Monday, May 23, 2016

What Waiting Looks Like

I remember when I was younger thinking or feeling the thought of “someday…” a lot, but for those older and wiser, you know that dreaming of “someday…” is not the same as preparing today. I’ve been thinking more about this recently, as I watch a younger friend of mine graduate from high school. She has a lot of the same desires as me: missions, church ministry, outreach, and discipleship. The main difference that I see in her from me at that age is she is trying to prepare for those things by getting involved at a young age.

When you pursue a job or a career, you prepare by schooling and getting jobs in that area, no matter how insignificant, and then working up by experience and meeting the right people. The same thing should apply to those interested in ministry, though one problem is getting involved in a church is not a job that pays. Finding a job that does pay, often pulls you away from getting involved at church because of time restraints and other factors, which is something I’ve been noticing and increasingly concerned by. So for those interested in ministry, be creative and find a job that can help you prepare for what God is calling you to do. Ministry should not be a “someday…”, because without getting involved and doing it NOW that day may never come, or when it does come you may not feel prepared or adequate. For my friend I mentioned above, she is actively involved in church ministry and is working now to build an online store through Etsy to help pay for Bible school. Proverbs 31 woman right there! She is using her hands to make things to help prepare for ministry and whatever God is calling her to. No idleness allowed. No putting off God’s calling for the “someday…”. No compromise in standards or time availability for the bigger picture.

There was a time in my life that I had the mindset that I needed to first earn money and build a career before I could successfully pursue ministry. First of all, that took away any need for faith in God to choose and lead me in the direction He wanted. Also, it doesn’t actually make sense. Moving to Maine was a new jump start for me to start changing my mindset from “someday…” to “today”. A friend gave me the little book 7 Truths from Experiencing God, which I would highly recommend as easy reading for anyone who wants to start waiting for God’s calling by actively following Him today. We should not think of waiting as a time to just earn money and sit on it until *BAM* the right day comes to serve God. That sounds a lot like a dragon sleeping in his lair on a pile of very useless money. Rather we should be using every area of our life (work, school, home, church) as preparation based on what God is calling us to today.

What does waiting look like? For me, it looks like preparing with school and training for ministry. Joining mission trips has also been a huge part of my preparation, as that gave me training and experience specifically with outreach. At home too, I make sure to set apart times and places that I can actively be involved in outreach by handing out tracts. Being involved in church ministry has been a huge part of my preparation, which involves music ministry, discipling teens, learning from older mentors at my church, and just being faithfully present and involved with ministry outreaches and activities. This has not always been easy, as it is time consuming, exhausting, and sometimes feels fruitless, but it is rewarding. God is finally opening doors for me to be pursuing missions, which I have dreamed about for over 10 years. The bigger the calling, the longer the time of preparation is needed.

One of those mentors at my church that I mentioned above recently told me, “The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, and the 2nd best time to plant a tree is now.” She really was talking about trees, but to spiritualize this a little… The best time to get prepared for God’s calling is 10 years ago, and the 2nd best time is NOW. Growth takes time and preparation, and thankfully I began (very slowly) 10 years ago so I can be reaping the rewards today.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Finally, Prayer Letter is OUT!

Dear Friends,                                                                                                              April 10, 2016

            Thank you so much for your prayers for me leading up to this point. I am so excited for the opportunity to serve the Lord in Mexico with New Tribes Missions next school year and to see what God will be doing in my life. God has been doing a good work in me. He has been teaching me a lot about what faith in Him looks like, and Him calling me to Mexico feels a lot like a test!
As an update, I will be going to Sanford, FL for training from June 20-29. I will return after that to Maine to finish preparations, and then I will be heading to Chihuahua City, Mexico late July. I will be teaching a sixth grade class there at Colegio Binimea, an NTM school. I am finishing my Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education, and I still am feeling terrified of the responsibility of being a teacher! There are a lot of unknowns at this point, and I am taking a step of faith. God has increasingly proven to me that He is calling me to this mission, which just means that He is going to give me the strength and ability to excel there!
Currently, there are three obstacles that I need to overcome before leaving in July. My first is to finish my degree, which Lord willing will be finished by the time you are reading this letter! Second will be the training in Florida in June. I have some reading and work that I have already begun as preparation, and I am excited for the training that the trip will bring. The third obstacle is raising support. New Tribes has set up a budget to meet my needs while in Mexico at $2,018.00 a month, from August 2016-May 2017. This is a challenging adventure that God has called me to!
The best way to support me at this point is through prayers, which I covet as I prepare and follow God’s will for my life. I also would greatly appreciate financial help as I’m raising support. These are difficult times in our economy, and I know many people who are already praying about how to support missionaries. I pray that the Lord also blesses you as you consider giving.
The easiest way to give to this trip is through which goes directly into my support account. Checks can also be mailed to me or to New Tribes Missions directed for Ariel Huntress.
I also want to use this letter to announce something that I am very excited about! I have started my mission blog, I will be able to use this blog to keep all of you updated on how my classroom is going, what ministries I am working towards, and what God is doing in my life. I will also be able to share prayer requests easier and faster. For my church family here in Maine, my mom is already planning to print out copies for those who do not have a computer. So plan on staying updated. I also encourage my teens and anyone else who wants to keep in touch with me to get Whatsapp on their phone. It has become a vital tool of communication with my family in South Africa, and I will be able to use it likewise in Mexico.
Thank you for your prayers and continuous support! I am so blessed with the people God has provided in my life up to this point. I cannot express how thankful I am for this time. I feel blessed beyond words.

                        All for God’s glory,

                              Ariel Huntress

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Shout Out to Mrs. Strout!

Today is a big day for me! I have just completed the last leg to my Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education degree: student teaching. I prayed a lot about my placement, and God answered that prayer in a very good way. Every part of this placement addressed gaps in my knowledge and ability level, and the teacher I was working with, Nancy Strout, was such an amazing example and teacher to me. Her strengths were my exact weaknesses, so through her teaching I was able to be stretched and grow as a teacher.

This was no accident! God cares about the details in our lives. Tonight my pastor was talking about Joshua’s prayer to God, asking Him to make the sun and the moon stand still to give him a longer day time to completely defeat God’s enemies, and God did it! (Joshua 10) As I was praising God for this year and completing this degree, I realized in a way God had extended my time of preparation and learning, similar to Joshua. Last summer I prayed that God would give me one year’s experience of teaching this year, so I could be prepared to teach over seas. A week after I began praying, I was given the opportunity to teach as a long term substitute in a 4th grade classroom through December, which was exactly the amount of time I was free to teach before student teaching. This semester I was placed with a 2nd grade class as student teacher. I am graduating with basically a year’s experience under my belt, which is exactly what I had prayed for! That is a gift from the Lord, and feels a lot like an extended day. If I have learned anything from these experiences, it is all for God's glory! I had almost no involvement in planning the places I worked at or the people I worked with; that was all God.

I am going to miss this class so much. This has been a unique experience, as student and teacher rolled into one title. The learning curve has been high, and I cannot imagine a more perfect class to prepare with. It was so difficult saying goodbye to my 4th grade class, and now I feel the same way about saying goodbye to this 2nd grade class. As a new teacher, I’m hoping this particular difficulty of saying goodbye never changes.