Monthly Archives: April 2012

No Words

I’ve tried to blog at least five times today, but I can’t think of the words to say.

I want to talk about how far I’ve come. I want to talk about how I’m finally free, how if I ever got a tattoo it would be of a bird flying out of the cage, because as cheesy as that is, it’s what I’ve become. I want to talk about how grace has moved in and wrecked my life, and it has been messy and sometimes painful but the end result has been so worth it.

I can’t find words to express these things one at a time, neatly, each in their own blog post.  I can’t follow the rules of grammar, can’t think of enough funny little quips.  I’m listening to “No Reins” by Rascal Flatts, and I wish I had come up with the song first, but I don’t have the words.

If I did, I would talk about how I’ve found the deepest friendships of my life. I’d talk about the way I wore a Sault Area Middle School sweatshirt today, put my hair up, and didn’t wear a spot of makeup… and still felt confident and beautiful because I’ve never felt less judged.

I’d tell you about the way I laugh, loudly, sometimes until half the SDR is staring at our table.  I’d write at least one post about my Gospel Community – the family I’ve found here in Chicago who love and accept me with absolutely no questions.

If I had words, I would write about how my life has always been wonderful and overly blessed.  I’d explain that nothing was ever terrible; it’s just that grace has become so much more real in the last year; my faith so much more vivid and tangible.  It’s like I’ve gone from a normal TV to HD and no one ever told me there was a difference.

I’d talk about how, for the first time in a long time, I’m truly (truly) content being single.  How my life is entirely complete, lacking in nothing. I’d probably throw in a mention of the fact that I have absolutely NO IDEA what I’ll be doing after college.  No plan, no practical prospects, just a vague idea.  And I would definitely mention that I’m actually okay with that.

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Concert Magic

Hundreds of perfect strangers become best friends as they sing at the top of their lungs, united by the lyrics they paid to hear performed live.  The bass pounds so hard they can feel it in their teeth; the lights sweep the crowd over and over. “Personal space” is an entirely forgotten concept as sweaty bodies press forward together in an attempt to get closer to the stage.

Unseparated by social class, gender, age, or race, the crowd moves as one.  There are no longer individual attendees, instead the crowd is its own entity, an ocean swelling in time to the music.  Fists in the air, feet stomping on the sticky floor, people passing above.  A moment suspended in time.

Welcome!

About two months ago, I met with an Admissions Rep to discuss them featuring my blog on their “Connect Online” page.  She said she would like to use it, so I sent them my information and a short bio.  I then promptly forgot all about it… until I logged on today and saw a spike in my blog hits, all from people referred by moody.edu

Soooo…..

If you got to my blog from the Connect Online page, WELCOME! I’m incredibly honored that the Admissions Department is using my blog as a place for prospective students to learn more about real life as a Moody student.  Feel free to comment and introduce yourselves or ask any questions you may have about Moody.  I wish I had known about the Connect Online page when I was an incoming student.  My roommate’s blog is featured on the page as well, so check it out!

Thanks, welcome, etc.

Major Changes

They say the average undergrad student changes their major about five times.  I’ve always regarded this statistic slightly pridefully, with the air of smugness that comes from “having it all planned out.”  I’ll graduate from Moody in 3.5 years with a degree in TESOL (and Bible, of course), and move to Central/South America. (Hopefully getting married somewhere in there.) There, I’ll teach English fulltime as a missionary and, on the side, work with teenage/young adult girls who have been abused or involved in the sex trade.  Sounds like a good plan, right?

Let me back up about four years.  I was reading the book “Zealous Love” by Mike and Danae Yankoski, and came to the chapter on human trafficking.  Tears poured down my cheeks and my stomach turned as I read the accounts of girls, often as young as 5 or 6 years old, who were sold into the sex trade.  An overwhelming feeling came over me as my heart broke for these women.  As a 14 or 15 year old, I didn’t really know what to do with that feeling, but I bookmarked a few blogs and vowed to pray for the women and children caught up in that sickening industry.

Last year, on a whim, I picked up a $5 CD at Family Christian Bookstore.  It was called “Freedom: Artists United for the International Justice Mission,” and it featured several bands I like.  As I looked over the packaging, I realized it was a fundraiser for IJM and included a DVD.  I watched the DVD one night and cried again as the stories of women who had been rescued from prostitution and slavery… but all I did was cry.  After all, I already had my plan (see above).

My plan started out really well.  I came to Moody.  I declared TESOL as my major.  I started Intro to TESOL.  I observed some classes, wrote some lesson plans… and… little by little, realized I don’t really want to spend every day of the rest of my life in a classroom/writing lesson plans.  Rather than being super excited for my upcoming classes, teaching for PCM, and my internship, I would kind of slump my shoulders and resign myself to the coming realities.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about feeling convicted and not knowing what to do about it.  After I wrote that, I started to pray a lot about where I was going with my life.  The books I’ve been reading, things I’ve been studying, and discussions we’ve been having at Gospel Community have made me realize I need to do something different.  I’ve been slapped in the face a lot lately with the reality that, while it is an incredible door into lives, English is not a basic need.  Those who are starving, being sold, without homes, or in desperate need of true love do not need to learn English.  They need food, freedom, shelter, or love.

As I prayed, I began to realize something.  When I think about my true dream – the thing I’m the most excited about when I tell people “my plan,” – it’s not standing in front of a class or writing lesson plans.  It’s the part I always refer to as “on the side.”  It’s the reason I attempted to interdisciplinary (basically a minor, for those of you who don’t go to Moody) in pre-counseling.  I want to work with girls who have been wounded, sold, and stolen.  Girls who had their innocence ripped away from them, who were so desperate for money that they sold their right to themselves.  I want to teach them that they have worth, that they are beautiful.  To LOVE them.  To show them the One who will never, ever abuse them.  From the first time I read about the issue of sexual exploitation, I have had a burden in my heart for those girls.

Yesterday, in chapel, one of our professors stood at the podium and said she had a “very exciting announcement.”  She announced that Moody was beginning a new major: Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation.  As she explained the details, tears pooled in my eyes and my mind began scrambling.  The first conscious thought I had was, “I have to do this,” followed shortly by about six reasons why there was no possible way I could do this.

One at a time, throughout the day yesterday, God countered each of those points.  In fact, He didn’t just counter them, He gave me even more reasons why I needed to lace up my shoes and run.  I called my mom, who had been sitting in a chapel at Bo’s school while I was in chapel.  Their speaker was a missionary from Peru (of all places!) who runs a shelter for battered women… many of whom have been rescued from sexual exploitation.  The first class for this major fit PERFECTLY into an hour and fifteen minute hole that just happened to be in my fall schedule. 9-12 more credits from Mott would transfer in with the switch.

I got my change of major form this afternoon and filled it out.  When I went to the Missions Department to have it signed, the hallway seemed deserted.  “Okay, God,” I whispered.  “I’m 99% sure this is what I’m supposed to do… but if it REALLY is… just give me one more sign?” (Oh, me of little faith…)  I walked to the end of the hall, towards what I was certain would be a deserted office, and there was Dr. Sisk.  He signed off on my major change as chair of the Missions Department, and I was gone in about 30 seconds.

I could easily write another 900+ words about all of the tiny details, “coincidences,” and neon signs shouting that I should go ahead with this that have happened in the last 48 hours… but I’ll spare you the extra reading.  As of next week, everything should be approved, and my major will be officially changed from TESOL to Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation.  Do I have a 5 or 10 year plan?  Nope.  But He does, and I know that there’s nothing better for me than His plan.

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Sometimes my Life Resembles a Seinfeld Episode

This past Friday, my good friend Craig (who is coming here in the fall) had the opportunity to play soccer with the Moody team – a trial run of sorts.  The team was scrimmaging Wheaton, so I grabbed a friend (known henceforth in this story as Kalena) and hopped on the Metra to watch the game.  Just a quick 45 minute train ride to College Avenue, a block walk, and I’d be cheering for my Archers.  Sounds simple, right?

Wrong.

We got to Ogilvie Transportation Center just in time to catch the 5:42 train, which was supposed to arrive in Wheaton at 6:24, giving us ample time to walk to the field, etc.  I was writing as the train pulled into the second stop, when the conductor’s voice came over the PA system: “Attention passengers, we have an announcement. There has been a fatality with Train 49, and we will be delayed indefinitely.  If you are going to Elmhurst or can get a ride from Elmhurst, we’ll put you on the train a track over, otherwise, just sit tight.”

We weren’t going to Elmhurst, nor could we get a ride to Elmhurst, so Kalena and I “sat tight.”

And sat.

And sat.

After about 40 minutes, we started creeping very slowly along the tracks to the next station, only to stop again.  At this point, I had figured out via Twitter that someone had jumped in front of the train, and all trains were delayed 60-90 minutes.  Now, a soccer game is 90 minutes long, and it was supposed to start in 20 minutes.  We were going to be cutting it close.

We sat still for over an hour, as Craig’s sister texted me updates from the game. “Moody is winning!” “Craig just went in!” “25 more minutes in the game!”

As the conductor announced that we would arrive at College Avenue in ten minutes, I got a text from Anne. “Four minutes left, are you almost here?”

I looked at Kalena and we began to laugh.  It was really our only option.  We had just spent $8.25 to take the train to Wheaton College, turn around, and go back to Moody.  The game was over, the people we were going to see had to go straight home afterward, we hadn’t had dinner, and, in case you didn’t see this before: THE GAME WAS OVER.  We had sat still on a train for over two hours total… for NO REASON.

We got to Wheaton, hugged everyone, stood and talked for about ten minutes, and were given a ride back to the train station…

Only to have half of the soccer team look at us and say:

“We just missed the train back to Chicago, the next one’s not for 75 minutes. Wanna go get pizza?”

Since we were hungry, and didn’t really have a choice, we followed them around the block.  On the way, we encountered a very large, very drunk girl, who told us to go to the pizza place at the corner, which was “expensive as h*** but good as f***.”  She also informed us, “Y’all, I’m drunk. I discovered red wine tonight and d*mn, I lliiiiike it.”

We ate pizza, we talked to the team… aaaand we missed the NEXT train back to Moody.  After waiting on the tracks for about 30 minutes, we finally got on the train.  Since I had had to use the restroom for, oh, about three hours at this point, I went straight to the sketchy train bathroom.

I’m new to the Metra world, and was incredibly close to completely losing it.  When the conductor came around, I stupidly handed him my ticket from the trip TO Wheaton.  He assumed I was somehow trying to cheat the system, and began yelling at me, asking where I got this ticket and what I was trying to pull.  My attempt to reply to all of his questions at once while refraining from bursting into tears resulted in me stammering like an idiot.  The conductor stood in front of me and had the audacity to mimic my every stuttered word in a falsetto.  Finally I (admittedly rather loudly and forcefully) said “Just do your job and sell me a ticket then.”  He did, but he yelled at me to take my feet off the bar in front of me every time he walked by after that.

We arrived in Chicago without incident.  On the way to the Brown Line, I kept accidentally hitting Kalena’s hand with my own.  After I apologized about 12 times, she said, “I think we’ve been through enough together tonight, we’re probably okay to hold hands now.”

But wait. The story isn’t over yet.

I got back to Moody and found Alyssa and Kelci. As I was walking to my room, I dropped my ID.  When I bent to pick it up, I ran into Kelci’s popcorn bowl, which promptly cracked in half and spilled popcorn all over the floor.  I trailed said popcorn the whole way to my room, where I tried to spit my gum in the trash can and ended up getting it stuck in my hair.

NOW the story is over.

Sometimes, my life resembles a Seinfeld episode.

Support Letter

A real blog post is coming soon, I promise. But for now, this is my support letter for Peru this summer. Please, please, please, consider committing to lift me up in prayer.

Dear Friends and Family,

Let’s be honest.  I rarely, if ever, write you letters.  In fact, there are approximately two people to whom I regularly write letters, and if I started this letter by pretending this is just the latest in a long chain of correspondence we’ve kept up over these many years, that would feel as fake as when people run out of things to say and ask you questions like, “hot enough for you?”  Yes, that was a horrible run-on sentence, but in my sheer excitement, I’ve been speaking in nothing but run-on sentences since I bought my tickets to go back to Pucallpa, Peru this summer.

Now that the awkward “introduce the letter but don’t really say anything” paragraph is complete, here’s a little bit of my heart: Over the last four summers of short-term trips to Pucallpa, God has allowed me to fall in love.  I have fallen in love with the people of Central Evangelical Missionary Church of Yarinacocha (CEMY): the women who plan, cook, sing, and teach; the men who provide transportation and construction assistance; and the students who have become my close friends.  I have fallen in love with the chicken, plaintains, and rice, the smoky air, the fresh fruit, and the dusty streets of Pucallpa.  I’ve fallen in love with the smiles of dark-skinned and dark-eyed children, the sounds of motorcycles and honking taxis at all hours, and the rapid Spanish that fills the air.

I’ve spent the last year at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago studying TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).  After a year of falling in love with another city and learning more about myself, my God, and His Word than I ever knew was possible, God has opened the door for me to return to Pucallpa yet again.  This trip will be different in several ways, and I am beyond excited about the opportunities.

I will be going to Pucallpa from June 14 until July 20, traveling on my own.  I’ll be living with a family I have come to love as my own, immersing myself in the Spanish language and culture.  The main focus of this trip is teaching English, and I will be teaching two or three English classes for members of the local church and community.  I also plan to work with a couple of area youth groups, assisting in planning as well as leading some sessions with the young girls.

Like I said before, I’ve been speaking rapidly, in mostly run-on sentences since I booked my flight to Peru.  God, in His infinite grace and mercy, has granted me one of the deepest desires of my heart: to return to Pucallpa.  My soul is filled with more excitement than I know how to express.

This is where you come in… I want to invite you to share in my joy.  The biggest, most important, and most needed way you can do this is through prayer.  Please pray that I will shine God’s light and do everything to His glory, as I travel alone, as I officially teach English for the first time, and as I immerse myself in all things Pucallpa. Your prayers are truly the thing I covet most.  We serve a big God, and I believe He can do big things as a result of prayer.

Now for the part you knew was coming: The second way you can help is financially.  My trip will cost around $2000 when everything is said and done.  As I mentioned before, I’m a Bible college student – which means I don’t have $2000 laying around.  I am working a part-time job in hopes of covering some of the cost, but any financial help you feel led to give would be immensely appreciated. Should you feel led to support me financially, Sister Lakes Community Church will make sure that you are properly receipted for tax deduction purposes.

Should you wish to follow my musings and ramblings, which will include details on my upcoming trip (as well as updates on my life in general), feel free to check out my blog.  The address is www.fibrasdelcorazon.wordpress.com.

Thank you so much for sticking around for my whole letter.  Please feel free to email me call/text me if you have questions about my trip, want to receive updates while I’m gone, or just want to chat and catch up on life for a few minutes.  I’d love to hear from you!

In Christ,

Alyssa Hobson

ahobson92@gmail.com

Convicted

“That Jesus did not command all his followers to sell their possessions gives comfort only to the kinds of people to whom he would issue that command.” – David Platt, Radical

Tears sprang to my eyes as I read these words last night.  There I was, lounging on my bed in my dorm room, eating popcorn, and reading a chapter of Radical about global poverty and the church.  For me, it was nothing out of the ordinary.  But to a child whose parents are struggling to survive on less than a dollar a day? I was lounging on my bed complete with four pillows, a down comforter, and a fleece blanket.  I was in my dorm room, which implies not only a roof over my head, but that I am participating in higher education.  I was eating popcorn… not for dinner, even, but just because I was a little hungry and had a craving.  And I was reading, an activity which is unfathomable for children and adults in many parts of the world.

I’m so blessed, and I know I am called to share those blessings with the less fortunate.  More than called, in fact, I know I am commanded multiple times in Scripture to give to the poor, to care for the orphans and widows, and to make less of myself.  I generally think I’m doing okay.  After all, I tithe, I go to Peru, I give my old clothes to Salvation Army, and I’ve never cared about brand names or big spending.  In fact, I think of myself as a fairly frugal person most of the time.  The lifestyle of the rich has never been appealing to me.

Then I decide to “treat myself” to a milkshake “just because.” I walk back from Chick-Fil-A, sipping on my creamy, cold $3.49, right past at least 15 people who will have no dinner tonight.  I buy a new shirt “because it’s on sale,” when the children I have loved and held in the villages of Pucallpa are overjoyed to receive the shirt I wore for two years then decided to throw to them.  I send two suitcases of winter clothes home with my parents because there’s not room in my dresser for two seasons’ worth of clothing, as refugees a few Brown Line stops away lack even one pair of gloves.  I throw away an entire plate of food in the SDR because I don’t like it, then read stories of brothers and sisters in Africa who eat a half a cup of rice A DAY.

How? How is this possible? How can I continue to read those Scriptures, to read chapters in books like this, and remain unmoved?  Sure, my eyes filled with tears when I read that quote.  Yes, I looked through my pictures from the orphanage in Pucallpa and prayed for those children.  But I looked through those pictures on my Macbook Pro while painting my freaking fingernails.  Kids are starving, dying, impoverished, and I was painting my nails while crying over them.

There is something wrong with me.

What is wrong with me?

I’m no monster.  I don’t sit stoically in the face of these statistics.  I can readily admit that it is my Christian responsibility to do something about it.  I cry, okay? I CRY OVER THEM.  But the truth is, these tears don’t matter if they don’t lead to action.  I can cry all I want.  I can feel guilty for years.  Until I am moved to actually do something, I might as well be laughing in the face of the dying children.

I don’t know what this means.  I’m comfortable in my Middle Class White Anglo-Saxon Protestant lifestyle, complete with an iPhone, a meal plan, and a 2007 Ford Taurus.  I like having clothing and entertainment options at my fingertips.  I enjoy the luxury of having study Bibles in multiple versions, books for fun, and the occasional midnight snack.

It’s not bad to live a content, comfortable life, thankful for the blessings God has showered upon me.

But where is the line?

I truly don’t have the answer to this question.  All I know is for the last couple years, God has very steadily been making my uncomfortable with my level of comfort.  He has been placing books, speakers, sermons, and documentaries in my path to shake up my way of thinking.  He has used my trips to Peru and experiences with rescue missions to begin breaking my heart for those less fortunate.

As I stand here, teetering somewhere between terrified that He’ll call me to literally give up everything and hopeful that I’ll have the chance to prove my faith in such a tangible way, I am convicted.  Where this conviction will lead, I don’t know.

But Jesus is worth it.

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