"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

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chaos, confusion, peace

This past week has probably been one of the toughest, but most beautiful weeks that I have experienced here in Peru. We have been living in the 40/40 training center for over a week now and began classes on Monday. The community here is very unique and I feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many who desire to waste their lives for Christ.

Chaos: As I have been sharing through these post, I been experiencing a great amount of pain in my neck and back which has worsened over the past two months. I met with the leadership here on Monday to discuss my pain and what needed to be done in order for me to feel relief. They care about me and want what is best for me; even if that means going home. We decided that I would miss out on our first week of class, rest and just go to physical therapy. If there was not any improvement by the following Monday (tomorrow), I would go back to Ohio to receive treatment. I had to share with my team that night the decision that was made and I was so blessed by all the prayers and words of encouragement that I received which continued throughout the entire week from both those here and at home. Another setback this week was when my Peruvian partner, Julissa, who I met on Sunday went home on Thursday without any warning. She had such a beautiful spirit and we were instant friends, but she had things at home that she had to deal with.

Confusion: As I went through all of the possibilities and dealt with all that was being thrown at me this week, I experienced more confusion of what to do than I have ever before. I am not the greatest at making decisions and generally appreciate others (especially God) just making them for me and telling me what to do. Along with many others, I have cried out to God for an answer of what it was he was telling me to do and what his ultimate will is for all of this. I know he is more than capable of healing me and allowing me to remain here to serve him, but for some reason he has been fairly silent. Through services, others, and personal devotions, I have heard so many conflicting answers which have only left me in more confusion!

Peace: However, through my times of forced rest, pain, and difficulties, my eyes and heart have been opened and sensitive to understand what it is God is wanting me to learn from all of this. Each trial we go through is there to help purify and refine us, but I hadn't completely grasped what it was that I needed to learn until all that I had taken for granted was being threatened to change. Am I willing like Abraham was with Issac to sacrifice his promise to me that I would bring light into the darkness of Peru in order to show him how much I truly love him and above all desire to be obedient to him? Am I willing to give up my new family here and accept that he might have different plans for me? Whatever happens, my love will be with me and will use me, so why worry? I am now at peace that whether I am healed and able to stay here or if I need to go home and get treatment, I will not be alone and it will all be work out in his perfect timing.

There has been little progress in the past week with my pain. The numbing in my arm is gone and I was able to sit for over two hours yesterday! However, I am in still a considerable amount of pain and am not sure if I will be able to withstand the long hours that are required of me. Tomorrow is decision day and I will let everyone know the next step for my adventure here! Thank you again for all your prayers and words of encouragement, keep them coming!!!
Encouraging passages that I want to share from this week:
Isaiah 41:9-13; Psalm 46,77,86; Phil. 1:16, and Joshua 1:6-9

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

If You Want Me To

So tomorrow is a huge day for our cohort because we will transition from our lives with our host families to moving to the Larry and Addy Garman training center with our twelve new Peruvian partners and beginning our missionary training. I have been praying for my Peruvian partner for over a year now and am very anxious to finally meet her and begin our ministry together. This transition would be much smoother for me if it weren't for my current health condition. I have many reservations about moving during this time because I am in constant pain and am just not as focused to begin this work.

However God has shown me his faithfulness and has revealed many lies that the enemy has brought to my mind. A few times this week I had my mind set on going home. Since I wasn't able to fulfill what I thought was my purpose here in Peru, I had decided that I was no use here and that I would be less of a burden at home.

How unfaithful was I to my betrothed! A few months back I had shared about the relation with the Jewish marriage customs and Jesus and how we are his bride, betrothed. In a marriage ceremony, the couple promise to be with each other during sickness or in health. When God called me to Peru, he didn't say it would all be easy or that I would be in good health the entire time, but he did say he would be with me. He has not given up on me or released me from this call, but as soon as things were difficult, I was quick to give up on him.

After many tears, prayers, and encouragement from my brothers and sisters in Christ, I finally saw my unfaithfulness and realized that God was allowing me to go through this time in order to be purified, disciplined, and grow in my faith in him. Yesterday Jarred shared in our prayer meeting from 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. I really love the words in the Amplified version:

7And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. [Job. 2:6.]

8Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me;

9But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!

10So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).

I feel that this may be a "thorn in my flesh", but God can use it to glorify him further if I allow him to. A reoccurring lesson in my walk with God has been to rely on his strength and not my own.

A song that a dear friend of mine sang to me a few years ago when I was going through some difficult times has become my theme song and is really my prayer during this time in my life. I am confident that God is healing me and great things will come from all of this and I am so excited to share it with all of you when it happens!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Endings and beginnings

We have officially been here for three months and just completed our first task: Spanish school. Our last week of classes was a perfect end to our time there.

I had a little trouble getting back into learning mode after my trip to Lima, but it was so good to be back with my family here and to be with my teacher, Elvira. Cailyn and I gave our presentations on Thursday and they each lasted over an hour and a half! Yes I talked in Spanish for that long! I talked about something that has completely changed my life and is the reason I am here in Peru today; my time at Mount Vernon. Our teacher was very interested in the contrasts of universities in Peru with those back home. I really enjoyed sharing about my classes, the opportunities that I had, and the beautiful friendships that formed while there. Cailyn shared about the Jewish marriage customs and it's relation with Jesus which we had shared with the group during a Bible study. It was just as powerful in Spanish and was definitely something that needed to be shared. This led into our final spiritual conversation in class with Elvira and God really helped give Cailyn and I the words to share. The other classes took advantage of the opportunity to share about their faith as well and I am confident that many seeds were planted during these past three months!

On Friday we had a celebration ceremony with the entire group and our teachers. Cailyn and I helped with organizing and it turned out surprisingly well. I was the presenter and was incredibly nervous because that was my first time speaking in Spanish in front of such a large crowd, but I think appropriate words came out. Cailyn and Alex did a few Christian songs in Spanish, including "How he Loves". We each received a certificate and a gift from the director of the school, Carmen. It was a great time of fellowship and our accomplishments were definitely worth celebrating.

We are now in the transitional phase of moving to Zamacola, meeting our Peruvian partners, and beginning our mission training classes. We have until Thursday to relax and enjoy some of Arequipa before our move. There are an array of emotions surrounding this change. Worries about communication with our Peruvian partners, living with 24 people, and taking college level classes all in Spansih! Please be in prayer as we begin our work here as missionaries and take in all of these new changes.

Also, please continue to be praying for my back problems. I am still in a considerable amount of pain and it is beginning to ware on my attitude, but I am confident that God is healing me and that there is so much to learn from this time. I started physical therapy last week and will be going for a while to see if this will ease the pain. Thank you all for your words of encouragement and prayers!!