January 30, 2012

the not so itsy bitsy spider

this weeks tour...fears (well only one of them...)
if you know me, then you know that i have a huge fear of all things creepy and crawly. i am not a big fan of bugs-in particular spiders!
i would go as far as saying i have arachnophobia (my brother would say i am a wimp). i am so afraid of them that i cannot even muster up the courage to kill them (i have this idea in my head that they will somehow come back to life and attack me). i scream like a little girl, and have even been known to sleep on the couch if a visitor happened to be near my bed!
one of the first things i wanted to know/research about FSM was the wildlife (specifically creepy crawlies). i did not find anything out of the ordinary (like giant man-eating spiders) but i am fairly positive there will be BIG bugs in the humid, wet, warm climate!
fear not for I am with you, keeps racing through my mind.
"for I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you." Isaiah 41:13
Jesus will always be by my side...even if it is only for a spider.
a few friends of mine are trying to help me get over this fear...

thanks! (it was all in good fun, so we all had a good laugh)
i took one picture and stuffed it back in the box! (you should have seen me try to get this out of the box for a picture...my heart was racing!)
maybe i will get lucky and never run into a spider in FSM (probably not!) or maybe i will be able to find and convince a cute little kid to be my personal exterminator.
no matter how big or small my fears may be...i know that Jesus will always be there to get me through (even if i am running around and screaming like a little girl!)

January 23, 2012

what is for dinner?

this weeks tour...food
*warning* you do not have to try these foods for yourself...just take my word for it! (or you can, but do not say i did not warn you)
there are a few things that are pretty typical of a Micronesian diet, that i knew i would be able to get here in America and try. here goes nothing...
i would consider myself a fairly picky eater (i guess i am going to have to get over that!)
so the other night i asked my mom 'what is for dinner?' (she hates this question) and well it was my lucky night! almost everything she made...i do not like!
the menu-salmon, spam, coconut, asparagus, and buttery parmesan noodles. (i like 2 of those 5 things)
spam, salmon, coconut, asparagus, noodles
i did try and eat everything on my plate. 
my review-
spam, salmon, coconut
spam-gross, gross, gross! it looked icky, smelled icky, and tasted kind of like bacon (only if it was cooked to a crisp!)
salmon-okay (not a fan of seafood-guess that is going to change too! although living next to the ocean and getting fresh seafood...i may change my feelings for it) after eating the spam...it was good!
coconut-like chewing on a twig! not joking, it is dry and woodsy tasting
and of course my favorites...
asparagus and buttery parmesan noodles-mmmmmmm! 
food will probably be one of my hardest adjustments when i move to my new home.
bon appetit!

January 16, 2012

where exactly is that!?

this weeks tour...Micronesia
when sharing my exciting news about joining and being accepted into the Peace Corps (PC), many ask 'so where is that?' 
it is basically a group of islands in the middle of the ocean!
first i must make a correction from last weeks entry...it is not half way around the world. a good friend of mine (whom i will call B) did all the math for me! this is what B figured out-'Micronesia is 6,240 miles from Denver, which is not exactly 1/2 way around the world! the distance around the Earth, also known as its circumference, is 24,906 miles. so that is 3.99% or just over 1/3 way around the world.' (see map below)
a few tidbits of information...
-some statistics from the PC-population average 160,000; program established in 1966 and has been active ever since; current volunteers 35; total volunteers 4,233; program sector is mainly education.
-the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of four main states- Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. i could end up living on any island and will not know for sure until after my training, which is in Pohnpei. 
-the government is modeled after the federal system of the United States.
-religion-predominantly Christian! about 50% Roman Catholic, 47% Protestant, 3% other. (thank you Jesus! for sending me to a place that closely resembles my beliefs)
-weather-average temperature year round is 80-85* (because it is near the equator-no complaints here!) the wettest place in the world Pohnpei averages 400 inches of rain in the forests and 200 inches on the coast. (not on the main typhoon belt but typhoon activity can occur)
-communication-mostly snail mail, i will have access to computers/internet/telephone-but it is not as easy to access like in the US. (pen-pals anyone? i will let you know my address as soon as i know it)
-food-staples consist of breadfruit, taro, tapioca, banana, rice, ramen, canned meat (spam!), pork, reef fish, tuna, coconut milk, papaya, soursop, eggplant, cucumber, avocado. (i do not like fish or coconut. i guess i will learn to like it!)
-attire-mostly long skirts, t-shirts and (my favorite) flip-flops! 
-living arrangements- (depends on where i am assigned, and i will live with a host family my entire assignment) a typical house is constructed of corrugated iron and cement, with tin roofs, and have electricity. most have running water inside but some have outside toilet and shower facilities. most volunteers take bucket showers. if i am assigned to a lagoon or outer island i will not likely have running water, electricity, or inside toilet. (good thing i have lots of camping experience!)

that about sums up the basics of my new home. and here is a sneak peak of what my views will be...
i must say the window for the tour this week was amazing, i am so blessed to be going someplace warm and beautiful! i may not know the reason He gave me the opportunity to be placed in Micronesia, but someday i will!

January 9, 2012

the more i seek You

this weeks tour...ME!
preparing for a huge life change...means i have a million things on my 'to do' list!
i have many things to take care of to prepare and get ready to move half way around the world. a majority of those involve things of the physical human nature-saying goodbye to family/friends, deciding what to pack (call me crazy, but yes i have started a pile of things to take), getting my finances in order, and the list goes on for about another mile!
last week in church, i was reminded that i must also be preparing myself spiritually. it was on my 'to do' list just not at the top. 
being a highly organized person, i always have a plan. it is my plan, and set up just the way i like it (or at least the way i think it should be). as always God's plan is different...
so this is how my week began. 
devotion theme for january
"for I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
wow! okay You have my attention.
the rest of the week is as follows: "come to Me with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed." "relax in My healing Presence." "refresh yourself in the Peace of My Presence." "I want you to learn a new habit." "you can achieve the victorious life through living in deep dependence on Me." "I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine." "it is impossible to praise or thank Me too much." "softly I announce My Presence." (i read a daily devotional by Sarah Young. Jesus Calling-enjoying peace in His Presence, it is amazing!)
double wow! okay i can no longer ignore this theme.
so everyday i began with a whisper from God, telling me to let go, of my stubborn earthly ways-that is the hardest thing (for me) to do! but i will try.
my new plan...is to first prepare myself spiritually. how should i go about doing this?
"but if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all you soul." Deuteronomy 4:29
i first heard this song last week at church...another whisper
my new breath prayer (a breath prayer is saying phrases while you breath in and out to focus and is also symbolic of filling and emptying our lives) breath in...the more i seek you, breath out...the more i find You.
plans change all the time. the top of my 'to do' list now says JESUS. seeking Him in everything i do to prepare for my journey, will make it that much more special and amazing!
before i continue window shopping the world, i need to focus on my own spiritual relationship with Jesus. these months before i leave are a time for Jesus to prepare me. so that when the time comes i will be ready for all the things He shows me. 

January 2, 2012

how it all began...one year ago

one year ago, i stepped out of my comfort bubble on a journey that changed my life. i went on a mission trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
this is my story...

Haiti has forever changed me, and has a special place in my heart.  I was excited to step out of my comfort zone, and let God work in my life in a HUGE way, but I never imagined how much He would change me in one week, who knew?  GOD DID! 
This was my first mission trip.  I knew before I left that God was huge but to see firsthand how HUGE He is, has strengthened my relationship with Him that much more.  I planned on going to Haiti to change the lives of those around me and I did but, in the end it was those around me that changed my life forever.  Who knew?  GOD DID!
The thought of traveling to a third world country was scary, but I never felt fear; I knew that God was with me every step of the way.  I had never been out of the country, nor had I flown over the ocean.  I knew that going to Haiti was exactly where He needed and wanted me at this point in my life.  I will be completing a bachelor’s degree this year and I am not sure which path God is leading me down.  I am at a crossroads in my life right now, and ready to take the next step-what could have been a better way than to let God stretch me by placing me in Haiti?  Who knew He was going to use this trip to show me how BIG He really is, by placing me in the middle of His creation?  GOD DID! 
Dan, our leader from Faith Missions International, asked each one of us to window shop for what it is that God wants to give us on this trip.  I looked at each child’s face as a window, and asked God ‘what is it that you want to show me through this child?’  Who knew I would window shop in Haiti and find the best deals in the world?  GOD DID!
Here are a few of my souvenirs…
JOY - Jesus is so alive in all the children at the orphanage!  It made my heart melt to see how much joy, love, and happiness each child had.  Jesus used each child to show me how much He loves each one of us.  To see them happy to be alive and able to praise Jesus each day was inspiring, and reminded me to take joy in the smallest of things.  One experience I will always remember and hold close to my heart was how mesmerized the children were with my feet.  The humidity and heat had made my feet swollen.  When the children would touch my feet they would turn white, and they were able to ‘draw’ on my feet and they thought it was the coolest thing in the world!  Who knew my feet would bring them joy and smiles to their faces?  GOD DID!
PRAYER - The power of prayer is one thing that I have learned from this trip.  I had an average prayer life before I left.  I have never prayed so much in my life, as I did in Haiti.  We prayed about everything, and so did the children.  To see, feel, and experience the power of prayer was amazing!  I have never felt so close to Jesus as I did when we prayed.  It was an unforgettable feeling to FEEL His power all around us.  I was also reminded to have a childlike faith.  The children are so close to God and know Him so well.  When they pray, you can see in their faces how much faith they have in Him and how convicted they are by His love.  They were definitely in the throne room and meeting with Jesus, their faith is so large and strong.  The first time I felt the power of the Holy Spirit in me was a prayer session we had as a group when we prayed over the backpacks for the children.  I knew that God was using us to bless the children.  I felt tingles from my head to toes knowing that angels were standing guard and protecting us to be able to share God’s love with the children.  To be the witness of an answered prayer for the children was a blessing.  They were not able to have Christmas, so they began to pray, all they prayed for were backpacks for their things and school.  They were so happy when that is what we brought them. God used us to answer their prayer and that is a blessing and feeling that is indescribable and unforgettable.  Who knew that a prayer for something as simple as a backpack would make their day?  GOD DID!
TIME - Serving and spending time with children is a passion of mine.  I was so blessed and humbled to spend time and serve them daily.  There are a few things in life that will always remind me of my time in Haiti.  I will never again eat a hamburger or macaroni and cheese without thinking of the children, nor will listening to Michael Jackson ever be the same.  There really is a first time for everything!  Being a part of the children’s first hamburger was amazing.  Cooking 80 boxes of macaroni and cheese-that is correct I said 80 boxes!-over a coal fire was an experience all in itself.  Everyday experiences in Haiti have become life altering memories.  Food and dancing were some of the best times I had on this trip.  Who knew ‘there is a first time for everything’ would touch me the way it did?  GOD DID!
PEACE - God used this mission trip to remind and instill in me to have a genuine relationship with Him.  To seek Him every day, and in everything I do.  To look at day to day adventures as His way of speaking into my life, and to take the time to listen to His whispers.  To slow down and take each day one at a time.  That plans change and to look at them with thanksgiving instead of irritation.  I know that when things get tough I turn away from God when in reality I NEED Him more than ever.  He showed me that true peace can only come from Him, when we hand all our troubles over.  Who knew I would experience the feeling of true peace?  GOD DID!
FAITH - Having a child preach, was a humbling feeling.  To see his passion and know in his heart that what he was speaking was coming from the lips of Jesus through him-gives me goose bumps.  The faith of a child is so amazing, I was shown the childlike faith I need to have in my life; to reach my hands up to my daddy and trust Him in everything.  Who knew I would long to be like a child again in my faith?  GOD DID!
LOVE – God LOVES us and He showed that by sending His only son to save us.  I am very blessed to be able to have taken this journey with my dad.  To see his love for me and understand that he would do anything for me, gave me a better understanding of God’s love for us.  This will be something that we can share forever and remember the fun, difficult, and happy memories.  It is a great feeling to know that I have someone to talk to everyday who will understand everything I experienced on this adventure, because he was right there with me every step of the way.  Who knew this would bring me and my dad closer together?  GOD DID!
HUMBLED - I have never seen poverty like I did in Haiti and it broke my heart.  I know that God has blessed me and my life by placing me where He did.  I will never again take that for granted.  I know that He has given me all that I have so that I may be able to share and spread His love to those less fortunate in the world.  I am grateful for all He has done and will do in my life.  Who knew I would be happy with my life the way it is?  GOD DID!
On the flight from Port-au-Prince to Miami, I was able to sit in a window seat, and God spoke to me in this time.  I was in awe at the beauty of the ocean.  It was His last little reminder, from the trip, to me that He is the biggest thing in this world and to remember this experience for a lifetime.  Some of the best memories I will have from Haiti are the gifts that God has given me through my window shopping experience with the children.  I will continue to seek Him daily through JOY, PRAYER, TIME, PEACE, FAITH, LOVE, and HUMBLENESS.  I will listen to His whispers, and be open to the path He is leading me down.
I will always remember Haiti as a turning point in my life, and that God will continue to use me daily whether it is in my own backyard or across the ocean. 
Who knew all this? GOD DID!
Elana Meitler, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 2011

that was only the beginning...
through this experience God showed me a part of who i am that i never really knew what to do with. i have always had a heart for people, but i never imagined that it would take me around the world. 
so...i began my journey to apply to the Peace Corps. 10 months later...
with a new year ahead of me, a new journey is in store. Peace Corps Micronesia and Palau. i will be an ESL teacher and community development worker. my journey will begin in June 2012!
i am so super excited for a new experience. with Jesus as my tour guide!