Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey in Ecuador...

My mom has a million and one traditions... for birthdays, Christmas and yes, Thanksgiving. One of them is inviting a whole bunch of people over and we all have to write in a book the thing we are thankful for that year. I used to think all my mom´s traditions were quite silly, but the older I get the more I appreciate them. So this year I decided to carry on her tradition.
It started with talking to Adam and Emily, from the peace core about their plans. When I found out they had none, a plan began to form in my mind. I pitched the plan to Steven (another short termer) and Jessica (a Christian who works with World Teach) and we were all in agreement to have a big thanksgiving dinner for mostly the American populatoin here in Loja. My numbers started at 7 and before all was said and done we had 16 people sitting down together to share our 11 kilo (24 pound) turkey!
During that time, I had everyone do my mom´s tradition and write down what they were thankful for and it blessed me to hear that they were thankful for El Sendero and the comfort it gave them away from home and for the thanksgiving dinner to share with people who understood them.
We made some awesome connections and friendships are in the process of forming. So this thanksgiving, I would say I am thankful for the opportunity to minister to, not just Ecuadorians but anyone the Lord would put in my path.

Monday, November 23, 2009

To be seen…

My little sister is probably my favorite person in the world. She sees people that no one else sees… she always has. Ever since we were kids, she has seen the lonely, the poor, the hurting while everyone else walks by, whether purposefully ignoring the situation or in blind ignorance. She came to visit me here in Loja last May and even then, she saw someone I didn’t… a lowly woman begging on the street corner (see blog… )
Since then, I have gotten more than one opportunity to love on and speak with this woman. The problem is, she has no teeth and is very difficult to understand. Yesterday I ran into her again in front of our supermarket begging for a few coins. When I saw her, I gave her a wave and there appeared the biggest toothless grin you’ve ever seen. As I began my side of the conversation, she began to ramble on in incomprehensible babble. I just held her hand and shook my head, feeling quite bad that I understood very little of what she said. I promised to come back in just a moment with something for her from the grocery store.
When I came back out with bag in hand, she gave me the look my grandma gives me when she hasn’t seen me for a long time. It’s the look of sheer joy as she held on to me. I knew she was grateful for the food, but I think she was more grateful that someone SAW her. She asked me if I could bring her a picture of me the next time I come and I told her I could do one better. I squatted down next to her and we took the above picture.
This morning my Bible reading was in Acts where Peter and John had their own run-in with a man begging in the temple (Acts 3:1). Peter and John were going to the temple to worship, not to heal someone, but they did not discount an opportunity to show Jesus’ love. “Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’… ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Tears blurred my vision as I read the story thinking of my little lady. Jesus offers her something that no one else does… to be SEEN and known by the Creator of the universe.
It all started because my sister came down for one week and saw someone I may never have seen. I can promise you that this woman’s life is different because of it. Please pray that she will see how the Healer of all things wants to heal her heart, not just her body.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pray and watch it happen…

Andrea is 24 years old and a single mom. Her son is 6 years old. Her dad is the pastor of my church. As she relayed her story of an 18 year-old telling Christian parents she was pregnant , she told me that her family was really supportive. But that no one really understood her struggles as a single mom: trying to raise a child by yourself, being lonely, wondering if you’ll ever find someone who will love you and your child. It’s even difficult in the church… It’s not like you fit into the “Women’s Ministries” at church because you’re still in your 20’s without a husband, just a kid. But really you’re no longer a “Youth” because you have a CHILD and responsibility. This is when we started talking about the idea to start a single mom’s ministry. She got so excited about the idea of having a place where moms can come, take a break from their kids, find people who understand their struggles, and a Savior who relates to their every need. Since then, I have posed the idea to several single moms that I know and each one has responded with joy and a few tears.
When I was in Bolivia the desire grew to start this ministry. Since then, I’ve realized that I probably won’t be the one to start it, but I do want to be the one to start pushing it.
This week, there is a counseling conference on how to minister to single moms and teenage girls. I knew that Andrea would be the perfect person to go, but I could not get a hold of her. Last night at El Sendero I told the Lord, Look I don’t have the time to go and find her, but I really feel like YOU want her to be at this conference… so you’re going to have to bring her here. At 9:00, she walked in the door. I jumped around like a little kid, I was so excited. I told her about the conference and she was so excited! She’s not only going to come, but she’s going to bring her friend who has the heart for the same thing.
This idea is the Lord’s. It’s exciting to watch him grow and sustain it. Pray for Andrea and other women that the Lord is going to bring to start and sustain this ministry. It has very little to do with any of us… just pray and watch it happen!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Scars: something to be hidden or shown off?

Have you ever compared scars with someone? I have some weird and funny stories to go with my scars. For example, the crater I have on my left big toe. This is one of my more recent scars from our beach trip to Peru. My toe got run over by a huge rock in the ocean and then got a whole bunch of sand stuck in the heart-shaped crater, so we had to dig it out with tweezers. All that trauma on my toe made it sensitive for at least a month and its still there 3 months later!
Scars aren’t just outward… each one can point to their emotional scars and express how their heart has been wounded. I was thinking today about my decision to take on the management of El Sendero last year. I remember very vividly, Jesus telling me that I would leave scarred, but that he would put me back together. It scared me to death to think how those wounds would come. Looking back on those 8 months, I can examine each cutting word, each time my pride was broken down, each friendship changed or lost, each tear that was shed, and each time I said I was done and couldn’t take one more step forward… each scar. But each one of those scars reminds me how Jesus carried me and put me back together.
“Don’t we constantly expect people to heal from life’s beatings and lose their scars? I’m somehow comforted to know that Christ still has his.” – Beth Moore.
As I think on Christ’s scars, I realize that the reason they are so important is that we are reminded what he went through for our salvation and our scars are important so that we can remember that we are never too broken that he can’t fix us.
Thank you Jesus for my scars; reminding me constantly of MY inadequacy and YOUR sufficiency.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How often do you get to witness something this beautiful...

A couple months ago one of the girls at the cafe and I were talking about hearing the voice of God. She´s been a believer for a while and was expressing frustration about not being able to hear his ¨voice.¨ ¨Is it audible? Or is it just something I feel? How do I know that if I follow it, it will be good?¨ We talked about how the Lord speaks through people, circumstances, his Word and prayer. She still walked away a bit frustrated with how to hear Him. So I challenged her to tell the Lord that she was willing to be obedient and wanting to hear from Him.
Today as I was walking home from church I ran into my friend standing in an open doorway. As I waved hi from across the street, she called me over. I saw in her hand a large bag of food. With a trembling voice she said to me... ¨The Lord keeps putting the little man who lives here on my heart. I felt like I needed to bring him food, but I don´t know him and I don´t if he is going to accept my gift. Will you ask with me?¨ As the little man came to the door, my friends quivering hand held out the bag of groceries as her little voice said, ¨I know you don´t know me, but I feel like I´m supposed to give you this food. God bless you.¨ As we walked away she began to cry. ¨The Lord has been putting that man on my heart for a week. Thank you for sharing this moment with me. I guess that´s what listening to the voice of the Lord means...¨
I write this story with tears in my eyes knowing that the Lord is moving in this girl´s life causing her to not just be a hearer of the Word but a doer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A New Normal…

Before I left for Ecuador, I was talking to one of my friends about all the things I was freaking out about… mostly Spanish to be real honest! And he told me, “Don’t worry. It’s just a New Normal.” I just gave him that ‘I have no idea what you are talking about’ look. And he said, “Look, think about all the times you started something. How nervous were you the first time you stepped into Starbucks on your first day of work? And now its no big deal. You could do it in your sleep.” He had a point. At some point in every stage of life there is a New Normal. Something that is New right now but by the time you leave it, it’ll feel as Normal as breathing.
Today I bought my ticket to come back to the United States and I was having a hard time breathing. People keep asking what I am planning on doing once I come back and to be honest I just don’t know. There is nothing I am feeling extremely passionate about doing and to be honest, that scares me. But just last night I was reading my journal from when I first got here to Ecuador and I actually had a good chuckle. It was all so NEW; learning Spanish, making friends, living in a foreign country. I actually wrote: I am so proud of myself. I walked home all by myself today. Now it feels so normal, I think of it LESS than I think of breathing! It used to be a new that scared me to death… but now it’s my life that I’m having a hard time leaving. Moving back to the States feels like I’m starting all over again… with the new. Hopefully one day it’ll feel normal again.