14 March 2011

Back from Cambodia!

Hi, Friends!

I'm back from Cambodia and almost un-jet-lagged. :0) It's taken a bit longer than normal thanks to the crazy time difference.

The trip was incredible. It would be impossible to sum up all we did and saw. So many stories.... so I wrote about it on my missions blog. If you get a chance, please stop by! I'd love to see you there!

Just go here.

Have a great week!

21 February 2011

Packing...

I'm getting on a plane on Friday! This time next week I'll be in Asia. It definitely does not feel real. It's been a while since I've been overseas so I'm kind of out-of-body right now. Haven't started packing yet. If I pack earlier than the night before I leave, I'll be stressed out at having a project "half finished"... which means instead I'm stressing out over all I have to do! :0)

My mind is so swirly right now that I don't feel like I have much to say writing-wise. Instead I'm wondering the answers to these two all important questions:

1) What is one item you always make sure to pack?

and

2) Is Cheese Whiz considered a liquid?


Just kidding about the second one! But I am curious as to your all-important item!

Me? Zip loc bags. All it took was 1 serious rainstorm where I learned the value of wrapping everything in plastic. I'm too cheap to afford travel cubes, so every trip I buy a new box of gallon-sized bags and use those to organize the contents of my suitcase.

Oh, and my camera, of course!

You?

14 February 2011

Character Sketch

Went for a walk yesterday and saw this:



Who do you think they were?

And where are they now?



My guess: Um... teenagers who are currently in jail for vandalizing private property (notices the falls in the background... it's a state park). :0)

Just kidding!

07 February 2011

Good-Bye to a Good Friend

Hey, Friends! Thank you for your responses to last week's post! It meant a lot to read of your promises for prayer, encouragement, and excitement!


Now, for some bittersweet news.

I said good-bye to a dear friend this weekend.

To be honest, I took her for granted. She appeared the same night as my high school graduation, introduced to me by a cousin of my mother's whom I have never met, seen a picture of, or heard her voice (meaning I'm convinced she's a ghost) and I didn't think this new friend had a place in my life. After all, I was finished with high school. I still had my old trusty old friend... and I'm one of those people who doesn't need a large group to be happy. I'd rather have one or two close friends. What did I need her companionship for?

So I stuffed her in the back of my closet.

Three years later, my old friend and I bid farewell. She was bound for the dumpster. I was poor. Remembering the "new" friend in the back of my closet (now aged three years, but with no wear whatsoever), I sheepishly asked for her forgiveness.

She said she'd think about it.

From that day on, she accompanied me to every class. When I graduated from college, she went with me all over the world- from the feral Amazon Jungle to the mountains of Southern Africa, the slums of Delhi, India, and a Central American lake.

Somewhere in the midst of all of our travels, she became a bit worn. A snag here, a tear there... until a year ago I noticed her simply falling apart from the stress of our life together. The doctor couldn't fix her broken pieces.

And tonight, I met a new friend.

I'm excited about this new relationship. This new friend will go with me to places I've never known before and show me things I never new existed. But first, I want to send my old friend- who, I'm ashamed to say, I didn't want- good-bye.

You were always there, my perfect traveling companion. I will never forget you. Thank you for shouldering my burdens, for making my life easier. For nine years, you served me without complaining, even when I slung you in the dust and threw you across the room. Nothing was too heavy for you... even though some things were too big. Most of all, I loved how you let me use you as a pillow on layovers. I only hope you don't end up in a landfill.


Some pictures from our life together:

In the bottom of our boat on our 2 day trek out to the remote villages of the Amazon Jungle (we slept in those hammocks at night):



On the floor of my room in India:



Okay... so, silly. This weekend I threw out a bookbag I had for 9 years. It got to the point where the zipper didn't zip at all, and I was unable to get it replaced. Having not been bookbag shopping since my freshman year of high school, I was amazed at all the choices in the store.

The one I ended up getting supposedly will last me for life. That's nifty. It has a lot of organizational pouches that make me really happy- and excited to try it out in a few weeks!

Still, even though I knew it was a necessary purchase and it was something that's been on my "I'll need to buy one soon so I need to prepare for that" list for about a year, I refused to buy one until my old one was completely wasted.

Kind of like some ideas I've had....plotlines, characters, conversations, titles... I've discovered that in life I have a tendency to hold on long after the point of "It's time to let go".

Do you have that problem? Your characters?




P.S. Seriously... isn't a bookbag an odd gift for a graduation?

02 February 2011

Cambodia (Take two!)

Some of you remember when I boarded a plane a few years ago, bound for Cambodia... and never made it. I ended up getting stranded in India for two weeks. Thankfully, I knew people there!

But guess what? I'm going Feb 25-March 5, 2011... and I am SOOOOOOO excited! I know it's soon and this trip has come fast, but it's something I've been praying about for a while. Seeing it become reality is so great!

For me, it started in Swaziland, when I met teen girls taking care of their siblings because their parents had died. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen years old, and they were responsible for feeding, clothing, and providing for their brothers and sisters. When there was a knock on the door late at night and a man stood there with a bag of oranges.... they felt like they had no where else to turn.



A few months later, friends of mine went undercover in Southeast Asia just to see how deep the industry went. Within a few hours, these men of God were brought two girls, one seven-years-old and the other fourteen. My friends refused to hurt these girls and returned later to rescue them -only the girls could not be found.

Then, in India, I met precious little ones whose families couldn't afford to feed them and instead, sent them to an orphanage. If they hadn't been in a safe place, some of these children would have been sold into prostitution.



The reality of the global sex industry hit home for me last fall, when I spent a night in Atlanta working with a location ministry dedicated to ministering to prostitutes, strippers, and those who pay for their services. Walking the streets of the city, meeting and praying for those who live their lives in the dark, I began to pray to be able to do more, both for those here in the States and those overseas.

The prevalence of sex trafficking has become so great that it is a common request for missions trips here at AIM. This year we added an Ambassador trip for junior and senior females to Thailand. Students are filling that trip almost as quickly as the ones to Africa (they always go first). Most of the female leaders I've interviewed in the past few weeks have asked about that trip before any of the others. We have an STM trip to Thailand as well, and other programs within AIM have trips solely decided to ministry in the world of sex trafficking.
I have friends living in Southeast Asia working with those trapped in the sex trade. For them it isn't a story, something happening far away. It's the little boys, little girls, and teenagers they see every day. Their stories break my heart. Their stories make me want to drop everything and go myself.



(Photo by Ashley Musick, Angkor Wat, Cambodia)

And now, and opportunity has come! Feb 25-March 5, 2011, Connie Rock and I are going to Cambodia! For the short time we are there, we will stay with Alli Mellon, the Executive Director of the Hard Places Community, who lives in Cambodia with her team and two daughters. She asked us to come, see her life, share in her ministry, and pour into the team there. Missionary love... it's so needed.

AIM also has a two year team living in the same city, four women being mentored by Alli and are committed to working in this heartbreaking ministry. We've been asked to debrief these girls as well, to love on them, encourage them, pray for them, and give them whatever they need.

I'm excited. So excited. One, to see some close friends I've missed for a long time. Two, to go out and do what I love to do most- love on people and share the hope of Christ. Three- to see the powerful impact of the Lord through His people in a dark world. And four, to encourage the Body of believers in a small corner of Southeast Asia, to hold their hands, pray over them, and help carry their burdens to the Father.

Please pray for me as I go! The cost of this trip is $1700 and it's coming fast! To all of you who gave one time gifts or above your regular contributions these past few months, that support will go towards my trip there. Half of the amount I need has come in so far, which is awesome. THANK YOU! I still need around $700 to completely pay for this trip, so I would appreciate any prayers concerning giving specifically for this trip.

For those of you who’ve prayed about/mentioned occasional one time gifts, this is a good time for that. Just go to http://www.adventures.org/give, click on the “AIM Staff” link, and type my name when asked. Or you can snail mail to: Adventures In Missions, Inc., P.O. Box 534470, Atlanta, Ga. 30353-4470. "Kristen Torres-Toro" needs to be on the memo line and all checks need to be made out to Adventures in Missions.

Most of all, I need your prayers as I board a plane once again and travel to the other side of the world. I'm asking specifically for 20 prayer partners for this trip. If you are willing to commit to pray for me while I prepare and go overseas, please either reply to this email/blog or message me in some way. Thank you!

Here are some links for you to see more about what is going on in Cambodia:



1. A link from AIM's CEO, Seth Barnes: http://www.sethbarnes.com/?filename=sonyas-story-needs-to-be-told
2. A link talking about the 2 Year Team in Cambodia: http://adventures.org/cambodia/?tuid=4225341
3. A link to Daughters of Cambodia, ministry working with trafficking victims in Cambodia: http://daughtersofcambodia.org/





Photo Credits:
*1st pic- pic by one of my Swazi team members 2006
*2nd pic- child on the street in India. Photo by Kristen Torres-Toro

31 January 2011

Monday...

Thank you for all of your birthday wishes! I had the best day!

Due to a crazy week and the need to get to sleep, there's no writing related post this morning. But please come back on Wed for an announcement. I'm going overseas at the end of this month and I can't wait to tell you about it!

24 January 2011

Something New

Two weeks ago I said something was in the air. After all, it snowed on Christmas Day for the first time in my life. I moved my prologue... and thought it worked. Now I'm even considering changing the voice, despite the fact that it would take so much work. Still don't know about that one.

My birthday is Tuesday (Yay!) and ... snow is in the forecast. Not a "storm" like last week, just flurries. But it counts. For the first time in my life... maybe in the history of the state of Georgia, we might have snow both on Christmas and on Jan 25.

This morning I looked outside for those unicorns. Guess they are still on their way. For the record, I've also requested centaurs and fauns to accompany them. :0)

And for the biggest impossibility of all.

I have a close friend with incredible taste in clothing. She always looks like a runway model. Sometime this year I began to suspect that she was slowly making over my closet with a suggestion here, encouragement there. I'd buy (cheap- we shop at outlets, Marshalls, and TJmaxx) stuff completely on her "Girl, that looks great on you!" comments. I'm not as interested in fashion as I am in color/comfort. So I trust her opinion.

But I have a few things I draw the lines on.

1) Jeans. Jeans bore me. I'm convinced they all look alike (when I told my friend that, she spent half an hour trying to convince me that every jean is unique and fabulous...um, no), and their only purpose is to be there... like ponytails, cereal, and sandwiches- what you wear when there is nothing else to wear. They are like a green screen when I see them on other people. I see their shirts and shoes, and the rest fades as if it isn't there.

I wear jeans, but I only have 2 pairs, just in case one gets dirty before I'm able to do laundry. I don't see the point in needing more. I only wear jeans when it's below 50 degrees outside. And don't get me started on skinny jeans. Not going to happen. Ever.

2). Pencil skirts. I love clothing that flows. Pencil skirts just emphasize hips, and what good is there in that?

Last weekend, I went shopping with my friend. She motioned at the jeans rack and suggested I try one on. I said no, that I didn't need anymore jeans in my life. I have two pairs... and it'll be warm enough in March that I won't wear them again until November. But to appease her, I grabbed a pair without glancing at them individually, just at sizes. Went into the dressing room...

They fit perfectly. Name brand jeans so on sale that even I can afford them, (NOT skinny jeans... seriously, never). First and only pair I tried on.

Impossible.

I walked out of the store bored, because even though it was a great find, they were still jeans. Not exciting. But my friends were excited for me. And even I know the odds of the first pair of jeans you try on looking great on you.

Last night, at another discount store, I found a pencil skirt for $10 that was remotely comfortable and not a giant hip billboard.

Three weeks into the new year, and it's like my mind has been repeatedly blown. I have a third pair of jeans. And a pencil skirt. Everything I knew to be true has turned upside down and laughed at me. Maybe this is my year after all. Hmm.

That being said, now I'm going to go scrutinize my story, to see if it's better in 1st person (current condition) or 3rd person. Oh, I hope it's 1st. Please, Lord. Wish me luck!



*As of Sunday night, Jan 23, snow has been removed from the forecast for this week. Whew! That was definitely too much for me to handle!