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Two months of silence! Go me!

 

Sorry y’all.

 

Life’s been crazy, like really crazy, but that’s not really an excuse. The blog’s priority rating just dropped for awhile. Life looks a little different right now, though, so I thought I’d update.

I’m in the US! I’m on furlough right now and at the moment I’m at the OM USA base debriefing a bit. I arrived on Tuesday after a long night of traveling. I’ll be in the US for about 2.5 months and then head back to Chile for another two years. I was so busy right up until the moment that I left for the plane that I didn’t really have time to mentally prepare myself for this transition, so there have been really small things that have been making a big impact on me. Some firsts from the past couple days:

~Declaring I live in Chile and am visiting the US, weird

~hearing English everywhere

~using American money again

~eating at Chik-Fil-A, everyone being polite, saying “ma’am” and in the strong Georgia accent

~free refills

~driving! I drove once or twice in Santiago, but being back on US highways where my eye innately found the information without having to consciously look for it was nice.

~going to Target:  I actually had a strong reaction when I walked into Target. It’s not like I’ve been in a rural area for two years; Santiago is huge and has giant stores, but for some reason walking into Target with all its variety, hearing English everywhere, seeing American fashion, it was pretty overwhelming after traveling all night long and coming thru customs. My stomach clenched as I walked in the store and it stayed a little tight the whole time I was in there.

~forgetting how flippin’ huge a medium-size drink can be here. portion size, my goodness!!

~walking around without keys, cellphone, BIP card (public transit card) or pesos

~ I saw a cardinal, a squirrel and a deer today and I realized I hadn’t seen them in two years

~cottage cheese, collard greens and bacon the way I’m used to

~seeing the big blue USPS mailbox.

~not knowing how to greet people anymore. handshake? half-hug? semi-wave? cheek-kiss the Chilean way? who knows…

~not hearing Spanish. not speaking Spanish. having to find all English vocabulary to explain something that’s entirely Spanish-connected in my brain.

 

Most of these things are really small details, but I think it’s because they’re the small stuff that they’re impacting me so much, because I just haven’t even thought about them for two years. I mean, cottage cheese? I don’t even really like cottage cheese and yet I had a little moment as I ate some today. I realize that there are a lot more bumps and shocks to come (since I’ve only been stateside for two days now), but I wanted to document these now. Thanks for letting me share.

 

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A few weeks ago I got back from travelling in the south of Chile with the IT group for two weeks. Like I mentioned previously, I sprained my ankle a week before we left, so that was an extra challenge to lead the trip with a big boot on. It did make packing a lot easier since I only needed to pack left shoes; with my big feet, that was quite the space-saver.

We worked with two churches and the group also had the opportunity to do adventure activities like climbing a volcano, white-water rafting, mountain biking and horseback riding. It was wonderful to see the IT in action. The group spends a lot of its time in class and participating in OM Chile’s ministries in Santiago, so it was great to see them putting into practice what they’ve learned and developed in the IT program.

We first went to the town of Talcahuano where we worked with a very small church of around forty members. The IT quickly learned that flexibility would be key as we went to the main plaza to do an evangelistic program only to find it closed for construction. We found ourselves instead evangelizing on a street corner downtown, passing out invitations to the church, running around acting out a clown sketch amongst the passers-by, and singing some worship songs. It was fun to watch children get drawn in to the dramas because of the clowns, but the parents were completely unaware until the children pointed it out.

The IT’s next open-air program in the town was done as the rain came down and the sound system didn’t want to play the music for their drama. We had to quickly break down the drama we were going to present and jump into the next possible one. Again, flexibility was key, but it was exciting to see that God was working even through the rain. People in the houses around the plaza where we were sharing came out and stood in their doorways observing. A man who was passing by on a bus saw that something was happening in the plaza and so he quickly got off and came over to see what was going on. I spoke with him and, when he realized I spoke Spanish, he shared with me that he’s a Chilean studying engineering in the Netherlands, and that he also tries to do ministry there but it’s a very closed country to hearing the Gospel. I shared with him what we were doing and about OM a little, mentioning that there were three dutchies with me in our group. We went and chatted with them and then gave him some contacts in OM Netherlands so that when he returns to Holland he can connect with them and the ministries they’re doing there.

praying before a program

When we travelled to the city of Valdivia to work with a church, the IT were great and rose to every challenge presented. When we split the group to go to two different locations, we understood one group would work with children and the other group with older adults. When we arrived to work with the adults, however, there were only young children present, resting from playing soccer. Having given all of our resources to the other group, we had to improvise a program on the spot. Short-handed and lacking supplies, we had to get creative but were still able to present three short dramas, give a message and share one the IT’s testimonies. The best part of the program came at the end when we prayed with each child individually then stayed to also share with them by playing a game of soccer. I was so proud of the IT guys at that moment because I had three of them with me with no program to give, but I was able to throw anything at them and they were both able and willing to do it. One guy lifted another of the guys straight up off the ground like a baby then flipped him around, doing a lot of physical comedy in one of the clown sketches because I requested them to really play it up. In the second clown sketch that we did immediately after, which needs 5 people, we had 4 of us. I pointed to one guy, said, “You’re the first clown. Go!” and he immediately ran out to grab the attention of the kids while we figured out how to split the roles between the rest of us. It was a crazy afternoon, and I was so proud of the IT.

Praying with children

As IT coordinator and leader of the art ministry, it was exciting for me to see the IT group perform dramas, share their testimonies, encourage youth, converse with onlookers, and adapt in the moment to whatever was needed. The nine-month training is intense and asks a lot of the participants, and it was wonderful to see them pushing themselves and thriving as they served the Lord in real and tangible ways in the south.

Weighing heavily on my heart

Hi all,

I have a lot to catch you all up on, especially about the Adventure Team trip around the south of Chile, but I’ll get around to that at some point. I have something weighing heavily on my spirit right now that is having me reach out to you to pray when you read this.

Today I took a day away from work to spend it focused on God and me. It was good; I read the Bible, read part of a book about the Bible, listened to and sang worship songs, and drew/painted. What surprised me was that God brought back to me incredibly clearly my time of working with prostitutes and transvestites last year. I’ve had the image in my mind all day of going and visiting a transvestite in the hospital who was sick with AIDS, and holding his hand as we prayed with him and he asked Jesus into his heart. I’ve been remembering all day long the faces of each transvestite I got to know.

Since we’ve moved our OM base I’m not in the part of Santiago much where we used to work with the transvestites. Tonight I happened to be there visiting a friend. I just got home recently, and as the bus made its way through that sector, I saw a number of different prostitutes and transvestites standing on street corners. I teared up as the bus moved on.

Please, God has laid these men (and these women) on my heart again for a reason. Please pray for them. Please pray for freedom from bondage. I had the amazing gift of being present twice when a man made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Please pray for protection for these beloved children of God, both physical and spiritual.

 

With Everything – Hillsong United

Open our eyes, to see the things that make

Your heart cry.

To be the church that You would desire.

Your light to be seen.

Break down our pride and all the walls

we’ve built up inside.

Our earthly crowns and all our desires

We lay at Your feet.


Let hope rise and darkness tremble

In Your holy light, that every eye will see

Jesus our God

Great and mighty to be praised.

God of all days, glorious in all of Your ways.

Oh the majesty, the wonders and grace,

in the light of Your name.

With everything, with everything

We will shout for Your glory.

With everything, with everything

We will shout forth Your praise.


Our hearts they cry, be glorified

Be lifted high above all names.

For You, our King, with everything

We will shout forth Your praise.

 

Isn’t it a beaut? I went to the gym about two weeks ago and, deciding to run back to the house, took about four steps and rolled my ankle on some uneven pavement. That’s what I get for not paying attention and talking with a friend instead of looking where I was placing my feet, especially since it was dusk and getting darker. Smarty, that’s what I am.

I knew it wasn’t broken, just a bad sprain, because I was able to walk the 6 or 7 blocks home on it.  I wrapped it in an Ace bandage, iced it a lot, elevated it and took Ibuprofen, then continued on with my days, figuring it’d get better.

 

For a week I’d say it was healing, but last weekend I did waaaay too much on it, going to a goodbye party (walking too much) then heading to a birthday party where I was on my feet until about 5AM (welcome to Chile, where the party starts at 9PM, so really it starts at 10, you eat dinner at 11:30, play games after midnight, eat cake at 1:30AM and open gifts around 2:30. Did I mention that this was a birthday for a 60-year old and her older siblings and little grandchildren all stayed up for the whole party, too? Like I said, welcome to Chile).

 

When I got home after this weekend, I knew I’d done too much and couldn’t just let it heal on its own. I’m leaving tomorrow for an Adventure Trip to the south of Chile with the Intensive Training team, so I knew I needed to get the ankle checked out. I went to the doctor on Tuesday and now have this lovely walking boot that immobilizes the ankle joint. I’ll stay in it for the entire 2-week trip and when I get home I’ll go see the doctor again and get an x-ray.

 

I have a pretty strong feeling that God is trying to teach me something with this stupid ankle, and I believe it is about asking for and accepting help from others. I am really independent and enjoy helping others, but I’m not great about asking for help. I think I need to learn humility to allow others to help me and accept it graciously. There could not be a more apt time for the lesson. This Adventure Trip is called such because of all of the activities we do. We will work with two churches, doing dramas, giving testimonies, doing outreach. We will also do some touristic things like white-water rafting, climbing a volcano, going to hot springs, mountain biking and horseback riding. A rather active-sounding list, don’t you think? I am actually really okay not participating in the adventure stuff (I did it last year and I’ll do it again in the coming years), but just the idea of having to take it easy and not carrying “my share of the load” or that I might be inconveniencing others in order for them to help me, that’s where it’s difficult for me. I know if the role were reversed with someone else, I would feel really pleased to be able to help a friend, so I’m trying to think that way. When I feel my struggle with this area, that’s why I believe this ankle is a teaching moment from God. I’m going to try to be a good student and I’ll let you know in a few weeks how it goes.

 

God bless!

Chau.


Worship together

Get ready for a load of photos from the youth camp and the evangelism days!

"Free Hugs"

Free Massages

Prayer

Free Blood Pressure Checks

Children's Activities

Clown Dramas

Bus Drama

Alone Drama

Bus Drama

Flash Mob - "worker" in place

Flash Mob in the supermarket

Face Painting

Yup, that’s a real word. It’s a real place, actually, and the site of a youth camp that I attended along with about 14 other people from OM Chile and 110 Chileans around my age. It was wonderful (and exhausting (but mostly wonderful))!! Each year the Intensive Training group experiences a youth camp from a local church and this year we attended the camp of the church I’ve been attending. I really enjoy the youth of my church (and sorry, I realize I’m using the word “youth” in the Chilean understanding of its age range, somewhere between 18- early 30’s, I’d say), and it was really, really great to get to know people better and deepen friendships. My first year here in Chile I attended a different church. After a year passed, I still felt on the outskirts of the church, just a visitor. Being a preacher’s kid and growing up always involved in the heart of a church, that was really difficult for me and added to my feelings of being unrooted here. I switched churches and began attending a church where I found the services boring but had felt welcome and at-home within its youth group since I first arrived. I’m so glad I made the switch. Especially after this youth camp we went to, I really feel like I have a church family here in Santiago and good Chilean friends. Praise God!

Yup, that’s a real word. It’s a real place, actually, and the site of a youth camp that I attended along with about 14 other people from OM Chile and 110 Chileans around my age. It was wonderful (and exhausting (but mostly wonderful))!! Each year the Intensive Training group experiences a youth camp from a local church and this year we attended the camp of the church I’ve been attending. I really enjoy the youth of my church (and sorry, I realize I’m using the word “youth” in the Chilean understanding of its age range, somewhere between 18- early 30’s, I’d say), and it was really, really great to get to know people better and deepen friendships. My first year here in Chile I attended a different church. After a year passed, I still felt on the outskirts of the church, just a visitor. Being a preacher’s kid and growing up always involved in the heart of a church, that was really difficult for me and added to my feelings of being unrooted here. I switched churches and began attending a church where I found the services boring but had felt welcome and at-home within its youth group since I first arrived. I’m so glad I made the switch. Especially after this youth camp we went to, I really feel like I have a church family here in Santiago and good Chilean friends. Praise God!

 

Anyway, back to the youth camp experience. What I really enjoyed about the experience is that I felt involved within a church again. One afternoon I taught about evangelism to the entire group (in Spanish for over an hour, whew!). In one evening session I from up front translated to English the message of the visiting pastor, and for the majority of the other sessions translated from my chair for the IT participants who needed it. At the end of the 10-day youth camp we planned to do two days of evangelism in the little town near the camp, so the IT and I prepared ahead of time so that they would be ready to do some clown dramas for the little children and more serious dramas for the adults. As the days of evangelism grew closer, I went with a group to go talk to the manager of the biggest (and only) supermarket in town. She, as well as the owner of the store, are Christians and they offered us the use of their parking lot and sidewalk outside to host our evangelistic activities that we did, like free massages, free blood pressure checks, free haircuts, free hugs, prayer, songs and games for the children, face painting, balloon animals, as well as our OM dramas accompanied by a short evangelistic message. It was a huge blessing to have that site. What came about because of that meeting, though, is that some of the group also wanted to do a flash mob within the store in order to draw attention to what we would be doing outside. Since I have the most experience in organizing flash mobs (having done a grand total of….. one…..), I suddenly became in charge of that, too (though with a lot of help).

 

The flash mob went well, with the store letting us use their sound system to play a song, use  extra uniforms to stage some of our people as workers, and hide some of our people in their upstairs offices. Those five guys came out and stood on a balcony overlooking the store, and when the music started they grabbed the attention of the shoppers by singing at the top of their lungs. As they made their way down the stairs, more males joined in singing from all over the store. At the chorus all of the girls started singing from their different places in the store. We all moved together into the center of the supermarket and sang together, worshipping God. With over 100 people participating and in four-part harmony, it was a pretty cool experience. We then called to the shoppers around us to come outside and participate in what we were doing.

 

I want to speak more of this camp and I’m also going to post a bunch of photographs (because now that I have my professional camera with me, I got some wonderful shots), but that will be in another post because I need to head out for the day. God bless you!

Chau.

Stones of Fear

We had an amazing day at the children’s home last week. It was hands down the best day we’ve had for a really long time. We were a large group that day because the other children’s home was gone on an outing so everyone came to our hogar. The preparation time before we went to the home was pretty hectic and we wondered if our plans were too ambitious for the day. When we arrived to the hogar, though, and began our program, we found the boys connected and interested in what we were doing.

David and Goliath

The IT really ran the program. I asked to step back and photograph the goings-on, and it was great to see the IT really stretch themselves to present a puppet show all in Spanish. We started the first program of the theme ‘Warriors’.  They prepared a drama about David and Goliath and one of them gave a short message after, speaking about courage, fearlessness and strength. They had an elaborate, multi-step craft planned for the boys that had to do with David’s bag of stones, and there was some anxiety about whether it would be too challenging.

It went wonderfully.

The boys were sent out to search for 5 smooth stones (which could have easily become a time of stone throwing, but praise God, it didn’t). When they came back to the tables they either wrote or drew some of their fears onto the rocks. Most didn’t want to do it at first because they didn’t want to show any weakness in front of the other boys. With some encouragement, though, they began writing and drawing. The younger ones wrote down fears like ghosts or zombies, but some of the older boys really wrote down some deep fears like being alone, a family member dying, and being bullied.

 

The most special part of the day then came when the boys came to us to pray over what they’d written on the rocks, and that God would take away those fears. It was incredibly moving to have that experience with the boys, praying one-on-one with them. Some of the boys, as well, were touched by it and had tears in their eyes. They were able to get rid of their emotions in the next step of the craft, when they went out to the soccer field and tried tossing their rocks into a bucket from far away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The afternoon was really wonderful. After the program was done we continued playing with the boys. My sister taught us a game awhile back that we did that afternoon with the boys, and it was awesome! 😀  A boy jumped on the back of one of the guy leaders and then had to climb forward, over the shoulders of the leader, down the front, through the legs, then back up the back of the leader to their starting point, all without touching the ground. When two full-size adults do it, it’s hilarious to watch and really hard to do, but with little boys participating it was a little bit easier for the leaders to help out and pull them back into position. Still hilarious, just slightly easier. There was also a lot of other roughhousing happening and it was great to see the boys laughing and having a wonderful time with all of the physical play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was really a great day at the children’s home. God blessed the afternoon and I pray that the boys see Him answering their prayers.

I’ve been in a weird mood recently. I couldn’t put words to it, I couldn’t explain it well to others, but something just felt off around me. I felt like my surroundings, my daily life was unsettled, unbalanced. It felt like the world around me was in chaos and yet nothing was really going on. Life was continuing at the normal daily pace. My interactions with the people in my life also were normal. Nothing was really different and yet I felt so… off-kilter. I couldn’t understand it.

I wondered if I was possibly experiencing spiritual attack, which I have experienced a few times now since I’ve come to Chile. With nothing in my physical world acting as a stimulus to explain my feelings, I wondered if possibly I was being attacked. My only recourse was to go to prayer. I began searching out more opportunities to be alone and spend time in the Word, to speak with God and to be in His presence. In case it was spiritual attack, I wanted  to bathe the situation in prayer.

What I found, and what was so impactful, is that in the world swirling around me, I found balance when I was with Him. Every time I began praying or read the Bible, my world settled around me, picking up again when I stopped. It was incredibly strong the distinction between my time with Him and my time with the world. I know I’m being redundant, but the difference was remarkable.

I had the realization that perhaps what was happening was actually an answer to prayer. I’ve been praying that God would give me more of a desire to spend time in His Word, a hunger to be in His presence. It’s a prayer request, a desire that I’ve wanted to see grow for awhile. What I realized when I noted the difference between the world around me and my time with the Lord, is that I believe that this is how God has drawn me more closely to Him. With my world swirling around me with no understandable cause, my desire to be in His presence grew hugely, because there I found peace, calm, balance. My preference was to turn to Him. This deepening of my hunger came about so strongly and quickly that I believe this has been God answering my prayer.

Praise God for His faithfulness. Praise God that the best gift He can give me, the best answer to any prayer I pray, is to turn me ever more close to Him. Walking with eyes trained on Him gives this world balance. Praise God for deepening my desire to praise God!

Mission’s Flame

Today at our team meeting, this video was shared as we prayed for the unreached people groups around the world. I wanted to share it with you because I found it powerful. There are so many who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. What does God lay on your heart? Will you pray for them? Will you pray for missionaries to go out to the field? Will you go?

 

Team Prodigo

One of the ministries we have here with OM Chile is the skateboarding ministry. They are a small group of guys who have come to know Christ through the ministry. They now join Yerko, the leader, in putting on demonstrations and sharing about the love of Jesus. Two of the young guys had an amazing opportunity about 6 months ago to fly and join Yerko at TeenStreet Germany, where they did skate exhibitions and workshops. The whole group right now has travelled to CIMA where they’ll do the same. It’s been awesome to see this ministry continue to develop and the opportunities God is giving to them to share His love in a unique way.