To the ends of the earth…

Y’all—

Can I just say, I had no idea what God had in store when I agreed to move to Alaska…

I knew I was coming here to teach, mentor, and disciple somewhere between 5 to 10 Native Alaskan teenagers and young adults. I knew I would live with my girls and “mom the daylights outta ‘em” just as I’ve done with about every student I’ve ever had. And after many nights of freaking out and anxiously crying to my roommates in Denver, I knew I would love them (and hoped that they would learn to love me too…).

Now, let’s go over a few of the things I didn’t know I was in for: I didn’t know I would move here, end up in ground school with one of my students, and fall in love with flying. I didn’t know I would learn to love bush life more than city life. I had no idea the depths of loneliness that come with bush life, and conversely, the depth of relationship with God that occurs when you have nothing to distract your heart and mind. I didn’t know I would learn to butcher moose, end up volunteering in the local K-12 school, or that the Lord would transform my ministry from working exclusively with my Native TLC students to becoming a co-leader for both the Lake Clark Bible Church (LCBC) Cambodia teen mission team and the Outfitters for Christ (OFC) Thailand missions team. (Try saying that 5 times fast…Woof.)

But here I am—being called into what seems like the wildest season of God’s plan for my life yet… (Funny how He somehow one-upped Himself after moving me to a village.)

SelinaCambodia
One of my darling LCBC teens; they’re all so pumped about what God is doing!

On June 8th, I plan to board a plane with 13 LCBC high schoolers and we’ll be off for a whirlwind two weeks of teaching and sharing the Gospel in the predominately Buddhist, post-Khmer Rouge terrorized country of Cambodia. Our mission while in Cambodia will be to support local missionaries who have established churches, Christian schools, and orphanages in the last twenty years to bring the hope of Jesus to Cambodia. Our team will specifically be sharing the gospel while teaching English to school-age children and teenagers in both Christian and public schools. (For many, knowing English can be a skill that will later transform their lives, as English is rapidly becoming the trade language of most of Southeast Asia.)

On June 22nd, I’ll bid my LCBC teens farewell and board a plane to Thailand where I’ll meet up with a team of fellow Coloradoans—a beautiful mixture of Denver Street School alumni and Outfitters for Christ interns that I’ve had the honor to work with and disciple over the last few summers. Similar to what I’ll be doing in Cambodia, our DSS/OFC team will be teaching English in local orphanages, leading short vacation Bible schools for kiddos in smaller towns, and just generally serving the long-term “boots on the ground” missionaries that we are partnering with in whatever ways they need most.

My personal heart within the two larger missions for the month is simply to love on the people God places in front of me—fellow weary missionaries, house-moms, students, and orphans alike. After having served in a live-in ministry and discipleship setting for the last year here at TLC, I understand the need for a listening ear, a warm cup of tea, and a hug on a new level– and that is what I hope to provide for those in need of such a personal touch of Jesus’ love.

In addition to listening and loving, I’m excited to see how the Lord will transform the lives of the young people I’ve fallen in love with over the last several years—both here in Alaska and back in Colorado— as He pushes them to new depths of relationship with Himself, outside of their comfort zones and familiar settings.

I’ve been so richly blessed by your prayers and support as I’ve lived out Jesus’ calling on my life this year in Alaska. If I’m being honest, I’ve felt so overwhelmed by your generosity that I couldn’t imagine asking more of you, my wonderful community. But as I step out in faith, deeply knowing that the Lord is calling me to Southeast Asia for the month of June, I’m asking you to consider partnering with me, yet again, in this amazing opportunity to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. I need to raise a mere $800 per trip ($1,600 total) to cover my in- (and inter-) country costs for the month of June.

Would you please consider partnering with Jesus and I as we raise up and disciple future leaders of the church here in Alaska, back in Colorado, and across Southeast Asia?

As always, thank you for your partnership in spreading the Good News of our Sweet Jesus.

Your grateful sister,

Kacy Lou

If you’re interested in partnering with me as I head to Cambodia with some of my favorite Alaskan teens, donations can be made through Lake Clark Bible Church’s website and simply earmarked Cambodia – Leyba.

Or…

If you’re interested in partnering with me as I head to Thailand with my DSS alumni and OFC interns, donations can be made on the Outfitters for Christ website and earmarked Thailand – Leyba.

[If you have any questions about my work here in Alaska, or about either of these upcoming trips, I would love to talk to you! My e-mail is KacyLouLeyba@gmail.com; I’m generally fairly quick in response. (Unless our internet is out because of weather or other weird village flukes.)]

*All donations made through either website and earmarked appropriately will go directly to the support of our missions trips and will be receipted as tax-deductible for the 2016 tax year.

Current prayer requests as I head into this wild season with Jesus:

Please join me as I pray…

  • That both the LCBC teen missions team and our OFC team will be so enthralled with who Jesus is and what He has done for us that it overflows in the team unity and strength that can only be found in Him.
  • For a heart for God’s people, regardless of nationality, race, age, or geographic location, to be developed within my students.
  • That we will be able to create effective English lessons for kiddos ages 3 to 18 with love and energy.
  • That our teams will have strength and endurance through hot weather and long days of teaching (and within the hours of Alaskan/Cambodia Coloradoan/Thai teen bonding time in the evenings).
  • For all of the details (passports, visas, inter-state communication as the OFC team and I plan/train together long-distance) to come together, as I know only Jesus could do.
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To fly by faith and not by sight…

What does it look like to fly on faith, and faith alone?

That’s easy. Anytime you fly as a passenger in a plane, you’re flying solely on faith– Faith that the stranger at the controls isn’t an absolute idiot; faith that the plane had been properly inspected and is mechanically sound for flight. More than likely, as a regular person boarding a plane, you aren’t sure of either of those things. You’re hopeful… But you’re not one hundred percent sure.

Flying is all about faith, really.

You see, there are two different types of flying—VFR, where you operate by Visual Flight Rules and can see where you’re going, and IFR, where you are operating under Instrument Flight Rules. In layman’s terms—when you’re flying IFR, you can’t see where you’re going all the time. You have to rely on your instruments: your altimeter, GPS, compass, etc.

When you fly VFR, you’re not flying through dense cloud cover, excessive fog, or blinding snow or rain. You know and can see your surroundings. For many experienced pilots, flying VFR is a cake walk. (The key word there is experienced; the thought of flying as pilot in command period still makes my inexperienced pilot stomach flip a bit… But I digress.)

Lake Clark Pass
Lake Clark Pass in all it’s VFR, summer glory.

Last summer when I visited Port Alsworth, the VFR flight conditions couldn’t have been better (even though I didn’t know it at the time). As we flew over the wetlands outside of Anchorage on my first ever approach to Port Alsworth, the weather was perfect and clear. So clear, in fact, that I could see brown bears running awkwardly along the streams below us, chasing their salmon dinners. The glaciers we buzzed by in Lake Clark Pass were a crisp turquoise, reflecting the bright blue sky above and the teal hue of Lake Clark below. Oh, it was a sight to behold… A true VFR miracle for a first time bush plane passenger.

Flying into Port Alsworth this September, was a bit of a different story.

Alaska greeted me on September 15th with a slush/rain storm that made flight in a tiny two-seater airplane seem a bit more difficult. As I sat in the Lake and Pen Air office at Merrill Field Airport that morning, I stared out at the windy conditions and rapidly changing precipitation. I half-way expected my bush flight to be delayed, if not cancelled entirely. After all, even the giant Alaska Airlines plane that carried me to Anchorage had hit so much turbulence the night before that it seemed like we were going to fall out of the sky.

But sure enough, at a little after ten o’clock, my wild child of a pilot came bursting into the LPA office, announcing that I was the lucky winner of a one-way flight “home” with him to Port Alsworth.

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This guy… He is just one of my faves.

As we loaded my bags into the tiny plane, word came over a radio that a plane had just crashed in Iliamna—just 20 miles from our destination. Eeesh… not exactly reassuring… I thought as I grabbed Lyle’s hand and he pulled me up into our plane. I made some comment about bush pilots not being deterred by much, to which he simply laughed and told me that this flight was going to be an easy one.

We taxiied down to the end of our runway and I watched as my pilot punched buttons, radioed people I couldn’t quite hear, and then hit the throttle. Before I knew it, we were hauling down the runway, and then lifting into the headwind and the clouds above us.

FlyingIFR
My view (or lack there of) leaving Anchorage.

My view of Anchorage quickly disappeared. Convinced that I wasn’t going to see much for a while, I slipped my headphones inside of my noise proof earmuffs, turned on my favorite playlist, and grabbed my new leather bound journal from my bag between my feet. In a daze created by the combination of sleep deprivation, adrenaline, and raw change, I opened to the first page, and wrote:

“As I sit in this plane and watch water droplets from the melting snow roll past my co-pilot window, I am amazed with who You are, God.

It amazes me that I’m in Alaska—in this plane. It amazes me that this little metal box is somehow flying through the sky… It amazes me that my pilot knows where we’re going because the snow/fog/cloud mix is so thick that I can’t see anything around us. My memory knows what this mountain pass looks like from last summer, and yet this trip is so different. There are no mountains or glaciers to ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhhh’ at; I can’t see anything running in the wetlands below. There is just here, and just now; just You and me (and this really funny guy named Lyle).

I don’t know where I’m going, God. (Literally, and figuratively.) I can’t see what’s happening around me. I don’t know what any of these buttons, lights, or levers in this plane do. But I know that You are God, and that You are Good. Oh, and that You are somehow holding us up, as if this plane was sitting in your hands… And if that’s the case, I love that you are keeping things interesting with this insane turbulence; I love that you always shake things up.”

When I wrote that, I didn’t understand that Lyle was flying IFR—by his instruments and not his eyes.

I didn’t understand the difference between IFR and VFR, even though I too was operating within my own type of IFR journey. After all, I knew that God was calling me to Alaska even though I couldn’t see why; I’d known that with every fiber of my being since that weird moment in church on Super Bowl Sunday.

I had spent the last seven months fine tuning my “instruments” through time with Jesus, setting up a “flight plan”, and learning who I was going to be on the journey with. I had been praying and crying and learning more and more what I looked like to walk by faith and not by sight.

I had plenty of people tell me (in not-so-many words) that I was a moron for leaving the life that I loved to follow Jesus to a tiny village I hardly knew. There were questions raised about practical things like “Do you really think that God is going to provide that outrageous amount of money?” regarding the raising of my own salary. Oh yeah, not to mention the obvious: “Why on earth would you go there when Jesus has so clearly been working through you in Denver? If God is ‘so good’ then why can’t He use you in a less dangerous place…?”

The questions were legitimate, and my answers hinging on faith often felt as if they weren’t. 

There were days (so many freaking days) when I doubted that God was Good—that He would provide… that He had a plan. Yet, even on the days when I doubted and I couldn’t see, I just tried to cling to Jesus and keep moving forward in faith. (Side note shout out to my roommates who laid in bed with me while I bawled on those nights and drug me back to Jesus in prayer, whether I wanted it or not. Y’all are the epitome of the church and the real MVPs.)

Yet because He is True to His callings and True to His promises, He provided in abundance financially, spiritually, and emotionally; even as I write this, looking out at the planes landing next to my house in Alaska, all I can do is laugh at how Good He really is.

He will never leave me, nor forsake me. (No matter how many times He has to reassure me of this.) He promises to be the Light before me, even when I can’t see more than a few feet in front of my face.

He has been my most reliable “instrument” as I have learned to fly out of my comfort zone with Him. His grace, His Love, His mercy; they are unfailing.

Even though it has been terrifying to blindly fly away from everything that I love, I have been unexplainably blessed by experiencing more of Him through it all.

That sounds cheesy; I know. But around these parts, it is so true. Because at the end of the day, when Bible class is over, our extra TLC programs and classes have been taught, the dishes are washed, and my girls are in bed, I sit in my house alone. Yet somehow I am not alone; I am with Him—experiencing more of His love in the silence and the darkness than I ever thought possible… Which is an answer to the exact prayer from Ephesians 3:14-20 that so many prayed over me as I left Denver…

“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

It is terrifying to fly thousands of feet in the air, suspended by nothing but the faith that instruments will carry you on to your destination, and yet we do it all the time.

It is terrifying to be here alone sometimes, but by faith I maintain that I am not alone because I am with Jesus, my sweet Abba, and His Spirit.

And that faith? The renewed and deeper faith that kicks in when you are flying on faith in Christ alone? I can’t explain it. I don’t know how the heck God builds faith with faith. (It’s a pretty screwy system if you ask me.)

But what I do know is that flying by faith alone most beautiful, addicting feeling in the world and there is no place I’d rather be than here, in His Love. 

Where is He calling you to follow Him today? Will you choose to fly with Him, even if you can’t see what’s in front of you?

(Spoiler alert: you won’t regret it.)

Stinson

“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body, we are not away from the Lord, for we walk by faith and not by sight.”

(2 Corinthians 5:5-7)

Broken bread & poured out wine

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Roughly once a month I have the privilege of serving communion at Scum of the Earth Church. According to our church’s tradition, I serve with another person and we stand side by side, holding either the bread or the wine. As our fellow Scum come to partake, they break off a piece of bread then dip it in the wine as my fellow servant and I say, “This is the body of Christ, broken for you.” “This is the blood of the Christ, shed for you.”

Sometimes it’s easy for my brain to switch into auto-pilot while serving communion, after uttering “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.”, “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.” “This is the blood of Christ…” for the tenth or fifteenth time. While my mouth utters, “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.” my brain is drinking in all of my surroundings. As my mind slips away, I begin tapping my foot to the beat of the worship band singing behind me. While I stand there, there are wonderfully quirky people to watch, and of course I usually am keeping an eye on who is coming down the communion line, trying to gauge whether or not we grabbed enough bread or gluten free crackers. I become distracted & my brain switches into auto-pilot, causing my mouth to say those same nine words over and over again without actually considering them.

But Sunday as I uttered the phrases of communion and simultaneously people watched, I was caught off guard by something. As I stood there, wine goblet laced in my fingers, some of the liquid dripped off someone’s chunk of bread and drizzled down my fingers before dropping at my feet in the dimly lit room.

This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.

I don’t know why, but that time the words resonated in my soul as I looked into the eyes of a young woman who I’ve never seen before and said them.

~

Lately I’ve been incredibly guilty of zoning out and auto-piloting my way through life like I do when I serve communion. I wake up, wash up, drive to work, teach my kids, then head from work to potluck/bible study/gospel community/school/home without even thinking about it. At this point, I feel like I could complete my lather-rise-repeat routine in my sleep.

Saturday, a day before the cool wine running down my fingers snapped me out of my proverbial daydream state, I got another wake up call. This last weekend one of my best friends and I decided to road trip to see another friend up in Vail. On an adventurous whim Saturday afternoon, I applied for a summer job as a nanny up in Vail.

Much to my own personal shock, I got an e-mail back almost immediately requesting that I set up a time for a phone interview sometime this week. As I read the e-mail to my girlfriends, I squealed with excitement. Could I really have the opportunity to move from my tiny apartment in the city up into one of the most beautiful cities in Colorado for the summer? This was great! I would get to spend time in my beloved mountains before my move to Texas, I would have an opportunity to be outdoors (and away from the dreaded 100 degree Denver summer heat), and I would be able to have the adventure that I’ve been craving in the midst of my boring daily routine.

And then it hit me.

Holy crap. I am talking about giving up my cute little home that I have worked so hard to make my own, packing all of my stuff into boxes, and shoving them into a storage unit. Not only that, but I would be forfeiting my cherished time off, and the ability to see my friends and family whenever I chose. Am I really willing to do that?

As I sat in my rocking chair in said tiny apartment the next morning, I looked around. I can’t give up all of this. I have my antique book collection, my typewriter, my pictures aligned exactly how I like them, the mural that I painted on my wall… I can’t do it. I can’t give the life I love up. I just can’t.

Just about as quickly as I began to internally panic, the story of the Israelites and their unleavened bread from Exodus popped into my mind.

In Exodus 12, God commands the Israelites to give up leavened bread. He knows that He is about to move mightily amongst the Egyptians through the plague of the first born, and that when Pharaoh releases the Israelites from captivity, that they will need to leave for the Promised Land immediately. They wouldn’t have time to worry about letting their bread rise; they will simply need to worry about following where the Lord was leading them.

~

As I stood there with the communion glass in my hand with the drops of wine at my feet Sunday night, I looked over at the bowl of bread in my friend’s hand and remembered this story that I had been thinking about just six hours earlier.

Just like the Israelites, I need to follow where God is leading me– regardless of whether that is Vail, Pueblo, Denver, or Dallas… I need to go and I need to be free to do so when the time comes. I need to break free from my restricting (yet oddly comforting) daily routine and follow God instead of staying in my own little safety zone.

So over the next few weeks I’ll be separating my necessities from my clutter and packing up my apartment in faith. I don’t know where I’m going, but I know that it will be beautiful. My Texas born friend insists that “The Great Country of Texas” is the promised land; maybe I need to look for my milk and honey down there… Or maybe I will find it in the Rocky Mountains. Who knows…

All of this to say, for the Lenten Season I am giving up leavened bread in a spiritual pursuit of the “spur of the moment” adventure that I feel God calling me to. My comfort zone is, well comfortable… But I know in the depths of my heart that I want God and His Will for my life far more than I want a comfortable tiny apartment for my bread rise in or a lather-rinse-repeat routine where I accidentally forget to include Him because I’m so wrapped up in my everyday life.

Is God calling you to lay something down for Him, that He might give you something else this Lenten Season?

~

31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”

33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.”

(Exodus 12:31-39)