Wednesday, December 7, 2011

O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

The month of November was filled with many celebrations keeping all of us at Casa de Fe very busy! I got to celebrate my 23rd birthday with my new Ecuadorian and missionary friends. They threw me a surprise birthday party where we ate my favorite Ecuadorian food, Volqueteros, and played fun Ecuadorian games! My brother Powell came to visit me for my birthday, so we spent a week showing him life in Shell, including a trip to the tourist town of Baños and spending a weekend in Quito showing what the city has to offer. Powell got to spend a lot of time at the Foundation also and all the kids loved Mr. Pablo (his Ecuadorian name) and just thought he was the coolest. The month of November also included celebrating Thanksgiving with fellow missionaries, we all made our favorite Thanksgiving Day food and spent the evening talking about all the things we are thankful for and playing Apples to Apples. Starting at the end of November was “Shell Days” ,which was the town’s celebration of its existence. Part of “Shell Days” includes the yearly parade, which we got to take part in. Since October we have been practicing a traditional Ecuadorian dance and we got dressed in traditional Otavaleño dresses and danced around town for everyone to see. It was a total blast! We are also staying busy getting ready for our upcoming Christmas program. We decided to do the Christmas story but from the point of view of the animals in the story. It is so fun to watch the kids, especially as all of it comes together as we draw closer!

I go home for Christmas in 10 DAYS and I am oh sooooo excited! As it draws closer and closer I find myself more and more homesick because I know that I will be seeing my family soon. I am going to miss the kids here a ton but my excitement to be with family for Christmas overwhelms me! I already have a lot of plans to take advantage of the snow while I am home including sledding, skiing, ice fishing and making snowmen. But I am most excited of being able to spend quality time with my family and friends and be able to celebrate the birth of our Savior together.. I am so blessed. 
Dwight and I dancing during the parade.

Powell reading to my class during his visit!

The gang in action at the "Shell Days" parade!

Us "gringas" showing just how excited we were to be Otavaleñas!

Powell and I on my birthday!
Surprise! You're 23!

All my Ecuadorian guy friends came out to celebrate my birthday. 

Anthony and Martin right before the parade! 
O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

Monday, November 7, 2011

i can see Your love

Today we are back to the grind of school after a long 4 and a half day vacation. Last week we celebrated the "Day of the Dead" with the rest of Ecuador. We began last week by making crowns on Monday and on Tuesday we took a field trip with the kids to the cemetery to put the crowns we make on the gravestones of the kids from Casa de Fe who had passed away. The next day we had a half day of school and we taught the kids how to make “Colada Morada” which is the traditional drink made on this day consisting of lots of fruits, spices and oatmeal. We also made “Guagua de Pan” (Quechuan word for bread babies). The kids had fun learning how to make the traditional food they eat each year. I had an awesome holiday weekend. There is a missions team here from the United States so us “Gringa” missionaries came up to the property to help the team make Banana Splits for all the kids and we watched a movie. The next day was the hottest it has been since I have arrived in Ecuador and I went to the city of Puyo with some Ecuadorian friends where we played basketball in 100 degree heat and then went swimming to cool down, it was cool to see how the Ecuadorian’s like to spend their holidays, just relaxing and enjoying the presence of family and friends, laughter is for sure a huge part of it as well! That night we were back at the property helping the team teach the kids how to make pizza! Sunday after church we were back up at Casa de Fe with the team who had brought new shoes for all the kids and staff! It was such a blessing to see all the kids get their feet washed and be so excited about a new pair of shoes. I was also in need of a new pair of running shoes since I am training for a marathon and mine were getting destroyed and somehow the team found out I was a runner and not only did I get a new pair of running shoes but I was blessed to have received my favorite kind of running shoes.. God knew what I needed but He went above and beyond and I got what I wanted.. God is cool like that J
Thalia and her awesome crowns and flowers to bring to the cemetery!

Visiting the cemetery

Making Colada Morada!

Maribel and Greis


Taking a break from our studies :)

I have been reading the Old Testament a lot lately and I can’t help but be drawn into the stories about the testing of Yahweh. Luckily all the major characters in the OT who we look up to as pioneers of the faith were tested and screwed up at one point or another.  God tested Abraham, Moses, and even Jesus. Jesus was the only person in history to withstand every test that was thrown his way. I feel like I am in a season of testing and being sanctified. Lately, I have been failing a lot, but I am reminded by the stories in the Old Testament where God was big enough to get glory out of our failures..if He is the same yesterday, today and forever I guess that means He is big enough to get glory out of my failures as well. His grace is sufficient for me. The hardest part of the whole grace thing is that even though God forgives me and extends grace, I can’t help but dwell on how quickly I will act in my sin nature and I have a hard time forgiving myself. I guess it’s a good reminder that without God I am nothing, my worship is like filthy rags before Him. Sometimes I just sit in my self-loathe and I wonder how Moses or Abraham dealt with this feeling, because I am sure they experienced similar feelings. So I read on in their stories and come to realize that God’s testing is not just to humble us, but also used for purification and strengthening of faith. God knows we are going to screw up but He stands there waiting for us ready to extend His grace. He tests us so that our faith will be strengthened and our hearts will be purified. I stand humbled and in awe of God's unfailing love.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Otro Color

"He is no fool to lose what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."- Jim Elliot

It’s been way too long since I last updated! Sorry for the hold up! Just in case you hadn’t heard I arrived safely in Ecuador. After about 28 hours of hanging in airports and flying I arrived in Quito and spent the day exploring the city. We took off early the next morning to begin our 5-hour journey to my new home in Shell but about an hour into the drive our van broke down. We spent around 3 hours on the side of the road while waiting for a tow truck and a taxi to drive us the rest of the way. Good thing I love adventures! After arriving in Shell, my roommate Melissa and I spent the next couple days getting settled into our new home and exploring the town. We started meetings at the foundation (Casa de Fe) that following Monday where we met with all the new staff to go over what we wanted the school year to look like and to decorate our classrooms. We started classes on September 7th and all the kids were excited to be back in school and start learning! I get the privilege of teaching two different grades. I teach English, Science and Computer classes for 2nd and 6th grade and so far it has been great! We are now 3 weeks into our school year and I think everyone is finally getting settled into a routine. Even though it’s been quite an adjustment from being the student to the teacher it is definitely a learning experience! I know I will come away from this school year having learned a lot from the students and the other teachers.. there is so much to learn! Coming to Ecuador was a huge culture shock, I didn’t think there would be because I had been to Latin America many times before but visiting another culture is very different than moving and trying to adjust to a whole new way of life. At first I was homesick and missed all my friends back home. And I was questioning whether or not God had really asked me to move here. But as I asked God these questions, He assured me I was where He wanted me and that He had a huge plan for me here. The first two weeks were really hard but they made me rely on God for strength and reassurance of His promises. God has been so faithful in keeping His promises. Little by little He is revealing to me areas of my life that He wants me to surrender to Him and even though it’s been hard, it’s been a really good time of healing and growth in my walk with the Lord. Very freeing! God is also showing me who He wants me to invest in, at CDF and in the community and how He wants me to serve Him while I am here. I am so excited about this year, about the time I get to spend with all the great people I am meeting and the work God is going to do in my life and in the lives of those around me!

“My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the good news about God’s wonderful kindness and love.” (Acts 20:24)

Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm moving to Ecuador

This week has truly been one of the hardest weeks of my 22-year old life. This week I had to make a decision whether or not I was going to give up the comforts of my life for the sake of the gospel. I’ll rewind about two months to when I felt like God was preparing me for a transition coming up. I didn’t know what it was or what He meant but I thought I was ready for whatever it was He was going to throw at me. Two weeks later I got a phone call from a family friend who had been praying for me and had heard about a need for teachers at an orphanage in Ecuador that I had been to. As soon as the words left her mouth I knew that this is what God had meant by a transition and I began to weep. So I prayed a lot and began contacting the orphanage and got conformation that this is where the Lord was leading me. My heart was torn by the decision because even though I would be going on this awesome adventure getting to tell people about Jesus, I knew that I would be leaving my comfortable life of being with my family, friends and my tribe (my high school girls) that I had invested in for the past 2 years and my heart was broken. he truth was, even though teaching at an orphanage in South America had been my dream since I was 16, I didn’t want to go because it wasn’t the timing I wanted. I wanted to be here in Alaska until my tribe finished high school and I finished college. But God had other plans and I wrestled with God for weeks but the most challenging question I’ve ever had to answer, was I going to obey Jesus? God began revealing verses to me that challenged me in a huge way. In Luke 9 Jesus says “anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple,” he continues on saying, “any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Then I went over to Mark 10 where Jesus talks to the rich young ruler who is asking how he can inherit eternal life and Jesus tells him, “ Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, and follow me.” Jesus was asking me to abandon everything to follow him and I realized that if I didn’t then I couldn’t be His disciple. I realized I had been selfish to ask him to let me stay and that the best thing I could do was to be obedient to his call. I know now that the cost of being a discple of Christ is great but it’s worth it, He’s soo worth it! Once I realized how that, I got super excited about this upcoming expedition. So I am moving to Shell, Ecuador on August 25th to teach at an orphanage called Casa de Fe (House of Faith) which provides 24-hour care of abandoned children, especially children with special needs.