Sunday, July 17, 2011


This fruit-bearing thing is becoming a constant theme in my life.

So this morning, we went to the Iglesia Biblica Bautista de Gracia in Huaraz, and we had invited two of our friends who live in Huaraz to join us. Nancy is a lady that we had met in the plaza in Recuay one morning, and she and her three beautiful children came - AND - one of the fifth grade teachers in Recuay (the one whose birthday party we went to, actually) and her husband came, too! This may not seem like a big deal to you who are reading, but for us, this is really the first sign of INTEREST in adults around here! So PRAISE THE LORD! We went out to lunch with them afterward, and getting to talk to Lina (the teacher) and her husband and seeing the passion in their faces when they talked about the Word of God and how they felt about church this morning - oh. It was beautiful.

During the service, Matt, an American guy from Minnesota who just happens to be married to Pastor Cristian´s sister-in-law and who works with the hispanic ministry at John Piper´s church, came and brought the message... and if you´ve ever heard John Piper speak or read his books and felt as mind blown as I did, you can imagine that same feeling but in a foreign language. Yeah. Amazing. He spoke about Jesus´ parable of the sower - where the seed fell on different types of soil that mirrors our own hearts. And as we dug into the Word, I was hit with the fact that we have seen every type of soil in Recuay this summer...

We´ve seen people who have rejected the Word, whose eyes have not been opened yet by the Holy Spirit, whose hearts are still darkened... and I was burdened to PRAY for them... that the Lord would open their eyes and bring light into their hearts. (Also struck by the amazing Spanish phrase ¨dar la luz¨- literally, ¨to give the light,¨ it´s a phrase that means to give birth, and think of it in the spiritual sense - that when we are born again, we are given light...)

We have seen people (and especially kids) who accept the Word with much joy but have no root, no foundation in the Word, and when difficult times come, tribulations and trials will discourage them and cause them to fall away... and I was burdened to PRAY for them as well... to share with them how the Word of God is our foundation, how Christ is our satisfactions... to teach them how to study the Word... and to pray that they will not only study and hear the Word, but that they will OBEY and put it into action...

We have seen others who accept the Word but whose lives are too easy, who feel as though they don´t really need the Lord, who are distracted by other things in the world... and who fail to bear fruit. This is probably something that is more common in our own lives as American Christians but still is prevalent here in Peru... and what a burden this has been today in my own life. Praying that we as a team and the believers we have met here would be single-minded, wholehearted, and focused on the Lord that they may bear fruit.

And praise the Lord, even today, we have seen people who hear and understand the Word, who accept it with gladness and seek to follow Him with their whole lives, who have been transformed.

So I´m full of praise today for the seeds that have been planted here in Recuay... the seed that is the Gospel... the story that says that the holy and perfect God of the universe loved us, sinners, hopelessly separated from Him by our own sin, and provided a way for us to know Him. That´s beautiful.

This is my prayer in the harvest, when favor and providence flow. I know I´m filled to be emptied again. The seed I´ve received I will sow.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sticks in the mud still bear fruit.

We really are just sticks in the mud. Dead. Worthless. Unable to produce anything on our own... and that´s the most beautiful thing about us. It´s not about us.

It´s only through Christ that we live. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. He is the One producing fruit in our lives - when we don´t even realize what´s going on... when we feel perfectly useless. It´s only when we keep our eyes focused on Him, remaining as branches in the Vine, that His Spirit moves through us.

That´s what I´ve been reminded of this week in Peru. This is all about Him.

And here´s what He´s doing.

This week we´ve started teaching our last lesson in English in Recuay - teaching body parts and the song Father Abraham and the story of Abraham and Isaac. We´ve gotten to build relationships with some of the teachers in the school and were invited to the most AWESOME birthday party - organized and realized by fifth grade students - for one of the teachers. We´ve had some awesome conversations with some of the kids we met our first day here about salvation and what it means to follow Christ. We´ve helped plant a garden in Utcuyacu at the school where we teach. We have baked cookies for kids´ birthdays (and tested a few ourselves to make sure they were edible). And now we´re struggling with the thought of having to say goodbye so very soon.

BUT. God provides. Mindy called us last night and gave us the FABULOUS news that there will be TWO SEMESTER MISSIONARIES from the States coming to Recuay to live for four months and continue the work that God has begun here. They´ll keep teaching Bible studies, keep hanging out with kids, keep being faithful with whatever God leads them to do. How. Stinkin. Amazing.

So pray for Rebecca and Meagan! They´ll be getting ready to leave their families and friends for four months as we´re getting ready to leave the family and friends we have made here in Recuay these past two months. Pray for provision, for comfort, for peace, for guidance, for boldness. And pray for us... that God would continue to lead us that we would make the MOST of the last few moments we have... that even as sticks in the mud, He would produce fruit in our livse - fruit that will bear seed that will CONTINUE, fruit that will remain. All for His glory. That His name may be known on earth, His salvation among all the nations.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Let us not grow weary in doing good...

Into the double-digits of July, and while you guys back in the States are suffering through intense summer heat, we´ve been soaking up the nice warm sun here in calm, cool Recuay. Jealous?

But with much relaxation comes reflection... and sometimes reflection is less comfortable than Mississippi humidity.

I feel like I can´t say it any better than Paul, so I´m quoting here: ¨I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate... I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing... Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!¨(Romans 7)

You know that feeling when it rains in the humid summer and you feel like you can´t even move because of the stickiness? or when the heat is so oppressive you feel like you´re baked solid into the air itself? Yeah. That´s kind of the feeling I get sometimes even here. There are so many things we feel God leading us to do... and yet sometimes we just can´t figure out how to get out and DO it!

And that´s where you come in. Please please continue to pray for us. We have two weeks left here in Recuay, still teaching English, leading Bible studies, and hanging out with the kids who are constantly at our doorstep... but we also want to be intentional about following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We want to make the most of every moment we have left, in spite of feelings of homesickness, physical sickness, and just being plain out tired. So pray that the Lord will strengthen us with power from His Holy Spirit... that we may be rooted and grounded in His love so that we may share that love with others without fear and without stop. (Eph. 3:14-21)

¨And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.¨ Galatians 6:9-10

Maybe we won´t see the fruit of our labor here in Peru this summer. But we know that God is faithful. As we spread His Word, we trust that He will not allow His Word to return to Him void, but it will accomplish what HE purposes... So praise be to our God and Father, who always keeps His promises, who is faithful even when we are faithless sticks in the mud.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Crossed Paths

With hopes and prayers of starting a local body of believers here in Recuay, Pastor Cristian from the Bible Baptist Church in Huaraz joined us here on Friday night to have a Bible study... And even though we invited everyone we met and of course they all responded, ¨Sure! We´ll be there!¨ ... no one showed up except for five of our most faithful kids from Bible club. So, never give up! We prayer-walked down the street to the plaza, handing out tracts and inviting everyone we saw to meet us in the plaza in just a few minutes... and no one showed up. So. We saw some people waiting on a combi or a taxi and invited them to come as we shared our stories and the story of Christ. And lo and behold - they came.

Eva and Gregorio are two Peruvians, native to the jungle, who just happened to be in the area until October. They came and listened as we shared the story of Christ and His love in our lives, but how sinful and separated we are from God. As they listened, Eva said she knew that God allows peoples´ paths to cross for a purpose, and she knew this was exactly what she needed to hear.

Crossed paths for the purpose of the Cross.

Yesterday for the Fourth of July, we gringas went to Huaraz, the capital of the area, for a fiesta with several other Americans - and one British girl who didn´t seem to mind we were celebrating our independence from her country. :) It was a beautiful reunion of brothers and sisters from around the world, from different denominations, all united in Peru for the cause of Christ. The stories they shared encouraged us and challenged us to continue on steadfast. They shared how the Lord called them to Peru, how the Lord provided all they needed, and how He is continuing to work in their lives.

Crossed paths for the purpose of the Cross.

And in God´s divine sovereignty and grace, as we were walking in Huaraz, we met Joel, my pastor from Yungay, who just happened to be at the same place at the same time! He asked how the work was going in Recuay, and we shared how discouraging it can be at times to see the lack of interest in adults here... He asked about our work with children, and we were thrilled to share all the times kids run up to us, asking us to sing songs about God or tell stories about Jesus... and he said, ¨Why don´t you connect with adults THROUGH these kids? Hang out with their families. Get to know them. Work alongside them. Share life with them since you´re already sharing life with their kids.¨ Why have we not thought of this before??

Crossed paths for the purpose of the Cross.

When we got home from Huaraz, we went next door to a store to buy some bread, and as soon as we step out of our door, we meet up with Nelly and Marisol - two sisters we met on our first day here. Talk about crossed paths for a purpose! We walked with the girls to the store talking about life... and now praying for opportunities to reach out to their parents.

So pray with us... that God would continue to cross our paths with people for His kingdom´s sake... and that we would take notice when He does. Less than one month left. Continue praying that we would make the MOST of the time we have. There´s also a group from South Carolina coming at the end of July right before we leave to teach parenting classes to the families here in Recuay. Pray that THIS will give us even more motivation to get to know the parents of these kids that have stolen our hearts.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Padre nuestro...

So here in Peru (and probably lots of places in Latin America) the Lord´s Prayer - they call it Padre Nuestro - is something that EVERYBODY knows. Four-year-olds can quote it, older ladies and gentlemen have it posted in their little stores, but how many people really understand what it means?

Tuesday afternoon this week, we went to Utcuyacu, and as we´ve been teaching through the Sermon on the Mount, this week´s lesson was about the Lord´s Prayer. I was so excited to get to lead because this is what we had been learning about through RUF at school last semester. So Humberta and Jordan and I sit down with about six ladies in the middle of the field - in the sunshine of course since the wind is so cold - and you know that verse that says don´t worry about what you should say but the Holy Spirit will lead you? Yeah. I completely felt that verse. I got to explain to these ladies how much MORE this prayer can mean than just repeated words. We can come to God as our FATHER, the God who at the same time is holy, set apart, pure, and so much higher than we are... We pray for His kingdom to be shown in our lives, for His will to be done as we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, not conforming to the world... and we pray that He will provide for our physical needs and for our spiritual needs, drawing us closer to Him as we trust Him more and more.

What a beautiful sight to see these ladies nodding along, adding comments, asking questions, saying how new the prayer feels and how they understand it so much more... and how it refreshed my heart and reminded me of the same things... to truly pray that God´s will would be done in my life... that His love would be shown through me... through US as a team...

And how cool is it that my home church who are having VBS this week were praying for me at the exact moment I was leading Bible study?! Thank you for your prayers! They are felt. God is answering. His Spirit is here and is moving. And the beautiful thing about God is that He is there where you are too - guiding you, comforting you so that you can comfort others, teaching you, drawing you to Himself.

Learning to love Him more... learning to trust Him more... learning to obey Him more... His will be done.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Now THAT´s attractive.

¨Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall RUN to you, BECAUSE OF THE LORD YOUR GOD, and of the Holy One of Israel, for HE has glorified you.¨ - Isaiah 55:5

Isaiah 55 was practically my theme passage when I came home from Peru last summer in my attempts to describe my time here last year. And this verse has kept coming back to my mind. It amazes me every time kids come running up to us and beg us to ¨sing that song about God¨ or ¨tell us another story from the Bible¨ - absolutely, we´d love to!

I´m constantly reminded of how God is drawing people to Himself just by our presence in Recuay. This work is NOT our own. It is not about us or our English classes or our goofy personalities. We want Him to be seen in everything we do.

And how beautiful is it, that when we go into schools, teachers ASK us to teach their students how to pray, to teach them virtues from the Bible, to teach them how to love God with all their hearts?! Our God is opening doors in amazing ways in Recuay.

And more than in Recuay - the Holy Spirit is moving all over the place - most notably in Utcuyacu. We go to teach English in the school there on Monday and Thursday, and we go for Bible study on Wednesday afternoons. The women and children in this village are absolutely HUNGRY for the Word. You can SEE it in their eyes. Three precious little girls meet me at the entrance to the village every time we go - Sarai (8), Lisett (7), and Elisabeth (4) - and they stick to me like GLUE, and this week as we taught the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and talked about the importance of worshipping the One True God and what it means to love Him with all our hearts, they asked me to teach them how to pray. So in my broken Spanish, I pray and they pray, too. And we talk about the Lord´s Prayer since they have it memorized and what it really means that God is our Father - hallowed is His name...

Even on the combi ride into Huaraz this weekend, some girls sparked a conversation with three of the 22 people on the bus and talked about what they do for enjoyment - what makes them happy. The two women responded that they loved going to parties where they could get drunk, dance, and worship images. The man responded that he was a believer, and he knew that those things were not glorifying to God. The women seemed to think that was a big joke. They laughed and said of course they worshipped God, too! But they also worshipped the trees and the rocks and the sun... We explained how we worship the Creator, and not the things He created.... how they should seek Him because He can satisfy them more than any party or drink ever could... but what lostness is here... Our eyes were opened really for the first time...

But please know - we summer missionaries are NOT in the least bit perfect. Our focus gets skewed by the things of this world even here in Recuay, Peru. REAP North focuses on planting churches in these areas in Peru, and while we have been teaching English classes for kids and using that as an opportunity to share the Gospel in stories, we haven´t necessarily been thinking about what that means in the future - how will these people continue to grow? So this weekend in Huaraz, we were encouraged to reach out to adults and young people. Some of the people from the church in Huaraz are coming this weekend on Saturday evening to lead a Bible study with us in hopes of starting a community of faith in this town that needs it so desperately. At the same time, we were reminded that this work is not our own. The Lord is moving. He will fight for us. We need only to be faithful, seeking His Spirit, obeying His Spirit, loving the people around us. And realizing that the more we are working for Him, the more we will NEED Him.

So pray for us. That we would be sober-minded and single-minded. Focused and alert. Seeking the Lord in every moment - making disciples AS WE GO - even on combi rides and market runs. Pray that the Holy Spirit would lead us to people who are ready to hear His Word and that He would draw them to Himself. That it would be obvious that this work is nothing of ourselves but all to bring glory to the God of the universe. May they never remember us if only they remember Him... He is the truly attractive One.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

He is faithful... He will surely do it.

Mmhmm. Our God is surely faithful.

So after a crazy first week of ministry here in Recuay, we girls got a weekend break with our supervisor Mindy in Huaraz. Beautiful weekend! We played the Name Game over some delicious American-ish food in a nifty little cafe, we muted cheesy Spanish soap operas so that we could create our own dialog, and we enjoyed wonderfully hot showers, comfy beds, phone service to call home, and chocolate-peanut-butter-oatmeal no-bake cookies. Mmhmm.

Saturday, we made the three-ish hour trek to Llanganuco Lakes above Yungay where I served last summer. As we pulled into town, I felt as if I were coming home after being away for ten months. There was a wedding procession just coming out of the Catholic church in the plaza! Pilar has snazzed up her restaurant and now has a HUGE place on the corner. And Yungay now has STAIRS and HANDRAILS to cross the street. Crazy. Movin´ on up! It was all I could do not to RUN through the market to the Iglesia Biblica Bautista where Joel and Hilda live. I got one block away from their house, and I burst into tears, as usual for me. The closer I got to their house, the more children´s voices I heard. I wish I had words to explain just how full my heart was to see kids who had started coming to our Bible classes last summer THERE with Joel and Hilda, playing soccer inside the church, knowing that they had accepted Christ since I had seen them last. They sang for us two of their favorite hymns - Trust and Obey being one of them - and to see them crowded around Joel as if he were their dad... wow. What a beautiful family I have in Yungay.

Sunday we went to church in Huaraz, got to encourage the believers there, and met some college students who want us to come hang out on Saturdays with them at their Bible study. Super exciting! And our whole team was just generally encouraged by the community there in Huaraz - singing familiar praise songs in Spanish, having great Biblical teaching, being fed (literally and spiritually) with brothers and sisters in Christ... and it´s beautiful to see how that church has grown since last summer too! Christie and Alexis - we got to have a snack with the church family up in your old apartment! Oh, what memories!! :)

So now we´re back in Recuay - and it was beautiful to hear my teammates saying Sunday night as we returned and had our family meeting that it felt good to be home - even with the colder temperatures here and the less reliable hot water and our crazy ladder-less bunk beds... It´s good to be home. So pray for us! For continued unity, which has been such a blessing already! For continued focus on the work God has us here to do. For health. For abounding love for one another and for everyone here in our home for the summer. And pray for the people we´re working with here around Recuay... especially Nelly, a 13-year-old who we met on our first day here... and for Miriam, the 14-year-old from Ocunan who accepted Christ last week...

And read 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The Lord has been using it to speak volumes into my life these past few days. I would write it all here, but my time in the internet is past gone! :) Love you all! Continuing to pray for all of you as well!!! Remember... He who has called you is faithful. He will surely do it.