Thursday, December 30, 2010


I ask you to pray for my partner Ester. She has gastritis that causes her constant pain and discomfort. She will be home in Lima for six weeks receiving treatment and hopefully getting answers about her condition. Pray, pray, pray for her.

And pray for me, as I do ministry during this time without my partner. I am nervous about this, because I rely on her a lot when I don’t have answers. But I know that God has been preparing me for this.

Pray, pray pray, for our team as a whole. We are actually down two people, as Jorge is also home most of January recovering and seeking God. We need prayer, every moment of every day. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

We have had a great time celebrating here in Cusco:
hot chocolate nights,
cookie decorating parties,
watching movies,
singing carols,
lighting fireworks,
cooking a big brunch,
and thinking about the amazing God-made-flesh that we serve.

I have to admit, listening to "I'll Be Home For Christmas" was a little depressing this year. I was only "home" in my dreams, but we have made a pretty great home here. It was fun and special, and God was with us. And we were in the center of God's will, so there was no place better to be.

There are some lyrics that have been really important for me this year:

1. My favorite Christmas song, "I Celebrate the Day" by Relient K, which says, "And the first time that You opened Your eyes did You realize that You would be my Savior? And the first breath that left Your lips, did You know that it would change this world forever? I celebrate the day that You were born to die, so I could one day pray for You to save my life."

2. "Spirit" by Switchfoot. I'm not really sure if this is technically a Christmas song, but I think it is a perfect reminder at Christmas. It says, "Spirit, come be my joy. Be my song, fill my lungs. I wont need anything but You. I found all that I want, all that I longed for in You. Wasted time, is when I'm far from Your truth. I've found all that I want, all that I long for in You." Most of the time, we get caught up in "wants" at Christmas time. Our Christmas lists. But the truth of the matter is, all that we want and all we long for is already found in Jesus Christ. I need to be reminded of that, and not just at Christmas.

3. Point of Grace "Emmanuel, God With Us." "Oh Emmanuel, God with us, Spirit revealed in us that we may be your hope to the world. Oh Emmanuel, God with us, with a light to break the darkness that we may show your hope to the world. Emmanuel, God with us." God is with us. God is in us. Why? Because we are blessed to be a blessing. We can't just keep what we have received; we must offer it to the world around us. That is the message of Jesus Christ this holiday season. As we reflect on our blessings, let's also become a blessing to others.

God bless you, and may the coming year be filled with joy, love, and grace!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Desires of My Heart

As kids, we all have dreams. As a matter of fact, a typical question posed to children is, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

I, like all other children, had my answer. By the age of three, I wanted to be an airplane pilot. I would get super excited every time I would see an airplane flying high in the sky. I knew that I had discovered what I wanted to do as a job. As a career. As a life.

When I was seven years old, I felt God calling me to be a missionary. This time, I had truly found what I was supposed to do with my life, what God had called me to do for the rest of my life. I don’t remember a booming voice or a special stirring in my spirit; I have often described it as a knowing, and a contentment in that knowing.

This goal has been one that I have reached for during all the following years of my life. Everything I did, studied, read, was somehow related to this future I had in mind for myself. But along the way, other dreams crept in.

For example, in middle school, it became my grand ambition to be a singer. I wanted to worship God and share about him through music. I wanted to be a famous singer, travelling, performing, the dream life. I almost wanted to be a singer more than a missionary.

By high school, I realized that this dream of mine was a tad unrealistic, seeing as how I am not really that talented and had no chance of being “discovered.” And I refocused on being a missionary, serving God cross-culturally someday.

Heading into my one-year anniversary on the mission field, I started thinking about all the things I have wanted to be or do in my life. As a somewhat achievement-minded person, this list is quite long. And the funny thing is, I am living out nearly every one of my ambitions. Or should I say, God is allowing all of my dreams to come true as I submit to his will.

I remember wanting to be a teacher when I was very young. My friends and I would play school, taking turns teaching our dolls and toys. Nowadays, however, I don’t have to set down a collection of stuffed animals to be a teacher. I teach English as an outreach to my neighbors here in Cusco. There is also a woman I am discipling that asked me to teach her how to read and write. I am teaching people here in Cusco, seeing that dream from once-upon-a-time come true. I also love kids, and now playing with them is part of my job.

When I was in high school, I discovered my affinity for baking. Cupcakes, cookies, pies, whatever. If it had sugar and went in the oven, I enjoyed making it. And I thought it would be so cool to have my own bakery someday. I knew about coffee shop ministry, and wanted to have my own bakery ministry. This Christmas season, though, I utilized this desire and baked about eight dozen cookies for the people I am discipling or my contacts around Cusco. Another checkmark on my life goals list.

It has always been natural for me to speak in public. This thing which terrifies many is exciting and exhilarating to me. And a couple of times a month, I get to stand up in front of crowds in public plazas and share of God’s amazing grace.

I wanted to be a pastor. I wanted to plant churches. I wanted to be an artist. All these things, I get to do now.

My dream was to be a singer, and when we do events in public plazas, we often use music to draw a crowd. This means I sing in front of crowds. I worship God through music. I am a singer. God answered the desire of my heart. I am finally a missionary, fulfilling my life-long dream, living in the center of his will. And not only am I a missionary, I am doing every other thing I have ever wanted to do. (Except being a pilot, but there is still time for that.)

“Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Several weeks ago, I left a comment on a blog about my three favorite things about my home to enter a contest. I didn't win, but here's what I wrote:

Home is kind of a funny word to me. See, for three months at the beginning of this year, I called home a house where I lived with a Peruvian family while I was in Spanish language training in Arequipa, Peru. Then I moved into a church/training center/home where I lived in the same room with 15 other girls on bunk beds three high. We never had hot water, we never had privacy, we never had quiet, we never had good food. But all this is kind of expected when I tell you that I am a missionary in Cusco, Peru. At the end of October though, we moved into our OWN HOME. I now live with only five other people, share a room with only one person, and the best part, WE HAVE HOT WATER!

So that’s my number one: Hot water. Never will I take it for granted again. Of course, we are still missionaries on a super tight budget, so we can’t take hot showers every day, but they are there waiting for us every other day!

Number two: Most of us have lived with roommates at some point in our lives, and sure there are some down sides. But COMMUNITY is something you can’t trade for anything. It’s often messy, because we are people, but I live with five other young, single missionaries who have given up their lives to follow God’s call and see Cusco changed for the glory of God. We get to sit around talking about what we read in our devotional. We get to hang out and chat about the doors that got slammed in our faces. We get to jump up and down with each other when we share that people came to Christ. We get to have worship nights, and occasionally get to lift up three voices singing praise to God in English, since our home is the only place we can do that. We are a family, brought together by God to do his will here, and I wouldn’t trade that community for anything.

Number three: Privacy. Quiet. Good food. It is essentially the opposite of the last place we lived for six months. The OPPOSITE. Praise God for that! And it is home. I am finally home. And it wouldn’t matter if I had hot water, privacy, quiet, or good food. That isn’t what makes it home. I am in the center of God’s will, and so I am finally home.

Friday, December 10, 2010


The life of a missionary is really glamorous.

I'm sorry, could you hear me laughing from the Southern Hemisphere?

Because seriously, there is pretty much nothing glamorous about our lives as missionaries.

The power goes out--often.
Part of our living room is occupied by suitcases full of ministry supplies. We love the ministry. We love the resources. But they're pretty much an eye-sore.
None of our clothes fit.
We are too poor to buy new clothes.
We are too poor for almost anything really.
Hot water is scarce, or it was before moving to Cusco. (Now we only don't have hot water when the power is out.)
I could go on and on, about stray dogs, dirt roads, and all kinds of things, but I won't.

Just don't believe that the life of a missionary is glamorous.

But I do have one pretty funny example for you.

Ester and I have been visiting people in San Jeronimo. This is the town where we live, so we know the roads fairly well. Ideally, we call the people to set up a visit, but there was an entire stack of contacts in San Jeronimo that didn't have phone numbers. So we set off to find these people and visit them or set up a time where we could come back and visit.

Here's the thing about San Jeronimo though: many, if not most, of the houses do not have numbers. Why? No idea, but tons of people tell us, "Calle tal, sin nĂºmero." Whatever street, without a number. That's always fun to find. So we often wander around asking where such-and-such lives.

Or even better, they do have a number. So we start at the top of the street and work our way down looking for said house number.

And the numbers go 80, 78, 75, 166, 73, 65.

Or 6, 8, 10, 14, 16 while we are searching for number twelve, and it is missing! And then after we have given up on finding it, two blocks later, there's number twelve between 35 and 37!

Or on some of these streets will have two or three house number 21!


It is enough to drive anyone crazy!!

So if you ever long for the adventure and glamor of living in another country as a missionary, just picture Ester and I wondering through San Jeronimo looking for Calle Lima 55, unable to find the people who went to a medical campaign months ago so that we can share the gospel with them.

Would I want any other job? No. Is it exciting and glamorous? Not always. Is God always faithful? Yes!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What is This Gringa Doing?

Let me start off with a quick vocabulary lesson:

"Gringo" is the word used for a white man or foreigner. "Gringa"= white girl. "Gringuito"=Little white guy. "Gringuita"=little white girl.

In Mexico, this word is usually offensive or used in a derogatory way. Here, not so much, depending on the context. Supposedly, the origin of the word comes from foreign (American) armies in their green uniforms whom the Mexicans did not want occupying their land, so they would chant "Green, go," as in "green, go home."

Some people are surprised of my use of this word, because of its possible origins, (which Wikipedia denies, by the way) but for me, it is just a way to identify myself and my friends form the States. I have lighter skin. As much as I would like to tell you that I am so tan now, I practically look Peruvian, it is not true. I stand out. So, I call myself a gringa.

And other people call me gringa too. I went to Huacsapata with the pastor's wife from my church in Arequipa, and while she was paying for me on the combi, she said, "This is for the gringuita, too." I thought it was hilarious.

And generally speaking, as gringos, we get funny looks quite often. Near the center of town, there are lots of tourists; this is Cusco, Peru after all. And there are certain tourist places around Cusco where they expect to see blonds, tall people, and other foreigners. Pisaq is one such tourist destination. So on the busses we take to go to Lamay and Coya, they are generally accustomed to a handful of tourists/gringos frequenting their busses.

But to stop in Pisaq.

Not Coya.

Definitely not Lamay.

So last week on one such bus, the cobrador (Another vocabulary lesson! The combrador is the guy on the combi or bus who lets people on and off and collects the money or bus tickets.) was collecting our tickets, purchased at the bus terminal before we left. He was a young guy, about thirteen or fourteen years old.

He took my ticket, looked at it, and then looked at me with the strangest, most confused look. He stared at me while I just sat there for one straight minute, just looking completely confused.

You could tell he was thinking, "What is this gringa doing? Does she know she bought a ticket to Lamay? Doesn't she want to get off at Pisaq? What is there to see in Lamay, corn fields? Don't they have corn fields where she comes from? What is she doing???" 

But he said nothing. Just stared at me, completely confused, and slightly perplexed.

And when he left, Ester and I just laughed.

Oh the life of a gringa on the mission field...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Preaching in the Street

(Just so you know, in my head, the title of this blog is sung to the tune of "Dancing in the Streets.")

Life has been really busy. That is my apology for my lack of blogging. Because in case you haven't noticed, I really love blogging. But it is more important for me to be out in the field working than to be in front of my computer blogging. 

We are six weeks in to living in Cusco. 
And Cusco is different. 
Cusco is amazing. 
Cusco is rainy. 
Cusco is hot. 
Sometimes Cusco is cold. 
Cusco is perfect with hot showers and yummy food. 
Cusco is hard work, with doors that won't open to the gospel. 
Cusco is beautiful with its green mountains and hills. 
Cusco is ready to receive the gospel.

And I am blessed to be a part of sharing the gospel here.

The most exciting part of sharing the gospel in Cusco at the moment is what is taking place in Lamay and Coya, two towns in the Sacred Valley.

We now have five discipleship classes going on in these small towns, and of course, we don't do things like everyone else. We have classes in chicha bars or corn fields.

Or we sit in the street and talk about Jesus. That's normal, right? 

Now don't get scared; we are not standing on boxes preaching at people. But we are discipling a couple of girls who are live-in maids in town, and the woman they work for is not a Christian and doesn't really approve, so we do the lessons on the sidewalk near the house. 

This is a prayer request for you guys: we want to be able to share the saving grace of Jesus Christ with this woman, who even has family who are evangelicals, we just need an open door and open ears. But we especially don't want to get Isabel, Marleny, or Mariela into trouble, so please be praying for the whole situation.

We also do a discipleship class with two other teenage girls on Sunday afternoons. The girls work during the week, so Sunday is the only day they can do it. And we haven't been accepted by their families yet, so we do the lesson in the street with them as well. One of the girls, Sonia, has an aunt she lives with who is Jehovah's Witness, and wanted nothing to do with us. (The Mormans and Jehovah's Witnesses here are well trained to say, essentially "Leave me alone" before we start sharing the gospel.) Pray for open doors with these girls' families also.

But something that gets me excited is that people in town are starting to recognize us. They see us walking down the street, knocking on doors, eating lunch in the Plaza, talking to girls and even praying in the streets three or more times a week. They are starting to recognize us. They are curious about us. And they will start to soften up to us.

Because the fact of the matter is, part of the culture of Cusco is a tendency towards distrust. They don't trust outsiders. We have had MULTIPLE people pretend not to speak Spanish, pretend that they only know Quechua. They don't want to talk to us because they don't know us. But bit by bit, we are breaking down their defenses, and by God's grace they will eventually let us in.

We are showing a Jesus film and having a couple kids festivals in these towns next week, so begin to pray for their openness. Pray for good weather, since we will be outside for both. Pray that people will show up. And pray that the light of Christ will flood into their hearts. 

(December 15, we will have a kid's festival in an orphanage outside of Lamay, and a Jesus film in Coya. December 18 we will have both a festival and Jesus film in the Plaza of Lamay.)