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Just a brief catch-up...the H1N1 lockdown is officially over!

Now we are working at our respective churches. I am teaching a lot of English (which bothers me some) to children, youth and adults. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed teaching. Also, I am getting to join in with some of the woman's ministries they have at the church. There is a craft class, where I learned to make felt from sheep's wool, and a mother's class. And I am going to start working with the Kindergarten some as well.

From all I have gotten to experience thus far I think I am really going to enjoy working at my church.

The church is called Gerelt UMC, which means light.

"Peace begins with a smile."
-Mother Teresa
(Liberia, Africa)

"Everybody smiles in the same language. And for that, I am so thankful."
-Jena Lee, Hope in the dark

(Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)

"Light up the darkness."
-Bob Marley

"Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed."
Psalm 34:5

Maybe you can tell, I have been thinking a lot about the connection between smiling and light lately.

Ever since I arrived in Mongolia I have realized just how much I appreciate smiling. I know that I am from the south and there is a certain "charm" that is somewhat ingrained in my spirit, there is just something deeper about smiling for me, though.

I don't think I even truly had a grasp of what Mother Teresa's quote about smiling meant until recently. The other day I was talking to my mom about the ways we connect with people, sometimes people who cannot speak the same language. When I was talking to her it was like the words just flowed out of fingertips (I was chatting with her on skype) "Peace begins with a smile." And then I got it. Our smile is this little gift, a peace offering that we can offer to anyone at any time.

When we smile we are expressing, claiming even, that we are about peace.

"Peace [really does] begin with a smile."

I have realized how grateful I am for some commonality with people I can hardly communicate with. Although Mongolians are not expressive with their emotions-when I see one smile, I know we can understand each other.

"Everyone smiles in the same language. And for that, I am so thankful"

But I think I realized the real deepness of smiling when I was having a conversation with the lay leader at my church. She was telling me about when she became a Christian. She said her friends told her that her appearance changed--her face was softer. They said that she had a new joy and that she seemed different.

"Woah!" I thought. Becoming a Christian literally changed everything about her. She radiates the light of Christ. When she smiles, and that is a lot, it is holy and wholly from Christ. The light that radiates from her smile is deep and joy-filled, coming from knowing Christ

How incredible that was for me to stop and think about. Her smile was so deeply connected to the light of the Lord.

In my
very Christian influenced life I don't think I allow for His light and my smile to be so intertwined. I want my smile to echo this truth:

"Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed."
Psalm 34:5

I don't think this verse is actually referring to smiling but, for me, it now has a new meaning.

When I am looking to Christ, His light is
able to radiate in me.

And that is the light that is able to
"Light up the darkness."

I don't think it is by any coincidence that the meaning of my church's name is light. The word light and the ideas surrounding it are taking up inhabitance in my soul.

(Gerelt UMC, UB, Mongolia)

May we often remember how deeply our smiles are connected to His light. May we always look to Him so we, too, can be radiant.


  1. Beautiful. Thank you for simply sharing your heart on your blog. I love it and love YOU!

  2. Thank you Holli! You have made me smile today! Love you!


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The Prayer of the Empty Water Jar

Jesus, I come into the warmth of your presence
knowing that you are
the very emptiness of God.

I come before you
holding the water jar of my life.

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and I know what I'd rather not know.

I came to be filled
but I am already full.

I am too full
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I am full of things
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your healing presence.

A holy knowing steals inside my heart
and I see a painful truth.

I don't need more
I need less
I am too full.

I am full of things that block out
your golden grace.

I am smothered by gods of my own creation
I am lost in the forest of my false self
I am full of my own opinions and narrow attitudes
full of fear, resentments, control
full of self-pity, and arrogance.

Slowly this terrible truth
pierces my heart
I am so full there is no room for you.

Contemplatively, and with compassion
you ask me to reach into my water jar.

One by one, Jesus, you enable me
to lift out the things
that are a hindrance to my wholeness.

I take each one to my heart and