"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, March 28, 2010

Unexpected blessings

This past week God has demonstrated to me once again his faithfulness and how he provides for those who wait on him and how he always has a purpose even if we don't see it right away. A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend from school who I haven't had many opportunities to talk with since graduation. Through our conversation, I shared with him what I was doing in Peru. He had just recently had doors shut for what he was going to do with his future and was sort of down and confused about what to do next. This wasn't the first time he had heard about Extreme because another friend had shared with him and so had I last year, but this time was different. I just encouraged him to listen to God's voice and that he would open some doors soon and I jokingly told him he should just come down to Peru for a few years. God's timing and plans are totally unexpected and mysterious because this talked was the cataylst of God's prompting on my friend and opened the door for him to be obedient to God. I found out last week that my friend applied, interviewed, and was accepted to come to Peru in May! We had known each other since freshman year of college and God knew all along that we would both be serving here in Peru. I'm so excited and humbled that God used me, even in such a small way, to help someone else hear their call!
Another unexpected answer to prayer happened last week. I have been in a lot of pain recently from a previous car accident and have had to return to the chiropractor in order to get some relief. Even though the visits are half the price of those in the states, it would take my entire allowance in addition to help from my family in order to afford the continued visits that are required. One of my new brothers, Stephen, has been faithfully praying with me each night for healing and that God would provide through this situation. The rest of the group has also been surrounding me in prayer and it's been such an encouragement! One night last week I was having dinner with the lovely Wilkin's family and was sharing with them my dilemma. They asked me how much it would cost to continue going to the chiropractor for the rest of my time in Peru. I did some quick math (which if you know me, math is not my strong point) and said it would be about $100 a month for 24 months. Jen and Cal proceeded to tell me of a new church plant who had graciously given them some money to go towards their trip even though they had raised over the amount they needed. The church told them they would know what to do with the money when the time came. The amount was exactly $2400! Tears were forming in my eyes as they told me that it was evident that the money was suppose to go to me to help with my expenses! I was humbled by their generosity and that of this new church! God is so faithful to those who wait and trust in him! We are still praying for healing, but for now God has provided in abundance!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Life lately

The last week and a half has been filled with meetings, Bible studies, classes, and fellowship. On March 12th we had the opportunity to listen to the director of Extreme Nazarene, Brian Tibbs, talk about the past, present, and future of Extreme to all the staff. This is a very exiciting time to be apart of Extreme and I am anticipating a bright future where many lives will be brought to the kingdom!

I have spent the last two Saturdays playing soccer with the Extreme staff and locals from the four churches. I had never played before, but I figured that it would be a great way to interact with those that I will be ministering with. Eventhough I twisted my ankle and scraped my knee my second day of playing, I really enjoyed the challenge and hope to become more coordinated as time goes on! The picture is of most of our group at a movie night that we had at the Wilkin's new home. My roommate and I have already been over to visit our old housemates three times! They are greatly missed! We also celebrated the birthday of another Cusco teammate, Emily, by having a photo scavenger hunt in the Plaza de Armas. It was all in Spanish, but we all had a great time and now have some amusing memories!

We have also began meeting with our Cusco team for a time on Sunday evenings to worship together and share about our week in addition to meeting as a cohort on Thursdays. I have really enjoyed the fellowship and the worship time that we have experienced. Today after our meeting, I was able to skype with the Faith United Nazarene church back home that has been supporting my time here in Peru. I really enjoyed being able to share with them about my experience and introduce them to my team. I hope to have more opportunities like this to share with those who have invested in advancing God's kingdom in Peru.

Saturday was another great time of fellowship with the youth from the four Nazarene churches here in Cusco. This was the first service that will continue every Saturday where the youth gather together to worship and hear the word of God. It was the most powerful service that I have experienced so far during my time here in Peru! Next week the service will be held at the church that I attend and I am looking forward to the continued fellowship and the new friendships that will come out of this time.

I have officially been living in Peru for 6 weeks and am half-way through our language training. According to the experts, you usually hit culture shock between 6 weeks and 3 months after being in a different country. I didn't think that this would happen to me since I have been able to experience similar cultures before coming to Peru, however I have learned that I am not an exception! This mainly hit me with a few instances with the combi's, waitresses and at the post office. There are times where my Spanish is misunderstood and we end up either somewhere unplanned or with unidentified food. With the post office, I had to go through customs to pick up my first package that I had received from my Mom. It was a grueling process that had me in tears, but I did finally received my coffee, peanut butter, and Reese's! However, if anyone would ever like to send a package, please make sure it's under 4 pounds so it will go straight to me. I am learning to deal with the things that I might not understand and am trying to find beauty in them instead and to embrace the differences!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cusco: Love at first sight

So this past weekend I had the unique opportunity to go and visit my future home in Cusco, Peru. There was a short-term Extreme Team that was working and we were asked if we would like to come and experience first-hand what was being done. This experience was definitely apart of God's perfect plan and timing.
Nine of us left late on March 5th which was the one-year mark for when I first received my call to go to Peru. We had a 10+ hour bus ride over night from Arequipa to Cusco. As we were entering Cusco, I woke up and was in awe of the majestic green mountains that filled the landscape; it was more than I ever expected! My prayer was that God would help me have a love for the people of Cusco and see them the way he does, as being even more stunning than the mountains and worthy of his love.

As soon as we got to our hotel, we got onto another bus with the short-term volunteers and Extreme staff and went to the central market to do a children's festival. Our team learned the true meaning of being flexible and had the full missionary imersion during our three-day stay in Cusco. Many locals gathered around as we had several activities to attract their attention: Rico the Cuy, face painting, balloon animals, jump ropes, puppet shows, and salvation bracelets. I had some previous experience with balloon animals, so I helped in that area for the three hours we were there. It was an incredibly effective ministry and many decisions for Christ were made! There has been alot of rain in Cusco which has caused alot of devastation and has really hurt the economy. We were expecting more rain and cooler temperatures, but it was actually hotter than Arequipa and we all left with sunburns! We went to the site where they are building our new home to meet those who have put so much time and energy into this project. The views were beautiful and it was a neat experience to feel at home.

That evening we had a dinner at the hotel for the parents and children who were involved with the VBS' during the week. I really enjoyed the opportunity to introduce myself and our team to these people who we will be ministering to and was able to practice my Español! I also met a young woman named Maria who is from Cusco and is interested in doing missions. We talked about what it means to be a missionary, the beliefs of the Nazarene church, and how she could be involved. I got her information and sent it to the pastor in charge of the Peruvian 40/40's and am awaiting to see what happens!

On Sunday we went for a tour of the historical Plaza de Armas and made the decision to leave on Monday so that we could have one more day of ministry. We went to the church and met with Pastor David and Daisy who we will be working alongside when we begin our ministry. We were able to help with a clothing drive at the church before the service. The pastor's wife had invited several people who she knew were in need. We had a beautiful standing-room only service where three people made decisions to follow Christ!

Monday was a very special day of ministry and really helped me refocus on why I am here in Peru and gave me a renewed love for the beautiful Cusqueñans. All week long, the Extreme Team volunteers had been going to each one of the 18 sites where we are going to be planting churches and prayed over them and consecrated them with oil. We had the opportunity to join in these ceremonies at two of the church-plant sites.

After our second ceremony in Oropesa, we went out into the local plaza in small groups and asked people if we could pray with them and told them our plans of beginning a church there. It was an intimidating process at first because it was all in Spanish, but we met several people who were willing to listen to us and allowed us to pray with them. I was overwhelmed with the fact that this is where I will be serving and how ready the harvest really is!!

All of the women of the group then went to Mantay, a shelter for young mother's between the age of 12-18 that is located on the same street as our future home! It is owned my an organization in Spain and houses up to 16 girls who were victims of abuse and come from severe poverty. There are only two of these shelters available in all of Peru. They help these young girls develop skills and go to school so that they can become self-supporting and find jobs where they will not be exploited. We did mini manacures with the ladies and I was able to talk with a few of them and share about what we were doing. We then showed the Jesus film from the point of view of the women that were involved in Jesus' ministry. It was a powerful display of God's redeeming love and how each one of them are worthy of that same love and hope. All of the women who watched the video came up to accept Christ! It was one of those experiences that I can only describe as devine. We then helped them make the salvation bracelets and passed out gifts that we had for them. There was also a little workshop where the girls make items to sell in order to help them earn an income. If you would like to visit their website, go to: http://www.mantayamerica.org/. The shelter has asked us to come back and we are looking forward to starting a ministry and Bible study with these beautiful young girls!

Overall this was a powerful three-day experience that fanned the flame in my heart for the work that God is doing in Cusco. There are two more short-term trips that will happen in Cusco, one which I will be helping with, before we finally come in October. Now I am even more motivated to learn the language and go through our classes so that I can better serve the people of Cusco!