Sunday, January 31, 2010

Saying goodbye...

I wrote this several months ago for a very dear friend of mine…

What do you say? I mean really. You can say you’re sorry. You can say they are in a better place, but when it boils down, you have very little to actually say. So what do you do? You do. You make food, you clean the house; you make sure they are as comfortable as possible. But still, there is a loss and there is nothing you can do to hide or change it.

Is it worse to say your unborn baby has died or that you still have to give birth to him? Today I watched my friend begin to mourn and it broke my heart. Yesterday I was talking to her stomach saying, “Com’mon baby wake up! Listen to your Aunt Jamie! I can’t wait to meet you.” And today I’m holding her as she tries to understand why this little life was cut short. I can’t totally put my finger on why I was so affected by this whole situation, but I just want to say death is so unnatural. People say… ‘Ah yeah people die. It’s part of life.’ But its not! It’s not part of life. It’s death. It’s part of the curse. Jesus never intended for it to be this way. He never intended to have suffering and death. But this is what we did. Our sin caused death and this causes pain. This little one is up in heaven hanging out with the Father who knew him from conception… but we are down here asking why. He has no problem with what happened but for some reason we are trying to rationalize with ourselves how we could have changed or not changed the situation… but really it comes down to this: from the womb we were known and every day was mapped out. For this little one, Jesus only gave these 6 months of life for reasons we cannot understand. For you, you may die tomorrow or not for 50 years. But one way or another that last day comes for all of us.

That day to say goodbye was today and right now as we speak, his mama is doing the hard work of giving birth to him. But instead of tears of joy, a baby screaming and congratulations all around, there are tears of pain, sweet goodbyes and people trying to figure out what to say. My friend is so brave. She said to me today before she went to the hospital, “I don’t know if I have the strength to do this.” As I held on to her and tried to think of what to say or do, I heard my mouth whisper, “You don’t, but your Father does.”

When I got the phone call that said it was all over, my heart dropped. When I walked into her room, she reached out to me and I held on to my friend as she whispered in my ear… “It was a boy. His name is Gabriel.” Tears began to stream down my face as I realized that the little box I had passed on the way in was him. There are never the right words nor the right response… I think I’m just going to follow the example of Jesus, “Jesus wept;” so I too will weep. I will not weep over where he is, because I am more jealous than sad, but I will weep that we won’t get to watch him grow up to be the amazing man of God I’m sure he would be.

Vivi, I am sorry friend. I am sorry that you have to go through this, but know that you do not go through it alone. Your Father has strong arms to hold you. Gabriel, I look forward to meeting you one day… until then, give our Daddy a big hug for me will ya?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Do you know how much you mean to me?

Sitting in the Miami airport, I looked over at Steven and said, "What am I doing here?" I looked around and felt like a foreigner. Nothing seemed familiar and worse yet, it didn't feel like home. I hadn't been out of Ecuador for 12 hours, and I was ready to head back.
The plan was to head for Charlotte and then go visit Brookwood Church (the team that came out to do a short term mission) for the weekend. As we got off the plane in Charlotte, the feeling had not changed. In fact, I think I was more ready to go back to Loja. We quickly shuffled off the plane and headed towards baggage claim. On the way, we started wondering if there would be a SIM person to pick us up. (I was secretly kicking myself for not bringing someone's number!)
So there I was.. not wanting to be there, wondering if we'd get picked up, and tired. As I was looking around for my luggage carousel, I caught a face that I recognized walking toward me. It was Becky from the Brookwood team. No sooner had I recognized it was her that I was surrounded by arms. Dave, Becky and Kyle had driven an hour and a half to be our welcoming party. Becky said, "When we came home after 8 days, the airport was filled with our family and friends welcoming us home. And we wanted to be here for you." I don't think they will ever know how loved I felt. We pulled up to Daniel's house in Greenville to find 15 more people waiting to love and welcome us home.
You guys will never know how much this weekend meant to me. You have given me another home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

3 crazy nights... good thing I have a big God!

I have more stories from 2 and a half weeks with my little sister than I´ve had in the past 2 months. In that time, we were in Loja, in the jungle, in Quito and on the beach. We met all sorts of people and watched as the Lord took care of us every step of the way. All that to say, I have to tell you about the three craziest nights of my life.
When Janna and I got to Atacames, I had no idea where to get off or where to go. So I decided to ask the man in front of us. This man not only told me where to get off, he got off the bus with us. He then proceeded to catch us a taxi, tell the man the name of our hotel, tell the man he better take us directly there and tell us the exact amount to pay. He then got back on the bus to go wherever he was going. I think he was an angel :).
But that´s not where the crazy nights begin. They begin later. We walked around looking for a good place to stay and found what we thought was a nice place, paid the man and went in. Appearances can be decieving because that night a party started across the street that sounded like it was IN OUR ROOM. Seriously, I wouldn´t have been surprised to see the bartender IN our room asking us what we wanted to drink. Needless, the party did not stop until 3am. Ahhh... finally sleep. But then at 7am, construction started in the room next to us, in the hallway and in the room above us. It was time to leave.
So we went and looked for yet another place to stay. The people there weren´t that friendly, so when we found a very friendly hotel owner with a little mom and pop type hotel, we took it. He promised it wouldn´t be noisy. Aaah sleep... nope a party started next door and lasted until 6am.
But the next night, he PROMISED that we would have no noise... so we stayed. At midnight some kids who were staying next door started partying outside our room so I politely (ok, maybe not so politely) told them to shut up. :) At 6am, my sister wakes me up... I turn over to see the hotel owner KNEELING NEXT TO OUR BED! I sat straight up and proceeded to bombard him with questions as to why he was in our room. It was the strangest thing ever... he stumbled over his words like he was drunk or something and finally got out that our door was open. (I have gone over this part a million times and I am 99.9% sure that I closed that door... but ever if I didn´t!? What the heck was he doing in our room?!) I told him to get out of our room and we quickly packed up and left.
As we sat in the most expensive hotel in the place, we stated talking about what happened and my sister had the most insightful thought... we are very well taken care of on a normal basis. Our dad is amazing and would fly half way across the world if we were in trouble. We also both have amazing men in our lives who would bend over backwards to make sure we are taken care of... but in this moment none of them were there. They could not do a single thing to keep this situation from happening. BUT we have a BIG God who is our amazing Father who takes care of us when no one else can. Praise God for his protection on our lives...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

An Unexpected Guest...

As most of you know I am traveling around Ecuador with my sister. We have had all sorts of adventures so far... including but not limited to: realizing that we only had $150 to last us for a week and my debit card was expired so we had no way to get more; 2 parties 2 nights in a row in 2 different hotels that kept us from sleeping more than a couple hours; and angels from every corner helping us out in every bind and situation.
I want to tell you one story of what ifs...
My friend Andrea, who lives in Quito so I have not seen in FOREVER came by Loja 2 days after I left to go on my trip. Steven just HAPPENED to be in the building when she stopped by so was able to get her number and give her mine.
When I went through Quito, I texted her, but got no responce. Janna and I decided to hang out in Quito that day and go to a coffee shop, walk around town, see what we could see, eat lunch at a new place and so on. After a couple hours, I still had not heard anything from Andrea. We decided we wanted to go see a movie and so started to walk to the trolley. On the way to the trolley, I ran into Andrea. This sounds like such a coincidence, but you have to understand Quito is the size of Dallas... you dont just run into people downtown. And here is the kicker... she lost her phone the day before, so there was no way we would have hooked up if we would not have run into each other! We ended up having a coffee together, seeing a movie, hanging out and I got, probably my last opportunity to share the gospel with my friend. She told me that she has been praying a lot lately and I encouraged her to start reading the Word and going to church.
When Janna and I got home at 1:00 in the morning, we started talking about all the What Ifs...
...IF we had decided to go see a movie in the afternoon, we never would have been downtown at that time.
...IF we had not have eaten the food we ate, we would not have gotten sick and had to stop so many times before leaving the downtown area (yes, there is a good slant to even bad deals)
...IF we had not have stayed in the coffee shop so long, we never would have seen her.
...IF we would have walked down ANY other street, we would not have met her.

There are a million IFs... but the Lord coordinated each and every step. Do you know how awesome it is to be the daughter of the God of the Universe!? What is impossible for man, is possible for God!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


You never know what is going to happen when you get on a bus in Ecuador... here is my most recent story from my trip to Tena with my sister...
When Janna and I got on the bus, we got stuck in almost the very back... right next to the bathroom GROSS! Anyway, we had window control (very important since Ecuadorians always like to shut all the windows and kill you with lack of ventilation!) so that made life better. Janna opened up the window and it was wonderful until we started going and then it got freezing cold. So I told her to shut it a bit... and she accidentally slammed it all the way. Then she had to heeve and ho (how do you spell that!?) to get it open, but then it was ALL the way open again. By this point we were laughing so hard that she was having a hard time shutting it. This went on several more times before we got it to be normal. With all the laughing I realized I had to go to the bathroom. I pulled on the door and thankfully it wasn't locked, but as I stepped into the bathroom I realized the door wouldn't really shut... so I had to go to the bathroom while holding the door shut. This was not a problem until I had to pull up my pants... that was quite a feet. Anyway, once I got out of the bathroom and sat down, I realized that the bathroom door would swing open every time we turned a corner... open and shut... open and shut. I noticed a nasty napkin on the floor that I figured it must have been holding the door shut so I wedged it between the door and the frame, which seemed to sufice. Not 5 minutes later another foreigner decided, since I went to the bathroom, she could as well and down went the napkin. As she left, she didn't have a care in the world that the bathroom door started opening and slamming shut. So again, I picked up the napkin... anyway, this whole ordeal went on for a good 30 minutes and several passagers later.
Then all the sudden a family comes on the bus and there are no seats... so she decides to sit on my armrest... which we all know means that she was IN my seat. I almost asked her for the $3 (half of my seat) since she was taking up at least half of it... if not more! But I decided to be gracious and not say anything. Needless, 30 minutes passed and then she sat on the floor with her head in her hands. If you don´t know what this position means, you haven´t been with me when I have to stand up on the bus. She was getting sick.
I have to interrupt my story for a moment to tell you of another bus story on the way home from San Lucas a couple of weeks ago. I had this exact situation where I decided, even though it was culturally inappropriate, to sit on the floor or else the woman in front of me was going to have throw up down the back of her neck. A woman to my right tapped me on my shoulder and told me to take her seat. I tried to refuse, but she insisted that she would sit with her daughters. What I didn´t realize at the moment is that her daughters were two full frown women.
As I sat in my comfy chair on the way to Tena, the Lord told me to give up my seat. I said no. I said it was my seat and I paid for it... it was my right. And Jesus told me... you have no rights... you are who you are and where you are because of me. So reluctantly, I handed over my seat and sat in Janna's lap for the next hour and a half. Jesus pours out his grace on me every day... its time for me to give up my rights for his glory.