Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Today I learned the hard way not to answer “Si” when you don’t know what someone is asking. I had plans to hang out with my fried Andrea today. We were going to go swimming in the afternoon, but she called me to tell me she had to cancel. But she asked me to accompany her to ____________ (words I didn’t understand). I asked her to repeat it, but to be honest, if you don’t know a word, it doesn’t matter how SLOW someone says something or how many TIMES they say it, you’re just not going to get it. So, I just say “si” and asked her when she was going to come by my house.

When she arrived at 4, it was raining like mad so I thought we might not go and just postpone it to another day, but she was insistent on going. She was also a bit dressed up which I found rather strange due to the fact that she’s never dressed up. I grabbed my flip flops (since it was raining, I’d rather not get my shoes all squishy) and rolled up my jeans a bit so they wouldn’t get wet and off we went. When the taxi driver asked her where we were going, she said a church. I was a little taken back because she’s not the church going type. We arrived at the church and everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was dressed up and wearing black. This should have been my first clue, but I just thought for some reason she wanted to go to mass. Picture it with me, ME in my jeans, flip flops and a rainjacket and everyone else in really nice clothes. To say the least, I felt a tad bit out of place.

Believe it or not, it got worse. I quickly realized that we weren’t just in ANY mass. We were at a funeral. Yep, that blank that I didn’t know what it meant was “funeral”. It was the funeral of her sister’s father-in-law. It only lasted about 30 minutes, thank the Lord, but then she motioned me to come up with her to give my condolences to the family and that’s where I decided that I’d let her go this one solo.

Once the funeral finished, I breathed a sigh of relief and asked if we were leaving and she said yes, we were off to the cemetery. After about fifteen minute, we arrived at the cemetery where they attempted to put the casket into the ground. When I saw “attempted,” I mean that it took a good 30 minutes because they couldn’t figure out how to get it in. So now you have a bunch of women yelling at a bunch of men as to HOW to best put this casket in the ground. If I wasn’t so mortified by the whole experience, I would have laughed out loud. After he was in place, they put all the flowers that were at the funeral all over his gravesite. Andrea had a flower in her hand, but she decided last minute she didn’t want to step up and put in on his grave, so she gave it to me. Now you have a gringa in jeans and flip flops holding a purplish rose that was meant for the dead man that she didn’t know.

Needless to say, God does not do things like this to me for nothing because on the way home Andrea began to disclose to me her family and their “religious” ties. It turns out the Andrea’s absent father is Mormon, her mother is Catholic and her brothers and sisters are Christians. The obvious question was, “What are you?” And she said she didn’t know… she was nothing. She began to ask me about me, “Are you religious?” And I got the joy of sharing with her that I didn’t like religion. That what I have is a relationship with God. When she asked me why I didn’t know the “prayers,” I got to explain to her that because of my relationship with God, I could talk to him like my Dad, my friend. That was the end of that conversation for the day, but I know that there will be more to come.

The other day, I felt like the Lord was asking me an open ended question… would you do anything for me? I think that He will be the only person I answer “si” to even if I don’t know what he’s really asking.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I think I'm Home...

I was always one of those kids who called everything home. We'd be staying at a hotel for vacation and when we'd be out at a restaurant, I'd be the one to say, "So before we go out to the movie, can we stop by home... (meaning the hotel, not my house)." And then there was the first time I went back to see my parents when I was in college. I made the mistake of telling my mom I was going "home" (meaning back to college).
What is this thing we call home? Is it the place where your family is? Or where you feel the most comfortable? Maybe its the place you have friends or just the place you sleep... I'm not sure what home is for you and to be honest, I'm not completely sure what it means to me.
Today was like any other day here in Loja. I went to church this morning, ate lunch with some friends and then went to another friend's house to learn how to salsa and then play bingo with her family (believe it or not, that is a normal Sunday afternoon for a Lojana). I had such an awesome time meeting Leydi's family, being taught something new, and then getting to hear a little of her heart.
As Candace and I were walking back to our apartment, I was hit with this weird feeling. I now know people here in Loja. I have friends to hang out with and people to talk to. I'm slowly becoming part of people's lives and they are becoming part of mine.
When I ask myself: what is home? I think of something someone prayed for me before I left Dallas, "Wherever Jamie ends up, would you be her home. Would she remember that wherever you are IS HOME." So... I think I'm home.

Friday, February 22, 2008

What Now?

What do you write when you’re just in one of those moods… when the injustice of the world has slapped you in the face… when you are heartbroken by the lost state of people … when you ask God for things you know he can do but for some reason he chooses not to? What do you say then?

For some reason today I’ve been hit by all these thoughts. I spent the day with a girl who lives only for the weekend and the next party. I watched a movie that reminded me about injustice and the lost state of the world. I was drawn to my knees to pray for an entire city when I know nothing will happen unless God intervenes.

So what now? I MUST remember the goodness of God. I am blown away that we have a God who sent his Son when he didn’t have to. We serve a God who gave up all the glories of heaven to come to this crappy earth and live with me and you. We serve a God who says: this is love. Not that we love God but that he loved us and sent his son for our sins. THIS is LOVE!

In moments like these, I MUST remember that God chases after lost people. I MUST remind myself that his heart is ripped apart by injustice. I MUST cling to the truth that I serve a BIG GOD who can change the course of history with the wave of his hand.

He IS good and I refuse to serve any other.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Treasure...

Let’s go get some coffee. I’ll take you to my favorite place, El Sendero. Let’s say you did go with me, the first thing you would see when you walked through the door would be the smiling face of Susi. “Buenas Tardes!”

Susi, with her dark wavy hair and beautiful brown eyes stands at less than 5 feet, but she is the feistiest, bubbliest person I know (See picture to left). Susi became a Christian only 6 months ago and got baptized a few months later. This may not seem like a big deal to most, but here it means that you have put yourself on the side of the “Evangelicals.” For most this is something highly looked down upon. But Susi took the plunge and is growing like a weed!

A week ago, she introduced me to her friend, Joe who is a English teacher from Colorado. They work together and she invited him to come to El Sendero for coffee. About an hour later she came bounding into the kitchen smiling from ear to ear. “I talked to Joe about Jesus!”

Of course we bounced around being very excited as she told me how she asked him what he believed. But then she gave me a look that I knew all too well: frustration. “I couldn’t express my heart in English! There are just so many words I didn’t know how to say.” I just smiled, put my arm around her and said, “Welcome to my world.”

But isn’t that the great part? We think we need all the right words, but isn’t it the Holy Spirit who speaks for us? Isn’t it the Spirit of the Living God who draws people to himself? So what do we need to do? I love this Spanish phrase… we need to be a “pierda en su zapato”… a rock in their shoe. A challenging word or an insightful question that makes them walk around thinking about something spiritual that otherwise wouldn’t have entered their minds.

Only a few days later she shared with me another conversation she had with another English guy who comes into our store all the time. She had a million questions about why Muslims and Buddists are different than we are. As I shared this with Susi, I praised God for this beautiful Lojana who is willing to share her newly found faith. Susi is filling out her paperwork to be a missionary in England starting in April. Its kinda fun to be able to talk to her about my own fears coming here and how the Lord calmed each one a day at a time. Pray for Susi that the Lord would continue to grow, teach and use her for his glory.

If you ever get the opportunity to walk into El Sendero, be sure to look for a bubbly, joy-filled Lojana standing behind the counter. She’s a treasure worth getting to know.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Guata and Sancocho

"I'll tell you what it is AFTER you try it." That is not a the answer you're wanting to hear when you ask what something is that you're about to eat.
Gloria, one of the wonderful cooks at El Sendero decided to give Candace and I a cultural experience eating Guata and Sancocho de Pescado. When we walked to her families' house we assumed the the food was the only cultural we would experience, but oh how wrong we were. As we walked up to the row of houses, we were introduced to her mom and her brother. Then we were introduced to her sister-in-law, nieces, cousins and the list continued through 6 sisters and 7 brothers and ALL of their children and children's children. Almost all of them live near each other in a 1/2 mile vicinity.
After eating a good portion of Sancocho de Pescado (which is yucca, plantain, and fish - and I LOVED it!), we were introduced to Guata. About 1/2 way through the plate, Gloria asked us if we knew what we were eating. When the "meat" that you are eating has to be chewed more than 5 times in order to be swallowed, it's a good guess that's its some sort of intestine. Gloria was thrilled that we figured out that we were chewing cow intestine and papas covered in a peanut sauce. And to be honest, it wasn't that bad... the texture probably got me more than anything.
After eating, Gloria started telling us her story. I'll save the details for another day, but let's just say that her 6 sister and 7 brother family was not happy when she became a Christian. Imagine a culture where family means everything and then imagine doing something that they, not only disagree with but pretty much disown you over. That is what Gloria, a single mother did some 11 years ago. I am absolutely blown away by the strength and faith that this woman has. I pray that one day you will be able to hear her story from her own mouth, but for now, take my word for it; she is one feisty, strong, faithful, amazing woman of God. And I count myself blessed to have shared my first plate of Guata and Sancocho with her.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Walking in His Grace... February Prayer Letter

Coffee Shop Talk...

As I walked up to hand him his tea, Gabriel didn’t look like his happy self. He’s usually in the café smiling and joking with his friends. But not tonight. Tonight he was torn up about something. As I asked him how he was, it looked as if he could burst into tears at any moment. He explained to me that he desperately wanted to walk with Christ, but that he kept messing up. One month he would be doing good and the next he’d be back drinking with his friends.

In my broken Spanish I tried to encourage him and point him to the Word. I’ve never been so frustrated at my lack of words. But then I remembered what I had read in the Word that morning: “If I speak in tongues of men and angels but have not loved I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” As I struggled to understand I realized that what this kid needed was to be heard. So I did the only thing I knew: I listened.

What’s New in the Coffee Shop

I’ve only been here three weeks but somehow it already feels like home. I’ve been trying to adjust to my new living situation, the Café, Spanish, the culture, the city, the people, and the other missionaries.

Here’s my life in a nutshell. I live with three girls: Kate, a creative knitter from England, Gabi, an energetic encouraging Austrian and Candace, a Texan who always keeps us on our toes with her stories and antics. Three different cultures living under the same roof keeps life interesting.

In a typical week, you’d find Candace, Gabi and I working at El Sendero Café four days a week while Kate teaches English at the University.

Then there’s English conversation class on Wednesday, Noche de Fe (Night of Faith) and English Night on Sundays and Bible Studies throughout the week. Maria and I meet for Spanish class 3 times a week. I’m also attempting to practice my Spanish and build friendships with whoever comes around!

Culture has also been quite an adjustment. The most recent cultural experience is called Carnival. This three day, country-wide water fight shuts down shops and brings out a massive amounts of food and fun. Even today a kid rang our bell hoping to catch an unsuspecting recipient of two water balloons. Even Gloria, one of the cooks at El Sendero got into the spirit of Carnaval. She was the one who started water fights in the Café kitchen, at a volunteers’ picnic and on our hike. If you left an event dry, you missed out on all the fun.

I’ve been most surprised by my love for the English classes! When I arrived, I came with the assumption that I would work solely at El Sendero, I love working at El Sendero, but the Lord has opened up opportunities to building relationships with SO many people through the English ministry.

Let me end this by telling you about one such conversation I had last Sunday with Luis. At Noche de Fe (which is a bilingual Bible Study to help those learning English) the word redemption was brought up. After the study Luis told me he knew the word redemption in Spanish but didn’t know what it meant. I was able to tell him not only the meaning of the word but how we have been redeemed by Jesus’ death on the cross. It is only by the grace of God that I have been able to have conversations like this in just one month. The Lord is so good!

Time to Pray…

* PRAY for the relationships that are being built, that the Lord would cultivate them into true friendships.

* PRAY that I would daily draw close to the heart of God and that He would teach me more and more every day.

* PRAY that as I adjust to the people and the culture that the Lord would keep me moldable in His hands.

* PRAY for El Sendero, that the Lord would bless its finances and ministry.

*The Church in Loja is only 30 years young. PRAY for the church that the Lord would continue to raise up Ecuadorian workers in His field.

* PRAY for the English classes and Bible studies that the people who attend would be ministered to.

*In my previous letter, I asked for prayer for two girls, Maria and Susi as they had just gotten baptized. I now know and love both Susi and Maria (who turns out to be my Spanish teacher!) and they are trying to go to England for missions work with SIM in April. PRAY that the Lord would provide for their finances, that their families would be supportive, and that they would GROW through this.

*PRAISE that I have not gotten sick. (keep praying!)

*PRAISE for the conversations that I have already been able to have.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Do you believe a frog can jump out of your ear?

This summer, I was talking to a friend of mine who had lost his phone while we were in Africa. I told him that I believed that God was so powerful that he could make a frog jump out of my ear, so if he wanted to make his phone appear, he could. That’s easy to say when it has nothing to do with you. It’s hard to say when its your story.

Here’s my story: the other day I was working at El Sendero and through a series of events, my purse got left out in the café for no more than a minute. But in that minute, it was gone. My camera, my immigration card, the keys to my apartment and my money were all gone. At the time, it didn’t really phase me. “It’s just stuff; completely and totally replaceable.” Then I found out what a pain in the butt it was to replace an immigration card and started realizing how much I really do use my camera.

I felt a little put out and frustrated; not at the loss of stuff but at the pain it was to get it replaced. Today God brought a story to my mind. It’s in Matthew where Jesus fed 5000 people and then again another 4000. After all that had happened, the disciples and Jesus were going somewhere and the disciples forgot to bring bread. Jesus was telling them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and they all said to one another, “Its because we forgot the bread.” And Jesus rebukes them saying, “Didn’t I just feed 5000 and then another 4000, this isn’t about the bread!”

I realized that I can watch Jesus do miracles and see him provide, but many times when it comes down to it, I don’t believe he’ll do it for me. Somehow I don’t believe that he has my best in mind. What a lie from Satan!

So, right now, I’m praying that the Lord will miraculously bring back my bag in one piece. And even if he doesn’t, that’s ok because I’m learning yet another lesson that everything He does in life is for HIS GLORY and if He receives glory through my bag being taken, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Where would I be without you?

Bugs and I do not get along. But this weekend while we were camping there was a certain bug that constantly intrigued me... the leaf cutter ant. I watched them march along carrying these huge leaves and pieces of food. (I was a little worried that they were going to carry me away in my sleep.)
One specific little ant caught my eye as I was walking along. He was struggling to carry a leaf that was clearly too big for him. I watched another ant come up and carry not only the leaf but the fellow ant.
I began to think of my friends, the people who have come along side me and lifted not only my burden but me as well. I am reminded of the verse that says, "Two are better than one... If they fall down, they can help each other up. But pity those who fall and have no one to help them up!" -Ecc 4: 9
Friend, thank you for always being there to carry not only me but my burden as well.

Monday, February 4, 2008


A country wide water fight... sounds like fun ya? That is until you spend your entire day soaking wet. Carnival is a country wide water fight. I'm still not exactly sure why or how it started (I'll try and find out of you) but technically it started Saturday.
All the kids love it because they get off school for a couple days AND it gives them an excuse to drop buckets of water off their roof onto any unsuspecting or ignorant passerby. I was the victim of one such incident on Friday.
When we walk anywhere we are very away of the fact that it is Carnival and the girl I live with, Candace was warning me in a certain spot that some kid keep dropping water balloons on her. No sooner had she grabbed my bag and said, "Wait, I think there's a kid up there" when another teenager with a bucket of water came running up behind us. I attempted to run, but Candace had my bag trying to keep me from getting water dumped on my head. Needless to say the entire back of my pants were soaking we all day long.
You would think that things like that would only happen out on the streets and that only little kids would participate. This is a common misconception. I was put in my place by Gloria, our 45 year old cook at El Sendero.
Gloria LOOKS like a sweet, wonderful innocent lady... but she is FOOLING YOU. At El Sendero on Thursday night we had an all out water WAR in the kitchen/El Sendero/the outside hallway and guess who started it all? Yep, Gloria.
Enjoy the pictures... if you wanna see more click here :)