Hello! We want to officially welcome you to our Blog Page! We have such a heart for sharing our life experiences through writing, and this Blog will do just that. This page will entail our great love for Jesus, family, music, people and each other. Our hope is that you will keep up with us as we share on our faith, marriage, music releases, travel experiences and what the Lord shows us about day-to-day life. We want to encourage and uplift you whenever you read! Feel free to subscribe, comment, share and enjoy!
Marcus & Carolina
The Presence and The Platform
Hey everybody! It’s hard to believe that January has come to a close. The new year is something that gets most folk excited because of the “reset” way of thinking. In this new year, I’m going to more frequently share written blogs talking about concepts that I feel I can provide great insight on. I used to post blogs like these often in my early twenties. So in a way, you can consider this my reset. :)
I’ve been leading worship for the last 13 years. God has blessed me to be able to travel all over doing what I love, and I have seen many amazing sights along the way. I’ve also come in touch with so many different people through the years that have taught me things that I’ve wanted to apply to my life, as well as things that I haven’t wanted to. It’s been an insanely incredible journey, and I’m excited for what God has planned for the future.
Something that I’ve seen through the years is how so many are drawn to the “big stages”. To the large platforms. Over time, I’ve seen how much I don’t care about the big stage and the big lights. Early on when I was just getting started, I was drawn to big stages as well. In my mind I always thought “one day I’m gonna sing at that church and that church and that church”. All of those churches were big in size and had large congregations. Through the years, I have grown so much in my personal relationship with Jesus to where my time with Him in my room is SO much more important to me than what I do in front of people. I still love leading worship with others obviously, but I seriously cherish the time that I have with the Lord on my own. In fact, the way I’m able to lead people into worship flows out of that. I’ve led on stages in front of thousands and on floors in front of 5. Those instances have been equally integral to my life.
I’ve been in spaces where people didn’t get excited about leading until they saw how many people were in the place. I’ve also seen talented folks not really sing/play to the extent of their talent until they saw that it was a large crowd. I don’t think that should ever be the case. Always remember, talent impresses people, but God’s presence changes people. That should ALWAYS be our focus. Whether there are 10, 100, 1,000 or 10,000, we should always pursue God in the same manner. This is something that I have challenged myself to do, and if you’re a worship leader, I challenge you to do the same. Never make it about the stage or the crowd, but always make it about the presence of God. Every now and then, I’ll get the itch to make it about the people, and I’ll have to renew my mind. Always a good idea to do that.
Anybody who knows me, knows that this isn’t a personal shot against ANYBODY. I’m not that kind of guy. I’m also not trying to say that it’s “bad” to want to lead, play or sing in front of a lot of people. However, just like anything else, God looks at the heart. If your reason is pure, I know Jesus is pleased. But be real with yourself and keep pointing people to Jesus. That’s what “worship leading” is all about. :)
"Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant."
Kenya: God’s Resting Place
Kenya is named after Mount Kenya which is the second highest mountain in Africa. It is suggested that the name “Kenya” is linked to the words Kirinyaga, Kirenyaa and Kiinyaa which mean “God’s resting place.” This being our second time in this beautiful country, we could not agree more with this definition. Being in Kenya, we are always able to see how God’s beauty is manifested throughout the land. We see God in the landscape, in the animals, in the culture and most importantly, in the people.
We were blessed with the opportunity and privilege to visit Kenya for the second time with our Pastor Eric Dorsey and our Elevate Church (www.elevatechurchva.org) family. Pastor Eric and his wife Andrenna sent money to Kitale to start an orphanage back in 2007, and since then that orphanage has expanded to a school of over 350 students. We support the function of this school monthly as a church (teachers’ salaries, supplies, etc.) and take trips over there every couple of years. Though this was our second voyage to Kitale, it almost felt like a completely new experience. We weren’t surprised by the incomparable love we were shown by the people, by the food, by the weather or by our housing accommodations, but it was still such a fresh feeling. I think anytime you’re flying halfway around the world, there’s just such a major shift. And that shift goes well beyond the 7-hour time difference. The biggest shift seems to be in our perspective of what our purpose on this Earth really is. Even if that was our perspective all along; it definitely throws some flame on the fire.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
The first part of our trip always has the potential to be quite daunting. It’s about 18 hours of total airtime from DC to Nairobi, including a 3-hour layover in Dubai. Along with the anxiousness that comes with putting your feet on African soil also comes the anxiousness of just wanting to get off the plane. We then spend the night in Nairobi to get rested up for a 10-hour drive the next day up to Kitale. The living conditions of Kitale are much different than Nairobi. The accommodations are much more meager there. You have to brush your teeth with bottled water, the power could potentially go out at any given time, most toilets are just holes in the ground and the food is that which you would not commonly eat. Our pastor always says “the mission is not about us, so think about that whenever you get ready to complain”. I’m sure by the end of that almost 30 hours of travel, people are ready to just throw all that away. However, when we finally got to our first destination, the orphanage/school that we support, the shift begins to take place. As you arrive, from about a half-mile away, you start to hear chants of “welcome visitors” ringing down the road. Just like in 2016, we were greeted by the most beautiful people you’ve ever seen, except this time there were literally hundreds more. They were singing, dancing, smiling and depositing joy into each of the 28 of us.
The rest of our first official day consisted of us doing a medical clinic for over 200 people, dispersing medication, giving out almost 3,000 pounds of clothes and shoes (which was gone in less than 5 minutes after it was sorted), playing with the children and praying for anyone that would receive from us. For people living in a place that’s considered to be “third-world”, they are some of the most joyous people you will ever find. It’s absolutely beautiful.
“The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
After a very long first day, that night many of us went out in the streets surrounding our hotel to minister to the “street kids”. There are literally thousands of children on the streets of Kitale that have nowhere to live. They are dispersed all over with nothing, but each other. We saw a large number of them that night and spent time/prayed with them. Through the rest of our time there, a number of our team went out every night to give food, blankets and time to these beautiful children. Many of us made bonds with children in particular, and pieces of our hearts are definitely still there with them.
From there, all of the rest of our days looked different. One day we went to a church that our church supplied the roof for and dedicated it. That was a beautiful experience. Knowing that your giving is not in vain, even across the ocean, is totally sobering. That same day, we did another medical clinic and treated a couple hundred more people. While that was ensuing, the rest of us were ministering to others, praying and playing with children. Again, everyone had so much joy and that joy was absolutely infectious! Another lesson that we learned from the people there is that your attitude can change someone else’s perspective and make such a healthy impact on them.
On another day, we split up and went to different orphanages. The one we traveled to was called “Precious Kids Center”. This orphanage specializes in special-needs children. Marcus first went to this orphanage back in 2016, and at that time there were only about 40 kids there. This time around there were 102! Kids that suffer from so many different issues, but with some of the most beautiful souls you will ever find. A truly unforgettable moment was when we stood in the middle of the building and prayed for the children, as well as the volunteers that make it happen. Almost all of us were in tears, and the presence of God was so powerful in that moment. These kids are perceived to have so much working against them. They’re orphans, have special needs and live in a third-world country, but they are children of God. We know that God has not forgotten them!
On the Sunday we were there, many of us split up and ministered at different churches all around Kitale. Once again, we were amazed at the hunger we saw at Family Glory Revival Church. Carolina led a song of worship and Marcus preached a word on your hunger for God being fulfilled. It was an extremely powerful service and the Spirit of God was in total control. Marcus stressed to the congregation over and over that being rich in spirit is so much more valuable than anything else we could possibly obtain.
From there, we left Kitale and headed down to Massai Mara for a safari to cap off our time in Kenya. Seeing all of God’s beautiful creation was really the perfect ending to such an impactful trip. Just like we can see God’s hand in all of the mountains, waters and animals, we are able to see His hand over the people/nation of Kenya.
“The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him.”
Once again, our hearts were marked forever. The people there always look to receive so much from us, but in turn we receive more from them than they could ever imagine. Until we’re able to get over there again, our hearts, minds, and resources will continually be with those beautiful souls. Our Father is with them and so are we.
If you would like to give toward what we do in Kenya, you can to so here-àhttps://app.easytithe.com/g3/
Peace & Love,
Marcus + Carolina
PUERTO RICO SE LEVANTA
On September 16, 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by a massive Category 5 Hurricane called Maria. It was considered the deadliest storm of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season. Approximately 80% of the territory's agriculture was lost due to the hurricane, and many were left without power, shelter, food and clean water. One month after the hurricane, 88% of the island was without power (about 3 million people). Three months after the hurricane, 45% of Puerto Ricans still had no power (over 1.5 million people). To this day, there are still many without power.
Realizing that there was a great need in Puerto Rico, Elevate Church organized a trip to the Island. On January 26th, 2018, a group of 16 brave and compassionate people departed the Washington DC area and landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Many of us were carrying donations including non-perishable canned foods, toiletries, batteries, flashlights, clothes and shoes. Our assignment was to help the people in Aguadilla, which is a city an hour and 45 minutes West of the capital. Many people in this region live on farmlands in the mountains making it harder for them to have access to resources. Most of the people we visited had no power. In addition to constructing new roofs and bringing food and supplies to the people, our mission was also to display the love of God to the Puerto Ricans. We wanted to be a source of hope to them. For them to know that we had traveled far to meet them, love them and remind them that they were not forgotten. Here are some of the highlights of the trip:
As we settled into where we stayed in Jobos Beach, we packed 20 bags filled with canned foods, snacks, boxed juices, granola bars, baby wipes, batteries and flashlights. The women were assigned to hand out the bags the next day while the men in the group were assigned to construct three roofs that had been destroyed by the hurricane.
Saturday the 27th-
We started the day off with a devotional time where we prayed and worshipped together. After that, the men took off to help with construction and the women rode into the mountains to pass out bags and pray for people. The drive to the mountains was a scary and risky one. I was honestly scared for my life! The roads were the narrowest I had ever seen and we were driving on the edge of cliffs the whole time. There were fallen trees surrounding the road and houses demolished from the hurricane. We went to places that not even the army or FEMA had gone to because of how dangerous the road getting there was. Even so, Elevate Church made it with the grace and protection of God! Once in the mountains, we were led by a local friend who knew the needs of the people and showed us the houses we needed to go to. Some of the homes had sick people who were bedridden, and others had families with children and elders. We passed out our bags to these families and prayed for healing in their bodies and for God to comfort them. It was very emotional to see many of these people suffering without power, medication, food and clean water. Yet they were grateful to see us and were comforted by our presence and willingness to help them. During our time in the mountains, the men in the group were reconstructing roofs with tools they had brought.
Sunday the 28th-
Again, we started the day with devotions and shared a bit about what we had experienced the day prior. The women bought more supplies and food to make 20 more give-away bags. So, in total we passed out 40 bags to 40 different families during our trip here. We drove into the mountains again, and met with another friend who was going to show us people who were in need of these bags. We met one family in particular that was in the middle of rebuilding their home out of cement because their previous home made out of wood was destroyed from a landslide during the storm. The only two people rebuilding this house were the husband and wife. The husband worked a full-time job as a mechanic and would come home to construct his house until late into the evening. It was a heartbreaking sight to see. Another person we met was a wonderful elderly woman. Her roof was being worked on by the men in our group while she stayed with family members. She was so blessed to see us and couldn’t believe that we had come from the U.S. to pray for her, worship with her and give her food. She said that she was too sick to go to church so we told her that we would bring the church to her! We sang songs in English and Spanish and we prayed for each other. She asked us what the name of our church was and we told her “Elevate” or “Elevar” in Spanish. I will never forget her response, she proceeded to say in Spanish “Pues eso es lo que han hecho conmigo” (This is what you all have done to me today; you have elevated me). That alone made this whole trip worth it. The fact that we elevated people and encouraged them through God’s love and His presence.
It was an honor and privilege to get to know this island and its beautiful people. God’s love is so present even in the midst of crisis and I’m grateful that He chose us to be His light. I often caught myself thinking if the little we were doing was really making a difference in the bigger scheme of things. Thoughts like this would discourage me. But then one of the leaders spoke truth and reminded me that a bag we gave to a family was a bag more than they had before. And a roof we constructed, was a new roof they didn’t have before. Instead of drowning myself with thoughts of what else could be done, I had to think about the seeds of love sown that I know have eternal value and make a difference. We will continue to be praying for Puerto Rico and for the restoration of the land. We agree with the Hashtag #PuertoRicoSeLevanta meaning Puerto Rico will rise up and we declare that over the island. Puerto Rico will rise!
“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will rise up on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
February 6th, 2018