Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review

This year feels like it flew by, but when I think back to January, it feels like a lifetime ago.

It was just that kind of year.

This year in review has become one of my absolute favourite things to do as I look back on the many things God accomplished and the many places I encountered Jesus throughout the year...

My hope was to embrace this year... to rest in His embrace, to embrace Him, to embrace others and to embrace the changing communities around me. It was a beautiful word that I loved having as the centrepiece of my year. (And as for my Bible-reading goal, I did end up reading the entire New Testament + the Psalms this year!)

In January, I sponsored Johnrel, an adorable little boy from the community where oceans rise. It has been a joy getting to know Johnrel and his family this year... I've since learned that he hopes to meet Manny Pacquiao and wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Plus, doesn't he have the most adorable hand-writing (see below right)? Yeah.

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

February was a crazy whirlwind in which I turned adult-age and got accepted into my dream program at the top university in Canada. So, like, no big deal. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

A photo posted by Aimee Esparaz (@mama2greatkids) on

In MarchI went back to Wilmington and discovered the same inspiring group of Jesus-lovers that I encountered back in grade nine, faithfully building the Kingdom-come each and every day.

Getting to serve in Wilmington with these beautiful people was one of the highlights of my year!

March also brought two unforgettably adorable little Mongolian boys into our lives, as they came to Canada for life-saving heart surgery. Our journey with them unfolded with them in incredibly beautiful ways. Both are back home now... but we miss them ever so dearly!

In April, my family celebrated from across the ocean with my Compassion sister Rechelle, who graduated the LDP program.

So thankful that my grandparents, who live in the Philippines, we able to make it to the ceremony and celebrate with Rechelle at her graduation!

April also brought a teachers' strike in my last semester of high school, putting me and thousands of other students out of class for 5+ weeks... I wasn't complaining too much - I redid my bedroom for the first time in 15 years, accompanied those two boys to the hospital, and practiced my chauffeuring skills by driving myself and my brother to hang out at UrbanPromise Toronto Camp Hope's Rubik's Cube Club.

The Rubik's Cube is a powerful thing!Yesterday, one of Canada's fastest speed cubers, Jonathan Esparaz, did a cubing...
Posted by canadianCUBING on Friday, May 1, 2015

In May, I got to speak about and represent Compassion Canada at three youth events. I also got to hold True Story: What God Wants Us To Do About Poverty in my hands for the first time!!!

Then... school came back! Just in time for me to go to these two things called prom and graduation in June.

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

Summer rolled around, and that brought the PanAm games to our city, a lot of "not doing much", and a trip to Guatemala smack in the middle... where we met our Compassion girl, Esperanza. Our visit turned out to be a goodbye in person, which was incredibly bittersweet and I was reminded yet again that the difference is truly Jesus.

A photo posted by Aimee Esparaz (@mama2greatkids) on

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

If I had to choose one photo to keep from this year, it's this one, of this beautiful embrace I shared with this beautiful sister of mine.

Seriously the most photogenic country ever. Good thing I went with an amazing photographer a.k.a. brother who I can steal photos from. :)

When summer came to a close and September started, I got to start university, but not without being ravaged by a photo of a Syrian toddler's lifeless body washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean. I feared the worst - that we would forget this little boy - but instead, he has inspired thousands to come together and welcome Syrian refugee families into safety and liberty. In fact, the first of two families that our church is sponsoring to come to Canada has just landed... they will ring in the new year with a fresh start in a new country ahead of them, and we are simply praying that we may help to make this new place feel like home.

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

In October, I got to go to a Taylor Swift concert, vote for the first time, speak about Compassion and encourage my peers to sponsor a child at one of my favourite youth conferences in Toronto, and spend lots of time with my grandparents, who spent all of the summer and fall here in Canada with us.

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

This speaking-in-front-of-large-crowds thing was new for me this year... and I was inspired by how many of my peers resonated with this message of embracing our role in God's story of redemption for our broken world.

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

November brought more Compassion Canada events, and the largest one-day speed cubing competition in the history of the World Cube Association - and we just so happened to get to be a part of it. Fun fact? 270 cubers in one place is a lot. Trust me.

Results from yesterday's competition are now up on the World Cube Association website, here:...
Posted by canadianCUBING on Sunday, November 29, 2015

And as the year comes to a close with December, it has been filled with finishing my first semester of university, preparing to welcome our refugee family onto Canadian soil, cheering my mama on as she prepares to start a new job as Compassion Canada's Representative in the Greater Toronto Area, and, of course... Star Wars. ;)

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

this is a creeper photo at its finest but I just felt that I needed to capture this moment. you see, these are my parents. up way-too-early on a saturday morning (sleep-in day!), up to their ears in emails and to-dos and paperwork... all because in a few weeks, our church family will be at the airport to welcome one, then two, refugee families into our city and our lives. but when those instagrams of happy new beginnings get posted on airport day, I wanted this one to exist. the one of these two people up on a Saturday morning, working tirelessly together in the PJs, so that that airport day can happen. this is the example that I am so thankful has been set before me for my entire life. also, this is what #refugeeswelcome looks like in the everyday - it's not a retweet or a fb post or lobbying our gov't. it is stinkin' hard work - work that I've seen not only my parents, but so many people in our church community put in already and I know I will only see increase after airport day. literally countless individuals giving up Saturday mornings, Tuesday evenings, Sunday afternoons or even their own vacation days from work to apartment search, make budgets, source furniture, meet translators, and so.much.more. this is what all those news reports and big numbers like 25000 look like in real life - it's not always glamorous and super warm and fuzzy. sometimes it's Saturday morning paperwork in your PJs. if you're still reading this, I'm wrapping up - promise. I'll just say this: the advocate in me wrote this post to give a small snapshot into what refugee sponsorship looks like in the everyday. but the daughter in me wrote it to say this: I captured this photo because I am so incredibly blessed.thankful.proud to call these two people my parents. #realrelationshipgoals #prouddaughter #wewelcomerefugees
A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

A photo posted by alyssa (@_godsgal4ever) on

As I look back on this year, there was a lot of despair in this world. But when I read back on this year in review, I see our God showing me again and again that He has overcome. We can choose to wallow in despair, or we can choose to birth Love into this world everywhere we go... until the despair melts away in the light of His redemption.

Happy New Year, friends! Thank you for being you. 
Wishing you all the opportunity and the strength to birth Love into the world each day in the coming new year.

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