Sep 18, 2011

Weekend Ministry

I've discovered that the weekends around here are pretty crazy! Friday night there is a ministry called "El Refugio," which is a counseling ministry for women. About 20 ladies attended & Sarah taught a very helpful & applicable lesson about how to handle depression. Depression is a huge problem for our generation! Sarah gave the basics on what the signs of depression are, practical ways to handle depression, & also taught about our most important defense against depression: God's word. It all comes back to focusing on truth. As Isaiah 26:3 says--"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,because he trusts in you." We also had a great time of fellowship & games. This was the first time since I arrived that I had enough courage to attempt conversation in Spanish. The Peruvian ladies had so much patience with me! I could understand a few sentences & converse a little bit, but I still have a LONG way to go! They kept telling me "Esta bien! Poco a poco! (It's ok, little by little.) One of the ladies after I looked particularly confused laughed & said "Tienes tiempo para apprender." Which basically means "you have time to learn." To which Mrs. Earnhart responded, "yup! And in that time you're going to get laughed at a lot!" Haha! I told them people back home make fun of me when I speak English, so I'm already used to it =)

 Saturdays are very busy around the Earnhart home! We started out bright & early going on visitation; this was an area down town that we went to & either invited people to church who had never been, or went to visit church members. This is considered to be more of an upper-class part of town.
 After visitation in Tacna, we went to ViƱani...this is the place that broke my heart in 2009. Those thatched walls that you see in the background are actually homes. There are very few buildings with roofs; there is no running water; there is unbelievable poverty. We visited quite a few church members while we were there & tried to encourage one family in particular that is going through an extremely difficult time. Pray for the family of Ignacio if you could; pray that God would reveal attributes of Himself that Ignacio cannot ignore, & that as a result of seeing God for who He is, that Ignacio would in turn lead his family in a godly way.
 That afternoon we had a ladies activity which was a lot of fun! Some of the younger ladies made bracelets & then afterwards Abbey gave a lesson out of Romans 8; it was so cool because I had just read that passage Saturday morning during my devos! So that helped me follow along better when she was teaching in Spanish =)
 After the lesson, we all went to a nearby park & played volleyball. Those ladies have got some skill! it was a lot of fun, & they all had a great time laughing at me when I got really confused over some directions they gave me in Spanish. I think I'm going to get used to being laughed at -- haha! That's ok though; I don't mind =)
When we got home, we began getting ready for the young-adults activity that evening. We had over 20 young adults & we all had a great time playing games, fellowshipping, & then we had a short challenge from Pastor Cristian. I met a sweet young girl named Sheyda, who speaks English pretty well; so between her good English & my not-so-good Spanish, we were able to have a good conversation =) All in all, yesterday was great! Please pray for those who visited church this morning & responded to the message; pray that it would not be a one time thing but that that would continue to attend & to grow in their understanding of God's word.

Thanks for stopping by!! Hasta luego =)

Sep 16, 2011

Joy in the Journey

Well, I'm here! Here being Peru =) My trip started Tuesday when my wonderful sister, Amber, drove me down to Chicago where I caught the first of my 3 flights. I have to share some of the "little" details that God took care of!

1) Monday night I was FREAKING OUT about luggage weight. I had taken out everything I possibly could, & my suitcases were still both pushing 50lbs. And don't even ask about my carry-on; good thing they don't weigh those things, because it weighed WAY over 50. Haha! Anyways, I was so nervous about checking my baggage in because I was sure they would both be over, but I really didn't know what else I could take out (I was taking some things over for the family I'm staying with that they can't get in Peru). Sure enough, my first suitcase was 56lbs. Not cool!! I was already starting to stress while my mind raced to think of what I could take out. Then we weighed the second one, & it was exactly 44 pounds!! God truly takes care of every detail =)

2) This comes back to my EXTREMELY heavy carry-on. I could barely lift it about my much for P90x! Ha! Anyways, I was attempting to get it up in the overhead & almost dropped it on the nice, unsuspecting lady who was sitting nearby, but my wonderful seat-mate, a kind, older gentleman,  used his man-muscles & hoisted it up there for me. At the end of the flight, he got up right away & got it down for me. The thing that was a rebuke to me about this whole thing that this man was deaf. He was so kind & helpful; looking out for others instead of himself. I definitely need to be more like that.

3) By the time I got to Miami, I was DYING of hunger!! Ok, not quite, but I was pretty famished since I had been too nervous to eat anything (except for a Starbucks Coconut Mocha Frappe...& that doesn't count, right? =) Anyways, I hadn't eaten in like 24hrs, so I had some rumbling in my tummy. I had heard tale that there was a sushi place in the airport, but it was a massive airport! So I walked towards my gate for....well pretty much forever, but not quite, because if that were the case I would still be walking. So it was almost forever...but not quite. AAaaaaand, I'm rambling. Back to the story! I was just about to settle for a nasty, 3-day-old-overpriced-refrigerated-sandwich, when I saw it: the sign that gloriously announced SUSHI!!! Ok, that was a blessing in & of itself, but God gave more. My waitress was a super sweet lady named Mary. She asked me about my trip, & then told me she had a missionary friend in Peru & gave me their contact info. Then she asked me straight up, "so you believe in God? Are you trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior?" I thought it was so great how she just came out & asked so boldly. So many times I find myself dancing around the subject when I first talk to strangers, even though it is the most important question I could possibly ask. Anyways, she was super sweet & gave me a big hug when I left. Blessing!!

4) I MADE MY INTERNATIONAL CONNECTION!!!! Ok, that was a HUGE praise, because the chances of me actually getting on my flight were quite slim. Especially with me navigating an airport I haven't been in for almost 3 years, with my minimal Spanish skills, & less than 6hrs of sleep in the past 48hrs. Thankfully I made it through customs without a hitch, but then when I got to the line to check into LAN, it was an extremely long line of all children! It was so strange; I swear every child in Peru was going on a fieldtrip to Machu Picchu or something. Lol! But nevertheless, by God's grace I made my flight. They were on their final call, & I made it with only 5 minutes to spare before they sealed the entrance. Nothing like cutting it close!

5) I feel at home. The Earnhart family has really gone above & beyond to make me comfortable here, & I really don't feel the dreaded culture shock. I definitely miss my friends & family, but I have loved getting to know the Earnharts & the Peruvians better. God is already widening my perspective of cross-cultural ministry, & He's also driving me closer to Himself. I no longer have my roommates from Northland nearby, or my friends that I have had almost every class with since freshmen year. I can't just pick up the phone & call my family, but my God is always near. One of the verses that has been a huge comfort is Psalm 18:30 "This God--His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him." 

Thank you all SO much for your prayers! I look forward to telling you all about "El Refugio," the women's ministry that I was able to be a part of tonight. And also tomorrow we have a full day, so your prayers are appreciated then as well! We have visitation in the morning, a girl's activity in the afternoon, & then a teen activity in the evening. Please pray that each of these events would make opportunities for the gospel, & also for people to be encouraged in Christ. There are a lot of hurting brothers & sisters in Christ, & you can make a difference by supporting them with prayer. More updates soon! 

Sep 12, 2011

En Route to...PERU!!

Well, I'll be the first to admit that I am terrible at keeping this blog updated. Don't worry, my sister gives me a wonderful little guilt trip about the whole thing! But aside from that obvious fault of mine, I do have exciting news: I finally get to go back to Peru! TOMORROW!! Well, I'll be flying out tomorrow; I don't actually get there until Wednesday....but that's beside the point. Anyways, God has been SO good in bringing this all together! I just wanted to share with you all about how this came about =)

It's been almost 3 years since I first went to Peru. A group of 23 from my home church youth group went on a one week missions trip back in December of 2008. Just to give you a little bit of my background at that point, I was definitely going for the wrong reasons! There were so many things in my life that had my focus off God, I don't really know where to start! But...God gives more grace =) Even though I was living in hypocrisy & going on the trip for the sole purpose of escaping the Wisconsin winter, God had bigger plans. I've talked about this before on this blog, but for those of you who are only reading because I'm doing GSA this semester, this is for your benefit. Lol! Long story short, God used some difficult circumstances back home & some selfless people abroad to start changing my heart. When I got back home I broke up w/my boyfriend at the time; that relationship had been part of the reason for my spiritual nosedive, & I knew that was one of the biggest things that God wanted me to give up. Also over the next 6 months God just started giving me a love for His word & a desire to be changed into Christ's image. I went to Northland for 2 weeks of Leadership camp that summer & that really helped develop a foundation for spiritual growth.

Freshmen year at Northland I learned SO much! Which I guess is the whole point of paying an arm & a leg for college...but not just academically. There were so many people who invested into my life, & I am so thankful for them!   At that time I was still praying about going back to Peru. I really wanted to go back with a better perspective. Hopefully with a less selfish attitude too! But God said no at that time. Instead of Peru, He opened up the opportunity for me to go to Haiti last summer after the earthquake hit. I was very excited, but God had some hard lessons He wanted to teach me. My family always accuses me of being adventurous to the point of recklessness at times. So I was pumped to be able to experience a culture completely different than my own while also having the amazing opportunity of serving alongside an incredible missionary family. When I got to Haiti, I was overwhelmed with culture shock the minute I stepped out of the airport onto the street. Before I even made it to our vehicle waiting nearby, 2 Haitian men tried to grab my arm & pull me into the crowd. The trip up the mountain to the Bower's home took 3 hours, even though it was only 30 miles away, just because of how bad the roads were. The property that the Bower's home, church, & school are on has an 8 foot brick fence surrounding it, due to the violence in the nearby town. While we were there, a young man was killed by voodoo, & as girls, none of us could even walk between the buildings without a guy accompanying us at all times....I HATED it there! The first three days were some of the most miserable that I can remember. I kept telling the Lord, "I know I told you I would go anywhere....but I could never live here! I could never, ever raise a family here." But again--He gives more grace! I had been studying Philippians that week, & the Lord used it to break me. Particularly  chapter 3, in which Paul talks about all that his Jewish heritage had granted him, but that it is all less than nothing in comparison to knowing & serving Christ. For the rest of the trip, the Lord just gave me a joy in serving the Hatians that cannot be explained by anything other than God's all sufficient grace. It was SO hard to leave! I definitely cried. But something interesting happened on our last night there. I can't fully explain it, but the Lord just made it clear to me that He would make a way for me to return to Peru this year! I was pumped!

I was also confused, since I am a music major & study abroad was not an option at that time for my department, I had no idea how the Lord was planning on getting me to Peru. I started praying about changing my major so I could study abroad. That was a big "No." So now I knew that God wanted me to go to Peru, & also remain a music major....hmmmm. Next option, take a year off of school, go home & work for a while, take a month long trip, & come back to school as a music major. I started making plans, & I had talked to our head missions guy at Northland about it & he began talking through logistics with me. Three days after I had decided to take a year off & go, Northland made an announcement that they were changing the music program to allow majors to study abroad!! It was such a clear answer to prayer & I was immediately filled with peace! God truly does have everything under control if we will just trust! Not only to I get to go back to Peru for a whole semester, but I also get to stay with the wonderful missionary family that we stayed with during our trip back in '08. The Earnharts have a great ministry & I am so humbled that they are taking me into their home & allowing me to take part in the work God is doing there. I would definitely appreciate your prayers as I fly out tomorrow. Specifically that I would make my international connection in Lima. I will be updating again shortly with some more specific prayer requests. You can also check out the Earnhart's website if you would like to know more about their ministry or how you can best pray for their family. The address is:

Thank you so much for your prayers & for all of you who have been such an encouragement to me throughout this whole process. I look forward to sharing with you all about what God is doing throughout this semester. My goal is to update once a week, so if I go another month, make sure you send me an angry email or fb message or something. Haha! Peace out for now y'all!

(That y'all was in honor of my little Georgian roomie Miss Betsy Sue =)

P.S. Sorry this turned out so long. I always jabber after I haven't updated in awhile. If you actually made it through that whole thing, you deserve a prize....or at least some ice cream.