ANNOUNCEMENT…

It brings me GREAT excitement to share that I’m moving… on the web!

I’ve been working on sort of consolidating space for awhile… and it’s nice to have a more customizable space.  All the present content on this site will stay here, but for all future content please visit: http://whitneyisahuman.com.  Please change your bookmarks and subscriptions.

Thanks for being on this journey with me!  Excited to continue on with you!!!

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So Close You Can Almost Taste It…

I have less than $1,000/monthly left to go before I am 100%-funded and can report!  Praise the Lord!!!

Thank you so much for praying and for being part of the answer to these prayers!  I’m so grateful for you and your outstanding faith in the Lord!  WOW.  Please continue praying for that last push!  And if you know anyone who may be encouraged to hear what the Lord has called us to, I’d be honored to meet them and share about my calling with them!  Please feel free to let me know: whitney [dot] chen [at] cru [dot] org*.


SUMMER PROJECTS
Students and staff are going on summer missions trips this summer (in Epic/Cru they’re known as “Summer Projects”) all over the world!  When I directed the 2010 Japan summer project, the Lord taught me so much about His people, His love for those people, and Himself.  It’s also where He reinforced my calling to full-time campus ministry.  I just couldn’t taste a nibble of God’s glory and plan for Japan and our Epic students who served there and then do something else with my life.  Needless to say, God does a lot on these missions trips!!  Please be praying for our Epic trips to the following locations:

  • San Francisco, CA
  • East Asia**
  • Southeast Asia**
  • Tokyo, Japan

Pray that the Gospel is preached both to all the people students/staff interact with but also to themselves as they wait upon the Lord to reveal His redemptive will for their own lives too!  Please also pray for travel, physical, and spiritual safety and protection.  **Some students and staff are venturing into closed-countries where it is illegal to share the Gospel with people.  So please be extra-vigilant in keeping them in prayer!!

And since I know YOU all are such avid blog-readers and fans of yours truly’s (it’s okay if you really aren’t… I choose to believe my version 😉 ), I want to share with you a couple of blogs that will be our inside looks into these two projects:

Bro-mantic: Daniel is giving Danny a piggy-back 🙂

Daniel (above, bottom: our very-own Southwest SoCal Team intern!!) is in SF: http://danielgima.tumblr.com/
and Danny (above, top: a student at CSULB Epic–him and Tommy, a student at UCI Epic) is in Japan this summer: https://jesuslovesjapan.wordpress.com/

Thank you for partnering with me!  We’re so close!!  Hope you have a GREAT summer!! (HAGS :D)

*Note: My e-mail has changed to this address… the uscm.org address still works at this time, but please switch my e-mail to this cru.org address in your directories/contact lists!  Thank you!

“It’s time for the voice of summer”

The title of this post comes from billboards last year to promote LA Dodgers baseball (above).  The billboards were gorgeous–a photo of Dodgers announcer, Vin Scully, in his announcer booth with the ball field in the background.  Just looking at the billboard again makes me all excited for baseball AND summertime.

Now, I’m reminiscing summer memories from my childhood–going to the pool (I lived in Houston, TX until I was eleven and during Houston summers you stayed indoors or went to the pool unless you wanted to be a sweaty, itchy, unhappy mess), visiting cousins and grandparents in California, rollerblading (I’m trying to make this a reality in my adult life now, but I keep being deterred by my embarrassment from asking Sports Chalet employees where they sell rollerblades in adult sizes that aren’t for roller hockey…), avoiding fire-ant hills, not avoiding fire-ant hills, getting scolded and tended to after stepping into a fire-ant hill, watermelon…

When I think back, I don’t remember them all, but I’ve had summer adventures every year of my life.  Even the years I didn’t go on any cool vacations or go on a summer project/short-term missions trip and attended summer school or something turned out to be full of new, strange, fun, exciting, terrifying experiences.  Andevery summer has looked drastically different from the others with its own quirks and moments.

I often protest–and by protest I mean passively sigh until someone lets me complain to them–at how quickly life moves these days and how there’s so much change happening and how ministry is living in a state of constant transition.  But this past year of raising support and reflecting has me gratefully embracing that, just like my summers, it’s all an adventure.  Every day is going to look differently, simply by virtue that it isn’t the 31st anymore, it’s the 1st.  It’s not a Thursday anymore, it’s a Friday.  The Lord had me share my calling with those people yesterday and not today.

And it’s not just in this warm-months-wanderlust that I can suddenly embrace “the vast unknown.” I think it’s that the Lord is growing me in my understanding what it means for Him to give us sufficient grace (2 Cor. 12:9).  Change–unexpected or expected, pleasant or unpleasant–means unknowns, responding, risking.  When Jesus says in Matthew 6:34 to not be anxious about tomorrow, that today has “sufficient troubles,” I take it to mean that today (ourselves included) has brought us sufficient unknowns, opportunities to respond, and risks, but the Lord gives us sufficient grace for those “troubles.”  And once we’ve tasted the freedom of grace we’re able to finally take hold of the fact that we MAY fall into a fire-ant hill and it will be uncomfortable, but we will make an experience out of it and potentially laugh about it later!  And what is “adventure” but a lot of unexpected laughter at how we thought we wouldn’t make it past certain situations/risks/choices/grievances?

The “voice” of my summer will be the Lord’s.  I’m not fully-funded yet, but I’m almost there and am SO SO grateful for how this journey has brought me to you.  I’ve been learning so much from you.  You’ve been opening your arms to me and I’ve been overwhelmed by the love, faithfulness, compassion, and courage you each possess.  So I’m following in Paul’s constant footsteps, in yours, as we go out and listen for and see all the Lord’s going to share with/show us.  🙂  Thank you for your partnership!

AND as a bonus for reading this madness… here’s this month’s prayer newsletter!! 😀
May 2012 update

How did I get here?! PART II

[This is the MUCH LONGER continuation of another post!  See PART I here!  And please bear with me… :)]

It was very late at night–I think 12 AM-ish–when I sent that e-mail to Tommy.  I remember feeling scared and puzzled at how he would respond… actually I wasn’t even thinking he would answer back.  (I have a hard time trusting e-mails.)  But when I woke up the next morning, Tommy had e-mailed me back that he had been in the middle of fasting and praying for people with hearts for the lost and he had brought up my name with his team!?

I got goosebumps.

He then forwarded me on to Viv Mabuni.  At the time, I had no idea who this lady was… nor how I in the year to follow, I would just replay the conversation I had with her over and over in my head–especially the part about how to share this with my parents.

Viv and I, a couple years after our very first conversation at Starbucks...

Replaying it now, I don’t remember all the words that were said.  But I remember feeling instantly comfortable and at ease as Viv enthusiastically greeted me and kept saying, “Wow… it’s a God-thing!”  Just us two, sitting in the Starbucks at a local mall… I felt like I had all these questions, but had no words to put to them.  Later, I realized my real question was: “Is it worth it–you know, following Jesus wherever He leads?”

I have goosebumps again.

One weekend while staying at my parents’ house, I decided to talk to them about it.  I walked downstairs to their room and knocked on the door, they were getting ready for bed, but somehow I managed to share with them what I felt God was calling me to do.  Bracing myself, I asked them what they thought.  Very calmly they both asked a few questions and shared that it might be good for me to work a little “in the real world” to gather some perspective before jumping right back into the “college-scene.”  We kinda struck a deal–I’d take a year to focus on working “in the real world,” and then revisit whether or not I want to do campus ministry vocationally.

After talking with them, I agreed and prayed about it some more.  So I shared with Epic that I was going to not going to intern with them and because I wanted to work for a year.  I was sad to not jump into it immediately but I agreed with my parents that it would be helpful.

Thus, I went to work.  Followed through with the job lined up right after graduation.  Worked at a bunch of different places, actually… tried anything and everything I could find.  And made lots of observations and mental notes about the workplace environment, management styles, work-ethic, and interviewing.  I made friends and enjoyed my time!  Although, don’t know if putting my supervisor’s “easy” button (from Staples) in Jell-O was my best idea ever…

"That was easy." did not apply to this task... it took a lot of planning and time and energy and Jell-O packets

Probably the most significant moment during my “real life experience” (sorry for all the quotation marks…) was when I was working as a full-time temp.  The manager of the department and I were talking one morning and the conversation turned to my future plans:

Manager: “Would you want to stay here?”
Me: “Sure!  I’ve really enjoyed working here and I could really see myself working well with all the people on your staff.”
Manager: “I’ve noticed you take pride in your work.  You’re not doing anything exciting or challenging but you show up early with a smile on your face and do an excellent job… you even seem to have fun while doing it.”
Manager: “You mentioned before that you’re a Christian.  I can tell based on how you carry yourself, your positive attitude and how you take pride in what you do.”

The conversation continued, but I couldn’t believe he said what he did.  At the time I was confused on how to really integrate my spiritual life into my professional life.  I would say I’m a Christian, but people didn’t seem drawn to that initially.  So, I just didn’t really talk about it or mention it again.  But then he connected the two for me and I realized how narrowly I saw spirituality.  And I couldn’t help thinking, “Do other recent Christian grads know how to un-compartmentalize their lives?  Do college students know how to do that?  God is relevant and connected to all areas of our lives… I was involved in a fellowship in college and I still missed this… what about others who haven’t even heard of Jesus??

A year after I applied to intern with Epic the first time, I was offered a lucrative sales position!  Though I didn’t think the job was a great fit, I thought it might be able to launch me into some exciting territory.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of working with college students, so I turned down the position and called Epic to re-apply for an internship with them.

My mom was in the room with me as I called.  She looked at me and said, “You seem happy.  You really want to do this don’t you?”  I just smiled big, nodded and ran up to my room to jump up and down for at least ten minutes.

Can YOU tell if I'm happy or not based on my face here?

A month later, I showed up at the intern kick-off weekend in Orange, CA.  Though I was excited and thrilled to be following the Lord… I was scared out of my mind!  I didn’t know anyone, and was supposed to find a guy named Don Diva–the Epic Intern Coordinator at the time.  “What does he look like?  What kind of name is ‘Diva?’  Asian?  Is he Asian because he works with Epic?  I don’t see any Asians here… Am I at the right place?  What am I doing here?!  Why did I decide to do this?!” = my thoughts at the time.  I was spiraling.

Before I could run out the door and away from this, Don introduced himself to me.  I started meeting other interns and other staff.  It was hitting me slowly–these are all people dedicating at least a year to the Lord!  The excitement began to build again!

When I registered and introduced myself to other interns and staff, they kept asking me: “Where are you assigned?”  And it dawned on me… I have no idea!  So I went back to Don and asked if he knew where I was assigned.  He just smiled, and said “I do know!  But I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell you yet.”  What!!!?  Then Don smiled and laughed again, “You want to know don’t you?”  I nodded as enthusiastically as I could without seeming too uncool and desperate.  “You’re at UCI!”

OHHHHH SHOOT! UCI!!!?!!?! AAAHHH!!!! (these are all good exclamations, in case you're not sure)

😀  I wasn’t expecting to be assigned there… but as I thought and prayed about it more it made so much sense!  The campus I cried over was UCI.  The people I thought of that I missed out witnessing to while I was a student were all UCI classmates… the dreams I had for a campus being a beacon of God’s light and love were for UCI.

(Ooh… Fun fact!  This weekend is where I roomed with Heather who ended up joining staff with me this past summer AND being in my life group all summer!  She’s great and will be ministering at UCI too!!!  Whaaa??  So crazy!)

Me, Heather, and Megan (L-R) during our last night of our Colorado summers!

And that’s the story… sorry I wish I had a cooler “THE END” but really… the above stories really were a part of the beginning of my journey with Epic!

Thank you for bearing with me through the story!  This is been SUCH a joy to just… think about again.  I honestly feel so blessed to recall all these things and moments and people… God has been SO amazingly faithful and good.  Wow, what a gracious God we know!! 🙂  Thank You, Lord!!!

THANK YOU!! ❤

How did I get here?! PART I

This is one of my favorite stories to tell… The twists and craziness of how it all happened still surprises me and it just tells me more and more about myself and God… each time!

Why tell it now… and withhold from you all of my facial expressions in telling you this story live and in person? Well, I recently received an e-mail with all the upcoming events of the team I’m a part of in Epic (The Southwest SoCal team) and it said: “6 weeks left as a staff team…”  For those unfamiliar with the terminology, basically the end of the school year is less than two months away.  And all I could selfishly think was: “I missed it… I missed the entire year… because of support raising…”  Now this is simply not true as the Lord had things for me to experience and witness in this year, that I could not have seen/understood/felt had I not been in a support raising season.  He has been outrageously, exceedingly good and beautiful and gracious to me and so many others in this remarkable and redemptive season.  Yet… I still feel it…

So, I’m going to share some of how I started with Epic, because it is hilarious and so… so… like the Lord to call us to greater, yet crazier things! 🙂  And don’t worry, you won’t miss out on my facial expressions… you’ll see 😉

I attended UC Irvine for my undergraduate degree… aaaaand I loved it–so much so, I was a campus tour guide!  And like a “good Christian,” I attended a fellowship regularly.  Along with several other people, I got to serve in Asian American Christian Fellowship (AACF) while I attended college there.  Loved it–some of my coolest and closest friends came from it.

During welcome week of my senior year! 🙂

AACF is also where I met Epic National Director, Tommy Dyo (then AACF staff at CSU Long Beach).  He would often come to UCI and speak for us and offer to help us out in any way as we didn’t have any assigned staff to our campus.  After a church retreat he spoke at, he gave mehis business card and said: “Call me when you decide to do campus ministry.”  I joked, but I meant it, when I said, “I guess you’ll never be hearing from me then!”

Some time later, I attended a Passion conference where Francis Chan spoke and Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman led worship in Los Angeles, CA and it was great!  I enjoyed it a lot.  And then the last day, part of the session was group prayer.  The guy leading it said, “Pray for your home nation.”  The person sitting next to me and I prayed together for the U.S..  Then the leader said, “Pray for your state.”  So, we prayed for California.  “Pray for your city…”  We prayed some more.  “Pray for your campus.”  He prayed for his high school.  And I started to pray for UC Irvine… and began to bawl.

What the guy sitting next to me looked like as I prayed for UCI

What I looked like as I prayed for UCI

Poor high school student who sat next to me that day… Later during the prayer session, I straight-up asked God… “What was THAT all about?!”  I heard the Lord say, “Campus Ministry.”  I said, “Uh, no way!  I have a job lined up after this… my parents will kill me… I’ll just… I’ll volunteer or something!!”  I heard, “That will never be satisfying enough for you.”  Still scared of what that might mean, I wept some more.  Then I heard, “Whitney, do you trust me?”  I replied, “Yeah, of course I trust You…”  “Whitney, do you trust me?”  “Yes, Lord… yes, I do.”

So many thoughts rushed through my mind… and I didn’t know what to do.  So, naturally, I did nothing… for about a week.  Then I started asking people questions–friends, people I know who are in campus ministry vocationally… and then I e-mailed Tommy.

the actual e-mail!

… to be continued 😉

Goodbye.

Image

I’m not good with goodbyes.  I swing from either SUPER emotional or insensitively numb.  Regardless, I rarely allow goodbyes to honor and do justice to everything prior to that… simply because of fear and the dread of the pain that’s felt in grieving ANY end.

Earlier this week, I found out that my friend was hit by a drunk driver and found dead later.  He was 23.

I can’t breathe when I think of the fact that he’s gone.  Not just that he’s gone… but that I may never see him again.  I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if he’s relishing in the beautiful, glorious room Jesus prepared for him… or… No… I don’t even want to consider the alternative.

A news report asked the question: “What if…?” in regards to if someone stopped to call the ambulance or the police right after the accident, could he still be alive?  I recently saw a clip from Disney’s movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian where Lucy (the youngest of the humans who travel in and out of Narnia) asks Aslan (the lion): “If you had come, would all of those people still have died?” and Aslan responds: “There’s no way to know what would have happened…”

So much tragedy has come to my attention in painful, glaring darkness.  I am perplexed and saddened to my core.  Suddenly, I feel challenged to trust in God’s goodness… that is TRIUMPHANT over evil, darkness, sin, and death… right?  It MUST be true!

Sorry, there’s no real “point” to this post… there’s just so much on my mind.  One thing I’m recognizing: The weight and urgency of my job and calling.  There is a finite time to our earthly lives and to people’s openness to the Gospel and “sound-teaching” as Paul describes in 2 Timothy.  I’m incredibly privileged, and moved… but also just very… mmm… what’s the word for the feeling you get when someone’s entrusted something incredibly precious to you like a child or expensive jewelry or a car or something?  Pressured?  Weighty?  Scared?  I don’t know.

Please pray for the Funai family as they grieve the loss of a beloved son and brother.  Please also pray for the rest of his family and friends who also mourn the loss of an exceptional individual.

Thank you for investing your and my life in eternal things.

Leap Year!?

Leap Day is old news… on to March!  February was a long, reflective month.  And I’m so grateful for it, but I’m glad we’re in March!  This is the verse I’m clinging to this month as I continue to trust God to raise up monthly prayer and financial partners: “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 2 Thess. 5:24 (ESV)

Thank you so much for your prayers and partnership!!!!

February’s prayer letter is LIVE!! February 2012 – Whitney update print  Read it while it’s still hot–or while you still are.  Ew, I’m sorry… this blog will never have another cheesy/gross pick-up line ever again.  I promise!