Evde Hissetmek

Emily Bettenga is a freelance Media Makeup Artist based out of Minneapolis. In November, Emily took the opportunity to travel overseas with a group from her church. Discover what she learned about living a life with radical love, faith, generosity, and encouragement. Read about her nine-day journey experiencing the “radical hospitality” of the people of Turkey and the sense of feeling at home in a foreign land.


If you were to ask me where it is that I feel the most at home, I don’t think that I can honestly say that “home” for me is one specific place. There are many people and places around the world, near and far away, where I have felt at home and felt close to God. I think at the end of the day that’s really what it is for me… home is where I feel Him the most. Travel always seems to bring a microphone to His voice and a heightened awareness of the senses He’s given me, so to say that I felt at home in Turkey should be no surprise to anyone.

 

I knew before I left that going there would be an incredible experience, but to land in Istanbul and feel instant peace is a pretty indescribable feeling. It wasn’t just me who felt this way either. It was a peace felt by my entire ten-person team. Ten friends who are now family. Evde hissetmek… “to feel at home” – it’s the best way I can describe my 9-day experience.

River Valley Church located in Minneapolis, MN, is where I have been serving  and attending for the last three years. Almost every week we are sending out teams to different locations, in and out of country, and on November 13, 2017, it was my turn to board a plane and see what God had for me to learn 5,500 miles away. We were heading directly into the zero zone, meaning that there are .1% of Christians in a total of 80 million people, so we could bet that pretty much everyone we were going to encounter had not met a Christian before, or heard the truth about who Jesus is. (We had a point of contact while we were there, but for the protection of the people and organization we are associated with, I am not allowed to give their information). Everything was so divinely put together from the beginning of this adventure. I couldn’t help but step through the airplane doors with a confidence that this was going to be amazing.

I wholeheartedly believe that global trips like this should be entered into with the mindset of, “Okay God, how do you want ME to change? Show me a new perspective. Teach me what I need to learn so that I can love others better, and know your heart better than I do right now.” Yes, we were there to make an impact in any way we could and to “plant seeds” (as we call it in Christianese). At the end of the day, this trip, just like any “mission trip”, was more about God refining our hearts and showing us a deeper glimpse of who he is through the incommunicable love that he has for every person created. The world is so much bigger and more beautiful than we can comprehend. When we choose to step out of our own worldview and see other ways of how people live, you can’t help but come back with a broader understanding of who God is. Get out and see the world, people!

Jesus’ ministry was all about people, so that’s what we wanted this trip to reflect. A global experience with the focus on building relationships with locals and immerse into the culture as much as we could. Just like anywhere you are, when you understand the culture that you are in, you can better relate to the people you are trying to connect with. Turkey is filled with rich culture, history, and hospitality!

 

We got to experience so much of what makes Turkey incredible – from the AMAZING food and the Grand Bizarre to the ferries that connect Asia to Europe. We experienced everything from progressive pockets of cities that buzzed with chai houses and college students to all of the cats and dogs that roam the street. (Side note – they are so kind to animals there. Dogs and cats are wandering everywhere and they’re all spayed, neutered and taken care of by people in the city.

As an animal lover, this was incredible to see! You can check out the cat’s of Turkey documentary, “Kedi” to see what I mean!) This place is something special and joy was the main emotion we experienced while being here! This trip was a blast!

We not only traveled to Istanbul but also to the cities of Izmir and Trabzon. Eight flights in 9 days, folks! We were on the go. Everywhere we went was an opportunity to connect with people, learn about their lives and build friendships. Thank goodness for Google Translate! From planes, trains and subway rides, we seized the moments to make connections, encourage people through any means we could, even if it was just a smile and played worship music in cafes, subways, and parks. People were so open to us not only as Americans but as people. I am constantly being reminded that the human connection, especially through the Holy Spirit, is stronger than any prejudices the media, terrorism and political walls try to force upon us. We have so much more in common than you could even realize!

Being home from my trip, a common question to me has been, “what’s been the biggest impact for you”? I can without any hesitation say that the radical hospitality that the people of Turkey and our new friends showed us was unlike anything I have experienced before. They gave their time, possessions, food and love to us. Just when you think they couldn’t be more generous, they throw a birthday party for a girl on our team, or show up to the airport and skip class just to send us off. That’s the kind of person I want to be. The incredible thing is that I don’t have to be in the middle east, or far away to experience this and live it out in my life. I can extend generosity to anyone and everyone I meet. Everyday we encounter someone who needs to feel seen and loved. How many times have I missed opportunities to encourage someone, listen to their story, or learn something from others because I’m choosing to be self-focused?

I’m forever grateful for my Time in Turkey and would encourage anyone to go visit this amazing country, filled with beautiful people. The media and political sides may be putting barriers up, but let’s break those down with love, compassion, and personal connection. My prayer is that I begin to live my life with radical love, faith, generosity, and encouragement. I pray that my mindset would be one that is for people before rather than myself. Jesus lived his life in this kind of way, loving people with no conditions. I understand His character a bit more now. I will forever have a home in Turkey because God is there.


River Valley Church – Minneapolis campus currently meets at Muse Event Center in Downtown Minneapolis (107 3rd Ave N., Minneapolis, MN). Inspiring worship and teaching is a core value at River Valley. They are a multi-site church with eight locations across the Twin Cities. Although their campuses meet in different places, They are all a part of the same church community. They say it this way— “one church, multiple locations.” Service times are Sunday – 9, 10:15, 11:30 am, & 5 pm.

www.rivervalley.org/location/minneapolis


Emily Bettenga is a freelance Media Makeup Artist based out of Minneapolis. She has been in the industry since 2012 and is extremely passionate about creativity and influencing the world through beauty. She has working experience with local and national fashion designers and photographers, commercial, film, runway, bridal and special events. Whatever the job is, she puts her whole heart into it. It is her desire that anyone who sits in her chair leaves feeling happier and more beautiful inside and out!

www.ekbbeauty.com

Storytelling: My Car Lessons, by Tamara Schierkolk

Applying makeup. Putting in contact lenses. Knitting. Hanging one’s leg out the window. Watching a movie. Shaving. Picking one’s nose.

My eyes widened as I read the online list of things people do while they’re driving. Were humans coordinated enough to pull all this off in traffic? I understood multitasking and seizing the time, but what had become of us? And what would Karl Benz think of how we used his invention?

Pre-motherhood, I had my ideas about car rides and life. “When I have kids, no refined sugar for them,” I said.

But then I had babies, and they sometimes fussed in the thick of rush hour. My lofty intentions plummeted to their death.

“Here, catch,” I’d say, tossing marshmallows to my little passengers in the back seat. They squealed and gulped down the fluffy treats. And I swallowed my pride.

Back then, there was other excitement in the car too. Before Dicka could articulate her feelings, she had a penchant for carsickness.

“Mama, my mouth feels funny,” the toddler would say, her sentence always followed by two short coughs, then The Big Mess.

I learned to carry a bath towel in the car. And I could ball it up with one hand—the other on the steering wheel, my eyes trained forward—and pitch it back to Dicka before she got to the two coughs part.

But the girls didn’t remain tiny creatures who required marshmallows and towels during travel. They soon had other needs. And that period of time—when they were deeply involved in extra-curricular activities, but not yet old enough to drive—called for a parental chauffeur to simply move out of her home and relocate to the car.

Was anyone hungry? Dairy products were in the cooler; non-perishable foods in the tote bag. Anybody chilly? They could grab a blanket from the stack. Any need for a personal hygiene product, first aid item, or wardrobe remedy? The inventory included (but was not limited to) the following: hand sanitizer, bobby pins, Band-Aids, a lint roller, toothbrush, phone chargers, and even an extra pair of black tights.

The job as chauffeur was lowly but unavoidable. It looked like a necessary distraction on the road to something better. But it stripped away my personality and muted my sense of purpose. Was I created for this? I waited and transported. Transported and waited. Transported. And waited some more. While I frittered away my days behind the wheel, I gazed through the car windows at passersby who appeared to take their freedom for granted. Did they know how those of us on the inside felt? I marked notches on the armrest to count down the hours until my release.

But one day, something inside me switched.

What could I do to redeem my time while I wore down my tires? Spotify, Pandora, Audible, Duolingo, and YouTube entered my waiting. The time lag between points A and B became its own legitimate activity. The car morphed from mode of transportation to counseling office for us to grind out the details of life, work out schedules and futures, and soothe the wounds of the day. The vehicle transformed into a sanctuary where I sang, cried, and prayed. And our ride broke down sometimes too, rubbing the temporary discomfort across my rough edges like sandpaper and reminding me my First World issues only looked like problems.

While not as thrilling as kissing or working on one’s laptop while on the move, maybe character refinement during the long hours running up the odometer counts for something.

And maybe my car lessons could be added to the online list too.


Tamara Schierkolk has a heart for the inner city. She’s also a freelance grant writer, writes contemporary fiction, and since 2012, she and her family have hosted twenty-eight children in crisis through Safe Families for Children. She lives with her husband of twenty-five years, their three teenage daughters, and their beloved pit bull in North Minneapolis, a high-crime, low-income part of the city, because that’s where God called them. She writes about her life and adventures in her blog, My Blonde Life in the Hood.

 

U2, My Father, Sin, and Redemption

There are some unwritten rules in life. I recently heard this one:

If you are a baseball fanatic, this passion was passed down to you from your father.

This certainly is true for me and my family. My grandfather was a Chicago Cubs fan. My dad is a Cubs fan, so by rule, I had no choice. Baseball is like that. It comes from your dad. It’s a rule.

Baseball is not all I got from my father. I also got my turn-around baseline jump shot, my dashing good looks, and my passion for music. My dad grew up in Chicago (the north side, if you’re keeping score) and he frequented the jazz clubs downtown that featured live music and a cheap meal. To this day. If I tell my dad I was in a certain neighborhood in Chicago, he will tell me about a venue that was in that area and how much he once paid for an evening of music and a steak dinner. Usually around $3.

• • •

When I was growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, it was not unusual for me to find my father alone, in the morning, listening to the radio with a cup of coffee and a donut. I see him in a robe and slippers. The radio would be playing WMBI, Chicago’s religious music station or his all-time favorite artist: Frank Sinatra. Let that sink in for a moment. Gospel music and Ol’ Blue Eyes singing about tramps, witchcraft, and sniffing cocaine. Music that celebrates sin. Music that rejoices in redemption. This theme of sin and redemption was not lost on me and it would shape how I relate to music for the rest of my days.

• • •

I was attending Bethel College in the Fall of 1983. A friend of mine, who was very bohemian, gave me a cassette tape of his latest favorite new band. On the spine of the tape was scrawled “U2 War”. All I knew about U2 was that they had a new song called NEW YEARS DAY, but I had never actually heard it. So I put in the tape. My only expectation was to hear that one track.

What I heard that day for the first time is hard to explain in words. I think Bono describes it best in 2014’s, The Miracle (of Joey Ramone):

I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred
Heard a song that made some sense out of the world
Everything I ever lost, now has been returned
The most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.

It was a miracle. It was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. These ten songs were bombastic anthems. Bono’s vocals were passionate. The Edge’s guitars were noisy and jangly. The drums had a snare drum, a rat-a-tat quality that seemed to call me to fall into formation. When I heard the last song, the benediction simply titled “40”, I knew that this music was anointed. I also saw the familiar theme of sin and redemption. I was a pilgrim on my way.

• • •

In 1953, Frank Sinatra’s career was in a slump. That very year he signed a new contract with Capitol records. Capitol decided to pair the newly acquired Sinatra with a young bandleader named Nelson Riddle. Sinatra didn’t like the idea. He had a group of musicians that he was familiar with from his days at Columbia. Since his record sales were down, he finally agreed to work with Riddle. He had nothing to lose. The new duo’s first effort was, I’VE GOT THE WORLD ON A STRING. After hearing it played back for the first time, Sinatra praised Riddle’s work with the exclamation: “I’m back baby. I’m back!”

• • •

Sometimes when my dad was listening to Sinatra tunes he would belt out a line or two in his finest Sinatra voice. Usually, it was the high note that Frank was famous for. Occasionally, I would join him. We were like two bad Sinatra impersonators singing a karaoke duet. After we shared a chuckle, my dad’s face suddenly changed. There was an awkward pregnant pause. He was about to tell me something important.

He said that it was his opinion that Sinatra’s voice together with Nelson Riddle’s band was the perfect convergence of a voice with a band. My dad told me he felt blessed that he was alive to witness this pairing made by the gods, for his enjoyment. It was as if he viewed his specific date of birth as being chosen by God so that he would be alive to witness the pairing of Sinatra and Riddle. A great cosmic timeline, predestined by God, for my father’s musical enjoyment! What a concept. It was one of those moments that a son never forgets.

• • •

There is another rule in life:

All men slowly become their fathers.

My wife and kids notify me when they see this gradual metamorphosis happening. I am becoming more like my father. He felt his life was somehow intertwined on a cosmic level with Frank Sinatra, and I have the same reverence for a foursome from Ireland that I first heard on a borrowed cassette tape in 1983.

Thank you God, for life, love, and music.

• • •

In 1993, near the end of his career, Sinatra actually recorded a duet with Bono for his DUETS project. The song was Cole Porters, I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN. It was the only Sinatra album to be classified as Triple Platinum.


Jeff Velasco is a freelance graphic artist/photo art director and lives in Minneapolis, MN. You can follow him and view his work on Instagram @superjv5His father, Alfred Velasco, is retired and still resides in the Chicago suburbs.

 

 

 

U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin formed in 1976. The group consists of Bono (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), the Edge (lead guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums and percussion). U2 will be performing a sold out show on September 8th at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN.

A Skateboard, a Fanny Pack, and Cuba

This past summer I had the opportunity to live in Fort Myers, FL to intern with a non-profit organization known as Ride Nature. Ride Nature is an action sports ministry that uses skateboarding, surfing, and wakeboarding to share the good news of Jesus with a truly unreached group of people. If you are familiar with the skateboard community at all, you probably know many of the stereotypes that go along with skaters; outcasts of society, drug users, and dropouts with profane language. The skate culture is a very spiritually dark place, and Ride Nature seeks to change that by letting them know that there is a God who wants to know them and meet them as they are, and loves them so much that he sent his own son to die the death we all deserve for our sin.
This is not only the goal of Ride Nature on a local level in Florida but also on an international level throughout the world.

During the summer, I was able to go on two international trips, one to Panama and one to Cuba. Both trips were incredible, but the Cuba was quite the adventure for me, partially because I wanted to make my last trip with Ride Nature as memorable as possible. To help accomplish this goal, with the strong encouragement of the other guys, I packed for the trip using only a fanny pack. With my Bible in one hand, skateboard in the other, and a fanny pack around my waist, we set out for Cuba.

We flew into Havana with our group of about 8 people, bringing in a few dozen skateboards to donate, as well as some skim boards. Ride Nature always brings boards to donate on mission trips, but this was especially important to us while going to Cuba, as the government restrictions don’t allow skateboard to be imported to the country at all. Every skateboard in Cuba has been brought in from individuals after they visit another country. When a skater in Cuba breaks a board (which happens very often in skateboarding), it can be months before they are able to get a new one and start skating again.

Surprisingly, we made it through customs with all the boards with no hassle at all. On our previous trip to Panama, all our bags with donation boards were confiscated, and we had to go back to the airport multiple times and pay hundreds of dollars to get the bags back.

Each day of the trip in Cuba, we set out to a different skate spot to build relationships with the skaters there, hold skate contests, and share the gospel everywhere we went. We had a few different contacts in Cuba before going who were skaters, and they were able to let the community know where we would be and when. The community of skaters in Cuba is very large, but a tight knit group of guys that all seemed to know each other well.

 

Each day we went to a new spot the group of skaters got bigger and bigger as word got out that we were there, and that we had skateboards to give away. It was cool to see the same guys around each day, and it was almost as if we were able to disciple them throughout the week as we shared our testimonies and gospel messages with them each day. One of the days about halfway through the trip, I broke my board while trying a trick down a ledge, which was a real bummer. Not only was it unfortunate that I couldn’t skate the rest of the week, but I also couldn’t donate that board before we left (we usually donate our own boards before we leave). On the same day shortly after that, I realized that my fanny pack had been stolen from one of the cars we were using. Praise the Lord that my passport, Bible, and most of my clothes were still back at our apartment. Believe it or not, that day was my favorite day of the trip because of what happened next.

We had a very large group of skaters gathered that day, and my friend had just given his testimony to them, and our translator and trip leader was sharing the gospel and explaining how you become a follower of Christ if you want to make that decision. One of the skaters from the crowd started talking to our translator and to all the guys in the crowd in Spanish, which we eventually found out to be something along the lines of “Guys, why wouldn’t we all want this? Let’s all pray together right now!” Then we saw nearly every one of the several dozen skaters there bow down with their eyes closed, and ask the Lord into their hearts. That is one moment from my life that I will never forget. I may have lost half of my possessions I had in Cuba that day, but that is not even comparable to seeing others saved by Jesus.

Many of the churches in Cuba don’t allow people in if they have tattoos and piercings, and they preach to their congregations that they should stay away from people who are not Christians and stay strictly surrounded by a Christian bubble, with no concept of evangelism or fulfilling the great commission. Many of the skaters we talked to were hungry for the gospel and extremely receptive but were simply rejected by the churches for not looking and acting like your average church-going people.

God doesn’t require us to clean ourselves up before coming to him, and he wants to meet us wherever we are. No matter how we look, act, or whether we pretend like we “have it all together” or not, we are all sinners. We are all sinners who have been saved by nothing but the grace of God alone, and to pretend our sin is less than the sin of others does nothing but minimize the cross and put us in a place of self-righteousness. If we have accepted the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, then we owe it to others to tell them how they can have it too.

 


Dave Hackett is from Maple Grove, Minnesota. He is a manufacturing engineering student at University of Wisconsin-Stout. Dave is passionate about action sports and videography. Follow David Hackett on Facebook and Instagram @davehack97

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