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...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy "Early" Thanksgiving

So there is no "Thanksgiving Day" in Latin America...but of course that didn't keep us from celebrating! Nor did the fact that we can't buy the essential items to make our favorite Thanksgiving dishes...but I have to give the credit to my wonderful family for this one!

I think the table looks pretty cute, don't you! ;)

Thanks to the very coordinated efforts of my parents (who brought all kinds of canned foods in June...yes, June! How sweet are they!) and my sweet Ebie who sent me a box of canned food, cute decorated paper plates and napkins, and best of all...she sent me fake FALL LEAVES! I absolutely LOVE the changing of the leaves in the mountains during Fall...and she knows my heart!
Thank you: Mom & Dad and Aunt Ebie! :) You gave me the ability to make some of my favorite dishes and enjoy a meal that at least "tasted" like home! :)

(Jon, Filipe, Alejandro, Caleb, Betsy, Me, Kimi...and Noemi is taking the picture)

We invited some of our wonderful Colombian friends to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with us. We wanted to show them what the day is all about: The 3 F's.....Family, Food & Football...only we didn't have any football on TV...but we got 2 out of 3! :) haha!

The guys trying "a little bit of everything." Some of our food is really different from what they would ever eat, haha...but they were good sports, and actually enjoyed it!

Here was our menu:

  • Shredded Grilled Chicken in cream of mushroom soup (it actually tasted like turkey and gravy! I'm serious!) The only "turkey" we have is imported turkey deli meat, haha!

  • Green Bean Casserole

  • Corn Casserole

  • Mashed Potatoes

  • Stuffing

  • Mac & Cheese

  • Cheese Cake (Colombian style...but it turned out pretty good)

  • Brownies (The "fall back" dessert, in case the cheese cake bombed, haha!)

I can't complain! It was pretty great! I am super blessed to have been able to have such a wonderful Thanksgiving meal!

Corn Casserole...yummy!!!

Betsy, showing the plate full of goodness!!!

Caleb, Alejo, Jon & Felipe

Kimi, Betsy and I

Alejo, relaxing outside in the hammock.

Some of my "family in Christ."

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Make some wonderful memories on Thursday! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pray for the People of......

Journey to a desolate land.....

I had the priviledge of joinging the VIC team on one of their medical trips up towards the northeastern part of Colombia. (Remember, I can't say specifically where we go) :) We have existing nutrition programs in this area, and team members, along with our Colombian team doctors, make the trip several times a year to keep up with the progress. The programs include pregnant women and small children. The area in which we worked was PURE desert! The people group are Colombian Indians who have their own language and live miles from the city in little "rancherias." They are goat herders, so they need lots of land...and believe me, on our LONG drives to each "ranch" we passed a million kidding! They are everywhere! Each day we spent hours in the car...just driving to our first location! Then after the first clinic, we'd drive somewhere else...often again for another hour...and set up shop again! We spent a lot of time in the car and a lot of time bouncing around in the back of the truck...but it was worth every minute of it!

On our 9 hour drive to "base camp" we left the ocean (where we live), passed what to me looks like the African plains, headed towards the Mts., passed through lush cities in the Mt. range, and then suddenly ended up in the DRY desert. It was amazing how quickly the scenery changed! I didn't know there was such variety in Colombia! We stayed in a very small city, in the one and only hotel they had! The first night, water was running low...and I was actually touching the shower wall to try to get the drip of water that was coming out of the garden foset (aka: our shower head)! haha! Did I ever mention you need to be a good sport and flexible to go on these trips? ;)
Check out these beautiful mountains! When we actually got to the cities tucked away in this area I wanted to move in and stay! It was gorgeous! ...but this was not our final destination.
This is where we worked. It was sand, mud & cactus for miles! It was such a drastic change from where we live and work on a regular basis. Our daily schedule consisted of driving for MILES, sometimes hours to reach our first location, "the ranch", where women would walk for miles, or ride a bike to get to. Their homes are build of a mud/manure mix, and the roofs of their homes are made of the hollow wooden part inside the cactus. The women wear a long "dress" that looks like a "moo moo" to me, hehe, but given the hot climate, I'm sure it works out well for them.
Day 1 was a BIG adventure for us all! It started out with getting "lost." We had driven down this dirt road forever, and then we turned off on a side "road", more like a side path, and were driving around in the desert, hoping that our guide (one of our interpreters or health promoters) would tell us which way to turn in the path. This lady gave us "directions" for the equivalent of 50 cents...and let us take her picture! :) This is a very traditional dress for this people group. She has on the long dress, head wrap, and her muchila (her purse/bag) is hanging off her head.Day 1-Obstacle #1 So it rained really hard on Sunday leaked through the hotel roof and into my stuff, so of course it also made a mess of all the roads. After getting directions from the little lady, we ended up at this "stream" which had risen into a flowing river. It was waist deep at the time...and they wanted us to drive the truck through it....for on the other side was our first clinic location. Needless to say, we listened to wisdom, and decided we'd have to come back another day....
Day 1-Obstacle #2 After abandoning the idea of crossing the rising river...we drove to the 2nd location for the morning...and got stuck in the mud! We piled sticks and tree branches in the mud holes to try to get some traction. We got traction...but only backwards! So we had to give up on this location too....
Day 1-Obstacle #3 We were feeling defeated and wondering if we were ever going to make it to a rancheria to hold a clinic! After sliding around in the mud...we though we were stuck again...but the Lord helped us through! Yeah! We made it somewhere...on the 3rd attempt! What a blessing! I guess the Lord just wanted us to reach this one group for the day! Below is a typical example of where we worked each day. We attempted to go to 3 sites per day, to reach 3 dif. nutrition programs. Clinics were held outside under a shelter as you see below, or a more traditional shelter, built out of mud and sticks. I was playing "pharmacist" with our friend Eleana, and so we set up shop under the nearest shaded tree.
Here is Joy, seeing a patient. One of the most interesting things about this people group is that they are very timid and reserved. Our people group on the coast are very open, robust and friendly. It took a lot of effort to get these women to talk to me! Just to be fair...some of them didn't speak Spanish, and only understood their native language (which to me sounds a little Asian) but several people from each ranch did understand Spanish. I had no idea who understood and who was just acting like it...because the only answer we could get out of any of them was "uhhh" sounds kind of like a short, soft grunt...but it's their way of communicating "yes", "no", "I didn't get that"...and much as you can see...we had our hands full trying to communicate clearly! Here is a typical Rancheria. There are two homes here, both which hold several generations (aka...they are filled to the brim with people!) Their "shelter" is off to the left, and to the right is a combination of an out house/kitchen/goat pin.
As you might have guessed...there are no gas stations out in the middle of the desert....but don't can always buy gas in a can! Here are two guys filling up the truck. We just pulled off the side of the road and they filled it up! It was actually 2x less expensive than where we live! Not that we could prove it was pure gasoline...but thankfully the Lord has his hand on our trip and we had no car trouble...other than getting severely stuck in the mud several times! This was the day we drove for 1 1/2 hours to reach our first location....and this is the road we drove down! As you can see, it's not paved! We are parked right here because we stopped to check out the mini grand canon we were going to have to drive through to get to the first group! Hehe...look at his cheeks! How adorable are these two children! :)
Our one and only clinic in a formal building structure. We had so many families come to this site! I thought we'd never get to see all of them, but the Lord allowed us the time and ability to do so!
This is Kay, a nurse who flew in from the States to help us this week. She was such a wonderful asset to our team! Here she is helping a mom weigh her baby. He was a twin, who's twin sister had died months earlier, due to malnutrition and disease. He is one years old, but looks like a 6 month old. He is one of the reasons why we know these nutrition programs are so needed!
This mom was another lady who was really sweet and friendly to me. Her little boy (bottom left) came up to me, speaking in their native tongue, and tried to explain to me that his foot hurt. When the mother realized I didn't understand him, she translated for me into Spanish. I looked at his foot and started talking to him...and then he started talking to me in "gibberish," making funny noises with his I started making silly noises too....and we just laughed and laughed! It is one of my favorite memories from this trip.
Here is a new friend. Isn't she beautiful! She was so shy, but eventually I got her to talk to me in Spanish! :) there was nothing "shy" about these kids! They were all up in our space, and wanted to touch everything, pulled medicines out of the box....we had a hard enough time trying to keep them from stealing things, let alone keeping up with the patients bringing us their prescriptions! But...I do love this picture!
This is the "Aunt" of one of the Rancherias. In their culture, the oldest woman of the tribe is in what she says goes. When you pray for this unnamed people group...pray for the "aunts" of each group. Pray that their hearts would be opened to the gospel, and that they would lead their families to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Without her approval, many times the family members won't step out against their cultural traditions and break away from their native belief systems.

This was the final group we saw all week. It's a brand new group and it was our very first clinic with them. Please lift them up in your prayers. They have several solid believers in this group. Pray that they begin to form a solid church!
This trip was very different from many of the other trips & teams I have led here in Colombia in that it wasn't focused on direct evangelism. Our main focus was to meet the physical needs and in many cases, help prevent children from dying from dehydration and malnutrition. Each group has a Health Promoter who is "in charge" of the group, keeping up with their growth charts, and also teaching them through Chronological Bible Storying (in their own heart language). My prayer this week was that the Lord would use our love and our presence to impact the people we encountered. I prayed that they would see Jesus in us. Please lift up the health promoters who are teaching the TRUTH each week in these far away, desert homes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sing Praise to the King for He Answers Prayers!

"Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help.
You turned my wailing into Dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with Joy,
that my Heart may Sing to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever."

Psalms 30: 10-12

Praising you with all that I am!
Thanking you for what you have done!
Trusting you with the uncertainty of the days to come...
Believing that you are still Sovereign!

Praying for baby James...and little Gracie.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

October Blessings

These are my Thurs. afternoon friends. They live next to the traditional restaurant we eat at and are always waiting to come out and say hello!

These are two of the girls from one of our groups. Notice the baby doll in Maria's arms. Last week she brought me the baby doll and said (in Spanish), "Here ya go (placing the baby in my arms), Her name is Blanca (which means white) but she's a black baby," and then she started to crack up laughing. Oh the things kids say!

The Lord works in ways we can't always see. When we sit there wondering if anyone is "getting" it...if they are actually understanding His word...if His truth is seeping in deep into their soul...we can rest assured...He is at work! There are three new names in the book of life...and now they are also Baptized Believers! They chose to step out in obedience to God's word. It's not an easy decision for most people. There can be a lot of persecution, mostly verbal, but none the less, their Catholic relatives can make life pretty hard on them. Thankfully, these girls in particular come from families who have also just received Christ. Where two or more are gathered...I am there. God is with them and together they can make a stand for Christ in this dark world.

This is Moti & her daughter Yaemi (Jamie). They are one of the families who live "in the middle of no where" who we've been ministering to this year. We knew they had no money to purchase items for the new baby, so we wanted to give them some gifts. This turned out to be a lesson for me in giving a gift because I knew it was honoring to the Lord...but not actually being there to see the joy she got from it. I had put a lot of thought and effort into gathering baby gifts, wrapping them up, and making this cute poster and was planning a surprise baby shower....but then I forgot about the cultural differences I might encounter! While Yaemi was so surprised and genuinely thankful for what we had done...she didn't want to open her presents in front of us! (Not like any baby shower you've ever been to in the States, right! haha!) So I guess we'll just have to wait until the baby is born to actually see her wearing them! :) She's due in early November! Any day now!

We had the privilege of hosting a volunteer team at the end of October...Cartagena & Maria La Baja (haha...actually Mr. Carthage & Mrs. Mary) came to serve and minister along side our team! They came to hold a leadership workshop. Our Colombian team has been working on 12 characteristics that we felt leaders needed to some of the vol. teams have taken on the job of writing & teaching some of the topics with us! Mr. Carthage taught on Patience, something we all need more of! :) This is him telling the story of Job. He did a great job! Everyone loved this sweet couple and we are so thankful for their desire to return and form a partnership with our Colombian Ministry! What a blessing!

This is another one of our Thursday a.m. Bible Study groups. As you can see....we have a lot of younin's that join this group! I just think about how blessed these kids are to be able to learn about the Bible at this young age. Please pray for them with me...that they would listen, be given a mind of understanding, and that they would come to know the Lord personally at this precious age so they can grow into men and women who love and serve the Father. (Mrs. Mary, volunteer, is pictured here with me, as is Anna, bottom left, one of our Colombian team members)

As always....Thank you for your prayers! :)