Writing Myself Out Of The Story // Asia 2018

Sometimes I write out of necessity, other times it’s out of a desire to get better at what I do. Most often though, it’s out of a need to come to terms with my heart – the realities of life, the fears I face, my hope for the future… all the intangibles that I often keep locked away.

If you read my last blog, “Finding My Way Again” you will remember that back in April (Yes way too much time has passed since I last wrote all of you) that I went to Thailand and volunteered with an incredible ministry, Life Impact International. They work to rescue children out of slavery and prostitution and prevent others from ever entering that world. They give these children a place to call home and hope in Jesus Christ. They are literally rescuing children and training them to take the Gospel of Jesus back into the world. It was during this trip that God opened my eyes and reminded me that even though it might appear as though I was counted out, that He wasn’t finished with me yet.

When faith meets FEAR.

To be completely honest, coming to volunteer with Life Impact scared me. My initial call with their founder went well – too well. We talked about the things I could do… how I had led multiple short-term team mission trips and also loved media/graphic design. She told me about how her team of missionaries and staff had literally been praying for me – someone with my exact gifting and talents and how they could have used me as early as “yesterday”. This news terrified me. What if I looked like the answer to their prayers and ended up being nothing more than a huge disappointment? I couldn’t bear the thought. I had disappointed more than my fair share of people in life and I wasn’t about to add to that list. Even though I had self-imposed reservations, I booked my ticket, packed my bags and went to Thailand. And I had five glorious weeks that changed my life. (You can read more about that trip in my previous blog.)

Before I returned to the states, I got the opportunity to have tea with the founder, Lana Vasquez and simply dream together about the future and what that could look like. We talked about the possibility of me becoming a more permanent member of their team, in the days to come. No date was set and nothing was written in stone, but we both dreamed big about what this could be, how it would work and when it would happen. All of that, we placed in God’s hands, trusting that as always, He would bring things about in His perfect timing.

And with that, I packed my bags again, flew out the next day and headed home. I was filled with hope for the adventure that I knew was just over the horizon. From the moment my feet left Asia, I started praying. Not praying for God’s will to be done – which would have been good on my part… but rather earnestly and sincerely begging God to bring things into alignment. I wanted this – more than I had wanted anything in a long time.

The months seemed to drag by at an unbearably slow pace and yet at the same time, they seemed to go by with such rapid speed that I couldn’t accomplish all that I needed to. That may not make much sense, but it was my reality nonetheless. Finally, it happened, roughly four months later, I was on a phone call discussing all the details with Lana. This was the moment where it was all becoming a reality. In just a few more weeks, I would officially be a member of the Life Impact International team.

When You Question Everything.

And here is the part of this story where I should be able to say that “all the pieces finally aligned” and “all my dreams came true” … and they did, but amidst the fruition of my dreams, was this overwhelming fear (I didn’t recognize it for what it was, but it was definitely fear). I spent many nights awake, beyond my normal late hours – trying to reassure myself that this was God’s plan. After all, the pieces fit so perfectly, that only God could have made this happen, right? And even though I was literally walking into a fairytale of all that I had hoped for, I still struggled. Unable to piece together what was wrong, my heart was heavy. This heaviness was tangible and because it felt so real, I persuaded myself that maybe I had missed God. What other explanation was there? This opportunity may have seemed perfect, but once again, I had messed up. And to make things worse, my worst fear was becoming a reality. If I walked away, I would be letting Lana and the others down. I would be disappointing even more people in my life. Fear was taking me out of the game before I even stepped up to the plate.

There it was. FEAR. Disruptive. Overwhelming. Unexplainable. FEAR. I was afraid of disappointing others and in that fear, I almost wrote myself out the next chapter that God had so perfectly written for my life.

Exactly Where I Am Supposed To Be.

Thankfully, God knew. He knows how crazy I can be. He knows how I overanalyze everything and undervalue myself. And yet He never gives up on me. He had people praying and thankfully my eyes were opened to the real problem. Once I could see the fear for what it was, I could deal with it. I could face it. And I did.

I have now been in Thailand for a little over seven weeks (excluding my five-day trip to the Philippines) and I’m amazed daily at how God is bringing about my heart’s desires, carefully crafting each day to challenge and stretch me and bring me more joy than I could imagine. I’m so unexplainably thankful that He didn’t give up on me and grateful for those who prayed for me, some not knowing why they were praying. I’m here, smack dab in the middle of exactly where I am supposed to be. The adventure has only just begun, but each new day brings forth the possibility of far more than I could have ever hoped for.

Moral of the story – FEAR can ruin the best of things but only if we let it. Fear has no more power in our lives than we allow it to have.

2 Timothy 1:7 The Passion Translation

For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control.

(I have so much more to write about including miracles – all that God has prepared for me and the incredible things I’ve gotten to take part in… but it’s too much for one blog. I promise to write more and share all that has happened. Please be patient though and I promise to include you in all the excitement.)

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

 

 

 

Finding My Way Again. // Asia 2018

Those of you who follow my blog have probably noticed my absence the past few months. I tried to come back to writing, I really did. To be completely honest though, this past year has been one of the hardest I’ve gone through personally. Growing up is never easy, even if you’re already supposed to be a “grown-up”. People we love can hurt us. Plans can change. We often disappoint others and fail ourselves. Lets just say a lot of that happened this past year.

I’ve always wanted to get things “right”. The voice of perfectionism speaks to me daily, often overshadowing the voice of God.

I’ve spent so many years beating myself up when things go wrong and expecting myself to always get it right. Mistakes are not an option. Bad choices aren’t allowed. Oh I talk a good game about “not being perfect” and “accepting myself” but the truth is that most days I’m striving for an unrealistic and unattainable goal that should drive most people completely bonkers…

Goals come in all shapes and sizes – mine was a size 6.

Picture the photo shopped beauty queen, size 6, with flawless skin who looks perfect in every shot. Mix that with the “Christian” who always serves, never loses their temper and can quote the Bible on command… now add to those goals the fact that I’ve graduated from not one, but TWO bible colleges and have been in full time ministry for nearly a decade – two things that can produce high expectations from people – so on top of feeling like I need to look perfect and be perfect, I also need to produce results.

I just recently stepped away from a full time position at an incredible ministry (which I believed and still believe I was supposed to do) – one that produced great results; millions of people coming to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and seeing thousands of people healed all around the world. I loved what they do – I still do for that matter. They were and still are absolutely amazing. If we’re being completely honest though, I felt like the world was watching to see if I would fall off course and settle in to my comfortable life in America or keep going forward with missions work overseas. I’m sure 98% of it was in my own head (placed there by satan) but regardless; I felt the pressure to produce. And when the last mission trip I had planned was finished, the feeling of failure began to creep in once again.

I told myself (and others) that I was taking a few months off to rest and catch up – after all, I had been in Asia for 9 weeks last summer. I had earned a little break, I thought. At least that’s what I told everyone. It was a better answer than “No I have no idea where I am going next. I have no idea what I’m doing. Did I miss God? Did I make a mistake? What am I doing with my life? What is God doing with my life?” Those were the thoughts that would bombard me anytime someone would ask, “So Jamie, when are you leaving and where are you going next?”

The first few months were hard. And each passing month got harder. I wasn’t finished with missions, but I didn’t have answers either. I didn’t know what was next. And although I’m sure God wasn’t silent, that stupid voice of perfectionism was getting louder every day. As it grew louder, my hope and joy began to fade away. And I just didn’t seem to hear anything from God.

When hope seems lost.

I reached an all time low, crying my eyes out while yelling at God that I couldn’t understand why He had brought me to this place in my life. He knew me after all. He created me. He knew how miserable I would be where I was. He was the one who called me to missions. I actually asked God if that was what he wanted? For me to be miserable… I know, I’m ashamed of myself, but I’ve forgiven myself and thankfully, so has He. I didn’t get the answers I wanted that night, but the stubbornness in me refused to quit. So I dragged myself out of bed the next day and did what I had to do. And the day after that, I did the same. I kept praying – trying to figure out what was next. I still had no answers.

Finally I sat down and told God that there were three things I had on my heart that I felt I was supposed to do this year in ministry. I was going to write them down and take steps forward, until He told me something else. At this point, I calmed down a bit and simply asked Him to show me if the things on my heart were wrong, to tell me and I would go after what He wanted. And through a series of events and the course of just a few days, I received confirmation on all three of the things I had written down! I’ll share more about some of that later. For now though, I want to focus on one of the bigger items on my list, returning to Asia.

There is an incredible ministry in Asia, Life Impact International, that I have known about (through a friend) for several years now. They work to rescue children out of slavery and prostitution and prevent others from ever entering that world. They give these children a place to call home and hope in Jesus Christ. They are literally rescuing children and training them to take the Gospel of Jesus back into the world. I knew the work they were doing was important and had always wanted to experience it first hand. And even though I am certain I don’t deserve it, God opened the door for me to take part.

I came with the intent to fill a need or several needs, if possible.

I came to serve, not to be served.

I thought these kids needed me.

What I didn’t know was just how much I needed them.

It wasn’t a part of the original plan, but I was asked to join a small team from the ministry that would go into a neighboring nation and take the 28 rescued children they had there, on a trip. I agreed. I was actually thrilled for the chance to go spend so much time with these kids.

We arrived late Monday afternoon and headed to the “Boy’s Home” where we would first encounter the rescued boys – 13 to be exact and later the rescued girls. There were 15 of them. We spent a few hours together with introductions and packing for the trip ahead. My introduction was hilarious since I had managed to lose my voice the day before. Nothing like whispering your name to a room full of kids and then having it translated… It was bad enough I couldn’t speak their language, now I couldn’t really speak mine either. We hadn’t even started and I felt like already I was failing them.

As we got on the large bus the ministry had rented, the funniest thing happened. I was practically dragged into a seat with the cutest little girl I’ve ever seen. We’ll call her “Niah”. Now at this point, I’m sick. I have a cough that makes me sound like a chain smoker, no voice and I’m hot and sweaty. Nothing about me screams “she looks like fun, I should have her sit with me”. Yet Niah wanted me by her side. She didn’t know me. She couldn’t speak to me, but she wanted me there with her for the next six-hour bus ride. This little girl slept on my lap, drooled on my shoulder and shared her blanket with me. She didn’t know me, but I was enough.

Every day thereafter, Niah was glued to my side. When a chair was open next to me at the breakfast table, she was right there. We learned from God’s word together and worshipped together. As we took the children to the beach, she was always the first to grab my hand and insist we walk together (although by the end of the week others had followed her lead – I didn’t have enough hands for all the kids). We couldn’t communicate with words, but her laughter and never-ending smiles said it all.

Daily we chased waves, as she tirelessly collected her seashells – valued treasure to her and yet she gave the majority away to others (myself included). I can truly say I have never seen a child with so much unending joy. Not temporal happiness that comes from getting the new toy you’ve been waiting months for or even the happiness that comes from experiencing Disney World for the first time, but real joy… a true joy that only comes from being rescued, from knowing the unending love of a Savior. The truth is, I don’t know all of Niah’s story, what she went through and how she got here today and maybe I don’t want to. I’m told her beginning was a rough one, although you would never guess it.

This amazing little girl took one look at me and that was enough. She didn’t care about my muffin top; smile lines on my face, or whether I could quote any of the Bible. She didn’t care if this was my first or 51st missions trip. She simply took me at face value, The same way Jesus does. I was perfectly imperfect and that was more than enough.

The trip came and went faster than I would have liked, but I can assure you that I’ll be back to see Niah again. I can’t help but learn from this little girl. Niah reminded me of why I started missions work in the first place. She was exactly what I needed and I suppose this “not size 6” “imperfect Christian” was exactly what she needed too.

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

September’s “Check It Out” List

After three months of no posts, I feel this one is long over due. The truth is, even though I had a truly remarkable time in Asia, I had some things happened that I can’t put into words yet. So I just avoided writing, but I’m back now – hopefully… fingers crossed. 😉

So, in honor of the FIRST OFFICIAL DAY OF AUTUMN, I decided the best comeback post would celebrate all things “PUMPKIN SPICE“. After all, I am a single white girl, fall is approaching and this.. is what we do. Pumpkin Spice… EVERYTHING. Okay, not everything, but almost everything. And yes, some of you out there who have avoided this addiction are going to judge me. I know this fact and I’m perfectly okay with it.

Side note: I’m pretty sure the outside temp is still somewhere between 85-93 degrees thus taking away from what should be a day of flannel shirts, boots and hot lattes… but I’ll take autumn whichever way I can.

For this Ode to Autumn, I’m gonna give you a few of my favorites, along with some items I recently indulged in… I’ve done some research though and there are still tons of “pumpkin spice” products making their way out on the market and I have yet to try them all. I can only speak to the items I have tried, but know that I will continue to test out items because, why not? So here they are, in no particular order.

Burt’s Bees – Pumpkin Spice – Moisturizing Lip Balm

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This one, although promising did not produce the actual pumpkin flavor that I was hoping for. It still offers the usual awesome quality of Burt’s Bees products, so no complaints there but I probably won’t eagerly wait for this item each year. If you haven’t, give it a try and let me know your thoughts.

Pumpkin Spice – Cheerios

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Now I am not normally a fan of Cheerios, so I was definitely not expecting much from these, but I was pleasantly surprised. I may be crazy, but they actually taste like pumpkin spice – now its a faint flavor, but its there. I definitely went back for more of these.

Quaker – Pumpkin Spice – Instant Oatmeal

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This one was a suggestion from my friend, Brenda. And while It does combine two things I love, oatmeal and pumpkin spice, the flavor wasn’t near as strong as I would have liked. Nice attempt, Quaker, but please make that flavor a little stronger.

International Delight – Pumpkin Pie Spice – Coffee Creamer

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This one definitely fulfilled its brand name. A cup of coffee with a hint of their Pumpkin Pie Spice creamer is absolutely delightful! The only thing that could have made it better would be if I was drinking it next to a bonfire instead of sitting with the AC cranked… but this is Oklahoma.

719 Walnut Avenue – Pumpkin Waffles – Candle

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This candle was one I stumbled upon at my local Walmart, 2 years ago. From the moment I lit the candle, it was love at first smell. It was like Pumpkin Spice on steroids and it lasted quite a while. The bad news is, I have searched and couldn’t find this candle anymore. I also searched online and didn’t have any luck. I figured they had discontinued it and I was dealing with the loss, when I stumbled upon this candle.

Main Stays – Pecan Pumpkin Cake – Candle

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Now this candle is more pink than I would like, and the graphic design was way more appealing on the Pumpkin Waffles candle, but this baby smells almost exactly the same! It was literally a Heaven scent replacement! Did you see what I did there? Heaven “scent” instead of “sent”. Go ahead – smile, you know it was cute. And in the end, my house smells like pumpkin Heaven!

J.R.R. Tolkien’s – Unfinished Tales

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Okay, this item isn’t technically flavored or scented in anything close to pumpkin spice, but nothing goes better with a house full of pumpkin spice, than a little Tolkien and since “Unfinished Tales” happens to be my current reading material, and… it has orange on the cover, I felt fully justified in adding it to this post. Plus its Tolkien, you never go wrong with his material. 

Get it, read it and while your at it, light a candle and brew some coffee. Sit back relax and enjoy the best time of the year – PUMPKIN SPICE!

I hope you enjoyed sharing in some of my favorites. Comment below and let me know what items you’ve discovered and which ones we should avoid. Anyone tried Pumpkin Spice Shampoo?

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

A Day of Good News // Stories From Abroad: CAMBODIA ’17 – Part 5

Thursday (the 4th official ministry day) came way to soon. When Thursday hits on a Global Ventures trip, it is always bitter sweet. You know that you only have two ministry days left and if you blink, you’re apt to miss them. Trust me – I have missed a lot. That however, is another blog for another day…

There Is No One To Go…

One of our final ministry locations was what we call a “make it happen” site. Global Ventures coined this phrase years ago to describe times in our team schedule where there is not a set school that has been scheduled. During these times, as team leaders we try and find a location within the area, where we can simply break out our team’s portable speaker and microphones and share the Gospel with as many people as we can gather. Often times this will happen in a busy market or crowded street corner. In the villages in Takeo, there just simply weren’t many places where multiple people gathered, so we found our teams doing more of house-to-house evangelism.

That afternoon, my team and I, found ourselves ministering to a man who had not had the opportunity to receive Jesus. I wish I could tell you his name, but I’ll be brutally honest… I am not as good with names as I would like, and sometimes, Asian names are the hardest for me to pronounce correctly – let alone remember. I’m working on it though.

Moving along… So my team and I shared the simple Gospel story with him and he was quick to receive. The fact that this encounter happened was not at all surprising to me. I have had many similar encounters around the world. What was surprising, were the words he shared with us. “There is no one to take the story of Jesus to my village.” Right away, he was concerned about others getting to hear. Can you imagine? His recreated spirit knew that what he was receiving others needed as well.

 

(Above are pictures of my team and I, ministering to that precious man. Photos courtesy of my friend and team member, Courtney Canfield )

A Great Famine.

I’m reminded of the story in 2nd Kings, chapter 7, one that my mentor, Ms. Martine Smithwick, has shared with me many times. She shares it much better than I will, but read on – it’s worth your time. 😉

There are 4 lepers at the city gate – these were outcasts, people who were looked down upon and literally had lost everything. Theirs’ was a bad situation on a “good day”. The fact that there also happened to be an intense famine happening in the land didn’t help matters.

Lets talk famine for a moment: If you go back a little bit and read in chapter 6, you can get a better idea of just how bad things really were.

In verse 24, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his army and marched upon and laid siege to Samaria. This siege lasted a really long time and the famine that occurred as a result, was unimaginable in comparison to anything I have ever experienced in my 31 years on earth. The famine was so terrible, that people were eating each other’s children.

2 Kings 6:26-29

New International Version

26 As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!” 27 The king replied, “If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” 28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”

Can you imagine being in a position where food was so scarce and things were so bad, that you would even contemplate eating another human being, much less your own child? I don’t know about you, but I can’t begin to understand what they were going through. What I can tell though, is that things were bad. Not “I don’t have enough money to get my iced cappuccino and so I’ll have to suffer without, until my next paycheck” bad. Not even, “I’m out of groceries and will have to live off the microwave popcorn that has been sitting in my pantry for 3 years” bad. This was “I’m going to die if I don’t eat…” I cringe just thinking about it.

Back to the Lepers. If you think that women eating each other’s kids was bad, imagine suffering like that AND having a skin eating disease that literally cut you off from society and would inevitably kill you. That is a bad day, for sure. These guys literally had nothing to lose.

2 Kings 7:3-9

New International Version

Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’—the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”

If they go into the city where the famine is, they will die. If they stay outside the city gate, they will die. If the go into the enemy camp and surrender, there is a 50/50 chance they may be killed, but maybe the enemy will show them mercy and allow them to live. Anyway you slice it, these guys are probably going to die – so what have they got to lose? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If the enemy kills them, they will be no worse off than if they had stayed right where they were.

Let’s read on a bit further in verses 5-7…

At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, no one was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

God had opened a door and their enemy was scattered, abandoning their camp and all their valued possessions.

The men who had leprosy reached the edge of the camp entered one of the tents and ate and drank. Then they took silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

After a terrible famine, these men found themselves alone in the enemy’s camp surrounded by food, lots of food. Probably more food than they or anyone in their city had seen in quite some time. So they ate. And drank and enjoyed the goodness in what they had found. And it was good. All of it. So good, that they took things and hid them, so they would have more for later… Then they came back and took more things to hide.

It wasn’t long though, before their conscience got the best of them. Even though they were enjoying the finer things life had to offer (many of which they had not had for a really long time) they couldn’t help but remember the people in Samaria who were still suffering from the famine, hopeless and dying.

Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”

They themselves had once again found hope. And it would have been easy to keep it to themselves, but they knew the people of Samaria needed what they had found.

***The same was true of the man that we ministered to in Cambodia. He could have received salvation and the hope of Jesus Christ and been content to have God’s blessings in his own life but right away, he began to think about the rest of his village, people who didn’t have the Gospel, people who hadn’t heard the good news. He had found what his heart was searching for and even if he didn’t realize the fullness of what was happening, he knew that his village needed this message too.

What if every Christian felt the same way? What if our biggest concern was not in what we had received, but in what others had not? 

One of my favorite quotes is from Oswald J. Smith.

“No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.” — Oswald J. Smith 

This encounter with a stranger in Cambodia only served to remind me of just how important sharing the good news with people truly is. In that moment, I didn’t have all of the answers and I did all that I knew to do. I encouraged him that he had now received the good news of Jesus and that he could go back and share with his village. We also connected him with the church we have been working in the area, in hopes that they could help him in getting the Gospel to his people. I encourage you – please, pray for this man. Pray for his village. Pray for the countless more villages out there that have yet to hear the Good News.

It has been very interesting, but my time in Asia has also opened my eyes to how important it is to continue to bring the good news to those at home, those around me each and every day. But more on that topic later. For now, I am thankful for all that God has been doing and honored to be a part.

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

IF YOU MISSED PART 1 – EXPLORATION & CHANCE ENCOUNTERS PART 2 – MINISTRY MOVEMENTS & MIGHTY MEN, PART 3 – OF SKIRTS & SALVATION, OR PART 4 – MIRACLES & MEMORIES, BE SURE TO CHECK THEM OUT!

For more info, check out Global Ventures.

© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Miracles & Memories // Stories From Abroad: CAMBODIA ’17 – Part 4

Well, I have officially been ministering in Thailand for over 3 weeks now… and have just now found time to catch you all up on what happened during the main week of ministry in Cambodia. Its definitely a late update, but you know what they say – “Better late, than never.”

And So It Begins.

The first day of ministry with Global Ventures started like you would expect, bright and early… like “6:55am breakfast meeting” early… I have never really been what you would call, “a morning person” so this particular aspect of ministry has been a struggle for me. Praise God there is was overabundance of coffee in the city of Phnom Penh. Seriously.

Even though I prefer to start my day a little later, I was just as excited as the other team members for what I knew was coming, as we headed out to minister in schools and village communities across the Takeo Province. 5 days of ministry were ahead of us and were guaranteed to provide incredible encounters with people who had never experienced the one true and living God.

As a GV team leader, I had the honor of leading an amazing group of people – who would eventually become “un Mexicano”, “Deux Québécois”, “three Americans”, and a “Soytry” (“Soytry” being the name of our translator). This all came from our teams hysterical moments where my French speaking team members (Karl and Christine) tried to teach me French… Let me tell you, it was not a pretty sight. And then my American girls (Emily, Courtney and Hannah) were perfecting, Mario’s English accent and he would help their Spanish… Then Soytry would help us all with our Khmer. Needless to say, we were a very culturally diverse team – and I would regularly have to count to make sure everyone was with me before we would leave, thus the multilingual counting – “un Mexicano”, Deux Québécois, three Americans, and a “Soytry”.

Rise Up And Walk.

My team headed out for day one and what would be an incredible day of ministry. One of my favorite encounters happened when we were sharing the Gospel in a tiny village community. As we were ministering on healing, a lady came up to us and asked to come to her home nearby and share with her husband who was sick in bed.  As we wandered into this tiny home, we found Cheam Him, a sweet man who had been practically bed-ridden. For 20 years he had suffered from intense back pain and as a result struggled with being able to walk at all. My team was able to minister to him and truly share the love and power of Jesus Christ. After prayer, Cheam was up and walking without pain by the power of God! It was absolutely incredible.

This amazing story was just one of the many encounters we would see over the next few days.

 

Pictured above, Mario (my team member) is praying for Cheam Him and then helping as he began to walk.

An Unexpected Soccer Game.

One of my favorite memories happened unexpectedly on our third day of ministry. Usually we are on a tight schedule ministering in one school after the next with limited time in between each school. This day, we happened to arrive early at our school. Since the teachers and Director hadn’t arrived yet, but the students had, I got to really interact with the students and simply “have fun”. Karl, and myself found some students who were kicking around a soccer ball. In an attempt to pass the time and just “be” with the kids, we joined in on their fun.

 

Now I’ll be completely honest, it was very clear, very quickly, that I had limited soccer experience and Karl was by far the better of the two of us, but regardless of experience, I had a ridiculous amount of fun with these kids. And the fact that I was literally running around in the afternoon heat of Cambodia, (which I have often likened to what I expect Hell to feel like) and I wasn’t passing out, counted as a major victory in my book – a few years ago, this would not have happened…lol! Needless to say, the students loved it as well and by the time we were doing the actual Gospel presentation, we had already become friends and they quickly and excitedly received the message of Jesus that we shared with them.

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Karl and I, and the boys who taught us a thing or two about how to really play soccer… 

That’s all for today, but tonight – later tonight, I will do my best to finish out my stories from Cambodia so I can begin to share with all of you, all that God has been doing in Thailand – believe me, it is worth waiting for!

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

IF YOU MISSED PART 1 – EXPLORATION & CHANCE ENCOUNTERS PART 2 – MINISTRY MOVEMENTS & MIGHTY MEN, OR PART 3 – OF SKIRTS & SALVATION, BE SURE TO CHECK THEM OUT!

For more info, check out Global Ventures.

© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Of Skirts & Salvation // Stories From Abroad: CAMBODIA ’17 – Part 3

This summer my travels have taken me back to one of my favorite areas of the world, Southeast Asia. I have spent the past 2 ½ weeks as a part of the Global Ventures (GV) Set-Up Team. During this time, I served as one of the key leaders, helping to pave the way for the incoming GV teams. Over the course of my time, I have had the awesome privilege of working with amazing people here in Cambodia from our partner church, New Life Fellowship Cambodia. (You can read all about them here)

I have been able to take part in various areas of set-up, focusing most of my effort in scheduling local schools (along with my friend & GV intern, Bailey Neff) where teams will get to share the Gospel.

(Here are a few of the pictures from our time visiting schools and scheduling times for the GV teams to come and present the Gospel. Special thanks to Bailey Neff for capturing this sweet moment I had connecting with some of the little girls.)

After many days of hard work, the main team has finally arrived in country and we now number 51 people. 51 people who have been trained through GV leadership and are now ready to hit the streets (or in this case, dirt roads) and take the Gospel to the precious people in a village province, roughly a 1-3 hour drive from Phnom Penh.

For Bailey and I, the excitement each of the team members is feeling, is only multiplied. For us the ministry that is about to take place is the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work put in by GV staff, and the last 2 ½ weeks of work we helped with, here in country. Bailey and I have stepped foot in almost all of the schools and villages that the GV teams will share the Gospel in. We have walked where they’ll walk and smiled at the precious adults and children who they will now bring eternal hope to. In a lot of ways, we had the amazing opportunity to walk in shoes that John the Baptist might have worn, preparing the way. We were forerunners declaring that someone else would come after us, with a powerful message that would forever change things.

And the hour is almost here. As team members are turning out their lights to get some much needed rest before the ministry starts, I can’t help but be filled with pure joy and anticipation at what all God is going to do over these next 5 days. My heart can truly only guess at the amazing things He has in store for these people who are quickly stealing my heart.

I have so much to say to all of you and I struggle to find the words to express it all. The truth is, I too, should probably be turning out the lights and saying goodbye for tonight. Before I go though, I want to share one more encounter that Bailey and had just a week ago.

A Badly Designed Skirt, a Restless Heart, and a Refusal To Walk Away…

On one of our final days in the village, scheduling schools, our translators (and friends) took us to a place where we could get lunch. We pulled up to this quaint little place, filled with hammocks, where we were instructed to sit back and relax while our chicken & rice was prepared for us. While I love the laid back, “enjoy each moment” culture; I also happened to be in a skirt. Although my skirt was completely appropriate for the work I was doing, it was not quite designed to lie in a hammock. So I tried to sit near the hammocks in a lady like fashion, but that quickly grew old, so I began to wander. As I did, God began to pull my heart towards several kids buying snacks nearby at a roadside vender. I couldn’t leave them there. I knew that the school nearby was not one we would be bringing a team to. And unless something happened, they would not get the opportunity to hear the Gospel, at least not from us. What if no one ever came to them? I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. So I returned to where my translators and Bailey were waiting.

After explaining to them what we must do, Soytry (one of our translators), Bailey and I, returned to speak to the children. As we approached, the group of kids quickly grew and the more we shared, the more children appeared. In just a few moments, the three of us had introduced ourselves, met all of the children and shared the most powerful story anyone can ever hear. We told of Jesus’ birth, His life, death and resurrection. And then we shared what this story could mean for them. In an instant, we brought hope to complete strangers. Of the 39 who had gathered, 33 children and the vender, prayed with us, declaring Jesus Christ as their Lord. All it took was a badly designed skirt, a restless heart and a refusal to walk away from those in need. I hated having to wear that skirt, but I am thankful beyond words for opportunity I was given to share with those children.

This moment, was just one. Just one single moment of one single day – and through it, lives have been forever changed. And as undeniably awesome as that moment was, its only just beginning. The next 5 days are literally going to help transform countless lives throughout this nation. I am so blessed to be here and humbled at all that God is doing.

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(Pictured above is a quick shot I was able to get, right before Bailey and I, led these children in the prayer of salvation – it was absolutely amazing!)

I invite you to come along with me over the next few weeks, check back from time to time and experience all that God is doing in Cambodia. With that, I guess I really must say goodnight – for now.

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

IF YOU MISSED PART 1 – EXPLORATION & CHANCE ENCOUNTERS OR PART 2 – MINISTRY MOVEMENTS & MIGHTY MEN, BE SURE TO CHECK THEM OUT!

For more info, check out New Life Fellowship Cambodia and/or Global Ventures.

© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Ministry Movements & Mighty Men// Stories From Abroad: CAMBODIA ’17 – Part 2

It has officially been two weeks since my return to Cambodia. And although I have been terrible at updating all of you, I have a really good excuse… work. Lots of work, and sometimes in life, I have found its best to just live in the moment, enjoy the adventure and then go back to record it all.

The past two weeks have been filled with work, of course, but also an incredible amount of fun. I am continually amazed at how different and complex, people around the world can be, but when it comes down to it, we really are all alike. In every country that I work in, as a part of the Global Ventures team, we always work with local contacts; these can be local Pastors, church members or full time missionaries.

Not Just a Ministry, but a Movement.

This time we have been partnering with not just a single church, a system of churches (both in the main city and throughout villages), church plants, cell groups and local bible studies – all of which are working together to truly impact the Kingdom of Cambodia. New Life Fellowship Cambodia, is an amazing church planting movement that not only has churches in operation, but also multiple areas of outreach ministry. One of their programs helps impoverished or orphaned children out in the villages, another program works specifically to provide a better future for children and families living in the slums or dump grounds. They have leadership programs to train up Cambodians as well as their own internship program. The list of things they are doing for this nation could literally go on and on.

I am truly in awe at all that they are doing to help change a nation. And what is truly powerful is that it is not just several westerners running everything. Cambodians are paving the way and more are being continually prepared to transform their own nation with the power of the Gospel.

For more info or to help partner financially with New Life Fellowship Cambodia (NLFC), you can check out their website at http://www.cambodiaoutreach.org/.

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From left to right: Veasna, me, Bailey and Pastor Somnang – read on to find out more about these guys. 

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Soytry (above in yellow plaid) along with Bailey, me, some more local volunteers, and some super excited school kids. Read on to hear about Soytry.

Mighty Men and Hearts of Gold.

There have been three amazing men of God, that Bailey and I have had the privilege of working with consistently during our time here; Pastor Samnang, Vaesna and Soytry all of whom, are staff in the NLFC Missions Department. We’ve been so blessed to get to work with many other local pastors, but these three men have been the driving force in helping Bailey and I accomplish all that we need to do, to prepare for the incoming Global Ventures’ (GV) missions team.

Pastor Samnang has been the “make it happen” guy, literally an unseen force in the darkness. He hasn’t been out with us each day in the villages, but he has still continually worked on our behalf and is constantly making sure that we have everything we need.

Vaesna and Soytry though, these two, are a completely different story. They both work just as hard as Pastor Samnang, but they have been faithfully by our side each and every day as we would go and meet with directors of schools out in the villages to arrange for GV team to come and present the Gospel to the students. Vaesna and Soytry began as our mouthpiece to the world, our translators, converting our simple English into eloquent Khmer. They not only served as our translators, but also our guides. And somewhere along the way, as hearts pursuing the same purpose usually do, we became friends. And not just “Facebook friends” but actual tangible friends, the kind you look forward to seeing each day and enjoying being with. Their hearts truly beat to help the people of their nation – just as Bailey and my heart beat as well.

Working with these guys has not only been inspiring, but undeniably fun. Every day, Bailey and I laugh – sometimes until we can’t breathe. Humor is something that has deepened our friendships. Vaesna and Soytry have us singing songs and as a result, we have ended up with a theme song (Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah”) – that one tune we find ourselves unable to stop singing. And we’ve had times of signing worship songs that are incredible. My favorite moments by far, have to be the random opportunities they will take to quote Joel Osteen’s opening monologue to his church members. “This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I can do what it says I can do…”

Vaesna is a gentle soul. He found out that we like coffee and not only does he make sure we get coffee every time he sees us, but he always pays for it. And when we have tried to discourage him from feeling like he needs to do so, he all but argues for the right to buy us coffee. He is kind and generous. The thing I love most about him is the love he shows for his wife and daughter. He talks about them often and is quick to share pictures. And he absolutely adores his little girl. She is undeniably beautiful with the cutest little black curls you’ve ever seen.

Soytry is amazing. Much more dramatic than Vaesna but every bit as kind hearted. He has definitely kept Bailey and I on our toes. He is passionate about helping people and seems to really love children. A godly man, training to one day lead a church of his own in the village he has grown up in. We talked about him working with the church in the city one day, but he said he’d rather be out in the village among the people.

These two guys really have been inspiring. And I hate that our time together is quickly coming to an end, but I feel in my heart that what may be a temporary end to a project is not the end of our work together.

Ribbit Ribbit…

There are so many moments all four of us have shared and I wish I could share them all with you but there are just too many. I will share one of my favorites though.

So, they really enjoy eating frog. I however have not ever eaten frog and frankly, I don’t plan on ever consuming Kermit. They have teased me and offered frog quite a few times. You literally buy them 3 on a stick off of a roadside vendor’s cart. My response has been, a polite refusal. “Thank you so much, but I’m not really a big frog eater.” To which they respond, “No problem, frogs aren’t big. They’re just little things.” Okay, it may not be as funny to you, but I have laughed uncontrollably each time we talk about it.

I hope you have enjoyed getting to see a bit more into the lives of my new friends here in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Stay tuned. I have more to share in the next few days and soon the main Global Ventures team will arrive for 5 days of street ministry and mass crusades. We are bound to see thousands receive Jesus and miracles will happen as well – I can’t wait to share everything with you!

Jamie Lynn Sivak Signature

© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Exploration and Chance Encounters // Stories From Abroad: CAMBODIA ’17 – Part 1

Back Again.

After nearly 30 hours of travel, my friend, Bailey and I, the designated Set-Up team for Global Ventures, finally found ourselves in Cambodia. As we left the airport, the familiar face of our translator and local contact, Samnang, was waiting for us. The last time I found myself in this nation was at least 6 year ago, and while I remembered Samnang’s face, to be completely honest, I didn’t really remember much more than that. I knew though, that he had been a vital piece of the ministry leadership team that we had worked with in the past. Even though my memory failed me, I knew that face and knew that if he was helping out the team this year, that we were in good hands.

After checking into our hotel, we quickly set out to the business at hand, and made plans for the work that needed to be accomplished over the next two weeks. After which, we said our goodbyes and Samnang released us for the following day, as it was a national holiday. Bailey and I, completely exhausted from the travel, returned to the hotel and found ourselves easily succumbing to sleep, as jet lag consumed us. And with that, the first official 3 days of our trip and come and gone.

Exploration and Chance Encounters.

After hours upon hours of sleep, catching up on what we had lost, Bailey and I, woke ready to take on the city of Phnom Penh, and see what trouble we could get into. Okay, I’m totally kidding, as a responsible representative of a missions organization, I made sure to keep Bailey and I, in safe areas and we totally avoided all signs of trouble. Seriously.

Our exploration led us to the nearby Russian Market, so called because years ago, there was a huge influx of Russian ex-pats in the area who frequented this market. Here you could find all the necessities, name brand clothing and shoes, probably all knock-offs, but a nice assortment nonetheless. Then you had electronics, power tools and food of all types. After wandering through quite a bit of this market, we found ourselves deep within where the souvenirs were located. To be quite honest, I had no expectations for today, just wanted to see if I could locate some inexpensive pearls. I certainly didn’t expect to meet, Sophya.

As we neared her booth, as many of the venders do, Sophya welcomed us and encouraged us to take a look at all of the beautiful things she had for sale. As she continued to talk to us, Sophya asked questions about where we were from. She spoke nearly perfect English and so conversing with her came easily. As Sophya opened up to us, Bailey and I began to share with her why we were really n Cambodia. She said that she too, like us, desired to do good and to help those less fortunate than her, to make a difference in the lives of her people and her country. I could see she was open and I began to explain the reason that we desired to help the people of Cambodia because Jesus had done so much for us. We shared the simple Gospel story with her and she listened intently. Sophya claimed that she had heard of Jesus and believed in Him. She said that she prayed to Him too. And with that, I took things further to share about the miracles we had seen around the world, I told of deaf ears opening, blind people seeing for the first time, and a child being completely set free from AIDS. As I did, you could see her eyes light up as though the news we shared was amazing – and it was.

Now this is the part of the story, where I would like to tell you that Sophya immediately gave her life to Jesus with a simple prayer, or that she had some dreaded disease that we prayed for and was instantly healed, but that’s not what happened. It would make for more of a “news worthy” story, but that’s just not how things went down.

Sophya appeared to be truly touched by what we had shared, and although I believe she is in the place of believing in Jesus, but not letting go of the religion she was raised on, God still used us to speak to her. We asked if we could pray for her, for anything specific, and she really just wanted prayer more or less to be successful in all she did and to be able to continue to help people. And so we prayed.

Now the reality is, we were American tourists in a tourist city, in a market frequented by… Yep, you guessed it, tourists. Tourists are known to be people who have ample amounts of money to throw away on souvenirs. And yes, there is at least a 50% chance that this sweet girl had crafted her sales pitch over the years and was good at reading and meeting people exactly where they are to “make the sale”, I believe this encounter was more than that. I don’t fully understand why we encountered this girl, but I know in my heart that God was at the center of it – and where He is, powerful things happen.

Sophya

(Bailey, Sophya and me.)

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© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

All Good Things Must Come To An End // Stories From Abroad: PARAGUAY ’17 – Part 4

The days that followed were everything I expected and nothing at all like I expected, if that’s even possible. I knew, having served with Peter before, that we were certain to get the Gospel in the hearts of those who truly needed it. And so we did.

The next four days led our small team into a different village each day. The villages brought new faces and more hearts unknowingly waiting for the Gospel we carried. I was so challenged by each new face and the need represented. It was inspiring to watch Peter, Pastor Sergio and Pastor Cipriano, as they worked among the Guarani. You could tell that their hearts were divinely connected, in a passionate pursuit of these people, a passion that could only come from the very heart of God.

(Here Peter is passionately proclaiming the Gospel in the tribal language Guarani and then he and Pastor Sergio lead another one of the Guarani communities in the prayer of salvation.)

Her Name Was Diana…

On my 2nd day of ministry, I found myself in a new village with more precious people. This day was different; more challenging. I can’t really give a good reason why. Perhaps, it was the heat that seemed to engulf us as the sun beat down. The refreshing breeze we had enjoyed on day one, was nowhere to be found and the trees providing shade were very few. The little shade we did have was a valuable commodity – one that we gave to the people who had gathered with us.

As the meal for everyone was prepared, myself, Emily and Joanna spent time connecting with the people and loving on the children. When along came a dirty faced, messy haired, little girl with one of the sweetest smiles you can imagine… She was all over the place, chasing other kids and just doing what kids do – she was completely rambunctious to say the least.

At first she smiled but kept a safe distance. Before long, she made her way closer and closer, and the connection began. 

She smiled and I smiled and it was all down hill from there or uphill, depending on how you look at it. We didn’t speak the same language so communication was very difficult, but as Diana literally began to climb my leg like a tree trunk, I got the hint that this little girl wanted to be held. So I held her. Off and on all afternoon, Diana was either at my side or in my arms.

What did she want? Simply to be held. To be loved. To feel special.

I love how the Gospel gives to each of us what we truly need – LOVE. Diana was a little girl who needed love. I got to be part of not only showing her love as a compassionate human being, but we got to give her the true love of Jesus Christ.

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(Me and Diana – sharing some smiles for the camera.)

Three Times The Gospel: English, Spanish & Guarani…

 On our fourth ministry day, we found ourselves ministering to a community near a local school. It was at this site, that I was given the honor of preaching the Gospel. The only problem, I don’t speak Guarani – and my Spanish is definitely not what it should be… God had a way around that – Praise Him! As I stood before the crowd that had gathered, I began to share the simple story of Jesus. As I shared in English, Peter would then translate my words into Spanish, from there, Pastor Cipriano would translate Peter’s words into Guarani. It seems a bit extreme, but it worked! The people were captivated in hearing the English language and even though they couldn’t understand, they wanted to know what was being said, so they stayed and they listened. Through Peter and Pastor Cipriano’s translations, the people not only heard, but also were able to receive.

Not only did we pray for people to receive salvation, but we prayed for healing as well. One of the people that came up was a woman who had suffered with a terrible headache. She had received Jesus into her heart and was completely healed of her headache! We later came to find out that this woman was the village Chief’s wife. What a powerful testimony she now has among her people!

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(Here we are sharing the Gospel in English, Spanish and Guarani.)

Each day gave our team the opportunity to make new friends – and get a few more selfies.

All Good Things Must Come To An End…

And just like every time before it, I came into this nation, blinked, and the ministry time was over. Fortunately for me, I had a little time left to spend with the Ratcliffe family.

During the little time I had left, I was so indescribably blessed to get to simply be with this amazing family. We laughed and cried. We talked, and talked, and talked some more. We shared our hearts; our hopes, our dream, the trials and challenges and together we looked forward to the journey ahead, as we all were, and are, continuing to simply walk out the plan of God.

Evi, the girls and little Joseph, took me hiking up the mini-mountain off the back of their land. We trudged through the forest and made our way to a clearing at the top. Here they shared with me of times they had come there as a family to simply be with Jesus. They sang praises that day and I got to share in another precious time with some amazing people.

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(Here’s little Joseph as we were singing to Jesus. Isn’t he the cutest thing ever?!)

I even got to spend time with the Ratcliffe girls, simply having fun. They loved to play games and be read to. And I loved getting to fill the “big sister” role to such amazing little angels.

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(Peter and Evi sure know how to make adorable children.)

After an incredible time in Paraguay, I found myself saying goodbye too soon. Hugs were given, cheeks were kissed, and promises were made that this would not be the last time I would step foot in Paraguay.

From there, Peter, Joy and Joseph drove me back to the airport. We talked and laughed along the way, soaking up the precious moments that remained. Then came the final farewell. Peter had dropped me off to go start the check in process, (Joy came with me and Joseph went with Peter to park the car). I was standing in line as Joseph came running up to Joy and me. “Not that one!” He said, pointing to the black ball cap I had worn off and one throughout the whole trip. “This one!” he said, handing me a bright pink Paraguay cap. He was so adorable, how could I possibly resist?! I immediately removed the black cap and replaced it with the priceless gift little Joseph had brought me. It was a little gesture from such a little guy, but he totally stole my heart… and all it took was a new hat.

Who knew? My love could totally be bought…lol! What can I say… gifts have always been my love language. 😉

pink-hat-joseph   (Joseph and my beloved pink cap.)

**Funny side story, I placed this cap in my backpack while going through security. Afterwards, I headed to the restroom and opened up my backpack to get out my cap and put it back on. And I couldn’t find it. I searched and searched and immediately started freaking out on the inside. I retraced my steps and did my best to communicate in broken Spanish that I may have left my cap at security – no luck. At this point I was crushed but there really wasn’t much more I could do. So I went to my gate, sat down and opened my backpack one more time… too my surprise, there it was! I almost cried – seriously. **

Although we avoided it as long as possible, the time came for final hugs. And with that I was headed home. So much had happened during this trip – way more than time will afford me to blog about and to be honest, a lot of it was things that God was speaking to me directly, things I’m not ready to share with everyone… yet.

I will return to Paraguay. It may not happen as quickly as I would like, but mark my words, my adventures with the Ratcliffes have only just begun!

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With that, I’ll leave you with this beautiful sunset taken before I left Paraguay.

 

IF YOU MISSED PART 1 – THE ARRIVAL, PART 2 – THE JOURNEY CONTINUES, OR PART 3 – WHERE FOOD & FORGIVENESS COLLIDE, BE SURE TO CHECK THEM OUT!

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© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

May’s “Check It Out” List

In honor of my upcoming departure for eight weeks in Asia, this month’s “Check It Out” list is devoted to my travel must haves. Each year I leave my home and travel abroad 4-5 times. With each trip, my packing changes to meet the climate and needs of the overall agenda while I’m away. There are a few items though, that are a part of my packing requirements – the “must haves” for all trips.

screen-shot-2017-05-06-at-5-32-08-pm.png1.) My Travel Bible & Journal

I try to never go overseas without my Bible. It’s the most important thing I own and has gotten me through some really tough times. I also have great ambitions of recording all my adventures in a written format and with such, I always bring a journal. I rarely write in it, but I always bring it. Don’t judge, I’m trying. One day I’ll find the magical journaling discipline.

Screen shot 2017-05-06 at 5.24.14 PM2. GoPro

This is the most recent addition to my adventures, and although it’s only been on one trip with me, I can’t imagine not having it. So tiny and absolutely perfect for capturing video footage and photos.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.07.31 PM3. Baby Food

Yes, you heard me right. Baby food. I don’t bring a lot, but squeezable pouches are perfect for travel and  when I find myself in the middle of a jungle and need some easy nourishment, these are my go to. I have tasted many brands and all sorts of flavors, these two are some of my favs – Earth’s Best Organic and Beech Nut. And generally my go to flavors have mango or sweet potato.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.09.15 PM4. Beef Jerky & Slim Jims

Usually I just plan to eat whatever is provided, but somehow over the course of my 14 years of missions travels, these two items have not only become my comfort foods, but also a necessity. Plus sharing these items is a great way to make friends – trust me.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.08.23 PM 5. Kleenex

Just trust me on this. Every once in a while you may have to pee in a Cambodian field or deep in the Amazon Jungle. And I can speak from experience – these two particular locations do not have toilet paper readily available. So you better be prepared with your own. Worst case scenario, I suppose you could find some leaves, but I do not recommend this method.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.09.04 PM6. Sleeping Aids

I have often been asked, how did you manage to sleep the entire 15 hour flight? Every once and a while, it’s honestly from sheer exhaustion. The majority of the time, it’s because I never leave home with out some sleeping aids. These are awesome to help get you re-adjusted to time when suffering from jet-lag.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.07.56 PM7. Bug Repellent

Aside from my cell phone, this is the one item I literally can’t survive without on a missions trip. I was blessed (or cursed) with blood that can draw mosquitoes from miles away. I swear, at times I can be standing in a group of 50+ people and be the only one eaten alive by mosquitoes. I guess you could say that I’m really “sweet”… Get it? Sweet. Cause my blood tastes so good to mosquitoes. Okay, laugh. It was cute.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.08.09 PM8. Dry Shampoo

This right here, NOT YOUR MOTHER’S CLEAN FREAK REFRESHING DRY SHAMPOO. This has literally been a game changer and saved me more times than I can count. Does it actually clean your hair? No, but it does remove (or canvas) the natural oils that make hair appear “greasy” and give it a refreshed look. Of course, given the option, I’m a “wash your hair every day” kind of girl. Sometimes schedules and location don’t allow for that. So this comes in real handy. I love this stuff. Seriously.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.07.45 PM9. My Trusty Ball Cap

This baby and I have quite a history together. When I saw this ball cap sitting unworn on a shelf in my baby brother’s bedroom, it was like love at first sight. He willingly gave it to me and we have since travelled the word together. This cap has protected me from the elements, served to block out light as I slept on planes and completed disguised my bad hair on those days when the dry shampoo just wasn’t enough.

Screen shot 2017-05-05 at 9.08.42 PM10. Pocket Knife

Last but certainly not least, is my amazing pocket knife. This baby has cut through fresh fruit, boxes and even a water bottle (that, was an accident). I’ve sanitized it and used it for a make shift surgical tool on some pretty nasty bug bites… Please note I am not a trained or licensed medical professional and do not recommend you take out your own pocket knife to start cutting open bug bites – do not try this at home. Regardless, it has served me in more ways than one and goes every where with me.

***Remember this item cannot go in a carry-on. be sure to pack in a piece of checked luggage so yours isn’t confiscated. It would be terrible to arrive overseas without it.

While my suitcase normally has several other items, like clothing, for instance, these are a few of my most essential items for overseas missions work.

What are your “go to”, “don’t leave home with out it”, “must have” travel items? Comment below and let me know. Who knows, maybe some of your ideas will change the course of history and my packing list. 😉

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© 2017 JAMIE LYNN SIVAK ALL RIGHTS RESERVED