Thursday, December 18, 2008
Because it is Christmas time, I've already heard about a million and one Christmas carols and I thought to myself the other day, WHY do a lot of the carols sound so sad and depressing. I mean, think about it... start singing some Christmas songs in your head. It came upon a Midnight Clear... What Child is This... and finally Silent Night. And I kinda laughed when I thought about how "Silent" that "Night" actually was... let's see, we have a virgin mother giving birth in AWFUL conditions, barn yard animals, a TON of people in the small village of Bethlehem, shepherds, a HOST of angels singing... does that night sounding silent to you? It sounds like a Loja FIESTA to me!!
And as I thought about a Latin fiesta, I thought now THAT is what our Christmas carols should sound like. I'm convinced that the angels singing sounded more like salsa music than opera!
With all that said, I realized that sometimes I forget how truly exciting the birth of Christ was (and is). This is not something to solemnly speak words to, it is something to yell from the rooftop: "MY SAVIOR IS BORN!!!"
So how silent will this night be? It depends on how loud you proclaim the Savior's birth.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
As I sit in the Quito airport waiting for my flight back to the States, I think back on the past year and all that God has done. It truly blows my mind.
God has given me to the opportunity to share Jesus, to make friends, to learn Spanish and to live as a Lojana. As I left Loja for "home," I felt like I was leaving my home, my family and my life to come "home" to my home, my family and my life. I cannot explain to you the way my heart is broken to leave these people (even if just for a month!) and how my heart is bursting with joy to see everyone in the States.
Yesterday my friend grabbed my hand and said, "You have changed my life, seriously," and I just wanted to burst into tears, fall on my knees and thanks Jesus for this opportunity to serve these beautiful people. May GOD receive all the glory for the things that have happened this year and may HE receive the glory for what WILL happen this next year.
Thank you for walking with me this year, praying for me, and keeping up with my funny, tearful and crazy stories.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
So my friends have been bugging me for about a month to go and eat “tigrillo” with them. They have been trying to convince me that tigrillo is a small “tigre” (tiger). I did not believe them, not for a single second, UNTIL my friend’s dad wrote her an email and said that when he put that word through a translator, that it came up with this small cat.
SOOOO I was convinced that we were going to eat this small cat thing. I figured, I’ve eaten everything else, why not?
We get to the restaurant and my friend, Paul says to me, “You have to tell them what part of the tigrillo you want… head, heart, legs.” And I figured legs sounded safe to me. The lady came up to take our order and Paul “Un tigrillo entero” (the whole thing) and I thought to myself I don’t want the whole thing, so I said, “Un medio… solo las piernas.” At that moment, my friends DIED laughing as the woman gave me the weirdest look I’ve ever received. I suddenly realized that they had been playing a joke on me the whole time and later found out that tigrillo is just banana, eggs and cheese. I still have no clue why they call it tigrillo, but my friends sure got me that day! (Payback is the picture that I have just posted... haha)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I have been amazed by children this week... first there was a 2 year old hailing a cab (that made me laugh) and then there was the little one year old singing and waving her hands during church (now THAT is undignified worship!)
But nothing could prepare me for the story that my friend Andrea told me about her 7 year old son. They were in the house the other day; Andrea, her son Nicolas, and her mom when several men with knives came into their house to rob them. As they are taking their money, laptops, televisions, anything and everything worth something, her 7 year walks up to one of the men holding a machete, hugs him and says, "Jesus loves you." And then walks back to his mom and sits down. Andrea told me that she is convinced Nicolas is the only reason that these men did not kill them. As the men are packing up to leave, this little 7 year old says one more time, "Jesus loves you and I forgive you."
I wish we all could know Jesus' love and forgiveness like Nicolas.
Monday, November 17, 2008
"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, "Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown." And he replied, "Go out into the darkness & put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light & safer than a known way."
-- M.L. Haskins
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I saw the tears streaming down her face. Can God really do something this amazing this quickly?
Last week we partnered with one of the local churches, Semilla de Mostaza to do a youth camp. We invited a whole bunch of our friends who don’t attend church and combined them with the youth from Semilla totaling 45 people.
I invited all the girls from my bible study, and one of my friends Maria de los Angeles invited her friend Anita. Anita NEVER wants to come to any “Bible” type things so I was really surprised when they showed up at El Sendero to pay her $15 to go. Even as she was handing over the money, she looked leery about the whole thing. I found out later that Anita told Maria that if she didn’t feel right, she was going home. And Maria told her that if she didn’t have a good time she would pay her $15!
Maria confessed to me today that the entire weekend she was praying for Anita. She said, “I just keep praying over and over, ‘Lord touch Anita!’” And touch her he did… the last meeting we had, Claudio, the speaker gave the gospel and sure enough, I looked up and Anita was standing with tears streaming down her face. Maria assures me that she is different. Anita is not the same person she was a week ago. She now has a relationship with Jesus.
The prayer of a righteous man (or woman) is powerful and effective.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I love stories… and I realized today that Jesus does too. I’ve been reading in Acts and was brought to tears as I read about how an angel of the Lord rescued Peter from the jail. God really CAN do this. It is not beyond his reach. I remember telling one of my friends one time, “If God wanted a frog to jump out of my ear, I believe that it would.”
I have seen him move mountains, I’ve heard of his wonderful acts not only in this day and age, but in the past. When I read Acts, I don’t just see history, I see testimony after testimony of how awesome our God is and what he can do. But for some reason we are all so afraid of telling OUR story or the stories of how God is working today.
So here’s my story for the day, I pray that you are encouraged and see that YES God is working and moving in the world and in Loja.
I’ve written about him before, Gabriel. I met him about 8 months ago in the café. He looked like a normal 16 year old kid, just hanging out and doing his thing. But if you talked to him, you quickly realized that he had more problems than he knew what to do with. That was then, and this is now. I haven’t seen him for a good couple months, but yesterday he walked into the café and looked like he’d come straight of the streets… dirty, bloodshot eyes, and a half of an earring hanging out of his left ear. We began to talk and he quickly got to the point of what he wanted… to forget, to numb the pain and to try and fill the void that was consuming his soul. He said that God couldn’t love him because of what he’d done, of who he was.
My heart hurt for this kid… I didn’t know what to say except that he was never too far for God not to love him. He told me that I didn’t know… that I hadn’t been there. Just then, my friend Romel, who HAS been in that place walked in. I told Gabriel that maybe I didn’t know but I know people who have been worse off and the Lord has met them right where they were.
What came next was such a beautiful thing I almost cried. I introduced Gabriel to Romel and after some small talk, Romel began to share his heart with him. “I know the drugs are good.” I thought this was a little bit of a funny way to start, but he continued, “But they will never fill. When you decide that you want help, here are all my numbers. Call me. I don’t care if it’s 3am. I don’t care if you have no where to stay and you have to sleep on my floor. I will pick you up from wherever. You just call when you’re ready.” I don’t know what will happen with Gabriel, but one thing I do know, I saw the Lord use one kid’s life to touch another hurting life.
THIS is the body of Christ. THIS is mission. THIS is how God works. THIS is God’s story… never underestimate the power of an Almighty God!
Monday, November 3, 2008
So many people are scared to tell their story... it's either "boring" or "too bad"... it's either "no one cares" or "people will be talking about me for weeks"... and that's what Satan wants. He wants to use a part of your past, your present or the fear of the future to paralyze you... why? Because he knows that TESTIMONY is powerful.
Think about it... the man who was blind from birth being healed by Jesus on the Sabath; the Samaritan woman's testimony to her city of who Jesus was; the paralytic walking. Seriously, if you think about it the list goes on and on. And people were moved to ACTION because of their stories of the REALITY of Jesus.
Part of the "program" that the team put on while they were here included testimonies; from the team and from Ecuadorian Christians. One of these was from my friend Romel. I love how he starts his testimony, "I'm famous. If you say the name Romel Torres in Loja, everyone knows who you're talking about. They will say yeah, he drinks, does a ton of drugs, gets with any girl he can and is known for starting fights. So when they hear what God has done in my life they don't believe it."
And then there's Jack... hearing how God brought him from homelessness and alcoholism to walking with the Lord blows my mind.
But some of my favorites are people like Diego. Diego is a volunteer at El Sendero and he always tells me that he has a boring story and that no one wants to hear it, but watching him this weekend at the El Sendero/Semilla de Mostaza camp was truly a blessing. He shared a devotion about the Samaritan woman and how she was trying to hide who she was, just like he used to hide who he was. He was always trying to show people the part of him that he thought they wanted to see. But then realized that his identity lies in Christ.
How many of us need to learn that lesson? My identity is not my ugly past, my ok-looking present or what I think might be my awesome future. My identity lies ONLY in the fact that I am a daughter of the King. Nothing more, nothing less.
Don't be afraid to share your identity... don't let Satan paralyze you with fear or pride. Let the Lord use all that you have and all that you lack for his glory... SHARE IT!
Gracias amigas para compartir sus vidas conmigo! (Thank you friends for sharing your lives with me!)
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I remember telling Brian that there was something special about this mission trip and he said that he felt it too. He told me that for the past several weeks he felt the Lord preparing him for something crazy. I don't think even he realized how crazy it would truly get.
It was Sunday night and the guys started telling how they met and proposed to their wives... some of the stories were really sweet and others picked up their wives with the romantic phrase: 'Hey girl where you going? I'm going wich you.' Needless, this is where I began to piece together a little about how God brought them to the places they were at. I remember very clearly the Lord telling me to ask Brian the rest of his story.
So the next night Page, Britney, Elaine, Brian and I were sitting at dinner and I asked to hear how the Lord got ahold of his life. As he finished, I told him that I would love to add him to my book of people's lives and he gave his permissions, so here it is:
He became a Christian when he was a young kid, but as soon as he got to college, he decided it was time to experiment. After a while, he and his band started touring around, playing (I have to add here that Brian is an amazing drummer) and doing a lot of drugs. One night they were at a friends house smoking some marijuana when Brian just started flipping out... it was laced with PCP. He told me, "Everyone's faces looked like demons. And the more they tried to help me, the more freaked out I became. I mean, think about it, if you have a whole bunch of demons grabbing for you, you're not just going to let them!" So they called the cops and when the cops showed up, they too looked like demons and so Brian grabbed a knife from the kitchen to fend them off.
At this point during the story, Brian said, "I know that even at this point the Lord had his hand on me... just a week before the cops had shot a guy for doing exactly the same thing." He was convinced to put down the knife and they strapped him in for the ride to the hospital. Brian said as he laid in that ambulance a peace came over him. And that by the time he got to the hospital and thrown into a completely padded room, he had calmed down.
The cops wanted to make sure he didn't have a record, so they asked for his name and he gave it to them. Here's the kicker, believe it or not, there is another guy with Brian's exact name who is a felon and has a rap sheet 10 miles long. So they ask him for his social security number and he refuses to give it to them (and began to freak out again). "No man, I'm not giving you my social security number?!"
I find it amazing how even in these places the Lord has us in his hands... at just that moment a hospital worker walked through the doors and instead of the face of a demon, he had the face of an angel. For some reason, Brian knew that he could trust him. He walked straight up to Brian, put his hand on his shoulder and said, "Just give us your social." Brian told me, "For some reason I knew in my soul that I could trust this guy, so I gave him my number and as the guy turned to leave, I saw a cross around his neck and he said, 'You're gonna be ok.' And I said, 'Yeah I know.'"
He got out that night and instead of going home with the people that he'd been with, he went to his sister's house. That night the Lord spoke to him in an almost audible voice, "I have never left you. I love you and I forgive you."
When Brian finished telling me his story, we all had tears in our eyes. He told me that he'd never really told anyone his story before... two days later he stood up in El Sendero and shared his story with everyone who was there. This is a man who has seen grace and will never be the same because of it.
Brian, be strong and courageous. The Lord will be with you wherever you go. Thanks for sharing your life with me.
Friday, October 24, 2008
A whirlwind of music, new friends, laughter, crying, and no sleep. Last month I was dreading the days leading up to the short term mission trip I was leading... as I dropped off my new found friends at the airport Friday morning, I dreaded their leaving.
There are so many stories from this week, I'm not sure where I should even start. This is just a starter to peak your interest, but know there are MANY more to come later down the road.
I had my idea on whose story I was going to tell first and then decided that I would tell mine. Bob Collins asked me about 5 months ago if I would take this team and I said yes without praying about it much (or even thinking about it for that matter!). I hate to even say this but about 2 months ago I was regretting saying yes and I was trying to pawn it off on someone else. But the Lord knows, doesn't he?
Last Thursday I went to pick them up from the Quito airport and I was about as nervous as I get. I was thinking of everything horrible that could possibly happen; I'm too young, they won't respect me... they won't like me... I'm going to end up losing someone... they are going to be boring... and then all of the sudden I see a group coming towards me... and how do I saw this nicely? They were quite a bit OLDER than I thought the team would be. The thought running through my mind was, "Someone is definitely going to break a hip..."
I'm happy to report that that WASN'T the group. I waited another 30 minutes and then saw the smiling faces of the team from Brookwood. From day one we connected. And every day after that I got to see God move in and through them in such amazing ways.
I don't know about you, but most people are pretty crabby if they don't have their comforts. Let's just say that FOUR out of the TEN people lost luggage. And not just stupid luggage either, ALL their clothes. And they didn't complain once. They were such troopers.
But let me tell you what God taught me through this trip. He taught me how to pray. Because of my many trips with Jen Ben (my fellow youth minister from POP), I know how important prayer is to short term missions. But this trip was different. A month before this trip even began, the Lord drew me to pray for these people I didn't know. You can look at my prayer journal and you will see prayers for one person that the Lord would call them into doing missions longer term and at just the right time the Lord has us talk about that exact subject. The freaky thing was that they told me that THAT day the Lord had been pushing them to consider it. Coincidence? And that is just one of dozens of examples.
Friday, when I was reflecting on the trip, I realized that the entire week had been one huge series of God telling me to tell people things and them saying, that is exactly what I needed to hear. And I said to God, "Wouldn't it be awesome if I lived like this ALL the time??"
And then I realized, that's what I want. I want to be in CONSTANT communion with God. Hear him speak and move accordingly. Like if God tells you to take a team of people you don't know on a short term trip, don't second guess... just do it. You never know when YOU will receive a bigger blessing them you give.
That's what God taught me this week... maybe later I'll tell you someone else's story on what God taught them.
p.s. Daniel, Andy, Page, Britney, Mike, Elaine, AnnLee, David, Kelly and Brian, thank you for blessing my life.
Monday, October 6, 2008
This was not a day I was looking forward to, but I figured... eh, you only live once. Gotta try it all.
It was my friend's going away party and she couldn't leave Loja without first trying the infamous Caldo de Nervio... roughly translated Ox Penis Soup. When we arrived at "Amigos" the menu outside proudly displayed, not only Ox Penis Soup, but also tongue and pig's feet... if that didn't satisfy, you could always go for a MIXTURE of the three.
Believe it or not, we had to wait in line to get seated and then our table settled on sharing 4 bowls of a mixture of ox penis and pig's feet. (Which doesn't sit well at 10:30 in the morning!)
When your bowl is set before you, you think, 'No big deal. Just looks like soup.' It's not into you put one of these little things in your mouth that the texture of a fatty like jello substance hits your tongue. So you think, 'Chew and swallow... chew and shallow!' But as you begin to chew you realize that you are chewing on a sponge that won't disintegrate. Now you have two options... do what is natural and throw it up all over the table or swallow. I went against natural instinct and swallowed.
Anyone up for some Ox Penis Soup??
This was probably enough to turn most peoples' stomachs, but for those who want to see more, click here.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
As you watch them float across the floor you think she must be a professional, but little does anyone know that is has very little to do with her.
The other night I went to watch one of my friends sing with her band and afterwords people started dancing and as per usual, the salsa began. One of the guys walked up to one of my friends and asked her to dance.
For the next 20 minutes we all sat and stared as he led her across the dance floor as if they’d been dancing together for years. He pushed her where he wanted to go and all she did was just follow his lead through the twists, turns and steps.
As I sat in amazement the Lord spoke to me heart, ‘That’s what I want to do with you.’ At first I was a little confused. The Lord wants to teach me how to salsa? But as I watched I realized that this guy was making my friend look good. He displayed her beauty for all to see. There were only 2 or 3 times where it seemed like they didn’t know what was going on and you know where that was? When she tried to lead and when she didn’t follow his lead.
Here are the words He was speaking to me:
‘I want to lead you where I want you to go. I know how to show your beauty to the world so that they see ME in YOU. But the moment you step forward and try and take the lead, my glory will not be displayed in you. The moment you don’t follow my urgings is the moment you will fall. So let go, take my hand and let me take the lead.’
If you have ever seen me salsa, you know that follow-the-leader is not my strong suit. I can salsa with the girls, having fun and playing around, but the moment that another person steps in the picture trying to lead me around the floor is the moment someone’s feet get stepped on. I like to know what I’m doing, where I’m going and who’s in control. The Lord has made that clear to me. To have the adventure of my life, I must let him take the lead.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Here is a random little story that may brighten your day.
I was thinking back on the PICKY people that I used to have to serve coffee to when I worked at the Starbucks in North Dallas... my favorites were always the 1/2 splenda people that YELLED at you when you accidentally put in 1/2 equal... God forbid.
But today I got a fun one. The girl who was waiting tables came into the kitchen and said to me, "Prestame una cuchara de mantequilla." (Which means, give me a spoon of butter)Obviously at first I thought my Spanish was failing me, so I asked her again and she said the same thing. I asked her why and she said that a guy at one of the tables wanted it. As I thought back on his order, I realized all he ordered was tea. I asked for a third time just to make sure he REALLY wanted a spoon of butter. She assured me that he did as she took the butter out to him and he proceeded to put it in his TEA. Yep... some people like 1/2 splenda, others like a spoon full of butter. How do you take your coffee??
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I think back to the day we met. It was a Sunday I happened to walk through the market to get home instead of taking my usual route. When we met, I never thought that he would share so much of his life with me.
The other week he started sharing with me his journey. He’d been reading the Bible with our Jehovah’s Witness Spanish teacher for 3 hours this week and had a lot of questions. I am always caught off guard by his honesty, “I know a lot of people ask questions like the one I am about to ask just to try and prove you wrong or get in an argument, but I am honestly curious. How do you know that what you believe is right? I mean, what’s the difference between what you believe, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims or any other religion for that matter?”
As I shared with him what were the differences and the “proofs of the faith,” I didn’t neglect to tell him what the Lord had done in my life. Don’t neglect the power of testimony.
My friend is an interesting type… in HIS daily life, with his relationships, friendships and the like, he is extremely emotional. To be quite frank we give him a hard time about being a girl, but truly he is a feelings based type of guy. But when it comes to God, it’s as if we do a 180. “You can’t prove to me that there is a God, but I can’t prove to you that there isn’t and I’m ok with that.” Or statements like, “I just don’t have faith.” He always comes back to the “set of rules” he has set for his life; doing good verses doing evil.
The other night I prayed for a lot for wisdom as I was talking to him because I knew that it was going to be ME that was going to do any convincing at all. It was going to have to be the Spirit of the Living God. So we talked about Jesus. We talked about his life and who he was, but more importantly who he wasn’t. He wasn’t about a set of rules. He was about coming to set us FREE. As I spoke about Jesus’ relationship with the Samaritan Woman I saw a softness come over my friend. Even if he didn’t understand me or other Christians, I think he has some sort of connectedness with Jesus.
That was my challenge. “If you are at all interesting in the possibility of a God… If this guy Jesus at all intrigues you, isn’t it worth checking it out?”
When you talk to my friend about why he chose to come here, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But if you were to ask me why he came here, I would say it would be to hear about Jesus. He is jus starting his journey to Jesus, but even as I write that, I think of Paul the Apostle’s words to King Agrippa, “Short time or long- I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” (Acts 26:29)
Its God’s work and I am amazed at how he does it. He speaks to people through the testimony of his followers, through the Life of His Son, through His Word and through whatever the heck he chooses to use. You know why? Because He really is God.
Monday, September 8, 2008
A cute small dark haired Ecuadorian came up to the register when I happened to be sitting there (doing nothing because there wasn’t anyone in the shop). She asked me if I knew of any churches she could go to, so I started to tell her that we all went to different churches and she could come with us to any of ours. And then I asked her what her story was and how she heard about El Sendero and she stood there in front of me at the register and began to cry.
I offered her a seat and a tissue as she began to share a part of her story. I quickly found out her name was Carmen and she was 26 years old. Her family is Catholic and her brother is evangelical and she just knew that there was something missing in her life. She looked at me with all sincerity and said, “I want to have a relationship with God but I don’t know how.” (If that’s not an introduction to the gospel, I don’t know what is!) I asked her if I could share with her from the Bible how she could have a relationship with God and she said she would really like that.
Sidenote: for some reason my Spanish was really awful that day. So as I spoke I just prayed that she understood what I was saying. This is where I am SO glad that the Word speaks for itself and that God is more powerful than my Spanish mumblings.
I asked her if any of what I had just said made sense, and she said, “Let me see if I understand, so you’re saying…” and spit the entire gospel back to me. YES! That was what I was trying to say, but didn’t think I was doing a very good job at it!
Over the past 2 days, Carmen has come with me to youth group and church. My church is a little full on, but she seemed to like it. As we walked to church yesterday she began to cry again as she explained to me that he dad was a Catholic and he would not approve of her coming to church with me, but that she knew this was right and desperately wanted to know God.
Today at 3:00, we are meeting to start studying the Word because she wants to know. Please pray that Carmen would truly understand the love of God and his desire to have a relationship with her.
Friday, September 5, 2008
If you don't know, my wonderful friends came to visit me. Over the past week and a half Steven, Allison, Julie and I were on 4 flights, 2 major bus rides, 2 minor bus rides, 2 train rides and about a million taxis... and somehow each and every one had something crazy that happened.
I have to tell two of my favorites. The first was in a taxi on the way to catch a flight to Cusco. We agreed with the man on 20 soles (which i still thought was a rip off, but decided it wasn't worth arguing over the other 2 dollars) and got in. Half way to the airport we stop because has to get gas. He gets out of the car, leans his head back in and says, "I need 10 soles now so I can buy gas." Of course I refuse, but he insists that we will not make it to the airport unless I give him the 10, so I cave. He then proceeds to usher us all out of the taxi in order to pump gas (why is STILL beyond me). We finally all pile BACK into the taxi and head off once more to the airport. When we were about 5 minutes away from the airport, he starts digging around in his glove box to find his papers to get into the airport. I hear Allison gasp right before we hit another car. (Allison, use your words!) Luckily it was only a slight fender bender. So he gets out of the car to check damage and talk to the man in the other car. Two minutes later he pokes his head back into the car to ask for the other 10 soles that I will owe him in 5 minutes. Of course, I refuse (yet again) but he assures me that he will get us there and we WON'T get to the airport in time if I don't give him the other 10 soles. Hesitantly I handed it over and needless to say I made sure we never got in another taxi with that man.
Story number two... we were staying with some friends of ours in Cusco, but the main purpose of our visit was to go see Machu Picchu. The lady at the travel place told me about 10 times that we need to be at the train station at 6:30am because the train left at 6:50 (and NOT Ecuadorian or Peruvian time either!) So we worked it out with a taxi driver to pick us up at 5:45 so as not to be late (since they lived about 30 minutes outside of the city). At 5:45 that morning we were waiting and ready to go. We were still waiting at 6 and at 6:10... by the time 6:20 rolled around, we were sweating it. FINALLY the guy shows up and I tell Al I don't even WANT to know what time it is. Let's just say this trip into town definitely INCREASED my prayer life. It feels so dumb now, but at the time I was pleading with God for a miracle. I knew it was just a trip, nothing life or death, but it was going to be a royal pain if we went all the way there and didn't see Machu Picchu. So we're praying and the really late taxi driver is driving like a mad man... Al has stopped looking at her watch at this point as to not stress even more. We FINALLY hit the train station, Steven throws money at the man and we grab our stuff and run into the building. We bypass a bunch of people and jump over ropes that are supposed to keep us in line. And there it is, our miracle... the train hadn't left yet. We got on the train at 6:48 and no joke the train left 2 minutes later. Praise God for small (or not so small) miracles.
All that to say, we had a LOT of fun and got to see God show up in big and small ways.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
August 20th is a National Holiday in Loja. The normal little tiendas are closed and an almost eerie silence falls over Loja. There aren’t horns honking or dogs barking. There are children laughing or people calling for attention. There is silence as we walked towards the Door to the City. We arrived at 4:00 pm and waited. As the hours rolled on, more and more people gathered until the streets were full. All waiting for the Reina de Loja to arrive. You may be wondering who it is that calls a city to a stand still. She stands at about a foot and a half in height, with dark brown curly hair, a several thousand dollar dress and gold jewelry. “La Virgin del Cisne,” Loja’s virgin (see picture below).
The Virgin supposedly saved a man dying of thirst on the road to Cisne and from that point on, Lojanos have held the Virgin del Cisne in high esteem.
Every year thousands of people make the trek from Cisne to Loja (some 75 km) to show their worship of the Virgin. Some show their adoration by doing the entire 3 day journey barefoot.
My friends and I stood watching as they brought the Virgin down the street preceded by dancers and surrounded by police. They clapped, cried, threw flower petals and worshipped.
My heart was broken for the people of Loja as I watched them praise a small wooden doll which someone had made and someone else had dressed up. I wanted to weep as I saw them pay their respects to a god who had eyes but could not see their pain, who had ears, but could not hear their cries, who had a mouth put would not speak the words of love that so many of them are dying to hear.
As I walked home that night, I so longed to cry out to them, “There is a God who sees you. There is a God who knows you and wants you. There is a God who wants something real with you… his name is Jesus.”
Oh, how I long that all would know of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Friday, August 15, 2008
"After arguing, complaining, crying and thinking about so many things, I have come to learn of the following that I would love to share with you. The first thing that God told me is that He will not bless or heal me because of what I have done in the Ministry or for Him in the past or I am still doing, but He will heal and bless me because of the relationship that I have with Him. My relationship with Him is more important than any other thing.
Secondly, the Lord told me that I should do and continue doing good in each and every opportunity that comes my way without expecting any good from those whom I have done good to but to expect good that comes from Him only.
Thirdly after my legs started aching and swelling and walking was becoming a difficulty and the Doctor prescribing nerve medication for the next one month, He spoke to me through the below daily devotion from Steve Troxel.
Nothing Too Hard
Jeremiah had been a prophet for nearly forty years by the time Jerusalem came under attack by the Babylonians. He had long been proclaiming a message of repentance, but the people continued to ignore his words. Now the enemy had surrounded Jerusalem and the end was near. In this time of great turmoil, God told Jeremiah to purchase a field from his cousin.
This was a strange request, but Jeremiah obediently purchased the field. However, he soon began to question God's reasoning: "See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city? Though the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, You say to me, 'Buy the field'" (Jeremiah 32:24,25). Jeremiah had been a prophet for many years. He had been given the privilege of talking directly with God, but this command just didn't make sense. Why should he purchase a field when the enemy was invading and taking prisoners?
God answered Jeremiah with a simple, yet challenging question.
"I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?" Yes, the enemy had invaded the land and would soon overrun the city of Jerusalem. But God's plan was for the people to one day return: "I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in My furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be My people and I will be their God" (Jeremiah 32:37-38). Jeremiah's field was to be a reminder that God would one day restore His people - a reminder that He could be trusted even in the face
of overwhelming circumstances.
We often have a difficult time seeing how all the pieces of God's plan fit together. He leads us down a path and we fail to see the purpose - especially when the enemy begins to attack. We want to fight back, but God says to patiently trust Him and pray. We want to determine a solution and solve the problem, but God says to love Him with all our heart and share His love with others. The times in which we are most tested and pressed down ought to be the times of greatest growth and closeness with our Heavenly Father. When it seems we have no where else to turn, we ought to rejoice and trust Him even more! Let's put our life firmly in His Hands and submit to His guidance - even when we may not see where we are going or how we will get there. Let's trust His ways and always remember...for God, there is NOTHING too hard!
Thank you for your prayers and continual support in these difficult moments that we have been going through.
God bless you richly
Tobias A. Omollo,
Proverbs 16:3 " Commit your works to the Lord, And your plans will be established."
Monday, August 11, 2008
I had an awesome time this week at SLIC (its a spiritual renewal conference). I was truly blessed by the speakers and I felt like the Lord really spoke to me and through me. It was great! Like a lot of conferences I came back on a bit of a high, which was to be diminished quite quickly. I walked in my house and started looking for the keys to my room (attached to my wallet with complete with credit card and ID), but they were no where to be found. I dumped my entire back on the living room floor but still, nothing. So what do I do? I panic. Due to the awesome week I had, it was on my mind to pray, so I did. And then I called the place we stayed to see if they had it and they didn't. So they I freaked out.
After that was over, I called my friend who has the master keys. While I was walking over to her house to get the key to my room, I prayed and told God that whether I found the keys or not, I would still give him praise because I knew he was good. I swear, those words barely crossed my lips when it down poured. I was completely soaked and I just laughed and thought to myself 'Really?' as I stepped in a big mud puddle.
I got the keys to my house, came back and realized they were the WRONG keys. So I had to go BACK to my friend's house and get more keys. About this time I was on the verge of tears... so I cried and fretted and walked back in hopes of finding the right key. As I trudged back to my house, it suddenly hit me: SATAN was trying to LIE to me and DECEIVE me into believing that somehow God wasn't good and that somehow he was just trying to make my life miserable (like I said, I fret and make a big deal out of the dumbest thing!)
In that moment, I remembered something I had written a good 8 months before... "When being lied to by Satan there are a couple things you have to do":
1. Say out loud, THIS IS A LIE!
2. State the TRUTH.
3. Remind yourself of how God has been faithful in the past.
4. Remember the truth of God's Word and how he promises to be faithful in the future.
I know I sound like a self help book, but THIS really works for me (it might now work for you, but YOU have to come up with your own battle plan). So I said these things, felt better and then got a phone call from my roommate telling me that the hotel found my wallet and my keys with everything in it and they were going to bring it to me in an hour.
You see, I'm a great fretter, but I've realized that the Lord is not only bigger than my problems, he's bigger than my fretting, which is really impressive. So next time you begin to fret, pull out your battle plan... feel free to use mine until you get one of your own ;)
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I had a conversation with a friend a while back on the existence of God and he's probably the most honest agnostic I've ever met. He told me, "Look, I don't have enough proof to say that there isn't a God but at the same time I don't have enough proof to say that there is one. So I'm just here and I'm ok with that. I try to be good to people and live by my set of morality." Honest. I liked it.
Needless, I was still thinking to myself, 'What can i do to help this guy out? How can I prove to him that God exists? Can I give him a scientific book that PROVES there is a higher being? Can I have him sit down with some really smart people and have an in depth discussion?' And as I was contemplating all of this, he went to church with one of our friends.
We started talking about Jesus again this week and he told me, "Oh yeah, I went to church on Sunday." (I was a little taken aback that he would even go!) And when I inquired as to what he thought about it, he said the most profound thing, "I was amazed at their passion, at their joy and their conviction of worshiping God."
I don't think this guy's opinion has changed THAT much on whether there is or isn't a God, but what struck me was that the thing that peaked this guy's interest was not some scientific argument or profound word of wisdom, it was people living a life of FAITH.
It makes me think about Acts when Peter and John stood up and proclaimed truth from God's Word. It says how amazed the teachers of the law were by what they said because they were ordinary and unschooled men. And then it says, "They took note that these men had been with Jesus."
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Have you ever experienced adventure? Have you wanted to? I think most people do… each person’s great “adventure” looks a little different but at the core of each person, I think there is a desire to belong to something and to be involved in something that MATTERS and is edgy.
This week I was told that you had to choose either adventure OR Jesus. When I heard the guy say, “Do you want adventure? … or do you want Jesus??” I almost stood up and opposed him to his face. As I went home that night I realized that this is what most people think, ‘If I live my life for Jesus it will be boring. I will have to sit with my Bible in my lap, praying and singing Kumbaya.’
Tell me something; does this sound boring to you?
Receiving 39 lashes 5 times… being beaten with rods 3 times… stoned… shipwrecked a handful of times… in danger from everything under the sun (and everyone for that matter!)… going without sleep… hungry… thirsty… cold and naked… and constantly worried. This was the adventure that walking with Jesus got Paul.
I do not claim to have the most adventurous or dangerous life. Believe me, there are people around the world who will suffer more today than I will in my entire life. But can I tell you a little about what God has allowed me to be apart of in my short 26 years of life? I have been all over the world and met all different kinds of people. I have seen forgiveness given to a father who did not deserve it by a daughter who had held on to her anger for far too long. I have been able to walk with a teenage girl as she’s struggled with the daily pressures of teenage life. I have seen an apathetic kid take a huge step into missions and watch God rearrange his life. I was able to hold my friend’s hand as she took her first step into an Evangelical church. I’ve cried over a glue-sniffing Guatemalan girl as I mourned her lostness. I’ve seen the face of a crippled child as he held out his hands to a sun he only sees once every week. I’ve been yelled at and accused of not loving when I was giving tough love. I’ve had people not speak to me for months because of sensitive information that I had to tell their parents. All of these experiences, both good and bad are part of the adventure that the Lord has for me. And in each one, I can only say as Paul did, “Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weaknesses.” When you live a life sold out for Jesus, you won’t live a boring life, but it also won’t be pretty. You will live a life full of PAIN and full of JOY. Try it out, I promise you won’t regret it. Paul didn’t and neither do I.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
When you see people hurting what do you do? I am always tempted to turn the other way... to walk in the other direction... to ignore the problem. Well, today I came face to face with this exact thing. I need to preface this with something I heard on a podcast the other day. I was listening to Matt Chandler's series on Luke. He was talking about turning the other cheek, giving people your cloak and giving to anyone as he has need. It's something that stuck with me because he said it wasn't our job to judge if someone was scamming or not; if you felt God telling you to give, give without looking for anything in return.
Well, today I came face to face with this exact situation. A woman walked into our shop with a sob story about her son being in the hospital, being from another city and not being able to buy his medicine. So, we went to the local pharmacy and bought her the medicine she needed. I talked to her a while about her children and her situation. I prayed for her and went back to work.
About an hour later, she came back to tell me that she needed the receipt for the medicine because she needed to return it. As I inquired as to why, she burst into tears telling me that her 8 year old son had just died. My heart broke for her. The other wise women in my shop were a little more weary that I, so one of them took her back to the pharmacy and it turned out that she tried to take the medicine back before to get the money, but couldn't without the receipt.
Gloria came back to explain all this to me and told me that I had been played by this woman. This woman had used my concern for her to try and get money.
At first, I was mad. I can't believe this woman used my concern for her benefit! And then I thought about that verse in Luke and how many people "used" Jesus to get what they wanted (and he KNEW they were using him!). But he gave as they had need. If the only thing that this woman got today was $15 and seeing that someone had concern for her, I truly believe it was what I was called to do without casting judgment.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Yesterday I called one of my friends to hang out and she told me that she was really upset and couldn't place why. Over lunch we talked about it more and she shared with me that she felt like she was missing something in her life. What if you could know WHY you were here on this earth? What if you could know that you had purpose and that life meant something? Wouldn't that be great? I shared with her how empty my life would be if I didn't have Jesus. She just nodding and smiled, but I could tell that the wheels were turning.
In our Saturday Bible study we are reading through the book of Colossians and we were talking about why Paul made such a big deal in chapter one about who Jesus was if the people he was talking to were believers. And we discussed how often we as "Christians" MISS the focal point. We miss JESUS. As we talked about who Jesus was and his death and the life we find in him, I got so excited. Jesus isn't just the answer for those who don't believe, he is the answer. JESUS answers these questions. He IS how we can have purpose and hope and meaning and true life.
Then a guy at Faith night expressed his desire to truly KNOW that all this "stuff" was true. And as I shared with him about the saving grace of Jesus, I got really excited again. Later that night, I shared with my roommates that I think so often I FORGET about the grace that I have because of Jesus's death and resurrection.
Are you missing something? Are you lacking something in your life? Maybe you need Jesus. Or maybe you have Jesus, but you've forgot that he is the POINT.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I heard a man’s story today at church that truly moved me. But let me back up for a second and tell you about my church. It’s probably one of the biggest churches in Loja… has a ton of teenage and college student, big building, really awesome band, lively worship music, and a good number of “programs” and meetings during the week. Here is the one thing about my church that breaks my heart, they rarely talk about Jesus. Last week, for example, the only time they said the name of Jesus was in worship songs or at the end of a prayer. This is something that continues to perplex me… what is a church without Jesus?
So on to today’s story… a man stood up and gave testimony of how the Lord had rearranged his life. It was the kind that people love to hear… “I was drinking, smoking, doing drugs, being sexually promiscuous, and the like and then I found Jesus.” I really was expecting him to say, ‘I found Jesus and I never wanted to do any of that stuff EVER again.’ But he didn’t… instead he said, “I was sitting outside on a Saturday night smoking a joint and wondering to myself if I would go to church the next day.” Isn’t that real life? And then he said, “And the Lord spoke to me and said, you can’t live like this anymore.”
I was listening to an English sermon on line on the way to church and the guy said that we were all in different places in our spiritual life… all had struggles, and if we SAID we didn’t we were liars. And then he said, “You’re messed up and that’s ok… BUT its not ok to stay that way.” How profound is that… people fall on both sides of the fense here… you’re a Christian now, so you shouldn’t struggle with sin (which is a load of crap) OR it’s ok for me to stay in my sin and not grow and because Jesus saved me (which is also a load of crap). We are all in progress, but the point is that we are GROWING to know Jesus more every day.
At the end of this man’s testimony he did something that I’ve been waiting to hear at my church for a long time. He spoke the name of Jesus. He spoke his name in relation to Jesus’s death and resurrection being our salvation… he preached the gospel. I almost jumped out of my skin I was so excited. YES! That’s where you find true freedom and purpose!
But he didn’t stop there, he went on to say that God has called us to be used by him… and talked about all the things that God has used of the decades for his glory. Five rocks, a staff, the sea, frogs, jars of water… the list goes on. But my favorite was this example: “If God used a donkey to speak to a prophet, he can use me to speak to the nations.”
I was brought to tears because I realize that I really don’t think God can use my “junk,” he can only use what I would consider strengths. So in that moment I confessed that I’ve been too cocky about my strengths and too timid about my weaknesses. If God needs me to be a donkey, then a donkey I will be.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
All is laid bare… nothing is hidden from his sight. I can almost see it now, standing naked before the judge with the accuser screaming insults, displaying all of my faults before judge and jury. The accuser points his finger as I shrink back knowing that all he says is so horribly true. His case is so solid, “She SAYS she follows you, but look at her! Look at that pride, the ugliness in her heart, her lust, her idols! Do you really want that?!” As the judge is about to pronounce sentence upon me, my High Priest steps in, and before I realize what is happening, he swoops me up into his arms. I cry out, “No! I’m too dirty, I don’t deserve…” My muffled cries are silenced as he whispers in my ear, “I have taken your place. Your sins are forgiven” The shrieks of the accuser are silenced as my Priest declares, “She is mine. My blood paid for that pride, ugliness, lust, sin. I have given myself for her.” He looks on my filthy body with love. Through my tears, he sees me. Through my filth, he sees his grace. “Nothing can separate you from my love.” My lover has come for me.
As I read Hebrews 4 this morning, this was the scene that was laid out before me. All is laid bare before Him. How much more bare do you get than naked… and thanks to the first sin, in that state is where you will feel the most shame. God sees what you try to hide. He is not fooled by your mask or your good deeds. His Word is able to divide bone and marrow, don’t you think he can see who YOU really are?? He cannot look upon your sin and do nothing, otherwise he would not be just. So, he chose to do something. He chose to send you a High Priest who has been there. He DWELT among us. He didn’t belong on this earth, but he chose to be here… to be one of us, to be with us. To sit in the dirt and to know what is was to be human. And in that dwelling, he suffered and he died. So when the accuser begins his tirade, our High Priest can step in and say, “I have made the ultimate sacrifice once for all. The righteous for the unrighteous.”
I don’t know where you are right now, but I know that the Creator of the Universe wants to pick up the broken pieces of you and make you useful. He has shown me today all that he has given up for me. And through my muffled cries, I hear the words that save me, “You are mine.”
Monday, June 2, 2008
Janna´s adventure started before she even arrived due to the fact that my mom told her she needed to go through customs in Panama. Naturally she followed the crowd through the customs line, got her passport stamped and as they were about to shoo her out the door into Panama City she realized that that was NOT where she wanted to be. In her broken spanish to desperately tried to explain that she DID NOT want to leave the airport as she watched her passport pass from person to person and eventually out of her sight. Thankfully she got it back and pointed in the right direction where she later arrived in Quito.
While we were in Quito, we decided it would be fun to take the public trolley despite suggestions not to, instead of taking taxis. (It was cheaper!) On one such trolley ride, we happened to get on during the lunch rush. Picture this with me: Janna is at least a head taller than all the Ecuadorians so they are trying to push their way around her as she is trying to do acrobatics around them. It was a picture perfect moment, EXCEPT that I was too crowded in to even pull out my camera.
Then there were the asians in automobils. Janna and I were walking through Quito when we have honking and we turn around to see a car full of asians waving. We look around assuming they are waving at someone else, but we are the only ones there... Asian Power! We stick together no matter what country we´re in.
As far as some of the serious things, my sister is so encouraging. She was the pick me up that I needed at this exact time. While she was here, she got to see my first attempt at a new bible study. Yep, that´s right... the Bible study with my friend Leydi that I´ve been praying for for months has finally happened! Praise God! And this first time we talked about the first chapter of John... but we actually ended up talking about everything from Genesis to the Gospel of Mary. The Lord is moving and I´m just excited that he´s allowed me to be along for the ride... so whether trains, planes or asians in automobils, I´m just along for the RIDE!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
In Ecuador, I don´t really look guys in the eye. I know it sounds strange, but if I do, I usually get a comment... ¨Hola Guapa¨or something along those lines. But since Janna has been here, she has challenged me to truly see people once more.
Today I got the opportunity to see someone and I believe she blessed me more than I blessed her. When Janna and I were at the supermaket today, we saw a woman begging and decided that we would buy a loaf of bread and bring it out to her. As we bent down to grace this woman with our small gift, her eyes welled up with tears as she began to speak to me through a toothless grin. The most I could gather was that she lived far away and had a relative in the hospital. As I struggled to understand what she said, I begged with the Lord to give me understanding, but all of the sudden I realized that this woman didn´t necessarily need to be understood, she just needed to be seen. I reached out my hand to touch and bless her, but I feel like I was the one who truly received the blessing.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I’ve always had this problem… trying to say ONE thing in Spanish and in reality saying something completely different. My friend Kate says I have to share this story… it’s her favorite mishap.
My friend Leydi and I were sitting in El Sendero talking about our day. I was explaining to her how I went to see my other friend who had had surgery the day before. All you had to do was look at Leydi’s face to realize that I had said something wrong. “What??” So, of course I repeated it in the form of a question… “I went to visit my friend who had surgery??”
I need to point out that the word for surgery is “cirugia,” but that is NOT what I said… instead I had just told Leydi that I went to visit a friend who had “orugia” which translated means orgy.
Man, I hate it when I say stupid things like that. Chalk it up for another good mishap.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Think of all the “too” statements you’ve made. “I can’t do that, I’m too young… too old… too shy… too loud…too tongue-tied…too inadequate…” Fill in the blank. I’m the master of the “too” statements. Some of mine have been: I’m too young, too inadequate in my language ability, too much of a girl, too single (I guess there are only two options there but still…) and the list goes on and on. When I came here the “too” statements abounded and the Lord decided to put me into every one of those situations. So when I said, I’m too inadequate in my language, he said, “Great, you’re going to start a Bible study.” Maria, the girl I co-lead the Bible study with also had a “too” statement. When we started talking about having this Bible study, she said, “I can’t do that, I’m too much of a baby-believer. I can’t lead a Bible study!” This past 7 weeks has proved otherwise.
Maria comes from a very devote Catholic home and only came to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ about three years ago. About 6 months ago, she got baptized and almost got disowned by her mother. Right now she has just started an 8 month mission to
Two months ago Maria told me that she could not lead a Bible study and last week my heart was elated as I watched her ask questions of the girls and give truths from God’s Word. Both of the other girls in our group have a very strong Catholic background and I was amazed to watch Maria share from her heart what the Lord had revealed to her only a couple years ago. She did what only she could do... relate to exactly where they are because she’s been there. The Lord has taken that girl who was “too much of a baby believer” and shown her the woman of God that she is and the way He can use her.
I am so thrilled to see my friend Maria take this huge leap of faith and I can’t wait to see what else God does with her life.
As she left for
So next time you think… bastante… look at all the examples in the Bible and how the Lord took those who were “too” young, old, inadequate, tongue-tied, and just downright stupid and used them for His glory.
Isn’t that what it’s about anyway… HIM?
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Hair and teeth... skin that has the consistency of fried chicken… sorta and we can't forget the claws. But, it was the teeth I couldn’t get past. My friends thought it would be funny to kiss it, but I just couldn’t get past the teeth! And then I started thinking of my sister’s pet snowball.
I want to tell you that it tastes like chicken, but if I were honest I would say it tastes like a really greasy duck with barely ANY meat on it. Yep, I got to enjoy the fine dining of “cuy” yesterday. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, the translation would be “Guinea Pig.” A picture is worth a thousand words… hope you enjoy as much as I did. (top picture is before... bottom is after)
Monday, April 28, 2008
I have been giving some serious thought to how this might be done in
This morning as I sat in church I became impassioned about how to get these kids to know Christ and how to equip and empower them to share the power of the living Gospel with another. And this is what I came up with NOTHING.
I had a million and one ideas… having a youth conference, learning Spanish really fast and becoming a motivational speaker for Loja teenagers (yeah this one went out the door really fast!), rallying the youth pastors and teaching them how to teach their students… and seriously in the 2 hours that I sat there, the list could have gone on and on (and not all of the ideas were that bad), but THIS is what I heard from the Lord… pray.
Pray that HE would give just the right idea… you could do exactly the same thing as someone else did in a town 20 miles from you, which worked beautifully and it could completely flop in Loja. HE is the God of original ideas. He knows what Loja youth need and how they need it. It might not even include me… He is calling me in this moment to love people and to pray.
So that is what I am asking you to do… my heart is bursting right now over the lost ness of the youth in Loja… even the “believing” youth in Loja live life like they have little or no purpose. So would you beseech the Lord with me… would you partner with me and allow yourself to be burdened for the people of Loja?
It’s just a thought….
Monday, April 21, 2008
When you pray, do you think He actually hears you? When you pray do you pray like he is going to answer or do you pray thinking, ‘Well, it couldn’t hurt… might as well pray about it.’
I realized that lately I’ve been praying like he doesn’t hear. But this week he decided to just blow me out of the water.
Here’s the story: I’ve been praying for a couple of my friends (friends I’ve written about before)… one is dating a married man, the other is dating 3 guys, another is settling for a guy who isn’t really what she wants, but he’s the only one around, and the latest one is dating a guy who even SHE says isn’t that great. So I’ve been praying asking the Lord to do something… but not really believing that he would. This week my friends had some fun stories to tell me. My friend who is dating the married guy told me that they got in a fight on Monday and she hasn’t spoken to him since. She said its probably for the best (yeah it is!). And that night I went out with my other friend who told me she broke up with all 3 of her boyfriends and thinks she’ll be single for a while. I found out the next one broke up with her boyfriend (again) and I hope it stays that way. But there was still my last friend who just started dating this guy so I didn’t figure that she would break up with him anytime soon. We were talking yesterday and she said, “I’m going to be single as of tomorrow.” Of course I was shocked and inquired as to why and she just shrugged and said, “He’s not a good guy.”
You see, with all these girls, it’s not really about the guys that they’re dating or not dating, it’s more about them not being with the One who can truly satisfy them. I pray that all these “break ups” are just the first step in the Lord grabbing hold of each one of their lives and showing them his love.
Pray like you mean it and watch God show up!
Saturday, April 19, 2008
As I sat in a little restaurant listening to American music, speaking only English and looking at a half dozen other white faces I felt so out of place. This week I got to take a little “vacation” to Cuenca (a more modern city about 5 ½ hours away). There you can find all sorts of things that you can’t find in Loja… for example: a mall, Burger King, a latin version of Walmart, and lots of foreigners.
One such foreigner asked me what I did and I explained a little about what I do in Loja. With a hint of animosity he said, “You’re not Mormon are you?” I tried to explain that I was just a Christian to which he responded, “I thought everyone here was already Catholic?” I found myself shrinking back; ashamed of who I was and more importantly WHOSE I was. To say the least, I said very little after that about why I’m here and the things that I love.
As I sat in my bed that night I was tore up by what I didn’t say more than what I did say. I felt the shame of a 7th grader when your mom walks through the doors of the gym wearing slippers and a robe screaming your name and waving your lunch. I thought I’d gotten past that in my Christian walk. I thought that I was somehow grown up and ready to scream at the top of my lungs about Jesus. But in that moment I felt like Peter swearing that he didn’t know the Creator of the Universe… this week someone reminded me about Paul asking the Galatians to pray that he would preach the Word boldly as he should. If he was asking for prayer in this area, he too must have struggled with the temptation of shrinking back in fear. So I guess that means at some point we are all just a scared 7th graders afraid of rejection…
Sunday, April 6, 2008
This week it happened. Three different times I had the opportunity to share my heart with someone and I was found wanting due to my lack of Spanish ability. Here’s the story: Leydi is a friend that I’ve been hanging out a lot with and we’ve gotten really close. Right now she is having some guy “issues” and so we met for lunch. She explained to me her desire for a good man and when I asked if she could just be single for a while she said, “No.” And then asked me how I did it.
The there was Philippe. He’s a guy in the English class. This week we ended up talking about heaven for a really long time. He told me how only good people go to heaven. We discussed what separated a good person from a bad person… and eventually he asked for my opinion.
And finally it was at the Bible study as Gabi, one of the girls told a story about her mom not liking the fact that she was going to the Bible study. Last week her mom asked, “Are you turning into a Christian?” She calmed her mom’s fears as she told her that she was indeed still Catholic. This week as she was heading out the door to go to Bible study, her mom stopped her to tell her that if this “change” in her life was due to this Bible study, then she was fine with Gabi going.
Did I have a theologically worded argument to tell Philippe? No, but I told him how much God desired to have a relationship with sinners like me. That no one was good enough to have a relationship with the perfect God of the universe and THAT is why he sent Jesus.
Did I encourage Gabi with a well-worded monologue? Of course not but I loved her and I praised God because of the growth that I (and her mom) see in her.
This week I was more frustrated that I have been in the last 3 months over my Spanish. I was on the verge of tears during Spanish class on Friday. As I sat on the steps and cried out to the Lord, he brought back these three instances to my heart and said to me, “The thing you were most worried about, I took care of. No, your Spanish isn’t good enough to express every word on your heart, but I the Lord will speak for you and will say the things I want to say.
The thing I was most afraid of has come true, but the One I trust with all my heart has come through for me in spite of my inadequacy.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
My heart has been broken by these women. I cannot figure out how beautiful, intelligent, fun women would stoop this low just to have someone to fill their hearts. They are looking for someone to complete a part of them that was only meant to be filled by One. Why do we as women desire relationship in such a powerful way that we are willing to sacrifice our heart to get it.
I wonder if that’s why Jesus mentions his interactions with women on so many occasions. When he speaks to the woman at the well, “You are right when you say you have no husband, for you have had 5 husbands and the man you are now with is not your husband,” I wonder if he is speaking to every woman’s heart. He’s pointing out to us, LOOK you are looking for someone to fill your emptiness! Only in ME will you find satisfaction.
So, next time you want to settle, next time you think that you can’t get any better, next time you think that all you need is a little more, I want you to remember that the God of the Universe has come to you to say, Nothing on this earth will satisfy… come to me and let me fill you.
Friday, March 28, 2008
This woman was one of the four carrying the statue of the Virgin Mary in the Good Friday procession. I don’t know why she caught my eye so quickly. Maybe it was that her side dropped a bit due to the fact that she was a bit shorter than the other 3 men holding the statue. Maybe it was how she pushed people off who tried to carry it for her. Or maybe it was the pain I saw in her face. Whatever it was, this was the pain I saw on many a face during “Semana Santa.”
I’m used to Easter being a joyful time celebrating the resurrection of Christ, but Easter here is no big deal. Good Friday on the other hand is when everyone drops everything to remember the Lord’s death.
I got the privilege of sharing this day with Irma (one of our cooks at El Sendero) and her family. There are specific foods that are reserved for this day. Friday lunch starts out with a soup called Fanesca (grains, yucca, beans and a whole bunch of other stuff I didn’t recognize), followed by really salty fish, rice, and platano. They usually don’t eat anything for dinner… just a cut of coffee and a piece of bread.
That night was the procession with the statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary that I talked about early. Then a reenactment of Jesus and the thieves carrying their crosses… followed by soldiers whipping and mocking them. It was definitely an experience to remember.
Semana Santa was a time to remember Jesus’ death, but it means nothing unless he rose from the dead show he had power over death and save us from our sin. That woman, like so many others was trying to prove her love for her Savior. What I pray she one day realizes is how through his death and resurrection he was proving his love for her.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
But the older we get the more we start to think, ‘I can do this by myself. I don’t need anyone’s help. I can do it self!’ (Something Danny, the lil’ boy to the left is heard saying on a very regular basis). And as we get older still we start seeing weakness as a bad thing. We start viewing it as inability to do it “self” so we try to prove to the world that we are not weak and that we can somehow manage all of life without help.
I started thinking of all the weakness found in the Bible…let’s see we have Adam who couldn’t do it right even though he only had ONE rule. Then we have Abraham who calls his wife his sister… and then Moses who couldn’t speak. Let’s not forget Gideon the least of the least of his family (and you think YOU’RE the black sheep!). And David the adulterer, murderer, naked dancer… how long is his list?? Jonah, the guy who ran from God. Flip to the New Testament and we find Peter who talks WAY too much and acts on impulse. Paul killed followers of Christ and can’t see to save his life. We have tax collectors, prostitutes, and just outright sinners. This is a list of people who, when measured up fall short on every level… but SOMEHOW God chose to use weakness. He loves to use weakness.
But we hate it… I hate it. I hate admitting that I need someone else to do it for me or worse yet that I can’t do it and no one can do it for me. I’m just stuck. As I was reading it 1 Cor 1 the other day, I came across this verse that I love, “God uses the foolishness of the world to shame the wise.” He LOVES to use weakness because when he does his power is made known. I feel SO weak in my Spanish… in my relationships… in pretty much all I do and that is exactly where God wants me to be so that I will depend on him FULLY. Kinda like the lil’ baby I was holding, God sees me as cute and loves to care in my weakness… my weakness is a strength in the hands of a strong God.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
When I looked at this woman, I judged. I wondered… does she really need it or is she just bumming off of me?
But this little girl didn't ask any of these questions. She saw someone in need and she knew she had the means to change the situation and so she did. No hesitation. No questions. No need for a response.
I was reading today in Mark about the disciples argument of who would be first in the Kingdom. Jesus put a stop to it when he knelt down, picked up a small child and said, “Whoever wants to be first must be last, and the servant of all.”
Today I wasn’t a servant. Today I didn’t see as Jesus sees… but one day I hope to be like that little girl… giving without hesitation.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I think God shows MORE power by using an inadequate instrument like me that just making something happen out of thin air. Today I had my first Spanish Bible Study. To say the least, I was absolutely terrified. But as per usual, God took little me to use for His glory.
Maria, Gabi, Maria de
It was amazing to see God use our conversation to bring about more questions and more thoughts… let’s just say I can’t wait to see what HE does next week.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
She gets to come into Loja once every couple of weeks to buy food and just relax with modern conveniences. I got the opportunity to hang out with her a little this weekend and she told me a story that overwhelmed me with the provision of God...
Earlier this week when she looked in her cupboard, she realized she had only 2 platanos (type of banana) and 1 onion to last her the entire week. She said she cried out to the Lord, "What am I going to eat? All I have is 2 platanos and 1 onion! And I don't even WANT to eat those!" In that moment, the Lord brought to mind the verse that says that birds do not sow or plant but the Lord provides for them. So this amazing woman chose to trust the Lord.
Later that day a nurse friend of hers came by and insisted that Megan eat with her all week due to her patients paying her in fruits and veggies - too many for her to eat alone.
I am blown away by Megan's faithfulness to trust the Lord. Pray for this girl... she is in rough physical, emotional and spiritual situation being the only foreigner without a fellowship of believers in a VERY rural town. Every day God teaches me something from someone here; today is was to trust the Lord to provide - even when it seems hopeless.
May you see God's provision in your life... through 2 platanos and 1 onion.