Holidays and More

Hi all!  It has been over a month since posting and update, and there has been a lot going on!  I've been able to meet a lot of Deaf people, and learned a lot more language! It really has been great! While there has been some emotional times in being away from my family for the birth of my niece and the holidays, I am so thankful that I was obedient in staying here and cultivating relationships.  Hard to know where to start, but I guess I will start with the holidays and move on from there :-)

Christmas

So, here Christmas is not a holiday that is not locally celebrated.  The only people who celebrate are Christians.   Even though it is not a national holiday the local Deaf church does a yearly Christmas party/service.  The Deaf church uses a hearing church's facilities, and meets on Friday evenings.  On any given evening there are around 20-30 Deaf people in attendance.  At the Christmas service however there were over 150 people!  They come from all over the country to be a part of the Christmas celebration.  I met people who traveled over 7 hours to be there that evening!  It was SO awesome to be around Deaf believers from all over the country!  There were songs, skits, games, food, and lots of fellowship!  We didn't leave until midnight! It was so much fun :-)

Christmas at Deaf church

Christmas at Deaf church

Since Christmas isn't a nationally celebrated holiday it is a normal working day, so leading up to Christmas even a couple of days before shopping at the mall for a couple of small gifts was so nice.  It wasn't crowded and there wasn't a bunch of people fighting for last minute gifts.  Then on Christmas day it was such a nice relaxing.  It was so nice to just be, and really celebrate and remember the reason for celebrating.  Even though I was away from my family it was a different and very meaningful time of really remembering and thanking God for coming down here to be with us and paying the price that we could not pay.  It was nice to be away from the hustle and bustle and commercialism of Christmas in America and celebrate the true reason for the holiday.  

New Year

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In this country the holiday this time of year that is celebrated is New Years.  It is a large time of celebration and parties.  It's really interesting/funny that the decorations for New Years are the same things that we use for Christmas!  In the town square there is a holiday New Year village, with "Christmas" trees and even Santa Clause but it is all for celebrating New Years!

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My Deaf friends Ayshen and Seadet that I wrote about in my last update invited me to go with them to the Deaf school's New Year celebration.  There were SO many children and Deaf adults!  It was so cool because the kids were dancing and celebrating and even signing their national anthem!  I wish I could have communicated with them a little more, but it was so nice to be around so many Deaf children and adults! 

Then one of the best things about the holiday was going to Ayshen and Seadet's house for New Years!  Since New Years is such a big local holiday it was really cool to spend the holiday with a local Deaf family for almost two days!  Not only was it fun to celebrate with them, I learned a lot of new vocabulary and also was able to share a little bit about my faith with them.  Seadet is a muslim, and her daughter Ayshen while she used to be muslim, she now doesn't really ascribe to any religion.  In one of our conversation we were talking about different signs for Muslim, Catholic, and me being Christian.  The signs for Muslim and Catholic are related to how they pray.  Ayshen asked me how I pray, and I told her that I was able to just talk to God because He is my Father.  When I said this, she did a double take and asked me for clarification, and when I confirmed that she understood me correctly she accepted what I said.  Then later during another conversation Ayshen was telling me about the holiday they celebrate in the spring time, and she asked me what we celebrate in America during the spring.  I told her that we celebrate Easter because J died and rose back to life.  He then stayed on earth for 40 days, saw people and taught before he ascended into heaven.  Ayshen seemed interested in this and said "no one has ever died and come back to life", to that I answered, "yes, Jesus is the only one!"  I was so thankful to be able to share just that little bit of gospel truth with her and her mom!  Please be praying that I would get more opportunity to share with them.  Pray that they would have dreams of J...that both of them would have soften hearts to be open to hearing more about who J is and why He is so important.  Anyways, after two days of being with them, I came home and did some signing time with the kids...I had such a hard time signing ASL!! I kept mixing up my languages!     

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!!

Language Learning

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For the last month and a half I have been able to meet with Ayshen and Seadet every week to learn more and practice.  It's been really great to have the individual time with them and be able to build relationships with them.  I also have been going to the Deaf church most every week.  While everyone at the church is really nice and welcoming, it is hard to have the confidence with my signing skills to talk a whole lot.  It is really cool though to understand more and more every time I go!  I think the biggest learning experience I've had was being able to spend two days with Ayshen and Seadet for New Years!  I learned SO much from just being with them for that long!  On Saturday I am leaving for a retreat with the Deaf church and I am looking forward to more time to learn and build relationships with the ladies!  

Teaching

This semester I am volunteering my time at the local international school that the kids of the Christ.an works go to.  I am teaching sign language classes for the JR/HS elective, and also a class for the kindergarten class that Maya is in.  This last week we made a video for Maya of the song Jesus Loves Me.

I want to teach more people so Maya have more people she can communicate with.  I am also helping out the school in teaching a Bible class every morning.  The school had someone who was coming to teach but she backed out last minute, so I was asked if I could help out.  While it is one more thing to do, it has been very helpful for me in building a morning routine.  On top of helping out at school I am meeting with another family once a week to do a lesson with their kids who are being homeschooled, and I'm also meeting once a week to help one of the M's here practice her sign language.  I'm also still doing practice and lessons with the family I'm living with.  I'm glad I have been able to stay busy while Maya and her mom have been in the states, but now I'm trying to figure out how to free up more of my time for when they get back and I'm helping to teach Maya.  Please pray for wisdom in deciding what my priorities are.  

Over Christmas, for our lessons the family and I made a nativity video for Maya so she could understand what the reason for Christmas is. That was a lot of fun!

 

 

 

Maya and her mom

Well, good news, Maya's trache is finally out and she is breathing without it!!  The trace came out last weekend and she did have some hard time breathing, and still continues to have trouble periodically, but the doctor says everything is staying open and clear.  We think she is having anxiety about the fact that her trache is out.  She has had it her whole life, so not having it there is hard for her.  Please pray that God would comfort her and give her peace.  

The end

I'll write more soon, but wanted to get this post up before I leave for the Deaf church retreat.  Thank you so much for praying and keeping in touch!  Love you all!

catherine shorrock
Meeting Deaf People!
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First Meeting

As you all know, one of my goals while here was to get involved with the local Deaf community and learn the local sign language.  Well, on Thanksgiving day I was able to meet a mom and daughter who are both Deaf.  "Brittany" and the rest of the family met them several years ago on a family trip, and then last year randomly ran into them again.  When "Brittany" saw them a year ago at first she didn't remember meeting them before, but luckily they did and they exchanged information.   Fast forward a about 3 weeks ago, "Brittany" made plans for us to meet with them. It was such and awesome experience to finally be meeting and signing with some local Deaf people!  It's hard to describe what it felt like after several weeks I was finally meeting local Deaf peoples and was like a breath of fresh air!

Deaf Church

Then the next week I was able to meet the daughter of a local Deaf church.  We had been trying to meet up with her for several weeks, and we finally made a time work!  It was such a good meeting, and she was SO excited that I wanted to come to Deaf church with her and her parents.  The Deaf church is not close by, but her and her parents live close by so she offered to have them come pick me up for church service on Friday nights.  Of course I took her up on that offer, and I have been the last two Friday evenings!  While I don't understand most of what is being said, I have been able to pick up on topics in the sermons, and have basic conversations with the Deaf people there.  It really has been awesome to be back in Deaf church!  Even though they don't use the same language I do and I don't even know them well, it feels like home!  There is something about Deaf believers coming together to worship and learn that is so encouraging and exciting to me!  At the services there are about 30 Deaf people, and other than the pastor's daughter and another CODA kid, I am the only hearing person there.  Even though  I am very welcome there, It has been challenging for me to be outgoing and proactive about conversations with the Deaf people there.  It is definitely challenging to have conversations when the language is so different, but I'm trying to get out of my shyness and jump in.  One thing that is really cool is that after the service is over, we all go and sit together and have tea.  That definitely provides good opportunity for conversation!  This last Friday I had one lady sit next to me and we talked most of the tea time!  She was so sweet in telling me about her family and life.  I think that is one of the things I love about Deaf church, feeling welcomed and pursued.  Next week will be their Christmas service and I have been told that last year there were 150 Deaf people in attendance so I am SUPER excited about that!  I really want to meet more Deaf people and practice more.  

Maya and Brittany Leave

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So, update on "Brittany" and "Maya".  When I was planning on coming out here in the fall, the original plan was for me to come out here when "Maya" was finished with the rebuilding of her Trachea and had her trach taken out.  Well in September her trachea was not healed enough to have it taken out, and instead a stent was put in that would need to stay in for two months.  Then after that two months would be up, the doctor would need to begin seeing her every two weeks to make sure that her airway was staying open or not.  So after being here for a couple of months, "Brittany" and "Maya" traveled back to the states to continue this process.  They had their first doctor appointment on Monday, and thankfully everything looks good and the doctor was happy on how it was looking!  They will have to keep going back every two weeks to continue to make sure her trachea is staying open.  This should go on for about two months before they get the go ahead to have the trach out and can come back home.  Please please pray for good doctor reports every two weeks, and that this process doesn't have to be prolonged past that two month mark. 

 

 

 

I'm Staying

In light of the fact that "Brittany" and "Maya" are gone for so long, I was thinking about coming back to the states for Christmas and then to be with them for a few weeks helping out.  I prayed for a while, and even though I really wanted to be home around Christmas since my sister was going to be having her baby, and the fact that I was worried about being here without the two of them here, I felt like God was calling me to stay.  While I am glad I made the decision to stay, it has not come without it's challenges already.  First of all, I missed my youngest sister having her first baby and I won't get to every hold my newborn niece (of course I will later, but not until she is a few months old).  Also I haven't had the external structure that helps me get through my days.  There have already been a few days where I have stayed in bed way too long, and have struggled to use my time wisely.  In the next few weeks please specifically pray that the Lord would use this time to teach me how to be self disciplined.  It is a struggle, but I know it is something the Lord can use in my refining process, so please pray that I would be willing to walk through that with Him, and that I don't just give into the temptation of laziness and allowing time to just waste away.  Also please pray for the whole family.  It is hard on everyone to be separated for that long, and also the fact that it is during the holidays makes it even harder.  

Sign Language Lesson!

So, in other news...I had my FIRST lesson in the local language yesterday!!  I am in the process of setting up regular sign language lessons with the Deaf mother and Daughter I met and yesterday was the first one!  It was SO awesome I didn't want it to end!  I took video of some of the things I learned, and you can see the difference in ASL and the local sign language here. 

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catherine shorrock
Lots happening!

Hey everyone!  I know it's been a few weeks since I have made an update post, and I apologize for that.  The last couple of weeks has been hard with being sick and also hurting my wrist.  Now that I am feeling better and I have started to get back in the routine of working with "Maya", I can finally get to writing an update.  I have several different topics/events to talk about so I will just go ahead and get started :-)

Deaf Event

About 3 weeks ago I was able to go to a Deaf event!  I found out from a girl who is taking local sign language lessons that there was locally made movie which was translated into the local sign language.  It was after our Sunday gathering so I took a taxi over to the theater and made my way in.  I walked in, and it was SO cool!!  There were SO many Deaf people there!  While I didn't understand anything in the movie, I'm so glad I went!  I was able to communicate some with some of the Deaf people sitting behind me before the movie got started, so that was awesome!  They were taking selfies, and I offered to take the picture for them.  That started our brief conversation.  It was funny because I think it was a similar introduction conversation that I have had hundreds of times with the American Deaf community!  Question 1 - Are you Deaf of hearing?  Question 2 - Do you have any kids?  Question 3: are you married/have a boyfriend?  Other than answering those questions and me telling them I was from America that was all we talked about since we couldn't communicate much.  Even though our conversation was short, I LOVED being there around other Deaf people!  

After the movie I hopped in a taxi and asked to be taken back to the town where I'm staying.  The driver didn't speak english, but I was thinking that as long as he could take me to the town and drop me off at the main road I could walk back to the house.  I noticed that as he drove where he was taking me was not familiar.  For a second I was thinking how not smart I was to get in a car with a guy I didn't know and didn't speak English.  Not gonna lie, I said a prayer for safety!  After a few minutes of unfamiliarity I went ahead and called my host family and they told him where to take me, so he turned around and took me where I needed to go :-)  Apparently when I told him where to go he didn't actually understand.  Made it home safely and again was very excited about seeing so many Deaf people!

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Birthday

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November 4th!  My Birthday.  Last year I was so busy studying for my Masters degree comprehensive exam that I didn't do anything to celebrate.  This year, with being in a new country, living with a new family I honestly didn't expect to do much, but it was a GREAT day!  I slept in, and just hung out in my apt in the morning and relaxed.   Then the two buys came down and wished me a Happy Birthday.  I got dressed, and went upstairs and "Brittany" had made me some homemade pumpkin cinnamon rolls!  I had told her that in my family that growing up we always did birthday breakfasts, so thats why she made it for me :-)  After breakfast we took the bus into town and I was able to walk around and look at the sea.  I hadn't been able to go to that part of town and get that close to the sea yet, so it was really cool!

 We then went and had a late lunch and got pizza (my favorite food)!  Later "Brittany" invited a friend over from the school I'm working at and we did a movie night.  I ended the evening before going to bed by opening up the birthday cards that were given to me before I left.  It was so special to have the cards from friends back home! All in all it was a nice relaxing a fun day with the family, new friend, and a bit of home! 

 

 

 

 

Family meals

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We eat a lot of meals together which is really nice.  One day I was looking online for pomegranate recipes since we have a tree in the yard.  I found a recipe that is sautéed pomegranates with egg.  I made it one morning for myself and I loved it!  I decided to make it for the rest of the family so one night I cooked and invited the family down to eat with me.  I made the sautéed pomegranated and onion with eggs, my dad's has browns, and toast.  It was all SO good, and it was really nice to have everyone down in my space to eat :-)

 

 

Sick/hurt wrist

The evening of the pomegranate dinner my throat started hurting pretty bad.  I went to bed early, but I woke up still feeling sick.  I ended up staying in bed for almost 3 days.  Saturday evening I started feeling better, so I went out to dinner to someone's house with the rest of the family.  Then church on Sunday, and school on Monday with "Maya".  Since I was still kind of in a mode of recovery I think I over did it because I woke up on Tuesday morning sick again and had NO voice. I seriously was straining and could only speak up to a soft whisper.  I again stayed in bed for the next 2 days, and spent more time resting on days I didn't spend all day in bed.  It was rough.  After almost two weeks of being on and off sick, finally this week I have been feeling better, but still struggling with sinus headaches in the afternoon/evenings.  I think I got sick because I stopped taking my allergy meds when I got here.  I had assumed that when I got out of DFW I would not struggle with allergies anymore so I stopped taking all of my meds.  I am now back on everything, but like I said I'm still getting headaches so that's not fun.

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 In the midsts of all of this, the day before I started feeling sick I was playing outside with "Brittany" and "Maya".  We were playing following the leader and trying to teach her the concept of 1st 2nd and 3rd.  We had just started playing, and it was my turn to be leader so I started doing the soldier walk, and put my foot down wrong and rolled my ankle.  When I rolled my ankle and fell, I went to catch myself with my hand.  It bent my wrist too far back and I heard a crack.  By the time I realized that they pain was not subsiding it was early evening and it was too late to go to the hospital to have it checked out.  Luckily I brought my wrist braces with me so I wore that to keep it stabilized.  The next day it was still hurting so "Brittany" took me to the local clinic to get it x-rayed.  It was an interesting experience to say the least!  We walked in, and were escorted to the x-ray room.  Then our escort brought the radiologist back, and while "Brittany" went to go pay, I was taken in and given the x-ray.  When the pictures were taken and money had been paid, the radiologist handed us the pictures and said there was no break, and that was it!  At first I was still worried it was broken, but it is getting to feel better so I think it was just a bad sprain.  All in and out of the hospital was maybe 15-20 minutes and it only costed $20, and I also now have a good souvenir, an x-ray of my hand and wrist!  The two weeks that all of this went on with being sick and having my wrist hurt was hard.  I was discouraged and frustrated that I wasn't doing well, but I'm SO grateful for all of your prayers and messages.  I'm SO glad I'm feeling better finally!

School with "Maya"

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With all of that going on, the biggest part of my time here has been working with "Maya" in school.  There have been some good days, and some hard days.  Some days I get back home and I'm ready to spend more time with her, but then other days when we get done with school I just need to be alone and decompress.  We go to school on Monday Wednesday and Fridays from 8:45-12:30, and most days by 9:15 she was already asking when it was time to go home!  After talking with some people from school, and with a good friend back home who teaches Deaf Ed, and I knew that I needed to make some kind of behavior and schedule chart for her.  So last week I went to work making her a schedule and behavior chart and this is what I came up with.  So far it has been working REALLY well!! It helps her see what needs to be done for the day before she goes home, and for every activity she and I do a self check to see if she has been sitting well, paying attention and working with a good attitude.  If she gets less than 4 bad marks for the day, then she gets a reward when she gets home.  Anyways, it is helping really well, and I hope that it will continue to do so! 

 

Family

I love how it has been so easy to fit into the family here!  The kids and the parents are so great!  It has been a huge answer to prayer to fit in well here and feel comfortable so quickly.  It was one of my big worries coming here, but the Father has been so good in allowing me to fit in with the flow of the family quickly and easily.  One of the big things that I have been intentionally working on with the family is signing all the time and not only when they are talking to "Maya".  It is challenging for me to do it too, but I think we are getting use to trying.  We also try to have a sign language lesson twice a week, and also the family is learning to sign at least the chorus of a song for church on Sunday to "Maya" can see more people than just me signing the songs for service.  It's so cute seeing her sign along when her family is signing!  

"Brittany" and "Maya" will be leaving in two weeks to go back to the states for ac couple of months to finish up the rebuilding process of her trachea.  Please be in prayer for them as they are getting ready to leave and be away for the holidays.  I am praying through what I need to be doing during that time.  If I should come back to the states with them, or stay here when I have more time to meet and invest in the local Deaf community.  Please be praying the Father makes in clear where I should be and what I should be doing during this time.  Well, I guess that is all for now.  Thanks for reading and keeping up with my journey!  Love you all!

Cat

catherine shorrock
The First Two Weeks

Well, it's hard to believe it, but it has almost been a whole two weeks now that I have been overseas! It has been a full two weeks, filled with good days of exploration and meeting a lot of new people.  When I arrived it was a long weekend with the school being closed, so it was a nice relaxing time with the family and getting used to my new surroundings.  I've already been able to go out on my own some by either walking or utilizing public transportation.  I was a little nervous at first, but after successfully getting to where I need to be I have grown more confident :-)

Last week I started going to school with "Maya".  The kindergarten class only meets on MWF so her first day was Wednesday.  We have only been going to half a day so far, to ease her into the idea of being in a classroom with an interpreter, and being in a structured setting.  Today was her fourth day in class, and it is proving to be challenging.  She is not used to having to sit still, and pay attention.  It's going to be a process of learning how to work with her effectively.  It is so easy to be frustrated, or want to just give in to what she wants, but I know that is not good for her.  One day last week in class after I had tried to get "Maya" to look at me for what felt like the 100th time I could feel myself becoming frustrated.  In that moment YWH just spoke to my heart and said, "Dear Catherine, don't you see that you do the same thing with me?"  It stopped me in my tracks as I realized how I am always so busy in my mind and heart, and how it is so hard for me to be still and listen to Him.  But how gracious He is to be patient with me, and wait.  He waits for me and pursues my wandering heart.  He never stops pursuing in love and patience.  That has been my anthem going into this week.  Being still before the Lord, and also remembering how patient He is with me, so I can be patient as well.   Just as the truth that because He has first loved me, I can now love Him and love others.  

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Around Thursday or Friday of last week I really started missing my friends and family back home. While I have internet and I can contact people, it has been hard not being able to have conversations throughout the day and talk about what is going on.  I can text, but the time difference makes conversations quite challenging.  As I missed my 'peeps' back home, I was able to open some sweet cards from them, and every time I have opened one, it has really brightened my day! Also in the struggle of missing friends, the Father has been reminding me that I am not alone.  That His presence lives within me, and He desires to have those conversations with Him.  Nothing is too small or trivial to talk with Him about, and I'm thankful to be learning that and applying it.  

In other exciting news, I was able to go to a local Deaf event here!  There was a locally made movie, that was translated into the local sign language for the Deaf community.  There were SO many people there!  It was so neat to see a huge theater full of hands moving!  But it was also intimidating to not understand what they were saying!  I was able to sign with a couple of Deaf people who sat near to me.  Our communication was limited, but it was a nice interaction.  I'm excited about finding out more about the local Deaf community and making new friends :-)

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So, that is all for now.  Please ask the Father that He would calm both mine and "Maya's" hearts and that we would get into a good routine with school.  Also please ask Him to help me meet more local Deaf people.  I have seen a lot of interest from hearing people to want to learn and start work among the Deaf, but I know that need must come from the community.  I am anxious to find someone who I can do language learning with so that I will soon be able to communicate with them!  The last thing I will leave you with is a picture I took of a tree out in the yard where I am living.  It's SO cool to just be able to go pick a pomegranate and eat it with a meal!   

catherine shorrock
How He has led me here

Hi all!  Well, my first blog update here, and it's crazy to think that I will be leaving next week!  It is weird also to be writing, because it’s hard to know where to start!  This last year has been a crazy one for me.  Looking at where my life was a year and a half ago to now, I feel like a completely different person.  To the point of being convicted that God would “give me over to my own sinful desires”, to now where God has called me to give up my things, and go across the world to serve Him.  I will be honest; this process has not been an easy one.  It has been a process in which He has been teaching me to put my selfish desire aside, and follow Him no matter what.  A journey in learning that if I am not giving up my selfish ways, then I am not really His follower.  If the Son of God, the perfect one, the one who took on flesh and has endured all types of temptations, was willing to endure the cross in my place, who am I not to put my selfish ways aside to follow Him.  These are the lessons I have been learning.  Not only am I learning how to truly be His follower, I am also learning that what He says goes; that my ways are not His ways, and that my thoughts are not His thoughts. 

Earlier this year, I had plans of how I wanted to spend more time investing in my church and staying here, but God had other plans.  He knew that there were many things that I have relying on and finding security in instead of in Him.  That’s when this opportunity came to me via my boss.  In human eyes it doesn’t seem to make sense because it would mean quitting my job, going to work with a family overseas, not get paid, and having to raise money to go.   When this was first presented to me, I did not want to do it.  I had just started feeling like I was in a good place and really beginning to make a difference in where I was ministry wise.  I didn’t want to give up where I was and what I was building, to just lose it all.   I also didn’t feel ready or worthy to leave.  I felt like because of my past, and what I was working through that I was not worthy of being sent.  I was not good enough to partake in this opportunity to move overseas because I wasn’t good enough.   When I told others in my life about the opportunity I expected them to reaffirm how I felt, that I wasn’t ready, and that I needed to be fixed before I embarked on this journey.  This however was not the reaction I got.  In fact the response I got was very different.  These were people who knew my past, and know my present and they all were very encouraging that I should continue to pursue this.

  In my heart also I felt the Lord prodding me and not allowing me to just say no.  After several weeks of avoiding making a decision we did a series at church on Jonah.  How God called Jonah to go and do something that seemed crazy.  To go to an evil and dangerous people group, people who hated Jews, and tell them about the one true God.  Not only tell them about God, but tell them that they will be punished if they didn’t repent from their sins.  Jonah, in his heart did not want to do this, so he ran.  He ran but God followed him.  Jonah could not get away from God, and regardless of what Jonah wanted, God’s will persisted.  Another thing that really got to me, was when I was talking to my counselor about trying to decide on what to do.  She told me, “Catherine, I don’t want to have you here in my office this fall and us having to talk about why you chose not to obey God.”  These two things collided in my heart and I was finally able to say yes the Lord.  I believe that God has orchestrated all of these things and more to get me to a place where I was willing to say yes to whatever He says.  I will admit, this is not as easy as it sounds, and I still struggle with unreservedly saying yes, but I also know that God is not done with me yet.  It is a day by day, moment by moment journey of trusting and obeying.  We must say yes to Him in the little things, so He can put before us the big things and we will still say yes. 

catherine shorrock