Friday, February 26, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Love Tuesdays

If you haven't heard, Tuesday is a special day in the Extreme family. Every Tuesday at 7:00 am, those of us in Arequipa meet together at the office, and pray together from 7-8. We also fast during the morning and break the fast together at lunch. Meanwhile, in the other cities in Peru and across the US, people are joining with us in prayer and fasting on Tuesday mornings. Yesterday, my roommate and I added another level to this, and fasted from our computers. We have (selfishly) lamented having such easy access to the internet here, because we end up spending way to much time on our laptops. Don't get me wrong, I love being able to easily communicate with my family and friends on skype, being able to update my blog whenever, and adding pictures and such to facebook, but I feel like I fill most of my time with my computer instead of with Jesus, my Peruvian family, or fellowshipping with friends here.

But yesterday was a great day! Our alarm actually went off, which is almost a miracle in itself, and we got up and made it to the office with a few minutes to spare. We sang a few worship songs, (Spanish and English songs) and joined together praying for various members of the Extreme staff. It was beautiful.

Then as we part, some going to work in the office and others of us heading to school, we try to remain in a prayerful spirit until we meet together again to break the fast. After lunch though--it was so funny--all of the 40/40s stuck around for like, an hour just hanging out and laughing. We have such a great family!

But Brandi and I got back home, and usually we would get on our computers and do various things during the afternoon and evening. Not yesterday! We both spent beautiful time in worship and devotion, and we are also reading a book together called Redeeming Love (the story of Hosea in novel form). We got through several chapters of this book, and it is just giving me a much deeper realization of how deep God's love is for me, even in my unfaithfulness.

Last night, I also listened to an amazing worship song. It is called "Here in Your Presence," and was one of the things God used to call me to Peru. You see, as God was calling me to leave school and go to Peru, my main hesitation was fear of letting other people down. I just felt like there were so many expectations of what I should be and do and all the things I should accomplish. But the lyrics of the song say:

All of my gains now fade away
Every crown no longer on display, here in Your presence.
Heaven in trembling in awe of Your wonders.
The kings and their kingdom are standing amazed.

Here in Your presence, I am undone...

The words struck me so hard. I had to realize how big God truly is. He is God! He is holy, and perfect, and todopoderoso, and is full of might and power! He is the star-breather! The maker of 31 billion galaxies! Who do I think I am to come into His presence in the first place? Much less to come in with all of my crowns and awards and accomplishments? No! When I see the beauty of God, and His might and holiness, I have to fall down at his feet and throw down my crowns! My cords from graduation, my awards, my honors degree, my local ministers license, I just want to drop them down at His feet, because they just don't matter in his presence! This amazing God that we serve has galaxies praising him, and kings stand amazed in His presence! Honestly, who do I think I am? 

Those are my thoughts tonight. I want to be completely undone as I enter into the presence of God Almighty. I want to ask God, as Moses did, "Show me your glory," and to hide my unholiness in the wounds of Christ the same way Moses  hid in the cleft of the rock as the glory of the Lord passed by. I want to be brought to my knees thinking about who He is and how much He chooses to love me. Oh Lord God, let it bring me to my knees!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Alpaca World--Happy Birthday Brandi!

We have had SUCH a great weekend in Peru. I wish that I could tell you that it was because we are having great conversations in Spanish, and are converting people left and right, but the real reason it has been an exceptional weekend in Arequipa is because we hung out with alpacas.
Friday, February 19 was my roommate Brandi's birthday. So we celebrated Friday by going to the Plaza de Armas after class for some coffee, and then going over to the Tibbs' house for a fiesta! There was chocolate cake with chocolate/peanut butter icing. (By the way, people don't eat peanut butter here. A few stores carry it, but it is super expensive, and not very common). We also had pineapple, other fruit, popcorn, and basically all of Brandi's favorite things. It was a great night...

But I do believe that Saturday got even better. We went to El Mundo Alpaca--Alpaca world! Let me just tell you, Alpaca World is amazing-- it is free, and includes a museum of the old machinery used to make alpaca clothing, a cafe, people demonstrating the looming process, art galleries, and oh yeah, you get to feed alpacas!

We all had a pretty fantastic time, I'd say one of the highlights of our Arequipa experience so far!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I need your strength to feel this weak

I have never before experienced culture shock.

I have never before been frustrated with learning a language.

I have never before knowingly been spiritually attacked.

But I cannot say that anymore.

But I tell you all this so that you can pray for me. People told me this would be hard, but I didn't realize it would be so hard this soon.

Spiritual warfare is a very real thing. We have been attacked brutally and individually and collectively by the enemy. And we are doing everything we can to cling to Jesus Christ and gain victory through his strength. But this land is Satan's territory. He has the foothold here, and does not want to give it up. And we just have to fight.

Pray for this team. Pray for us as we go through culture shock. Pray for us as we muddle our way through Spanish. Pray for us as we are attacked. It is only our second week in Peru and we are facing so many battles. Pray for unity in this team. Pray for us to draw close to God and each other. pray for the people we are ministering to and will minister to. Pray for the leadership of Extreme Nazarene. Pray for me, and my family. And thank you so much for praying!

This is my prayer tonight:
"I need Your strength to feel this weak. I need Your touch to feel my need. I need Your strong hands to carry me. Take me, bring me to my knees."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oh How He Loves Us!

My roommate Brandi and I have a theme song. Almost everyday at some point, we sing the song "How He Loves," and it is usually stuck in our heads.

Tonight I read a quote in my Bible that goes along with our theme song, and I have to share it:

"We are loved passionately by God. And I don't know why. It is a mystery. To understand it is to dismiss it...If we discovered that God loved us because we were smart, then we would try to do everything we could to be smarter so He would love us more. If we met someone smarter than we were, we would fall into despair. We couldn't believe God could love us if we weren't the smartest. So I don't think God will ever let us know the reason that He loves us as passionately as He does. I don't have a clue why God loves me.  But I believe in the core of my being that He does. So I surrender to it. I stop fighting it. I cease trying to figure it out. I collapse into it."
~Nicole Johnson

He is jealous for me. He loves with the strength of a hurricane, and I am just a weak tree, bending beneath the weight of his strong wind and his incredible mercy. And then suddenly I am unaware of all of the afflictions, brokenness, and baggage that I carry, because they are completely eclipsed by your glory! And I realize just how beautiful you are, and how great your affections are for ME!

Oh, how He loves us. Oh, how He loves us, how He loves us so!

We are his portion, and he is our prize, and we are drawn to redemption by the amazing grace in his eyes. Let me tell you, if grace is an ocean, we are  ALL sinking in it! And as I stand in His presence, heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss from a baby who hasn't yet learned how to kiss. And I feel my heart turn violently inside of my chest. And I don't have time to maintain my regrets, brokenness, baggage, failures, or affliction when I realize the way that He love us! Oh, how he loves us! Oh, how He love us. Oh how He loves!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Here I Am. Send Me.

I want to tell you all about our time in LA during orientation...

We were in LA February 1-4, and left for the airport that night. First we had CCO with David Cooper, Marty Hoskins, and Joel Tooley. Then Wednesday and Thursday we had orientation sessions with Brian Tibbs, the director of Extreme Nazarene, in the mornings and in the afternoons we had team-building sessions. However, the result was not a team, but a family. I love each person I am here with, and they are all special and have there own stories about how God led them to this place. They are amazing, but I ask you to pray for each one of them.

What I most want to tell you about, though, is our commissioning service Wednesday night. I actually led a few worship songs a capella (Cannons, How He Loves, and Give Us Clean Hands). We worshipped together, and then Brian spoke from Isaiah 6. You probably know the story... Isaiah is in the Holy of Holies in the temple, and there are heavenly beings, and he sees the Lord sitting on a throne, and realizes how unworthy he is to see the Lord! He cries out "I am a man of unclean lips!" because of his sin and unworthiness. But one of the heavenly beings takes a coal from the altar and touches it to his lips. And the Lord asks "Whom shall I send?" Isaiah answers, "Here I am. Send Me."

Well during our service, we recreated this. Brian took a coal, touched it to each of our lips and said, "The Lord is asking: Whom shall I send? What will you say?" And each of us answered, "Here I am, send me."

Afterward, we had an awesome time of prayer together, and God's spirit was moving, and it was beautiful!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Slaving for Jesus!

I am writing this from Peru!

We had orientation last week in Los Angeles, and our group has bonded so much! I feel like I have a huge family now. There are 12 40/40s assigned to two different cities, and also two families (a married couple and a couple with two little girls), but right now we are all together in Arequipa, Peru for language training and then training in Bible and church planting.

I live with a host family in a beautiful house in Cayma, Arequipa with my roommate Brandi, also from Ohio! We love it here, and even have our own bathroom and wifi. Language school starts Monday, and it will be weekdays from 9-1. Every Tuesday, Extreme staff joins in prayer in the office and fasting until lunch time, and we would love it if you would join with us! This is a huge mission and the enemy will soon be attacking, and probably already is. I know I am in the first stage of culture shock though, so I am loving life!

By the way, today I drank frog juice! Watch the video for proof and to see how it is made, but I really tried. When I started chugging it, that's when I almost lost it. But you should definitely watch the vid.
For the record though, frog juice is not something that all Peruvians drink. Our host family thought we were crazy for trying it, but it was pretty much a hazing thing for the newbies.

I have so much more I want to share with you, but there is church tomorrow and I need to go to sleep. I'll update more soon! But keep me in your prayers. Are host parents are nominal Catholics, and they don't really understand the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and I am learning that "the most compassionate thing you can do for someone is to bring them to the foot tof the cross."

With love from Peru!

And if you want to know more about Arequipa, here's some extra info from Extreme's website:

With a population of 940,781, Arequipa is only 1/10 the size of the capital of Lima, but the second largest city in Peru. Arequipa is famous within Peru as the White City due to the local white volcanic rock that has been heavily used in construction giving the city a white fa├žade. It will not take much time in Arequipa to catch the local pride. Many shops sell toy passports with Independent Republic of Arequipa stamped on the cover expressing the local desire to be seen as separated from the rest of Peru and special in its own way. Special it is. The city is clean and the streets are by and large in good repair and the overall economy fares better than other surrounding economies. Thus, the average Arequipenian exudes a confidence and pride in his citizenship in Arequipa.

Pastor Edilberto Solano is the current District Superintendant of the whole of south Peru. Pastor Solano has served as DS here for the last 6 years. Since his arrival, the number of churches in Arequipa alone has grown to 3 full churches and 6 mission churches. Outside of Arequipa, Pastor Solano oversees the missionary activities in the other Southern cities of Tacna, Puno, Cusco and Puerto Maldonado that are currently starting their first missions.

In the hills surrounding Arequipa rests a barrio that suffers from harsh poverty. Nestled in the middle of hundreds of tiny homes built of loose boulders and thatch roofs rests a 144 sq. ft. stone church that doubles as a community dining hall for children. Mobs of kids gather at the church site for a healthy snack, games and a Bible lesson. On weekends, the church is standing room only with people spilling out the doorway all worshiping God and learning about their Lord Jesus Christ. Extreme has agreed to partner with this church/community center through its 40/40 program to improve and expand its meal program and to reach deeper into the surrounding neighborhoods.

Arequipa has been selected as the Extreme Peru Project Headquarters and will be the site of the Larry and Addie Garman Missionary Training Center. Everyone involved in the project that needs to learn Spanish will pass through Arequipa for Spanish language training.