Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lessons I learned from dreading my hair

Ok wow this is definitely one of the craziest things I have ever done, mostly because before I dreaded my hair I LOVED my hair! Before I came to Peru I almost cried at the thought of chopping it all off.. when I heard it might be easier to have short hair in the jungle. Thus my crazy solution DREADS really is pretty extreme for me.
The last six weeks have been full of hard work with mi pelo Rubio (my blonde hair) transforming it into nudos (knots)! What happens is you section your hair into small pieces rubber banding the roots and then back combing starting at the top going down. It's a long, painful process. My hair is crazy thick and in total I think about 5 people have spent about a total of 10 hours knotting up my hair. Ok one big misconception about dreading hair is that it doesn't take maintenance or much work. That is a huge lie! I hate doing my hair and because I didn't maintain my dreads well enough the first 3 weeks this week my friends literally had to rip my hair apart because the dreads had dreaded together. Ouch it was not a fun process! Anyways, I learned my lesson and now roll my dreads almost every day. Hopefully once they become more developed and dreadier I will not need to put so much effort into maintaining them.
Anyways I decided to get dreads because I feel it describes my personality and my motto about life YOLO and YOYO "You only live once" and "Your only young once." I've thought dreads looked pretty cool for a while and I decided to just go for it. Anyways here are some pics of my dreads so far, all natural- no products used =)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


There are some days when I feel like I am a missionary- those moments when I know exactly why I'm serving in Peru. Those times when I can directly impact children's lives or when I am really excited about the service work I am doing.

Yet sometimes I don't know why I'm here. I get so discouraged about what I'm doing. I feel like I'm not making a big enough difference. Drama and distractions get in my way.. and I cry out to God what's going on?

I believe that being a missionary is not a feeling, it's an action. More than that, it's a response to God's calling or tugging of your heart. It isn't something you do just for the fun of it or even on a whim. It's a response to God's command to serve, sometimes in big ways but mostly in small things- seemingly unimportant- often the overlooked.

I wanted to be a missionary for a LONG time. Ever since I was like 5 years old I've been dreaming of doing mission work in the jungle. I've always forseen myself having these crazy adventures. rescuing orphans, possibly assisting in big pregnancies, preaching sermons and watching baptisms, and occasionally crying myself to sleep at night.

But sometimes missionary work isn't like that. You see missionary work often doesn't seem special. Sometimes it's mundane. Far too often it seems like all I do here is teach swimming lessons and cook or wash dishes. Sometimes I help a little bit in the medicine, giving shots, comforting the kids. giving glasses, or registering patients. Sometimes though I get so frustrated because I feel like "I'm not making a big enough difference. I want to see results now. I want to go on adventures."

Tonight I read an article online about missionaries that I found very encouraging and would like to share part of "First, doing ministry in another country is just like doing ministry in the US, except for the fact that you have a mountain of additional challenges: the enemy’s violent opposition, a language barrier, cultural misunderstandings, having to learn new ways to do things (like shopping for vegetables outdoors or washing clothes by hand), and possibly doing without a lot of conveniences you are used to (for instance, a vehicle, air conditioning, or electricity). While I considered myself fully willing to give those things up and accept the extra suffering and obstacles, I had not yet proven myself able to do ministry faithfully and effectively where it was easy, so how could I expect to do it when opposition raged?

Second, missionaries like Hudson Taylor, Gladys Aylward, and Amy Carmichael appear to us like glowing examples of triumphant faith because we get to see the end of the story. We can read their whole life story in a little book. Authors don’t spend a proportional amount of time on the drudgery-to-glamour ratio in the lives of missionaries. They focus on all the interesting parts of a person’s life. Even as we read, we gloss over the boring parts that do appear. We quickly page through the fact that Hudson Taylor spent a number of “hidden years,” or spent months bedridden with illness. We fail to consider how it felt to him to live through that. We read about Gladys Aylward marching triumphantly over the mountains. “She rescued 100 children!” we exult. But how many years did she spend in China before that, faithfully doing boring things that no one took any notice of? We read Amy Carmichael’s writings and our hearts are thrilled and inspired with her mighty faith, but we forget that her day-to-day life probably looked to her like a mundane series of tasks. We appreciate her vivid quotes, but fail to understand the pain and suffering she had to go through in order to learn these things.
The danger of over-glamorizing mission work
The danger of placing an unhealthy expectation on missionary work is that if God ever does call us to serve Him in another country, we will be unprepared for the challenges that we face and therefore be far less effective in the work."
Sometimes my everyday work- the things I do each day- seem so boring, so unimportant, un-impactful. Yet overall I look back and say "wow I taught 15 kids how to swim", "I made this little girl smile today. I held his hand when he was given a shot."
There are those times when being a missionary is that crazy adventure you are looking for. Like when I weaved through town with my feet wrapped around the 2 people in front on a motorcycle, or when your dreading your hair, experiencing a clinical emergency, or trying to lead song service when you have no idea what the words or the tunes are for the song you're singing. You will have those super fun crazy stories that you can tell your friends later.
And yes there are those times when being a missionary is crazy hard. Like when you're sick and your hands are swollen and black and blue. You have to go take blood tests at this sketchy place in town and you pray you don't get a disease when your phlebotomist drops your cotton ball on the ground and refuses to get you a new one. Or possibly when you are overwhelmed with exhaustion and being with 19 other sm's and just want to run away to get some peace.
But there are also those times when mission work feels boring. When you become unmotivated, when everything becomes routine and you forget to see the purpose in what you are doing. Whether it be washing dishes. cleaning the bathrooms, or cooking-- sometimes you get frustrated and tired. You wonder if you're making a difference at all. You struggle with God and the desire to read your Bible or practice Spanish. You struggle, you grumble. you struggle... until you realize--
1. that YOU right now are in the place exactly where God wants you
2. that sometimes God works in different ways and in different times than we choose
3. that if you look back at what God has done for you in the past you can see the fingerprints of God
If you are feeling discouraged today as a missionary (abroad or in your school, church, or college) here are some verses I found very encouraging. I pray you have faith in God and persevere through any tribulations you may encounter.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. I Cor. 9:24
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. Zech. 4:6
 I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only. Psalm 71:16
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this. that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

Monday, October 28, 2013

Boys vs girls

Once in a while things get a bit crazy and the boys decide to attack the girls.

About 3 weeks ago we had frog and beetle wars. Those were disgusting. The boys threw 3 frogs into our room. Once while Arri was showering, she got a nice big frog thrown over the shower. You should have heard her scream from a mile away ;)

About a week ago we had a huge bottle battlefield fight. All of the boys began throwing bottles into my room. Katie and I were in here and not happy. After about 20 bottles filled the ground we decided we needed to fight back. Thus the bottle battle began. 6 girls came into our room and we soon were tossing about 100 plastic bottles back and forth as fast as we could jumping and dodging to try and avoid being hit by the bottles that were coming from the ceiling. It was pretty fun, not gonna lie, kinda like dodgeball but with bottles.

After the bottle warfare, came the bottle chandelier and underwear fight in my room. Gross right? Boys will be boys...

Yesterday though the boys threw a living tarantula into (Not my room praise God) but into Lisa's and Arri's . They were so not happy. I would have been terrified!  Katie Kat and I were in our room and we hid under our bunk quietly hoping they wouldn't hear us so they wouldn't toss one in here. It was like the holocaust. We hid silently listening to the screams and the warfare going out inside our room. All of a sudden we heard banging on the door. We were so scared that it was one of the boys going to do something that we didn't answer it for like 5 minutes. Finally we answered it and let poor Bernice, our dear roomie who was wet from her shower, into our room. Yikes- alot of prank action, but for me tarantulas are just too much.


This is an orphanage- not a home but a refuge. A place full of smiles even though the kids who live here have suffered far too much for their age. It's hard to describe the feelings you get when you visit this place. Your heart breaks and aches in a different way than ever before. You see things and problems you never imagined could exist for such innocent children. Yet the kids love and trust you with a love so pure that it must be heavenly. They kiss you and beg you not to leave them. They want to be held, want to be loved, want to be embraced close to you. They adore you even though you have done nothing for them. So you lavish them with kisses on their heads and cheeks, you spin them around in airplane circles until you're too dizzy to walk, and you sing ring around the rosy as loud as you can. Hoping and praying to God that someone special adopts each one of the special children soon.

It's hard not to ask God why? Why could He allow all these sweet children to be in an orphanage receiving only minimum care? Why would He allow the special needs kids to be abandoned in a place where they can't receive what they need? Why are children hungry and suffering and without loving parents or brothers and sisters?

But what if God asked us the same? What if He said these people are your neighbors, your friends, your brothers and sisters in Christ? I gave you money.. so you could bless them. I gave you parents to teach you how to love.. so that you could love these kids. I blessed you.. so that you could bless them.
What have you done with the gifts I have given you? How have you helped them?

It's our responsibility to care for the orphans. It is our responsibility to help the needy. If God has blessed you, He has blessed you so you can bless others.

I pray that God opens your eyes so that you can see the world as He sees it and others the way He views them. If God is calling on your heart to help the orphans, or help the poor, especially this time since Christmas is approaching, I challenge you to consider donating to the Christmas Orphanage Project that my SM friends and I are working on. We are trying to provide special Christmas bags to all 87 kids and we will be delivering them to the kids personally. I will also get to spend 19 days from December 24th to January 12th living at the orphanage and helping each of these kids- spending Christmas celebrating God's son with them.

Please check out my link that tells more about the project and consider donating to

Swimming lessons

I teach swimming lessons and I am a good teacher. I have had professional training and much experience teaching lessons, but most of my lessons have been in the states where swimming is quite different than here. In the states, teaching swimming is simple. Follow the book, do the skills step by step. No fear, no push. The kids develop slowly level by level improving a little day by day.

It’s difficult to teach swimming lessons in Spanish when you can scarcely communicate to scared children who have never before learn to swim. I believe the secret to a good swim teacher is confidence and knowledge of skill- progression and technique. But it’s so difficult to not be able to converse with the kids freely and discover their feelings, fears, and explain to them the strokes and the procedures as well as why not to be afraid.

Thus while I have learned a few key phrases in Spanish about swimming: patella (kick), flotar (float), sopla burbujas (blow bubbes) ect. Most of my Spanish lessons come from the simple technique of “mira me y repita” or “watch me and repeat”. Normally, it works with much demonstration and as the kids swim I will correct their technique and efforts while working with them.

I teach the kids step by step but I ask them to trust me as a teacher- that’s the only way I can teach them. If they ever start drowning, I will always rescue them. I will never let them drown under the water. Sometimes I will push them to do things that are difficult, but my desire is always for their success and for their swimming achievement.

In the morning, the group of boys I work with are doing wonderful with my teaching. On the first day they couldn’t swim at all, and now they can cross the pool on their own swimming with good proper breathing and kicking. The girls in my second class are a different story. Because some of them have came to to class each day in perfect order, those girls can swim well and are learning quickly for a level 1 class. But because many have missed classes, it is difficult to teach different levels at once. There is one girl in particular named Melissa, around 10 years old, who has missed a few classes and is a little behind the other girls. It’s not that she can’t do the skills, it’s simply that she is afraid and starts to freak out in the water.

Yesterday Melissa almost drowned twice and one of them was definitely my fault. The problem with Melissa is the minute you let go of her, instead of practicing putting her head down and using her arms, she freaks out in the water in a vertical position thus drowning herself. The second she can’t feel you around her, she panics. She has no faith in herself or trust in me that I will get her when she can’t swim.

Thus yesterday I wanted her to swim to the wall which was only two feet away. She was grabbing onto me and refusing to swim on her own so I pushed her to the wall and went under water in an effort to force her to use her arms and swim. Instead of reaching for the wall which was very very close, she grabbed to me, grabbed to my hair and began to drown right above me slightly under the water.

I was very frustrated and she was very scared. I made her repeat the exercise twice trying to explain to her that if she had listened to me and used her arm motions she could have simply reached for the wall. She repeated it twice successfully shaking from terror. I feel quite bad for the girl and next class I am going to move her down to a different level. She simply can’t keep up with the other girls- not because of her skill level- simply because of her fears and lack of blind trust. I feel bad that she almost drowned because of me. But by herself she will continue to drown, until she learns to trust in herself and in me and swim or use her arms.

My third class of swimming girls are by far the littlest and cutest. They are only about six to nine years old and they were all terrified in the water on the first day. I have had the joy of watching them learn to trust me and overcome a lot of their fears in the water. Now they can jump in the water and come up on their own in the deep end. They can do superman float and twist to back float without panicking. They can bob with assistance in the deep end. The girls trust me a lot- and trust is definitely the key to their success.

My swimming children remind me a lot about the importance of not worrying and trusting in God. When we have a problem in life we tend to freak out immediately. Similar to trying to swim vertically in the water, panicking and freaking out will only make our problems worse and eventually if we worry about everything we will drown.

When we are encountered with a difficult situation or asked to swim against the current or in a new direction that is unfamiliar, we need to trust in our God. We need to obey and continue to follow Him (to keep moving towards where He wants us). To learn how to swim or to learn how to walk closer to Christ is often uncomfortable and scary. God is patient in His work with us but sometimes He calls us to take a big leap of faith. We need to trust Him and be confident that He will provide even when He asks us to do things we can’t do.

God is way better than I am as a teacher. God has had years of experience directing lives. God understands our fears and our feelings perfectly. He is always capable of coming to our rescue and He always will when we are drowning in life’s troubles.

Sometimes it may seem like we are drowning. Sometimes similar to Melissa, we will not feel God and we will get scared. We may ask “Where is God while this is happening?” We may not feel like He is real or like He is really going to save us. These times are hard but it is important that we don’t lose hope of God even when times get difficult.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


What's it like to be a missionary with 19 other college students?

Simplified it's chaos, drama, laughter, fun, and action all the time.

- When it rains we all huddle together at the dinner table or inside our little rooms reading or sharing stories
- There's constant laughter and jokes
- When it's dinner time we all run because we know food goes fast
- We pile on top of each other for town trips. We know that's just the way it is. Your lucky if you have a seat to place your but. 32 is our maximum in a 12 passenger van.
- We have drama- yup all the time- we laught about it though.
- We take turns being moms: cleaning tons of dishes, scrubbing poopy bathrooms, and cooking for 22 starved soldiers (that's how our group eats)
- We make a beautiful choir complete with ukeleles, guitars, sopranos, and wannabe bases
-When someone leaves our clinic who we love we follow them singing na na na na while dancing and chasing them goodbye
- We know that meetings are just: not good and when it's time for a meeting- you shut your mouth and be quiet praying for the ending and group serenity
- Every chore has lyrics and dance motions
- Every other sentence includes one or two random spanish words
- We are a family
- We love movie nights, sometimes in the dental rooms
- We practice medical things on each other (shots, iv's, and dental)
- We have personal trainers among us that use sticks to motivate work outs
-For birthdays we sometimes awake each other with a special song, later we sing and have birthday cake, and egg each other like crazy
-- We know each other so well that we know all of our strengths and faults.
-There's alot of group love and occasional head kisses or group hugs

Before I came I didn't know what it would be like to serve with a group so big. Sometimes it's definitely challenging because there is NO personal space. You are NEVER alone LOL! This is definitely a struggle for some of us introverts or for those wanting a quiet place to read their Bible. Sometimes everything gets a little overwhelming and chaotic...

But most of the time, it's exciting and a ton of fun. It's amazing being part of a huge family that you know and love so well. It makes me think about all the missionaries who are serving alone or only with one or two people. I definitely admire them and think that it's a difficult role. I definitely think all of the missionaries serving by themselves need special prayer. How lonely it would be. How hard to not have so many familiar people to encourage you and uplift you. How blessed by God I am to have my misisonary family of 20 here with me =)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Remember to Breathe

The last few days my thoughts have been jumbled and rampant and my character has been shifted slightly to the right and overly impatient side. My head has been in the clouds and far too often I have felt my brain thinking up a different complaint or wish that I had or could do. I've been running around simply forgetting to stop breathe in God and experience life as it is.

How often do many of us forget to breathe and run around like chickens with our heads cut off, worrying about things that really don't matter or dreaming about things that will never actually happen.

How important daily prayer and Bible reading really is to the believer and what a day-by-day difference it really does make! Taking the time to slow down and think, processing thoughts and events, conversing with the God of the Universe, and reading His wisdom and advice for all of life is so crucial! I can honestly say that I am a different person on days when I have spent adequate alone time with God than on days when I forget or procrastinate reasons and don't have the time to stop.

How can we expect to love if we are not every day lavishing ourselves in the love of our Heavenly Father? For if we are not breathing in God's grace, love, and new mercies every day, our strength will wear far too quickly and soon we will simply be clanging symbols making noise but having no meaning.

Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

As we wouldn't simply forget or procrastinate to eat, we should prioritize our study of God's word so that nothing can stop us from spending time with Him. God created us to long for the word of God and to need it daily. God created the Bible to sustain us and to give us courage to keep going.

Joshua 1:8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

I want to encourage you to take the time to stop and breathe in God wherever you are and wherever your relationship with God is at. Simply taking time each day to stop whatever your doing and maybe go outside, or meditate on God's word, can be so renewing, so powerful, and so perspective- changing. Take the time to really slow down and your eyes will be opened so much to what God is really doing.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Yesterday evening was very interesting and medically informative. We had a pediatric doctor arrive here just yesterday and he has been working with AMOR Projects for around 10 years doing intensive medical research of diseases around the area and risk factors for the various diseases. One interesting thing he talked about was a special eye disease where the cornea or red part of your eye spreads to the middle of the retina destroying the ability to distinguish light from dark. Last year, a team of about 5 surgical doctors came and did eye surgeries correcting this unique disease. Pucallpa is one of the cities in the world where this problem is most prevalent. With adults over 70 there's a 100% chance they will have this disease. With 40 year olds and above the rate is like 70% which is tragic. There's a team of about 20 doctors of different specialties coming to AMOR projects during spring break to work with us current missionaries here and do some more medical research, some eye surgeries, and intense clinics.

Something we also learned recently was about medicines here at AMOR. Medicines and all of our facilities are 100% run by donations. That being said medicine cost alot of money, specifically pills. Finally us missionaries have realized why the doctor orders so many shots to treat various illnesses. Shots are way cheaper than the pills. Sometimes we give around 30 vaccinations a day and we only treat 30 patients. Normally about 1 in 3 patients has to get a shot and they get an average of 3. To think some of us missionaries used to believe the doctor was mean for giving so many shots... ;)

Last Sunday was very nice. We had Pathfinders this morning and taught all the kids the mammals honor. We also enrolled more of them in swimming classes because it is a requirement for the friend program. From now on, we will be having Pathfinders twice a week: once on Friday night for spiritual programming and once on Sundays for activities and honors. Pathfinders is one of our best ways of children evangelism and we try to invite all of the children in the sports programs to attend.

So here at AMOR life is alot different than you might expect. It's a great place to be and to work but sometimes it's hard to really explain what living here is like and honestly if I had to pick a phrase I would say: spontaneous random chaotic joy. You see here at AMOR we get a very wide variety of service work. We work in the clinic, do children's afternoon sports program, lead church, give Bible studies, lead pathfinders, visit the orphanage, and help out at K38 doing manual labor. We often learn what we will be doing for the day- the day of. Some days we are extremely busy with little personal time. Other days we will have a whole morning or afternoon free. In addition to our mission work in the various activities, we rotate within groups cooking, cleaning the bathrooms and clinic, and doing dishes and burning trash. Life here is always very exciting and there is often something new happening.

This morning is one of those free mornings where we have lots of time to study Spanish, read our Bibles, and clean up around our house and the clinic. For the first time, with the new pediatric doctor's help, I assembled my water filter. I believe I will use it for the next week or so until AMOR is able to purchase a new water filtering system because our filter is very dirty and the water is a little sketchy. I will also use my water filter system when we travel.

I learned a cool fact about Dengue fever this morning, which us missionaries are very exposed too! Dengue fever and mosquitoes can only live nearby places where there is water. For example after it rains if water gathers in a ditch or in a hole, that will become a place where mosquito babies are born and where mosquitos can go too. So to cut back on dengue fever risks us missionaries here at AMOR have to make sure there are never any puddles or water holes where we live. The doctor actually showed us one container of water he found outside where little baby mosquitos larvae had already started growing. Lesson learned is avoid mosquitos by avoiding water!

As for my project, Operation Orphanage Christmas Child- I'm really excited! Alot of my friends and family are very supportive and I think if everyone works together we really can do it and raise enough money to provide a special Christmas gift bag for all 86 kids. Raph, the media guy, here serving as an SM at AMOR is working on making a flyer that can be printed out and shown at various places to raise money. I think a movie would be amazing to make, and a great fundraising promo, but I am not for sure whether or not I will have the internet necessary to create one in the next week or so. If anyone is willing to help me with fundraising ideas or even wants to help make a video about the project I would be more than grateful for any help! If you are wanting to help me with the project but don't know where to start, here are a few ideas.

- slideshow/movie presentation to the church showing them some of my pictures I put on facebook and telling them about my goals for the project
- making a poster with pictures and collecting donations
- collecting pennies in various locations (it adds up)
- cooking a Peruvian dinner and doing a church/ school/ Pathfinder fundraiser

If you think of more fundraising ideas or if you would like to help me with Operation Orphanage Christmas Child please message me! I'm really excited about helping these kids. They deserve it so much! By the way all donations can be tax deductible if sent to AMOR Projects and please specify that you want to donate to my project Operation Orphanage Christmas Child =) Thanks everyone!

P.S. The doctor here just got a new job which is great news for him and his family, so praise God! We will now be having clinics in the afternoon 3 days a week. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 2pm.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I had the most amazing afternoon visiting the kids orphanage in Pucallpa. There's 87 children at this orphanage and 10 have severe special needs . There are five different houses and we got to go in all of them and meet all of the children who were precious but oh so needy! The orphanage is run by the government of Peru and children can stay there until they are 20 years old. In addition to children, there are some young girls who live their with their babies who were born premi or with problems. Many of these young pregnant girls are only 14-16 years old (so sad)!

I met this one beautiful boy who ran and jumped into my arms. He was 8 years old but the size of a four year old. From the moment I picked him up, he never stopped kissing me. He kissed my face, my neck, my arms, and my shirt. He was precious but had some terrible disease.

I met another girl who was 14 who had a baby and had lived at the orphanage since she was 2. The baby was a year old meaning she got pregnant when she was 13. The girl was so sweet and excited to talk to me. She was so excited at the idea of me returning to see her and wanted me to promise that I would come back at Christmas.. which brings me to my next idea...

My friend Megan and I want to volunteer in the orphanage for 2 weeks and help out with taking care of the kids. We plan on doing this while the current missionaries at the orphanage have to leave for travel break which is December 24th thru January 12th. We haven't got all the permissions we need to do this yet but we're praying about it and seeing if it is possible right now.

We also will be getting to visit the orphanage every Saturday afternoon now! I am so excited to get to see the kids more and play with them. They have so many needs though and Christmas is coming up soon. I would really like to get them each a special Christmas present.

My idea: Operation Orphanage Christmas Child It's similar to Operation Christmas Kids where you make shoe boxes with gifts for kids and send them across the world. I want to do that and make Christmas bags for each of the kids in the orphanage. That means we need 87 gift bags complete with goodies, toothbrushes, brushes for the girls, little toys, and candy. I think it's totally possible! We have 19 missionaries here at AMOR and we are all going to try and work together. What we need is money from back home, the United States, so that we can buy supplies and candy for the kids here. Then on December 13th, the Friday before some of our team takes off for travel, we will have a Christmas bag stuffing party and on Christmas we will pass out all of the gift bags to the kids. So yes this means I need to ask money from you guys, all my friends and family. I'm sorry, I do hate asking for money. But this is something I feel that is so worth it and will mean so much to these kids. These kids hardly have any toys and they hardly have anything to call their own. They are going to be so happy this Christmas because of us. I know that this is something that I can do to make a difference. So now I'm asking for your help!! Please message me for more details and I will be writing more about my ideas and about this project later =)

A homeade sling; a happy day

Today was a good day of swimming lessons and helping in the clinic. There was an older lady (picture below) who came in with a broken arm. I got to watch the doctor make her a cast by adding water to special tape. Afterwards I was thinking a sling would be nice but we didn't have any materials in the clinic. I decided to look around and found this orange cloth. I had fun fashioning her a sling that hopefully helps her protect her arm.

 For about two hours today my friends have helped me with my dreads- as of now they have about 5 more that need to be done but that's it. I really do have great friends who've helped me and the end result is kinda shocking for my dreads-- pics to come soon with it all done and down ;)

Tonight I did worship on thanking Jesus for his many blessings and of the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-17 when only one of them said thank you. I identity really well with this story lately with my hand infection but God has been healing me miraculously and I am so thankful! Psalms 30:2,3 Oh Lord my God I called to you for help and you healed me. Oh Lord my God you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.

Tomorrow, Sabbath, we get to go the orphanage after church! I can't wait!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

8 weeks in Peru

As of today I've been here at AMOR Projects for 8 weeks!! 

Today we had swimming lessons. It was pretty fun. I love the kids: they are so beautiful and they are all learning so fast. It was great being back in the water.

Early this morning something really sad happened here. A little baby, one year old, came to our clinic for emergency help at like 6am in the morning. We woke up the doctor and the doctor called for 2 emergency shots and then a trip to the hospital. Unfortunately during the hospital ride the baby died. The family who lost the baby was really poor and they were all devastated with the loss. It was really hard on alot of us student missionaries here. 

It just goes to show you how much life is worth and how quickly everything can dissappear. Alot of us missionaries here pulled money and later today we are going to visit the family and help them out with some money so that they can put the baby in a coffin- they literally don't have enough to even bury their baby. I think we will try to comfort them, pray over them, and sing with them trying to show them how much we care about their situation.

This afternoon we practiced sultures or stitches. I did about 20 before giving up. I really don't believe I have what it takes to be a doctor. Honestly, I'm just proud of myself for doing that many on that pig. It took me like 3 hours. It was really frustrating and discouraging. I have no desire to continue practicing or to ever do stitches on someone in real life. I definitely think physical therapy is more my thing.

Here in Peru I've had alot of reflective time to think about my life, the things around me, and my future goals. I've been really inspired about ideas on how I can make a difference and what I might want to do with my life. I think I would like to return to Southern and study physical therapy and do more research with aquatic therapy specializing in the water therapies. I would like to help severely injured children do therapy in the US and have a family, but before I do that I would like to help with some global mission work. 

Lately I have become really passionate about Africa and I would like to travel there and serve as a missionary there in the future. I would like to possibly help in an orphanage there. I am also becoming very interested in human sex trafficking and how to help stop that and all the poor girls and children being exploited. I am becoming more and more interested in global problems like poverty, sex trafficking, the need for water, and the many diseases and what I could do to help them.

Conquistadores, Yucca, and Stiches

Wow so much has been happening lately here, I don't know where to begin. So far this week we've had an amazing pathfinder adventure, gone yucca harvesting, learned papsmeres and stitches, spent some time in K38, as well as start planning for our trip to renew our visas and travel in January. It's been a good week and time is really flying by. My hands are significantly better and as of today I am starting to decrease my medicine and stop taking pretnezone. My hands are peeling but the doctor said that was normal. I just have to be very careful because I have exposed open flesh wounds all around my hands.

Pathfinders on Sunday was quite exciting and unique.Our experience began by packing 29 children and a few student missionaries into our 12 passenger gringo van. Then we traveled about 45 minutes in the rain to the jungle town outside of Campo Verde where we unloaded and were given a long rope. With this rope we began our jungle road 6k trek with these beautiful little Pathfinder and Adventururers mostly between the ages of 8 and 12.

Our trek consisted of a long walk with songs and constant jumping into the forest looking for flowers and leafs. Each Pathfinder or Conquistadores unit was expected to find 10 different types of leaves and flowers. Fortunately for us there are an abundance of beautiful flowers as well as strange bushes and trees here in Pucallpa so it wasn’t too difficult.

It rained throughout the hike and at the end all the Conquistadores decided to run- that is the conquistadores that weren’t crying from exhaustion or being held on the backs of some kind missionaries. As crazy it was, running in the rain, on an abandoned Peruvian trek with mud flinging on our legs and the kids screaming- it was fun. It was one of those special moments when my friends just looked at each other and smiled and felt this beautiful happiness and peace.. knowing that only in Peru would we ever have these once in a lifetime experiences.

We finally finished our 6k hike- 4 miles had never felt so long and we arrived at a large lake. Each Pathfinder unit had the responsibility of building a fire out of scrappy material from the rain and one match. Ok well that was the goal. A few of the groups (like mine) used 2 matches- but it was still pretty impressive (especially for my lack of fire building knowledge). Afterwards it was swim time in the lake and all of us leaders had tons of kids attacking us and jumping all over us trying to get whale rides or show us their swimming capabilities. It was really fun swimming! After free swim us instructors had this huge race and the losing instructors’ group has to lead flag lowering next week. I’m proud to say my team won the running, looking for bottles, and swimming relay.

Then we piled back into the van all 32 of us. The little kids were so tired many of them began to fall asleep. One pour little girl got car sick from the bumpy roads but luckily waited to throw up until we got out of the car. Finally we arrived home sweet home at AMOR around 2pm. It was a great, long, Pathfinder adventure.

Monday- was a dead day at the AMOR clinic because the doctor wasn't there. We thought we may go harvest yucca and so aside from the simple housework (cooking, cleaning bathrooms, and cleaning the clinic) only a lot of Spanish practice got done. After a great lunch of lettuce wraps with fried rice and tofu we headed to town to get my blood results from my hand which were negative, praise Jesus =) Monday we also did alot of planning for our January trip. There's a group of four of us girls that want to travel to Buenos Aires together. There would be a guy meeting up with us there and one of us speaks Spanish so that should help with safety reasons. The plan so far is to fly to Buenos Aires and spend about 5-6 days and then fly back to Lima for about 6 days and then to go to Cuzco and see Macchu Picchu in Peru. We're struggling with the costs and making the trip as economical as possible while still keeping it fun. Right now it looks like just for the plane ride it will cost $700.

Tuesday and Wednesday were excruciating long and exhausting days at K38, the farm. We all piled in the gringo van to K38 to help harvest yucca which is a common plant here in Peru that is similar to a potato. The yucca is at the roots of these tall trees that must be macheted down and then separated and bagged. It was quite the exhausting job. We would wake up at 6am here and not get done yucca harvesting until about 6pm at night. We are harvesting the yucca because it is one of the ways AMOR Projects makes money to keep the clinics and facilities running. However it was quite discouraging when we learned yesterday that a huge 150 pound sack of yucca only sells for 20 soles which translates to approximately $7. It really makes me feel bad for the yucca harvesters in Peru. So much work for so little cash. It's really sad.

Tuesday night after a full day of yucca harvesting, the doctor gave us all a lesson on how to do pap smeres. It was quite interesting. We learned using bananas and oranges- no joke. Apparently Pucallpa is the city with the most risk of ovarian cancer in Peru and so we will be doing alot of tests in the clinic and then sending the results to a labratory. Wednesday night we each bought pig meat and practiced learning sultures on the pig skin. I really don’t think I want to be a doctor- especially not a surgeon. It was pretty cool learning though and we will be practicing tomorrow. The doctor wants us to complete 40 stitches of each kind.

In my free time, I've started re-reading the book "Kisses for Katie". It's so inspirational and I encourage anyone who hasn't read it to check it out. Well that's about it for what's been happening here lately- today I have morning swimming lessons and it will be my first time back in the chlorine for 2 weeks and this afternoon we're practicing our stitches some more on pigs.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Overcoming Your Fears In Order To Follow Christ

Matthew 10:26-29 So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[a]

Something I'm learning alot about here in Peru is fears. Fears can either stop you from following Christ and His absolute purpose for your life or fears can fuel stronger faith in God. All true followers of God in the Bible had to overcome some fear or another. Yet also many people in Biblical days missed out on God's blessings or chose to deny Christ solely because of fear.

Knowing your fears and trusting in God to help you overcome them will make or break your relationship with Him.

So what are you afraid of? What makes you uncomfortable? What scares you?

Before I came to Peru here were some of my fears: Snakes, the medical field, giving shots and working in the clinic, losing my long hair ;) (ok maybe I framed that one a little since I now have dreads), getting my heart broken, sickness/ disease, being in a foreign country for an entire year...

God has really put me in situations here where I am forced to confront my fears face to face. When you ask God to help you with your fears and really just admit what you are afraid of, you can take a leap of faith and really praise God when He helps you overcome. That's what happened to me here with the medical field, the clinic, and being sick. It's really quite freeing not being afraid.

Fear is a result of sin and is a feeling of bondage that Satan wants us to have. Often it's impractical or unreasonable but Satan loves our fears because when we are afraid our eyes focus on the things we are afraid of (our troubles, problems, or tribulations) instead of on God's great plans for our live, His love, or His mercy.

As I was researching more about fear and preparing for my sermon I did today, I was really amazed with this fact: WE (the pharisees, jews, and chief priests) killed Jesus because we were afraid of Him.

That thought just baffles me. Surely the main reason behind us killing Jesus and sending Him to die on the cross wasn't that we were afraid was it? Would our fears really lead us to a sin so cruel? Would being afraid make us nail our perfect King to a cross to die? Read Mark 11:18.

Wow! FEAR led us to kill our Savior. Fear led the rich young ruler in the Gospels to miss out on following God because He was afraid to live life without all his stuff. Fear led Peter to deny Jesus after He said He wouldn't. After Jesus' death Peter was too scared to say that he knew him and was a follower. Fear led the Pharisees to hate Jesus and Pilot to give Barabbus over to the crowd.

Fear is a feeling that Satan loves. It makes us feel bonded to Him. Yet in 1 John 4:1 it says Perfect love casteth out all fear and that 's what Christ came to do for us. Christ loves us so much and offers us a peace that can cover any worry or fear this world can bring upon us.

It's Peru Whatcha Gonna Do

I want to share with you some recent, distinctly Peru stories and happenings..

*The toilet/shower mishap starring Kaity Kat and Brooklyn-- I tried to use the bathroom at church which I thought was the shower. You have to climb up into this wooden house and Katie told me to look for a hole up there. Well I climbed up there and I didn't see no hole. Good thing I waited because the lady of the shower came running out yelling that I was about to go to the bathroom in her shower haha and Katie Kat redirected me to the other big box with a curtain where I could use the little hole in the center. Good times- it's Peru ;)

* Betty's Birthday Party was tonight and it was quite the party. I gotta give it to the Latino and Hispanic culture- they party it up big. We were at the party from 7 to 10:30 and they had food and cake as well as some fun games such as kiss the baby, pass it to the next person, and kiss the baby again. Then you have to say in Spanish that you have worms wherever you kissed the baby. We also played "hot potato" with the baby and whoever got stuck with the baby had to do a stupid and embarassing punishment like dance like an old lady, be a statue, or cry and laugh your name in front of the circle. It was quite entertaining and pretty fun.

*Pucallpa Festivities- This entire week has featured festivities and celebrations throughout Pucallpa because it is a holiday. There's been balloons, cotton candy, tons of traffic, live bands, and even a cultural Peruvian dance.

* My blood test results have still not came in! Apparently they got delayed in Lima so I have to go back Monday to make sure my hand is ok. It's alot less swolen but their are still blisters and disolored. I'm very thankful for God for His healing yet God's not done yet and I still don't know the reason/ cause behind what happened.

*Ukeles are so special here in Peru. We do so many worships with them and I am excited to say that my friend Katie Kat is going to teach me how to play. I find it really beautiful and the kids just love being sung too.

*Tomorrow is our first Pathfinder hike. Each of us Pathfinder leaders has our own little troup of girls or guys. Last week we taught them 5 knots and the Pathfinder Pledge (in espanol)! Tomorrow we're hiking 5k, working on the flower and bugs honor as well as the beginning swimming honor. I really love helping with Pathfinders and am beginning to appreciate what a positive impact the program has on so many kids' lives.

*I preached my first sermon today about overcoming your fears in order to follow Christ. It actually went really well- it was my first full sermon I've ever done totally alone. While researching for my sermon, God actually revealed to me some really unique truths about fear: like the fact that Jesus was killed because of our fear! Crazy! Sometimes preaching at our church gets discouraging because of the language barrier I feel like alot of emphasis is lost within translation and half of the church is sleeping. Nevertheless, I know God is working in our church and through our team here.

*Our first communion service was this Friday night with all of the SM's here and it was such a blessing. We sang a bunch of songs and then washed each other's feet. It was just so purifying and it reminded me of the story of Mary Magdalene washing Jesus' feet in the Bible with her te

Friday, October 11, 2013

52 days in Peru

I've been here in Peru for 52 days- that thought just baffles me!
I love Peru- I really do- I love mission work and I love this beautiful lush country.
This is life for me now- Peru is becoming my normal- my reality..

Even though I've been sick most of the last two weeks and sometimes I miss certain parts of America, I'm definitely not ready to go back to America. Already time is starting to fly by here.

The children in this country are beautiful- they're dirty and play in the trash for fun- but they are oh so sweet and trusting. They love to play with your hair, sit in your lap, and kiss you on the cheek.

The Peruvians that come to our clinic are very kind and gracious. They come with many diseases and line up hours before the clinic opens to await our treatment. AMOR clinic's medicine supply is stocked completely by volunteer donors.

Their are jugglers on the streets of Peru that juggle in the midst of the motocar traffic. They make me smile every time. Sometimes they are super good and juggle huge machetes throwing them high up in the air.

We travel here by motocar or motorcycle. It's quite thrilling and quite bumpy. Driving on the roads here is like traveling through a carnival. Sometimes you get a mud shower while riding if it has just rained- it's still better to ride though than try and trek through the thick mud where your sandals will get stuck.

Their are these beautiful Peruvian tribal ladies that love to stock us gringos in town. They follow us around with colorful jewelry they spend hours making. They have beautiful tribal skirts with beads and long pretty tops. I would like to buy a skirt from them before I go home. They say that the skirts take them an entire month to make.

The sun here is very strong and fierce. It's so hot during the day that even under shade and with fan, naps are not very likely to be a success. When it rains here it pours. The houses around our project become flooded quite quickly. Everything stops when it rains. It becomes a peaceful time of movies or book reading as well as milew (hot chocolate time) or tea time.

Te quiero Peru =)

P.S. My hands are becoming quite better. The swelling has gone down as well as the pain- thanks be to God! I still need prayers as I am not for sure what it was or what caused it. I also get my final blood test result on Saturday.
It's been discouraging not being able to do much work the past 2 weeks because of sickness. I'm finding God's blessings in the small things like yesterday I got the privilege of giving 4 thirsty little girls clean water. It was something small- yet something I could do- and that made me smile that God will always find ways to use me here and show me that He brought me here for a reason and that He has a purpose for me.
This Saturday I am also preaching the full sermon. I will be talking about not letting your fears get in the way of God's plans for us.
It also looks like a group from AMOR will be getting to travel to Buenos Aires and Lima in January to renew our visas- how exciting =)
Thanks for all your prayers and I love you all-- all my friends and family! I send you kisses and hugs and miss you terribly! Facebook me your address and I might just be able to send you a Peruvian letter ;) Thank you for your prayers! We ALWAYS need them here!! Te quiero!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Open Flesh Wound

"Love is not free. People who love are vulnerable- they give a piece of themselves away to someone else. It's a worthy donation- but still painful at times. Love is always worth the sacrifice and the risk."

Luke 7:32 says "They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not cry.

I never before understood these verses. They confused me. But lately as I have been struggling through various sickness and ailments my heart has been inclined to an interesting thought about them: many people in our generation are numb..

The Bible warns us much about the End Times and how the people of the last days will be asleep (the Laodicean church).  The Laodiceans will be lukewarm- not passionately devoted to God yet still claiming to follow His ways. I believe that Jesus is coming soon and we are the Laodicean church- I believe that we are sleeping- and often numb to emotions and reality.

Many Americans no longer cry- it has become a feminine thing for men to cry and even many girls these days don't cry. Many Americans watch horror movies- and they have no affect on them. Movies full of violence, shooting, and suffering- yet we don't seem to care- because we've seen it before.
We see so many charities asking for different donations- yet to most of them we simply walk away- because we've seen so many statistics about children dying already, we've watched the movies and seen the pictures of hungry children in Africa, we've heard about all the third world problems too much already- and we're numb to it. We feel like we've seen it all, we feel like we know it.. and instead of living in it or trying to comprehend it.. we close our eyes.

We have a wound and we have many ailments today, yet many of us are choosing not to deal with it. We're choosing to close our eyes and not think about the people hurting around us and the needs facing most of the world. Our feelings have been numbed- so that things don't hurt us so much. Yet as well as our feelings have been shortened and depth of them stolen- our love for each other has been worn down. Our love has been shattered to a noncaring, comfortable complacency and the genuine care and emotion has far too often been abandoned on the sidelines. Often we no longer feel the need to do anything to help others hurting around us. We don't accept the responsibility to help others. We look away and often whisper in our hearts "I hope someone else helps them."

Serving as a missionary here in Pucallpa, this is what I've been learning. I've been learning that I created walls around my heart. Every time I was hurt, I received a wound and for every wound that was received I let most of my wounds scab- creating a protection from the outside harm and trying to protect myself from being hurt again. I'm learning that I am far too numb to sufferings and calamities that are a reality to millions daily.

I believe that we've all created walls similar to scabs around our hearts from things that have hurt us. Maybe a boyfriend or girlfriend that broke us, a family member that suffered an illness, a statistic that broke our heart, a child that made us cry.. There's nothing wrong with these wounds. Yet we cannot let them make us numb. Christ Jesus wants to expose all of our wounds to the light. He wants to open our hearts and destroy all of the scars this world has made in us. He wants to take them away- and that will be a painful process- but He wants to create in us beautiful, loving hearts like His own. Hearts that feel suffering as the one who suffers. Hearts that genuinely care and genuinely love, and are willing to risk themselves for others. Hearts that have true compassion and the desire to move and make the world better for someone else.

Here in Peru, God is opening and remaking my heart and I'm so thankful. Because of some of my sufferings here, I'm able to see what most of the world suffers through daily and often. Most of the world experiences hunger pains, diseases, illnesses, malaria, yellow fever, aids... yet most of my life I have been protected from these sicknesses (praise God). But here I've prayed that God open my eyes to the things He sees and breaks my heart for the things that break His.. and slowly God is doing that in me. I don't believe God wants me to be sick- and I have faith that He will be healing me very soon. Yet what I am grateful too is that this year God is giving me glimpses of what life is like for many people in third world countries and opening my eyes to some of their sufferings.

For me to be able to love like God, my heart has to be opened. The wound has to be an open flesh wound that is healed by Christ Jesus and Him alone. If I have walls I can't love as strongly.When I am vulnerable, that is when I can truly give and sacrifice my all to another being attempting to portray to them what Jesus Christ did for me in Calvary.

I want God to create in me a new and purified heart that sees others the way He sees them. I want God to love me so much so that I can show others a love that pierces to the inmost of their beings and shows them their worth in Christ. I want God to change me and destroy all my selfishness from within- remaking me into someone compassionate and self-sacrificing.

I pray that you desire the same from your God and that God opens your eyes so that you can see yourself in His image and others thru His eyes of love and compassion.

**Side note on my current health:

I am struggling with a hand problem/ infection currently. I was sick all this past last week with cold-like symptoms but most of the sickness went away and a rash developed on one of my hands. Now (5 days later) both of my hands are discolored and have bumps and 2 blisters. There is some kind of serious infection going on or intense allergic response. Yesterday I was taken to a clinic for 3 different blood tests. The results from the first 2 are normal and I will receive the third result Saturday evening. I received a shot last night to help reduce the swelling and inflammation and the doctor also drained my blisters. Based on the medication I am currently taking, my hands are a little less swolen and seem to be getting a little bit better. Please pray that my hands continue to get better and the infection goes away quickly.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Honestly I'm Struggling

My hands burn; they hurt all the time, sometimes inbearably. They are red and covered in dots and raised sores. Last night, I had trouble sleeping because my hands itched and hurt so bad. I'm taking medication and praying that my hands get better fast, because I seriously can't handle the pain and inconvenience much longer. I truly sympathize with the leapers in the Bible crying out for God, desperate for His healing touch.

For the first 6 weeks being here in Peru, I thought being here was amazing, similar to summer camp, and in some ways a vacation. In our sm classes they teach you about different phases an SM may encounter. They say first you will probably live thru the honey moon stage where everything is wonderful and an adventure but then after that you will probably hit the hole where everything bad hits you all at once and you hate being a missionary.  Well guys I've hit the hole rock bottom ;)

It's ok that I'm having challenges. In fact Paul tells us to rejoice in our struggles that they may develop character and bring us closer to Christ. I knew coming to Peru and serving here would be hard. It's just, I didn't realize how hard it would be at times until now.

I still have cold like flu symptoms. My hands hurt all the time. Us student missionaries are past the "care bear" stage of coddling and are truly seeing each other's characters (both good and bad). This brings some SM conflict but overall we are handling it well. I also can't go swimming this week because the doctor thinks the chlorine may make my hands worse (this is very frustrating). I'm struggling with learning Spanish.. it's so slow. I feel like I've hardly made any progress. I'm exhausted, my body is covered in mosquito bites, my health is a constant struggle, we can't eat the food we want, my hair is in messy dreads and not even done, I miss my family and friends... When everything hits you it feels so overwhelming. I'm struggling right now with being here and maintaining a positive attitude and Christ's- servant personality.

In spite of my current struggles, a few exciting things have happened the last couple days. Monday was a fun field day for all of us student missionaries in Peru and we got to go to a "resort" where they had a volleyball net and a pool. We then were divided into teams and we played relay games and had a scavenger hunt. It was pretty fun- despite the intense sun- and sunburns many of us sm's got. A neat thing happened when it was time for us to go swimming at the resort. We met some other missionaries from America at the pool there who have been serving in Pucallpa for about 8 years! It was great talking to other American Christians- they were evangelical- and we are planning on visiting them in a couple weeks and developing a friendship with them. The other interesting thing happening for me this week is cooking. This morning I fried 80 tortillas for my group. We made fried rice, stir fry vegetables, and lentils for lunch and tonight we are having burritos. Today is a holiday in Pucallpa and I am hoping that tonight we will get to go to town around 8pm and watch some of the festivities.
A few of us sm's are also talking about travel options for Christmas when we need to renew our visas, and we will probably be heading to Argentina.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

God through my challenges make me trust you more. Make me see you and the world different because of these hard times. Make me weak if you need so I can be stronger in your love and grace. Break me and remake me to make me more like your character. I trust that you will never leave me nor forsake me. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Different Perspective

It's amazing how much can change with simply a different perspective.

The way I see the world and the way the Peruvian children I play with every day see it is very different. The way I see the world now and view every day is totally different than I would have viewed it just 4 months ago.

From everything from what I think I need in life to be happy to what God means to me- my perspective is totally changing- and it's a beautiful thing

Peruvian children think that a shower is a special treat- a luxury- that many scarcely recieve. If they do get a shower it is often with a few cold buckets of water.
 They are grateful for any food while I often grumble to myself about the frequent beans or rice, sometimes the lack of protein or nurtrients.
 The kids don't mind bugs or roling around in the mud. Kids here love to sing loud and are excited to learn about God.

To us missionaries here in Peru, peanut butter, showers, a flushing toilet, and mosquito nets are luxuries. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is an exciting meal and treat. Cookies sent by mail are like golden nuggets.

To us, not being sick is being able to go to the bathroom properly and having less that 10 new bug bites per day. Bechos or parasites are a constant struggle. Scars and rashes are pretty stereotypical along with the constant bloatedness. Hair never looks pretty- a simple bun or braid is about as fancy as it gets.

Yet here I have more best friends than I have ever had at once. I have a true family of friends my own age who truly know my heart and character. We see each other at our best and at our worst.I believe that these friends will last for a lifetime.

Together we don't care what we look like or how we talk, or what others think of us. We understand when we get frustrated with each other or when someone misses home. Yet we also understand that God is at work at this place and in us all and that He has an amazing plan for us as a group as well as individuals.

I am so grateful to God for bringing me here to Peru this year. He is teaching me so much (from how to cook beans and rice to how to tie rockclimbing knots). God is showing me the beauty of following Him and discovering your identity in Christ.

I have a dream.. that one day I can do more to help the people around the world. Being in Peru is really opening my heart to the different ways in which I can serve others around the world. I am really LOVING mission work. I have a dream to go to Africa and serve the people there. I would also love to help in an orphanage. I would like to get my degree as a physical therapist and then serve with a husband (God willing) for some years helping sick children or possibly working for an organization such as World Vision.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

What church is meant to be like

Never before have I truly appreciated church like I am learning to do now, here in Peru. You see, church here is different. It's not just a place. No actually, it's not much of a place at all. There's no air conditioning, sometimes no walls, and frequently a lack of chairs. It's hot and sweaty- a place where you can smell the wear and illness of the people surrounding you- often too close for preference.

Yet church is a place where there is love. You can feel God there and feel the love when you arrive. You are greeted with a warm embrace and a kiss of friendliness and gratitude for your presence. You see the eyes of old- eyes who have suffered through more than their share of challenges. Yet you also bare the eyes of small, beautiful children whose barefoot feet are covered in bites and dirt- yet whose smiles extend far beyond their dimples- like a rainbow lighting up their dirt-cracked faces.

Church is a place I know quite well. I know the old man who comes every week with hardly any teeth. I know the children by name and which ones are shy and which love to sing. I know the preacher far too well for often I am "he". I know the songs that I lead out every week- sometimes with a cracked voice or a cold- yet I sing with I can as loud as my voice can carry. Yes, I know this place- and I can proudly call it mine.

I go to church for God here in Pucallpa. I smile because I want others to see Him through me. I sing because I am genuinely joyful- even if I often don't comprehend the language to which I'm singing. I am far from a pastor or a public speaker- yet when God calls me up to the front to talk- I fear not, for He speaks through me.

Sometimes I think I miss it. I am deceived into thinking I miss church back home. Yet really what church do I have back there that I truly belong too and what do I miss?

Do I long to sit in the pews again and solely be an audience- just a listener- afterwards rating the service on a scale from 1-10 for my entertainment. Do I miss shaking the hands of people who know my face or know my family but know nothing about me- who I am or what I am like. Do I miss being a shadow in church- a silent image that no one remembers while I am gone? Do I miss singing songs that I know all the words too by heart- in a quiet, solemn voice that sounds like death is near to come? Do I miss dressing up- spending an hour in the morning doing my hair and trying to select the perfect outfit- not for God (because I honestly believe He could care less) but to impress mere man and try to fit in like everyone else.

No I don't miss it anymore.

Because church here is my church now and it's become so real to me. It baffles me today that really at my church 7 people are choosing to live for Jesus Christ and get baptized. The thought makes me tremble- that I am a part of this- and that maybe by some small chance something that I did.. the way a 19 year old girl with dreads who tried to sing and tried to talk up front and smiled.. might have helped encourage their decision to choose to live for Jesus. Yes this is my church and here is my family. It has become so real to me that God is working here and in this place.

So what is real to you about church? Church is so much more than a place- it's a family. Church is where you can feel the love of God- no matter how you look, how much money you have, or how you feel. I encourage you to help make your church a real place of genuine worship where people can feel Christ's love. I pray that you find a church that is real to you.

*In the states I have got the privilege to be part of some amazing churches. I especially loved Tulsa Adventist Fellowship and all the people there that left an amazing impact on my lives. Nonetheless, I have been to many churches where I don't feel God's love and where church doesn't affect me. This is not to offend any one or any church. I hope and pray it inspires you to love more in your church and to seek out a church family that helps you grow closer to God.