Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What I fear the most

To say that my time here in Peru as a missionary is a season of growth is an understatement. As I am growing I am learning a lot about myself, and some of what I am learning has surprised me. I left home excited about the chance to have adventures, to experience a little independence and to serve the Lord with all my heart and soul. In the six months I have been gone, I have had a mountain range of experiences, some good and some bad. And as I psychoanalyze my own personality as it adapts to the vast amount of change I have recently gone through, I have learned something interesting indeed. I have realized since coming to Latin America that the thing I fear the most is not getting lost somewhere, eating strange and unidentified foods, or having to live with a village of ants in my bathroom. I don’t greatly fear for my safety, which maybe odd in and of itself, nor do I fear great persecution for my faith.
No, strangely enough, what terrifies me above and beyond anything else is not understanding and not being understood. I have found myself is some situations this week that have required me to knowingly walk into environments that involve a level of Spanish and a collection of vocabulary that I do not possess. Sometimes Meredith was able to accompany me, sometimes not. And when I’m alone I almost freeze up at the door, certain that I will not understand what someone is trying to communicate to me, and thus, become a burden and an annoyance to that person. Or, I am worried that I will understand perfectly, but be unable to communicate what I want to say. I feel like I know so much Spanish, but the basic things that we take for granted in our native language become battles in another. Example: in order to replace my lost phone, I had to go to the bank and buy and official noticia to then take to the police station to fill out a report. When we arrived at the station, a nice man asked me a series of basic questions, what happened to the phone, where do you live, what what’s your documentation etc. But the combination of him being in a police uniform sitting behind an ancient type-writer and there being a line behind me made me get nervous and what may have been easily understood in another environment what a mumble of Spanish words that I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t going to understand. This is really where the problem lies. I get so worried about not being understood, or not understanding well that I make up my mind that I’m not going to be able to before I even try. This is so silly, but it is a significant hurdle that I have to work through. The language will come, probably a little more slowly than I would like, and I need to be more patient than I am.

So, a prayer request for anyone that’s interested: Pray for personal patience with the language, for a spirit of humility and a willingness to try doing things that are unfamiliar without the fear of failing. Pray that I would have an attitude that would embrace failure if it happens in attempting to do new and intimidating things.


Monday, June 22, 2009

The Lima Apartment

So I've finally gotten around to taking a little "tour" of our apartment for you all to enjoy. So . . . enjoy!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

A series of unfortunate events . . .

. . . has led to the loss of the cell phone I have owned less than one month. Bummer. Yesterday my team and I had a meeting at one of the churches, and afterward decided to go to a department store of sorts, to look at their prices on washing machines. Very exciting, I know. I was wearing my Old Navy vest that is made of a slickish kind of material and placed my cell phone in my pocket. I was sitting at a slight angle during our 5 min. taxi ride to Totus, our final destination, during which my cell phone must have quietly slipped from my pocket. Not realizing this, we arrived at the store and exited the vehicle, not thinking twice of looking back inside the cab. These were the series of unfortunate events (okay, really not unfortunate of themselves) that led to that horrible realization that my phone was no longer in my pocket and the only place it could be is in the back seat of the taxi.

Really what makes this scenario unfortunate is, had I been in Lincoln I could have called the phone, and whoever found it would most likely have answered and told me its whereabouts. That doesn't happen here. The first few times we called the phone just rang, then the third time we called it went straight to voicemail - signifying that whoever found it had turned it off and decided to keep it. I repeat, Bummer. Oh well, live and learn: never put a cell phone in the pocket of a slickish vest when you are going to sit at an angle in a taxi bound for Totus. May you all learn from my mistake :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Personal Retreat Day

All ReachGlobal staff is supposed to take one PRD, or Personal Retreat Day, each month. The idea is to take a day away from your normal schedule to realign your spiritual and ministry life. It is a chance to clear the cob webs from life and ministry and frankly, it is a chance for you to step aside from your life and talk to, and listen to God. For us missionaries, this is a day to look at our KRA's (Key Results Areas - basically ministry goals) to see where we are, it is a chance to step away from ministry and refuel, however you need to.
Today I took my first PRD as a missionary and I will admit that it is something that I find super helpful. I've noticed since being here in Peru that in spite of my acknowledged extrovertedness, I have really craved and desired alone time. My PRD today has allowed for that refueling. I started off the day with a quick run, then a shower, then I packed up my computer and books and headed to the place where I get the most effective studying done: Starbucks. Oh yes, Lima has Starbucks, it has McDonald's, KFC, and Pizza Hut too! Anyway, I went to Starbucks, got my vanilla late, and settled in for a day of productivity - all alone in a room full of people unassociated with myself. Glory!
I worked on some Spanish homework I received from my tutor this week, I caught up on emails and I began my next assignment for Homiletics class. I wrote a few notes to folks back home and even was able to have a conference call with my "boss" of sorts in MN. After awhile, I came back home and made myself a turkey sandwich and enjoyed an episode of my new favorite TV show: Castle (yay for being able to still download from iTunes!). Now I'm back to my studies, I've begun a book entitled "The Mission of God" which lays out the missional basis of Scripture, and I plan to spend the rest of the evening reading, journaling, praying, and might finish out the night with a movie :)
It has been a wonderful day spent all by myself (for the most part), and I am thankful that a PRD is part of my job description. I would highly recommend taking a PRD in any profession. When you can remove yourself from your normal routine and are able to focus on what God has laid before you - wow. Try it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When the day doesn't quite go according to plan

So funny story about my day.
During my first few weeks here I met a young Peruvian woman here who is studying to become an architect. Her name is Cristina and she lives just about 5 or 6 blocks for my house, so we’ve decided to hook up every week or so and become conversation partners for each other. She has studied some English and really wants to practice, and I of course, need all the practice I can get my hands on. I’m excited about this because of the opportunity to start developing a relationship with her and through that hopefully move into more of a discipleship relationship, especially since we are unsure about where she is at with her faith.
Anyway, about my funny story – I was going to go over to her house today for lunch at 12:30. So I got myself ready for the day, grabbed a stack of letters that I wanted to mail on the way and prepared to leave just before 12:00. Personal security is a way of life here in Latin America, and Peru is no different. It takes me three different keys to open the locks of three different doors to actually stand inside my apartment. This is fairly good security and hasn’t been a problem . . . that is until today. As I was walked out of our front door and inserted my key into our gate I realized pretty quickly that the insides of the lock seemed a little loose and upon turning the key I realized that the safety bars were not sliding back. So I stepped back and thought for a moment, then attempted to do all of the things you are supposed to do with broken locks. I jiggled the key and lock, I attempted to reach through the bars and open it from the outside, I yelled at it. Okay, not really, but I was late and a little dumbfounded by the knowledge that yes indeed, I have become a prisoner in my own home. Literally. Elsa didn’t have much luck either, so here I am, having called Cristina and trying my best to convey how sorry I was for having to cancel right when I was supposed to have arrived, laughing to myself at the silliness of the situation we have found ourselves in. Not exactly sure what we are going to do about this, but for now I will kick back, and enjoy the fact that my mom just send me package of Twizzlers. Ahhhh, the power of receiving mail from home :)

Cross-Cultural Servanthood: It’s a Burden and a Challenge

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” -Albert Schweitzer

“We are not called to help people. We are called to follow Jesus, in whose service we learn who we are and how we are to help and be helped.” -Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon

Did any of you realize that servanthood is culturally defined? Yeah, neither did I. It is so completely fascinating when you realize that your entire understanding of what Christianity is, and how to follow Christ is widely based upon culture. I follow Jesus as a westerner. I’m realizing that in order to follow Jesus well in Peru I’m going to have figure out how to separate myself from my western understanding of who Jesus is. So the big question is, how to be culturally sensitive to those I am around while “remaining true” to scripture. This is the burden and the challenge of servanthood. At least it is according to Duane Elmer, author of “Cross-Cultural Servanthood”. This is one of a few books I am reading at the moment, and I believe it may be one of the most relevant books that I have picked up in preparation for this ministry. “The ways we are effective in culture are also the primary ways we serve others”, says Elmer based upon 1 Thess. 2:8, and, “we are inclined to serve others from our own frame of reference”.

I have a lot to learn. This process of learning how to truly serve is actually quite humbling. Who would have thought .

Monday, June 15, 2009


They say that you learn something new every day.
Despite my doubt, it is amazing to me that it is possible to think you understand something, then in a single moment realize you’ve been completely wrong.
Adoration. The object of worshipping God. Worship. The object of glorifying God. Glorification. The object of adoration. So then, what exactly is adoration?
I thought I understood what it meant to worship God, I have of course, been doing this since I was a small girl. Last week I experienced that “single moment” where I realize that my entire understanding of what it is to adore the Lord has been so wrong. Adoration is rendering one’s self, it is a way of living, it is a response. In order to worship God you have to know something of God, you have to know him. God reveals things to us, he reveals himself. Adoration is the recognition of his revelation and our response to it. Adoration is not 20 min. of praise music on a Sunday morning; it is 20 years of acknowledging who God is and what he has spoken. It is a life of recognizing that the Lord is everything he says he is. It is a response to what he has chosen to reveal.
I thought I understood what it meant to worship God, I have of course, been doing this since I was a small girl . . . I thought I understood . . .

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We have a vision!

After about three weeks of discussing and thinking, we (the Tarma team) have finally come up with a vision of ministry, or our vision statement of sorts! Here it is:

Glorificar a dios sembrando cogregaciones que multiplican vidas transformadas en Cristo, en Tarma y sus alrededores.

Oh, I'm sorry did ya'll want that in English? I'll try again:

To glorify God in planting congregations in and around Tarma that multiply transformed lives in Christ.

This is a big step in our team planning as we have not been able to move on to method of ministry since we had no end goal defined. I have been praying for the last several weeks that we would be able to come to a unified vision, and that I would personally be at peace with our end result. Praise God that we have and that I am! I'm looking forward to moving on to developing our plan of ministry in the next several weeks, as we continue in our daily responsibilities. Another 24hour trip to Tarma is planned in two weeks and we are continuing to visit the churches of the ADIEL presenting our ministry and the financial needs of our Peruvian missionaries. It's looking like we won't be able to make the big move to Tarma until the beginning of August, which is actually better for everyone considering all that is left to be done between now and then.

In other news, I have met a young woman named Cristina that I am going to start meeting with to practice Spanish with. While my tutor, Giovanna, will help me with grammar and pronunciation, Cristina will provide a relaxed environment to develop my conversation skills. The coolest thing about this is that this is the daughter of the woman who hosted Meredith (my roommate and teammate) when she studied abroad here in college. Cristina was 2 years old when Meredith was here as a student, and now she is in college herself and is studying English. The point is to help each other practice, but of course I'm hoping for some more relational growth as well. I'll be meeting up with her for the first time tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully I'll come home with my first Peruvian friend my own age!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ooops, I'm starting out with a bad track record

I decided not long after arriving in Perú that it would be a smart move to start meeting with a Spanish tutor, just to help me with pronunciation, slang, and grammar that I don’t use often enough to feel confident with. Meredith knew of a woman who tutored at a reasonable rate so we set up an appointment to meet and discuss tutoring possibilities. This meeting was last Friday at 10:00am at her apartment. Meredith and I got out a map and saw that Giovanna lived not too far from us, less than 10 blocks. So Friday morning I got myself up and ready and left the house around 9:30 to give myself plenty of time to get there. I am a very “on-time” person, and I get frustrated when I show up late to things, and I of course wanted to make a good impression on my first visit. Meredith had given me decent directions to where she thought Giovanna’s apartment would be, but when I came to the “crossroads” of sorts I saw that the street sign was indicating that her block number was in the opposite direction. I pondered for a bit, trying to decide if I should go with Meredith’s advice or follow the street signs, ultimately deciding that the street signs knew what they were talking about. I learned a valuable lesson that day: Peruvian streets signs are not to be trusted. After power walking 15 blocks in the wrong direction, realizing that I was on the “right block” but in the wrong district, I jumped in a cab that brought me back to the place where I started. I walked in the direction that Meredith had originally told me to go, and after two blocks I arrived at Giovanna’s front gate. Awesome. By this time I was sweaty, tired, frustrated with myself – and I was a half hour late. Giovanna was completely gracious, understanding that I am still getting to know the city and how the layout is lain out. I stayed for an hour and we decided that my sessions would be on Mondays from 9:00-11:00am. I left feeling better than I arrived, and appreciated how gracious Giovanna had been to me.
I have been fighting an annoying head cold for the last week, with the normal sore throat, congestion and cough, which of course makes it hard to sleep at night. After an intense morning at church yesterday, with our missions presentations (which went really well by the way), I was so looking forward to the fact that I didn’t have anything scheduled for today. I planned on staying home all day and getting work done. Last night was another night where I didn’t fall asleep until about 2:30am and so I didn’t wake up this morning until about 10:00. We had a plumber come not long after I woke up to check out the upstairs bathroom so I stuck close to my room, booted up my computer, and planned on getting started with my list. As soon as I logged into my email a “Reminder Bell” sounded and a note popped up on my screen from my calendar that said “Tutoring, 1 hour overdue”. And then I realized.
It was Monday, it was 10:30am by that point, and I had slept through my first tutoring session. I couldn’t believe it. I turned my phone on and realized that I had missed a call from Giovanna and I felt horrible. I called her right away and explained how I’ve been sick, how I can’t believe I forgot about tutoring today, and apologized as best as I could for having overslept. Once again she was gracious, and overly patient with me saying that I shouldn’t worry about it, rest today and let her know later on in the week if I want to reschedule or just wait until next Monday. I hung up the phone feeling incredibly sheepish and irresponsible and realizing that I am earning myself a horrible track record with Giovanna. Ooops. I think I will show up next week a half hour early, armed with a plate of cookies. Maybe then I’ll feel better.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Preparing for Presenting

Acts 1:8 is the passage I chose to give a 30-40min. presentation in Spanish to a group of 10-12 year-olds about missions. I found out three days ago that I was giving this presentation, and had been assigned what I believe to be a difficult age group. I am not a gifted Sunday school teacher, and while 4 year-olds will think you are amazing whatever you say, 12 year-olds are old enough to decide if they want to listen to you or not. So it could get interesting!
I've decided to focus my time on encouraging the kids that "¡Sí, se puede ser misioneros en su propio hogar! or, Yes, you can be a missionary in your own hometown! I want to encourage these kids that the way Christ instructed the New Testament believers to be testimonies first in Jerusalem, then in Judea and Samaria, and finally to the ends of the earth is an applicable concept today. That they, at ages 10, 11 and 12 can be official missionaries in their neighborhoods, schools, provinces, cities and countries. While I do enjoy a chance to teach, kids make me a little more nervous than adults - not entirely sure why. So tomorrow I will attempt to work my way through this topic in Spanish and pray that these kids come away with something other than that they had a strange girl speaking strange Spanish in their Sunday school class that day.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Looking at Tarma with Open Eyes

So I suppose it is about time to show you what Lima looks like! I haven’t been nearly as good about posting fun stuff for you all to enjoy since I’ve gotten to Peru. Hopefully I’ll improve in the coming weeks. My team and I spent the weekend in Tarma again, and this video is of Lima as we are re-entering the city on the bus that took us home from Tarma. Enjoy.

As for the last week, like I said we made another trip to Tarma, this time without Bethany Leach but with Julio, our fourth teammate. Also along on our journey was another ReachGlobal missionary from Venezuela, Carol. She came to Peru this week in order to assist us as we continue to prepare for our ministry in Tarma. The trip had its ups and its downs but overall I felt it was worthwhile. Since we went over a weekend, and holiday weekend at that, many of the people we wanted to talk to were unavailable.
May is the month of Señor de Muruhuay the patron saint of Tarma and surrounding areas. He is actually a Christ-like figure that occupies Tarmeñian devotion. The legend of Señor de Muruhuay is the miraculous appearance of a crucified Christ on a rock outside the city, painted on by the sword of a scared and hurt Spanish solder named Muruhuay in 1824. Apparently each night the soldier cried out to God in desperation for deliverance from the Peruvians. Then one night a humble farmer noticed two candles burning up on the hill, and when he approached he noticed the striking image. Immediately the man when to the priests to come and see the phenomenon, and when the priest arrived, he verified it to be true. Now, 185 years later the people of the area continue to visit the site of this painting now surrounded by a memorial church, to touch the image and pray for healing and deliverance from their sufferings. Some believe that this figure of the crucified Christ is Señor Muruhuay, and other’s believe the figure is indeed Christ himself granting healing to the natives.

As you can guess this month-long celebration of the Christ-like saint is a confusing and erroneous tradition of the area. Many are confused as to if this image is Christ or not, and many actually worship the image. It was very fascinating to observe this small-town community spend an entire year’s wages on a party to celebrate this Saint. Needless to say, many of our contacts that we hoped to hook up with were unavailable due to their celebration plans.
But beyond this cultural exhibition, we did end up getting quite a bit accomplished in proceeding with our demographic surveys of a various group of laypeople, officials, and professionals. We had team time in our hotel room with Carol discussing the opportunities in Tarma, and the best way to go about accomplishing our goal. This actually turned out to be a little difficult since we are still working together what our end goal should be. The last thing that Tarma needs is another traditional church with a building, a pastor, and a staff. This town is scattered with Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, Pentecostal, Catholic and even its share of Evangelical Free Churches (not associated with ReachGlobal or the EFCA). So our crux then is, how do we go about planting “Christ’s church” in a way that Tarma really needs, in a way that will bring about the transformation that these present churches are not bringing about? So begins our process of casting vision . . .

I will keep you informed :)