nervous excitement

so i’ve always wanted to go on an international mission trip. i’ve always been nervous about money, food, different cultures, who i would go with, etc, yet sometime in the fall bill davis (the pastor) at my home church announced he would be leading a trip to guatemala this may and at first i was like ‘that sounds fun, i’d love to do that and go with someone i know’, but then my thoughts turned into ‘well thats expensive, the food is different, what if i get sick, its only a week what can i really do in a week, i don’t even know spanish, etc etc’ and i convinced myself not to go and that i was just being ridiculous.

every time i have convinced myself not to go, God has put little signs in my life telling me ‘i’ll be there’ and comforting me about the things i feel completely uncomfortable about regarding this trip. i’m still terribly nervous, but i really feel called to go on this trip. it makes me nervous writing this because i am a very ocd person and especially about food, i like to know what i’m going to eat and i like to know there will be food i eat otherwise i fear getting sick, and sometimes do, but i trust that if He is calling me to go on this trip (which i feel like He is) then surely He will calm my fears and help me through these problems, i mean He is God after all.

so in deciding to go, i had to decide how to get the money to go, the typical thing to do is write a letter to send to family and friends. i’ll be sending those out this week, and i wanted to share my letter with you.

here goes…

January 25, 2008

Dear friends

My home church (Long Hollow Baptist-Gallatin) is taking a mission trip to Guatemala this May (16th-23rd) and I would love to be a part of this opportunity to share my faith and love those in need as God has loved me. The trip will include splitting our time between serving at an orphanage in Guatemala City and traveling to a small city, Jolapa, to help out on construction projects and medical relief efforts. I have never been on an international mission trip, but have been on several trips around the country.

Last summer I traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi to help out with construction projects and lead Vacation Bible School at a local church. Over my Fall Break from MTSU, I was part of a small group of students who traveled to Harlan County, Kentucky to Cranks Creek Survival Center to work in a very rural, low income community with a blind, yet passionate older gentleman who has dedicated his life to enriching the lives of his community in whatever manner he can. His center repairs and builds homes for homeless elderly folks, donates clothes to needy children, and blesses the lives of all who are involved.

Both of these trips have deepened my passion for community service and living out God’s calling to all Christians to serve and deeply love everyone around us. I’ve recently finished reading Shane Claiborne’s “Irresistible Revolution” and Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love.” Both of these books have not only deepened my passion for Christ, but have shown me that we are not called to sit on the sidelines living lukewarm lives, but to serve, even if that means getting out of our comfort zone. A verse Francis mentioned in his book spoke to me deeply about the value of serving everyone, especially those with the greatest needs:

Then the King will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.’
Matthew 25:40 (New Century Version)

As I said before, I have never been on an international mission trip, nor have I been outside of the country, much less to a Spanish speaking country, however, I deeply feel God calling me to go on this trip in May, no matter how far out of my comfort zone it may be. To be completely honest, I am nervous about how everything will work out, yet each time I come up with excuses of reasons not to go (different food, different language, too expensive, etc.), I find God giving me little reminders about how He will be by my side guiding me and getting me through every struggle I encounter and will provide a way for me to go if I just trust in Him.

I think that this trip would be a great experience for me to go and serve those in need somewhere I have never been where I am completely outside of my comfort zone. I feel that it is in times like that where we feel ourselves leaning completely into Him because we don’t know what to do on our own. Although I may not speak Spanish or have ever been to their country, I feel God calling me to go serve and love these people and be His hands and feet in a city desperately in need.

I am writing to ask you to invest in my life and support this ministry opportunity in whatever way you can: through prayer, through a financial investment, helping me learn a bit of Spanish or simply letting me borrow an international outlet converter. Every little investment and prayer is greatly appreciated!!

To contribute financially towards my costs ($1600), there are a few things to note in order to be sure that your contribution is coded for my trip and giving credit for you. Yes, your contribution is tax-deductible. Please make your check payable to Long Hollow Baptist Church. On the memo line, write Guatemala Mission and enclose a separate note stating “please use this contribution toward the (location) Mission trip costs for Kim Louvin.” Your check can be mailed to Long Hollow Baptist Church, Attn: Dana Guy, 3031 Long Hollow Pike, Hendersonville, TN 37075. Funds received that exceed my trip costs will be applied to Long Hollow missions.

I appreciate every little prayer and investment you make in my life and ask you to pray for the members of this missions team that we would selflessly be God’s hands and feet in Guatemala this coming May.

Thank you so much,

Kimberly Louvin

outdated already?

so i’m reading my organizational behavior textbook, which was released in 2008 by the way, so it’s still fairly new by a textbook standard, and its amazing me how different business is today than it was when this book was released.

granted, i don’t know too much about business, i’m not a business major, i’ve only really had one management class, but i honestly think business admin degrees and even many management degrees are just overcomplicated common sense and psychology mixed in together with a bunch of fancy ‘theories of management.’ ie, teachable on the job.

but this textbook, in the excerpt i read for tomorrow’s class, is talking about the practices of american business and how we need to change them and restructure ourselves before something bad happens (in a nut shell). it goes on to discuss how businesses need to work to improve their product quality, employees need to be treated fairly, productivity needs to be monitored so massive layoffs are not required, financial sectors need to be monitored for underhanded deals, and on and on and on about things we need to do so we don’t end up collapsing on ourselves.

and then fall 2008 happened. and many of the warnings of this textbook happened. and thus the textbook from earlier in 2008 (even in the summer) is outdated.

this shocks me, saddens me, and angers me.

i’m shocked because it makes me realize the gravity of what has happened in our economy.

i’m sad because so many people’s lives have been turned UPSIDE DOWN since last summer.

and

angry because as the textbook points out, most of this bullshit was preventable. we did this to ourselves, and many of the people who are to blame (typically high level CEOs and governmental people) are not having to pay for it like the employees and consumers are. they got golden parachutes and are just doing just fine. yeah they might only have 5 million instead of 10, and yeah thats a 50% cut in whatever, but 5 million is plenty. they have NO IDEA what the majority of the people suffering for THEIR MISTAKES are having to deal with.

they have NO IDEA how the mistakes made in their companies, the underhanded deals, the short cuts, the financial schemes, everything have rippled into the economy.

every day people come into the Y to cancel their membership or change to a reduced rate because they got laid off without warning, 5 star, perfectly fine restaurants (bistro 215 in green hills) close without even a days notice to the management because ‘investors just don’t wanna do it anymore’, workforces get cut in half because american car companies refused to make quality products when their competitors were doing so (bridgestone firestone lavergne plant cuts it labor force in half and closes plants across the country), my dad has friends at the bridgestone headquarters get laid off who have been there 20 years and have moved their entire lives from south america up here, people can’t pay their power bills, families have to choose between heating the house and buying food…

the world we live in is crumbling….it is beginning to slightly recover some but its still crumbling. and too many of these arrogant CEOs got golden parachutes.

my textbook warns of layoffs and budget cuts and impending dangers, but talks about these things as if they are a far off thing that everyone is working on fixing, and then BAM it happens months after the book is released.

just goes to show how fast our world can change.

on another note, mission trip dates came out at church today and i’m super excited about them. (guatemala, galveston, and gulfport hopefully) 🙂

oh and i know this note was somewhat depressing but it should also be eye opening to all of us and challenge each of us to do what we can for everyone around us every chance we get because we never know when we might be in their situation.

stuck here

i feel stuck here.

i want to travel the world.
i want to live in a city.
i want to win a lottery…of airline miles
i want to go to paris, london, rome, bangkok, sydney, guatemala city, and everywhere inbetween
i want to go back to colorado, chicago, texas, new york, philadelphia, DC, and go to san diego, seattle, portland, vegas, phoenix, and many other cities
i want to take road trips in my road trip perfect car

i want to go on mission trips across my city, country, and world.
i want to serve children in africa and guatemala
i want to spend a couple months abroad doing service work several times in my life
i want to see world leaders speak and talk to people who have always been ignored
i want to learn another language

i want to take all my friends with me to do these things
or at least one at a time

yet i am here in murfreesboro….

if anyone has ways to do any of these things on the budget of a college kid PLEASE let me know because i want to travel anywhere and everywhere anytime

just another day at the green hills Y

i love my job. it makes me feel alive.

yeah there are times that people i work with annoy me or don’t do their job or just stupid suburbanite women complain about the littlest things as if i should know everything but aside from all that my job is awesome.

it’s definitely the people that make it so great. the people i work with and the people who come in.

so far this week i’ve signed up Bob Ezrin (who apparently is one of the most influential music producers of all time and founded Clear Channel and LIve Nation…google him) and this guy named Chris Winward who’s an aspiring musician who quit his corporate job because he was bored with it and wanted to start a band. today, amy grant and vince gill came in and dave barnes stops by randomly as does Jimmy Wayne. all of these things are just another day at the Green Hills Y.

we have regulars and we have newbs and more often than not these people are super interesting. when i get to work a regular shift as i have over break i see the same people every day because they come in and work out at the same time and they always have interesting stories. we’ve started focusing more on using members names when they come in and its really cool when they remember mine. when that happens we develop a relationship and i start to get to know more about their lives. as pathetically cheesy as it sounds this makes me feel like i matter.

when i sign people up for microfit fitness consultations and our first steps program to get people started on a work out program which will keep them accountable and then they come back day after day and talk to me and i see them making the progress they wanted to it makes me feel like i matter. i like that feeling, alot.

i want to forever have a job where i feel like i make a difference in peoples lives. eventually i’d like to do that as a school counselor but for now working at the Y will do.

another thing i enjoy about my job is that as a company policy, we are there when people need a refuge and a solid rock to lean on. we offer so many programs to help people including counseling, fitness accountability, a place for teens to hang out, etc etc that its amazing. yes they may be expensive at times but we can base them off of income because people donate money so that others can use programs like these.

working at the Y sometimes restores my fate in humanity and shows me that there are still decent people out there. mtsu and murfreesboro make me doubt this far too often yet my little slice of city life and a helping job restore this lost feeling for me. i know i sound pathetically annoying and like a brainwashed drone but i really do enjoy my job.

i just wish that other people (some that i work with and some of the people who come in) would take a step back and realize all these things. realize the impact we make on people’s lives and the impact we are called to make when we sign up to work at the Y and support its mission.

there’s another side to this job too, it builds community. when people routinely come in at the same time they build relationships thus building a community. it’s nice. we were designed to be in community and have deep, meaningful relationships with our fellow humans, its only natural and the Y facilitates this. it’s nice. another thing is oftentimes lack in the boro, but i’ll try and work on that this semester.

sometimes tragedy strikes though and death happens. twice in the past 24hrs we’ve had situations where older members have died. these are tough situations to deal with because at the Y, people care, thus people notice. yesterday afternoon i had to call one of the men who works in the morning and tell him one of the guys who had been a regular had passed away out of nowhere just minutes after leaving the Y. he was clearly upset, and as sad as this tragedy was, it made me realize that this man had a community of people who cared about him because of the Y.

today a son came in to cancel his father’s membership who had passed away because of a freak disease that caused his organs to shut down rapidly. the man was SUPER healthy, yet tragedy can strike even the healthiest, best, most generous people. when the son was there, everyone knew this man and was sorry and offered to help the family however they could.

this is a gym. most people would simply come in work out, lift a few weights, and be on with their day, yet at least at my Y, people know you and care about you and you matter and we matter.

i know this note probably sounds ridiculous but i really do love my job and i simply wish that everyone could get a glimpse of what this Y does and the people who come in.

it also reminds me that even the smallest thing such as saying “thanks Jill” to someone when they sign in can make their day. we had a meeting where we were reminded that when we say member’s names when they sign in could be the only time all day they hear their own name. i had never thought about this….how many times a day do you hear your name? probably not very many, and doesn’t it even in the slightest make your day better when someone recognizes you? it should.

so as a challenge, i encourage all of you (including myself) to invest in people, get to know them, and remember and say their name to them, you never know how much the little things matter.

just my thoughts for the day.