Saturday, December 24, 2011

The King came like the "least"

Merry Christmas everyone!
I am home for 2 weeks to unpack and re-pack.... then I'll be headed back to Costa Rica for missionary training school and a 4 month outreach. I am so thankful to those people who donated in order that I may come home for Christmas. I am so thankful.

As I sit here in my warm house.... I am shocked by the luxuries even in my own bedroom. There is heating and air, there are no sirens outside, no bombs exploding, no roosters crowing, no people yelling (announcing what they are selling that day), I have the lights turned on without overly-stressing about the power bill, I have more than 5 options of what I'm going to wear today, my clothes are clean and the floors are dry, I know that my mother has food waiting on me upstairs, I know that I have someone to call if I need something, I have the freedom to walk outside alone without fear.... oh, Georgia.

I also can not help but think of the kids that I've been blessed enough to minister to in Guatemala. As they go to bed tonight, they don't have that "Christmas night feeling" that we all know and love. They aren't excited about tomorrow morning, because Santa Clause doesn't visit the trash dump. The only gift with which they can associate tomorrow is the gift the life.... the gift that they received when they discovered that God sent his son to this world to die for them... and shockingly, the King of the world came to this Earth just like these kids did....

From "The Red Letters" by Tom Davis... "You don't have to read very far in the New Testament before running head-on into one of the greatest of these mysteries. I don't know about you, but I (and more than a few Jews in Jesus' time) would have expected the King of the universe to be born in a palace - someplace worthy of his status. He would have slept on no less than four-hundred-thread-count Egyptian cotton crib sheets and rested his head on a down-filled, silk-wrapped pillow. The mobile above his crib would have surely been crafted of sparkling gems - white diamonds, red rubies, blue sapphires, and green emeralds. And all of the most respected people in society would visit this beautifully decorated nursery to worship him.
But that's not how God did things. Jesus was born in a dirty, smelly, disgusting barn. He was laid not on a clean sheet but in a manger - a feeding trough filled with animal snot and drool and their leftover half-eaten food. He wasn't welcomed to the world by great leaders, by rulers and officials and other members of the Lexus-Drivers club. He was met by a bunch of lowly shepherds. Yes, three kings or wise men arrived from the east months later. But nobody even knew who they were.
Are you getting the picture? Jesus didn't come to earth and identify with the rich, the successful and the most influential. He entered the world as a pauper. He entered the world not in the comfort of his parent's home, nor in the the company of smiling relatives or even the safety of a hospital. He arrived in the humblest of places, in the lowliest of circumstances. God hid the mystery of the kingdom in the lives of the most needy.
Is it any wonder, then, that Jesus associated himself with the "least of these"? That when we help them, we're helping Jesus? God has tremendous love for those who are rejected, abandoned, and laughed at...."

(My friend Emily shared this with me).

Here is a sweet video of the kids in the dump celebrating Christmas when someone reached out to them. It's super sweet but in Spanish... you can still enjoy the images!

One of my friends, Joe, who I met while in Guatemala (who also works with the same children in the dump), wrote this about the miracles that happen with the Friday night feeding program in the dump. This same thing literally happens each week:
"We bought 20 turkeys for a special Christmas food distribution at the Guatemala City garbage dump, expecting about 200 people. Before it was over, almost 400 people received a plate of turkey, vegetable salad, fruit, bread, and a drink. The same God that multiplied the loaves and fishes multiplied the turkey and salad tonight. The last piece of turkey and the last serving of salad went on the last plate to the last person. God is good!"

Side note: My goal is to always give the Lord my loafs and BOTH fish so that he can multiple it and use it for HIS glory. I can't imagine how greatly I could limit myself if I only give "one fish". God wants it ALL, both fish! 

Some of the first kids to show up at the feeding on Friday nights. Then people begin to flood in! 

Look at that smile... so much joy from an orange! 

I can't help but remember what Dr.Tom said last week (so thankful that I got to go to my hometown church)... he asked everyone if they remembered what that got for Christmas last year, or the year before that? The point of this question is to challenge you to stop and think about what really matters. Are we spending more time and money on things that won't even matter in a year, or are we spending our time and money on "kingdom purposes"? 

I pray that each of you has a blessed and wonderful Christmas and that you have time to adore the Lord. 

I know that I have been able to count my blessings this Christmas. During the past 8 months, I have worried about all kinds of things.... it's a huge battle that I constantly fight when I think about how easy it would be to return to my job and have my steady income again and that security. But, my faith has grown astronomically in the past few months as I have served as a missionary. I have seen God provide daily in ways that make me stand in amazement. Thank you to each of you who has been the "hands and feet" of Jesus for me as you support me with prayers and donations. You are such a blessing to not only me but the people to whom I serve. 

Grace and Peace! 

*Some people have asked me how to make donations and insisted that I post some details! Even though I will be serving with YWAM, my account is still through "Lakewood Baptist Church". (That way it's tax deductible)! 
To make a donation, make a check out to "Lakewood Baptist Church" and mail it to my parent's address:
2516 Katherine Circle
Gainesville, GA 30506 
*Be sure to include a note saying what the check is for! Thank you! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

December Update!

The past two months have been filled with... well, they sure have been busy! God will guide and provide opportunities to make him known and to love him by loving people if we look! I hate that I haven't been able to blog more... I promise to keep everyone better updated when I'm in Costa Rica with YWAM! I want this ministry to be yours! A lot of the things I've been doing have been little but powerful things... building relationships and friendships with non-believers has been the bulk of that. Just really spending a lot of time being a friend to people who need friends and trying to meet them where they are... just like Christ did for me! Here are a few of the fun things that first come to my mind in the past 2 weeks! Hope you enjoy them also! 

Evangelism Teaching In Saul's Church
One Saturday, from 8-5; I took Carlos and Mark to Pastor Saul’s church to preach about evangelism to the church members. It was great! All of the members learned a TON about evangelism and how to share their faith. We even divided into small teams to go out into the streets and practice in the afternoon. The members of the church learned and lot from this seminar and were so thankful to have the resources to share the good news with their communities. For me, it was great to be around this church body that I love so much.... it was hard to leave afterwards! I was so embarrassed when we first arrived and Saul asked me to stand up and introduce everyone in Spanish. Even though I know the members there, I still get embarrassed when I first begin speaking Spanish to a huge group of people... especially if there are other bilingual people present! 
Funny Stories:
At the lake: Olivia, Saul, and I crossed the lake in a tiny boat (only about 5 meters long) packed with people like sardines in a can that’s a little too small. It was hilarious! I was of course the only non-Guatemalan and of course I wanted to sit in the front where I could see! I was shocked that this front bench was the only unoccupied bench.... I soon found out why! Each trip to a different town on this tiny boat lasted about 45 minutes; the entire time I was splashed with water (to the amusement of everyone on the boat)! After I had gained this attention, I decided to seize the moment and share the gospel with these people.... one of which who shared with me the story of his illegal lifestyle of trafficking narcotics and people for money from Guatemala through Mexico...
One thought that continually crossed my mind in this boat was if I saw Jesus walking on this water in the middle of a terrible storm, would I get out of the boat and walk to him. Would you be willing to get out of the boat, to risk losing your life in order to gain in? 
  I tried to take a sneaky picture of the people on the boat!

Hospital Visit to the City
One Sunday, we received a call from a guy (WIlliam) in rehab in Guatemala city.  Carlos has known William for a few years; ministered to him when he was homeless, clothed and fed him, helped him in every way possible, took him to church, and later took him off of the streets and his lifestyle of drug addiction into a rehab program. William is currently in this program and has been for at least 6 months. William calls Carlos whenever he needs anything; from clothes to help. This Sunday, he called to say that he needed to go to the emergency room. For reasons I still don’t understand, William uses a catheter all of the time and has various problems with his internal organs (I do know that he was shot at one point and that shattered some organs). I have heard a lot about William’s story, but was shocked to find out that he was in his early 20’s (I learned this on the way to the hospital... even though William is not completely sure of his exact age). 
We jumped in the car with Mark and immediately went to help William. We took him to the public hospital which was crazy.... people have to wait outside of the hospital, there is no waiting room. In addition, I think the ambulances are more dangerous than any sickness you could already have.... We took William to this crazy place and watched him enter through a gate to been seen. There are no intercoms, people to tell you what’s going on back in the hospital, no papers to sign, nowhere to check in... They don’t allow people to go in with the patients! So, we waited outside with the 65 other people waiting on their loved ones. Ambulances arrived every minute and a half. We saw a dead man being unloaded form the back of a pick-up truck, a girl with a bullet wound, a girl having a heart attack (who was sitting on the sidewalk outside waiting to be let in by the hospital guard)... all kinds of crazy things! 
With all of these people around thinking about death, what perfect time to share the gospel! We began by doing magic tricks and attracting some attention, then shared about hell, sin, and later the good news. It was awesome! Perhaps that was God’s reason for us to be there. to share Him with these 65 people..... it’s humbling to see how God can change your perspective on situations. What could have been seen as an event that interrupted our Sunday afternoon, and something that required us to wait outside for hours into the night, changed into something beautiful. God loved these people here at the hospital enough to speak to them where they were, no matter where that was! To no glory of our own but to God’s....
-A funny little side note: the guard at the gate was amused by the optical illusion track that I showed him so he allowed Carlos and I to enter the hospital to see William. I guess that was nice of him, but for me it was just an example of how corrupt the system is here... if we like you, you can do whatever you want... that made me worry about what the doctor’s mentality must be inside; hopefully they liked William.... 
I don’t know if it was a favor that we were able to enter! Inside was a WILD house! EVERYONE was in one HUGE room being treated. There were at least 50 patients in there on benches, some on stretchers, some on the floor. Doctors and nurses were treating them in this crazy room.... people were screaming, bleeding, some were naked, some were having surgery right there, one girl died, and most were receiving shots of pain killers and being sent hope with “best wishes” and no answers. 
This is exactly what happened to poor William... he was sent home with no answers and his extreme pain only being suppressed by a 4-hour pain killer. It was almost like a, “good luck, just don’t die here!” God intervened again (and again using a member of his body) when a thought popped in my head, “why not call Layla and see if she has advice”. (Layla is Pastor Saul’s wife who is a doctor and with whom I’ve done a few medical clinics). We called her and she was of great help! She told us another place to take William in the morning that would actually help him. This place was not public and there for not free... between Carlos, me, Mark, and the guy who runs the rehab, we were able to combine our money to pay for the visit and the gas to take him there. Funny how intricate and perfect God’s plan is to the extent that it is impossible to deny that he deserves all of the credit.  
I have loved serving with the ministries to the homeless, drunks, and addicts of Antigua....”the least of these”. As I stand in a circle amidst these men covered in dirt, I truly feel just like one of them. We are all here searching for the same thing, desperate and hungry for the same thing. Some look in drugs, some look in relationships, some look in money or power... everyone is looking. We all have that same desire deep in our heart to experience God here on Earth. At the services we do in the dump in Antigua, we all stand together united; arms lifted up to God in desperation and adoration. These guys know that they are desperate and I often think that their knowledge of their necessity of grace is their greatest blessing. 
Handing out food to them, washing their feet, praying over them, hanging out with them, meeting their’s so humbling and brings me to tears; I think about how Christ (the king of the world) does that for me. And I know that I can only love because I am loved. 
Vacation Bible School
I was excited to have the chance to help with the first vacation bible school at Iglesia del Camino. It was a week-long bilingual VBS and was super successful!
 One of the cutest little VBS kids!
HUGE PRAISE: With the help of a friend who is on the committee for poverty with the United Nations, some super important paper work was passed through the government here in Guatemala to permit Lakewood to build the new preschool that will educate and provide hope for children living in the trash dump! 
Spanish... oh Spanish... I have had really seen God work in some of the people at the Spanish School where I am studying. Since the only thing they ever want to talk to me about is Jesus and Christianity, I have learning a ton of bible Spanish.... haha! So, that's good! 

Some of my favorite things to do here have been hanging out with the street kids who are out selling jewelry or gum to help their families... these kids who walk the streets all day carrying heavy bags to earn a few dollars... they have the coolest stories and are so open to hearing about God. I’ve also loved the opportunities God has literally laid in front of my door here. Opportunities to speak to people from around the world who are here studying Spanish about the amazing man, Jesus, that I know and live for! It’s crazy how many people from so many different countries have never heard of our savior... and who are blown away by the gospel... these people who have no idea what a “christian” is. 
This week Antigua had it’s annual burning of the devil... glad that’s finally over with! (I did not attend this event for obvious reasons but did manage to take a picture of the devil.... can I please just point out that he was "burnt" in between 3 gas stations? At least they put a "no smoking" sign outside). 

A lot has happened while I’ve been here these past 3 months. My grandfather died, my family celebrated another Thanksgiving without me, I’ve worried about money, satan has occasionally put in my mind “what in the world are you doing leaving your job”, I’ve fought a lot of spiritual battles.... but in everything, God’s love and grace has been more than sufficient. There was an emergency and my safety was at risk in the first house I lived in... I had to move out immediately. God came through and gave me a safe house with Sonja & Antonio who have taken care of me like their own. God often answers our prayers through obedience of the “body”. For me, it’s been humbling to see the believers who are willing to be obedient and give no matter what... and sad for me to see those who don’t; ironic how those who have less want to give more. 
I will be home for 2 weeks (can't wait to 'feel' christmas-y') for Christmas before going to Costa Rica for at the very least 6 months as a missionary with YWAM. Then, I will decide where it is and what it is that God wants me to do for him in the mission field! I am excited to be in Gainesville again with people who love and know me. I have missed it dearly but know that I am walking in God's will... which is a feeling that nothing compares with! 
‎"Quite simply, our deep gratitude to Jesus is manifested neither in being chaste, honest, sober, and respectable, nor in churchgoing, Bible-toting, and Psalm-singing, but in our deep and delicate respect for one another. Our gratitude for Jesus is, for the most part, our unsung service to those around us." -Brannan Manning

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week 1 Back in Guate!

Hi friends and family!
I hope that you are all doing WONDERFULLY! 
I have no idea how to begin to thank you, or explain how much I appreciate ALL that you have done to join with me in response to God's call. 
I arrived here in Guatemala safely last Saturday!
I am staying with a Guatemalan family. The family consists of a husband and wife, 2 kids, and the wife's parents. There are 3 female students staying there as well. It has been amazing to see how God has provided me with opportunities to share his love and the gospel just in this past week. In this household, the wife (Claudia) is the only Christian. She and I have had some very deep conversations about God, grace, the gospel; etc. I have really enjoyed encouraging her as she strives to be walk with God while she is facing some very difficult challenges in her life right now. She is super excited to have a missionary in the house! She knocks on my door to inform me of every time the other students are in the "living/dining/kitchen/center room" because she wants to make sure I am able to talk to them and build a relationship with them (they are not Christians). They have been very inquisitive about what I'm doing and have agreed to come with me on a few of my outreaches.... one girl is here studying medicine (she is a doctor and wanted to see how different the problems are here than in Australia), and she has agreed to go with me to some of the medical clinics; great opportunity for her to hear the gospel at these clinics! Another girl is here as a teacher and is interested in going with me to work with the homeless children (where once again we share the gospel). :) The third girl is having a lot of problems being away from her family for the first time and speaks no Spanish whatsoever, so she has agreed to basically just hang out with me and we are planning to go to the special needs hospital next week! It's been amazing to see God answer my prayers for opportunities to share his love and his word. I've had some great conversations with the grandparents at the house who asked me what I was doing in my room for 3 hours... (they then told me that Claudia told them she was sure that I was praying). I do think that God strategically placed me in this house even with some of the challenges that I’ve had to face there. 
Spanish Classes
I’ve now been in Spanish classes for a week... again, AMAZED at how God works! I have 2 different Spanish teachers. Sandra for 2 hours and Margareta for 1 hour. We are currently working on how to "tell stories" in the past! The goal of this Spanish program is that it caters to the student, so I get to decide what we talk about... they basically correct my Spanish as we go! Monday started with them asking me to tell me a story that took place in the past (to analyze my ability to speak in past tense)... so that presented me with an easy way to share my testimony and story of the great things that God has done in my life!  How crazy is it that both of my teachers were raised in a VERY "twisted" Catholic church, had terrible experiences there, left the church, and are now trying to 'figure things out'. YAY God! So, they have been extremely inquisitive.... we haven't even began to work in the Spanish Book because all we have done is talked about Jesus... they have MILLIONS of questions which is awesome! When I first came here, I was a little bit sad to have to spend part of my morning in a classroom when all I want to do is be out serving God... and I prayed about this, and God answered my prayer in a HUGE and obvious way! I'm really excited about this opportunity to make the most of every minute here and to have the “missionary” mindset in every environment, circumstance, and conversation!  
Other ministries this week have just appeared also... 
Each night God has literally just presented me with opportunities to serve the people of Guatemala. 
Last Sunday night (and I will be going again this afternoon), I went with a few missionaries here to have a church service in the trash dump. A lady told her testimony, we sang praise songs, played with the kids, and helped encourage and guide the people there. Most of them were high off of glue or drunk... sad to witness children living in this environment. We prayed over and then took one lady to a refuge place to sleep; she was hysterical because her husband had died the night before and they had been fighting; confusing story but I know that Jesus’ love was poured into here at the service. I was thankful that she knew that she could come there to get help, confident that we would listen and then help in any way that we could. One man did tell me that when he sees Americans here in Guatemala in a trash dump, he thinks of Christ in an entire new way... he then explained how some people think of "you Americans" as higher than themselves; and that he can't believe that an American would want to come and serve people here, in a dump, in a 3rd world country. All I could think about was how Jesus, the son of God, came to serve me.... I don't think that thought will ever cease to overwhelm me. 
On Monday and Tuesday nights I was able to participate in discipleship with 2 different groups of people. It was pretty tiring thinking, speaking, and listening to Spanish all day; especially about such deep and difficult topics. 
On Wednesday we did a “soup run”. This is basically just taking soup and tortillas  (in the back of a truck) around town to homeless people. The soup is really a way to just meet their needs, open up an opportunity to talk with these people and develop an ongoing relationship, pray with them, share the love of Christ, and share the gospel. This is an ongoing ministry that I am really excited to participate in. The children at the refuge (one of the places that we stopped) were so excited to have someone pay attention to them. It is so humbling to have children run to you as soon as you enter a room... it brings tears to my ears every time. 
Thursday night I was walking with my friend Carlos when I heard a lady call out his name. I immediately recognized her as a woman from the dump who I had talked with on Sunday. She was high (and dirty) but knew that Carlos would respect and love her. He walked over to her and talked with her for a few minutes (even though we had somewhere to be; this was more important to him that what  HIS agenda was). Then, he told her that he was hungry and asked if she would walk with us to the gas station. At the gas station, he used the only money that he had to buy her some food and drinks. He didn’t make her feel the least bit ashamed or uncomfortable, and treated her with so much respect. It was everything I could do not to cry while watching and participating in this small, but huge encounter. All I could see at this moment was Christ in action. 
Friday was a crazy day.... a woman came running up to me, crying and screaming for me to call the police. It was hard to understand her through her sobs. I followed her outside to see a man lying in the street covered (I don’t even want to begin to list what ran through my mind). This man had hit a hole in the road while on his “moto” (motorcycle) and had flown over the moto and landed in the street. We checked on him, called the police, and then prayed over him... the ambulance finally arrived as we were praying. At this point there were at least 100 people standing around staring. It was nuts!
I have been going non-stop but have felt the power of God even in the smallest of situations. I am excited to be building relationships with different types of people; homeless, addicts, children, American students, etc. I am humbled to see how huge and AWESOME God is. I am excited to continue to build these relationships in love; and just to learn more and more how to love people as Christ did. 
‎"The positive characterization of the kingdom attitude is agape love...Jesus calls us to Him to impart Himself to us. He does not call us to do what He did, but to be who He was, permeated with love. Then doing of what He said and did becomes the natural expression of who we are in Him." Dallas Willard

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Will you follow?

It is such a blessing to share this mission with all of you... I know that no one is reading this blog "by accident", there is a purpose and a reason.

For those of you who are supporting this ministry, I am so thankful that you have decided to unite with me to do God's work. It is so humbling to know that you take the time to pray for me. This is just as much your ministry as it is mine. This is one of the many verses that comes to mind when I think of you:

"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. 1:3

I know that your lives will be changed and blessed because of your willingness to be bold for Christ... because he was so bold for us. I know that when I look out at the people who are living in poverty, it is a mirror into my own soul... a soul that is empty and in constant need of a savior; of something else as it's source. I love what Tim Keller wrote when he said:

"My experience as a pastor has been that those who are middle-class in spirit tend to be indifferent to the poor, but people who come to grasp the gospel of grace and become spiritually poor find their hearts gravitating toward the materially poor. To the degree that the gospel shapes your self-image, you will identify with those in need. You will see their tattered clothes and think: “All my righteousness is as filthy rags, but in Christ we can be clothed in his robes of righteousness.” When you come upon those who are economically poor, you cannot say to them, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!”  because you certainly did not do that spiritually.  Jesus intervened for you. And you cannot say, “I won’t help you because you got yourself into this mess,” since God came to earth, moved into your spiritually poor neighborhood, as it were, and helped you even though your spiritual problems were your own fault. In other words, when Christians who understand the gospel see a poor person, they realize they are looking into a mirror. Their hearts must go out to him or her without an ounce of superiority or indifference."

A lot of people have been messaging me asking how to join and take part of this ministry. So here is the answer:
I would love you to continually pray for me, pray for your part, and to continue to follow along! 
If you would like to make a financial contribution, it would be greatly appreciated and is much needed... I'm living off of support! :)  (Probably the biggest leap of faith for me)
**You can either make a one time donation, commit to monthly donations, or both! 

**Please make checks payable to: Lakewood Baptist Church
-this way it is tax deductible. They are "housing" my support and are taking care of a lot of the behind the scenes work for me! 

**Please mail checks to
Sidney Eure
2516 Katherine Circle
Gainesville, GA 30506

-By mailing the checks to me, I can make sure they are given to the right person at the church. This way, I can also keep track of how much support I have raised AND most importantly, keep you updated on the ministry that you will be joining! :) 

Please consider following....

Friday, August 5, 2011

My New Mission & Path

I arrived home from Guatemala on Monday. It is crazy being home... and a lot has changed since I left.

I know that out of love many people are wondering what I am doing now! Thank you for your love and support, I could feel your prayers with me this summer. Here is an update on where I am now.... :)

While in Guatemala this summer, God made a few things very clear to me. First, the following quote sums up what I felt over the past few months while serving in Guatemala:
"Yet the grief I feel is sweet as well as bitter. I still have a sorrowful soul: yet I wake up each morning joyful, eager for what the new day will bring. Never have I felt as much pain…yet never have I experienced as much pleasure in simply being alive…Never have I felt so broken; yet never have I felt so whole. Never have I been so aware of my weakness and vulnerability; yet never have I been so content and so strong. Never has my soul been more dead; yet never has my soul been more alive. What I once considered mutually exclusive—sorrow and joy, pain and pleasure, death and life—have become parts of a greater whole. My soul has been stretched. 
Sally Breedlove."

As I spent time with God, reading his Word, and pouring my heart out to him in prayer; he continually told me the same thing. He called to me loudly and made his voice known to heart. God worked in me in an unbelievable way. God continually spoke to me about the same thing. Although I will not go into full detail about what God said to me (unless you would like to hear more about it), God did give me a call. He called me to change my life; to make a solid decision to follow him full throttle no matter what that meant; a call to be obedient. My prayers for the past few months consisted of me begging God to show me where he wants me; what he wants me to do. Although I loved my job as a teacher at Enota, it was my ministry and my passion, God made it clear to me that He had different plans for me. I struggled with him about this for a few months.... Are you sure you want me to leave my job, I love my job? Do you really want me to just give up everything and jump? How am I going to do this?! Wouldn't it be smarter to just work for a year and save money and then go (money has always been something I've worried about)? 

I was begging God for details and because of the constraints of my human mind, I was trying to figure out a plan. I searched and searched.... and God told me this, "Seeking direction from God goes against the modern mind's reliance on self. Our culture teaches us to take charge of our lives and call our own shots. It is horrible when we use human cleverness instead of faith in God. Unbelief often clothes itself in "being smart". We use cleverness to cover the tracks of our lack of faith. Those who walk in faith admit that they don't know how everything is going to work out; but they insist that their God will supply nonetheless." (while reading "Fresh Faith" by Jim Cymbala) 

God made a promise to me that he has something for me to do. He told me that I was to go into the mission field and to do his work. I do not know how I will financially find the support I need to be a missionary, I do not know all the answers or the "hows"... but I know God. And I know his promise. And I know that the only thing I want to do is be obedient to the Lord. When Jesus walked, some people followed and some people didn't. The people who did follow did not ask questions. They did not wait. They left everything and followed. 

I know that God is calling me to something.... to love God and to love People. I will not be returning to work at Enota this school year, and will miss it tremendously. I am home in Gainesville for a few months raising support to go to Spanish school and then to Discipleship Training School through YWAM. This organization is wonderful and opens so many doors to serve God and to love and help people. I am passionate about fighting for kids at risk... "Love until it hurts". with my model and example being Jesus Christ and his compassionate response to the needs of all. I want to either work with YWAM's mercy ministry or Kids at Risk programs. 

    YWAM-Mercy is operational in more than 100 countries to impact more than 100 million living in absolute poverty in the next 20 years. From agricultural assistance to those being trafficked, from health care to micro enterprise development, from the homeless to those living with life addictions, YWAM-Mercy provides short and long-term programs and crisis interventions to meet the felt needs of individuals and communities, children at risk, refugees and those living on the edge of survival.

Children at Risk:
The stories of children around the world are staggering. Throughout the world millions of children are orphaned through war, through AIDS, through extreme poverty. Every seven seconds a child dies from a preventable disease. Drug addiction runs rampant. Children are sold into prostitution or forced to become child soldiers. They’re lost and they have no place to live. These children have no hope. And these are the ones that are on the heart of God.

My heart: As I read God's word I am convinced of God's total commitment to help those who are suffering. Relieving pain and suffering is at the heart of who God is. True Christianity is about helping people. I never want to waste a second of my life pursuing insignificant things. To love God and to Love people.... to know God and to make him known.... to wake up each day with a sense of eternal purpose. 

If you are interested in supporting my call to missions in response to your call through the great commission, please contact me. I will be raising support until I have enough to "go into the world"...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fiesta in the Dump!

   HOORAY 4 Cristo es el Camino

Bright and early Thursday morning, Antonio drove Grace and I to Guatemala City. Grace left for Florida.... .... Pastor Saul and his children met Antonio and  I am took me with his family.
Although I was heartbroken to be leaving the family I had grown to love, I was immediately embraced and regarded as a part of Saul's family.

Saul's Family- Thursday 
Pastor Saul, Layla (his wife), Olivia (his oldest daughter), Little Saul and Elizabeth, are one of a kind... Whenever I spend time with them, I feel closer to Jesus. His love is beautifully portrayed in their nonselective love... his passion is portrayed through their ministry in the trash dump..... this family devotes their entire lives to Christ. Their identity is in him alone. When they picked me up from the airport, I felt humbled to be in their presence, even more so that they were so thankful to have me with them.

My verse that immediately comes to my head when I think of Saul's family:
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.- 1 Thess. 1:3

We dropped the kids off at school (at 6:30 in the morning). I then was able to spend the day helping Saul do various chores... such as buying aluminum sheets for the new houses the church is building for a few families in the landfill. We delivered the aluminum sheets to the dump; where women came to help carry the sheets to the building site. Blancita- one of my favorite little girls, ran to meet me and accompanied us for the rest of the day in the dump, trying to help whenever she was able.
(Part of the family we built a stove for on Friday) 
We then went to one of the houses where a stove was being constructed. The stoves, which cost about $125 (United States Dollars) each are a HUGE deal for these families. These stoves are a source of life. These stoves give the ability for families to not only cook (since they can not build a fire during the constant rain and have no supply of wood; and the fires in the dump smoke out the entire house, robbing it of oxygen) quickly for the 15 people living in one house; but also the ability to heat food that they collect in the dump in order to kill germs. These stoves also provide these people with hope; a hope that they can learn a skill, such as cooking, and then have a way to sale some kind of "good" in order to earn money... Lakewood Baptist Church's family team will be installing 20 stoves this coming week. We are continuing to try and raise money for more stoves.

Friday- Feeding in the Dump 
Friday night I went with the church to help with the feeding program in the dump. The church prepared one tub of beans, one tub of frijoles (beans), and 2 bags of bread. We backed the church van into the dump to serve the food. When we got there, there was a line of at least 200 people waiting for food. The church (whose mission is to reach children) had the children come to the front of the line. Each person brought their own "bowl" (some of which were lids off of containers they found while sorting through trash) & cups (ice cream containers from the trash). Blancita was there of course, caring for her 6 younger siblings.... she is only 8 years old assuming all responsibility of an adult mother. Before we served the food, one of the church pastor's led the group in a praise song and prayer. These starving people gladly praised God in priority to eating.

The food was served, children gladly receiving their food, walking back to their "house" barefoot through filth and garbage. 10 year olds helping their younger siblings, protecting them... if not for their size, you would believe they were their parents. Each child was wearing the same thing they had on the day prior when I came to the dump. I was once again humbled to walk into this place and have children run to hug me screaming, "Sipney".... so endearing.

As we served the food, I kept a watchful eye on the two pots of food. Anyone would agree that there was a visible discrepancy between the number of people and the amount of food; not to mention we were serving HUGE portions. The food containers dwindled down to about 1/4 of the way full.... the line continued to grow as more people filed in. The other "gringo" with us was extremely nervous. Pastor Saul never blinked or stopped to think once about worrying. We continued to scoop. The amount of food in containers stayed at "1/4" full... the food literally lasted until the last person.... there was actually 2 scoops left.... amazingly, 2 little boys ran up at the last minute who had been working (sorting trash) who had been late to the feeding; they receiving the last 2 portions. It was a modern day "feeding of the 5,000".

On Saturday morning, the Compassion Program in conjunction with Cristo es el Camino (Saul's church) had a children's fun day. Over 150 children, all sponsored by individuals through the Compassion Program, met at the church for a day of ministry and fun! I went with Layla and about 40 of the kids to a seminary down the road. There were games, relay races, swimming, lunch, and all kids of fun "kid things" planned for them. The morning started with preaching... Saul and Layla had asked me on Friday if I would preach to the children about "How to be a better person spiritually". I shared with the children what God had laid on my heart the night before about this topic. We discussed the difference between a religion and a relationship with Christ... the kids offered some great input on this topic, many of them being raised Catholic. I was surprised by their attentiveness and their desire to learn more about Christ. When I finished preaching, Layla asked them some questions... they remembered the verses I spoke about... wow!

Olivia and I then returned back to the church where I preached to the other group of children. Pastor Saul led them in praise songs, standing in front of them singing with his guitar. The most adorable part about this service was the invitation afterwards delivered by Saul. The sweet little children coming forward to pray their hearts out to Jesus. This was not an "invite christ into your hearts" invitation; but a prayer of thanksgiving and repentance.


What a wonderful Sunday... even though I spent the entire night on Saturday throwing up (from eating the street food with the kids at the park), my spirit was restored on Sunday morning. Layla took great care of me and treated me like one of her own. Sunday was the 15th anniversary of Jesus es el Camino Iglesia!!!! It was a WONDERFUL day!!!! The service was about giving (preached by Devin, a man who works with carious missions throughout Guatemala and LOVES Saul and his ministry). They also showed a moving and powerful video about the church, it's history, and what it has been doing and continues to do in the neglected community of the Guatemala trash dump. I will upload it soon! It's AWESOME and inspiring!!! After the sermon, we had a huge lunch at the church for all of the children and anyone who was at church that day! We ate chicken, rice, tortillas, and a salad-like thing! I had so much fun in the back with the women helping them make plates and serve the food. We laughed and they worked with such joyful spirits! It was not work at all, but fun to serve God and serve others!

That afternoon, we had a HUGE fiesta in the dump at the "activity center" built by the church. We had 2 HUGE pinatas, 2 HUGE cakes, juice, loud music, dancing, laughing, and a lot of thanksgiving. The children were so happy and for a brief moment in their lives they were able to take a break from their constant state of "adult like worry and fear" and actually enjoy being children. Pastor Saul prayed a beautiful prayer of thanks for blessing to be able to serve God. It brought tears to everyones eyes. After the AWESOME party, we took Saul and his family out to eat at IHOP.... haha, of course! It was so great and a nice "See you later" as I moved from Saul's house to the Seteca Seminary to stay the rest of the time with Allie and Anna. It was sad to leave Saul's house knowing that I wouldn't be sleeping there any longer. I can not put into words how highly I think of their family and how HUGE God is in their lives and their ministry... wow!

Here is a picture of the "boys pinata" and another picture of Saul and I with a few of the kids!

Saul's family, Allie, and Anna have been an answer to my prayers this past weekend. My spirit is so joyful! Allie brought down letters for me from various people.... so far I have read one from Phyllis, Beth, and Lynn.... I know that God spoke directly to them... their words of encouragement and the verses they shared with me, in letters that they wrote weeks before, were EXACTLY what I needed to read on the very day that I opened each letter.... crazy cool! Thank you women! I can't imagine my walk or life right now without your discipleship, love, and guidance. I am so humbled that you call me your friends and that you are thinking of and praying for me. 

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." -Isaiah 40:1

Dios te bendiga! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Everything will be alright.... :)

Guatemala City is one of the most dangerous cities in the entire world. Things have hard pressed me on every side as well.

In the midst of doing God's work, building houses, feeding programs, prayer meetings, children's ministry, working at the special needs hospital, medical clinics, homeless outreach..... God is Huge. and Satan is angry.
The past two weeks have been trying, challenging, tiring, stressful, full of pain, and spiritual warfare. The details of the past two weeks would take weeks to explain and would accomplish no good if I were to re-tell the story. I do not wish to retaliate through re-telling the wrongs done;
 "For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God... if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps..When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."
1 Peter 19-23

This has been the most challenging week since I've been here in Guatemala. Satan has taken notice of what we are doing here, and he is angry; he has been attacking. I have been physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. I have cried more in two weeks than I have in years.

However, while I feel so empty on almost every level; my spirit is full and is praising the Lord. I am thankful to suffer for doing good; knowing that God is working in me to develop perseverance; and is refining me. As I watched the world fail me, I felt God holding me. As many people know, I no longer an earthly father other than my stepfather (who is wonderful). However, I know deeply rooted in the heart of every girl is the desire to run to her daddy when she falls down, when someone hurts her, when she is scared, when she is desperate for help. As I have been in this darkness and trial, the joy that has come from the comfort and love of my Father God has been a joy that has surpassed all understanding. Sitting on the kitchen floor on Saturday with Grace (the other intern), Sonia (the lady I live with), and Antonio (Sonia's husband who is a pastor); all of us crying and praying.... crying and praying.... for 7 hours we cried and prayed. In the midst of the sadness and turmoil, even though tears streamed downed my face, my soul was at peace for I knew that God was near. I was so upset but had joy deep in my heart because I knew God was working. He promised me that he was in control. He continually reminded me that he loved me; that I was only a child, a child of God, and that he would protect and defend me.

I can't imagine this world without that joy and hope. When everything in you wants to quit.... when you feel helpless and small..... when you literally have nothing left...... there are two options: to see the agony and depression of yourself in this situation; or to see the joy in knowing that in my weakness God is huge. When I was younger, I used to always carry around so much pressure and stress. When things like this happened to me; I felt like I couldn't take another breath. How sweet it is to have someone to carry this burden for me.... a father who loves me and carries me when I can't walk.

God is more than sufficient for me. As things have been crazy, I have had the blessing to sit back and watch God work. He is in control. And I am already smiling watching his plan unfold, his good and perfect plan. From the moment I raised my head from prayer, God answered in wonderful and unconceivable ways. He began to unfold a new plan that is even better than the first. For the next two weeks, I will be able to return back to the trash dump and work with the people there. God (not by coincidence) has allowed this all to happen in perfect timing; Allie is arriving on Saturday. God also put other people, members of the body, in my path to help me. the family that I am living with has provided me with the wisest council, with love, support, understanding, and has always been quick to defend me. Grace Hasha, the other intern here, is a gift from God and my spiritual soul mate; I thank God EVERY time I think of her and I can't imagine this experience without her in it. Carlos, one of the guys who has been working with us, has spent hours praying with us and for us; has defended us against anyone who opposes us, and has shown us a beautiful and wonderful example of what it means to give your entire life and heart to Christ. My friends and family in the States have allowed God to use them to speak to me across the miles; have fought for me in prayer and with words of encouragement; and have wrapped me in love even when I don't deserve it. Pastor Saul and Layla.... (the minister and his wife from the church that Lakewood supports) have given loved and supported me, believed in me, prayed for me, and never asked questions- when I called them to ask for help, them immediately dropped everything and said, "We are coming to get you. We know you heart, we know you, we believe in you, we love you. You don't have to explain anything. We want you here with us." Wow.... I can't wait to see what the next few weeks holds. I know God is working. I know God is calling.

 "For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God... if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps..When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."
1 Peter 19-23

1 Peter 4: 12-19
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And,
   “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
   what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[a]
 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

1 James 2-4
 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Dios Te Bendiga- God Bless you! 

p.s.- There are a LOT of huge updates that I need to share with everyone but I am still trying to work out the details! God has called me somewhere.... :)  God is good!