Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review

Is it possible that time moves faster in the Southern Hemisphere? Because as I reflect on each year for my now-traditional end-of-the-year post, I find myself ruminating on how quickly the year has passed, as if I am traveling at warp speed. This can’t be unique to me, but is perhaps a phenomenon of the type of life I lead. I know that there is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will, and I am living in the truth of that promise.

This year, instead of going month-by-month through the year, I have chosen my top ten moments from this year to revisit with you and give you a peak into 2013.

10. Home Assignment in the States
Nothing compares to fall: leaves changing, briskness in the air, pumpkin spice in every cup, scarves and hats making their appearance (for those who don’t wear scarves year-round, as I do). It is purely magical, though all of these elements have been absent from my life the previous three years in South America. So to spend September and October in the US of A this year was a pure joy for me. I visited many churches, and spent time with many special people.

9. Getting To Know Ecuador
At the beginning of 2013, I returned to Ecuador to continue mobilizing 40/40s for four months. During that time, as new Extremies came to live in Quito, I was able to get out a little more and see the sites. Ecuador is a beautiful country, wih such diversity that only our Creator can be given the credit. So as I traveled around for work, and a few times for fun, it has been such a blessing to serve the Lord in Ecuador.

8. Revisiting Peru
For those of you who have been following my blog (or life) for some time now, you know that my first missionary assignment was to Peru as a 40/40 church planter, beginning in 2010. When I left in June of last year, I really didn’t know when I’d ever go back. But the opportunity arose to join the short-term project team in May-July, and return to the country I hold so dear. And going back was wonderful! Familiar faces, fantastic food! It was a blast!

7. Visiting the Equator (and checking it off my bucket list)
My boss and his family came to town, and while in Quito, we set off for the Middle of the World! An item on my bucket list was to straddle the

Equator, and I did!

6. Alex and Beth’s Wedding/Katie and Daniel’s Wedding
I am at the age where it seems like all my friends have been getting married. While in the States this year, some of my dearest friends were married, and I was able to share in their joy as a bridesmaid in both weddings. Alex and Beth met in Peru, and I lived with both of them. Their wedding was extra special as it proved to be a reunion for many of us who were in Peru together! Katie has been one of my best friends since high school, and I remember when she started dating her now-husband, Daniel. I could not be happier for these two couples!

5. May Short-Term Project With the College Team
After arriving in Peru, I was privileged to get to work with a team of almost twenty students from Olivet, Trevecca, and Midamerica for two weeks. They were such an awesome team, and they worked their rear-ends off to reach Arequipa through flash mobs, prayer, English classes, soccer, culture fairs, and so much more! I made such good friends while we ministered together. 

4. Meeting My Soon-To-Be-In-Laws
The Wheatley Family was so kind to receive me around the new year at their home, and I loved spending time with them for the first time! They introduced me to Washington, the beautiful mountains, elk-deer, and shared so much love with me during my week with them. 

3. Deployment of and Beginnings for the Ambato Team
As a mobilizer, my very first 40/40s deployed in January to begin their training, and shortly after, began their ministry in Ambato, Ecuador. In a way, they felt like my very own kids that I was sending off to change the world. And they certainly are making an incredible difference for the kingdom of God! They've already had to knock down walls to make the church bigger, and after just seven months, have an attendance of three digits! I could not be prouder of this team!

2. Spending Time With My Almost-Husband
Yes, the news is finally out! In February, I will marry the wonderful Mike Wheatley. I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with this amazing man. We rang in the year 2013 together, worked alongside each other in Peru, got engaged, and will finish the year together too. I have to admit, actually being able to be in the same room as this guy was one of the highlights of the year, as we have spent the majority of the three years we've known each other in different countries. I must thank God for bringing us together. 

1. Love Extreme Mega-Event and Project 
82 Short-Term Volunteers from across the United States (and one Colombian!). 20 Days. 7 TV interviews. 60 radio spots. 1000 posters. 30,000 flyers. 1,143 people in attendance for the Mega Event. 150 people giving their lives to Jesus Christ. Nothing compared to that moment. Countless hours had be spent preparing for it. But God received all the glory for the amazing work He did in the city of Arequipa. The effects of that moment are still being felt in that beautiful city and in the Open Door Church of the Nazarene. 

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