Fire and Water!

Tomorrow morning at 3am, myself with 10 other Mercy Shippers, will be leaving to go and serve down in the Dominican for 17 days.  After 4 weeks of intense classroom training down in Tyler TX i am excited for this change of pace but moreover to go and serve and work with those in the DR.  Please be praying for us all.  This past week was the most physically intense week that we've had thus far.  We did both fire fighter training and basic sea survival training.  I am proud to say that the entire "Gates family" were able to finish both courses and everyone came out in one piece except for a broken toe. Here are some pics from this past week which I think you will all appreciate!

Getting fitted for our Self Contained Breathing Apparatus. (Left: Julle and me, Right: some of the fam)

This is my partner Maaike and myself during our fire fighter drills.  We went into a metal box with a Class A fire that reached temperatures as high as 800 degrees while saving Buck (our 165lb victom).  Maaike and I were quite the team.  

At the end of a long and HOT day (TX heat reached up to about 105), I definitely respect and am grateful for the many fire fighters who do this stuff for a living.  I'll stick with nursing for now!

Left: Elliot and I being really tough.
Right: The whole Gates family with the Lindale Fire Dept.

The following day we did sea survival according to Coast Guard regulations.  It was definitely tiring but so fun!  Drills, immersion suits, flipping life rafts, etc.

 Left: Cici's Pizza... all you can eat Go figure!
Mid: Immersion suits
Right: Life rafts

I know this is just a glimpse of the many things that have been going on but thought that pictures said a lot more than words for this past week.  Anyway I will be gone in the DR until August 6th but email me and/or I'll update once I am back in the states.
~tata for now~


i will miss...

I won't miss my car, my house, or my money

But I will miss those that made life so enjoyable and funny

I will miss getting hugs by my mom and dad

Their constant love, even when I made them mad

 I will miss my sister whose also my best friend

Her love, honesty, and loyalty, no one can contend

  I will miss my dog (I know I'm a loser) and his constant joy 

His high-pitched bark of excitement was no ploy

 I will miss my church and all their encouragement and support

They will be in my thoughts and prayers from port to port

  I will miss all my friends I've made over the years

They’ve made me laugh, cry, and conquer many fears

 Yet even though I will be missing all these things and more

There is something greater that I am living for

  I know there will be someone with me all the time

Jesus is in my heart and through him I will shine

 This truth will keep my eyes ahead

To glorify Him and follow what He said

  To help the poor, the widow, and oppressed

To give hope to those that have less than less

 Lord be my strength when I am weak

Help me to find those that need to be reached

  Lord keep me on my toes for the evil that surrounds

By prayer and petition I won't let him take me down

 Into the unknown I’ll strap on my shoes

To go and tell those who don't know the Good News



After this past weekend with family and friends my heart aches and breaks with the many sad good byes but heals and strengthens as I push toward going to serve God.  Annie and Greg's wedding was unforgettable.  Catching up with family and friends was so comforting.  Hugging and saying good-bye to my new brother in law and expanded family was hard.  But crying and hugging my Mom, Dad, and Annie goodbye was the hardest thing I have had to do in a very VERY long time.  

As I traveled from Boston to Texas over the next 6 hours I pretty much cried the whole time (the poor girl in the seat next to me on the plane probably thought I was suicidal.... opps).  During one break down I prayed and asked God " I love my family and friends. Why am I doing this? Why is this so hard?" I then decided I needed to get my mind off of all this "sad stuff" so I opened up a book.  The first paragraph read:

 " True love for Jesus will always choose Him when faced with an alternative.  If, for example, Jesus calls someone to the mission field, then for Jesus sake he leaves his naive land.  This could involve separation from loved ones.  Love for one's country and family has to take second place."  My All for Him

After reading this I started chuckling to myself at Gods perfect timing of comfort and encouragement.  (At the point the lady sitting next to me is thinking I should be admitted to a psych ward... cry, laugh, cry, laugh) 

Please continue to keep my family and myself in your prayers. Also on July 12th one of my friends and coworkers, Bill, unexpectedly passed away, please be praying for my Ellison 18 family and also his family and friends.  Last prayer request please be praying for my fellow trainees as they go off to say good-bye to their many loved ones.  

Thank you again for all of your prayers and emails they have definitely have been felt and very appreciated!




Spiritual warfare...

After last week God definitely softened my heart to be able to listen for what God was trying to teach me during this training session.  This week we were focusing on Spiritual Warfare.  Now I’ve been a Christian since I was 13 and have been around Christians my entire life but this is the first time that I received teaching solely on just how evil and conniving the devil truly is. 

One of the things I have loved the most while training is the unity between all of the Mercy Shippers.   The devil would love to continue to cause division among Christians but we all come from diverse backrounds and are multi denominational but are unified with the fact that we ALL have the same belief that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.  Hah take that devil!

Another thing that pierced my heart over this past week was the fact that “you can’t argue somebody into believing” (Dean Sherman).  There has been a few times over the past few years where I have ended up arguing with friends (best friends) wanting them to believe in the life that Jesus offers.  Ugh! But did you know that “the devil blinds the minds of unbelievers” 2 Cor. 4:4.  The best thing that I can do is pray, pray, pray.  It is all in God's hands!

            A different point that impacted me was that we fight a spiritual battle, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, everyday 24/7.  Just pick up a paper, turn on your TV, have a conversation with a friend you’re annoyed with, or listen to the many bad thoughts that creep into your head (self doubt, self image, fear, etc.).  The devil is trying to slip in wherever and whenever he can.  “The fight it not against flesh and blood but against the powers of this dark world “(Eph 6:12).   Put on the full armor of God everyday and don’t fight each other but fight the darkness that needs to be fought. 

            Okay so I left this one for the end because this is the point that truly broke my heart.  Most of us westerners have heard about God and Jesus, whether we decided to believe it or not, but what all those that have NEVER heard. Those born into a family and/or culture that is immersed in voo doo and/or witchcraft.  Dean told us that when we arrive in Benin, Africa you can actually FEEL the demonic power roaming around you. We need to pray for and reach for these people.

            This is just some of the many things that have touched me this past week.  I hope that maybe some of this information touched you too.  Know that I you are all in my prayers! Oh yeah and prayers for Annie’s wedding on the 11th and all of the goodbyes after.

(I cheated! sorry Leah)

I’ll end this post with some funny things from this past week to lighten up this email a bit: Cracker Barrel is a hot spot in Texas, Texan 4th of July , no rule raquetball, wallyball to the face (opps sorry MC), scorpions in the dorms, Jamie’s pillow spider