Sunday, December 11, 2011

Special needs this Navidad

I would like to take this opportunity to let you know some practical ways to help overseas this Christmas. I know I may seem a little biased, but there is sooo much going on in Bolivia that I want to tell you about!
Previously we have done Navidad en Bolivia where we do a Christmas sponsorship program for kids in different ministries in Bolivia to ensure that they receive presents--and also to help with some bigger needs of the ministries. We were unable to complete that due to circumstances in the lives of all of us in leadership of NEB that made it impossible to pull together. However, we have still been in touch with the organizations and would still love to help them, even though not officially through NEB this year. Here are just a couple...

Pequeno David is a boys home that is a shelter for boys who have been abandoned, orphaned or taken away from their families. They sometimes are able to be reunified with families when the parents are able to complete the necessary requirements to prove that they will be able to care for their children adequately. They have asked for shoes, and soccer uniforms for the boys this year. Estimated would be around $20 USD/per child. There are currently 16 boys.

Red Vida de Esperanza is a mission that works with schools, communities, and churches throughout rural Potosi and Chuquisaca Bolivia. Doctor Jorge who leads RVE mentioned to me that they have an increasing number of indigenous people that come to the city for medical care. They do not have enough money to pay for the services needed so Jorge said that many times they have to turn the people away. He stated that they would like to have an emergency medical expenses fund for these patients.

Centro de Apoyo y Amistad: This is an after school program that offers tutoring and classes to help kids in poor communities to catch up on homework, and compensate for where they might be falling behind. The Center also provides a nutritious snack and gives support to the families of these students and most importantly, shares the love of Christ with them. The Center has recently purchased some land and is in need of funds to complete the construction of their building as they are currently temporarily meeting in a school. To completely finish the project they are in need of $16,000 USD.

Casa de Amor: This is an orphanage that has 3 homes in the city. They have their own therapists, social workers and loving staff that work with these kids. It really is a neat place. They have identified needs for disposable diapers that they use for outings with the babies to be $50/month. They also have a blind girl who needs to attend therapy and different medical appointments. The cost for her care is $100 USD/month.

If you are interested in helping please let me know. Most of these organizations are led by Bolivians, however, several of these organizations have online giving available which will allow you to get a tax-exempt receipt for your tax purposes. Any donation is greatly appreciated--and with your donation I will send you a special thank you picture! :) Oh and I can also deliver monetary contributions directly when I go to Bolivia in THREE WEEKS!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

If it takes a village to raise a child...

wouldn't it then make perfectly good sense to support the missionaries that work to help communities, churches and schools thrive?

I would like to introduce you to two men who have made a profound influence on my life as I see them dedicating their very lives to see rural communities reached with the hope of Jesus. I think of them as our modern day Paul & Barnabas. Jorge takes every opportunity to share the Gospel does Waldo, but he definitely has the gift of encouragement!

Along with the beautiful message of redemption Jorge & Waldo also give basic medical care, and offer community support to the people in these villages.

So here's how you can be a part--if you so desire:

1. If you live near Seguin Texas (or are one of those destination participants) you can run in the Llama Leap 5K that we are hosting on September 24, 2011. This is a fun way to expose our community to the work in Bolivia while providing a fun fitness activity on an early Saturday morning. We're making it a day of festivities, complete with folkloric music, a live llama, and authentic handwoven goods made by the women in the rural Andean communities.

2. You can go on a mission trip this January. The dates we're currently considering are January 1-11, 2012. Let me know if you're interested. The cost will be between $2000-$2500 and will be through Ministry Partners International again this year. If you're interested I can get you more information.

3. You can donate! You can contribute monetary support for the mission team, or you can send money for Jorge and Waldo to purchase a new vehicle, or you can send small toys, hygiene items or school supplies and we'll be happy to deliver them for you! (*You can send checks to MPI 10420 Norwalk Rd. Litchfield OH 44253--just send a note designating it for the Bolivia trip. )

4. And all of you can pray! (There's no good excuse why you can't!) It's good for all of us!

Friday, August 5, 2011

On living like a nomad

First of all, I can't believe it's August. Lots of changes coming up and I'm just not too sure I'm ready for that.
I've decided to stick around San Antonio this year. This means that I won't be going back to NTBI. This was a very hard decision. I loved studying the word of God under the professors there. I loved my roomates and the crisp fall weather and the awesome family that I babysat for. I loved being only 3 hours from Ohio or Chicago. Okay, so maybe I was a little spoiled! ;) But I feel very sure that God has led me to where I am right now.
In case you didn't catch it somewhere along the way, I absolutely LOVE my job, I just found out that I'm moving to a different position in about two and a half weeks at my same job. Let's just say I was a little surprised to be chosen! Feels a little bittersweet-although I'll be working with the same people just in a different capacity.
As I was reminiscing the other day as I was reflecting on the past year which really has felt like a whirlwind I thought of all the good things I've experienced and maybe worried a little bit that maybe this new phase will be very different. I know there will be times when I miss Michigan, or the work that I'm currently doing...but that's part of life. We take risks when we feel God's pushing us along to something else. Staying the same would be compromise. Moving along before He leads would be foolish. So I try to make sure I'm following His lead and giving my best.
Maybe I'll be less of a nomad now. I pretty much have always had a duffel bag close by ready to spend the night at my sister's, brother's, cousin's, uncle's, friend's...etc. It's been a fun way to get to spend time with friends and I've been so blessed by their hospitality. From mac'n'cheese, to homemade chinese food, to leftovers and fancy dinners out; uno games, storytime before bedtime with adorable kids to heart to heart talks with old friends over a cup of tea, etc. I've been so encouraged and overwhelmed by the kindness of friends. Hopefully someday I'll get to repay the favor...!
Now I'll also have some extra time to prepare for the 5K which I'm organizing to support hermano Jorge & hermano Waldo. If you're in the San Antonio/Austin vicinity you should totally check it out... September 24 is the big day. (Aren't these the cutest little llamas you've ever seen?! Many thanks to Tee G!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Reading

Some reading suggestions... (In English and Spanish)

This one's been on my list for a long time. Mostly because it has a lot to do with the population I work with. My friend Sylvia read it and warned me that it will make me cry--maybe that's why I haven't read it yet...but I'm going to! It's also in Spanish...

I read this one to the boys at work-but in English. I was laughing and then
had to translate it into Spanish too since they didn't get it. Not sure the humor got across but it's a good message and cute.

This one I got on cd to listen to on the way to and from work. I figured that I drive so much anyways, might as well take advantage of that time to do something productive. So this one's a classic, and I'll probably never get around to sitting down to read it anyways...
This one I got from the library to read to the kids I work with. I did a test run on Bekah last night. I'm pretty sure I haven't read a bedtime story to her in a verrrrry long time!

This one is by Charles Swindoll. I'm reading through it as part of a Bible Study that I'm "leading" at my church for the college & career group. It's good. I'm reading it along with the book of Acts.

P.s. I got three kids books and one audio book from the library yesterday and my receipt told me that I saved $153--I guess that's only if I return them on time though! ;) So by all means, take advantage of your library! Plus the due dates will motivate you to finish in a timely manner.

What are YOU reading this summer?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rembering a legacy

Being Memorial Day weekend we hear a lot of talk of heroism, those who sacrifice much--sometimes even their own lives to defend their country, and fight for what they believe in. Just a passing thought as I watched the flag folding ceremony at church yesterday and a collage of military memories, while I felt grateful for all that these men & women have done for us, I couldn't help but wonder why it's somewhat common and generally applauded when people commit to defend their country (and it should be), but it seems much rarer for one to sacrifice to the same extent for the Creator and King of the universe. Shouldn't that be the highest honor?
I've been hearing and reading a lot about Hudson Taylor this last semester. I definitely recommend looking him up. What a profound legacy he left, he gave up so much but what he accomplished for eternal purposes was so much greater. What a great example of discipline, obedience & faith...look him up.
Thank you veterans & current servicemen & women who have dedicated/are dedicating your lives to defending liberty & justice. Thank you missionaries, ministers and those of you who are dedicating your lives to making God's name known. You are a motivation to many!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer in the...South!

It took awhile for me to know for sure where I was going to spend this summer. But now I'm here and it's going to be good.
I'm super excited to be able to have some bonus time with my family. Jenny's graduating from high school already! It kinda makes me sad every time one of my siblings reaches a major milestone like this because it just reminds me that we all have to grow up and move on. I know it's good, it's just bittersweet not knowing how things will change and realizing that we'll not be able to be together forever.

I drove here by myself (not my first choice nor my favorite way to spend 2 days of my life), but it wasn't all bad. Had some good conversations with God, Grandma and the drivers around me. Don't worry I'm not one of those people who get's road rage. Sometimes I just offer (respectful) constructive criticism! :) I enjoyed the scenery and was surprised at how much flooding there was along the way and how dry it is here in South Texas.

I start my new job next week so I'm a little nervous/excited for that.

I'm going to get to see my nieces and foster nephew tomorrow! I'm always afraid they're going to forget me and I'll become that mysterious aunt that no one really ever sees--I guess eventually I'll become that anyways if I move overseas...but that's besides the point.

One good thing about the drive was that I got to see my dear friend Simi who was one of my best friends in college. Simi's from Nigeria and attended Hiram college. She interned with Student venture and got her Master's degree from Dallas Baptist University where she now teaches.
(Dallas Baptist University).
We met in Campus Crusade for Christ and have been fast friends ever since. Simi is an amazing woman and she encourages/challenges/entertains me like no one else!
It was impeccable timing as she was leaving the next day for London. So I stayed at her place and to prepare for her trip to the UK we watched the Royal wedding...well I might have accidentally fallen asleep partway through! I did dream about it though and woke up thinking about how beautiful our reunion in Heaven will be. The Bride of Christ, royalty, loved by Him, right? Sooo much better than a wedding of a duke & duchess! (huh...never thought I'd write a blog about the royal wedding!)

I Peter 2:9-10 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

Speaking of Bolivia...(okay, so I wasn't but you know that it was only a matter of time until I did!)...January is when I'm looking to take the next trip/team. Pray about it and please get back to me if you're interested. I'd like to pray for you and help you be able to make an informed decision! There's also a VIDEO up of our last trip here!

Anyways, classes this semester were so good. I think I have to say that Acts was my personal favorite. That should be required summer reading for everyone. So get to it!

Chau for now!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What would Mom do?

Since September I've been caregiver/nanny/babysitter to two active boys age 6 & 10 (the youngest will be 7 next month). I often rack my brain trying to remember some of my Mom's parenting techniques since she spent the most time with us...I usually can't remember or I say the very thing that I always hated it when she said! (Like, "just ignore him", "find something else to do", "go play outside", or "I'm setting the timer. Find a book and read quietly until it goes off"--this one is kind of a lifesaver!). She was the master of redirecting us, thinking of something fun & creative to do, and correcting our inappropriate behavior--yes that happened frequently. I feel like she did such a nice job of communicating with us and respecting us. She never was demeaning or mean spirited towards us . I pray for wisdom to be a good teacher and encourage these cool boys to become great men someday.
So last week was spring break and I was on my own with these two kiddos for 9 hours a day--they really are great boys. Pretty well behaved, they listen to me usually though on a consistent--but not frequent-basis need redirected or corrected. After a few hours though, I found myself looking at the clock and asking myself what on earth I was going to do with them for the next seven hours! We made it though and I even thought it was a super fun week. Here's what we did:
Made, played with and ate edible play doh (this is my handiwork. An anteater and a little boy)
painted readymade birdhouses

made pigs in a blanket for breakfast
played games
went to the library to get movies (PG rated movies are kinda hard to come by these days...)
took a tour of the Jiffy plant (accidentally found that when i got lost on the way to the dentist)
got hot chocolate on a rainy day
went on errands (grocery store, post office, etc. Sometimes it's just nice to get out).
Read together--and separately.

All in all, I enjoyed playing mom for a few days! I work for a really great family that pretty much lets me have freedom to do what I want with the boys. I really like them and they seem to like me too. It's an ideal work environment! :) (Plus I get paid to play!)
Here are some pictures because I respect the privacy of the family you'll not see the boys' faces, but you can get an idea of how much fun we have! ;)

Oh, and HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MOM...a little bit early!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Delivered from Death

In God whose word I praise.
In God I have put my trust,
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?
This I know that God is for me.
For You have delivered me from death,
Indeed my feet from stumbling,
so that I may walk before God
in the light of the living.

-Psalm 56:4, 9b, 13

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy to be Healthy again

Being sick was not exactly my choice of how to spend last weekend, but the one good thing was the anticipation of warmer weather. I left my window open and couldn't wait to get well and get outside! I felt like I'd been hit by a truck and can't remember being that sick in years and years! My cough has lingered on all week, but otherwise I feel great now! That was the first time in my life I've taken a sick day (called off work and skipped classes). It was actually rather refreshing though, and I got some reading done and organizing. Maybe that's God's way of telling me I need to slow down every once in awhile.
This weekend we have outside plans I think I'll make it to Cabela's for the very first time! ...So many firsts this week!
I've really been enjoying my classes--well in that I feel very challenged to take my relationship with God more serious. After all, if He is who I say I believe He is, my life should clearly reflect that in the choices I make, lifestyle I live and way I treat others. Living with an eternal perspective? My dad talks about building THe Kingdom, and sometimes it's easy to just smile and agree because it sounds right, sounds very christian at least. But I think the point of what he was probably trying to emphasize was that our time here on this earth is crucial for leading people to Christ. If I'm not doing anything to show people that I follow Christ, there's really no point, right? I might as well live like a pagan and at least show that the reason is because I believe there's no God. I don't think God appreciates or honors mediocrity. Christ is coming back in His glory one day--we hope soon. As believers we need to be doing what He has entrusted us with when He comes. I believe it was a man from a hindu temple who told someone from my school that christians don't really believe in a resurrection. If they did, he said, they (christians) would not be living like they do. Hm, that's a tragedy my friends.
Here's an incredible verse I can't get out of my mind this week:
Luke 21:34 “Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, 35 like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. 36 Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mid-semester update!

So we're one month away from spring break already and I'm finally writing an update!

This semester I'm studying classes ranging from the Life of Christ, Psalms, Prophets, Anthropology and Hermeneutics II. We've finally gotten into the New Testament and will finish up with Acts, Christology and I Corinthians. I cannot even believe how much I am learning. God provided through a few faithful individuals which allowed me to be able come back this semester and I feel very blessed and thankful to be here. My faith has taken on a whole new dimension and it reminds me how much I still don't know or understand.

I have started volunteering with AWANAs/Truth in Training. I've done one week in each so far! I also visit a spanish church here sometimes, and often am surprised at how much I miss speaking in Spanish all the time. But I did dream in Spanish the other night which was pretty exciting!

I continue to babysit for the two boys I watched last semester. It's a really fun job, I often am discouraged when I realize how much wisdom I lack in dealing with/teaching kids and what a big responsibility parenting really is. I often find myself asking, "what would Mom do in this situation?"!

I've made a few weekend trips.
Twice to Chicago to visit my cousin, former co-workers from Bolivia and other friends.
Weekend in Chicago after the huge blizzard!
Visit #1. You should recognize these people! (former co-workers from Bolivia). from L-R: Jen, Katie (on floor), me, Elsa, Matt, Nate & Kate.
Visit #2. Again with friends from Bolivia. They convinced me to try Chicago hot dogs. Let's just say that I'll still vote for pizza!! ;)
Trip to Lincoln Park zoo with my cousin.

Twice to Ohio to visit family and friends. We celebrated my grandpas 79th birthday--what a beautiful life and amazing influence he's had on all of us.
Bizzy & I made this red velvet cake from scratch! This was a definite improvement from our first attempt the night before! ;)

And I went snowmobiling for the first time with my friend Bethany (also a former co-worker from Bolivia). It was super fun, we have no photos of the actual adventure, but here we are ready to brave the snow and COLD!
Looking forward to seeing the rest of my family for the last half of spring break! Oh how I miss them!

And now I'm ready for spring. The snow's begun to melt and I've enjoyed a few sunny afternoon runs around the neighborhood the anticipation mounts with each new day. I think after the winter I will appreciate the spring/summer/fall all the more!! :)
Carpe Diem!!!

Simple & Healthy Granola

I made this recipe up--I tried another recipe but didn't really like it, so I made up this one. And it's pretty delicious if I do say so myself!

Honey Peanutty Granola
3 c. old fashioned oats
3 T peanut butter
5 T honey

Toast the oats for about 8 minutes in preheated oven (350 degrees).
Melt peanut butter and honey (about 1 minute in the microwave) pour toasted oats in mix well and pour onto greased waxed paper. Leave mixture kind of heaped up (I put it in a 9x13 cake pan), cook for about 8 more minutes. But keep an eye on it, it cooks really fast and sometimes it gets a little over toasted!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Last words.

By far the most convicting chapel services of my LIFE were a few weeks back. There was a guy here by the name of Brad Buser...and I'm still processing everything he talked about, but I know this: He confronted some misguided selfish thinking that I've adopted.
Basically he reminded us of the call of God to each one of us to go into all the world and preach the gospel, I know we've all heard that before, but I for one have often shrugged off the significance of this command. I continue to try to wrap my mind around what it means to really follow the God who loves the nations. So here's a little bit of my thought process...
If there are in fact 2,100+ people groups who have never heard the gospel (these 2,100 people groups contains roughly 2/3 of the entire world's population), when I stand before God and those people who've never heard are condemned to hell, will all the excuses I make up for why I can't or shouldn't go into overseas missions even matter? Will I still feel justified by the way I've chosen to follow my dreams rather than obey God to go and share His message of hope?
The point Mr. Buser points out is that we've all been called to passionately pursue God and share His word with others. Sometimes it boils down to this: obedience. God wants our lives to count for a bigger purpose than building our own "kingdoms".

24Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt. 24)

God's heart is for the world--that every person would hear the gospel. What then will I do about it? So convicting to me, and encouraging to hear something different.
Anyway, This is just as much--if not more--for me than for you. I just write these blogs hoping that perhaps one of you faithful readers will get something out of it too. You can listen to Brad B. if you want here's a link to his youtube videos.

Last words before Jesus ascended: (Matthew 28)

18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

That's all for now. Feel free to comment.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bella Esperanza

"Beautiful Hope"

Dear Pray-ers,
I cannot thank you enough for you prayers, encouragement and support of our trip to Bolivia. We are well aware of the fact that without you we would have been unable to accomplish as much as we did.
We spent a few days in the city of Cochabamba visiting a few different ministries, catching up with dear missionary friends, and distributing donations. We had the honor of meeting Gracia Burnham, and staying with the amazing Hedvall Family while in Cochabamba!
God brought our team together in the most unique way for the Potosi trip. We knew that we would go with Dr. Jorge and Dr. Waldo (who formed Red Vida de Esperanza years ago). I've been going with them for four years now and they are always asking when I can bring another team (so start saving up!!!). Sylvia, David and I came down from the States. Laura was a friend through mutual friends and Eduardo went to the same church as me when I lived in Cochabamba. The day before we left for Potosi I met Jed at baby washing (He was an intern with the same organization I worked with in 2008). He decided on that day to join our team to Potosi. When we arrived at the terminal Eduardo informed me that the little boy named Edwin would be accompanying us as we returned to his village Kharimayu Frias-which we visited in May/June when I went. It was so neat to see God orchestrate that and our team really had a neat dynamic and we worked together in an amazing way.
If you recall, Edwin was my little patient on my last trip down. He broke his leg a year ago now, and we took him out of his village in June because he needed to have some major surgeries in the city. He has had three surgeries and still needs more. He hadn't seen his family since June so he came along with us to spend time with his parents and siblings and returned back to Cochabamba for more medical attention. It was fun having him along and he was one of THE most joyful kids I've ever seen!
The trip consisted of two days each in two communities. Kharimayu Frias was up in the mountains and much more remote than the second village. They have installed running water since I was last there. People travelled for hours by foot to see us. We shared a Bible lesson, had games, coloring and songs with them. They also had a day for Especiales, where they would sing for us and we would sing for them, had dramas and testimonies. It was a joyful place, they slaughtered a sheep for us, and cooked up everything! We were humbled by their generosity and saddened by the harsh realities they face every day. Rain has been scarce and their only agricultural crop of potatoes has suffered. We spent a morning with Edwin's family which is one of the only christian families in the community. They are under immense pressure from the leaders of the community due to their refusal to worship mother earth (Pachamama) and are blamed for anything that goes wrong (lack of rain, etc).
On Thursday morning we arrived in Vacuyo (which I visited with a team in 2008). We did a similar program there. This community wasn't as remote or poor as the first, but still depended on the crops and livestock/llama herds to sustain them. The rituals of worship to the sun god and pachamama were still a big part of the culture but the church seemed to have a bigger influence in the community. We try to make sure the people know that we are associated with the church so that their job of following up with those who have questions or make decisions to follow Christ will be easier. On the last night we had a program with testimonies, a message of God's love and power as the only one who can save us, skits by Waldo the Clown and Co., and an invitation to follow Jesus. Many children responded and we finished the night by praying for the leaders of the church in Vacuyo and some leaders of neighboring churches that had come to be involved in the program we were hosting. There were tears all around, and we were reminded of the harsh conditions these laborers are under both physically and spiritually.
We gave out gifts in both communities, it was the last of the Samaritan's Purse shoeboxes as the bolivian government has imposed taxes on any incoming shipments of boxes which the organization cannot afford. So we supplemented with the load of donations which we brought. God's people were very faithful, and I must admit that I was surprised by how much we were actually able to pack! We must've seen over 150 kids and I kept thinking we weren't going to have enough but wouldn't you know it--we did!
God is faithful and his timing impeccable. The hike in gas prices was withdrawn late Friday night and everything was back to normal by Sunday. We even got to see the presidente! We had no problems with the vehicle that we rented and we stayed mostly healthy throughout the trip. Our flights were on time and our luggage only got lost on this side of the trip.
Thank you so very much for your prayers and for all of you that donated please know that you brought joy to the children and families of Potosi. Continue to be in prayer as to if and how God would use you to continue to support the ministry of Red Vida de Esperanza. Jorge has been praying for a vehicle of their own for years, and always asks me if we can bring another team (He's hoping for July...), the women also have handmade tapestries, bags, bracelets etc, that have also been sent with me if you would like to support these women and receive one of these unique pieces prices vary and 100% of the money goes back to these people in Bolivia. The need in Bolivia (as elsewhere) is great and God has burdened Jorge, Waldo and the other leaders of RVE to assist, teach and bless the rural communities throughout the country. I am always humbled and blessed to be a part and hope to continue to communicate to you how you can be a part also, and as always if you want to be removed from my mailing list just let me know and I'll be happy to oblige. :)
Mil gracias (many thanks) from the bottom of my heart! :)
God's blessings to you in 2011.
Much love and appreciation--

Jehova nuestro Dios, Jehova uno es.
The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deut. 6:4