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!

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¡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 🙂

Only a few days to go.

It’s crazy to think that this Saturday, 2 days from now, I will be on my way to Rainsville, Alabama for orientation and then only next week I will be off to Mexico for the summer. Needless to say, I am a bit overwhelmed.

I’ve never in my life been the type of person to worry or be so fearful of the unknown until this week. Anyone who knows me would most be likely to describe me as “chill”, “easy-going”, or even “laid back” so for me to feel fearful makes me feel even more out of place. However, this is a big task. To commit two whole months in another country, away from family and friends, with people I’ve never met before, and on top of that not being certain of what you’ll be doing day to day or how the people of that culture interact is a tad bit scary.The unknown has certainly become forefront in my mind and I think I’ve recently allowed the enemy to put me in a place of doubt. I have felt that lack of control because so much is unknown and I’ve even doubted my ability to serve and the work that God can do.

But when I’m upset and worrisome, God reassures me that none of this is about me. It’s all for Him. I’m not going to Mexico to have others see me as righteous, and I’m not going simply to say I won however many lives to Christ. I’m going so that my Savior, the Creator of this world, may be glorified. So that His work may be fulfilled in the hearts of his people. I’ve simply answered a call; this adventure that I shall soon embark upon has absolutely nothing to do with me for it’s entirely the work of the Lord. Thus, I was encouraged tonight when a former missionary from my church reminded me of this verse.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be dismayed for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

What an appropriate verse for the emotions and thoughts that have currently flooded my mind. The Lord shall provide and I have nothing of which to be fearful. I am confident that my God will move this summer and I know that it will be challenging. But I rest assured in the fact that it’s not about me. I pray, and ask that you all would pray with me, that I may not become distracted by my desires or needs in selfishness but that I be in tune with the Word of the Lord and that his will be done. I pray that all my work be done only to point back to God above.