Wednesday, November 28, 2007

here i go again...

Rather than posting some of my own words this morning, I am going to listen to the word of God and for once really soak it in.

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matt. 6:6

"After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray." Mark 6:46

"So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind." 1 Cor. 14:15

"After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone." Matt. 14:23

"Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."Luke 22:46

"Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you." 2 Thes. 3:1

Here's a song that I'm currently listening to:

When everything you love
And everything that's good slips away
When everyone you trust
And everyone that's close becomes afraid
When all the things you fear
And everything you hate becomes too real
When all your life is torn in two
Rest in truth

When the world is on your shoulders
Let Him in
When the world is on your shoulders
Let Him in

When the bitterness you hide
Slips into your blood and controls your life
When you've fought and fought and tried
But everything's a ruse
Rest in truth

When the world is on your shoulders
Let Him in
When your heart has been abandoned
Let Him in

When the World is on
When all hope has gone
When love that's been
Let Him in, Let Him in

My heart is free...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

First Impressions of the Past...

Tonight I spent a little time skimming through my journal from the summer. It's funny to look back and see inside your mind through a bunch of words. Speaking of words...I think it's important to write things down so we don't forget them. However, I am a firm believer in speaking these words because they have no meaning if they are not shared. Therefore, I have decided to share just a few of my excited journal entries from the summer. Hopefully they as encouraging to you as they are to me.

June 7, 2007 6:04am:
"Well, I'm not sure if I'm ready yet, but I sure am excited! I'm sitting here on the plane watching the sun begin to rise over the Andes. It's a beautiful sight that keeps getting better as the minutes go by. There's a map on the screen that shows our flight progress and it looks like we were over the ocean most of the night. I have to admit that leaving was bittersweet. I'm very excited and anticipatory about this journey, but it's always difficult to leave friends and family. As I left, I prayed for God's protection and guidance of this trip. I can't wait to see what comes!"

June 16, 2007 12:00pm:
"I suppose I should recap the last week so I don't forget any of the memorable details of this trip. So here goes...When I first arrived at the Santiago airport, I was so excited, yet so unsure of what this summer will hold. As I left the airport and went through customs, it became real to me that I was in this new place that was nothing like I had ever seen before. It was such a strange feeling to be in a place where Spanish is being spoken all around you and everyone looks just like one another. Turns out, the Chilean National Soccer Team was behind me in customs and I had no clue until I left. Way to go Jeremy."

June 25, 2007 10:52am:
"Well, we made it to Peru! It's much different here. The people look very different and seem to have a unique presence about themselves. My first impressions of Lima were more surprising that I'd expected. The drive to our apartment from the airport was through shantytowns where the poverty level obviously ran high. The streets are surrounded with tiny houses or buildings that barely look sturdy enough to stand. We're going to be staying in La Molina, a borough of town that is apparently middle to upper class. So far, I've been more tired that anything else because of the lack of rest. We got in from Chile at 4:30am on Sunday morning and went to church at 9am. The people of the congregation were extremely welcoming! Lots of people were very eager to learn about my home and to extend their welcome to me. It was a good start to what I hope will come. The church in La Victoria is a little lower in class that where we are currently living, but we hope to spend lots of time there."

June 27, 2007 1:05pm:
"God I pray right now for my heart and for my attitude. Let it be hopeful and open to what plans you have for us here. Allow me to put my trust in you and be confident in the ways you work and will work. Bring out the desires of my heart and let them be a burning passion for you. Please allow me to find ways to share your love with those around me this summer. That's why I'm here. I desperately want to be in love with you and to feel it right now. Thank you for your blessing and approval upon my life and for giving me so much I don't deserve. I love you. Watch over and guide me."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Choo Choo!!

What a week! And still more to go! It's not very often that we spend hours and hours preparing for a block party, but this week has just been one of those weeks. Yesterday was the Second Annual Friendship House Fall Festival. There was food, there were families, there was fun! Tons of people came out to help with this celebration of good weather and community spirit. I believe I was at the Friendship House for 13 straight hours, but it was well worth it to see the beauty one another coming together in good spirits. Thanks to everyone who made it possible and especially Team Lima for your hard work!

This week will conclude with a Trivia Night Fundraiser benefiting Connecting Caring Communities. People from all over the community (hopefully) will come have some fun answering trivia questions, having food from Starbucks, Domino's, Buffalo Wild Wings, & Chic-fil-a, and also helping out CCC a bit with their presence. Pray that people come and it goes as well as planned!

Other than that, I am anxiously seeking a confirmation to the decision I am making with Conce and the future. I have spent most of the semester looking for God and what he would have of me. Honestly, it's not been the easiest process because it involves so many factors. I just take things one step at a time and pray that I am continuing to follow God's will. Thanks for the support and guidance that so many of you have generously provided me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Richly Blessed

The past week has surely been a blessing to me and to many others. It's hard for me to explain just what's going on as far as the future goes, but one thing is certain- things are happening, some big things...

First of all, I got to meet the famous Deanna (in person, for real this time!). I've spent the past year and a half hearing about her dreams and talking some on the phone, but we got to actually spend some good time together this past weekend. She's a load of fun and has a heart that's eager to share good news with others.

Next, I got to meet the Chad and Sarah Lukkason. They are a couple at Oklahoma Christian that are looking at grad school at ACU and possibly at partnering with "the team" to Chile in the future. It seems like they have much to offer in terms of sharing some good news.

Finally, I discovered some incredible news from back home in G-town. My home church, Saturn Road, does a big fundraiser for our annual missions funds. Each year a goal is set to reach in order to support missions throughout the coming year. This year the goal was $500,000 big ones. I know, crazy and bold right? Well guess what...God graciously provided a whopping $631,041 dollars for the work of His kingdom this year. This week has left me silent at the work of God in these few powerful ways. The faithfulness of our Father has awed me and humbled me.

I believe God knows what He's doing. It's not by chance that these events have occurred simultaneously in the same weekend. I am seeking to understand what exactly God would have of me, though the more I learn, the more I believe it's already been clearly placed before me. Now all that's left to do is continued and constant prayer. Thanks to God for the beauty of the ways in which He works.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Friendship House

Last night was one of the best night's I've had in a long time. Lee and I got to spend the evening with some of the Dad's from the neighborhood having some good food at Buffalo Wild Wings, and then showing our skills at the bowling alley. Hearing about the lives of these men made my heart tender as we engaged one another's lives in a "chill" way. What a blessing!

Take a few moments and watch this video about what the Friendship House is all about. Hopefully you will experience some of the passion that lives there.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Racism in Housing: our history

Here are a few questions that absolutely fascinate me and that for the life of me I cannot fully find the answer to:

  • How does urban sprawl so perfectly move from the city center outward?
  • How has suburbia come to be what it is today?
  • Why do people willingly segregate themselves?
  • What are people most afraid of in their communities?
  • What does it take to make a difference in our cities?
  • What will happen to all the poor people as the rich flock back to the urban centers from the suburbs and tear down their houses?
So this week I've done quite a bit of thinking about typical North American cities and communities. Today I had the privilege of viewing a movie in my Cultural Diversity class about the construction of post-WWII cities. It had a great deal to offer in the field of racism and class status that influenced where new housing was being established during this time to accommodate such a large influx of primarily white families. Because the new home market was booming, the most logical place to plan neighborhoods was on the outskirts of town. What a great day for everyone. Families could purchase a cheap note on a house and pay it off with reasonable credit for up to 30 years, right?

Unfortunately what we didn't get taught in history class was that during this time, the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) intentionally adopted a racist policy in its official documents that prevented anyone of color from being eligible for such home loans. Therefore, there was virtually no way that African Americans could purchase a home anywhere remotely close to the new, white "suburbs" that were coming to exist.

What was the justification for such discriminatory policy?

From the FHA underwriting manual of 1934: "if a neighborhood is to retain stability, it is necessary that properties shall continue to be occupied by the same social and racial classes." Blacks were forced into remaining mainly in concentrated public housing projects in the inner cities to prevent "problems" for the white neighborhoods.

It was all good business according to the Realtors. People wanted the luxuries of a new home, and were willing to pay for them. It wasn't so much that the common person was a racist, it was that there was a governmental protection on the current state of economic growth that no one wanted to halt by throwing in racial diversity.

It gets worse...

What makes the year 1968 significant? This was the year that The Fair Housing Act was enacted that prohibited discrimination based on the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, and familial status. This is very interesting to me because of my own family history.

My dad and his family were raised in Pleasant Grove, which if you know Dallas, is just outside of Loop 12, the first loop in the strategically planned highway system of many Texas cities. My dad's family, along with about 6 other families living on the same street suddenly decided that it was time to move to Garland, which is just outside the city's second loop, Interstate 635. This was the case all over the nation.

Want to take a guess as to what year this occurred?

1969. The year after the Fair Housing Act was put into place.

As soon as it was suspected that blacks might be moving close, masses of people put their houses on the market. As soon as one person "sold out" it was a neighborhood wide-turned nationwide domino effect. Property values went down when African Americans moved in, as people protected their dearest asset, their home, and moved away.

I was born and raised in Garland not far from where they moved to, though there are two other loops outside this location. My family is a product of what occurred in the racist housing market of the 1950's and 1960's. My dad's not afraid to tell me of how his family left when "they started busing blacks in and letting them move next door."

It's so strange that as I would not consider myself a racist, I reap the benefits a racist past of white privilege in this society where whiteness means power.

People continue to move further and further away from what used to be considered the suburbs. People run in fear of what they do not understand. It's likely that the rich, the white are more fearful of what is coming from our neighbors to the South. It looks like this cycle will continue as many of my friends were raised farther than me from the center of Big D where the newer developments are.

You might be surprised to know that the newest development north of Dallas (where most economic growth occurs) is actually closer to the Oklahoma/Texas line than it is to downtown Dallas. And yes, people are commuting from there.

What will it take to change? When will segregation actually be part of the history and not part of the present?

Now is there any doubt as to why there are "ghettos" or "bad parts of town"?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Dance of Life

A close friend of mine added a link to this video on his blog earlier this month. This video left me with chills at how true to life it really is. It perfectly shows how so many of us feel in our relationship with God. Please take 5 minutes to experience the power of this video.

Missing Peru

Tonight has reminded me of how much my heart goes out to my family and friends in Peru. For spending such little time there, I long to know how each of my friends is doing on their walk lately. I often find my mind drifting to thoughts of what they might be doing at this very same moment, or where they might be headed in traffic, or if they're eating at some of the same restaurants where we shared good conversation.

I pray tonight for Flor in her difficult house keeping duties; I pray for Alan to be strong at work where he makes Chifa and as he might confront temptation daily; I pray for Miguel and Gladys that they're educational pursuits remain a priority; I pray for Corina and Jackie to stay women of God with pure hearts.

Culture has a way of sweeping you off your feet. It can change you and it can challenge you. I miss how exciting life seemed in Peru and how I saw something new each day. I'm charged up to keep those same eyes here in the states where God is clearly moving and as I take part in that. How great it is that God is the same there as He is here!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Management as Ministry

It is my belief that not very often do people find it romantic to relate organizational administration with the workings of God. However, the past couple years have offered a bit of insight regarding the whole concept of integrating faith and action. Since the time my eyes were opened to the vast needs of individuals in this world, I have found myself swept up in a relentless call to do something about it. This is tough, because I distinctly remember the urgency and passion that hit me all at once, but I had no idea how this was going to happen or by what vehicle God had in mind for such a desire to be executed into action. What's a guy to do with a good heart and a passion, but lacking in direction?

Last week I had the blessing of attending several lectures that pricked at my heart. The theme verse comes from Micah 6:8 "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." This automatically put me in an exciting state because it encompasses so much of what I have been trying to understand about God's design for your life and for mine. I have often placed too much weight on the specifics when God is asking for the common. It's so easy to get caught up in a frivolous interrogation of what exactly God would desire of me, but Micah puts it simply!

It's such a beautiful opportunity to see what we do each day in the light of God or as my freshman Bible professors used to say "with Kingdom eyes!". Lectureship helped me see how each of our desires, our gifts, our passions can be effectively used by God if we're willing to submit those to Him, for Him. Praise God for the blessing of being used by Him in an infinite amount of ways!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A cleaning of my head...

I keep letting lots of time go by between posts these past several weeks. I really can't believe that the month of September is almost half over! Time is flying by right now with the busyness of classes, studying, work, ministry, and friendships. Being back in in the states is a reminder of how laid back life seemed to be in South America this summer. Although I was in two of the largest cities on the continent, there was simplistic feel in the air of Lima and Santiago. I do, however, enjoy the daily happenings here in Abilene, Texas as I get the opportunity to prepare for what God will do through me in the future.

I've had lots of time to reflect and assess the overall experiences we had this summer. It was definitely full of ups and downs and high points and even a few low points. But one thing is for sure...God was glorified and lives were changed. I don't know if I've actually put that into words in this blog in the past, but it's something that's really been on my heart lately. Since we've embarked on the new semester, South America has really been heavy on my heart. I sit back and remember the places I went, the people I met and the culture I experienced, it gives me a sense of joy and peace. I'm not sure if it's just because I'm holding to an unrealistic memory, or because I'm still adjusting to being back, or if that's just the way the Spirit works, but I'm just desperately trying to figure out what to make of it.

I feel like God has brought me closer to him lately. It's strange, but I feel his presence in my life more than I have in a long time. My focus has been somewhat intensified as I seek to understand these experiences this summer and how they relate to where I've been and where I'm going. It's come to the point where I'm ready to stop allowing fear to motivate me to do things, and to start allowing the boldness of God to lead my life. I believe that ridding oneself of fear is a tremendous start to an attempt at living loud for God.

Lots of thoughts, lots of thoughts. I think I mainly just wanted to spill some before they build up to the point of forgetfulness setting in. Well keep praying for the people of Latin America...Chile and I look for ways to serve God.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pray for Peru

It's been quite a while since I've updated a post or added anything, but my thoughts tonight are with Peru as I heard about a 7.9 Earthquake that hit just off the coast. The center was about 95 miles South of Lima and about 25 miles below the surface. It looks like there's already over a dozen deaths, but that number is likely to rise before morning. Go to for more info.

Peru is used to this type of seismic activity, but that doesn't change the fact that this was a big one and more people could be affected by it. Today or tonight say a quick prayer for those in Peru and other areas that might be a bit shaken up (literally) by tonight's events. I really hope all my friends in Peru are sleeping soundly this evening. Blessings and Peace.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Last Days & Some Reflections

I really can't believe that I sit here with just two days left in Peru. We leave on Saturday night for the states. The past 8 weeks have gone by much faster than I had anticipated. The expectations I held before coming here have been surpassed by the experiences I've had. I had no idea that this summer would have gone the direction it went. God has a way of really turning things upside down when you least expect it. It's so funny how I always learn the most whenever I'm the most vulnerable. It seems that this applies to more than just a summer missions experience.

I suppose I'll make the most of the next couple days by a) eating food I can't get in the states, b) savoring the last moments with some of the teens here, and c) reflecting on this amazing summer. I will try my best to give a re-cap on the events of this summer without being a bore with endless words. (I think there's something about that in Proverbs...) Anyway, I'll break it down week by week. Here we go...

Week One: (technically a half week) I left the United States for only the second time in my life for Santiago, Chile where I spent the week seeing this new place. It was freezing cold! I stayed with Kelley Grant and his family with the team that works there. They showed me around the city and got me excited about having such a wonderful introduction to Latin America with such good friends. Went to church and met lots of new people.

Week Two: Went to a retreat that didn't actually occur because of some issues in Buenos Aires with the group of Aggies. However, this gave me some excellent time to spend with Kelley and Julie hearing about their time as missionaries (extremely valuable wisdom to be heard). Spent the days teaching English at many of the local schools and making contacts with the teens for activities that were planned for the evenings. Spent the evenings playing games and doing activities with the youth group and others that came as a result of our time at the schools.

Week Three: Got sick with the virus and stayed in bed for 4 days. Rode the train to Concepcion to survey the city for the possibility of living there in the future. It's really an amazing city that's full of potential for things such as starting a coffee shop, beginning an orphanage, planting a church, etc. Spent some more time with some of the young people from the church before leaving for Lima. Santiago offered some amazing lessons about longterm teamwork on the field. They are a perfect product of what a team can do when they are made to work together. It was such a great experience to spend so much time working with them and learn from what they are doing there.

Week Four: Arrived in Lima at 3am and went to church on the last Sunday that it was meeting in its actual building. I've never been around such a welcoming church that was so eager to make us a part of their family. There were somewhere around 100 people there to celebrate their last time together as one body before branching into 3 cell groups throughout Lima. We spent our first week in Lima going to a few small group meetings during the evenings and spending time with the teens and university aged students. It was great to get to know them as we entered this new place.

Week Five: Again spent the week going to several of the small group bible studies that meet around town. Made plans for the remainder of our time in Lima to go to the orphanage, the jungle (which didn't happen) and to Cusco. Midway through the week we met Mario and stayed with him as we worked with the orphanage (the "community") outside of Lima. Our time at the community was indescribable! Our lives were changed simply by spending a few days with these lovely people.

Week 6: We spent this week again with some of the students such as Miguel, Mikael, Gladys, Alan, Jackie, Karina, etc. They are some of the core group of young people that are involved in the church. We got to go downtown one night with a group of them as they showed us around their home city. They took us to Chinatown, a really neat park on the river, and even to the restaurant that Alan works at to watch a soccer game. We had originally planned to go to the jungle this week to work with several churches in various villages, but we were forced to cancel it because of an unfortunate conflict with the government and the professors.

Week 7: This was one of the most amazing weeks I've ever had in my life. We went to Cusco to see the Inca capital, Machu Picchu, and the ruins that surround the area. It's difficult to describe how amazing it is, but pictures and a few words will have to do. We stayed with some members of the church there and were blessed to experience the hospitality they extended to us. It's so wonderful to see the arms and legs of the body of Christ around the world!

Week 8: Well this is now. We've been back for a few days and have said our good byes to the missionary who went on a trip to a town a few hours from Lima. We've got a few last days to spend reflecting and a few last meals with Alan and some of the other teens. It's been such a blessing to develop relationships with the church here. They are a great group of people who have a flare for following the word of God. Peace.

Monday, July 23, 2007

1 Down, 6 to Go!

I just had the 6 most amazing days of my life. I can't believe I went to one of the new 7 wonders of the world!! Today we returned from Cusco where we went up to Machu Picchu to see the Inca ruins that have been there for over 500 years. Reid, his brother Joel, a friend from Texas A&M-Kendra, and I went to Cusco and experienced some of the best adventure I've ever known. We saw several different areas of dwellings, spent a day rafting, rode the train to a town with hot springs, rode the bus up to Machu Picchu, and got to experience a very unique culture of this part of Peru. Words seriously cannot express what our eyes have seen at this place. I was one of just 400 people that got to climb Huayna Picchu, which is the mountain you see in the background of all the photos. It gives an amazing view of the ruins. I'll just leave some pictures to give you a glimpse of what we saw the past few days. These are some good ones, but they still can't compare to seeing this place with your eyes. It is truly a wonder of the world! Can't wait to tell you more.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

we´re in cusco!!!

ok, i dont have any time at the moment, but we snuck off to an internet cafe and i wanted to let you know that were officially in Cusco! It´s absolutely gorgeous here and I can´t describe it in words. I promise to post some pictures soon! Tomorrow we´re going rafting down the river and then Satruday we head to Machu Picchu to stay the night at the hot springs and see the sites there.

we spent the entire day seeing the ancient Inca ruins and hiking through tme beautiful mountains. it´s so amazing here! the altitude is killing us and making us feel very out of shape, but we´re having a great time. i can´t wait to share more and post these pictures. peace!

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Night on the Town

Lima at night is beautiful. It's much nicer than I thought it might be by my impression of other parts of the city. Central Lima is bubbling with people going about their business, shopping, eating, etc. The Plaza de Armas is a much better site at night with the lighting that brings out the intricacy of the architecture.

Yesterday was great because it was a full day with some of the youth from the church. After service, Reid and I went with Alan, Karina, and Jackie to eat some Chifa at the restaurant that Alan works at. It was great food! We stayed there to watch the Copa America final to see Brazil kill Argentina. When that was over, Alan wanted to show us Chinatown, so we rode down to an area that is basically little stores filled with pirated movies and fake name brand clothes. We saw Transformers at a store for only 3 soles, which is less than 1 U.S. Dollar. I didn't get anything. So after that we walked more to downtown and saw the Plaza at night. Then we went down to the river and discovered a pretty cool park that had spots for concerts, eating, and sports. We rode a mini-train through the park that was made for kids, but it was really a blast. It was probably one of the most random days I've had here, but it was good to let some of the guys here show us around and be proud of their city. We got home late and got some rest after such a long day.

We'll spend today and tomorrow finalizing plans for Cusco. We're leaving at 5:30 on Wednesday morning with Reid's brother and another girl from Texas A & M who's going with us. We'll be there for 5 days and back on Monday. I can't wait to see what it's like there, especially now that it's been voted one of the new 7 wonders. Hopefully the education strikes will stop here soon so that everyone will remain safe and things will become calmer around the nation. Tonight we're going to pick up a couple friends from ACU who have been in Paraguay all summer and are staying in Lima for a few days. I'll get back soon with a few stories from the past few weeks during our time here. I should have time later this afternoon. Thanks to all for your comments, prayers, and encouragement! Peace.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Weekend Update

Well, after a week of reflection and preparation for the coming weekend, a change in plans is in store for the weekend. There is a man named Julio from the church that asked Reid and I to spend a few days with him in the jungle getting to know various tribes and churches that are scattered throughout the jungle of Eastern Peru. This week has been a workout trying to make last minute plans, but it's been great. On Tuesday we bought our ticket for the 18 hour bus ride out of Lima and into the rain forest. We also bought our return flight ticket for Monday night so that we could get back quick enough to go to Lima. I was a little nervous because we found that we were entering a Yellow Fever zone and I haven't had any of the required shots. I decided to go ahead and chance it a take extra insect repellent.

All this changed today....Last night we had dinner with Alan, Jackie, and Carina. When we told them about our plans, they told us that we would be crazy to take this trip. We already knew about a local strike among teachers to demand more pay, but the government wants to require them to take tests. This strike has turned nationwide and has caused many roads outside of Lima to become unsafe with road blocks, etc. Also, this morning, our connections in the jungle called urging us to change our plans because of a relatively large demonstration planned for Monday. All of this combined with a 6.1 earthquake that occurred last night, which happened to have originated in the city of Pucallpa...the exact city we were supposed to go to tomorrow.

I think it's safe to say that this decision has been made for us! If there was any doubt in our minds, then it has been resolved by current events. The good news is, we're going to stay around Lima and take advantage of some extra time with some of the youth. Looks like tomorrow we're headed to MiraFlores to check out some local markets including an Indian Market (to get souvenirs) with Miguel and Gladys. Then hopefully tomorrow night or Saturday we'll cook with Alan (because he works at a Chinese restaurant and I love to cook too!). It'll be great to take the next few days slowly and make the most of our time with them before we head to Cusco. Peace!

Monday, July 09, 2007

"Welcome to our house, We are a community"

Before I begin you need to know that it is impossible to describe in words what I have experienced over the past several days. I was not prepared for my eyes to see what God showed through the lives the people I met. There are hundreds of stories to be told that I was so blessed to hear during the short time we had to develop relationships. I am seriously having trouble processing all the thoughts that are pouring out of my head right now. This is likely going to be one of the longest entries I will write this summer. I am emotionally exhausted, yet refreshed by the faces and laughter I experienced with 600 children and teens.

Last week we rode 2.5 hours to get just outside of town to a very impoverished section of the city. On the side of a hill sits tiny houses crammed together and only separated by tiny dirt roads. High on the hill sits a tiny community of 600 fatherless children and teens. Many of them have lived there their whole lives and others just a few years or months. There is no clean water and barely enough food to go around, but God continually provides for these precious young people.

It is called "the community" and for good reason. They are a family, they are all each other has. It is important that you know the story behind the pictures and numbers. Many years ago, a man named Miguel took his sick son to the hospital and found no help. He was forced to leave with his dead son in his arms. On his way home, he passed 2 orphan boys on the street corner and offered them a place to stay. The boys stayed with him for a few days that grew into weeks and months. Slowly, more and more kids began coming to him in need. Eventually, it grew into what is now a family of over 600 young people with no other hope. Miguel is one of the most faithful men I have met here. He is the kind of Christian I want to be.

Before we actually entered the place, we walked into the hospital where many kids are ill or injured. Many of them have been injured in car accidents, abused by their parents, or sick because of weak immune systems and most likely malnutrition. There was something distinct about the kind of help being provided here. There aren't many resources, but there is love at the core of the care here.

We first approached a field of kids playing soccer when they surrounded us. They all wanted to shake our hands, hug us, and talk to us. Many of them grabbed on to me and just wanted my arm around them or to sit closely to my body...just to feel my touch. I sat and heard the stories of George, Manuel, Saul, Alexandro, Christian and dozens of others. I will write about these children soon because their stories are powerful. We walked up to one of the 6 or 7 houses where about 40 children live together in each. Most of them share beds with one another and rarely get a shower. We walked into a girls house where they were singing and dancing together. One girl introduced herself..."welcome to our house, we are a community." What a deep concept to grasp! With such sincerity, this little girl taught me what community is and what it looks like in action. My heart sunk because I had never felt so welcomed by anyone before in my life. They asked if we could sing and requested Backstreet Boys, so of course we couldn't resist! It went something like this..."You are my fire, my one desire...." and you know the rest! haha.

Friday was also encouraging because of what we discovered we'd be doing on Saturday. We were walking up the hill to the orphanage when one of the other workers drove by in the van and asked us if we wanted to go to the ocean. What we didn't know is that they were going there to fish to provide food for the next day. We rode down to the beach and walked to the tiny boat. They asked us to step aboard, so we did and they took off into the water! They tiny boat took us to another tiny boat where we prepared it for fishing later that night. To make a very long afternoon there seem shorter, we went back to the community and played some soccer with a bunch of 7-8 year old boys. They learned our names and wanted us on their teams. They've got tons of energy and run around like little rascals. I accidentally kicked one little boy named Luis in the face when trying to make a goal. I kind of made his nose bleed a little, but he came back and was OK. Obviously I felt horrible about myself in that moment. Anyway, we stayed pretty late and Reid played more soccer with the older guys who are amazing and schooled him.

Saturday was the best day of all our time there. We got the privilege of escorting girls to a huge fiesta that we later discovered was their Quinceanera. This day was huge for them, and we got the honor or participating in it with them. Usually the father escorts the girl to the party and has the first dance with their daughter. Well, for these girls', Reid, myself and the other workers filled that void for one night. The whole community made this night a big deal with cakes, music, and dancing for hours. It was an absolute blast. My date for the evening was Magaly. It seemed like she had a blast and I can only hope that this night was perfect for her. Before the party, we took the girls shopping at a market to get some new clothes for their special evening. They were so happy and thankful for the little they were able to get. After taking them back, we went to Mario's place to get cleaned up for the fiesta. Mario took us to get our haircut and a shave (they did an awesome job, i mean we look gooood!) and then went to buy a nice shirt because we didn't have any with us. We danced for about 4 hours and stayed until 1am with them. It was probably some of the most fun I've had in a long time.

It was such a blessing to spend some time with this community. It was beautiful. It's extremely difficult for me to fathom what I have seen the past few days. My heart breaks for them, but it also leaps for joy because of the hope that lives there. I wish that each of you could see what I have seen and meet the people I have met. Many of the children told me that when I left, I should not forget about them. Luz, one of the girls urged me that I have the power to change people by what I have seen. She wanted me to take it and share it with the world and I am seeking the way to do that now. I still need time to process my thoughts, but I will get back soon with some of the stories I noted in my journal and some of the wonderful conversations I had. Peace.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Off to the Orphanage

Happy 4th of July! The group we're with here in Lima apparently likes Independence Day quite a bit, therefore we had a North American style cook out with burgers (USDA certified beef), hot sauce, and Dr. Pepper (my favorite). Anyway, I didn't expect such festivities, but the group enjoyed it a lot, so I went along with it. We ended the day with a viewing of Independence Day, appropriately. They're still getting used to their time here so I think they needed it. I hope you also had a relaxing day with some time with family and friends.

I'm doing better with the stomach issues. I think I've figured out that it's a bacterial infection that should be wiped out with an antibiotic that I'm planning to take tonight and this week. It looks like we're leaving tomorrow morning to stay and work with the orphanage outside of town for the remainder of the week. They're really excited about Reid and I coming, so I plead for your prayers for our safety and ability to genuinely serve there. I will be back soon with pictures and good news of our time with the children there. We should be back either Sunday or Monday...and if we love it a lot, maybe Tuesday. Hope you have a great week! Peace.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


This morning I woke up with a fever and some intense stomach cramps. It seems as though at some point over the last several days I ate something that didn't agree with my stomach...probably some bad meat or something. This has of course put me back in bed with only one option: rest. This is much like how I felt in Santiago for those few days, and it is not good. It's just one of the worst feelings to be sick away from home. I guess I just need to be cautious of what I eat and be sure it's cooked right. Anyway, pray that I get better and can get back on my feet so we can do all the stuff we've got planned coming up. So I guess I will just try to get some rest, watch some office episodes and maybe put in a movie until I get to feeling good again. I'll probably still be in bed for a while if anyone wants to skype me or something. Being sick makes you a little homesick, so know that I am thinking about you all. Peace.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Past Weekend and Upcoming Plans

Ok, so I woke up on Saturday and my ankle felt about 100 times better than it did Friday night. Thank goodness for either prayer or Advil, or the combination of both. Anyway, that was barely worth the time I spent writing about it. Other than that, we had quite a full and encouraging weekend. On Saturday Reid and I got invited to watch Peru play Venezuela at Miguel and Gladys' house (two of the young people at the church). It was great because we ended up staying all afternoon and until pretty late at night. They fed us dinner and gave us these really good donut type desert things that are amazing. The best part about Saturday night was that after the game Gladys asked us what we thought about Christians and politics...boy was I excited about this one. I have never before been so thankful for Christianity in Culture and my freshman Bible class (especially the part where we had to memorize the main points of each book of the NT). Anyways, it was so refreshing to carry on a conversation with another person about life and about the questions we all have about it. I wish I could tell you more, but there's something indescribable about moments like these.

Yesterday was great at church. We met at the home of Cesar (one of the members) and filled his livingroom. Alot of the youth were there and we all went to lunch afterwards at a Cevicheria. By the way, Ceviche is basically raw fish soaked in Lemon Juice to "cook" it with its acidity. I tasted it, but there's noway I could handle my own dish, so I got some Chifa (a mixture between Peruvian and Chinese). At church we met Mario, who runs the orphanage. He's very excited that we want to spend time with them. He kept telling us how much emotional and sexual abuse these children have encountered and was surprised that we're interested in staying there for a while. I'm so excited because this is really where my heart is. We also met a guy who offered to take Reid and I into the jungle for a few days...we're talking primitive, have to take a boat and only a backpack kind of stuff. Apparently there are churches scattered all through the jungle that meet that no one really knows about. We're still considering this option.

This week it looks like we'll be heading out to the orphanage to stay for several days. I can't wait to get involved there and play with some kids. We'll also be finalizing our plans for the jungle...eesh. We'll also be figuring out when and for how long we're going to Cusco and Machu Picchu. There's also a church there that we might get to spend some time with. In addition to all of this, we really want to continue pursuing time and study with Alan, Gladys, Miguel and others at the church. I hope we continue to share time with them. I'll get back with updates of our plans coming up this week. Keep praying that God guides us and gives us direction for the next 3.5 weeks. Peace!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Today I sprained my ankle

Today I sprained my ankle and it hurts real bad. This is a close second to the virus that struck in Santiago. A bunch of us went out away from town to a park by a river and while we were playing soccer with the guys, i rolled it on the uneven ground. It was really rocky grass and had little ditches all through it. It wasn't bad until we sat down for a couple hours for dinner and when we got home from the ride back, I could barely walk. So now I'm stuck in this chair with a throbbing ankle. Luckily, the father of the family that is with us is a neurosurgeon...not joking. He checked it out and said it's a sprain, but still doesn't change the fact that it's a huge pain in the butt. Ok, that's all. Here's a couple pics from today. Did I mention that Lima is in a desert? Oh, and we ate at a restaurant where they had these Incan dancers and live music. It was a dive into the rich culture. Tonight we're just chillin and tryin to get a hold of Mario, who runs the orphanage. Peace.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Bit of Encouragement

Hey friends. We've been in Lima about 5 days and are enjoying it very much. On Sunday we attended church where we were warmly welcomed by all of the congregation. On Monday we went to help move things from the church building because they've made the decision to split into 3 cell groups that will now meet in homes. Tuesday was great because we finally got a chance to catch up on rest and sleep in a little bit. We got to talk with the missionary a little bit about the upcoming week. Reid got to go to a small group meeting on Tuesday night and came back encouraged because he got to participate in the group. We're slightly limited on transportation space, so I am going to one tonight to get that experience.

We are still awaiting some time with Paul (the missionary) to get us connected with the man that runs the orphanages and some other children's homes, so yesterday Reid and I went downtown to see some of the historical sites. It was again a beautiful site to see such architecture and breath in the busy culture down there. I think this is so cool...inside the old Catholic church we toured, we saw the remains of Francisco Pizzaro. We studied him in my Civ class last semester and he was a Spanish Conquistador that established Lima in the 1500's. So Cool! I finally have some pictures of Lima and can't wait to give you some more of the people that we'll be growing close to this summer. We've been aching to eat some local Peruvian food and found a popular restaurant downtown called Don Juan's. I got Lomito Saltado (grilled steak, onions, peppers, tomatoes, fries with rice...all stir fried together). It was amazing and I can't wait to eat more here.

So last night is the best part though. A small group of the youth group meets in the apartment each Wednesday night and we went to it. There were about 8 or 9 teens that showed up to spend time playing games, talking, singing, and spending time in devotion together. It was a huge encouragement to be a part of that time and get to know Alan, Miguel, Gladys and the others. They have great hearts and it's a blessing to witness their new flare to shine in the world. I can't wait for more times like this. It's still difficult to learn Spanish and I get a little frustrated because I want to know it so fast, but I need to realize that it'll take time and I won''t be a pro overnight. Ok, I will get back soon with more updates and stuff like that. Love you guys. Pray for us....peace.
This is why we don't ride the buses in Lima
The Catholic church downtown