"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

Monday, July 19, 2010

Empty My Hands

Just when I thought that I had surrendered everything over to God and that there was nothing else to give to him, he sheds light on another area of my heart that he wants control of. This is a difficult, long, and painful process. I have given him my dreams of being a missionary in Peru and thought that was what he had promised me for this season on my life. However, I am learning that he has not forgotten his promises to me and will fulfill them in his time, but what he wants now is for me to let them all go and be captivated with him alone.

I have found comfort in both the Psalms and certain songs during this time in my life. I want to share with you a song that says EXACTLY how I feel and is my prayer to God as I go through this trial.

Empty my Hands by Tenth Avenue North

Time to get off the floor

These past three weeks that I have been back home have been some of the most challenging times in my life. I thought that the real test of faith was giving up the next two years of my life to serve God in Peru, but that was actually quite easy and smooth compared to where I find myself now. I had security and community in Peru, here I don't know what the next day will bring, let alone the next few years! I am literally clinging to God during this time and trusting him as I step out onto an invisible road. That is exactly where he wants each one of us.

A friend of mine recently encouraged me to jump into the arms of God and allow him to carry me instead of having him pick me up off the floor. I didn't take his advice right away because it was easier to just stay broken, crying on the floor. That's where I have been for a while and it is time that I get up and allow his strong arms to surround me and gently carry me to where he has planned for me.

"When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand . You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever".

Psalm 73:21-26

I know that this is a time of purifying and refining me. The end result will be exactly what he has destinied me to be in order to serve him with all that I am.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Change in scenery

There are times in our walk where we run into a road closed sign and must take unexpected detours to get to our final destination. Last Tuesday I ran into one of those signs and now find myself back in London, Ohio on a detour from my original destination.

I had my interview with the leadership of Extreme and they have decided that I am not yet ready to come back and continue my work in Peru. This was devastating news because I have seen so much progress in my health during the past month, but I am not 100% and they do not want me to get to the point I was before. We shared with my group that I would be going home, they embraced me in prayer, and then asked what they could do to help me during this time. Direction and clarity are a good start.

Wednesday was my last day with my Peruvian family. The bond that we have formed in just four short months is so strong and unique that distance will not destroy it. I feel that one of my purposes in going to Peru was to be an encouragement to my team and learn to lean even more heavily upon God during times of difficulty. The group surprised me with a little party where they sang me happy birthday, had a beautiful cake, and a card that they all signed. I was then accompanied by several of my team to the airport where many more tears were shed, prayers were spoken, and a dear song was sang!

My experience in the Lima airport was quite epic and was filled with even more tears. I was unable to get on the flight I was booked because I was only permitted one bag. So I had to frantically go throughout the airport trying to find a ticket. God sent a few angels from a Baptist college in Wisconsin who were studying in Peru to help me out and take me in. I was able to get a ticket on their flight and had great comfort in traveling with a group instead of alone.

I arrived home on Thursday and am now living day by day trying to figure out where God will be taking me next. Although God has closed the doors in Peru, I know that he is faithful and he is not done with me yet. There are only better days to come. I am confident as Philippians 1:6 says, that he who began a good work in me will bring it to completion. I have found great comfort in my devotional lately and want to leave you with a quote from a poem by Bessie Porter.

" The Lord is sure to accomplish those things a loving heart has waited long to see; those words will be fulfilled to which she clings, because her God has promised faithfully".

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Enabled with boldness:Cusco

"Enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness"- Acts 4:20
After our main event on the 19th, I then traveled
to Cusco to spend a week doing impact with more than 80 other short-term volunteers! I was accompanied by two dear friends of mine from Ohio: Vicki Dunn and Steve Elam. I really enjoyed sharing my experience in Peru with someone from home so that they could relate to my love for the country!
This is a picture of a little girl from Mantay, a women's home that I had visited previously during my first trip to Cusco. I translated for half of the group as we went on a tour of the facility. We were all filled tears during the end of the tour as the guide showed us the nursery and explained the importance of nurturing and making sure these infants know that they are loved, unlike their mothers knew. Our time there included a puppet show which talked about the amazing love Jesus has for each one of us, balloons, nursery feedings, and a powerful testimony that brought many of the young women to accept Christ's open arm invitation.
Due to the largest festival that is celebrated in Cusco, we were limited to our modes of transportation for 80 people. Throughout the week we learned the art of flexibility and on Tuesday we went to the main plaza to pray with people. This was a difficult task because of the parades that were going on and the mentality from the Catholic church that they must pay for prayer. After explaining that it was free, my group and I prayed for jobs, health, the children of the world, and that the people of Peru would get closer to God with 7-10 different people. We then went around to the different plazas and prayed that God would fill the lives that were in that place with his light.

On Wednesday we returned to Oropesa where I went on my previous trip and had a medical clinic and a children's festival. There was a great turnout with over 50 children and 130 people who came to the clinic!

Thursday the 24th was Inti Raymi which is an Incan celebration of the summer solstace and has been intertwined with Catholicism. On this day they have several parades and tradiotions which include climbing up a mountain and sacrificing a llama. We were unable to do any ministry this day, so we were able to visit around the town and see the festivities. It is evident the hold that the enemy has on this city and that it is going to be the hardest of the 7 cities to plant churches because of the Incan roots, however God will be victorious and we were able to get a glimpse of that during our week there.

My favorite part of the week was on Friday when we went to visit the women's prision. This was another women only visit for our group. We had the opportunity to talk with the ladies and here their stories. Many of them are just like you and me with beautiful families and dreams, but had fallen on hard times and are now paying with their freedom. We gave them foot and hand massages and just loved on them with the love of Christ. Lonna Vopat shared her story once more with the women who could easily relate to her testimony. They were all moved by the work of God's redeeming love in her life and almost all of the women gave their lives over to the hands of their heavenly father!!! We then handed out gifts and Bibles to them with a promise that we would return and help them in there walk. One lady shared with me how several groups had come before, but our group was the first where she could feel the spirit of the Lord!

The rest of the week was filled with more children's festivals, another medical clinic, church service, and many trips to the plaza. I was able to help translate for the medical clinic on Saturday which was such a neat experience. Eventhough the majority were only getting prescribed vitamins, tylonol, and rolaids, many of them just desired to get attention, touched, and seen by an American.

Although we would have loved to have done more ministry and impact, it turned out to be a powerful week and many lives were transformed! My prayer was that all of us would return to the states with a fire that would spark the church in the states to share the same kind of love.