Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Project Complete!

Exciting news! The Thailand project was completed and sent off today! I enjoyed working on it sooo much, and I can't wait to see how the ministry uses our work to build themselves two new buildings and a garden! Although it wasn't the project I originally came here to do (reminder: it was the leftover project from this summer) I still felt connected to the ministry and the work that we did to complete it. Here are some computer renderings of the project and a picture of us folding and binding all the papers to send to the volunteers and CCD Ministry in Thailand:

Today we started on the Uganda project finally...we have a tiny fraction of the time we spent on Thailand to do an even larger project in Uganda so I think I'll have my work cut out for me my last few weeks here. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Open Door

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
-Galatians 6:9-10

     One of the hardest things for me to do at EMI is to get excited about volunteering at Open Door every Monday. Open Door is Colchester Baptist's community drop-in center and outreach program. I tend to think of it as feeding the homeless, because it is a small cafe-style part of the church that anyone can come to for super cheap coffee, tea, cookies (biscuits!) and sandwiches. 

     I'll think: I came here to do architecture. I came here to help people in Africa, not England. Besides, 10 pence coffee is not going to nourish or sustain these people! This is just getting in the way of my time on CAD.

     It's clear to see, when walking on the streets of Colchester, that it is a largely unreached area. The people in my bible study have said that having another Christian in the workplace is highly unusual, and it is common to be known as the Christian girl to all the others. I know that this town is a true mission field and I should be making more of an effort to reach the people all around me, not limiting my charity work to architecture for EMI. Enter: Open Door. It is like God's way of saying "your shyness is no excuse, I'll bring people to you and you can share about me."

     Although many of our daily devotions have emphasized the importance of helping others in our everyday lives, it was hard to do before I understood how my volunteering was actually helping. But, I am starting to realize that Open Door isn't about the snacks at all. It is about giving these people a friend to talk to, someone to listen when they are in crisis, direction when they're lost, money management advice, a phone, mediation, job help, and a taste of the Holy Spirit. Many of the people that come to Open Door have circumstances in their lives that I could never imagine in my own. One comes from a wealthy, well-known family in England, but was disowned when they disagreed with his choices. Another fled from political unrest in the Czech Republic, but prefers homelessness in England to the life he had there. One tried to turn his life around by quitting his alcoholic habits, but started seizing because of the abrupt stop and was left with permanent brain damage. Others are artists, writers, or grocery store stockers who come simply because they want to hear the word of God, but are uncomfortable in the church. Drug addicts, alcoholics, and atheists: all are welcomed and served with a smile.

     On Wednesday I shared my own testimony with everyone that was there. I was so intimidated because I thought there was no way I could relate to any of the people. I thought, they're going to laugh at the "highs and lows" of my life, because theirs have been so much rougher. So I tried to target things I knew that they could relate to: the loss of a loved one, bad choices, anxiety. I shared with them what I believe God has done in my life, and the most amazing thing happened: someone came to Christ! He had been coming to Open Door for a few years, asking questions about Christianity, and was unsure about whether or not he wanted to devote his life to God. After I spoke, he told the director that he had a very similar story as mine and he was ready to become a Christian!

     Since Wednesday I have seen a number of people that come to Open Door around town. They always go out of their way to come say hi and share what they're up to. I definitely didn't think that the friends I would make here would be the poor and the needy, but I guess they are the most in need of friends, and I'm glad God placed me here to be that for them :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

sixty feet

Sixty Feet is excited to have eMi (Mike and Rob from our office as well as 4 others) come next week! Read what they say here!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Project Update

Just a quick update about our project:
The Vocational Training / Rehab Center in Thailand is almost complete! We will finish it up this week because Mike and Rob leave for Uganda on Sunday!! We need to package all of our work together so that it can be sent to the client and then to local architects and engineers to do final reviews. Here's a peek at what it looks like:

Friday, September 28, 2012

the office!

the office: brad, alisha, me, jean, mike, rob, david
alyssa, and jaspreet

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Morning's Mercies

I remember my affliction and my wandering
the bitterness and the gall.
I will remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."
Lamentations 3:19-24

I did this devotion this week, remembering the anniversary of Boone's death:

"Looking back over the years, we have all had our share of trials. We have experienced loss in one form or another. But as the years ended, it was always like a chapter in a book. It would end and a new one would begin that says - I awoke to a new day, one that is filled with hope for a better future … one that is beyond the horizon."
"His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) This is our reminder to live life one day at a time. God did not say every year, but he said every morning. So look with anticipation to His grace that is sufficient for today and tomorrow will take care of itself." (from
My favorite place in Colchester where I spent some time remembering Boone on Sept 22. Lamentations didn't say to forget the past, only to look forward to the future. I'll always miss him, but at least I can be promised compassion from the Lord with every coming day.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why eMi?

     Many people have asked why don't I get a paid job? Why not get IDP (internship development program) credit? Why not move to my boyfriend? Why not design something that will be famous? (besides the obvious answer to this one…) etc. etc.

     To answer these questions is quite simple: Because God has called me to eMi. He said in Philippians 2:7 that we should be like Christ who, "made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant." So in trying to imitate Him, I am giving up the things that everyone expects of me, and serving a missionary who will help the poorest of the poor. I have a lifetime ahead of me to make money for survival, but right now I have the support of over 30 donors, who were willing to give up their money to send me here so that I can do work for free. The people that benefit from our work make less than $2 a day. In fact, 2.9 billion people in this world live on less than $2 a day!! So for me, a paying job certainly isn't necessary right now. God is providing and God will continue to provide.
     Architects have the ability to change the way people live, yet so many choose to design monuments to their own egos. Architects can offer their services to design housing to people without homes, hospitals to communities without sanitary health conditions, schools where children have no place to learn, churches where congregations have no place to worship, or rehab centers with resources to teach people the skills needed to make it on their own. Architects can design efficient passive heating and cooling systems for those without electricity. They can design restrooms to replace holes covered with flies and breeding diseases. They can recommend cheaper and more effective building materials and longer lasting construction methods. They can design buildings sturdy enough to withstand hurricanes or earthquakes, saving lives and hard-earned money. They can do SO MUCH MORE with their degrees than crumpling up paper as inspiration for the next materially excessive arts center that will cost millions and only be used 3 nights a week. And there is a HUGE need out there that has only begun to be reached by organizations such as eMi. So…I am choosing to help. I know it won't help the whole world, but it's my calling as  Christian to do what I can. Maybe not long term, but for as long as the Lord asks.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Do it with thy might!

     An update for those who don't know: due to really unfortunate visa issues, I will not be able to go on my project trip to Uganda. Although I'm disappointed, I try to keep in mind Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." So I know that as long as I am letting Him take control and doing work for the glory of His name, He will be working things out for good! For those of you wondering, the portion of donations that were set aside for the project trip will be used for a later project trip by myself or an intern who wasn't able to raise enough money themselves. So, it will all be well spent!
     Not going to Uganda means that I will be working in Colchester all Fall, instead! The architect that I'm working with, Rob, will still spend 2 weeks in Uganda meeting our clients and scoping out the project site, while I work from our home base. Until then, however, we will be finishing up a project that was started by the Summer group...eMi's 1000th project!!! The project is a rehabilitation center and housing for disabled orphans. Unfortunately, Thailand tends to do little to help orphans and even less for the disabled. In fact, in some parts, the disabled are believe to have gotten that way due to something terrible they did in a past life. Luckily, Christian organizations such as Christian Care Foundation (CCD) have been founded to love and house those disabled orphans. More than that, CCD helps transition children into adult life through rehabilitation and skill development. To do this, though, they need more room! And that's where eMi comes in...
     The summer interns did an awesome job of designing new buildings for CCD's use, and now Rob and I get to complete the details of the design and create a packet for the clients so that it can be built! Over the next 3-4 weeks we will work on facade design, phasing strategies, and construction documents. It will be a great way to get back in the hang of designing and drawing after a summer off!

Colchester Baptist Church: where we work!

our office

I wonder what English hotdogs would be...

 some parts of colchester remind me of Disney World...

The gates to Colchester Castle: Do it With Thy Might!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Keep Calm and...

You know these signs?
     Well, it didn't take me long to realize that this wasn't just a popular trend on pinterest. Apparently it comes from propaganda during WWII and the British love it. There are Keep Calm and (insert anything you can imagine here) posters all over the place!
     In addition to Keep Calm and Eat BBQ or Drink Wine posters, we got to see a lot of downtown Colchester for the first time on Friday. The eMi office is in the Colchester Baptist Church and, although it is small, it looks great! We will finally start to work on Tuesday once we're all settled into our new 'flat'. When we went to church at Colchester Baptist this morning everyone welcomed us as the new interns. It was so weird to know all of these people have been praying for and expecting us and we didn't even know about it!

interns in front of Colchester Baptist's very blue door

Colchester, Essex

    Colchester is Britain's first Roman city and also somewhat of a college town with two universities nearby. The Colchester castle was built on an old Roman fort so it's really just history on top of history here. I was expecting a much smaller town, but it was pretty large and very very busy! I think there is only one really modern building here, and it was designed by New York architect Rafael Vinoly! You can see it here.

Colchester Castle

High Street

     We are lucky enough to have awesome staff here including the director Mike and his wife Marietta and engineer Brad and his wife Alisha. We have also really enjoyed getting to know Brad and Alisha's adorable boys, who are just as sweet as can be! It's nice to have this fellow American family around when we're missing home!

Brad and Alisha's boys

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Customs Hurdles

^ So...getting into the UK felt kind of like that ^
one hurdle after another that we weren't getting over.
     In London, the border patrol gave us a hard time for a few misspoken words, which required Alyssa to put up a courageous 5 hour fight in the interrogation room and left Jaspreet and I completely in the dark. Luckily, Brad steered us clear of their tricky traps and eventually we made it to Colchester!! At least for the time being...
     But the hurdles we faced today included some serious lessons. Just as we were giving up hope on all 3 of us making it into the country together, we surrendered to God. We stopped trying to figure out the minds of the customs guards and stopped worrying about the future, and prayed that God's will be done. We had no more finished the word "Amen" than we got the call that Alyssa made it through customs and into the country!!! We quickly remembered that we need to trust God in all trials, and that our fate is in His hands only.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Time to share testimonials!
My fellow NOVA girls trying out a Colorado Springs favorite: josh and john's ice cream
The eMI Colorado Springs office with flags of every country they've done a project in.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

High Elevation Orientation

     Orientation week has been the busiest and most exciting experience I've had in a long time! It's absolutely amazing how so many people from different places and different backgrounds can bond so quickly over their interest in design and a love of Christ. It is honestly hard to believe that I haven't known the other interns for years...
     Although our schedule has been booked solid between 7am and 10pm (see below) the information we're learning and the fun activities are totally worth the there is coffee available 24/7!  Ultimate frisbee, hiking, [actually fun] team building exercises, and indoor rock climbing are definitely great ways to learn about our fellow interns, and wonderful breaks from hours of power points and discussions. Lately we've been learning about technical information that will be helpful in designing in a developing country, cues on how to act in a different culture, our individual DISC personality profiles, and our spiritual gifts!
orientation schedule

     So the DISC personality test stands for drive/challenge, influencing/relationships, steadiness/consistency, and compliance/constraints. If you can't guess... I turned out to be a S/C. Some of the words describing an S are good listener, team player, possessive, steady, understanding, and friendly. A C can be described as accurate, analytical, conscientious, careful, high standards, and systematic. Together, they make a "peacemaker" or one who cares about people and wants a steady environment that promotes security. They usually like to think through issues carefully and feel uneasy when forced to make a quick decision. Often keeping their feelings to themselves, others may not be aware of their strong beliefs. 
     Next, we took a spiritual gifts test, to determine our top 5 areas of Spiritual Gifting. Mine are... administration, giving, craftsmanship, helps, and serving.
And neeeeext, we learned about cultures in terms of Identity (individualism vs. collectivism), Shame ("face"), Degrees of Directness (Truth), Status (Hierarchy), and the value of Time. It was so interesting to put ourselves in the place of different cultures and try to imagine how easily it would be to misinterpret communications. Most of the cultures that eMi interns are visiting are considered "indirect cultures" which means that entire conversations can having a different meaning from the directness of American culture.
More to come soon...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 1 and I'm already inclined to fall behind with blogging... But I won't! I made it safely to Colorado Springs along with 30ish other interns for orientation week. Although I sat next to a British man who didn't notice my seat going up and down all 5 times as he pressed MY recliner button, the flight went smoothly after he mysteriously left his seat for well over an hour of the flight. I've met my two awesome co-interns for the UK office, Alyssa and Jaspreet, and I'm relieved to see we'll get along pretty well on this trip! Today was mostly get-to-know-each-other stuff and a history of eMi, but it should get more interesting from here on out!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Geographically Challenged?

Geographically challenged? This Fall I will be in working in Colchester, UK which is about 60 miles northeast of London. In October I will be taking a two week project trip to our site in Uganda...on the equator! And beautiful Lake Victoria :)

Monday, August 6, 2012


Before eMi orientation starts, we were asked to take the StrengthsFinder survey from the book by Tom Rath. This quiz helps determine one's individual talents and areas in which one has the greatest potential to develop strengths. My results are as follows:
I guess in orientation they will help us begin to develop these talents, but until then I will share what I've learned from Rath's book.
     Achiever doesn't sound like [most of the time] me. Maybe I subconsciously answered the questions for how I wish I was, because I would love to have the drive that they describe here, "Achiever describes a constant need for achievement...every single day -- workdays, weekends, vacations." Not me. But some quotes I really understood: "select jobs that allow you to have the leeway to work as hard as you want and in which you are encouraged to measure your own productivity." ahem, ARCHITECTURE. There is no better definition, it fits my five years in studio perfectly. And "Your drive for action might cause you to find meetings a bit boring." This makes sense...I hated when we would have class meetings around the table talking about absolutely nothing when we could be getting so much work done!
     Responsibility defined me a little bit better. In one of the book's examples an employee's inability to separate his personal ethics from business ethics cost him his job...but he found that a responsibility to do the right thing was most important to him. This sense of responsibility as well as taking ownership for anything I commit to are both talents I should learn to build on.
     I'm thrilled to get Connectedness, because it describes something I didn't even know was a talent. In fact, it explains a lot of disagreements with people in the part that says, "Don't spend too much time attempting to persuade others to see the world as a linked web. Be aware that your sense of connection is intuitive." Connectedness is all about understanding that things happen for a reason, that we are part of something larger, and that this implies certain responsibilities to others and to the earth. This actually touches a lot on why I'm going abroad for this internship. It says "you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures" and "seek out global or cross-cultural responsibilities that capitalize on your understanding of the commonalities inherent in humanity." I hope to make the lives of all humans better, not only to those who can afford it, but to orphaned children in Africa as well.
    Harmony definitely describes me. I don't like conflict and I don't like debate for the sake of debate. Unfortunately the negative that comes from this is that I am not good at resolving conflict without confrontation so it might get built up into passive-aggressive behavior. The book is helpful in pointing this out, so hopefully this talent does not lead to a weakness.
    Lastly, Futuristic. I think this must be a very common adjective to describe architects, because our whole job is about creating something new and bettering the place where it's built. The book suggests Futuristics pair up with Activators so that we aren't simply dreaming, but that the dreams get put into action. This also closely relates to my internship with eMi, as their slogan is "designing a world of hope". This experience really will be about putting my dreams for the future into action, and conjuring up ideas of a better life for the people I will be helping.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What is this thing?

find out about Engineering Ministries International at

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Exciting News!

I just found out that this October I will be traveling to Uganda to meet the children I've been given the opportunity to help! I'm so excited that my Architecture degree will help me serve as the hands of the body. I will most likely be working with one of the following great organizations: