God´s small blessings

The Lord has really blessed me these past couple of days. I´m not sure if all of the excitement and positive outlook is another stage of culture shock, but I´m definitely enjoying it!

We had a team from Wendell, NC come this week to do a sports camp each day. They went to the children´s home in the mornings and then in the evenings we all helped out with a camp for the kids from the villages. It was so much fun!

Each day we still made our way to our assigned villages but we were completely on our own. We were free to choose when to go and how long we wanted to be there. My team and I took this time to only one of our communities because we really aren´t very familiar with it at all. So we walked. We took our remainder flyers for the sports camp and walked, praying for God to provide opportunities to meet people. You see, this community has already presented a challenge for us. We´ve walked through a few times, and each time it seems very closed and there aren´t many people out on the streets to speak with. This is a very diverse area because it´s fairly new, so I don´t think that many people know each other or are close to one another as you might find in the other pueblos. At times, it´s definitely discouraging. I think it´s hit my team on some days this week especially because we´ve gone with eagerness to share with the people and have come out with a few quick conversations and some less flyers.

But for me, God gave me peace. I know we haven´t gotten results from this community as we would like. We haven´t had any clear paths of sharing with people nor have we made close connections as in the other village across the street. But God has given me peace about it. I know that if we continue to act persistently in being a presence in this place, he will provide. It´s easy to look at situations like this and think that we haven´t been successful. But if there is one thing I´ve learned so far, it´s that success on the mission field cannot be measured by us but is solely measured by our obedience to God´s calling. As long as we are willing and consistent, we are successful.

Also, the children´s camp each night was such a blessing for me. We taught them to play some basketball, football, soccer, and we even did some crafts. The children were so excited to be there and to play around. It was mostly affirming for me because I made some connections with a few of the girls that came consecutive days in a row. I think it was the third night or so, I was sitting on the stage and one girl came up behind me, putting her hands over my eyes as I tried to guess who it was. That may seem like something so insignificant to most people, but for me it was a gesture that meant “hey you´re my friend and I´m glad to see you”.  Now who knows what that young girl was really thinking but it did touch my heart and reaffirmed that the Lord does have a purpose for me here. Also, one night, it began to pour down rain. Here in Oaxaca when it rains, it rains hard. So the group that was outside playing had to come inside and everything broke out into chaos. It was beautiful. The kids were running around everywhere and having the best time ever. The gym was filled with laughter and screams and the loud pounding of rain on the roof. I simply stood on the stage, smiling in awe of all that was around me because to me, this was the love of God.

There has been a lot of going this week and it´s been slammed pack, leaving my teammates and I a bit exhausted. But the Lord is good and I´m so thankful for the opportunities he will provide while I´m here. Now I wait patiently for his leading.

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them and his sheep follow him becuase they know his voice.”

John 10:4

The first full week

This week has indeed flown by. Some days it seems as if time is going so slow and then I look and my watch and realize that the day is almost through. I cannot believe I’ve been in Oaxaca for over a week now. It’s been so exciting and overwhelming all at the same time.

We spent Monday having some last minute training sessions and then learning routes to each of our assigned villages. For these next two months, our Nehemiah team is broken into assigned groups that will travel 3 or 4 days out of the week to various villages with different objectives. We have one pair working to help translate bible stories into the Zapotec language, others working to minister to college students, and others with small churches needing encouragement to flourish. My group consists of myself and two other young ladies. We are working in two parallel villages right now simply talking with the people and hopefully getting involved in the ministries currently there. One of these pueblos is without running water and electricity so I believe we’re hoping to do a light project out of 2 liter water bottles with the people there. Our task is fairly flexible so I definitely think we will be following as the Spirit leads us this summer.

Also this week we were able to visit Casa Hogar,  a children’s home. The kids there were so full of energy that my team and I had an awesome time! As soon as we arrived and placed name tags on the table to begin making for everyone, many of the children ran over and took charge. One little girl would take blank name tags and copy other peoples, sticking them all over the place. I think by the end of the day I ended up with at least six random names on my back. While there, we played several games of tic-tac-toe on the sidewalk, colored some pictures, and shared the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den. It was a lot of fun and I think we’re hoping to go back on the Tuesdays to come.

The next  two days we went to our villages. We walked around passing out flyers for a sports camp we’ll be having this week. As soon as we were dropped off at the smaller village, we met a new friend. She’s a young mother and she helped us tremendously in the two days we were there. She showed us around and helped us explain the camp in Spanish to her neighbors. Then, the next day when we returned another lady we met, showed us how to make tortillas. I did a pretty good job and pressing it flat but struggled to lay it on the stove flat. But, by the end of this summer, I should have it mastered. They already invited us back to try again this week. Also on that same day, the children at her house led us up a small trek to the top of a hill overlooking both villages. It was beautiful! I’m hoping that we will really get connected with the believers in this village to encourage them. We visited the other pueblo across the street some too but didn’t have as much success because it seemed like a lot of people weren’t there. However, we barely covered a fourth of that area so this week will be filled with more exploration.

Friday and Saturday were our days off. Friday we had a team meeting and then we walked the Zocalo some and that night had a family dinner. Our team prayed at the table after some conversation for the world issue of human trafficking then spent some time praising and worshipping on the roof top. The students that God has placed me here with are so great. They each have a strong heart for the Lord and are so in tune to his leading that they greatly encourage me. I’m a big listener so it’s always a pleasure hearing them each share what’s on their heart. Some of us chose to walk to the Zocalo again in search for opportunities to minister. We met an older gentleman on the street singing of the love that Christ has to share. At first we just passed him but one of my friends turned to me and said, “Wouldn’t it be terrible if we allowed him to sing and he not fully understand what he’s singing about and one day go to Hell?” We felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit and decided to turn and talk to this man. It turns out that he was formerly Catholic and drank on a regular basis until they had to remove his leg because of his addiction. He turned to Christ in that time of need and found salvation in the resurrection, what an inspirational testimony!   The next day, we travelled to Mitla to see the indigenous ruins there. It was really cool! We had a really nice tour guide who showed us around and explained the history and architecture of the buildings. I enjoyed it a lot. I later watch Man of Steel with a large group  of our friends here. It was just like we were in America expect that we stood out like a sore thumb because of our light skin. The movies here are in English with Spanish subtitles so they don’t have to have weird voice overs. I thought that was interesting.

Today we went to Casa de Restauracion, which is where many of our new friends from the village go. It was a more contemporary service and I enjoyed it a lot! It was awesome because they sang some songs we knew in English so I could hear both languages at once. Also, since it was Father’s day they played several games and served us tacos for lunch.

Like I said, it’s been a busy week but the Lord is working. Please pray for health and healing for my team and I as many of us have gotten sick. Pray that I would be confident in the power God has given me and that I will continue in adjusting to Oaxaca. Pray for our groups in the villages, that the Spirit will lead us to where we need to be. Thank you for your support and love!

¡Estoy aquí!

I left for training week in Alabama only a week ago. It was a hard goodbye to all my family and friends but I knew what God had called me to do. To be here. I had a 5 day orientation at Nazareth Baptist Church in Rainsville, AL along with 180 other young people going out for the summer. We experienced training for the field including bucket baths, port-o-potties, and so much vital information in preparation that our brains went into overload. It was all so beneficial though. If I had simply come straight to the field, I don´t think I would have been prepared. We learned about real spiritual warfare, catholicism, how to share our story without churchy lingo and some crazy security training (which included some blanks fired in the air to teach us about emergency situations). It was all so great! 

One of my favorite aspects of this time was definitely that of worship. The first night there, we sang and it was amazing. I felt like it was a glimpse of what heaven will be like for sure. Each of us worshipping our Savior and filled with the same exact passion and desire was a beautiful thing.

Also, my team is quite impressive. I wasn´t sure what to expect of them at first but they are all legit in their faith and passionate about ministry. There are 9 of us, two boys and nine girls from all over the United States. I know that they will each be a source of support and encouragement this summer. 

And now, I´m here. My team and I arrived in Oaxaca only a few days ago. We are staying in the city right by the Zocolo. It´s beautiful here. The people are great and I´m excited for what God will do. Culture shock, however, has been a bit difficult for me. I expected to arrive and be completely overwhelmed by everything but that{s not exactly how it happened. The moment I left the airport here in Oaxaca, a flood of homesickness swept over me. I had to call my mom that night to let her know I had arrived safely but it was an emotional short phone call. It has hit me at random times since being here, I think mostly because of the unfamiliarity of it all. But that shall not stop me. I have been out exploring the city and embracing all that is now so most of those former feelings have worn off.

Thus far though, we have had more training in preparation for our later work. It is all such vital information that I do not want to miss out on any of it. Also, I have eaten many Mexican dishes including chilaquiles, entomatadas, y tacos! Friday night we had una fiesta with other people from the  church and many students, it was a lot of fun. I have been practicing my Spanish quite a bit but I still have some work to do of course.

This morning we went to a Spanish evangelical church, which was amazing! Most of our time spent thus far is simply getting oriented with the area. Soon though we will be off to our specific assignments! I will be keeping you all posted 🙂