The Next Step in My Journey

For the past four years I’ve had a dream. It’s one of those dreams that feels so wild and unimaginable that I tuck it in my back pocket and only take it out on days when I’m feeling especially hopeful, or willing to believe that God has a good plan for my life. This far-fetched dream is to teach history to Nepali high school students in Nepal. I know this dream is very specific, and I know that as I continue to learn and grow, this dream will continue to evolve, but I also know that this idea of teaching in Nepal has deeply rooted itself in my heart and captured my imagination.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I love traveling and experiencing other cultures. You’ll also know that last summer I spent three weeks in Romania and Moldova working with an organization called Word Made Flesh. (Insert shameless plug. Here’s their website: http://wordmadeflesh.org. You should check them out because they’re awesome!) When I returned from Romania and Moldova last June, I knew that my next logical step would be to take a longer journey out of the U.S.. I never dreamed, however, that I would so quickly be given the opportunity to go to the one place I have wanted to go more than any other. I am elated to announce that from June 8th through July 20th I will be going to Nepal!

I will be working with a non-profit organization called Tiny Hands International. (They’re also awesome and worth checking out! https://www.tinyhands.org). Tiny Hands works in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh with street children, orphans, and victims of sex trafficking. They have children’s homes for at-risk youth and border-monitoring stations to intercept girls being trafficked from Nepal to India. They are also in the process of opening a school with the vision of raising up leaders in Nepal through quality education. My first three weeks in Nepal will be an intense time of learning. My team of nine young women from all across the U.S. will be exploring the different facets of Tiny Hands’ work by visiting their ministry sites throughout Nepal. As a future educator, I am especially excited for the time we will get to spend at the school! We will also be using this time to dive into Nepali culture, and wrestle with issues of poverty and injustice. At the halfway point of the trip, each member of our team will meet with the leaders of Tiny Hands to choose an area of the organization to plug into for the remaining three weeks of our trip.

This is where you as my blog readers come into this. First, I want to let you know that I am planning on using this blog to keep my friends and family, and all of you updated on my trip. As I am in preparation mode between now and June, you can anticipate a mix of posts that are similar in nature to what I have posted in the past, and posts pertaining to my trip. Once we reach June, however, this blog will be filled with all things Nepal! And then once I come home I’ll start posting about other topics again.

I can’t take this journey alone. First and foremost, I will need prayer support. I think all too often we underestimate the importance and the power of prayer! Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Because God has so clearly called me to go to Nepal, I know that Satan will oppose me every step of the way, which is why prayer is such an important part of this journey. Last summer, when I was in Romania, I would be feeling discouraged and overwhelmed when, suddenly, my mood would lighten. Then I would realize that, although it was 4:30PM in Romania, it was 6:30AM on the West Coast, and my prayer warriors were waking up and praying for me. More than once the knowledge that they were interceding on my behalf helped me through the most difficult moments of that trip. So if you are a person of prayer, I would love it if you would pray for me! Sometime in the near future I will post a blog with a list of specific requests you can pray over.

In order to go to Nepal, I am also in need of financial support. I am personally responsible for raising $4200. I know that some of you reading this blog don’t know me personally, and I want you to know that there is absolutely no obligation for you to contribute to my trip! However, I do encourage you, if you feel led, to pray about this opportunity. I firmly believe it takes an army to bring God’s Kingdom to earth. While God is calling me to go, that does not negate the importance of what He is calling you to do where He has planted you. In thinking about the significance of your role in bringing the Kingdom, I would encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. We all have an important role to play in the body of Christ. If you do feel led to donate towards my trip you can go to https://www.tinyhands.org/campaigns/kelly-simonsen-vision-trip.

I want to say thank you in advance for the myriad of ways you will be taking this journey with me. Even you just reading my blog posts means the world to me! I’m still in shock that this dream is coming true! Nepal, here I come!

Dreams and Reality

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River of Desire Part Two

Last night our rivers met

And the emotions flowing through me

Are as varied and as beautiful as the current of our river

All summer we’ve been heading to this point

And last night, on the dance floor

We finally came together

But here’s the funny thing

When our rivers joined, our problems didn’t float away

We’re still both broken human beings

And if anything

Our coming together created bigger rapids

It makes sense, you know

More water, more rapids

Two lives, more complications

But I wouldn’t trade it for the world

Because some struggles are worth the fight

And this is a risk I’m willing to take

So as I float down this river of desire

I’m excited, and I’m ready

Because no matter what’s around the bend

God knows what comes next

And I have someone who wants to float by my side

The World Is New

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I feel like I’m heading into a new season of life. A new job, an upcoming new school year, and coming home from both college and Eastern Europe with fresh eyes has left me feeling like the world is new. It’s very exciting, and a little terrifying, but I have an overwhelming feeling of, “This is good!”

But while this new season is good, it has given my brain a multitude of thoughts to ponder, and my heart an abundance of emotions to feel. A few nights ago, I was feeling overwhelmed, so I flipped my Bible open to Proverbs 3:5-6, and the words provided exactly the encouragement, challenge, and inspiration my soul needed.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart”

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For five years now THE lesson I’ve been learning has been how to trust God. For me, it’s that one lesson I just keep learning over and over and over again. More often than not, when I pray the answer I receive is, “Trust me!” Lately, the answer has become a bit more nuanced, because God has been responding to my prayers by asking me, “Do you trust that I have a good plan for you?” but the lesson is the same. The hard thing is that God asks me to trust him with my whole heart. The heart is incredibly complex. Sometimes my heart feels open and tender, but other times it feels closed and hard. Sometimes it is broken, but other times it is overflowing with love. The heart can feel many things at once, and right now my heart feels excited yet confused, anticipatory yet uncertain, intrigued yet timid, optimistic yet vulnerable. But God is asking that I trust him with my whole heart, swirling emotions and all. So trust him I will!

“and lean not on your own understanding;”

Let Faith Be Your Guide

At face value, I want to take this line to mean don’t trust in your own understanding because it is flawed, but that is a very discouraging interpretation. If my understanding of a situation is completely wrong, how am I supposed to make an informed decision, how am I supposed to feel peace, how am I supposed to proceed? When I question my understanding, my confusion multiplies, and my anxiety shoots through the roof. After looking past the surface of this verse, however, I don’t think that the ultimate reason to not trust my own understanding is because my understanding is incorrect. Instead, my understanding is incomplete. There are certain things in life that I know to be right and true, but in every situation I encounter there will be unknowns. I can only see the present, not the future, and I can only know what I’m feeling because I can’t know what’s going on in anyone’s heart but my own (and sometimes I don’t even know that.) God is the only one with complete understanding, and fortunately for us, he uses that complete understanding to make all things work for our good. So I will lean on his perfect understanding!

“in all your ways acknowledge him,”

How He Loves

This portion seems pretty straightforward to me, but that doesn’t make it easy to do. To acknowledge him in all my ways is to submit everything I do to him. When I’m acknowledging God in all I do, it becomes difficult to knowingly do something he wouldn’t approve of. This creates fantastic accountability, and a high standard to live up to, but the fact remains that I am a human who willfully sins more often than I would like to admit. Making mistakes is a regular part of my life. However, this verse does not say “in all your ways (except when you mess up) acknowledge him.” That’s how we want to interpret this verse, but it’s simply not what it says. So in all my ways, good, bad, and ugly, I will acknowledge him.

“and he will make your paths straight.”

God Will Direct Your StepsI don’t know about you, but in this context I usually associate the word straight with the word easy. I really want to read this as, “and he will make your paths easy.” But in my heart of hearts I know that that is simply not true. God never promises easy. Your path could be straighter than a yardstick, but steeper than a ladder. And no matter how straight your path is, if it is so dark that you can’t see more than two feet in front of your face, it will be anything but easy. Some other translations say, “and he will direct your paths.” I think that is a much healthier understanding of this verse. If you trust God with your whole heart, lean on his understanding, and acknowledge him in all your ways, he will direct your paths. For me, this promise of divine direction is enough to do all I can to trust him! So here’s to a new season of beautiful unknowns and wholehearted trust!