Thursday, October 30, 2008

Story number TWO... the Lord is with you wherever you go.

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

story number OnE...

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

Ox Penis Soup...

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.