Monday, August 15, 2011

Asia Holds My Heart

Hello everyone!!!! I can't believe that I've been back already for a week! It seems like just yesterday I was waking up every morning in China. =) As this week has gone by I've been able to think about everything that happened in and through me this summer in China. So this post is a short summary of my 2 months in China. =) I have lots of pictures on facebook!!! Be sure to check them out. If you are unable to get on facebook, let me know and I'll send pictures to you. =) This probably won't be the last post! So check back periodically to see new blog posts! I start IHOPU on Thursday so my time won't be as readily available to blog, but I will hopefully be able to find time to continue to write about the journey God is taking me on!

Crazy things I've eaten: yak, huge pieces of pork fat (uncooked), yak butter, duck neck, yak butter tea with raw egg (Gesang says it makes you stronger =)-and she said we had to drink all of our tea, so I ended up drinking two huge bowls of yak butter tea with raw egg!), chicken feet (I brought some back if anyone wants to try some!), probably dog (though consciously I never chose to eat it), yellow flower, lotus root (it's really yummy!), real Chinese dumplings (they were so delicious-but I got sick every time), and much more!

One of the many things I was able to be a part of was early morning prayer. Most weekdays, except the rainy ones, Amanda, Joyce, Sunshine, and I would all meet in the local park/square about 2 blocks from the Winkles house to pray. We would pray for our needs, needs of our family, pray for people in the park, and for China as a nation. It was so great to be able to contend with others for the restoration of China back to the One True God! =) I was also able to participate in Jason's class. It was here that many revelations in the Bible became clear to me and I was able to understand them. My heart was stretched and grew in many ways! I learned to let God have complete control over every aspect of my life and not worry about anything. I evaluated my own heart to see if there was fruit coming off my life, and if not, then how to produce fruit. I learned to see people as the Image of God. I learned that our lives as Christians should be ministering to others no matter what we are doing. When God tells you to do something that doesn't agree with your culture, what are you going to do? I learned that forgiveness is not always easy, but is always necessary. What is my life going to look like in Heaven?-I want that same life now. I learned that we are to pray continually. I learned that our whole life purpose is to love. In Jason's class, I learned so many important, vital Biblical truths that needed to be applied to my life. The fun thing was, after class we got to go out into the city and use them!

We would go to the local Mosque often to eat lunch and pray for them. It was so much fun to see them changing right before our eyes as we just befriended them and loved on them for Jesus. =) I got to encourage and spend time with local Chinese believers. Many of my closest friends came from this group! We were able to sit in a Tibetan kitchen, in a remote village (they only had horses and tractors-everything they had there came over the 12,000 ft mountain) for 3 days and share the love of God with the Tibetan people! It was so much fun to live in their house and just spend time with them......and teach them English and tell them they are made in the Image of God. I thank God for allowing me to meet Adin, his wife Gesang, Gesang's brother, ShuShu (Gesang's uncle), and NaiNai (her grandmother)! =) The Tibetans continue to climb the 12,000 foot mountain until they are 80yrs old! I also learned how to write my name in Tibetan and Chinese. =)

One of my favorite memories and time of my entire life happened when we went up to Tibet.We hiked down to the river that comes from the melting glaciers on the 24,000 ft mountains. The water was so powerful and cold! It was absolutely incredible. We hiked on some of the big rocks in the middle of the river. Jason had thought to bring my ipod speakers so after we had a snack we pulled out the speakers. And in the middle of the Himalayan mountains, in the midst of the beautiful glacier 24,000 ft mountains, in the quiet of an un-reached village, with the cold mist from the river splashing on us, we worshiped the Creator of the Universe. We worshiped the true God who made the mountains we were sitting in, the creator of the roaring river below us, the creator of the Tibetan people we were among, and the God that knew this little village in the middle of no where existed......we worshiped that God! =) It was my favorite moment of my entire life!

I was able to assistant teach and teach English class at EZTalk to preteens. One morning I went to Mari's house to pray for her and her students as they were headed to Hungary on a mission trip. They are piano players and were going to use their talent to worship the Lord and begin conversations with others. I was also able to hangout with Jason's students and love on them. They are so awesome and full of incredible passion and zeal for pursuing the things of the Lord. One of the really cool things was that I got to see a girl get saved! Amanda had been meeting with her over the summer and the day before Amanda left, this precious girl accepted Jesus! This was such an incredible blessing to Amanda! I was able to continue to disciple her, spend time with her, and encourage her the rest of the two weeks I was there. Felicia and a Chinese believer are continuing the work that Amanda has begun. =) On Tuesday evenings, we would meet with a couple other families to pray. We would pray for each other as well as China and the local community of Kunming. It was such a refreshing time to be able to come together with one heart and cry out to God for his will to be done on the earth.

I was also able to do worship dance! Hannah Grace and I had a blast worshiping God with our bodies in movement! I miss being able to dance with her! I lead a couple of worship dance workshops and was able to worship dance in the den during family worship times with Hannah Grace. We also got to dance in the park/square three times. It was incredible to realize as I was dancing that I was in the middle of a park with thousands of Chinese around me, worshiping the creator of the universe, dancing to Christian music blaring in the heart of the city! God is so cool!!!

While I was in China, I gained two parents, an older sister, a younger sister, and two younger brothers. I absolutely loved living with the Winkles and Amanda and wouldn't trade that time for anything in the world! They were such an incredible blessing and encouragement to me. Through them, I was brought closer to the heart of God and learned so much about who I am and who God is. I love you guys so much!

As you can tell from the title of this blog post and from what I've been able to share, Asia truly does hold my heart! I love the people, the culture, the language, the atmosphere, the land.....everything! One of the things that I found out while in China is that I'm called to be a missionary full time to Asia. I've known since I was 12 that I was going to be a full time missionary but didn't know where exactly. But now I know, Asia! =) This excites me beyond anything you can imagine! I'm still not completely sure of which country or which city, but the area of the world has been identified. =)

I can't wait to see how God continues to use me and teach me from things I experienced this summer. I know that whatever his plans for me, they are good and the better than any plans I could ever create! Jesus is teaching me how to follow in His footsteps. It is an exciting and beautiful journey! I can't wait to see where His footsteps lead! Thank you so much for helping me along this journey. Your prayers and financial blessings were greatly appreciated! I am praying Jesus will bless you for following His voice and blessing me above and beyond as well! THANK YOU!!!!!

Ashton =)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Last Post from China

Hey everyone! Wow, I can't believe today is my last day here! It feels like I just got here yesterday. God has done some amazing things this summer and I am so blessed to have been able to witness it! =) This one will be kinda short so that I can spend the day with the Winkles. I will definitely write more once I'm back in KC.

Some things to pray for:
-That all my flight stuff goes smoothly and without hassles
-That all my suitcases get home safely and nothing is stolen or lost
-That my suitcases weigh the correct amount or less :)
-That the transition/reverse culture shock would be easy
-That my body clock would adjust well
-That my mind would remember the good memories and how God moved this summer, and not dwell on the sadness of leaving
-That God would continue to work through me and continue to show me things that he started in my heart this summer

As I'm leaving there is a song in my head and's called To The One by Harvest Bashta.

To the One who sits upon the throne
Be blessing and honor and glory and power forever

Jesus you're the sign
Jesus you're the wonder
Jesus you're the miracle
There is no other

Jesus is worthy of everything we are! Whether we are at home, or across the sea, he is worthy!!!! =) Dwell on His goodness today! Jesus is enough, and God is sovereign! =)

Next post I'll be in America! ;)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Touching the Heart of God

This week has been incredible! I've been able to relax and meet God in many different ways! We have also gotten to dance a lot. =) We got to dance down in the park on Sunday night. It was so much fun! After we finished dancing they asked us if we could do it again. =) Before we had gone to the park, we had a worship time and HG and I were able to do some worship dance there too. Later, Hannah Grace and I also went to dance in the park in the afternoon on Thursday. It was pretty hot so we didn't stay too long, but we were able to bring God glory in the short 30 min we were there. We have done worship dance sessions inside and outside as well.

I was thinking about worship dance and it's spiritual significance. There are many ways to touch the heart of God. Everyone has a different gifting that they can use to touch his heart and lead others into touching the heart of God. One of those gifts is dance, more specifically worship dance. Here in China, the people love to dance. Especially the different minority groups. Dance is the heartbeat of their culture. Some dances are made to worship other gods and some are just for pleasure because dancing is fun! I was thinking about how when they dance to worship gods, they are bringing in spirits....evil spirits. So what better way to make Jesus known that to worship him through dance and bring in His Spirit! =) Dance is something that goes beyond language barriers, beyond stubborn hearts, beyond the unwillingness to listen to the gospel and strikes the person deep in their heart without them even knowing what has happened. Through music and movement we are able to usher in a passageway for the Holy Spirit to encounter their heart. And its fun and touches our heart in the meantime! =)

I love dancing because I'm able to express my heart in a way words can't. I'm able to connect with God on a deeper level than anything I've experienced. I encourage you to find that place. Whether it's in a room by yourself with worship music on, whether it's worshiping with lots of other people, whether it's singing as loud as you can, whether it's journaling/drawing/painting, whether it's dancing, or whatever it may is crucial that you find that place where you experience the touching the heart of God for you, the people around you, and the nations. And it's fun! I always learn something about who I am, who God is, and what is on God's heart when I encounter Him. The only way to survive living in this present age is to daily meet with God! Seek Him and His face. I can promise you that you won't be disappointed!

Fun story: Hannah Grace told me the other day that she remembers me worship dancing waaayyy back at RiverStone during a Facedown service. She said since then, she wanted to be a dancer and worship Jesus through dance. When you encounter and meet with God, it impacts others!!!

Update! Merav and Nitzan, one of the Israeli couples, are coming on Tuesday! We are excited to get to meet with them! =)


Dancing in the square on Sunday night

Friday, July 22, 2011


Our trip to Tibet was awesome! =) God is sooooo cool! The first couple of days the whole family went up to Dali for a 3 day, mini-vacation. =) Then Jason, Amanda, and I set out for the border with no set plans and not even knowing where we were going to sleep each night. It was lots of fun!

We first drove up to Shangrila (10hr bus ride) and spent the night there. We were able to skype Felicia one last time for the week and talk about our expectations for the week. The next day we drove to De Qin (11hr bus ride-the road was really rough; dirt road with large pot holes!) We stayed in Felasi and met 4 Israeli non-believing Jews who we got to minister to and encourage all week. (Matan & Mor, and Nitzan & Merav) They were going hiking over Yubeng Mountain to the remote village of Yubeng, so we decided to join them. It was the hardest hike of my entire life!!!! It took us 3 1/2 hrs of vertical climbing at 12,000ft to get to the top. And 1 1/2 hrs to go down. The view was incredible! Especially because we were staring at the 24,000ft mountains covered in glaciers that border Tibet.

Since the village is just a place to stay for tourists who go to see the natural wonders (10hr hike to the ice lake and 5hr hike to the waterfall), not many people get to know the Tibetans who live in Yubeng. But that was what we came for! So we spent three days in Yubeng hanging out with Ading and his wife Gesang (23yrs and 22yrs old), ShuShu (Gesang's uncle), NaiNai (grandmother), and Gesang's little brother. We mostly spent time in their kitchen; encouraging them, loving on them, praying for them, and teaching them English. We told Asing and Gesang that most people came to see the natural land marks because they thought that they were beautiful, but we came to see the people. We think that they are beautiful because they are made in the image of God. I'm not sure they understood completely, but God will continue the work we were able to help start in their hearts. They were very sad when we had to leave and wanted us to stay forever. =) One morning we even got to eat breakfast with them because we wanted to honor them. We had Tibetan bread, pickled spicy veggies, chunks of pig fat, and yak butter tea. It was quite an experience!

We hiked down to the river one afternoon and had a worship time on a huge rock in the middle of the roaring river. It was the best moment of my entire life! Who all can say they got to worship the creator of the universe on a rock in the middle of a powerful river in the middle of the Himalayas? =) Amanda got to talk to Merav a lot and was able to talk about spiritual things with her. It was a great time of encouragement for Merav as well as planting seeds in her heart! Amanda and Jason also got to play basketball with Tibetans. And I got to hold a little Tibetan 5mo old baby! He was so precious! A grandmother even was cracking up as she passed us one afternoon, pointing to our legs, expanding her hands, grinning from ear to ear, saying something in Chinese over and over again. Jason busted out laughing......the lady was saying, "You're so fat! You're so fat!" was the first time being called fat was a good thing!

One thing that really stuck out to me was the temples and shrines to the different gods as well as Buddha. The temples and shrines are covered in valuable objects, glittering gold, fabrics of every color, artifacts, wealth, beauty, gems, precious objects, beautiful architecture, colors, lights, smells, sounds, food, and utter silence and reverence from the people who come to worship. I'm still sobered by the fact that humans have that much respect for a god made of wood and metal, and yet we don't outwardly show any respect for the I AM. They decorate the inside so ornately and yet we are so easily able to disrespect the Creator of the Universe, the creator of the mountains I was surrounded by 14,000ft above sea level. Why do we as humans respect a demon and disrespect the Eternal One? Why do we offer our best to an idol, and yet half-way give ourselves to God? What happened to our respect and honor? What happened to our devotion? Why have we downplayed Jesus so much? Are we any different humans than these? And the true God is so much more worthy of all our honor, respect, and worship!!!! We should be even more radical than these! God help us! Have mercy on us and cause us to be a shining lamp to people all over China and all over the world!


 Buddhist prayer wheel

 Buddhist temple

Check out more pictures from our trip on my facebook page! If you don't have a facebook, email me and I'll send you a link. Blessings!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I'm back from my trip to Dali, Shangrila, DeQuin, Feilasi, and Yubeng. I hopefully will blog soon. Check out the pictures posted on facebook!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bearing Fruit

Fruit.......what do you think of when you hear that word? Physical fruit or spiritual fruit? This morning in our devotion time in class we read out of John 15:5-8. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

Different types of fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, meekness, faithfulness, and self control. Some of them come more easily than others. But we are supposed to live by the Spirit and not gratify the desires of sinful nature. So bearing fruit is hard, and not much fun 'fleshly-speaking'. But it is sooooo important to God! Do we as Christians think, "Oh, I've mastered this fruit (ex. joy), so I don't really have to work on the others (ex.meekness, self control, kindness)."? I know there have been times when I have definitely thought that. But God wants us to master all of them and live according to His Spirit!

One thing really hit me; "if a man remains in me and I in him, he WILL bear much fruit"......not he MIGHT bear much fruit. The promise is we WILL!!!! =) So.......what does it mean if we don't have fruit? The way I see it is if we don't have fruit, then we aren't remaining in God. Ouch! Plus, fruit is constantly growing, it is not stagnant. So if your fruit is not growing, then it is dying. Jesus says that if you don't remain in him and are not bearing fruit, then you will wither and be thrown away and burned. Wow. This is serious stuff! We must strive after bearing the fruit of the Spirit and be a people who live according to the Spirit!

So my question to you as well to my self: What does your fruit look like??? Is is growing or has it become stagnant? What are you going to do about it?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Week 1

Wow, I can't believe it's been an entire week since I arrived in Kunming! God has done some amazing things! My heart has grown, been stretched, matured, and had a deeper faith level since being here. And my summer has only just begun!

Most mornings, when it is not down-pouring =), Amanda and I meet with Sunshine and Joyce in the local park to pray. It is so much fun to encounter God together and encourage one another! During the week days, Jason teaches a class to about 7 Chinese believers. In this class I have learned so much and grown immensely! One thing that has hit me in these teachings is that everyone is an image bearer of God. The Muslim, the terrorist, the white janitor, the island boy, the African mom, the Irish street vendor, the American business guy, the busboy, the South American girl stuck in human trafficking----they are all shangdi di xin xian (image bearers of God)! It is so cool to see people in this way. You end up viewing them as someone who is very special to God, and treat them as such. Another thing I learned is that we should not worry about our future but let God uphold everything in His hands because He truly has our best interest at heart. Another one was that we should pray all the time. That is crazy to think about! I got to lead the devotion for one of the classes this week and I did it on prayer.

We also got to go to a Mosque and pray for the people there. God has really burdened Amanda's and my heart for the Hui people and the minority groups in China. They are so open to the gospel and only need someone to just share with them! God, send me! I was also moved by the scripture, "Seek first the kingdom of God and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." So if I follow God's will and His kingdom, then everything God wants to give me He will! I got to help teach English to some children at the EZ Talk school with Jason and Amanda. There was a little girl who was only 4 and could read and write English!!! That was amazing!

I've also been able to sit down and talk with both Jason and Felicia. It is so good to hear what is on their hearts and learn about the people around me! God has used, and is using them in amazing ways! On Saturday and Sunday I was sick, but I am feeling much better. I had dumplings (joutsa), the thing that I think made me sick the first time, again last night and it made me feel bad again. It is sooooo yummy though. I guess no more joutsa for me. =( Please pray my tummy keeps adjusting. Culture shock wise.....I'm doing really well. I am learning lots of Chinese and lots about Chinese culture. I am learning so much! And my jet lag is all gone now. =)

Some fun things I've gotten to do:
-I got to eat at the Grass was yummy!
-I have eaten lots of yummy Chinese food!
-I went to is kinda like USA Walmarts....but not really
-I've been to down-town Kunming and got to see many western stores and restaurants plus really cool old Chinese gates
-Go shopping at the Bird & Flower market---they sell squirrels for pets!
-Go to the Green Lake park---it was so beautiful!
-Have coffee and encourage a teenager of some missionaries here
-Meet lots of fellow Chinese believers and encourage them
-Eat arqui (a middle eastern breakfast burrito)
-Spend time with Joyce (one of my good Chinese friends here)

You can check out pictures on my facebook page! Thank you for praying!

One of three old gates of the city in downtown Kunming.