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"I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." - Sarah Williams

Friday, June 24, 2011


Sydney and I have made it safely to Seoul. We arrived here 3 days ago and have had a busy schedule with orientation at Connexus and the effects of a 13 hour jet-lag to overcome but we're both doing well and enjoying the company of friends as well as the beginning of the rainy (or monsoon) season.

It feels nice to come back to a place that is already familiar and to know everyone we will be working with as well as our land lord, Hun.  Personally, though, I do wish I had a little more time to spend at home visiting friends and family. The month I was blessed with to spend back in the States went very quickly, there were so many things to so and people to see. In spite of those feelings I am still quite sure that Korea is the place God has for me for right now. I feel a lot of peace about being here and I am really looking forward to when I start teaching this Wednesday. Yes, of course I'm nervous. Of course I wonder how things will work out. Yet I am confident that I will work hard and learn a lot as I go and that God's grace will be there to carry me every step of the way.

If I have learned one thing since I left on this adventure 9 months ago its trust. Trusting God is the only place to be. He always shows himself faithful. He always provides for you when you wait for him. So I want this new chapter in my life to be marked by my trust in God. I want to see myself grow while I'm in Korea, to build meaningful relationships, to touch the lives of my students, and to become more like the woman God has created me to be. I want to make friends and learn to speak Korean and to value this culture for all the great things it has to offer. Even though I'm here working to earn money to pay off college debt and its not explicitly "mission work"  per say, I still want this time to glorify God and to allow the light of his kingdom to shine though my words, attitudes and actions.

Keep us in your prayers as we also remember you!

Rejoicing in this new season and anticipating God's great works ahead,
Katrina Elyse

Monday, June 20, 2011

10 hours and counting...

Sydney and I leave for Korea in 10 hours!

We're down in Philadelphia with Jackie who will be taking us to the airport in the early morning.

Please pray for our safe flight and adjustment to the new culture and new job.


Saturday, June 18, 2011


Hello blog readers (if there are any of you left after our 6 months of silence)!

It has been a very long time since I've posted anything. I'm sorry about that. Things in India got very busy and one thing led to another and well, we just never got around to posting anything new.
Our time in India has come to a close. Sydney and I left India in March and then we spent 2 months in Seoul, South Korea. We were volunteering at Korean Anabaptist Center (KAC) and they hired both Sydney and I to become full time English teachers. We came back to the States in May and it has just felt like a fly-by, rushing around trying to get our visas in order and visiting with friends and family.  This position beings on June 27th, and Sydney and I will be moving to Korea on Tuesday.  So much changes so quickly! Sydney and I spent a lot of time prayerfully considering our next steps in life and we feel very comfortable with this next step. We ask that you all continue to support us in your prayers as we move into this next step in our lives.

Right now I'm getting the last few things together and its very busy as we prepare to leave our families. I'm really excited about this next opportunity and I look forward to updating more regularly!

Peace to you all,
Katrina Elyse

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Breath of Life (Food for thought…)

During the past few weeks I have been praying that God would show me what being righteous means. The armor of God includes the breastplate of righteousness, but what does this look like? I know that there is a lot of change that needs to happen in my life so that I can wear God's armor every day. I've been praying that God would show me what this means, and that he would help me understand how to hear his voice more clearly so that I can follow his will in my life. The other night, as I was falling asleep, I had a surprising idea form in my mind. I say surprising because one minute I was thinking about family, friends, and teaching and the next moment I was deep in thought about the breath of life. I can only assume that this was God speaking to me, because there was no other connection to my mind's thought process. This being said, I will share my thoughts.

I am alive at this moment because of many components: my heart is pumping my life blood through my veins, my brain is sending millions of electric impulses through my body, my immune system is alive and kickin', my digestive tract keeps me nourished, and my lungs continue to supply my body with oxygen. The element that struck me the other night was breathing. I live because I breathe. We are all created with God's breath. The only reason that we live is because God allows us to breathe. When we were born, he gave us our first breath of air, and our lives here on earth will end when he gives us our last. Every breath we breathe is a gift from God- every breath.

There is something special about the story of Adam's creation: "The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being" (Gen 1:7). It wasn't just air, but it was the breath of life! Life-giving air, straight from God himself! Adam would not live were it not for God's gift of his own living breath. We have this same life within us! We came into his world and breathed our first breath by God's grace- he bestowed life upon us through his breath of life. Every breath we've breathed since our first has been a gift of God.

This puts a new perspective on the words I use. Every word I speak is using the gift that God gave me. I want to be able to use that breath as a blessing always- never a curse. After all, it is God's very life-giving breath that I am using! He gave me his very life, so that I could live… how can I turn around and use it to degrade anyone? It is no easy task: this will be a life-long struggle, and will take a long time to submit to God's will and character. But every breath that I use is from God- how can I use that breath for my own pride, or to sin with, or harm others?

I believe that God's gift of life has been renewed and increased through Christ's sacrifice. Looking at John we can see God's grace through his gift of Christ:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light that shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it….. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-5, 14).

Words are spoken, and sometimes written. They are only understood through spoken language, though. God is his Word- he is truth, grace, peace, life, righteous, just, and much, much more. He is the word, and he came into the world! And the Word came with power!!! The breath of God has given us organic life, but more importantly it has given us spiritual life. It gave us Christ, and with that the offer of redemption and reconciliation to the Father- to truth, grace, peace, and REAL life!

Another attribute of God's gift of life was given to us after Christ's resurrection. Soon after he rose from the dead, Jesus appeared to his disciples: "Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the father has sent me, I am sending you.' And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:21-22). Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them. There is power in the breath of God! The very breath we breathe! Take a deep breath. It's a gift from God. The words we speak have power in them. When we use our words to encourage others there is power behind it! Likewise, when we use our words to defile someone there is power behind it.

I've been thinking differently about the words I use (whether in someone's presence or their absence). My thoughts are in need of constant evaluation and submission to Christ, because they are the root of my words. I have been given a gift, and I need to continually pray to have God's will so that I may follow it and breathe his power of truth: not defile it. I can only guess as to why this came to mind that night- I've been praying that God would help me to know how to be righteous. Righteousness does not come from my own actions, but from obedience to him and walking in his will. This revelation was God's grace in helping me know him more, and has helped me be able to grow in our relationship. Righteousness does not come from myself- I could never be righteous in God's eyes. It is by his grace that he makes us righteous. I have a lot of work that needs Christ's healing and re-forming in my life! I can only pray that God helps me to submit my thoughts and my words every day to his will, and that he will help me be more obedient and faithful to him.

I need to pray that God will help me use every breath to glorify him. God, help me feel and know your will and spirit in every word I say, and every breath I take. Let every moment of my life be a part of your will; every breath I breathe be a part of your will. Help me learn to submit every breath and thought to your will. Thank you for this gift of life, and for sharing your very breath with me. Please help me become a channel for you, and help me learn to use your gift to love others and not for my own gain. –Sydney Lin

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve

We're praying that you have a wonderful and joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year!!
Wow! We had a fantastic Christmas celebration last night! :)

Our Nativity

Christmas Stars

Sydney and I wore the saris that Serina gave me so many years ago.

Sydney and I in our Sari's

All day long the girls and boys were busy getting everything ready for the evening meal; an important man sponsored the meal for everyone. While we waited for him to arrive we took a bunch of pictures of the lights and practiced singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" just in case we were called up on to sing (we weren't, but it never hurts to be prepared!). Before the guest of honor arrived we all got a sparkler or two and enjoyed lighting off some fire works! It was a lot of fun!

Fireworks and Christmas lights!

Once the guests arrived we had a cake cutting, of course. Cake is a big deal here, everyone loves it and we all eat – you guessed it! With our hands. I don't even know what happened, but someone whipped frosting on Rajivee's face – resulting in a full fledged frosting fight! I was an easy and desirable target, as were Sydney and Pappa. We had a lot of fun and took some photos :-)

Frosting Faces!

After cleaning up we enjoyed our meal which was followed by ice cream, the perfect way to finish up the spicy dishes! It was very nice because Anju, one of the senior girls, made sure to include us with the other girls as we ate. We laughed a lot and had a good time.

Next we played with more fireworks. Apu's favorite thing to do was to shout "T-ow!!" right after every explosion. Some of the fireworks were really big and literally shot off right above our heads! When we had run out of ammo we all sat on the floor in the main room and every child received a gift from Pappa and Mummy. Even Sydney and I! I didn't expect to receive anything because they had already given us a gift. I received a beautifully embroidered orange/brown/fall colored churidar (the outfits we wear). Sydney's is yellow made with beautiful fabric and lots of detail of pearls and sequence around the neckline.

Arun sharing a sparkler with baby Abi

Then we handed out the Christmas cards which Sydney had made.

 Everyone was happy and enjoyed the night. We were all up past midnight. It was a fun and beautiful time!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rain Rain Go A-WAY!

Rain, rain, go away come again another day, little children want to play, rain rain go away. I'm sure you know the children's song with these words

Our kids in play school and Lower Kindergarten (LKG) sing this song often. At the end they all yell in unison "rain rain go A-WAY!" I am beginning to understand their sentiments. A while back we had a HUGE rain storm. Even the down pours I experienced in Florida or in Costa Rica dwindled in comparison. I have never experienced so much water falling from the sky at once ever before in my life! And just that day we had taught our LKG students the story of Noah's Ark. I think I understand how terrifying 40 days and 40 nights of enough rain fall to flood the entire earth must have been a little better now.

Most every house is raised a few feet above the ground here, it allows all the rain to have someplace to go. Our house, the main house which is upstairs, has a few holes which allow rain water to get into the under workings of the house. If too much water ends up entering through the holes, there's a good chance that a portion of the house would collapse. Pappa Joseph and Mommy Aneena were out taking care of some business in the town somewhat far from home, so they missed all of the excitement.

It was night time, dark. There was SO much water! All the boys were running back and forth with sand bags furiously trying to block the water from going under the house, meanwhile the front walk and patio area was quickly flooding. There were large caldrons placed under the gutters to catch the water falling from the roof. These caldrons were being emptied fire-brigade-style with a line of boys (and a few brave girls, Sydney and myself included). We dumped the water down the trains in the large outdoor kitchen where our food is prepared, we dumped the water over the edge of the fence, down to the "down stairs" portion of Aswasa Bhavan. If there was some place else where we could put the water, that's where we put it. There was so much water! I actually think I have been dryer while swimming than I was standing outside under the down pour. At least when you're swimming your head gets a little dry when it's out of the water. We were all absolutely drenched. The storm lasted for a solid 45 minutes, it took about a 5 minute break, and began again! Finally it let up and we all had a chance to rest (and to dump remaining buckets full of water on each other's heads). Like any hard worker, we were rewarded for our efforts. We all received dried dates and a few sweets. School was closed for the next two days because of all the damages done to the roads and the flooding. Our little creek that runs though the campus rose so high that it had almost covered the bridge!

In the morning the news papers were filled with reports of damages and loses. Several people died in the flooding, one woman was shocked through her television set when lightning struck, and died. She was related to a friend of ours here. 3 million chickens died in the rain! That's a lot of chickens! Cows washed away, houses, and roads. That afternoon we all went out to repair our road. We swept the debris off, collected stones and filled the holes, and then overlaid the stones with cement. I can't imagine how long that job would have taken if there weren't 50 people working on it together. We actually finished in less than an hour! We had two storms like this. After that we haven't had very much rain. Things are all back in order here now.

All of this happened over thanksgiving. That day we were thankful for many things.

Thanksgiving here was spent like any other day, except we actually didn't have school because things were still in disarray because of the rains. It was Moses' 15th birthday, so we celebrated that evening with a special meal and music. It wasn't the same as being home with family and loved ones, but it was a good time with our family here in India at Aswasa Bhavan.

After thanksgiving the church began their customary time of 3 days of fasting and prayer. This happens leading up to the last Sunday of the month. It was a wonderful time in the Lord. Sydney and I were able to participate in the prayer meetings and worship with the church, seeking God publicly and communally during the lunch hours and having extra time to pray at dinner.

Now we're already a week and more into December! My how time flies! Teaching has leveled out, we have a more predictable schedule most days and even when things change we're usually ready and able to accommodate to the changes fairly quickly.

Right now the whole family is preparing for our Christmas program. It will be held on the 17th and the 19th of December. They are putting on an entire nativity act including 4 shepherds, 3 magi, several angles, Mary and Joseph, and all the other cast members you can imagine. All with the members of one family! There will be a popular singing quartet coming to sing and in between their songs the kids from Aswasa Bhavan will be singing. Sydney and I are also joining them for two songs, one of which is in Malayalam! We've been practicing a lot. Also, Pappa Joseph asked that Sydney and I do some ballet dancing…. So we have both been dancing our brains out over the last few weeks. Not only is trying to choreograph something difficult when we don't have all the right tools (like shoes), but also I've been giving Sydney a crash course on basic ballet! She's doing remarkably well considering she's never danced before, has no mirror, shoes or barre to practice at. Her positions are great and her movements are smooth. Now we are only a week away from the big day! Everything is ready, all the small details are coming together, and everyone, community members, Aswasa Bhavan folks and teachers from the school, are all very excited to see this strange foreign "French dance" that I've talked about. My nerves are up there, that's for sure. But also, if they've never even seen ballet before, they won't have any idea when I mess up, right? Haha. Yes. I choose to believe this. Prayers!

Our time here has been a huge blessing. Sydney and I are both very grateful for all that God has done for us and we are glad to be here serving the family in the best way we can. We have seen God answer many prayers as He continues to reveal Himself to us. The more time we spend here the more excited I am about the ministry that is taking place. Since Mommy Aneena went into the hospital right after we arrived, things had still been a little off kilter from their normal way of functioning. Now that she is healing nicely, we are able to see more and more the details of the ministry here. Mommy Aneena is on the Orphanage Board of India and helps to establish other orphanages all over India. As we've been here for more time we have also been able to hear stories from the children who have been welcomed into the Aswasa Bhavan family. Some of their stories are heart breaking, others are devastating. It's incredible how much a child can endure, and how much they can change when a little love is involved. Please keep them all in your prayers.

As for Sydney and I, we are well. Language study is still a struggle daily. Pray that we are able to finally and firmly establish a regular tutor. We've tried many things but nothing is working consistently. It makes all things difficult! Also I have had a cold off and on for the past two weeks and a cough that's annoyingly persistent but day by day it seems to be improving. Remember us in your prayers as we remember all of you! Ask that God will continue to use us as lights here, that we may encourage our brothers and sisters, and that we may witness to our fellow teachers.


Peace, Joy and Rainbows,

Katrina Elyse