Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Answered Prayers

When I was raising support one of the main things I prayed was that God would do immeasurable more than I asked or imagined. God answered that prayer and I was fully supported after 5 months of support meetings. Asking people for money, even for something ministry related, has never come easy to me, nor is it enjoyable. So I began to pray that God would work beyond my own inabilities and discomfort to bring in the money needed to bring to this place of ministry.
It occurred to me the other day that the power of this verse didn’t end when I reached my support goal. And I decided to continue to pray that God would do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine for this ministry. Yesterday I spent time in prayer before going to my English class, and I asked the Lord to give me opportunities to get to know my students outside of class, that I would have a chance to explain what I do and why I am here in Tarma, and that I would have opportunities to invite students into my home in order to spend time with them and share our ministry with them. After I was done praying, I packed up my lesson plans and went to class and taught my students the names of occupations and how to use these nouns with the verb ‘to be’. I am really enjoying teaching, something that rather surprised me. And I am very impressed by my student’s eagerness to learn. After the class was over, I realized that one of my students,( Junett, age 30) lives near me. So we walked home together, and she asked me what else I do besides teach English, and why I came to Tarma. She asked when we meet, and I was able to extend an invitation for her and her daughter to come to the house sometime.
When I got home I realized that the Lord had answered my prayers within two hours of praying them. I am overwhelmed by his grace and encouragement as I continue to do relationship building in a way that isn’t the most comfortable for me. He is working through my hesitation and inabilities so that the glory goes to Him. I am excited to have Junett and her daughter Grecia over to the house next week – I think we may bake cookies :) Please be praying for her and her daughter, that if they don’t already know Christ as their savior that the Spirit would open their hearts and ready them for the gospel. Pray as well for the rest of my students, that I would have opportunities to pursue them outside of class, and that they would be receptive to spending time with me.
Thank you so much for your continued support and encouragement.
God Bless.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What I missed telling you.

Sometimes I feel that if I don't have anything interesting, or incredibly funny to write to you all, that it's better just to not write. Sorry about that. Due to a very "normal" week, well as normal as normal is here, I have failed to keep you up-to-date on the workings of our lives here in Tarma. Now . . .
I have officially been teaching for two weeks now, and am getting to know my students bit by bit. I am finding that I really enjoy teaching, and it is a very cool experience to watch kids learn. I find myself wanting to get creative, to change the way we do things everyday so that the kids don't get bored, or maybe it's just so that they won't realize that I've never formally taught before :) Beyond my classes I am spending time developing short devotionals and bible lessons, I have lesson plans to write now for my English classes, along with reading and material that we as a team are trying to develop as we get on with our plan of ministry. Things seem to be coming together bit by bit.
The idea of having a formal bible study running is exciting. It is to be a study of Christians, with the underlying purpose being to develop them in their knowledge and understanding of Scripture, as well as to develop their ability to lead and carry one the study without us. How cool is that? To see this vision realized would be the most satisfying accomplishment of this past year. And this is our goal to spend the rest of 2009 developing this group of believers so that come 2010, they would be ready (or a step closer to being ready) to lead friends and family in other studies of the Word.
As we pursue developing these believers, the goal is not to disregard those that have not yet made the choice to follow Christ. We want to continue to build relationships with those that don't know the Lord, to bring them closer to knowing him, and to eventually get them involved in these Peruvian led Bible studies. God continues to challenge me in this area. Making an effort to carry on conversation with girls that I don't know well, or to gain their trust is tricky, especially since I am an "outsider" of sorts. People don't always understand why I'm here. They question why a young girl from the United States would choose to live in Tarma. It would be like the Queen of England all of a sudden deciding to live in Geneva, NE. Now, I am by no means comparing myself to the Queen of England, but merely trying to describe to you why people would be suspicious of my intentions. This doesn't necessarily close doors in my face; it only means that the time to gain trust will take longer than a "plan of action" would appreciate.

All this to say, that while we are progressing, the rate that we are progressing is slow. We have been here in Tarma for just under two months, and with a commitment of a year and a half, it is okay to be progressing slowly. I am interested to see what God will choose to accomplish in this year and a half, and to see if this ministry commitment will be extended at the end. I am fairly confident that the church we are planting won't be anywhere near completed by the time our commitment is up, and I'm not talking about a building. Most church plants take years to get to the point of self-sufficiency. But for us, we have our vision, and we have our two months completed in Tarma. We are trusting that the Lord can still do miraculous things if we are only faithful to do the work He has called us to do. Step by step, day by day . . . and maybe by the time I pack my things to go home, God will have performed some miracles.

Friday, September 18, 2009

1,2,3 . . . Go!

That's how I feel like this week has played out. All of a sudden I have gone from no direct schedule to something stable every day. Starting this week I began a regular schedule of teaching 4 English classes and one English Bible study every week. I have begun teaching these English classes as a way to get to know more young people, establish more contacts, and to have a presence in one more "legitimate" business in Tarma. This first week of teaching was both an encouraging and an interesting experience, especially since I have had no formal training in teaching. But God gave me strength and peace about starting something new, and I am excited to continue. I have 10 students that range in age from 11 to 30, and I am praying for opportunities to get to know them better. I'm realizing that there is a danger involved with me teaching these classes, as it would be very easy for me to stray from our vision and purpose in Tarma as my focus shifts from teaching Bible and drawing people closer to Christ, to teaching English. I'm praying that God would have a very specific purpose for me as I involve myself in these classes. I am praying for opportunities to connect with these students on a level outside of English. I know it will take time, and for a while I may have to focus on the subject matter as I learn how to build trust with these students. Please be praying for me in this area, as I continue to learn each step, one at a time. God is good, and I am thankful to have a schedule again :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stage Fright

I've pretty much always been extroverted to some extent. I was never phased by being in a room full of people I didn't know, or welcoming the new kid into our youth group. This was a great personality trait to have in the sorority during my college days, especially with new freshman every year. But when I graduated something changed, maybe I mellowed out some, or maybe I just got used to not being around people all of the time. I developed into more of a balanced introvert with a few extroverted tendencies. I think at home this is a somewhat natural thing, to pass through stages of super socialness, and homebodiedness.
But what I'm realizing here is that I've turned into quite the introvert, and while I still love to spend time with women, while I still have a strong and passionate desire to seek out, love and disciple high school and college aged women, I'm finding that I've arrived to Peru with stage fright. I've never really had problems talking to people before, finding those things we have in common and elaborating, or coming up with all sorts of interesting and creative questions to keep conversation going. So it has been somewhat surprising to me to find myself tongue-tied and silent when we go to visit the girls at Chichos, or come across families that we are deepening relationships with.
This realization has both frustrated and fascinated me. Frustrated because it isn't normal. Fascinated because I'm having to rely on God to help me do something that has always come easy to me. It's so incredibly humbling to have been potty trained in something for years, and then one day realize you've digressed back to diapers. This is kind of how I feel. I go to Chichos, or see someone on the street and immediately have to start praying that God would give the words to say, the questions to ask and the ability to show how much I care about these girls. I hesitate sharing too much about myself when I'm aware of what a good and blessed life I've had, a caring and loving family that brought me up in the Lord and cared for all my needs. These girls come from abusive homes, extreme poverty. Some are single moms and teenage moms at that. They don't really know what it feels like to not have to worry about tomorrow. So I often feel like I am inadequate to meet their needs, not having any relatable experiences. Yet at the same time, I don't question that God has a plan for me in the lives of these girls. So my prayer right now is that God would take me through this season of stage fright, that he would be glorified in allowing me to connect with these girls on a deeper level, and for now, that we would give me the ears to listen and the words that these girls need to hear.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Every Monday morning at 9:00am, Chicho (owner of the Peruvian $ store here in Tarma) has a meeting with all of his employees, and he has invited us to come each week to open the meeting with a short devotional. This is an incredible opportunity, not only to share the things of God with these girls, but to begin establishing an atmosphere of trust with them. This morning I was given the opportunity to share part of my testimony with these girls, since I had not yet shared much about myself. I had spent a good deal of time last week preparing what I would say, and practicing so that I wouldn’t just read off of my notes. It was interesting to wake up this morning and find that, I wasn’t nervous to say what I had prepared, but I was nervous to simply speak, knowing that I would have to reference my notes from time to time, and realizing that I will most likely make many mistakes with my Spanish. But my prayer for the morning was that God would send his Spirit to move through my words and that His will would be accomplished by our short time with these girls.
So we arrived and I began by telling the girls how I came to accept Christ as my savior, and about my first experience in another culture. I told them about the first time that I had prayed out to God in faith that he would respond, for a boy I had met in Mexico to know Christ, and shared with them 1 John 5:14 which says:

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

I then explained how God touched me with this test of faith, and explained how this was the start of my growing desire to share my faith and my life in missions. I explained the reason that I am here in Peru, and encouraged them to come to us with questions they may have, or desires to know Christ better or his word.
Overall I felt that the time went well, we really only have about 15-20 min. but I felt like I was able to share a bit of my heart, even in the midst of making some grammatical mistakes. My prayer is that what I said connected with one or two hearts in that room, and that God would allow me to begin developing a few more intentional relationships with the girls. I know that I still have a lot to learn, and maybe they can help me with that. I’m excited to see where this leads, and I hope that God will continue to work through my inabilities to bring glory and honor to Him.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Clothesline how I love thee

When we were in the midst of our moving preparations and still living in Lima, God blessed us with a team that came from the states and bought us a washing machine for our house in Tarma. We are continually thankful for this blessing because we would otherwise be washing our clothes by hand. Because the weather is typically sunny here in Tarma, and because they are expensive to own and operate here, we do not have a dryer. Clotheslines are not rocket science, there is nothing extraordinary about them, but for some reason, I am loving hanging my clothes to dry on the line! Weird, I know. Our apartment in Tarma has an open roof, with several lines strung about. And because the sun is so strong here, things dry really fast. I washed my bedding and hung my sheets up on the roof and they were dry in 30 min.! Anyways, this information is really random, but I thought I would share with you how much I am enjoying our clothes line!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The art of building relationships

I say hello
you say hello too
I kiss your cheek and you kiss mine
I ask about your mother
And you comment on the weather
I exclaim how long it has been and we really should catch up
You say "absolutely"
and we exchange numbers
I respond with "look at the time, got to run"
and you nod your head in agreement
I say goodbye
you say goodbye too
I kiss you cheek and you kiss mine

The art of building relationships

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I made a plan, but Peru didn't like my plan

It’s a fascinating thing: flexibility. One is often encouraged to be flexible, yet we grow up in a culture where you are pressured to have a plan. I love making plans. I love check lists, and that utterly amazing feeling of being able to cross things off of that list. I love how satisfying it is at the end of the day when I realize that I’ve accomplished everything I had set out to do that day. So sweet.
At the beginning of each week we sit down as a team and discuss our goals for the week, or in a sense, we make a plan for the week. But as I am quickly realizing, Peru doesn’t seem to like plans. In fact it seems like every time I make a plan, Peru decides to change that plan, sometimes within hours of my making it. Flexibility is fine for a week. Maybe even two weeks. But when you are someone who likes to make a plan and much of your sense of accomplishment stems from completing that plan . . . well then Peru is not for you. Yet here I am 
I’m learning that flexibility and selflessness go hand in hand, that it is difficult to have the one without the other. I am learning that when I said I wanted to come and serve, it meant that I had to give up my “right” to serve my way. When I make plans for my day, and ministry happens, I find that there is this internal struggle of wanting to stick to the plan that I had made for the day, and wanting to do what I came here to do. What I’m finding hard is learning how to use my time when it’s available. I may decide, “I will spend tomorrow morning studying and preparing a bible study”. But later will receive a phone call from someone who wants to get together tomorrow morning. I want to study, but ministry is knocking on my door. As a missionary I don’t have the privilege of a 9-5 work day. I don’t get to “leave work at work” as they say, nor are my evenings and weekends free to do as I choose. Therefore, what I am now learning to do is have my list of goals for the week, and accomplish them as I can. What I cannot do is decide, “Monday I will do this, and Tuesday I will do that”, because I wind up frustrated when I can’t check off everything from that day’s list. I am learning that I am way more selfish than I had ever perceived myself. Isn’t that a funny thing to read? I never knew the extent of my selfishness until I arrived here and have been faced with the daily decision of doing my job the way I want to do it, and doing my job the way that it needs to be done according to the Peruvian culture. Thus, I am learning flexibility. Who knew that it could be so difficult?