What is next...


Thank you so much for your support of me, and the work at Mission Adelante over the past 7 years. The Lord did and continues to do great things through the relationships that were built and the seeds that were planted during the course of the ministry there. I have been blown away by the stories that have made their way back to me about former volunteers continuing to minister to the kids they feel called to since programs have ended. Hearing these stories fills me with so much joy, and makes me want to scream out "It worked!" because one of our main goals was to get Jesus followers into intentional relationships with our refugee friends.

The past few months have been pretty crazy in my life. We finished with our End-of-Outreach Party on April 22nd, and on April 26th I moved down the street to Mark Twain Elementary School to serve as a long-term substitute for a 5th-grade teacher going out on maternity leave. It has been a really interesting transition going straight from full-time vocational ministry into full-time elementary school teaching, all the while searching for a job that would be the right fit. During the month of May, I applied for about 30 teaching positions. I also had quite a few Skype interviews, and a few job offers. This past week I went down to Atlanta, Georgia to interview for a few more teaching positions, and accepted a position to teach 4th grade at Idlewood Elementary School in Tucker, GA. Idlewood serves students from all over the world, with a total of 52 languages being spoken amongst the student body.

The Tucker/Clarkston area holds a special place in my heart, 12 years ago I took a job as a youth ministry intern at the Northlake Church of Christ in Tucker, and went back to serve as an intern in some capacity (sometimes youth, sometimes kids, sometimes I wasn't sure what my job was:-)) for 4 summers, over 5 years. It was at Northlake that I learned to do ministry, and had a chance to lead and grow, I have always felt at home there. Somewhere along the way, Northlake began to develop a relationship with the refugee community in Clarkston, GA, just about 10 minutes from the church. Clarkston is where my love of serving refugees began. I remember visiting my first Nepali home during the summer of 2009, being served Tang and Grapes on a gold serving tray, with no air-conditioning and a pile of shoes like a mountain by the front door, it was a scene that became very familiar in my life, not even a year later as I began my work with Mission Adelante.

Though I will greatly miss Kansas City and the relationships I have made here (8 years in August), I am excited to return to the Tucker/Clarkston area at the end of this summer.

Some of you might be wondering what does this look like practically?
I am still in Kansas City, for now, living with my roommates, loving my neighbors, and now beginning to pack. I have been able to save enough money not to work this summer, which is a tremendous blessing which I am so grateful for. I plan to take a small group of girls to camp with Northlake in mid-July and then relocate after camp. I am going to live with my 2nd set of parents (who I lived with while working at Northlake) for a few months while I get settled. I won't be a stranger to Kansas City, as my family is all here, and I have promised my kiddos that I would come back for frequent visits... and even offered to let a few of them come stay with me once I have a place of my own. :-)

Thank you for your love, prayers, and support over the past 7 years, this ministry wouldn't have been possible without you!

A new season...

7 years ago this blog started as I came on staff at Mission Adelante. We were required to have a blog to keep our supporters and friends updated. As time has gone by, this blog has become less important to my ministry, and more important to me as I use it to remember how the Lord has worked in my life, and the lives of those around me. It only seemed appropriate that I share here an important email update sent to all of my supporters this past week. 

Friends, family, supporters, dear ones,

Seven and a half years ago I moved back to Kansas City from Nashville, unsure of what plans the Lord had for me. I knew I loved serving refugees, was skilled as a teacher, and was temporarily living in my parent's basement. Seven years ago I attended my first volunteer training at Mission Adelante. Shortly after, I took on a leadership position and joined the staff of Mission Adelante as the Bhutanese Youth and Kids Outreach Director. When I said yes to joining God in this mission I was unprepared for the wild ride He had in store for me.

Over the past 7 years, I have seen the Lord move in a mighty way. I walked with families through births, deaths, hard decisions, health problems, joy, sorrow, celebration and sadness, all the while proclaiming the name of Jesus and the love God has for them over them through prayers, stories, and service.

Each year our team reflects on what the Lord has done and begins to pray what He may have for us in the future. We noted quite a few things in our reflection this year. The Bhutanese community has now been living in Kansas City for over 7 years, they are for the most part past the "crisis-mode" stage that many newly arrived refugees operate in. New families have stopped arriving in the US (for the most part), the kids are doing really well in school (again, for the most part), families are getting better jobs and buying houses, high-schoolers are going on to college or trade school and finding good jobs, the community is tight-knit and close both in physical space and relationship, families are advocating for themselves and know where to seek resources. As our staff began to think about these things, we realized that many of the goals that we had set out to meet had been met. Our neighbors felt welcomed, they were put into relationship with Jesus followers, their practical needs were met and the Gospel was communicated in both word and deed.

As we realized these things, each of our staff members also began to feel a shift in what the Lord was calling us to and what that might look like in the next season, myself included.

The realization that we had accomplished much of what we set out to do, partnered with what has felt like a very Holy Spirit led shift in callings, has led us to a place where we realized it was time to wind-down the formal outreach to the Bhutanese community through Mission Adelante. With the full support of our Board of Directors, we have set up a timeline to end formal ministry programs by the end of April 2017.

If you are reading this email, you have somehow supported our ministry to the Bhutanese over the years, whether that be as a volunteer, prayer partner, financial supporter, friend, or all of the above. We are so grateful for your partnership.

Through your partnership we have been able to:

  • Develop 35 students through our Leaders in Training program, introducing them to new things, increasing their confidence, and pushing them towards academic success. 
  • Distribute close to 700 backpacks to Bhutanese students and their families to make back-to-school a little easier. 
  • Help over 6,000 books find new homes through kiddos in our programs and partnerships with neighborhood schools. 
  • Increase the knowledge and cross-cultural competence of teachers and staff members in schools in KCK that serve refugees by providing teacher development workshops on Bhutanese culture and the refugee resettlement process. 
  • Share the love of Jesus with literally HUNDREDS of kids, youth and their families.

Thank you for making these things possible!

We know that there is still work to be done in terms of sharing the Gospel and pointing people to Jesus, so a big part of this last trimester is realizing how these things can continue through relationships while celebrating all that the Lord has done.

So, what does this mean for me practically....

  • We are going to be strategically dialing down the intensity of our youth and kids ministry programs during the last trimester. During this time the focus of our staff will be equipping volunteers to continue investing in the families they feel called to. 
  • I will be passing off roles and responsibilities at Mission Adelante that extend beyond the Bhutanese Ministry to enable the programs to continue when I am no longer with the organization (i.e. Book and Backpack distribution) 
  • I plan to continue relationships with the girls I have been discipling, and provide opportunities for them to walk with Jesus and learn about Him, whether or not the Lord keeps me in Kansas City, or calls me to a new place. It makes me so grateful for modern technology. 
  • My last day of employment with Mission Adelante will be in early/mid-May of 2017, allowing me to wrap up any loose ends. 

How you can pray....

  • Pray we finish well, that our last trimester would be fruitful. 
  • Pray for continued provision, I am still in need of the financial donations to finish well. If you are a financial supporter of the ministry please pray about continuing to support the ministry through April. In the coming weeks, I will be sending out more information on how to continue supporting the ministry of Mission Adelante after my departure if that is of interest to you. 
  • Pray for a spirit of celebration of what the Lord has done. 
  • Pray for direction as to what the Lord has next for me. I thought that I would work with Mission Adelante for a long, long time, but have clearly heard the Lord say that it is time for me to look for what He has next for me, which is quite counter-intuitive. Pray that I would also have the patience to wait for the right job. 
Thank you for your love and support over the years! 

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

To read a letter in regards to the ministry transition from our Founder, Jarret Meek, check out the

Trusting the Father

Sometimes as we were wrapping up things at Mission Adelante I would go and work from the IHOP Prayer Room.   As I was doing some journaling and planning for the end of things, I noticed a dad and daughter walking around the edge of the room.

Growing up with a sister in a wheelchair I am always reminded of her, and what I learned growing up when I see kids with some kind of exceptionality.  I had seen this girl and her father at the prayer room before and noticed them because she was blind and maybe had an additional developmental delay. As I watched them interact I noticed that the daughter was 100% at peace in the prayer room, and so much of it seemed to stem from the fact that she was with her father. They walked around the edge of the room, her father guiding her the whole time.  She was completely dependent on him for safety and guidance. Occasionally they would stop walking and she would dance, and it was a dance of great joy.  A dance of celebration and worship.

I learned a lot from that little girl in just about 20 or 30 minutes.  I was reminded what trust looks like, true, honest, steadfast trust.  I was reminded that the Father has got this.  As I am in a season of disorientation, he knows the right direction.  There may be obstacles, but there will be joy and dancing.  And most of all, he has me.  He isn't  going to lead me into a place or a season where I can not be safely tucked into the crook of his arm as we make our way around. 

I wanna have eyes of love...

I don't know if I have ever learned as much as I did in 2016.  

So many hard things happened, and I have grown so much because of it.  
I have learned more and more about what my priorities need to be, what I want my life to look like, and what changes I need to make help that to happen. 

With as hard as 2016 was, I am excited for 2017 and what that means.  How it will look to walk more in line with what I think the Lord is calling me to. 

I found this song on Spotify a few weeks ago, and have shared it like crazy with quite a few friends here in KC.  It speaks so much to what I want 2017 to look like.

*I wasn't aware of the Lipscomb connection.  Small world.

Meeting Jesus in Walmart.....

A few weeks ago I was in the home-goods section of Walmart.  I'm not a huge Walmart fan, but we needed more reusable plates and forks for our after-school program and that seemed like the best place to buy them.  So I'm walking around and I notice an older man in a scooter and on oxygen.  He was looking for twin extra-long sheets for a hospital bed.  He asked the employees for help, reasoning that they should still have them, since students had just gone back to college.  Both employees tried to help them, but couldn't find the sheets.

As I was searching for reusable plastic plates (which are more difficult to find than I would have imagined) I debated with myself over whether or not I should help this man.  He reminded me of my dad in about 20 years.  With a Chiefs shirt, graying hair and a bigger belly.  An older gentleman, but the nicest disposition. Carrying on and joking with the employees as they halfheartedly tried to help him.   I abandoned my search for the plates, and went over to look through the sheets department.  Sure enough, in about 30 seconds I was able to find what he was looking for, even in Chief's red.  I gave them to him, and he thanked me.  Even told me that Walmart should be paying me. I laughed and told him I was good, that I was glad I could help, and walked away because I was starting to tear up.

As I hid in the gloriously chaotic clearance section and acted fascinated with the clearance school supplies (though, maybe it wasn't an act), I tried to come to terms with my response to helping this man.

Was it because he was in a scooter and oxygen, and looking for sheets for a hospital bed.  Was there know one in better shape who could help him out, or was he helping out someone in worse shape than him?

Was it because he was wearing a Chiefs shirt and I am so fiercely missing my own grandparents (huge Chiefs fans), this first Chiefs season without them.

Was it because he reminded me of my own father, both in how he looked, and in the idea that he might be taking care of someone else.  And though my parents both follow Jesus and heaven would be much better than earth, I am terrified of losing them.

Was it because of my own hesitancy to help him?  Kristen in the past would have helped him before the Walmart employee could have given it a go.  Kristen in the past would have looked at it as a small way to be Jesus to someone.  Kristen in her current condition had to mill-over it and decide if it was worth the time.

I think that is what made me sad.  The realization that ministry right now isn't flowing from my heart, but has become something that I ration, something that I have been holding tight-fisted to. Something that I have reserved for places and spaces with the fear of it running out.  

How do I get back to a place, where the joy of Jesus is in my life and ministry happens from the over-flow of that?

Here's to 32

It's been a while.Two years to be exact.

30 has, come and gone.  Which in and of it's self is pretty humbling.30 was fine.  Nothing too crazy.

I reached being fully funded for the first time at work, drawing a full salary for the first time in in over 4 years.  There were some great moments of Jesus breakthrough with the kiddos I worked with.  We saw tremendous growth in our ministry. Both our Tuesday night program and our after-school program grew and multiplied.  I became a boss.  Supervising first 1, and then 3 staff members, and leading our youth and kids ministries.

31 was a little bit different.  A little tougher on a personal level.My sister got really sick, and ended up with emergency surgery and 11 days in the ICU.  While Tiffany was in the hospital, I had knee surgery(I know, my poor parents).  I lost my Granny in January, and Popo in June.

31 had a few good moments.  Disney with my mom, sister and nephews.  Camp with some amazing girls.  Great moments in community with friends in neighbors. Learning to ask for help.

But, somewhere along the line, I realized that I had lost track of who I was.  I got caught up in doing and forgot how to be.  I realized I had become tired, weary, and stoic. I had lost joy. I was becoming bitter.

I didn't like myself.

I was burnt-out.

So, when 32 arrived, I made some resolutions.  Not something you normally do in August, but you know, it works. I decided that I wanted 32 to look different.

I want to waste time.

I want to laugh.

I want to pray more.

I want to be ok with things getting messy.

I want to stop looking to others for approval and affirmation.

I want to to say something other than "busy" or "tired" when people ask how I am doing.

I want to be an encourager, not just someone that is in desperate need of encouraging.

I want to be healthy, in all aspects.

I want to figure out what I enjoy, and get back to doing it.

So, here's to 32, to getting a life, and remembering who God made me to be.

(and, I like writing, so maybe it will be less than two years before I write again:-))

A few photos from the past 2 years...

Sweet Granny B

My sweet Granny Burton passed away from cancer in January. My Granny was someone who loved Jesus and loved others. She was known for being an encourager, someone who saw the best in others and made sure they realized how special they were. I shared at her funeral that growing up, I was convinced that I was Granny’s favorite, but in reality, Granny made everyone feel like they were her favorite.

Mom and I would frequently go visit Granny as she was getting ready to meet Jesus, and in one of our trips, I asked her how Granny became a Christian. I found out that Granny wasn’t raised in the church, and her parents didn’t go to church at all until she was older. Granny came to know Jesus because when she was a little girl, a neighbor invited her to go to church with them.

As someone who work with kids, this hit me hard. I sat and thought about my mom, aunts and uncles, my siblings, my cousins and my second cousins and my nephews and about the legacy of faith that we had inherited which includes loving others and loving Jesus. We probably wouldn’t have that faith if a neighbor didn't take Granny to church because she saw the significance in offering Jesus to her.

I thank God for that neighbor. I am so grateful that they took little Emogene to church, and that she met Jesus there. I am left challenged and wondering, how can I be that neighbor? How can I encourage those around me to be that neighbor?

I have the chance to be that neighbor to many kids and teens. I have the chance to show them that Jesus is the way, that He will forgive their sins, and that following Jesus will make their life better. We can bring God’s Kingdom to earth in how we love and serve those around us. I think about how God used a neighbor 75+ years ago to lead my grandma to the Lord, and as a result 4 generations of our family know Jesus as Lord. What might He do with the kids and teens I get the chance to hang out with? How might He use the relationships that the Jesus followers of our neighborhood have, to change the eternity of generations to come. Wow, that’s a pretty humbling thought.

I'm turning 30, and what it has to do with you :-)

In the past few weeks I have noticed so many milestones happening around me.  In a few weeks we will start our 3rd year of LIT with our biggest class yet, 18 really excited kids.  On Monday the kids that were Kindergartners when Kids Club began had their their first day of 5th grade, their last year before they head to middle school!  And 4 years ago this Sunday I started raising fund to be on staff with Mission Adelante.  Milestones are everywhere.  

In a little under two weeks I am hitting a personal milestone, I am turning 30.   Earlier this year I set a goal to do 30 things that I have never done before or make me feel uncomfortable before I turn 30. I am not a huge risk taker (many of you probably know that), and this seemed like a great time to step outside of my comfort zone.  This set of things to do, has become known as my "list".  Some of the things on my list are fun (like learning to solve a Rubix cube, still haven't gotten that one yet)  and some are funny like dancing at the end of trimester party (if you haven't seen the video yet, check it out here:  Dance Video).  But, a few of them were kind of serious.  

Part of my job at Mission Adelante is to raise support for my salary and a portion of the ministry budget. This is the component of  my job over the last 4 years that has made me the most uncomfortable.  I would rather meet hundreds of new families, make presentations in front of large groups and eat different unfamiliar foods, than talk about funding.  But, having to raise funds has the thing that has grown me the most and taught me about the Lord's provision in the most amazing ways.  

So, when I set out to write my list of things to do, I was convicted to pray that the Lord would provide 30 new donors, or increased monthly supporters by my 30th.  I didn't know if God would, but I have felt like this was a good chance for me to be faithful in what he has called me to do by asking, spreading the word, and giving people a chance to join the team.

In March, my funding was at a critical level and I was close to having to find a part-time job.  But, like he always does, the Lord provided!  Since March the Lord has provided 20 new donors, or increased monthly supporters.  How amazing is that?  

I have been blown away by the Lord's provision.  One of our big goals organization wide this year was for each ministry staff member to reach the point where they are funded 75% by monthly support.  In March I was at 41%, but with the Lord and many people who believe in the work the Lord is doing here,  I am now at 62% funded by monthly support.  Leaving me just about $500 a month away from my goal of 75% funded monthly, and 10 new donors, or increased monthly supporters away from my goal of 30.

So, this is where you come in.  

Would you help me spread the word about how the Lord is moving at Mission Adelante and the different ways to partner with us?

There are 4 main ways to partner with us:
  1. Pray- Pray for our staff and our community
  2. Volunteer-  Serve with us on a weekly basis- check out www.missionadelante.org/bhutanese for more info
  3. Share-  Can I come share with your church or small group?  Email me if you might have a place for me to share the story of what the Lord is doing.
  4. Give-  You can partner with Mission Adelante financially by going to www.missionadelante.org/give .  If you are interested in supporting the ministry the Lord is doing through me be sure to designate Kristen Maxwell ministry support.

Backpacks, Backpacks

It is crazy to think that we have finished our 5th summer of Kids Club! We just finished our 4th year of backpack distribution.  We have been able to bless so many kids and families over the years.

2011:  56 backpacks distributed
2012:  58 backpacks distributed
2013:  67 backpacks distributed
2014: 82  backpacks distributed

This number doesn't include the number of bags also distributed to the participants in the teens programs over the years.  We also have been able to take any bags that are not needed by our community and give them to the schools in our neighborhood to distribute to students who do not have the needed supplies for schools!  It is the gift that keeps on giving, it blesses the kids and families because they do not have to buy as many school supplies, and it blesses the kids and teachers as the students are prepared to learn  on the first day of school!  

A big thank you to Christ Church Anglican for being an ongoing partner in our backpack distribution.  This year they went above and beyond to make sure that all 18 of our LIT students had different bags, which is a huge help in making sure kids don't go home with the wrong backpack at the end of a day of LIT. 

Back to school...

Summer has flown by!  It feels like just yesterday the kids were counting down the days until they were out of school, and we were gearing up for our 3 weeks of Kids Camps!

In less than 12 hours many of the kids in Kansas City, Kansas will head back to school.  As a former teacher, I can't help but be excited about the promises a new year brings, new kiddos, new friendships, new adventures and as I was praying for the kiddos school year, I was convicted to pray for their schools by name.  Will you join me in that.  Join me in praying for the 14 schools that we have kiddos going to.

Pray for protection, pray for peace, pray for wisdom for the teachers and learning for the students.
Pray for schools to be places where kids feel loved and welcomed.
Pray for good influences to surround our kiddos, and when they see things that don't seem right pray that they have the courage to ask questions.
Pray for a supernatural ability of language acquisition for our kiddos who don't speak much English.
Pray for a familiar face, or a new friend for our kiddos who have never attended school in the US.
Pray God would bless the students, teachers, administrators and support staff with a wonderful year!

This year we have kiddos from Pre-K to 12th grade attending the following neighborhood schools:

  1. Wyandotte High School
  2. JC Harmon High School
  3. Sumner Academy
  4. Argentine Middle School
  5. Northwest Middle School
  6. Rosedale Middle School
  7. Central Middle School
  8. Silver City Elementary
  9. Whittier Elementary
  10. ME Pearson Elementary
  11. McKinley Elementary
  12. Mark Twain Elementary
  13. Banneker Elementary
  14. New Chelsea Elementary
  15. Kansas City Kansas Early Childhood Center