"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose". Romans 8:28

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Redeemed by Love

"Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine". Is.43:1
Last week was very "tranquillo" as we would say in Spanish and was filled with good fellowship, rest, and love. My roommate and I borrowed the book "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers which is a fictional novel based on the book of Hosea. We have been reading together during our free time and just finished it last week. It is now one of my favorite books! It really helped me grasp how much God truly loves us, is persuing us, and has redeemed us so that we can be with him; even when we don't think we are worthy. I was able to see from the perspective of those that we will be working with here in Peru, how they might view God, and how I might show them their true value in Christ. Eventhough it's a little long, I recommend it to all!!!
Here is a brief outline of what last week looked like:
Sunday we met our pastors at our church for the first time since they had been away. It was also an actual day of rest which was a rarity back home. Our Peruvian host parents also returned from their two-week vaction at the beach. It is so nice having them home because my Spanish usage has increased tremendously!
Monday was also very restful with a study session with the group at a local ice cream shop (we did actually study a little)!
Tuesdays have become one of my favorite days of the week because all the Extreme staff in Arequipa comes together in the morning for a time of prayer. We have also been doing a corperate time of fasting in the mornings and join for lunch to break the fast together. My roommate Cailyn and I have decided to add to our day by fasting the internet since we feel that it is a huge distratcion at times. It turned out to be a really productive day and we plan on continuing that each Tuesday.
Wednesday Cailyn and I were invited for a night out with the beautiful Wilkins family who we have the privilege of living with! The picture above is all of us at Bruno's Pizzaria which was very tastey! I really enjoyed the fellowship and the opportunity to spend some time with our new family.
Thursdays have become our time as a cohort to meet and have a group devotion. I have really enjoyed our last few meetings and the insights that the group has to share.
Friday the group went out to the plaza to a Mexican restaurant called Tacos and Tequilla. We had such a wonderful time listening to the American music with our amazing burritos and tacos (without the tequilla of course)!
Saturday I woke up at 6a.m. to go on a 1 1/2 hour walk with my Peruvian parents along the countryside. It was breathtaking (the view as well as the hike)! I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend with them and practice my español! I then met up with the rest of the group to go out to celebrate the birthday of our new friend Rachael Miller who is the secretary for Extreme. After lunch, we walked around the plaza and then met with the director of Extreme, Brian Tibbs, for some Cusco coffee, pizza, and a movie. Though it was an exhausting day, I really appreciated the time that we were able to spend as a group with the Tibb's family.
Sunday we had a wonderful time at the church and are started to make connections and will hopefully be getting more involved shortly!
A month has passed by now since I left Ohio! It's hard to believe that it's been such a short time because I feel I have been with everyone here for much longer! I hope you all have a wonderful week and if you get a chance, I would love to hear from you all!! Dios les bendiga!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Peruvian cumpleaños

Life has definitely brightened up since my last post. Thank you to all who supported me during my difficult time last week. I could feel your prayers and encouragement uplifting me! On Thursday we had our first group Bible study which was much needed. It was a time for us to refocus on what we are doing here in Peru and how we can encourage one another in our mission to bring light in the darkness. One of my team members shared Philipians 3:13-14 and felt this was something we all needed to hear: "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus". So that is what I plan on doing; forgetting the past hurts and pains (which have helped refine who I am) and strain on toward what God is doing through us in Peru.

On Friday February 19th I turned 23 and spent my first of three birthdays here in Peru. I wasn't sure how it was going to be since the week had been a little challenging and homesickness was starting to set in, but it was more than I could have ever imagined! My roomie Cailyn (in the picture with me) made sure that it turned out to be a special day, along with the entire team!
It was a two-day celebration filled with some of my greatest memories so far in Arequipa! Cailyn and I kept up one of my old traditions by taking a picture with me at 12:34 (the time I was born). We also went to the plaza for some Cusco coffee which was delightful! That evening the Tibb's invited us over to their house for a fiesta where Jill prepared all of my favorite things (thanks again Cailyn): piñas, peanutbutter/chocolate cake,and kettle corn.
On Saturday we continued the celebration by going to a free Alpaca farm and museum called Mundo Alpaca. It was the highlight of my birthday weekend! I can't imagine a more perfect celebration. This birthday will be hard to match for sure! Now I am energized, healed, and ready to face some more clases de Español!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Clinging to his call

So it has been almost three weeks now since I left my family and friends and came to follow my love on this amazing journey. I have enjoyed exploring this beautiful city and getting to know my new family. This is a picture of Volcán Misti which is one of three volcanoes surrounding Arequipa. The picture doesn't do it justice, but I wanted to give you all a glimpse of the breath-taking landscape in Arequipa.

Although I am surrounded by beauty and am confident this is where I am to be, I have experienced the harsh realities of the battle that is raging around us. Before leaving, I knew that we would face circumstances that would be impossible to get through without God's strength, however, I did not take into account how soon we would face those attacks. Our entire team experienced some difficult challenges that we were not prepared to face, but through God's strong hand guiding us and protecting us, we are going to come out stronger than we were before.

I had often heard of missionaries saying that you need to be very sure of your call because you will face times in your ministry when your call is all you have to cling to. I have definitely learned the full extent of that statement this past week. I know that almost a year ago in a little coffee shop God gripped my heart with compassion and a burden for these people that were in desperate need of the hope that only he can offer. He had restored my heart from the brokeness that I had experienced and he had asked me if I was willing to waste my life for him and his hurting sheep. Through passages like Romans 10:13-15, Isaiah 61:1-3, and Pslams 45:10-11, God comfirmed that he had been preparing all along for me to venture to this beautiful country. With all that in mind, I am confident because of the volume of warefare we have already experienced, we are going to do mighty works for the kingdom of God in Peru. One of my precious friends on our team told me that she knows that God isn't going to bring us all the way out here to only meet us halfway and then to let us fall. He is faithful to the end and will help us become even greater and stronger vessels for him to work through. I am excited to see what the future holds as I cling to his promises and his comforting arms!

Monday, February 8, 2010

And so it begins...

Saludos de Arequipa Peru!

This past week has been one of the most emotional and profound weeks I have experienced so far. I have never felt such peace sustaining me as I have in these past few days. It is also an indescribible feeling to know that I am exactly where I am suppose to be and to feel at home with people I just met and a country I haven't even been in for more than four days!

I joined my new family in L.A. on the 31st of January and we began our Peruvian adventure together. We went through four days of training and orientation; both cross-culturally and specifically with Extreme Nazarene. I had the opportunity to spend some time with some dear friends of mine, Joel Tooley and Rachel Kuhn. Both of them had a huge impact on my journey in following God's call to missions in my life. During our time in L.A., I learned so much about myself and the way that God had been preparing me all along for this journey. It was encouraging to talk with my new teammates about their stories and how God had called them to also be a light in the darkness. Eventhough we come from various walks of life, we have all bonded and united with our desire and passion for the people of Peru.

We left L.A. on Friday the 5th at 1a.m. and arrived in Arequipa, Peru 16 hours later! It was an exhausting day, but we made it through without any problems. I had my first leadership opportunity using my Spanish thrusted upon me in the airport in Lima. Since I was the only one who was able to speak well enough, I was asked to represent the entire group and get them checked in to our flight. It was overwhelming at first, but I was thankful I was able to use my Spanish to help my new family. I was also able to witness for the first time in Spanish on our flight from Lima to Arequipa which was really exciting and encouraging! We were greeted by several of the Extreme staff who had been working and helping us in getting to this part of our journey. It was such a beautiful sight to be welcomed by so many, it really felt like I was coming home. That night we went home with our Peruvian families and settled in to our new homes. I am rooming with my instant friend Cailyn who is also from Ohio and will be going to Cusco with me. We have a wonderful host family who enjoys spending time chatting with us and are interested in our beliefs and our mission!

On Saturday, I woke up to the sounds of the city and felt as though I was in a different world! We took a short tour of the bus system and then were treated to lunch by the director of Extreme. He then challenged us to go to a market and try jugo de rana (frog juice)! I had seen a video of this before and was sure that I would never do something so disgusting in my life, but I stepped up to the challenge, as did the rest of my team, and drank liquid frog! I am now offically able to eat or do anything "extreme". I have a video to prove that I actually did it so you will all have to check it out!

We also had our first church service on Sunday which went really well and I understood a great part of it. All of our team is split among the 4 churches that are here in the city so that we can all be equally involved. The message happened to be about loving your neighbor as yourself which is obivously something that I need to grasp since it continues to come up! We started classes yesterday and they are going really well. We live 4 minutes from the school which is wonderful! Most of the material is just review for me and not challenging at all, but I am hoping that it will pick up soon. We also had a day of prayer and fasting followed by a time of lunch with the entire Extreme staff which is something we will continue every tuesday.

Sorry that these post have been so long! Thank you all for reading them and sharing in this experience with me and for your comments! I love to hear from you all! I promise to write more often so that my post are more like short novels! I hope you all are doing well!!!

In Him,