Help me see with eyes of faith. Give me strength to run this race. i will go Lord, where Your glory is unknown, i will live for You alone. i will go because my life is not my own. i will go...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Check Point

As our team from FBC Euless, TX prepared to head back home, we stood in the airport and joked about who might look "suspicious" enough to be asked to go through the "special" check-point. As in most airports these days, there are several security check-points one must go through before finally boarding their plane. Although we joke about how time consuming they can be, I have really learned to appreciate the added security that it brings!

As our team filed through the first check-point, we missionaries were standing behind the security gates, watching to make sure the Spanish-to-English exchange between them & the security officer was being understood. Of course, in a big group like theirs, the officer decided to check at least one of their bags. You'd imagine that when a group says they've been doing "mission" work, that the officers would think you were the most innocent people in the world. In our country, many so called "missionaries" are actually drug traffickers...sad, but true.

Decked out in his new traditional, hand-crafted Colombian hat, our fearless team leader Keith was chosen out of the bunch. He walked over, smiling like he'd one a prize, and watched as his old fashioned, hard cover suitcase was inspected. As the officer inspected his suitcase he founds something interesting...a box. As he opened it, Keith began to explain to him what it was. It was an Evanacube. Keith took the cube, and using his basic Spanish began to explain each picture, opening the cube, showing man's sin, Jesus' death, burial & resurrection, the choice we have to accept his free gift of forgiveness....and the officer stood there staring, listening to every word he said.

We missionaries stood there watching. Keith offered to give the officer the cube...and the Spanish-English New Testament that was also sitting on top of his luggage. (What divine placement of those two items!) After Keith had moved to join the rest of his team members, waiting to check in at the airline desk, we kept an eye on the officer. Immediately he took the cube and showed it to the other 3 officers who were also checking luggage. Serious & stern faces turned to smiles as he opened the cube and began to repeat what he had heard! He then took the cube to show more officers down at the next check point. We all stood there in utter amazement! What might the Lord have in store for this man!? More than 30 minutes later, we saw the officer, walking down the airport, Bible & cube in hand...I think this was a gift he intended to keep.

Thank you Lord, for preparing Keith's luggage in just the right manner, for giving Keith boldness to use the little Spanish he knew to be obedient and share your Truth. Thank you for opening the heart of the security officer. For giving him the desire to share this new Truth with others around him. Give him the desire to learn more about you, to read Your Word and to come to know you personally.

What we thought was a routine security check-point, might have been the check-point that officer needed to find everlasting security in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:15a
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have..."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Diamonds in the Ruff

Would you believe you are valued and precious if all you'd ever heard was that you were unworthy of any one's love?

Every day, children within the internally displaced people group of Colombia wake up in a dry and weary land and feel unworthy. They walk through the streets of a neighborhood that never just continually falls to pieces. Their parents have nothing, their friends have why should they believe they could ever become something more? Value is based on: for Boys (who you're sleeping with) & for Girls (whose baby you've had) This is no joke.

Can this cycle of "tradition" and mixed up "values" be broken?

Where is their hope?

FBC Euless brought a team of 8 into the communities where we work. They came to tell a story. A story of worth and value....found in Jesus Christ. "Amar y Esperar"....True Love Waits in Spanish :) They told stories of a different kind of love & combined their lessons with fun games of good 'ol Colombian "futbol" (soccer).

So often, most of us take for granted that we grew up from infancy within the church. We were privileged to hear Bible Stories time and time again. Sometimes we forget how much these stories of Truth, Love & Forgiveness have shaped our lives.

The Euless Volunteer Team of high school grads & 1st year college students poured their hearts out this week. Most people don't realize how easy & effective it is to Bible Story. We're used to hearing sermons, but bringing it back to the basics can really be effective...especially in our communities,where literacy is at it's best, at beginner levels.

They storied about Bible characters like King David & Solomon, and how they dealt with temptation. They spoke of God's forgiveness & His faithfulness to draw us back to Him, even after we've sinned. Light bulbs went off in the minds of our Colombian friends. We heard comments all week like..."I've never heard that story before. Why haven't you told it to us before?" and "I like what you have said this week. I'm really going to have to think about that."

Don't take God's Word for granted. Truth is powerful and changes lives.

Our kids heard about how they were persons of VALUE. That's a word they rarely hear. All they ever hear is how sex is bad...but then if they don't have sex, they loose status from within their community-based "societies." This week they heard something different. They learned how sex is a gift from God & is meant to be good when it's within marriage. How they can be persons of worth & value without having pre-marital sex. I honestly think some of them started to re-evaluate....

Oh Father, these children are so precious to You. Each one is a valued treasure. May they repent and turn to you....experience your forgiveness. In a dry and weary land, Father pour out your spirit. Let these children know Your presence. Call them to Yourself! Show them their is more to life that what they see around them.

Acts 3:19 (NIV)
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."

They just want to know that someone loves them....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Quito, Ecuador

AAAAmazing! I can not express with words, the amazing, refreshing time I had in Quito. In my mind, I was "hoping" to experience COLD weather, but expecting for it to be simply "cooler than here in Colombia." The weather was amazing! I have no idea what the actual temperature was, but I wore jackets and scarves...everyday! I got to dress up, actually wear make-up (& it didn't melt off my face 5 seconds after I put it on), straighten my hair (yes, for those of you who know me...this was HUGE!)...and feel like a pretty little lady again! haha!

Our hotel was up on a hill, overlooking the valley below. It was beautiful! Our room looked out over the valley and up to the mountains in the distance. For those of you who know me really well, you know that my heart is in the mountains. It always has been. I feel at home when I'm in the mountains. I feel refreshed and in Quito, I felt like I had returned to my "heart land." lol! God truly knew what I needed! I think it took about 3 days for me to realize that I was really relaxed and fully begin to enjoy my time there. Up to that point, in Colombia we'd had 5 volunteer teams in 3 months, been working hard to finish up our "orientation" book for the IMB, among a long list of other things. It had been busy!! So Quito came at just the right moment...and God knew it would!

Our Great God, is so good to us, His children! My time in the Word was refreshing. He continually spoke to my heart about so many things while I was there. I may not have been thinking about "work" but my mind was racing, thinking about what the Lord had in store! One of our speakers was really challenging us to re-think how we approach working with our people groups. It was good stuff!

One of my favorite things about being an M is the immediate connection you have with other Ms. You meet them for the first time, and in minutes are talking like you're best friends! I just think it's so neat that we can connect so quickly with others, who have the same heart and the same passion to serve the Lord. I met some wonderful new friends...and reconnected with some long-lost kindred spirits!
(Jmen: Jon, Anna, Matt, Sharon, Kimi, Morgan, Debbie, Sarah & Mike (not pictured))
We "youngin's" (Journeymen) had a blast together too! We spent most of our evenings out, exploring Quito, finding new coffee shops, converting non-coffee drinkers into coffee-addicts, haha, shopping at cool indigenous markets...(me personally...buying up every pretty scarf I found, haha) and just enjoying the fellowship of being together. We shared stories about what the Lord was doing in our countries, how He was using us, what we were struggling with, and how we can pray for each other. It was a great time of bonding. I hope we keep these friendships for a long time! (I love you guys!)

After our formal mission meeting, the 4 Colombian Jmen stayed an extra 3 days for vacation! We had a wonderful tour guide (Jman Matt from Quito: thanks again!) and had a blast with him and our new friends in Quito (We miss you: Megan, Andrew & Gabby!) We went to awesome craft markets, took the cable cars up to the top of a mountain and looked out over all of was breathtaking! We went to the REAL equator line & to the place where the monument stands. I balanced an egg on a nail (at the real me a spiffy little certificate to prove it too, haha!) We watched movies together, ate pizza and just relaxed....oh...and played a very interesting game the very last night! haha! It was a blast!

Thank you for everyone who prayed for my time at AGM in Quito. The Lord really used this time in so many ways! I came back refreshed and with a renewed passion for the displaced peoples of Colombia. I will admit, it was hard to come back to the heat & humidity. (I almost cried when I got off the plane here on the coast.) But I was reminded time and again by the Holy Spirit....that He has called me HERE. Not somewhere else...but here. Not necessarily for my lifetime, or for longer that my 2 years....but for THIS moment in time...I am to serve here. It was great to have such confirmation...even if I want to be back in the mountains! :)