Monday, May 16, 2016

She Lives!!!

One week ago today, my mom and I set off through the mountains of Colorado and Utah to drive my cankles to the Nevada Clinic. 

We love road trips, but 36 hours of driving time in five days was a lot - even for us. However, we got to see lots of pretty scenery along the way!! And of course.. we ate a lot. 

Since I went to a homeopathic/holistic clinic, things progressed a little differently than most doctor visits. I got my blood drawn right away upon arrival. Since allergies often times trigger weird bodily reactions, that was my first stop in the clinic. The allergy doctor let me know I am allergic to almost everything, but I kind of had an inclination that that was the case. He gave me drops to take so I will be able to lead a normal life without having to edit my diet too much.

I spent two hours talking with the doctor about various parts of my life. He was really good at asking questions. I was really bad at answering them. He told me I should be an FBI agent because he couldn't get any information from me. :) His goal was to figure out what could have caused a sudden change in my body and how to treat it once he could put it all together. Like a puzzle.

I said before that Rheumatoid Arthritis runs in my family, and my symptoms matched those of RA very closely. We went in expecting that diagnosis. But instead I was diagnosed with Pesticide Poisoning! (YAY FOR NO RA!!!)

The doctor gave me around 30 shots of B3 in my joints, my scars, my stomach, and my neck. I haaaate shots. When I told him that, he said he hates getting them too which is why he gives them instead. Ha. He got it all done with only a few threats from me. :) And I didn't even pass out!!

This diagnosis isn't as serious because it can be treated and I won't have to deal with it forever, but it was still a pretty big deal. It got into my organs and caused them a lot of stress before my joints started hurting or swelling. So the treatment plan is going to take awhile to complete, but he's flushing it all out of me and I'll be great in no time!!

He gave me an iv with vitamins in it for pain relief and sent me on my way.

For those of you wondering where I may have gotten pesticides..

Coffee gave it to me. :) When we were working in the coffee fields in Costa Rica and eating lunch with our dirty hands, pesticides were ingested. Most bodies would probably fight it off okay, but I don't drink enough water, so mine absorbed it all. (Yes, I warned the rest of my team!)

The doctor has me on lots of natural medicines to flush out the different parts of my body that need flushing. I take medicine three times a day, and even though I just started taking medicine on Thursday, I am already feeling SO MUCH BETTER!!! My ankles aren't swollen anymore, and today only my left knee hurts! WOO!!!

Shoutout to my mom for putting her life on hold for a week to take me to the doctor in Las Vegas!! She's a rockstar. And of course, so are Dad, Aunt Laraine, and Rhonda - who willingly took care of the little brothers and sisters for the week. It's a pretty huge event to leave town like that.

I know a lot of you were praying for me, and I appreciate it SO much!! You all are wonderful! Let me know if you have any questions. Love y'all!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Life, Health, New Jeans

Hello friends!

I've been missing in action on my blog lately and wanted to give you guys an update.

I'm still waiting on God's direction on where to go next. In the mean time, I'm hanging out with my sweet family and working at the pizza shop. :)

All is well for me aside from some freak health issues. About two weeks ago I woke up with a sore left ankle. I thought it was residual from the sprain I attained in Guatemala getting in the boat. (See previous blog for the story!) The next day I woke up with the other ankle hurting as well. They were hurting so badly I couldn't walk when I first woke up some mornings. About a week later, my knees started hurting and developing weird lumps, and my left wrist and right elbow started hurting along with a few joints in my toes. My right knee is starting to swell, and both of my ankles are also swollen to the point that wearing shoes hurts.

I have the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis which runs in my family, but I haven't been diagnosed. People keep bringing up my being out of the country - thinking my weird illness was triggered by something overseas. Who knows! It's a definite possibility.

I have an appointment on May 11th in Nevada at a holistic doctor to try to figure out what's going on and how I can fix it. Until then I'm taking some natural medicine to hopefully keep it from getting worse. Prayers would be appreciated as I navigate this new weird stuff going on in my body.

I have been weirdly at peace through this. It's a mystery, but I'm going through it with God. And as cheesy as that sounds written out, it's absolutely true. I talk with him about it often, and there is very little anxiety about it.

Waiting a couple of weeks to see a doctor was a little discouraging because I don't want any permanent joint damage or deformity, but God put me at ease about even that.

I'm telling you, life really isn't scary when Jesus is your husband. He tells me where to go and what to do, and if I'm about to make a wrong move, He shuts it down before I get into trouble. He walks with me through the good and the bad times. He listens to me and responds in such sweet, intimate ways. He comforts me before I even know what exactly I'm upset about. And He confirms all the time that He is in the middle of my life, my future, my medical issues. I can't say enough how grateful I am for my Jesus.

(He even provided me with jeans the other day when I decided I needed a new pair. For 50¢ at a garage sale. The only clothing there in my size happened to be a pair of practically new Buckle jeans. No joke!!)

I hope you all are doing well!! Comment or message me on Facebook with all your life updates and specific things that I can pray for! I would LOVE to do it!!

Happy Storm Season/Almost Summer/Practically May!!!!! Love y'all!!

Love, Alyssa

Friday, April 8, 2016

Change of Plans!

Hey everyone! Many of you have contacted me in the past few days wishing me luck on my Colorado adventure, which is so sweet!! However, things got switched up on me.

A week before the school was scheduled to start (and a day after I sent out letters to my supporters telling them about my move to CO. GREAT timing! Ha.) I got a call from the Colorado Springs YWAM saying that the FCM course had to be cancelled due to lack of students. They tried to transfer me to another base, but everything seemed to be working against me.

It obviously wasn't the right timing and/or location this time around.

So I'm home still! Maybe for awhile! God apparently has other plans for me, and while I'm disappointed I can't go and a little confused as to what God may be up to, I know that He has a track record for blowing my mind with his plans. I'm waiting and praying to see where He sends me next. If you wouldn't mind throwing in a few prayers for me in that regard, I would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you all for your continued support!

LOVE, Alyssa :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Home Sweet Home.. For Now

Hey lovely readers!! I hope you're enjoying your Spring. We've had awesome weather in Kansas lately which means lots of outside fun with the little brothers and sisters. And with Spring comes storm season which is my absolute FAVORITE!! (However, it means lots of sleepless nights for my parents since the little sisters aren't nearly as fond of storms as we are.)

As you probably know, I'm happily home with my family and loving it.

After 35 hard, tear-filled goodbyes, I left YWAMDP and my new wonderful family there to return home to Kansas where my original awesome family waited eagerly for my return. It was so hard to say goodbye, but it's truly great to be home.

Coming back to the States was harder than expected, and it took me a little bit of time to re-adjust to this culture and be willing to talk to people again. I finally emerged from my house a week into coming home and am now [pretty much] fully functioning. For my standards. :)

My life for the next week consists of helping out at home with the kids and drinking tons of coffee. Then I'll be heading to California to watch one of my favorite girls/my ex-roommate get married! 

I'll spend some time with my Auntie Robin and Uncle Tim in Arizona before coming home and packing my bags once more for..


On April 7th, I will head to Colorado Springs to attend YWAM's Foundations of Counseling Ministries secondary school to study more about how to know myself better and know others better. I am hoping to come out of this training with a greater knowledge of how to help the hurting and show love even better to people around me.

This school was placed on my heart about halfway through my DTS, and after praying about which steps to take when I returned home I got the go-ahead from God to apply for the FCM. It is a step towards the dream God gave me during DTS (which I will share in a future post) and I'm excited about the opportunity to go discover more about what God has for me. He never ceases to blow my mind.

I am happy to let everyone know that my FCM is paid for! Hallelujah!!! (I hate fundraising!) All I really ask for are prayers for the next step!

I am so thankful for those of you who are faithful in praying for me. Numerous people have let me know they prayed for me every day I was overseas. I know your prayers were what made my DTS so life changing and wonderful, and I can't even tell you how grateful I am for the love and support you all have shown me.

Here's to the end of one incredible season right into another. :) Love you all!!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Big Return

Team Costa Rica set our alarms for 2:30 on Monday morning so we could eat breakfast at 3:00 and start our whirlwind of a journey back to Belize by 4:00 AM. 

We got a taxi to the bus station. Took the bus to another city. Then ran to catch our next bus. It was a successful ten hour journey, although we almost had to leave two of our teammates at the Nicaragua border when the bus took off without them. Luckily, they caught up to us before we got too far. It was stressful though. 

We slept in Managua, Nicaragua in the bus station hostel, then woke up at 3:30 AM to eat breakfast and catch our next ten hour bus ride to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. (This is the sketchy city we stayed in extra long on the way to Costa Rica. While in Costa Rica, we learned that we were more likely to die in Honduras than in Iraq during the war. God totally took care of us though.) 

Shoutout to Brady, my bus buddy, who put up with me for 20+ hours of bus time. He sat on my feet when I was cold, didn't wake me up when I pinned him to the window in my sleep, and even scratched my back at one point upon my request. This guy is top notch, let me tell you. 

While we were at the bus station waiting for the man who owns the hostel to shuttle us, we met another English speaker! Jasmine is a 22 year old girl who is traveling Central America alone. Circumstances shifted for her and she found herself looking for somewhere to stay for the night. So we adopted her. She came to the hostel with us, ate with us, and had bible study with us. It was really cool seeing how our team welcomed her in and helped her feel safety in such a stressful circumstance. 

We woke up at 5:30 AM for our 6:00 breakfast so we would be ready by 7:00 for our ride to take us to Guatemala. However, they were on Central America time and ended up coming at 9:15. We stuffed fifteen of us into a nine-passenger van (two seats taken by backpacks alone), rushed through the border, and made it to the city we were scheduled to boat to Belize from with ten minutes to spare.

We got through customs and went to load the boat. When I was stepping in, I didn't realize there was a dip in the bottom of the boat, and I twisted my ankle. My lovely team laughed at me (mainly the leaders) but I was fighting tears. It was throbbing, and I knew we still had a lot of walking with heavy bags to do. When Travis realized that it was actually hurt, he laid his hand on it and prayed for healing. Nothing changed the first two times he prayed, but he was persistent. After the fourth time he prayed, it felt significantly better. When I got out of the boat, I had no pain at all. In the words of Lauren, THAT'S the kind of God we serve! It was so cool to experience God's physical healing first hand, and I felt really encouraged to have a leader who put into practice what we've been learning all of outreach - that we have the power of Christ in us!!
It's a good thing that God decided to heal my ankle because I definitely had to use it in our two mile walk to our destination for the night. We got to the missions base by Punta Gorda, ate soup they made for us, and headed to our cabin where we had a little friend waiting for us. 

It's a scorpion.. In Aud's hand. No big deal. 

There was also a huge one in the bathroom teaming up with a spider the size of a handball. They were all hanging out by Shahnee's shower, and if you were in the country, you heard screaming from that bathroom. We had no chill. 

After another early morning bus ride and a taxi, we are waiting on the ferry to take us to base on Ambergris Caye. Hallelujah!!!

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who prayed for our travels back to Belize. God was all over our trip "home". :)

Our team has gotten really close in the past two months, and while we tend to get on each other's nerves often, there is so much love between us all. It's hard to think about doing life without them, but there's also a lot of excitement as we anticipate the arrival of the rest of our DP family.. TOMORROW!!! 

Ten days left of this beautiful season. Here I go to soak it in. See y'all soon!!!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Pura Vita Livin

Hola from the montaƱas of Costa Rica! (I know that word because it's on our coffee bag. Still can't make a sentence in Spanish. Workin on it.)

We only have 10 days left in this beautiful place. I absolutely love it here, and our team is getting so close. It's going to be super hard to leave them. I don't think it's fully hit me that when I go home (which I'm excited for) I won't be with them anymore. I know it's an elementary thought, but I get sad every time I realize I'm only with them for three more weeks.

Last weekend was a refreshing one for our team as we got to pack our bags and stay in Grecia for the weekend. (Strong Missions had a karate camp for kids so we got the boot.) Grecia is only a ten minute bus ride away, and we got to stay in the coolest hostel ever. It was Inga's birthday, so we dressed up went out to dinner as a team when we got to Grecia. 

Ministry for the weekend was titled "life", and it's exactly what it sounds like. Our leader felt that God wanted us to practice doing life with God in the center. If we're called to be like Jesus, then we have to learn to do ministry as Jesus did. So we went about our day on Saturday doing what we would normally do. But instead of talking amongst ourselves or looking at the ground as we walked or waited in line, we were intentional about smiling and saying hi to people as we walked by or finding hurt or sad people and praying for them. 

Just living life together. :)

Our team came back with some really cool stories of divine encounters with people who just needed some love. 

That night, we wanted to go hang out in the park across the street from our hostel. We went out with music, a ball, some coloring books, and playing cards in hopes of attracting locals to us. 

Right away, we turned on music and a group of boys came and sat on the steps of the church to laugh at our [lack of] dancing skills. (Except Alex who can bust a sick move or two.) We got them to join in a little bit. It was cool to hang out with them. And they didn't even realize they were dancing to Christian beats. 

Some of us saw that the stage was free, so we sat in the middle and sang worship songs. The acoustics were cool, so we were having fun harmonizing with each other. Then a group of young guys came up to us with tambourines and bibles. They spoke Spanish, of course, so it took awhile to realize they were there to worship with us. It was such a neat experience. There were several songs that we all knew, and with our two Norwegians, we sang the songs together in three languages. The spirit was so present. We were fired up. 

The cool thing about these ministry opportunities is that they're just practice for every day life. We have opportunities to love on people and pray all the time. The key is to use the opportunities given. I have seen myself realizing these opportunities so much more lately. It's cool to see evident growth in this area. 

We worked on the land on Wednesday. It was a HOT day, and we all left with sunburns. On our way home, two of our girls found puppies. The owners were apparently not able to feed them anymore and the girls were faced with the predicament of letting the dogs die or facing the wrath of our outreach leaders by bringing them home. They decided Jesus would save the puppies. So they did. 

Six little puppies. The cutest puppies I've ever seen. And Travis and Josh were only mad for a little bit. :)

They're currently sleeping in our shower. Strong missions people are helping us find homes for them. There are three left that need homes as of tonight. If any of you have connections in our area of Costa Rica who need puppies in their lives, hit me up! ;)

Wifi hour is over, so my update is too. 

Thanks for reading! And thank you for your continued prayers!! See you all soon!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Life in the Coffee Fields

Hello world! We are on day 20 of outreach, and it's going so quickly. Our team is staying at Strong Missions, and it's so great here. The director has cool connections, and he's been keeping us busy. 

We've done three types of ministry:

1) School hangs. 

We got connected with a school close to where we stay. We went there one day with the intent of sharing some Jesus-love with kids, but only three showed up!! Haha. I think those three felt loved at least. :)

2) Children's home. 

Strong Ministries is involved in an orphanage-type of home here in San Isidro where kids who are the least likely to be adopted live and become family. We basically took two rooms in the house that had been used for storage and made them into bedrooms for the kids. I loved it. 

3) Manual labor. 

Strong Missions bought land they want to build on so they don't have to rent the space they currently use anymore. The problem is, the land is covered in coffee plants. So our team goes out three days a week to harvest coffee beans (the profits of which they use to feed kids in the area) and remove the coffee plants. It's hard work and a little bit overwhelming.

If I'm honest, I hated this work for the first week. I wanted to be out sharing Jesus with people, not in the fields getting sweaty and gross. But one of the other girls on our team who felt the same way shared that God showed her that what we're doing is a step towards building a property that will lead people to Jesus someday, and if we weren't out doing this work, who would do it?

I prayed on Sunday night for a change of heart. I didn't want to go out grudgingly, but with a joyful heart. And when I woke up on Monday I was actually excited to go work! It's been a cool week of spending that time with God and having good conversations with my DP family, and I actually kind of enjoy it now. Aside from the grueling uphill walk back home. My calves are looking good though.. I won't lie. ;)

We were given scrubs to wear in the fields so we wouldn't get eaten by bugs. The locals think we're nurses until they spot us on our walk back after working.  
Shahnee picking coffee beans, looking way too cute.
Inga, Audrey, and Me posing with the coffee plants during our first day of picking. 
Little stickers attack me more than anyone else. I don't know if it's the material or if I'm just a messy picker. 
Inga recently discovered her love for the machete. She hasn't cut any limbs off of herself yet, but the trees have seen better days. 
Josh and I team up to dig out roots. He chops through the roots with his sharp shovel and I pry it from the ground. Since I have weak arms, I end up rolling around in the dirt trying to use all muscles in my body to get them out. It's so fun. 
And rewarding. 
And this is me after a dirt war on the property. I get pretty dirty, but it doesn't usually reach my head.