Saturday, March 27, 2010


Taken from Jon Foreman's article in The Huffington Post, "Possessed By Truth"

The "truth" of loving those around me, the "truth" of seeking justice for the oppressed, the "truth" of a life of service -- these are truths to be possessed by: to be a slave in the service of the kingdom of the heavens, to be the servant of all. If the truths in this life have no owner then we are set free: free from the need to defend the truth, free to be possessed by this truth and simply live it out. Truth becomes much too large for me to possess; truth is the beauty and authenticity which possesses me.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


The post office might be the worst thing about Arequipa.

Apparently, the system that is set up in Arequipa is not throughout all Peru.

Thank goodness for that.

Because it is a truly awful system.

Letters and cards end up getting to where they are sent fairly easily.

Small packages are fairly easy to retrieve from the post office if they aren't sent directly to the house/office.

Larger packages, or packages that concern them in any way, for any reason, are a nightmare to retrieve.

In the post office, there are two rooms. On the left side, you have to wait in line, show your passport, and they smile, give you your package, and you can leave, go home, and see all the fun stuff you got! This was my experience with the one package I have received. Actually, I didn't even have to go to the post office. Other people made the trip to get their packages, and the post office worker saw other packages going to the same address, and gave it to them to give to me. Piece of cake.

However, there is another room. This room is open from 8:30-10:00 am and 2:00-3:00 pm. No, I am not making those hours up. So you show up before the door is opened to get in line. Hopefully at the beginning of the line since each person takes about 30 minutes to get their package. You need to copies of your passport to get your package from this room. You have to fill out forms and show them all the contents of your package. The people are rude, and haven't ever heard of customer service.

After spending two afternoons at the post office this week, I am torn about really wanting packages. Actually, that's a lie. Packages are great. And if the package had something I really wanted in it (ahem- Cadbury Mini Eggs!) I would gladly spend 5 hours or more at the post office. And I would leave with a smile on my face.

So if you are interested in sending me anything, my address is:

Cailyn Stevens
c/o Extreme Nazarene Ministries
Av. Lima 110
Yanahuara, Arequipa, Peru

Boxes should be shoebox size, and you have to mark on them that they are worth less than $50 or it will be sent to the bad room. Thanks!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Verse in My Pocket

One of the guys on our team shared with us a cool thing he does as part of his quiet time with God. He picks out a verse that speaks to him or is particularly encouraging, writes it down on a scrap of paper, and carries it in his pocket all day. Then if he gets frustrated or needs encouragement or whatever, he can read the verse in his pocket.

Some others on the team have started doing this, and we even have a song about it:

"I've got a verse in my pocket, my pocket, my pocket. There's a verse in my pocket, my pocket today."
(sung to the tune of "There's a Hole in My Bucket)

Anyway, I just wanted to share with you that when you are reading through Deuteronomy, you can put some pretty interesting verses in your pocket...

"No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the LORD." Deut. 23:1

"Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement." Deut. 23:12-13

"If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity." Deut. 25:11-12

This is a sample of what I am reading today. Doesn't make for very good "pocket verses," but makes for an excellent blog post!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mush Brain

I don't know if you've heard me say this before, but four hours a day of Spanish is intense. And after awhile, your brain turns to mush. You become incapable of communicating in either Spanish or English.

And boy did I have a moment last night that proves this point well...

We were at a brand new coffee shop here in Arequipa pretty close to where we go to school. It is called Vanilla Coffee, but picture Starbucks and it's pretty close. Except there is only one Starbucks in Peru and it is in the Lima airport.

Anyway, I was waiting to order my drink, but was in the way for someone who wanted to leave. He said "Excuse me," and I moved and responded, "Gracias."

Really, Cailyn? Thank you? That's what just came out of your mouth? Seriously?

But that's not the end of the story. This time, I was at the back of the shop, and one of the workers wanted to get past me. In Spanish, he said "Excuse me," and this time I responded, "Por favor."

Are you kidding me Cailyn? Do you know Spanish at all? Thank you? What has happened to your brain?

The answer is, my brain has turned to mush. I am loving Spanish class, and have made a ton of progress, but apparently my brain has turned to mush. Or I have lost control of what comes out of my mouth. Because I wanted to say "Permiso," but instead said "thank you" and "please." Very polite things to say, yes, but appropriate in this context? No.

Now go ahead, have a laugh at my expense. I sure laughed at myself after this one!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Captivate Me

My prayer tonight:

From the surface of my skin
To the depths of my soul within
I give you all of me
All the secrets of my heart
Every word and every thought
I give you all of me

Oh my heart's in need of holding
And my soul's in need of truth
Come be near me
Come surrond me, yeah

I lift my hands in sweet surrender
I'm falling humbly on my knees
I fix my gaze upon your splendor
How I love your majesty
You captivate me

Come into my darkest place
Step inside, invade this space
I give you all of me
All the secrets of my heart
Every word and every thought
I give you all of me 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Enjoying God

"The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."
-The Westminster Catechism

The entire purpose of the human race is two-fold: to glorify God, and to enjoy God.

One of those is significantly easier for me than the other.

I like to glorify God. I like to do all kinds of things with my life that bring glory to God and advance His kingdom. Look at what I'm doing now: I am a missionary leading people to the foot of the cross. 

This summer, I will have been a Christian for fifteen years. That is pretty crazy, especially when I think about the fact that I have been committed to following Christ for all of those years. And I have almost figured out what it means to glorify God with my life.

But enjoying God? That is something different. 

It is so much easier for me to work FOR God than to simply enjoy God. I can work and work and work and feel like I am getting fulfilled from it, but sometimes I can't just spend time with God. 

I have been doing pretty good with my devotional life since coming to Peru. I started with Genesis my first week here, and am now in the middle of Deuteronomy, and God has been revealing Himself to me. In fact, the whole purpose for me wanting to read the Bible straight through in its entirety was so that I could figure out how to represent God accurately. I am staring to get a glimpse of who God really is.

But the thing is, if I really understood who God is, "I ought to just sit around all day basking in the love of God instead of trying to prove my love to Him." (Francis Chan)

I was reminded of my bad habit of being Martha the weekend in Cusco. I love jumping into ministry, but sadly, when I do, I neglect actually spending time with the One whose ministry I am doing. 

But I want to not only glorify God with my life, but also to enjoy God.

In fact, John Piper said the the real "chief end of man" is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever. If that is true, if "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him," (John Piper) then I need to change how I live my life. My first concern should be to enjoy God, and then to work BECAUSE of the amazing change He has made in my life.

"I thought that Jesus said, 'Come unto me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you more to do than anyone else!' But Jesus didn't say that. He promised me rest. But I couldn't find it. My constant struggle to be 'godly' left me tired, empty, lonely on the inside, and ready to give up...[So] I gave up. I surrendered...I stopped trying to be in charge of my spiritual goodness, because I didn't have any spiritual goodness. I had worked for God and yet withheld my heart from Him. I'd sought to please Him and missed that He was pleased with me. I tried to do so many things for God that I missed being with God...I discovered that the Christian life is not about trying harder. It is not about keeping it all together. It is about trusting in the One that can keep it all together."
-Nicole Johnson

Peru Vlog #3: Cusco Trip!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First Trip to Cusco

I am back in Arequipa after our first trip to Cusco! (I will be moving to Cusco near the end of October to plant three churches there with my Peruvian partner.) And let me just start off by saying, although I love Arequipa, Cusco feels like home.

Nine of us went on this trip, including a couple of the 40/40s for Arequipa. We left on Friday evening on a bus, and were technically supposed to arrive within ten hours.

That didn't happen.

About an hour outside of Arequipa, we got a flat tire, which took about two hours to fix.

So we arrived a little late on Saturday morning, and even though we were running on very little sleep, we jumped right into outreach.

We met up with the group of short-term volunteers from Alaska, Idaho, and Illinois, and headed to a market to hold a children's festival there. This included Rico Cuy, the guinea pig mascot who walked around to invite kids to the festival, ballons, face-painting, games, jump ropes, puppets, salvation bracelets, and several kids, parents, and even grand-parents making decisions for Jesus Christ.

Afterwards, we went to the construction site, aka, our future home! The team has been working so hard and got so much done in spite of the rain. We have a foundation and four walls finished on the three-floor building that will house a church, 40/40 dorms, and an apartment for our cluster support family.

That night, we had a huge dinner at the hotel for the families who had come to VBS the week prior. This was an excellent opportunity to practice Spanish! It is really cool to see how God is developing in me a love for the people. We made some great contacts that night, hopefully the beginning of relationships that can grow once we move to Cusco.

Sunday began with breakfast and a devotional, because the one Nazarene church in Cusco only has Sunday service in the evening. Afterwards, we went to the bus station to buy our tickets, and went out to see a few sights. We went to the Plaza de Armas in the center of the city. (Basically every city and pueblo has a plaza in the center.) Cusco's Plaza is particularly impressive! We had lunch at the plaza too. For the record, the food in Arequipa is a little more rico. I'll have to get my fill of empanadas before I move to Cusco!

We had a clothing drive at the church that afternoon. The church is in a fairly poor part of town, so many of the members are living in poverty. The pastor's wife invited people that she knew were in need of clothes, and we helped to pass them out.

Then we had the church service, and sang songs in Spanish and English. The sermon was also translated, so I didn't have to work hard to understand it! Three people accepted Christ that night! Gloria a Dios!

We weren't planning to stay for Monday, but boy are we glad we did! After breakfast, we headed out to two sites of future church plants. What an incredible opportunity for us to go see the pueblos where we will be planting churches. The team has been doing this all week, going to the different sites to pray and annoint the ground where God is going to move in so many people's lives.
After the prayer, we hung out at the Plaza for awhile just to talk with people. The idea was just to offer to pray for people, no strings attached, and then hopefully start a conversation with them about Jesus. This is a really simple way to do evangelism. And we got to tell a lot of people that we are going to be starting a church there!
After lunch (which was an adventure in itself!) all of the ladies went to a place called Mantay, which means "mother" in Quechua. It is a home for adolescent mothers, ages 12-18. Most of the twelve girls currently living there with their twelve children were victims of abuse. So we just went to try to show them the love of Jesus! We brought lotion and fingernail polish to give them manicures, and showed the movie Magdalena, a version of the Jesus Film specifically for women. It was beautiful because it showed how Jesus accepted and cared for women, even the outcasts of society. Then we got to lead the girls in a prayer of salvation, and all of them accepted Christ! We cannot wait to go back and start discipling these girls!

So that was our weekend in Cusco, because just after leaving Mantay, we went to the bus station to return to Arequipa.

Now I would like to ask you to pray for the people of Cusco. You may have heard about all the rain in Cusco, but what you might not realize is how devastating this rain has been. Most of the houses in Cusco are made of adobe, so when the rain comes, they basically crumble. While driving into Cusco, we passed a tent city that has been set up for the many people who have lost their homes. There have also been serious mudslides that have cost people their lives. In addition, Cusco is a tourist city, so nearly all of the people's livelihoods depend on tourist revenue. With the rain, Machu Pichu, the main attraction, has been closed, so very few tourists are coming. This means there is so much devastation in more ways than one. But we also need to pray that God will be softening the hearts of the people to hear His gospel message and tearing down the walls that will hinder this ministry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grace Makes Life Not Fair

I am thinking about "boomerang sins" today.

See, I read a blog today, and I have been reading Numbers this week.

This idea of boomerang sins basically means that we just keep falling into our old sins. We do the same stuff over and over again.

In Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, the Israelites have just been led out of Egypt. They have just been redeemed by Gods amazing goodness. They have seen amazing signs and wonders. For crying out loud, they crossed a sea right through the middle on DRY GROUND. You would think that they would never again doubt God's might or holiness.

But like a boomerang, they go right back to their old patterns of behavior. Every couple of chapters, they come crying to Moses and Aaron, "Why did you bring us here? You should have just left us alone in Egypt. We need this and that and blah, blah, blah!" They are such complainers. And they do it again and again. God shows His might and faithfulness, but it doesn't seem to stick.

But we do the same things.

We forget that God is enough.

We forget that He proved himself faithful before.

We forget that the God of the universe demonstrateS His love to us in that Christ Jesus died for us.

We go running after other things to satisfy us, to deliver us.

We slip back into the old sins that we say we are done with.


But here's the conclusion Jon Acuff came to:

"But we don’t get what we deserve. We don’t get what our actions have earned. We get grace. We get a God who rises to show us compassion."

Like a Relient K song says, "the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair."

Thank you, God, for your grace. Thank you for your faithfulness, for being a faithful husband to your wife who plays the harlot. We love you Lord.