Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Failed Video, but Thank You just the same :)

Song of the post:  Skin by Rascal Flatts.  One of the more adorable songs I have ever heard, AND ITS COUNTRY!  What is happening to me?!  But, this is one of my new favorites.  Hope you enjoy!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wyz9ykhZjkM

I have been blessed.  The people in my life have been such good examples for me.  I feel like everywhere I turn, I am learning something from someone.  But I think that is what is supposed to happen…right?  What I am trying to say is, thank you guys so much for showing me little parts of Jesus in the way you live your lives.  From Ohio people, to Costa Rica friends, and now amigos en Chile, you guys have been such a blessing and illustration for my life.  My goal is to be like Jesus, but you guys have shown me practical ways to live and love like He did.  I pray that God will greatly bless each of you for the impact you have made on my life.  

So this was going to be just a very short post.  Me and my team will be going to Chiloe, a large island, with the youth group for the next 5 days.  So I just wanted to post a little video, showing you all a tour of our house.  But.....I dont think it is going to work.  obnoxious, I know.  But.  In the video, I just told you guys how much of a blessing you have been to me.  Thanks for all of your support!  Really, it means so much to me.  Hopefully the video works, but, if not....and it probably wont.....just know that I am so thankful for you all and care about you so much!  Love you guys!  God bless!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I love my family!  Quite the opening statement, huh?  But its true.  They are truly the best.  And I need to start off this post with a shout out to the best family in the world.  Seriously, I am SO blessed to have you guys in my life!  I received my Christmas package from them yesterday, and it was EXACTLY what I needed.  What a boost.  Pieces of home are pieces of gold here.  So thank you so much Grandma, Grandpa, Carol, Cana, Luke, Genessa, and Lincoln!!  I miss you guys so much!  You made me feel so special, and your support is honestly extraordinary.  Not everyone is this lucky.  You guys are amazing and I love you so much!

Switching gears a bit, here is a fun fact.  I rescued a dog!  You see, there are 2048957987513 dogs here that just run around on the streets.  You can’t go anywhere without seeing a dog.  And this one dog in particular, she is a poor little thing.  Basically, the male perros (that’s dogs in Spanish….pulling out my skills :] ) love to give her a hard time.  It’s terrible really.  She has had a rough life.  So, I gave her a little oatmeal and let her in our gate.  She made herself right at home.  Beth made her a little water dish out of a plastic bag, and I bought a little dog food for her and give her the scraps that we don’t eat.  We even named her!  We voted and Hope won.  Not in Spanish unfortunately, since Esperanza would just be too hard to say very often.  “Here, Espe- Espe- Ranza” doesn’t have a very good ring.  But, “Here, Hopey-Hope-Hope” works a lot better :] But there is a little twist.  After about two days of Hopey living with us in a cardboard box outside, our little neighbor girl told us repeatedly that that was her dog.  Turns out….she kinda is.  Oops.  I think that they kind of did what we did….rescued her from the evil clutches of mean male dogs.  But, she loves our house more.  So now, we are kind of in a predicament.  Also, Hopey has now brought a friend to our house.  Before we knew she was also a girl, we named her Mcgee, so Mcgee she will be.  Another little twist is that Mcgee also belongs to our little neighbor girl.  Yes, we are the big bad gringo neighbors who steal small children’s pets.  …..oops :]

Also, there has been a stomach virus going around, and this weekend it was my turn for the fun.  This virus had Jeano passed out just last week.  It doesn’t mess around.  For a pretty solid 2 hours, I was in the bathroom, ridding my body of everything in it.  It was one of the most miserable times I have ever been sick actually.  But then, our coordinator E and his whole family and the whole team came over to pray for me.  At the time, I was not that thrilled because having lots of people listen to me puke is not exactly ideal.  But you know what?  They came in and they prayed for me, and I have not had any problems since!  Honestly, I felt great and just that morning I was MISERABLE.  You can’t tell me that that is coincidence.  I have no doubt that Jesus touched my body.  We are here, serving in Chile where there is a big need for a revival of passion for Christ in the people, and He looked on me with compassion and took away my discomfort.  He is awesome. 

But now switching gears for the last time.   Buckle up for Thoughts with Kristina (the name I was given when we first arrived here….I think I forgot to ever mention it.  Turns out Kirsten is just too hard for people to say here, so I have become Kristina to most.)  But really, this has just become a much more serious post…..starting…..now. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3fr2Kl4Fcs   If ever there was a song of the post that I wanted you to listen to, it would be this one.  I’m Still Yours by Kutless.  It’s a song for everyone.  Guy/girl.  Young/old.  Really.  Listen to the words.  So challenging.  So powerful.  And after listening, read what the song had to say again.  Let it sink in.  And then, ask yourself, “Do I believe this??”

If You washed away my vanity, if You took away my words, if all my world was swept away, would You be enough for me?
 Will my beating heart still sing? 
When my life is not what I expected, the plans I made have failed, when there is nothing left to steal me away, will You be enough for me?
 Will my broken heart still sing?
If I lost it all, would my hands stay lifted to the God who gives and takes away?
 If You take it all, this life You’ve given, still my heart will sing to You.  Even if you take it all away, You’ll never let me go.  If you take it all away, I still know that I’M YOURS.

Pretty powerful lyrics, huh?  Well these thoughts have been at the forefront of my mind for quite some time now.  Actually, these thoughts are what pushed me to do REACH in the first place.  You see, as I thought about my desires and what I wanted the future to look like for me, I realized I had absolutely no idea what God had purposed for my life.  My life has been so blessed and things just seemed to fall into place in the past.  I never really had a big decision to make like this one, and therefore I never thought to consult “God’s advice”.   So when I came to the point of having to decide what to do with myself in the coming year, I realized I was in some trouble. 

I began to think seriously about missions after coming back from a class trip to Costa Rica.  God showed up and spoke loudly to me at that time.  It was like things got put back into perspective.  So much of my time had been wasted being comfortable in life, not really caring about growing.  But after Costa Rica, I was reminded just how AWESOME God is.  I realized that my faith was stale.  Yes, I went to a Christian school, I had great friends, and I went to church every Sunday, but I wasn’t going anywhere.  My faith really hadn’t grown much over the years.  And as this realization dawned, I began to question how strong my faith in God even was.  If I was taken out of my little Christian bubble, would I be able to stand strong?  If I got cancer, how would I react?  If my family was taken away from me, what would my reaction be?  And these scenarios scared me, not only because they are devastating circumstances, but because I honestly didn’t know how I would respond. 

So many thoughts.  I didn’t really know where to start.    All I really knew was that the foundation that my life was sitting on wasn’t nearly as strong as I thought it was.  That is never a good feeling, and I wanted it to change.  I realized I needed to get out of my comfort zone.  This iffy faith of mine would not get me anywhere.  So I began looking at my options.

Was college really for me right now?  What else would I do?  If I did choose to do missions for a year, should I go through an organization or volunteer alone?  What organization?  Can I volunteer alone?  Where?
Basically, through the influence of someone I look up to a lot, I was persuaded to at least apply for REACH.  What could it hurt to apply?  And as I applied, I realized how much this program could really suit me and what I wanted to do.  At this point, college was out of the question because I had decided to take a year off for missions, and when I found out that I had been accepted to REACH, I knew that it was what I was supposed to do.  Thanks, Kevin, for nudging me to give it a shot  :]

Honestly, this experience has just been incredible.  Never in my life have I grown and learned so much….and in only 5.5 months so far!  I was taken out of my comfort zone time and time again.  I have been challenged, stretched, loved, blessed, pushed, and tested throughout this experience.  It has been hard….really hard.  A lot harder than I ever thought it would be actually.  But these past few months have also been some of the greatest of my life.  Throughout this journey, I have met some INCREDIBLE people that I will never forget.  These friendships have taught me so much.  So many good examples of what following Jesus is really about and how love is the greatest gift you can give anyone.  I was shown true forgiveness, love, grace, and the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.  And, I was able to see firsthand what true FAITH looks like. 

Faith is trusting God in the uncertainties.  I have learned that God is not going to always show us the path.  In fact, I believe He rarely shows us 4 steps of the path at one time.  It’s not that He can’t.  But He chooses not to.  Because if we knew what the future held, how many of us could truly trust in Him to be our Everything?  No, I have come to realize that God does not normally operate like that.  But if we are truly seeking His face and walking in His will, He is faithful to show us exactly where to take our next step.  Of this I have no doubt.  He is right there, illuminating the path just enough for us to see His hand, pointing.  The question is, do we have enough faith to follow that finger?  When the path is dark and we don’t know what lies ahead of us, do we trust Him enough to take that step of faith? 

Faith is also trusting God when He takes away.  This is so hard!  And this is what I did not trust myself with.  During DTS, a question that God kept asking me was, “If I took away the most important thing to you, your family, would I still be enough?”  It was and still is such a challenging question!  Do I really live my life in such a way that says He is enough for me…no matter what?  Sure, He is enough for me when life is going great and everything is falling into place.  But will He be enough for me when the bottom falls out?  It’s so hard to know for sure how we would react to something that has not happened yet.  And I don’t think we can really.  But I don’t think that is the point.  The point is, are we trusting in Him and DEPENDING on Him while we still have the bottom beneath us?  Are we living in a constant state of reliance on Him for our everything?  IS HE OUR EVERYTHING FOR EVERY SITUATION?!  That is the challenge.  That is true faith. 

I have come to the point of thinking that if He were to take away everything from me, I would be ok.  Like I said, I can’t know for sure because it hasn’t happened to me, but I tend to be a pretty stubborn person, so when I make my mind up on something, its usually pretty tough to get me to sway.  And I have made up my mind to stick with Jesus through it all, no matter what life throws my way.  In Him, I have EVERYTHING that I need.  He is Comfort, Peace, Strength, Redeemer, Help, Father, Hero, Joy, Hope, Lover, Living Water, Bread of Life, Just, Good, and LOVE.   Whatever situation comes my way, He will be whatever I need to get me through, you know?  I finally believe that and stand on it.  But now, here is an interesting thought.  Abraham was a man of ENORMOUS faith.  God took away lots of things from him, but he stayed true to Him and was blessed for it.  But then, what did God ask him to do?  Kill his son?!  Not only was God taking away the very thing he had waited for for so long, but he was asking Abraham himself to do it!  And Abraham was going to!  Now that is just a whole new level of faith.  I can tell you that my first reaction to having God tell me to kill my sister would be…..ARE YOU CRAZY!???!  NO WAY.  I mean, wouldn’t you think that God was bogus?  Why would He ever ask me to sacrifice someone….especially the person I love the most?  But you know what.  That is faith.  God’s plan is ALWAYS better than ours.  If you don’t believe this, just read Abraham’s story. 

It’s been awhile since I posted about what has been on my mind.  I feel like I could keep writing on this subject for another couple of hours.  I love discussing this topic as well.  Really, I love discussing any thought-provoking topics like this.  I love learning new truths and being stretched in this way.  My mind is constantly trying to figure out how things fit and make sense.  If there is no logic behind it, why do it?  And so, when talking about matters of faith, I am challenged.  Because, by definition, faith does not make sense.  It’s believing in the unseen.  It’s trusting in the invisible.  It’s challenging.  It’s scary.  But it’s worth it.  When faith is developed and you trust the One who CAN NOT FAIL and who WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU, this is what you can be assured of.  The following lyrics are from the song Times by Tenth Avenue North.  I guess it is the second song of the post.  But this is what we are promised for our faith!  Again, I highly encourage you to listen to this song.  So true and powerful.  The ending lyrics are below.  Enjoy and God bless.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRN0QPXrdR8

I hear You say, “My love is over.  Its underneath.  Its inside.  Its in between.  The times you doubt Me, when you cant feel.  The times when you question, is this for real?  The times you’re broken.  The times that you mend.  The times you hate Me and the times that you bend.  Well My love is over, its underneath, its inside, its in between.  These times that you’re healing, and when your heart breaks.  The times when you feel like you’ve fallen from grace.  The times you’re hurting.  The times that you heal.  The times you go hungry and are tempted to steal.  In times of confusion, chaos, and pain.  I’m there in your sorrow, under the weight of your shame.  I’m there through your heartache.  I’m there in the storm.  My love, I will keep you by My power alone.  I don’t care where you’ve fallen or where you have been.  I’ll never forsake you.  My love never ends.”  …….pure beauty.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Story Time: Scares, Rares, Hilares

Ok.  So the title may be a little much.  But I can get a few points for trying, right?  This is the story of 2 girls experiencing life on Tenglo. 

The day started off by Jean, Clay, Jeff, and I going to Tenglo to finish cutting grass at Gaby’s house.  We had been there the previous day and got a lot done, even though it didn’t look like it due to our tools and the amount of grass on the property.  Basically, we were using scythes and pick-like thingies to cut this really tall grass/prickly bush thingies.  Hard work and it was VERY hot.  So anyway.  We went back to finish up some more of that.  The purpose of us doing this was to try to prevent a massive fire.  So we got to work once again.  But this time we had a new twist: the area close to the house was being cut with a knife.  Yes, the old “grab a chunk of grass and chisel away at the bottom til it breaks” technique.  So many “firsts” experiences for me here.  That was fun. 

After lunch, the boys left, but Jean and I were going to be spending the night at this house.  As lunch wrapped up, Gaby popped in a movie.  The interesting thing was, her favorite type of movies are horror.  SCARY!  We watched part of Legion until she realized that neither of us were enjoying the movie at all.  Really, it was something I never want to see again.  Bleh.  But we survived and decided to head to the beach for a bit.  Although it was very hot outside, we are very far south so the water was pretty chilly.  But we all got in and had a good time talking (or trying to talk :]) with Gaby.  Language is difficult, but we are improving.  After grabbing a $.20 popsicle, we returned to the house for showers.  This is where the story gets even more interesting. 

So we go inside and Gaby changes her sons’ clothes (they are 3 and 5) and grabs her towel, a pitcher, and some shampoo and says, “Vamos!” so we got our stuff and followed her outside.  We leave their property and walk down this trail until we get to another path which is some dirt steps leading to a little “well” full of clear, cold rain water.  There are trees and pretty flowers all around.  It looks like the jungle.  It is just this cute little perch overlooking the bay.  There is not much room because it drops off a good 40 ft down to the beach.  The opening between the trees allows us to see 2 sea lions soaking in the sun.  Gorgeous!  Then Gaby begins to demonstrate how to take a shower.  Just your average bucket shower, except we were using a pitcher and doing it out in the open, fully clothed.  Probably the craziest shower I have ever taken, and afterwards I didn’t feel that much cleaner, since I was standing in mud and all.  But it was a very memorable experience.  :]

After that, we watched Ice Age in Spanish with the kids while Gaby was preparing supper.  I decided that that is one of my all time favorite animated movies.  One of them.  Then we ate supper around 8.  Sopaipillas are pretty much super delicious.  Little fried bread thingies that are especially scrumptious with a little jelly on top.  Mmmmm.  And of course we had coffee and tea.  I really love tea now.  So good. 
Javier got home while we were eating and brought home the last Harry Potter movie.  Now, I have never seen the other Harry Potter movies and neither has Jean.  I used to be a hater, but recently I had decided that I shouldn’t hate without even knowing what they are about.  But Jean was a full-fledged hater.  But after dinner he popped that in, and we really had no choice but to watch it.  It was in Spanish, but he put the English subtitles on for us.  And wouldn’t you know, we both want to see the other ones now.  I am very intrigued.  But it is interesting that we watched the very last one first.  Oh well.  I’ll probably enjoy it more in English anyway. 

ANYWHO.  Now for my favorite part of the story.  .  After the movie, we were both very tired and ready for bed.  Let me give you a little rundown of the setting first.  The house is pretty small.  There are 4 “rooms” to the house, but none of them have doors.  So as you can imagine, the bathroom is definitely one for the brave :]  You can pretty much see the whole inside from anywhere in the house, except part of the bedroom and bathroom.  There is a love seat and 2 comfy chairs that we offered 2 times to sleep on, but to no avail.  Instead, we got to sleep on the bunk beds.  But there was a twist.  The little boys were sleeping on the top bunk, and Jeano and I were sharing the bottom bunk.  Yes, it was quite cozy.  But to make it even cozier, Gaby and Javier’s bed was within an arm’s reach from our bed.  All of us were squeezed into a little room together.  I’m pretty sure Jeano and I laughed for 6 minutes straight.  It was just the icing on the cake to our very fun, cultural, funny, and interesting day. 

But don’t have my story telling make you think that this trip was only good for laughs.  Although we did do that a lot, I am very thankful for the opportunity to experience life as they do on the island.  It really helped us further our relationship with the family and also helped us a lot with our Spanish.  I have a feeling that it will be one of my most memorable experiences here.  :]

I know this is a shorter post.  Just a story this week.  Next week, I will inform you more of what I have been learning and thinking about lately.  Until then, thanks for reading!  Praying for you guys.  God bless.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012


The Scoop this week is going to start with the song of the post.  This week it is Everything by Lifehouse.  Incredible lyrics.  So stinking powerful.  It just propels me forward and makes me want to abandon myself and just  EVERYTHING to Him who has created, rescued, and redeemed me. 

Life.  My life here is SO different than my “normal” life in the states.  And you know what….it is so refreshing.  I have just been blown away with how BLESSED I am to be here.  Seriously, this is most likely a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.  I mean, maybe not, depending on where God calls me to next, but you get what I am trying to say.  As I was trekking along the island of Tengalo on Friday it hit me just how crazy different and awesome my life is right now.  I have SO much to be thankful for!  My mind went to my family and friends, and I began to try to think of what they could be doing at that exact moment.  It feels so foreign to me.  This is now my “norm”.  I get up at 6 and have personal and group devotions until about 8.  I eat breakfast and then sleep for another hourish.  Then we have a Spanish communications/Bible study class.  And then we put into practice what we have been learning and go around to visit people from the area and church.  Then there is lunch and following that we have work projects.  Supper and different Bible studies or prayer groups usually end our nights.  And, it is becoming so normal. 

That was just a run down of our new schedule for January for sure, possibly the months to follow as well.  And I really am enjoying it.  Our days are pretty full with a lot of flexibility, seeing as to how this is Latino culture :]  But its good!  Our internet time is also a lot less.  We are insured one hour on the internet a week.  This isn’t a lot of time, but its enough.  And it is keeping me a lot more focused and thankful for the communication that I DO have.  If we have time, we can visit internet cafes for an hour more a week for about $1.20, but this is just an added luxury.  It is just so, so good.  I am learning so much here.  God is GINORMOUS.  He is opening my eyes to the ways He is working around me.  What a creative God we serve!  He is incredible.  My knowledge of Him is just being expanded from my time here, discussing different passages in the Bible, praying, doing Experiencing God, and just listening to E and J.  I have come to view this time as a time to solidify my faith and grow my knowledge to prepare me for my life ahead.  You know?  This experience is AWESOME and life changing.  But it doesn’t stop with this experience.  This is preparing me for the rest of my life.  I am just SO THANKFUL for the opportunity. 

You know, I’ve never been one for the normal.  Now, I’m not the crazy type either by any means, but the normal has never really been appealing to me.  And God knows this….He made me the way I am.  And He led me here.  For this, I am extremely blessed.  When I return back home, I don’t want to go back to my “normal” ways.  This has changed/is changing me.  And I want that to stick.  I realize now how pointless it is for me to follow the crowd or even just follow my own plans.  I wasn’t meant for that.  I was meant to love my Father with all of my heart and to trust Him completely.  He is my way.  He doesn’t necessarily show me the way, but He shows me where to take my next step.  And that is really all that I need.  Trust and moment by moment living with my Hero.  It doesn’t get much more exciting and fulfilling than that. 

I feel like this time I am not able to express my feelings in a very coherent way.  And for this I am very sorry.  I don’t know what my problem is.  I usually can think a lot more clearly as I spill my thoughts onto the screen.  But for some reason tonight is different.  My fingers are typing my thoughts out, but my thoughts are all jumbled in my head.  So, the way this post turns out could be very interesting and confusing, but I have decided that I don’t care.  I will try to be clearer next time, but for now, it is late and I have a lot more to still do tonight.  My apologies. 

Here are some pointless facts about my life that I have decided to share to give you all a little deeper view into my every day.  The ketchup here is AMAZING.  I’m not exactly sure what it is, but it is DEFINITELY better than American ketchup.  I think I am gonna have to bring some home with me.  I have found myself putting it on practically every food we eat.  It just makes everything more delicious!  Who needs Ranch dressing for vegetables when you have ketchup?  I’m being completely serious, it is delicious.  Mmm so good.  There is also this stuff called Manjar that is super tasty as well.  It is very similar to caramel, and tastes delightful with apples, crackers and bread.  And, I have really become quite fond of a nice cup of tea.  Mildred Tea is one of the best teabags I have ever tasted.  Just a little added sugar, and I am good to good.  These are just a few of the foods that I am really going to miss when we return. 

Also, on Monday, we took the kids who are becoming like my own siblings (our coordinator’s kids) to see “Gato en Botas”.  It was my first Spanish theatre movie!  Pretty exciting :]  And, it was interesting.  It’s amazing how much you can understand something just by watching, not even understanding the words being spoken.  The language barrier is not something that is going to stop me from seeing movies, I can tell you that much :]  Sherlock Holmes 2 is the next one on my list! 

My mind is also starting to espanolitize.  I find myself constantly thinking, ok now how do I say this in Spanish, even when I am just with our team.  And as I am talking in English, the occasional Spanish word flies out before I can stop it.  Now, I am not saying that I am anywhere near fluent.  Not at all.  But, we are all definitely learning a lot and speaking more each day.  It’s exciting :]

Another meaningless fact about my life now is that I have worn a seatbelt ONCE since living here.  ONCE!  It was a very odd thought that struck me as I performed the process of buckling up.  We take the bus pretty much everywhere.  I mean, it is a steal of a deal.  $.80 one way.  That is hard to beat.  And if we do take a vehicle, we end up all squishing in, which means people on laps or sitting on random things like a cinder block or a bag of cooking items.  There has been one time that I rode in a car with only 4 people.  And that was very short lived.  By the time we arrived home, there was 6 of us.  Just something very different from my old life. 

More random information.  Our little house is becoming a home to us.  We now have a mirror, a dish rack, a complete kitchen cabinet thingy, gas for our stove, and wall decorations.  Jeano and I rearranged our room, and I taped up a bunch of pictures by my bed.  So many good memories.  Helps and hurts the homesickness….but mostly helps.  It’s my wall of friends.  I hope to add more pictures with friends that I am making here.  We are now at that point of our stay that people are opening up to us more.  People recognize us and friendships are being made.  I am getting very stoked about this part.  This is what it is all about: forming good relationships with the people here and loving Jesus through all of it.  And even though a part of my heart will ALWAYS be in Ohio, a piece of me is now at home in our little blue house.  AND, the past couple of days have been very rainy and chilly, but our little woodstove, Ben, has been cooperating so much better these days.  He eats a lot and warms the place right up.  It just feels so great to finally be settled in.

I’m excited to see how much farther we go from this point.  Please continue to pray for strengthened relationships here.  God is working.  I have seen tremendous growth in this area in two major ways.  The first way is the joy of basketball.  A couple of weeks ago I bought a basketball from Lider, a store that is actually owned by Walmart.  Crazy huh?  Well anyway, it was actually quite hard to locate a basketball.  There is basically one sport here…futbol.  If people do have basketballs, they are usually used as soccer balls.  But I found a bright orange, extremely bouncy basketball and went to shoot at the hoop right down the street.  That is another funny thing about Chile.  There are tons of basketball courts and hoops around this neighborhood and hardly any soccer fields, but everyone plays soccer and no one plays basketball.  I don’t really get it.  But ANYWHO, I started to shoot and had only been there for about 3 minutes when a group of about 6 kids just came and stared at me.  It was quite awkward, so I asked if they wanted to play.  At first they were kinda shy about it, but after awhile there was a mob of kids around me, taking turns shooting.  It was AWESOME!  I think that God is going to use that cheapo, overly rubbery ball to build relationships, and I am very psyched for this.  Already the kids are grabbing a hold of my heart, and I don’t want them to let go. 

Another way I have seen our relationships grow is in our visits with the people.  We visit a lot of the same people each week.  Basically, we walk to their house and sit and listen to them.  Up until this point, we really haven’t been able to do much communicating with them.  The people here talk fast and when you don’t really understand the language, it is pretty hard to keep up.  But, now we are getting to the point of being able to understand the context of the conversation and actually do some of the talking ourselves.  It’s so cool to be able to see how much just sharing a few words is helping our closeness with the people.  There are some very special people in our community.  I know already that it is going to be SO HARD to leave them.  So many different backgrounds and situations that these people are in, and so much need for love and compassion.  I cant wait to see how God is going to continue to work in their lives. 

Ok, so I am nearing the end of this post, but I do want to quickly recount this past Sunday for me.  It was one of the best days I have had since coming here.  First off, we started off the day a little later.  That was nice to begin with.  And then, as we were eating our cereal that morning, Jean said, “You know what guys?  It’s a great day today.  And it’s gonna be a great day.”  Just out of nowhere.  We are like….Ok…cool.  haha.   Then that morning, we just had a really good team moment.  I don’t know.  It’s really hard to explain without going into a lot of details….just know that it was REALLY good.  And then, while I was waiting for church to start, I was just flipping through the Bible, reading random passages when I came across one that just spoke directly to me.  Romans 15:5-6 says, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Just spoke directly to our team and what we have been striving for.   Then, we go to church and the place is packed out!  I mean, it hasn’t been that full since we have been here.   It was awesome to see almost all the people we visit together in one place.  And God’s presence was there.  I have no doubt.  The service was different than normal.  We had communion and feet washing.  I don’t know.  It was just so incredible to see almost all of our friends there, worshipping God together.  Ahhhhh.  What a great time.  Then afterwards everyone came over to have completes….aka hot dogs supreme and on steroids.  Mmmmm.  And then my team and I played cards and just had a really good bonding time together.  I am learning how to play Rook!  Yes.  Very cool I know.  But yeah.  Just a great God day.  Big things are happening. 

I have one more parting story to leave you all with.  So after we got done playing cards on Sunday night, the boys left for the other house, and we started getting ready for bed.  But there was one problem….our water was turned off!  Immediately, we thought that because we never received our water bill, and thus never paid for it this month, our water had been stopped.  This was a slight nuisance, especially since I was in the middle of brushing my teeth when this was made known.  But we made it through the night with grubby faces and an unflushed toilet.  The next morning, we awoke to a heavy rain, and Beth, being her creative, improvising self, filled pan after pan with rain water to flush our toilet.  Nifty huh?  Soon after, the boys arrived for breakfast.  But with their arrival came the sound of the toilet automatically filling with water.  How could this be you may ask?  Well I will just tell you.  When the boys left the night before, they thought that it would just be HILARIOUS to turn off our water, because the nozzle is by the gate.  But let me tell you, we did not find it nearly as hilarious as they did.  When I found out that that is what had happened by the yelling voices of Jean and Beth, I quickly joined in on the yelling as well.  All three of us were literally yelling at both of the boys standing in the kitchen at 930 in the morning.  And all the boys could do was stand there cracking up.  It was a pretty comical site I must say.  And the neighbors were probably pretty confused as to what the heck was happening over there in the “gringo” house.  I gotta say.  It was a pretty sneaky little prank. 

Like I said before.  I am sorry about the confusion of this post.  I feel like my thoughts were all jumbled when I spilled them this time…more so than other times.  I will try to do better next time.  But thank you all so much for your feedback and support!  I love it.  I am able to communicate through the internet a lot less now, but I  love the emails.  And I go through and reply as often as I can.  So thanks for everything!  Love you guys!  Stay tuned for next week’s post about the ways God is working through a little old lady with pokemon slippers.  :]  God bless!  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Thoughts

It is currently 12:40 my time as I write this….10:40 Ohio time.  You guys are so last year!  Heehee.  I just had to.  But wow.  So much has happened since the last time I posted and so much is going on in my head right now.  I don’t really know where to start. 

Well, this will make it a little easier.  Song of the post. Long Time Travlerer by The Wailing Jennys.  So so good.  Great harmony.  Makes me miss my girls, Rachel and Carrie.  Love you guys.  Listen and enjoy.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezf3e44rRI0

I guess I will go back and recap Christmas.  Man.  That feels like so long ago.  Be prepared for a long post this time, guys.  You might need to grab a cup of coffee and a nice comfy cushion to sit on if you plan to read through this whole thing :]

So Christmas.  Let’s just put it this way.  On Christmas Eve, it felt more like the day before St. Patrick’s Day.  Yes, I stole that little analogy from Beth, but it really did!  It was just another day in Alerce.  No one really seemed to notice that the next day was Christmas.  Very different from the states.  And, I must admit.  This helped a lot.  The fact that it was so different from normal Christmas for me was a blessing.  This way, I wasn’t comparing it to my normal Christmas experience, and it just made it a lot easier.  So yeah.  Christmas just isn’t that big of a deal here.  A lot of the kids get little presents and stuff, but at least from what I could see with the people we interacted with, it was more of a laid back thing.  Kids that I was with weren’t going through lots of magazines picking out things they wanted.  It wasn’t like that at all.  And it was refreshing!  Commercialism is crazy back at home.  I’ve always known that, but to experience Christmas without all of it made a drastic difference in how I was perceiving the whole holiday. 

On Christmas, we went with E and his family and some people from the church to the island of Tenglo.  It was….so beautiful.  I can’t even describe it to you in a way that would do it justice.  It reminded me of a movie scene.  One where a family lives out in a very peaceful place, with hardly any other people around.  Where life is simple and you can just enjoy the little things in life.  That’s what it was. Just a beautiful place filled with God’s simple pleasures. 

But before I get ahead of myself, let me explain to you the process of getting there.  That morning, we had breakfast with E and his family and 4 other people.  This meant that there were 14 of us all together.  When it was time to go, a little van thingy, probably made to fit about 12 people comfortably, came to the house.  Inside was a driver and one other passenger.  So, 16 people and all our food and other needs for the day were packed in this little van.  Not the most comfortable, but definitely doable.  We rode in this for about 45 minutes to the dock.  Then we took a little motorized boat across the bay for about 4 minutes and arrived on the island of Tenglo.  After this, we walked for another 15 minutes to the other side of the island and came to the house where the day’s activities would take place.  A nice little trek. 

Like I mentioned before, the area is beautiful.  The ocean is the front yard of the house.  The land we were using is a mission’s base on the island where a family will be/is living right now.  There are two houses on the property.  The one nearest the ocean is less finished and is going to be used for more ministry type things.  Currently, some kids ministry things go on there, and people sometimes use the land as a campground.  The plan for the future is for the property to be used as a retreat base for people
to come for a few days.  Sort of a safe haven for refreshment and healing.  Very cool idea and the perfect location. 

When we first got there, we had some down time.  The tide was out really far, so I walked down to the water and just walked along the shore for a little while.  The weather was perfect and the view is incredible. The ocean was right in front of me.  Behind me was beautiful, green scenery of the mountain.  And to the left is the city of Puerto Montt with the two snow-capped mountains sitting there.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Such a refreshing time for me.  I just walked and prayed and sang songs to the Creator of the universe.  It was just a great “me and God” time. 

Then it was time to eat.  Another missionary family joined us.  M is what I will call him.  He and his wife are kind of the overseers of the property we were using.  Great family that has lived in Chile for 20 years.  It was a good time of fellowship.  After the meal, a game of soccer started.  I didn’t play for most of it, but I was persuaded to near the end.  Before the game started, the deal was made that the losing team had to swim in the ocean.  Guess whose team lost……yup.  Mine.  Now keep in mind.  This is summer here and the day was really warm, but the water really wasn’t that swell.  But, we went for a swim, and if you kept moving enough, you got used to it.  And by the end, everyone was in the water anyway. 

So, it was Christmas, and I was in Chile, on an island, swimming in the ocean, looking at snow-capped mountains, and getting fried to a crisp.  Yup.  I got a major sunburn on Christmas.  CRAZY!  It was definitely a Christmas like none other for me.  But, I am very grateful for this.  Kept my mind off of home and actually made me forget that it even was Christmas.  It was just a really good day. 

Around 7:30, we all got packed up and started our trek back home.  This was a slightly more interesting trip.  When we got back on the main land, we waited for 30-45 minutes for our little van thingy to come pick us back up.  But, we had a new twist.  This time, there were 18 of us riding back.  And when the van finally came, it came with 3 people in it already!  So, there we were, 21 of us jammed into a 12ish passenger van.  Let’s just say, I legitimately could not move my toes by the time we got home.  I had no feeling in my leg.  It was an experience that I will remember for quite some time :]

So that was Christmas for me this year.  So very different from the norm, but good at the same time.  And, when I got to check my email and facebook after about a week (because we went back to Tenglo for the next 4 days which I will tell you more about), I was so blessed with people encouraging me and wishing me a merry Christmas.  Seriously.  It was so special to me.  I got 3 new videos from different people back home to watch.  I was honestly pretty emotional.  I watched the videos today and read some emails yesterday.  You guys, you have blessed me SO SO MUCH.  Words really can not describe how blessed and loved I feel.  The support I feel from you all is something that I truly cherish. I could not do this without it.  I feel more loved right now, thousands of miles away from you all, than some people feel in their whole life, right next to people they know.  And I don’t know why I get to be this privileged.  It really isn’t fair at all.  All I know is that because I am this blessed, I need to be a blessing to those around me.  So thank you all so much for all the encouragement and love you have sent me.  It honestly brings tears to my eyes sometimes. 

It’s hard to explain how all of it makes me feel.  But, the best way I can describe it right now is to say that it sorta feels like I am living in two different worlds.  If any of you have ever read the books Black, Red, White and Green by Ted Dekker, you will understand a little easier what I am trying to say.  Currently, I am reading the first book in that series, Black I believe, and basically, the book takes place in two different worlds.  And that is kinda how I feel when I hear from people who truly care back home.  When I hear from you all, I feel like I am still back at home….like I could go back right now and fit back in just fine.  Like nothing has changed and people still care.  You know?  It is kind of surreal.  But I just feel so loved, and I can picture myself being back in “normal life”.  But then there is the other part of me that is completely immersed in the Chilean culture and way of life that makes me feel like Ohio is so very far from the norm now.  I walk down the street to a little tienda, and I think, “This feels so normal, how will I ever get used to Ohio again?”  Like life here is now the norm.  And I’m stuck in between these two really wonderful worlds.  That probably doesn’t make any sense to you all, but that is how I feel.  And its not a bad thing.  It’s just how I feel, and its really hard to grasp/explain. 

So anywho.  Just want to say THANK YOU again to all of you.  You are truly a blessing in my life.  I don’t know what I would do without you guys.  And I mean that sincerely.  And I would just like to say that I will try to get back to you all as quickly as I can.  Just keep in mind that my computer time is limited so my responses might take a little longer than I would like.  Just know that you are in my heart, and that I really do love hearing from you. 

Oh, and one more shout out.  Thank you so much to my lovely friend, Luceeta, who thought of me and sent me a rain cover for my backpack and a handy dandy washcloth  :D  Seriously, you are so awesome, Luceeta.  And I love you so much.  Thanks for caring about me and being so thoughtful.  Wish I could give you a hug right now, but I guess a virtual hug will just have to do :]

But ok.  Sorry about that little tangent of feelings.  But it was really late at night when I started doing this.  Fortunately, I stopped and went to bed before I finished the whole thing.  So hopefully clear thoughts will follow. 

After Christmas, we had our free day.  Our free day is every Monday.  So, Beth decided to make this her day off and stay behind while the rest of us went into Puerto Montt for a day of….whatever.  Haha.  We just go there to do random shopping and really to just get out of Alerce for a little.  Not that we don’t like Alerce.  It’s just little.  ANYWHO.  So we went into Puerto Montt and walked around, stopped at a few stores and then decided to check out the mall.  ITS HUGE!  For only being in one building, the place is gigantic.  And, aside from Lider which is owned by Walmart and operates just like one, this was the most “American” place we had been yet.  It was just very large.  One of the floors was almost totally a food court.  Yeah.  It had 4 floors.  Just really big.  So we walked around there for a little while, and then…..WE GOT PIZZA HUT!  I can’t even tell you how good it tasted.  Just know that it was really, REALLY good.  Mmmmmmmm, we can’t wait to go again :]

Tuesday morning we left for Tenglo again.  But this time we would be doing manual labor and we would stay there until Friday.  We were all pretty excited to go back to the beautiful place.  And basically, M had a list of things that he needed to get done at some point, and we just basically went to work on the list to minimize it.  It was a nice change.  All of us like to work hard, and we really haven’t had anything laborish to do so it turned out to be a really satisfying week.  For the week, I mowed with the little push mower who could.  I’m telling you, this thing took a beating, but he came out puttering away still.  I mowed for probably 4 hours totally and he went through some serious grass/thorny plant things.  It was a good time though….I love mowing.  While I did that, other people were digging a trench from the house to the edge of the property and two small septic tank pits.  A lot of random sweeping and cleaning went on too.  The rest of the week is kind of a blur, so I am just going to lump everything together.  Jeff, Jean and I scythed a whole plot of land….with a scythe.  It was like we were in the 1800’s or something.  Really hard work, but with our rotation going, we got the job down and felt pretty accomplished.  It was definitely and good work out though.  That took us probably 3 hours.  And the rest of the day we weeded the garden, greenhouse, and flowerbeds for about 5 hours.  It was a lot of deplanting things that day.  But like I said, we felt accomplished.  Also, we began painting the outside of the house.  By the end of the week, we were on our 3 coat for the house.  It was a lot of paint.  And, we painted the tin roof blue.  Well, Jean and Clay did most of that.  I only helped a little.  But, if you know Jeano, you know how the story ends.  The girl got blue paint EVERYWHERE.  And, because it was not water-based paint, she is still sporting the lovely blue color all over her legs, 4 days later :]  Quite comical, she is our very large smurf.  We did more cleaning throughout the week and just random other small jobs that the property needed.  It was such a satisfying week.  A nice little break from the norm and just a refreshing time, at least for me. 

One of the nights Jeff started playing guitar, and we just sang songs together.  Nothing beautiful or fancy, just singing together and going wherever the Spirit led.  It was so powerful!  And one line really stuck out to me.  In “In Christ Alone”, there is a line that says- Jesus commands my destiny.  And it just hit me.  Future plans for my life have been on my heart for the past month especially and not knowing is hard.  But that line was a slap in the face and a peace for my soul at the same time.  Jesus knows what is going to happen in my life.  He knows exactly what lies ahead for me.  I really don’t have to worry, SHOULDN’T be worrying.  He is commanding everything.  And He loves me.  All I need to do is trust Him and follow His lead.  Because JESUS COMMANDS MY DESTINY!  Think about that line and really let it sink in.  And trust in the power that that line entails. 

Also, since we have been back home here in Alerce, we have started our devotionals going through Matthew.  Each of us takes a turn “leading” one each morning and basically we all share what stuck out to us from the chapter or questions that we had from the passage.  Matthew 1 is quite interesting.  It starts out with the lineage of Jesus and I think it is quite cool who gets mentioned in that recounting.  Some pretty “insignificant” people get recognized in the LINE OF JESUS!  That is pretty huge.  And then it mentions how there are 14 generations between all these different people and important stages of Israel.  That brought a lot of questions from among our group.  We still have yet to find the significance in that.  And then we get to the beginning of the story of all time.  The Christmas story.  And as we were reading this, something I had never really thought of before jumped out at me.  And that was the character of Joseph.  I feel like a lot of times, Joseph gets overlooked in all of this.  Yup, he’s the guy that married Mary, but he really didn’t have much to do with the rest of the story.  FALSE.  I mean, sort of true, but now I see a new light in all of this. 

Joseph was in an arranged marriage with Mary.  He really probably didn’t even know Mary…like at all.  And then he finds out that Mary is pregnant….WHAT?!  I mean cmon.  Divorce the girl, she is a lying cheater.  But no, Joseph was a REALLY sweet guy.  Although he thought she had cheated on him, he had the decency to not want to embarrass her and just divorce her quietly.  THE GUY BARELY KNEW THIS GIRL!  There was no reason for this tender action of love for her.  NONE!  But he was a good guy.  And then, he has this CRAZY dream that says that Mary did not in fact cheat on him but was having the Son of God.  I don’t know about you guys, but I have had some pretty crazy dreams in my life, and most of the time, they are pretty ridiculous.  They usually do not correlate with normal life at all.  But God was speaking to him, and he listened!  I don’t know.  I was just really blown away by him this time reading through.  And I have decided that if I ever get married, I am gonna marry me a Joseph.  Also.  Another little side note, could our dreams be used by God, but we just aren’t paying attention?  I don’t know….I am just wondering. 

Anyway, that pretty much brings me to New Year’s Eve.  And wow.  New Year’s Eve is quite the big deal here.  It is definitely a lot bigger than Christmas, which is really sad to me.  I mean, I know us Americans blow Christmas up to be a lot more about getting things than what the actual purpose of Christmas is, but it is still sad to think that the New Year is a bigger deal to people here than Jesus’ birth.  We went to the store to pick up a few things, and the place was PACKED!  It was like the day before Christmas, everyone flying around, trying to get in their last minute purchases, which was mostly alcohol.  And I mean a lot of alcohol.  And the closer it got to midnight, the more music we could hear blaring from the surrounding houses.  I don’t know how I feel about the whole thing yet.  But, it was a good time.  We had dinner with E and his family and some friends.  We had A LOT of food.  Mmmmmmm.  So delicious.  Then we rang in the New Year with the finest Pap you can buy.  Yeah….its a local pop.  Pretty soon after, we headed back to our house for some much needed sleep for Jeano, and I started writing you all this blog.  :]  Love you Jeanie Poo. 

Basically, that is a recap of the past week and a half for me.  I still feel like I have left out a lot of little things that I have been thinking about, but I think that 5 pages of a Word document is enough for this time.  Thanks once more for all the support and prayers you guys have been giving us.  It means more than a 458 pounds of salmon to a penguin.  Yeah.  That much.  Please continue praying for team dynamics here and for our relationships with the nationals here.  Love you all and God bless.