/mk_button][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Dancing in the Orange Glow

It was our last evening in Guatemala before returning home. We had traveled to Lake Atitlan to rest and reflect for a few days after an incredible I AM ART Camp at Casa Bernabe, an orphanage outside Guatemala City. My head was full of thought, so I went out for a walk by myself to soak up one last evening before eating dinner as a team. I wandered through the small town of Panajachel recounting countless stories from our many journeys to Guatemala … everything from our first trip in 2006 when we visited our son during his adoption process, to filming Becoming Fools. I must have been on autopilot because I didn’t have a specific destination in mind. But, I ended up at the back end of town, where a small river meets the lake – a place I had been to before under different circumstances. It had rained a little that afternoon and the air was cool and damp. Far in the distance the sun dipped into the horizon. I heard children playing and kept walking towards the source of that magical sound.

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Before I knew it, I was standing at the water’s edge watching a glorious sunset in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The scene was absolutely breathtaking. A red-orange glow reflected on the glassy water as the green mountains faded into the distance. Dark clouds rolled in to contrast the fireball laying down to sleep in the west. In the foreground children ran free, laughing and playing, calling out to one another as they and their parents looked to the sky.

I followed the sightline of their gaze up and was suddenly overwhelmed with a surreal emotion I couldn’t quite define. Long strings stretched from the hands of these children, crisscrossing into a purple sky … filled with dozens of colorful handmade kites dancing in the twilight. I paused for a moment to soak it in. For just a moment, I was transported back in time. This place of awesome beauty was the place of horrific tragedy just a short four years ago when a holy fool named Italo Castro drowned in these very waters, at this very place. I began to weep in remembrance. It was an odd feeling because I had only spent a few hours with him during the production of our first documentary, Reparando. But, this man significantly changed my life (and many others). I spent three years working on a documentary about the impact of his ministry to homeless children, and somehow, he felt like a brother.

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Four years ago, we mourned the loss of a hero. Four years ago we stepped forward in faith to share the legacy of his life in a way that would honor his life’s work to help children at-risk. Four years ago, we had no idea … how difficult … and how beautiful our journey would be. But in that moment at the water’s edge, all of the tragedy and comedy collided together into beautiful irony written by the hand of an author writing a greater story. After all, it was the weekend of All Saints Day and Día de Muertos, a holiday to remember loved ones who have passed away. In Guatemala, kites are flown during this holiday as a symbolic gesture to connect with the spirits in heaven. I had seen people flying kites all weekend, but these kites were different. These kites were like angels hovering over the water, quietly, but powerfully honoring a holy fool. The children, the place, the sunset, the memories – they all combined in a way that I could never quite understand nor communicate. I’ll just sum it up to say it was beautiful.

In that moment, my spirit was carried up with those kites, and I caught a glimpse of heaven. I imagined Italo looking down at the place where he breathed his last breaths on earth … and seeing so many children playing joyfully with their families … he smiled … and I smiled with him. In that moment, there was no tragedy, there was no comedy … there was only peace.

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Help us empower at-risk children through I AM ART.

Kristi Bredeweg – Returning Home

I’m sitting on the plane. The man next to me is fast asleep. I have three hours to think; so I do. What on earth just happened to me? I left the comfort of a typical American lifestyle and wound up in a country where I knew not one soul, did not speak the language at all, and had no idea what was expected of me. Result? Unbelievable personal growth, new friends, a scant smattering of Spanish words and a new appreciation of God’s sovereign providence.

There is a certain comfort in returning ‘home’, wherever that might be, and I’m experiencing it as I fly over the Gulf toward Atlanta and then Michigan. However, I start letting my mind process my time recently spent with mostly teenagers for long blocks of time each day, trying to convey to them an art concept that even I was skeptical of! My fellow team members did an excellent job of supplying me with what I needed to pull it off. Along with the supplies I purchased and lugged to Guatemala, I was well equipped. And so we began.

Within 10 minutes of my dive into the approved workshop, I scrapped it. This isn’t going to work with this group. I sensed a guarded and apprehensive mentality. Let’s face it: I was a white American woman of privilege coming into their world. There wasn’t much common ground there. Or was there? I calmly put aside my agenda, sat on a chair in the middle of the room, and told them about my life. My real life. The one where my 5 year old son died while I was pregnant. The one where my husband left me with 4 kids. The one where my roof collapsed.

I stared into the eyes of 10 interested kids. They saw that even I, this white American woman of privilege, had real issues. From then on, they trusted me. We began the workshop. They knew I cared about them, their lives and struggles. I may not be able to fix all or any of the stuff they dealt with, but I knew with all my heart that we would connect on some level that transcended skin color, location, language, age, and status. We were all on the same artistic journey.

I watched them as they used their individual talents to transform a simple mirror into a reflection of who God made them to be. I shared the meaning of their names with them. They quietly took that information in.

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They were so special and so unique. I would have taken any one of them home with me. I said my “goodbyes” to each of them individually. My tears flowed freely. They looked me in the eye and told me that they too would miss me. We connected. We shared. I was blessed beyond anything I could have imagined when I began this journey.

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I now see the lights of American soil and the Atlanta airport. I get a lump in my throat at the real possibility that I will forget their idiosyncrasies and individual quirks; all the things that make me want to return and once again sit in a chair in the middle of a room and become a real person to real kids and delve into art… and so much more.

Kathlyn Beyer – Casa Bernabe Retrospect

I’ve been processing, the past several days, I AM ART camp that took place last week at a children’s home in Guatemala City. It was a week that I dreaded, stressed over, planned for and simply, to be quite honest, didn’t really want to begin. Little did I know I would feel very differently by the end of it.

When I had heard that Athentikos would be leading two art camps this year, I signed up. My anticipation of my involvement was that I would help with translation like I had the year before. As logistics were being sorted out stateside, the team realized they needed more artists to teach workshops so they asked me what I thought. The idea of workshop leading excited and terrified me all at once. I responded to them that I’d pray about it but they could probably count on me to do it. It happened. I was signed up to lead a workshop. Then fear set in.

I had no clue of their expectation or what art medium I would use to teach the I AM ART curriculum. After a couple of days I decided on photography. Team Skype meetings came; I dreaded them. Every time it stressed me out to present my ideas to the more experienced artists. I had no clue how it was all going to pan out. A supply list was compiled, but there was no way I could afford to buy it all. I was overwhelmed! I was looking at the big picture or at least what I perceived it to be and it seemed impossible for my human form to accomplish. As time went on, I realized how right I was. God revealed His hand in three tiny miracles;

Miracle #1: God gave me community. A friend, the right artistic and creative friend, came alongside at just the right time. We spent 2 hours bouncing ideas off one another and developing a plan. I felt more at peace with the undertaking after having her help.

Miracle #2: He supplied the resources to make it happen. My mom shared the need with our support team and in little to no time all supplies were on their way!

Miracle #3: As time passed and I attended more meetings and my confidence and preparedness grew. I had freaked out about the details but He didn’t leave me there long. God provided. He is faithful.

The week approached and I was stressed. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I wished for more time. Feeling somewhat unprepared, I had forgotten Who had and would work it out.

Monday, the first day of classes, I was nervous. So many unknowns flooded my mind. I had no idea if the “plan” would work well, if it would engage the children or bore them, if it would last the full three hour session or leave me frantically filling time with unplanned games after completing the lesson in 30 minutes. Would the children behave, enjoy, tolerate, or act out? Perhaps the biggest uncertainty was that not only would I be teaching photography for the first time but I would be doing so in my second language, Spanish.

I survived day one. My Spanish held up. I didn’t love or hate the outcome of the day but was glad it was over. My kids were some of the oldest in the group so along with their adolescence there were the attitudes you might expect. With many of them having lived at the children’s home for the majority of their lives, they have come to be calloused to short term groups and teams. If they don’t allow themselves to feel attachment, they won’t feel the heart tugs as the short-termers skip country. This dynamic was fairly obvious from the get go. I didn’t struggle understanding their hesitancy or should I say their cool attitude. In fact, I’ve found myself, to some extent, on the other side. Me being the cold host. Sounds pretty harsh but I don’t have any lighter way to put it. I was thankful to have that deeper understanding of the children’s lives.

Slowly they began to open up. Not nearly as quick as I did but they got there. Very seldom was I able to see the excitement of the children as they learned. I guess partly because I didn’t truly know them yet. But I would. My first perception was I had a class full of uninterested young men and women, a potential flirt and a class outcast. Man was I wrong. I quickly learned (well perhaps it took me the whole week to learn) you can never know the heart from that which is displayed on the faces of others.

One example of this was one that brought tears to my eyes. It is that of a young man of about 15 or 16. He hardly ever spoke. I struggled to remember his name at the beginning of the week. So expressionless, I wondered if he even cared to be there. Second to last day, I sat down beside him on the basketball court and he turns to me and asks,

“Will you all come back next year? I mean to do an art camp?”

To which I respond “I really don’t know. Hopefully!”

“Well, I’ve really enjoyed it.”

This from the expressionless adolescent. His voice spoke with sincerity. It spoke deeply to me. As if that wasn’t enough to touch my heart, he wrote me a sweet note thanking me for teaching him so much, that he had really enjoyed it, and that he was going to miss me. I had observed this boy all week. During our large group session he would enter, his face would say “I feel alone in this crowd of people, I don’t even know where to go”, and then he would awkwardly shuffle to the back of the room. I had seen it happen several times as if he was lost and couldn’t find anyone he knew. But by the end of the week he knew me, that I was there because I cared about him and the others. That he realized that blessed me.

One of the older girls had an attitude at the beginning of the week but that disappeared as the week came to a close. She would walk up and greet me with the sweetest of hugs. Hugs of friendship.

…to be continued

Kristen Paquette: To Be the Hands and the Feet of Jesus

As I prepare for Guatemala, I have been reflecting on my past experiences that have led me to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus. It is hard to believe that the trip is fast approaching. In the midst of excitement, I often feel anxious and I find myself in a panic. During the moments that panic sets in, God reminds me that He has equipped me with knowledge and the skills to go on this trip. These are the seeds that have been planted in my heart.

Recently, during a moment of panic, I realized that I have a heart of compassion and a heart that breaks for Guatemalans. Ever since I took a sociology course while I was attending college. Remember, this was 9 plus years ago and I still vividly remember watching a video in Developmental Sociology. The video captured children that were living on the street and as a method of survival they resorted to “huffing” any type of aerosol products they could get their hands on. After all these years, that image has always vividly remained in my memory. Then as time went on, my friends Scott and Amelia Moore adopted two handsome sons from Guatemala and started the nonprofit organization Athentikos. As I followed their posts about the I Am Art trips, something resonated within me.

I would of never thought my first overseas mission trip would include me teaching an art workshop to adolescent girls. I always imagined my first overseas mission trip would be to Sierra Leone, Africa with a medical team and during the trip I would be administering vaccines, conducting HIV testing, and working in the maternity clinic. Naturally this makes since. Right? I do have experience as a public health nurse and this is within my comfort level. Then God kindly reminds me that my preconceived ideas of my first overseas mission trip was my plan and not His. God really does has a sense of humor.

I also get reminded of the importance of art in my own life and how it has helped aid healing during the most difficult times. In the midst of anxiety and panic, God gently reminds me that art is a big part of my own life. From childhood until I graduated from College in 2006, I was a dancer and taught dance classes. Then as I started my career as a Registered Nurse I stopped dancing as a profession. However, I am all about impromptu dance parties (just saying). In 2008 my husband and I attended professional ballroom dance classes to prepare for our first dance at our wedding reception that we hoped would “wow” our guests. As a child I grew up in an art filled home. My mom taught me at an early age how to cross stitch. She was a “crafter” and often had a booth at craft shows. I remember watching her “craft” which stirred up my own interest. I would often get in trouble for raiding her craft room and leaving it a mess as I attempted to create my own masterpieces. As I grew older I learned to knit, scrapbook, make jewelry and sew. To be honest I find myself working with all kinds of art mediums. For me, the sky is the limit. I have realized that I resort to my art hobbies during times of joy such as making a baby blanket for a co-worker to celebrate a birth. During times of sadness I make items that remind me of a loved one that has passed away. Art is apart of who I am and God has reminded me that, “No Kristen, not every Guatemalan is an artisan and yes, you have the skills you need to teach them a art workshop.”

During my moments of fear and panic, God reminds me that I have a heart that breaks for adolescent girls and I especially love mentoring to middle schoolers. For the past year, I have helped out with youth ministry at my church. These middle schoolers have won over my heart. I have a small group of middle school girls I meet with every Sunday morning. I have learned a lot from them and they bless my heart each and every week. So of course this is another way God has gently reminded me. “Duh, Kristen. Yes, it makes perfect sense for you to go on a mission trip to Guatemala to work with adolescent girls.”

I am filled with so many emotions in regards to my upcoming trip. During my moments of panic and feeling of inadequacy, I am reminded of the moments that have already given me the skills and knowledge needed to go on this trip to Guatemala. I am so excited and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for the girls at Oasis Home and the I Am Art Mission Team. Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers as we prepare for this amazing journey where we get to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus.