Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hope's here to stay...

I am so blessed by my volunteers. I just think they are amazing. There are two girls in particular that I have become more attached to in the past month. Karen (on the right) and Valeria (on the left). Karen came to me from the English club. She wanted to practice her English because she is moving to the States in August. Valeria is a girl from my youth group who is best friends with Karen but has never shared her faith with her. Valeria decided that she was going to come on the two days that Karen helps me to build the spiritual side of their friendship.
This past week, in English club, my friend Paula was able to have a conversation with Karen about her relationship with Jesus and she stated that she just wasn't ready yet but she had been thinking about it a lot. And later that night Valeria invited her to youth group with us. She declined due to some homework, but we haven't given up yet.
Here's the even cooler part... Karen just found out that she is moving to Arkansas for her exchange program and will be staying with a PASTOR! She will be doing everything the family does, including going to church and being involved in youth group.
There are no such thing as coincidences. God has a plan that would blow our minds away if we truly understood the full extent of it all. Please join me in praying for Karen that she would accept Jesus as her Savior... if not here in Ecuador, in the United States. Pray that the family she is staying with love Jesus and would continue sharing the good news of the gospel with her.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Challenging Moments

This is not the first time (nor the last time) that I have talked about Maria de los Angeles. As some of you know, she recently went to Bolivia to do her thesis. As many do not know, she had a hard time from the beginning. She was supposed to be living with the nuns in a convent and then decided that that would not be best for her spiritual walk and bailed out to live with the rest of the students.
This caused her problems on two ends… the nuns decided that they did not like her because she bailed and the students decided that she was a “nun” because she was supposed to live with them. This was just the first of many things that have happened to Maria in the past couple of months with the most recent being problems with the university she is working with. She was meant to go and help teach some of the poorer people in the area how to produce and sell their own food, but is currently teaching Biology and Chemistry instead. Needless to say, she is very frustrated and I received an email a couple weeks ago telling me she desperately wanted to come home.
Yesterday I was able to chat with her on-line and was overjoyed by what she told me. Not one of her circumstances has changed… she still doesn’t like her job and things are still very difficult, BUT because of all of this she has grown very close to the heart of God. She told me that HE has been the one sustaining her through all of this.
As I inquired as to what she had been studying (since there isn’t a Christian church in her city, to my knowledge) she said she was studying Romans and that she LOVED it. As we talked she asked about a passage in chapter 10 that was confusing her. I looked at the passage to see if I could shed any light on it, but found myself also quite confused. So we looked at it together and came to an answer… SHE challenged ME and I learned something new about the Word that I had never seen before. How awesome is that?! The Holy Spirit is teaching us both through his Word.
I miss her desperately (me and the girls took the above picture to show Maria where she “should have been” at a recent birthday party :)) but am so excited to see what the Lord is doing in and through her life. He has awesome plans for her there in Bolivia and one of them is definitely to grow closer to Him.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Manwellcito… he hates it when I call him that. But I have grown to love this kid like he is my little brother. I have been amazed to see where God has brought him in the past few months. I don’t know if I can do his story justice, but I will try…
When I came back to Loja in January he was not doing good. My roommate Nicole told me that he had been drinking pretty much every weekend since Christmas. As you can imagine this hurt my heart. One night when we were all out, Nicole and I saw him pretty wasted and here was the thing that really got me: when I’m just hanging out with Manwell in the coffee shop he’s happy, laughing and fun. When he drinks, he is quiet and down. I thought to myself, ‘Why would he want to be THIS Manwell… I like the other one better.’
A couple months later he told me, “I feel like I’m always wearing a mask for people. I have to be this happy, fun guy when really I feel miserable inside.”
I remember one day looking over at the couches and seeing Manwell and Carolynn in a very intense conversation. Later on Carolynn told me that she has never been so bold with anyone. She just asked him straight up what he was doing and where he was in his walk with the Lord. She challenged him to read a book called, The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey.
It was amazing to see the transformation that took place in Manwell’s life throughout the next month. He told Nicole and Carolynn that he was afraid to be honest with God because God was so big and powerful. About a week after that we were talking and I asked him about that comment and he said, “I used to be scared to be honest with God… like I had to wear a mask for him too, but now I’m not. As I was reading that book I realized that Jesus can handle my junk.”
Carolynn just recently went back to Australia and Manwell told me, “If I was the only reason that Carolynn came to Ecaudor for the past 3 years, it was worth it because of how God has used her in my life.”
God is still working in Manwell’s life and it is amazing to see what He is capable. Keep praying for Manwell that he would know the amazing Jesus who desperately wants to know him.