Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hungry or Hungary?

I have some EXCITING news! Really, wonderfully, exciting news. However, in order to appreciate the "good stuff" I think you need to know the story behind it...

*Notice: This will not be a short entry, but if you know me and love me, I think it will be worth it for you to stick with it and read to the end.*

It was the summer of 2005, I was seventeen years old and graduating high school a whole year early. I was young, optimistic, stubborn, and self-assured. I knew exactly what I would be doing with my life, and no one was going to stop me. I had planned on studying culinary arts from the time I was twelve years old, and now it was actually happening. Starting in the spring, I would be a full time student in the Scottsdale Community College Culinary Arts Program. After that, I would be a personal chef for a rich family and on the road to success and riches. I had always been told that I was mature for my age and so much of that perception stemmed from the fact that I knew what I wanted and I wasn't easily distracted from my goal.

Time passed so quickly that year. I loved school, and although I didn't fit in (at all!) with the other students I still had a good time. It was very hard, both physically and emotionally for me. 8-10 hours a day on my feet surrounded by the type of people my parents had worked my entire life to keep me away from. Yes, I had led a fairly sheltered life. Not that I was totally ignorant of what the cynics call the "real world", but still, I had never been in the thick of it before. More than half the students were drug addicts and just a select few were not alcoholics. Needless to say, I stood out. I confused people and so became an easy target. Actually, to tell the truth, I rather enjoyed it. I think my large obnoxious family must have prepared me....

So I finished the program and started working towards my associates degree. I didn't have a definite plan for the next step after that, but hey, I was ahead of the game and had lots of time to decide! Most of my friends were just graduating high school and people were impressed with how far ahead I was. I'd always wanted to travel. I am so attracted to other cultures (mostly what other cultures eat), so I started looking at Hotel & Restaurant Management and Hospitality & Tourism programs at different colleges around the US.  I actually started the application process for at least three schools, but for some reason, I never fully pursued them. I also applied and got accepted for a study abroad program called Semester at Sea but decided not to go (mostly because it was $50,000 for one semester). I didn't stress about the future much; I was a full time student with a part time job and an active social life. I just didn't have much time to think about it.

Suddenly, two years passed and I was graduating with the degree I had been planning on and working towards for over half my life. Instead of being happy, I wanted to cry. Now what? If I had learned anything over the last few years it was that working as a chef was the last thing in the world I wanted. I decided to "take a break" from school, work full time and save money.

Now came the hard part…answering the questions:
"So Callie, what are you doing these days?"
"Where do you go to school...Oh really...Well, what do you want to do?"
and worst of all:
"Dating anyone? Are you even interested in anyone?"
Because, as we all know, if you're a young woman whose not going to school you better be looking for a husband to support you....

Than an amazing thing happened. I had an opportunity to go to Uganda on a mission’s trip. I had been part of a team in high school that went to Mexico loved it. I’d always wanted to go on another trip somewhere and couldn’t have been more excited for this adventure.

That trip changed my life. I was confronted with poverty and hopelessness in a way I didn’t know was possible. Suddenly I realized just how much I had and therefore how much I wasted. I spent almost two weeks playing with dirty, starving, adorable and fun children. When I got home I was so confused. Suddenly, I began to question God in a way that I never had. Why, God? Don’t you care? You are so powerful, and I am so weak, so why don’t YOU change it? I would if I could…I can’t help that I was born to wealth. What do you want from me? Should I build a mud hut in my yard to ease the guilt of my comfort?” I wrestled with these questions for months. Finally two people gave me advice.

The missions’ pastor at my church helped me to see that the true poverty was not the lack of physical things, but rather the lack of information. The real need was for access to The Word. Not that the poverty wasn’t real or that we shouldn’t help, but that the larger focus should be on the spiritual need and the spiritual starvation. I have been blessed, but not because I live in a rich country, but because I have every tool at my fingertips to study and learn and to share my knowledge of Christ with others.

The other person who helped me was a guest musician at a college group I was attending. He told me that so many Christians here see the deplorable situations and question God and pray that He will provide for them and help them, yet at the while have the resources to be the answers to that very prayer.

While I struggled with these questions, another year passed and I had another opportunity to travel to a third world country. This time the destination was India. My experience in India was vastly different from Uganda. For one thing, I HATED it. I struggled with my American pride and the attitude of “how do these people live like this” the entire time. The smells, the trash, the food, everything made me sick (both figuratively and literally).

Yet I accomplished something in India that I never had expected to do in my life…I got up in front of a crowd and taught a lesson. This was a huge deal for me…I had always been the little shy girl who cried if I had to answer the phone or talk to a stranger. Now I was teaching a wonderful group of young women my own age. They loved to hear from me; their faces lit up with bright smiles the moment I stood for my short and simple lessons. I needed to be humbled and God made sure it happened.

Once home, I continued to search for purpose, feeling inadequate because I didn’t have a plan for my life. It might not be something that people think about often, but as a young American and “student aged” I can tell you, people expect a plan. Well, guess what? God has a plan for my life and I don’t have to know it.
That is a statement that has taken me my entire life to say. Even now, as I type those words, I still wish God would fill me in…

Well this summer I decided, for a variety of reasons, to go back to school. This time for fun! Yes, fun. I signed up for Ballet, Personal Exploratory Writing (creative non-fiction), and Ceramics. My plan was to waste some time and have an outlet besides work. Gods plan was to plant a new desire in my heart.

The writing of my classmates has allowed me to glimpse into their lives. I have heard stories of abuse, neglect, fear, confusion and sorrow. Everyday, my compassion for the lost here in my own country is growing. I feel an urgency that at times I wish I could ignore. I look into the faces of the unsaved and am confronted with the fact that if what I believe is true, they are doomed to hell. To be honest, I have to say that I lack the courage to share the truth. I lack the training and the drive that I know I am going to need. I know that if I don’t begin to equip myself and dare to step out of my comfortable life that I will be consumed with self loathing. It’s time for a change.

So now, are you ready for the BIG news? You should be after reading my entire life story!

I have applied to and been accepted to the Calvary Chapel Bible College Missions Training program in Vijta, Hungary!

It is a year long program that starts in February of the Spring 2011 semester. I’m done wasting time, waiting for a “plan”. From now on, my only plan is to live my life for Christ. So, please pray for me as I prepare for this time in my life. I know I am going to need it!


Taylor said...

Callie, I really admire you. I have felt so many of the emotions that you described. I'm not in school anymore and I might not go back because I'm going to be a mom. People don't get it. "Why wouldn't you continue your school plan so if something ever happens to your husband, you'll be okay?" It so hard to have courage and say, "It's not my plan... it's HIS." I'm struggling with that a lot lately. Thank you for encouraging me and I will definitely be praying for the journey ahead of you! VERY EXCITING! (:

Allie Rae said...

YAY! There are no words to describe how much my heart jumped when I read this. I am beyond excited for you and for all the amazing plans that God has already dreamed over you, and that you are striding forth in.

Side note: I think we all, even as Christians, get so caught up in the way the American society runs things... And put God as a second choice when it comes to making decisions. Success isn't necessarily what college t-shirt you rock, but it's just following Jesus. And sisterfrien', you're doin' it!! I adore you.


Bethany Annette said...

Callie!! Congratulations! I am so happy for you. I know that God will truly bless you for obeying Him!

I will most definitely be praying for you as you walk with God through this new adventure. :) And I hope you will keep us updated!

Love and prayers,

AnnakDavis said...

So awesome Callie!!! I'm so excited for you. What an incredible opportunity. God is going to use you in huge ways! Miss you so much!

P.s. I'm still single too. We will stand together! haha love you!

Debbie said...

Callie, The Lord has brought you to mind so many times in the months since we were in India together. I have been praying that God would direct your paths and reveal His plan to you. I am so happy to hear He has been speaking to you and directing you. You have such a heart for the Lord, and a sincere love for others. I know He has great things ahead for you! I will continue to pray Ephesians 1:15-23 for you, as I did in India! I am so excited for you! Blessings!!!

Jill said...

Callie, I cried when I read this. I am so happy for you and think you are magnificent. Amazing. You will do wonderful things. God bless you in all that you do! Love and prayers, Mama Zupet

Jake said...

Congrsts Callie! I'm really happy for you! Hope things turn out well for you on this new adventure!

mitch denny said...

Wow! I am so blessed to have a niece like you Callie-girl. Your story is very encouraging to see how God has used all these circumstances to lead you to this point of full surrender to His will. It is a challenge to all who read it, especially old uncles. I'm so proud of you and look forward to seeing how God is going to bless you. "He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Love, Uncle Mitch

Kathy said...

HUNGARY!!!!!! Yay! Callie girl...I am so excited for you!! Praise God that you got accepted to this school. I know that you will thrive there and that the Lord has ordered and is ordering your every step! I am reminded of a verse in Isaiah that has been one of my life verses..."whether you turn to the left or the right, you will hear His voice behind you saying, this is the way walk in it" ... You are have walked...and you will continue to walk in Him. Nothing is wasted...the plans God has for you today and in the days to come all work together for good and even when they don't make sense to us...God sees and is in the midst of them. Love your Lord...share His love...continue to grow in the knowledge of your Lord and make the Gospel of Jesus Christ known. There is truly nothing greater to live for than this. I love you! Kathy

Maria said...

Wow Callie, we are so proud of you. You are awesome, and I am excited about the great plans God has for you. I love you, Gammy

Callie Denny said...

Thank you so much for your comments everyone! I love knowing that I have the support of all my family and friends :) I am so thankful for all of you!

Mary said...

Crying, Crying, Crying! I am so happy for you! You are such a blessing to everyone that knows you. You are going to learn and grow so much, and it is going to be amazing to watch. I can't wait to see how God continues to mold you.

What am I gonna do without my best friend for a whole year!?!?

Anonymous said...

From Cassie

My dearest Best friend,

How HAPPY I am for you ! When I read you got in my heart burst with joy for you. I have always pictured you doing something like this with your life. You really are the best most honest decent lovely person I know. I feel so honored to be your best friend. You are a joy in my life and I will for sure miss you but I know its your time to change the world baby girl So you GO Keep them !!! You love them like Jesus does Girl !!! You go be his hands and feets !!! LOVE YOU SO MUCH xoxoxoxo