Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nathan Hockert

Meet Mr. Nathan Hockert, our second 
wonderful male on this young adult mission team!

Nathan graduated from Totino Grace High School in 2006 with Angela Rodgers. After high school, Nathan attended St. Olaf College and was involved with club hockey and lacrosse. In 2010, he graduated with a degree in both Biology and Religion with the hopes to someday attend graduate school to become a medical provider. In the meantime, however, he has been busy planning a year of volunteer work with the Luther Volunteer Corp. and working as a nurse assistant at U of M Medical Center. While this will be Nathan's first time going to Haiti, it will not be his first mission trip experience. Nathan has had several mission and service opportunities, one in particular being a service trip to Guatemala. 

Nathan and I both attended the same high school, but met 2 months ago when he inquired about the work I was doing in Haiti. At the time, I was actively seeking out another young man to join our team of predominately women. After explaining to Nathan about the mission and the work I have been involved in, I casually dropped a line about my young adult team leaving in June. In the following message from Nathan, he told me about the book he was reading called "Mountains Beyond Mountains" (which I hope to now read!). He says, "The book is non-fiction and is primarily anecdotal. The book hinges on Paul Farmer, whom is living the life I hope to live." Paul Farmer, a founding director of Partners in Health and a professor at Harvard, is an anthropologist and physician that has traveled the world to provide medical care to third world countries. It was a "God-thing" that Nathan was reading the book at the same time I was actively seeking out an additional male for our Haiti team. It was by no accident that Nathan came across my facebook posts and felt compelled to know more about my experiences in Haiti. Within several weeks of talking about the trip details, Nathan couldn't turn down the opportunity to travel to Haiti to witness the country for himself. I am so blessed that Nathan has responded to this call to serve in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and to join our team to serve some of the poorest people in the world. I know Nathan's gentle heart and kind-spirit will greatly impact the lives of the people we are about to serve.

Given the path Nathan is headed on and his passion for service, I have no doubt in my mind that he will pursue his dream of using his medical career to make a difference in the lives of those living in dire circumstances. I look forward to watching God's plans for Nathan unfold in Haiti this next week, especially since Nathan will have the opportunity to engage in 3rd world medicine.

Please lift Nathan up in prayer as he continues to prepare his heart and his mind for Haiti! May God provide for Nathan's needs at this time of preparation!! 

Kayleen Smith

Meet Miss Kayleen Smith, another wonderful young lady on this mission team!!

Kayleen grew up in Anoka, MN.  She graduated from Totino-Grace High School in 2008. She has recently graduated from The University of Wisconsin Stout with a degree in Vocational Rehabilitation and concentrations in Independent Living and Occupational Therapy.  Kayleen has been very passionate about working with people with disabilities and volunteering since she was in junior high.  Kayleen works as a Personal Care Assistant for Lutheran Social Services, as a Respite Coordinator for Friendship Ventures, and as a Travel Leader for Ventures Travel.   As a Personal Care Assistant, Kayleen teaches independent living skills and advocates for persons with intellectual disabilities.  As a Respite Coordinator, Kayleen provides respite services to families and persons with disabilities by providing weekend excursions and camps for people with disabilities throughout the year.

 This summer, Kayleen will spend the majority of her time working with Ventures Travel as a Travel Leader taking individuals with developmental disabilities on vacation.  Ventures Travel travels all throughout the United States, and Kayleen will have the opportunity to traveling to San Francisco, Wisconsin Dells, The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, The Black Hills.... and MORE!  Kayleen stated, “I absolutely LOVE my jobs, especially Ventures Travel because it gives me the opportunity to experience two of my favorite things in life in one job: working with persons with disabilities and traveling.  I love being able to promote the independence of persons with disabilities and being able to provide the opportunity to travel to someone who may not have otherwise had the chance.  I learn so much from the clients I work with and value the relationships I form with them. Our memories and experiences are priceless!" In October, Kayleen will be heading to Thailand to work for a non-profit organization called the Father Ray Foundation for 6 months where she will volunteer with 850 children and adults with disabilities in Pattaya, Thailand.  During this time she will teach English, teach vocational skills, work in the school for the blind, teach independent living skills, and help the Thai teachers. Kayleen's passion for living a life serving those in need is evident through the life she has chosen to live.  

Kayleen’s passion for volunteering began when her junior high curriculum required her complete some volunteer hours at Sharing and Caring Hands in Minneapolis.  Once she transitioned into high school and college, she was active in the volunteer organizations and participated in several mission trips throughout the years.  Kayleen had the opportunity to go to Alabama to build houses...New Orleans to do Katrina Relief... Camden, New Jersey to work with several different organizations.... to Galveston, Texas to do hurricane relief....and to Louisiana to repair and build homes.  Through these short term mission trips and other various volunteer opportunities Kayleen has taken part in, she believes God has been preparing her heart for the trip to Haiti with Healing Haiti. 

I am very blessed to have Kayleen be apart of this short term mission trip to Haiti. Kayleen and I got to know each other pretty well in high school when we were in a small group together. At that point when our paths had crossed, Kayleen and I were going through similar troubles and were able to use each other for support.  Our paths separated for a short time throughout college, but have come back together for this wonderful mission trip experience in Haiti. I am so thankful that God has called Kayleen to serve beside me in Haiti.. and look forward to watching God use Kayleen in many incredible ways! 

Please lift Kayleen up in prayer as she continues to prepare her heart and her mind for Haiti! May God provide for Kayleen's needs at this time of preparation!!! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Anthony Edholm

Meet Mr. Anthony Edholm, 
one of our two wonderful men on this mission team! 

Anthony Edholm grew-up in  Andover, Minnesota, and graduated from Totino-Grace high school in 2007. After graduating high school, Anthony moved  to Omaha, Nebraska to attend college at Creighton University. He recenetly graduated in the pre-med program with a degree in Biophysics. Anthony says, "I  chose to go to Creighton because of its outstanding medical school. Being a pre-med student at the same university gave me an opportunity to experience the medical field in ways that most pre-meds would have not been able to." Anthony's ultimate goal is to be a physician, specifically an oncologist. He has recently decided to defer medical school and accept a job offer from Teach for America as a high school physics teacher in Los Angeles, California. Teaching will provide Anthony an opportunity to shine his light and encourage the heart of our youth, and I know he will be able to touch many young students' lives. After teaching, Anthony plans on returning to Creighton University School of Medicine to complete the final steps towards his career aspirations.    

Anthony and I were friends in high school, and have remained in-touch over the years. Anthony became really interested in Haiti after seeing all my pictures and hearing stories from my trips. He says to me about Haiti," I am certain that this is something that I need to experience!" When Anthony told me he wanted to come with me on my June mission trip, his voice was full of excitement and confidence.. there was no way he was going to turn down this opportunity to travel to a third world country for the first time and to serve in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. I know the kids in Haiti will love Anthony's positive energy and caring heart. I am so blessed to be able to serve next to this kind-hearted man and to watch his Haiti journey unfold! 

Please lift Anthony up in prayer as he continues to prepare for his heart for Haiti! May God provide for his needs at this time!!  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jane Margolis

Meet this Rookie-- Jane Margolis 

Jane and I became really good friends senior year of high school!

Jane graduated from Totino Grace High School in 2007, and from the University of Minnesota December 2011 with a degree in Sociology. Currently, Jane works for the Sociology department at the U of MN doing research on childhood illness and financial success. In addition to her work at the U of MN, Jane also works as a nanny for two awesome families! In the fall, Jane will be starting  a 2 year master's program at Boston College with hopes to eventually achieve her Ph.D.  Jane would one day like to become a sociology professor at a college or university!

 Jane informed me that she has always wanted to go abroad to do a service trip, but the timing had never been right and/or her nerves controlled her commitment to go... until now! Jane had been following all my Haiti posts and pictures on facebook since the beginning of my Haiti experience. When I had started recruiting people to bring down to Haiti, Jane felt that the time was perfect to cease the opportunity and to travel with people she knew to do mission work. This will be Jane's first time to Haiti, but she has been to other countries like Chile and Argentina.  Jane says, "I know those countries are not as troubled as Haiti, but being there definitely opened my eyes to how people outside of the US live!" 

I am so blessed that Jane has answered the call to serve with me in Haiti this June. Jane and I went to high school together and became really good friends during the end of our junior year. Our friendship blossomed as I was captivated by Jane's lively, energetic spirit and her caring heart. No matter what kind of day I was having, Jane always knew how to put a smile on my face! She really helped me through some tough times. Our paths went separate ways as we both went off to college, but stayed in touch intermittently throughout that season of our lives. When Jane had contacted me about coming on my June Haiti trip, I was so excited!! Not only would I have the chance to serve next to this strong hearted woman, but I would be able to reconnect with an old friend!! When we met for coffee a few months ago to talk about trip details, I knew Jane was going to be an awesome addition to the team! ...Jane will be able to put a smile on many of the Haitian's faces... just like she has done for me! I look forward to watching her create her own Haiti experience and to watching her break WIDE OPEN!!! 

Please lift Jane up in prayer as she prepares for this incredibly Haiti experience. May God provide for her every need during this time of preparation!! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Angela Rodgers

 Meet Miss Angela Rodgers, 
Another Rookie on Our Haiti Mission Team!

 Angela graduated in 2006 from Totino-Grace and from the College of St. Benedict in 2010 with a degree in Sociology. Currently, she works at Hammer Residences, Inc. in Wayzata, MN. Hammer is a non-profit company which serves individuals who have developmental disabilities. Angela says about her work, "I love my job, and I love serving these individuals!"  Angela holds a couple of positions at Hammer Residences; she is an In-Home Specialist and a Hammer Trip Leader. As an In-home Specialist, Angela divides her time up between administrative work and direct care shifts. As a Hammer Travel Trip leader, Angela assist individuals with disabilities in their travels. She says, "I have taken one trip so far and we went on a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas! It was a great experience to see these individuals fulfill their dreams through travel." Angela is also a certified Zumba fitness instructor and teaches Zumba fitness classes for the individuals she serves and their staff. When we had talked at our first Haiti meeting, Angela informed me that a big part of her motivation for the Zumba certification was so that she could help incorporate physical activity into the lives of many of the residents she serves. Angela's heart sees bigger needs beyond herself, and her creative mind helps her to effectively impact the quality of the lives around her. 

 Angela has informed me that since she was a little girl she always knew she wanted to help other people and that this has been a common theme in her life. Angela's giving heart will now extend beyond the work she does at Hammer to the mission work she will be doing in Haiti.  Angela says,"When I saw Kristina's post on facebook late last year, it really stuck with me and I knew this trip was something I was meant to do." I am so blessed that my experience in Haiti has captured Angela, and that she has answered the call to create her own Haiti experience.  This will be Angela's first mission trip, and one I am sure she won't ever forget!! Angela says," I am excited to go to Haiti to serve, learn, and expand my horizon. I am also very excited about the relationships and connections I will be making during this trip. I am hoping to make some lasting relationships and beautiful memories." 

I am so blessed to have Angela on this young adult mission team traveling to Haiti. Angela and I went to high school together, but didn't get to know each other  well since she was in the class above me. Our paths crossed in college during my freshman year when I decided to pick up the dreaded 2:40 pm Intro to Psychology class. The only familiar face in the class was Angela (and one of the incentives for helping me get through the late afternoon class)! We spent the semester sitting next to each other, helping each other with homework/notes, and getting to know each other. Our paths crossed again before my January trip to Haiti when Angela saw a post I had made on Facebook looking for young adults to come to Haiti with me. While I was in Haiti this January, Angela contacted me again and told me she was in!! The news topped off the awesome day I was already having in Haiti!! I look forward to serving next to Angela and watching Haiti break her wide-open!

Please lift Angela up in prayer over these next few weeks as she continues to prepare herself for this humbling experience in Haiti. May God provide for Angela's needs during this time of preparation! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shalisa Wilson

Meet Miss Shalisa Wilson, 
a Rookie to the Haiti Mission Trip!

Shalisa and Kristina work promotions together!
Shalisa graduated from St. Louis Park Senior High in 2006, and from Concordia University, St. Paul in 2010. She is currently working full-time for a home health care company, but aspires to someday work for (or even open) a marketing/ special events company that consistently gives to philanthropies and non-profits. I hope that Shalisa's experience in Haiti will continue to lead her towards this inspiring dream!

Going to Haiti will check off one of this rookie's "By Age 25" goals! Shalisa has informed me that serving in a third world country has been on her heart, and she is looking forward to the opportunity to strengthen her relationship with God. Shalisa says, "I'm excited for this trip and will use it as a stepping stone for some of my long term goals!" 

I am very blessed to have Shalisa join me on this trip! I met Shalisa through promotional work a little over a year ago.  When we met, I was drawn to her energetic personality and her humble heart. Naturally, Haiti came up in conversation while working together. Shalisa was very interested in the mission work I was doing in Haiti and wanted to learn more about serving there. In the fall of 2011, I sent Shalisa an e-mail with all the information about Healing Haiti in hopes that she would sign up for an upcoming trip. Shalisa continued to follow my Haiti experiences, and when she found out I was leading a trip in June 2012...she instantly jumped on the opportunity.... taking the leap of faith to answer the calling she heard on her heart to serve in Haiti. I am so excited for Shalisa to experience Haiti first-hand! She will be the first of my promotional friends and co-workers to join me on this humbling journey to the poorest country in the western hemisphere.. and I hope her experience will encourage others to answer the calling! 

Please lift Shalisa up in prayer as she prepares her heart and her mind for what she is about to witness. I ask that God will provide for emotional, spiritual, and physical needs during this profound experience. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Samantha Johnson

Meet Samantha Johnson, a rookie to the 
whole Haiti experience! 

Sam at her college graduation party! 

Sam and Kristina at the First Annual Healing Haiti Sweetheart Ball!
Friends for over 18 years!! 

Sam graduated from Totino Grace High school in 2007 and Iowa State University in 2011 with a degree in technical communications. She has worked at St. Jude Medical in St. Paul for a year now as a medical technical writer.  (I may have to consider hiring her as being my personal editor!)

Not only will this rookie be traveling to Haiti for her first time, traveling to Haiti will be Sam's first trip outside of the USA!! Sam says, "I'm really excited to follow Jesus' footsteps in Haiti, but very nervous because I've always been very sheltered and comfortable and this experience will force me to be outside of my comfort zone." Sam's love for singing, laughing, dancing, and enthusiasm for life will make it easy for her to connect to the Haitian people!!

Sam and I have been friends since kindergarten. We've grown up together and have remained the best of friends over the years. She has watched me experience Haiti time and time again... she has heard my stories, seen my pictures, read my blogs, and supported me every step of the way. When Sam heard that I was leading a trip to Haiti in June, she took the leap of faith to join the team. From the very early stages of the trip formation, Sam had been preparing her heart and her mind for witnessing things that would make her uncomfortable. I am so very blessed that she has taken the courage to experience Haiti for herself... rather than just experiencing it through me. I am excited to watch her break WIDE OPEN and to be able to serve beside her. I could not ask God for such a more beautiful experience to add to our lifelong friendship.

I ask you to lift Sam up in prayer as she prepares herself to be completely broken. May she find comfort in the Lord and through her teammates as she witnesses some truly heartbreaking and uncomfortable circumstances. May God give her what she needs as she continues to prepare her heart and mind.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Danielle Goetzke (Co-Leader)

 Meet Danielle Goetzke, one of my two co-leads for this young adult mission team.

Danielle with one of the children at Gertrude's orphanage. 
Danielle's fun-loving personality is hard to miss!! 

Danielle graduated from Hill- Murray High School in 2008, where she was highly involved in peer ministry, volleyball, hockey, and softball. Currently, she is a student at The College of Saint Benedict. She was just accepted into the nursing program, and is finishing her minor in psychology. Danielle has high hopes of someday working as a hospice nurse, and is now building her experience as she works as a nursing assistant at Heart to Home, a senior care facility. Danielle says, "I get the opportunity to walk the elderly to the gates of heaven to meet their maker, daily." In addition to her busy schedule, Danielle still finds time to work another job at the St. Cloud Country Club as a beverage cart girl. 

I had the opportunity to meet Danielle in the spring of 2011 after I returned home from Haiti. We met for coffee on our study breaks at a coffee shop on campus and shared in conversation about Haiti.  Danielle was preparing for a trip in August with 8 other people from  Eagle Brook. While in Haiti, Danielle was touched by the beauty of seeing the face of God everywhere. She says, "I loved the person I was in Haiti and knew in my heart that I needed to get back there ASAP. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to travel to Haiti again in June as a co-lead. I am ecstatic about the experience and to see what God has in store for our team. You really feel God's glory at all the ends of the earth." 

I am so blessed to have Danielle on my side as a co-lead. She has such a gentle heart and optimistic personality... I know she will make a great co-lead and help strengthen the team. After Danielle's trip in August, the two of us connected again and thought it would be neat to lead a young adult mission team in Haiti. Our original plans were to make it a Bennie-Johnnie team, but as the months passed God placed other young adults in our paths; He had something else in mind for this week... and both of us were open and excited for God's plans!! Danielle and I have been dreaming of this trip for 9 months.... and it's truly a blessing to watch it come to life. I look forward to serving beside Danielle in June!! Who would have thought that one year ago, while chatting over coffee, we would be leading a team of young adults to the place that broke our hearts... changed our lenses to life. 

Please lift Danielle up in your prayers as she prepares her heart for co-leading our mission team in Haiti. May God strengthen her for the journey and provide for her needs. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lauren Phillips

Meet Lauren Phillips, our sweet Texan sister
 joining the team in Haiti this June!

Lauren with  God's precious children in Haiti. 
Lauren's love for the Lord is evident in her fun loving and energetic spirit! 
Lauren holding an adorable boy in Haiti. 

Lauren graduated from Crowley High School in 2007 and The University of Texas at Arlington in May 2011. Currently, she works as a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse at Harris Hospital Fort Worth, and loves her job. One thing Lauren especially enjoys about her job is that she has the opportunity to pray over her sick babies everyday. Lauren says, "There is no greater joy than to be able to come home and say I had the opportunity to save a life today!" The love and prayer she shares with the sick babies in Texas extends to the edges of the earth; Lauren's ministry has taken her from the comfort of her Texan home to care and pray for the widowed, orphaned, and poverished people around the world. 

Lauren started mission work at a young age. When she was 12 years old, she took her first mission trip to Costa Rica and fell in love with serving those in need. At the age of 14, God called Lauren to serve overseas. Lauren has traveled to Australia, Africa, and Haiti since her early teenage years.  She spent the summer of 2011 in Africa living with a pastor and his family, and explains that she has never experienced poverty like that before. It was in Africa that God opened her eyes to the lost, poor, lonely, orphaned, and widowed in our world. 

The June mission trip to Haiti will mark Lauren's 5th time going to Haiti!! Currently, Lauren is a  Missions Director at Calvary Church Fort Worth, and she just started leading teams to Haiti through her parish's connections. Lauren's path crossed with Healing Haiti in 2011 when she was on a mission trip with World Orphans. She met my uncle Tom, who took her and several of her missionary friends on a water truck run in Cite Soleil and to the Home for Sick and Dying Babies. Lauren reports that the water truck experience forever changed her life. She says, "Their bucket of water was their hope for living one more day!! God definitely broke my heart that day for what breaks His." The absolute poverty witnessed in the slums of Cite Soleil truly is a heart breaking experience. 

Lauren's dream and hope is to do mission work full-time one day!! She is just waiting for God's time and direction. 

I am truly blessed to be able to serve by Lauren this June. My uncle, Tom, introduced me to Lauren on Facebook a year ago.. and in January of 2012, Lauren contacted me while I was in Haiti. She sent me encouraging messages and prayers. It was at that time God wrote it on her heart to come on my June Haiti trip. Lauren's strong faith and warm heart can be felt through her e-mails and facebook messages... I am so excited to meet this lady in Haiti this June and to watch God use her gifts and talents to serve the Haitian people... our mission team... and above all, our Lord. 

I ask you to lift Lauren up in prayer as she prepares her heart for this week in Haiti. May God provide for her every need. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sara Ross (Co-leader)

     Meet Sara Ross: one of the two co-leaders 
on this young adult mission team. 

Sara with the kids in Cite Soleil, Haiti October 2011. 

The kids of Cite Soleil love Sara's attention!! (March 2012)

Sara graduated from Mounds View High School in 2000 and the University of St. Thomas in 2004 with a bachelors degrees in business management & psychology. Currently, Sara works part-time at Balance for Life (a small fitness studio), but is primarily a stay- at- home mom with her adorable 4 year old daughter.
God called Sara to Haiti through a friend that went to Haiti on an Eagle Brook Church mission group a year and a half ago. Upon returning home from Haiti, Sara's friend asked her to go with on an October 2011 trip. Sara proclaims that God answered the request with a resounding YES! She didn't really know what exactly got her so interested in Haiti other than the calling God placed on her heart to serve there. Sara's life- changing trip to Haiti in October was the first time that she had ever been to a 3rd world country, but not the last!! God continues to call Sara to Haiti; she had the opportunity to travel back to Haiti in March and will now be serving as a co-leader with our mission team this June.  
 Sara says, "The Haitian people are simply amazing."... and they really are!! Many of us that have been to Haiti would agree with Sara! There is a lot to learn from those living in absolute poverty. 
I am truly blessed to lead with Sara by my side. God placed Sara in my life out of nowhere; I received an e-mail several months ago from a Healing Haiti trip coordinator with an inquiry for a spot on my team.  Several e-mails later, and Sara was on my team. Within a few months, Sara went from being a team member to being a co-lead for the team. God placed Sara on my path for a much bigger purpose than I am able to see or understand now, but I know she will be a great asset in areas of leadership I fall short. I look forward to working and serving beside Sara over the next month!! 
I ask you to lift Sara up in prayer as she prepares for Haiti and as she helps co-lead our team. May God provide for her needs.