Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Last Week

I keep saying it over and over, but it doesn't make it any more real...I can't believe my time here in Mexico is coming to a close!  The last year and a half spent here in Puebla has gone way too fast.  This time next week, I'll be home in NWA and missing so many things about this beautiful place.  My "Mexican family", the food, the sounds and seeing Popo the volcano everyday, just to name a few.

Almost everyone who's ever been to Mexico would say that once you go, you can't help but fall in love with the people.  They are a unique and special culture that really welcome people into their hearts and homes.  I have always known that from my many mission trips to Mexico but after living here, it has taken on a whole new meaning.  Not only have Hiram & Cati's family taken me in as one of their own, even calling me their adopted daughter & sister, but so many others have welcomed me into their hearts and lives as well.  Last Saturday, they threw me a surprise going away party at church!  I was a little suspicious with some of the events leading up to the party but none the less it was the best (and only) surprise party that anyone's ever thrown for me!  Of course, it wouldn't be a party in Mexico without lots of good food!  We all ate until we were stuffed.  One of my friends, Andrea, even made a video with pictures throughout the year.  If you weren't crying by the end of the video, you were crying by the time I finished my "little speech."  They told me I had to say something, so I stepped up to the mic and told everyone I couldn't say much or I was going to cry...well just open the waterworks up there!  There wasn't a dry eye in the room.  What a feeling of love and gratitude I felt for each and every one of the people in that room.

 On Sunday and Monday, I had my very own private cooking class with a lady in our small group.  She taught me how to make the most traditional food of Mexico, mole (mo-lay) and then how to make tamales with the favorite kind!  I thought mole was too hard and too long of a process for me to ever be able to make but now I feel confident that I can make mole when I get home.  And good thing because I am going to miss it.  I have to find some Poblanos (people from Puebla) in NWA when I get home.  Here's some pics from my class with Mili...

Can't believe I'm coming home in 6 days!!  See y'all sooooonnn!!

Monday, October 8, 2012


This last weekend we had our annual El Camino women's retreat...and it was fabulous!  I was looking back on the retreat last year about this same time.  I had only been here in Puebla about a month and my Spanish was still pretty rough, which made the weekend very overwhelming and exhausting!  Not only was it much easier to understand this year but I could relax and enjoy it even more.  It was a great weekend away and some great time in the Word.  Here's just a taste of what God had to teach us this weekend...

Does it seem like there are impossible things, situations, people, etc. in your life?  I know there are many things in my life that from my point of view and with the limited amount of knowledge I have, seem utterly impossible.  But for our God, NOTHING is impossible.  He can and will do whatever He likes!  For the Samaritan woman at the well, she thought Jesus was a crazy man talking about giving her living water... "Hello?? You don't even have anything to draw water out of this well with!  However, I do, and I can draw you water if you like."  Oh, how silly we can be.  For Sarah, she laughed at the thought of having a baby at 99 years of age.  God says, "What's the problem?"  It seems unreal to see a talking donkey, right?  Again, God says, "Easy!"  Sending your one and only son, who was perfect and without blame to die for the sins of everyone who will ever live, for all the darkness and evil in this world, so that He can have a relationship with such people, amazingly and astonishingly God says, "What's the problem? Done and done."  I'm pretty sure every single parent would say for them, that would be impossible.  But when we see things ahead (with our limited sight and minds) and think there is no way to get through it, God says, "What's the problem?  You're with me.  You can't see what I can see and you can't do what I can do.  Let me take control and have the driver's seat.  All you need to do is trust and obey me.  So, as I walk through times of unknowns and questions, worry and wanting answers, I am reminded that I have a God so much bigger than "my mountain" and though I cower below it, He stands over that mountain, looks at his child and says, "What's the problem?"

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How's your appetite??

Last week, we had a guest teacher on Sunday morning at El Camino.  The theme of his sermon was "How's your appetite...for the Lord?"  I don't know that I've ever thought about it that way before.  Hunger?  yes.  Desire?  yes.  But appetite, never.  He was talking about how we "fill up" on other things- television, social events, magazines, porn, drinking, other people- the list could go on and on.  
But in Matthew 22:37, Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your mind."  or as my favorite version, The Message, says,  "Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence."  
I had to stop and think as he had us ask ourselves, "What are you filling up on BEFORE you go to Jesus?"  Because when we fill up on anything other than him first, in our hearts, or in our minds, or with our strength, passion, intelligence, etc., our appetite for HIM becomes less and less.  How true this is in my life.  And of course when God tells us important little things like this that knock us back into place, it continues to tap you on the shoulder.  But what a great reminder to keep coming back again and again.  I pray for myself and for you that our appetites for the Lord would continue to grow and may they be fully quenched and satisfied only by the Lord, in our hearts, minds and strength.  

Last night, the youth of El Camino had their first Saturday gathering.  What a great turnout for an evening of worship, teaching, fun games and small groups!  This is a huge step for the youth ministry as they move towards small groups and focusing in our discipleship relationships.  Despite the fact that we played games that required sitting on the (very) wet ground and dunking your head in a bucket of water if you lost (which of course, I did- hence the hood) I am so glad I got to be a part of this very special night.  I am so excited about the things to come and what God is going to do in and through this gathering time every Saturday night.  Please join me in praying for the leadership, Jera & Eddie, for Hayley, as she teaches some girls on discipleship over the next few weeks, and for all of the students.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

No Vacations!

"Christians need to stop living like we are on perpetual vacation, viewing the world as a resort where "God is in control" and wake up to the reality that we are in a war zone that is ruled by the evil one."

Well what a "Good Morning!" wake up call that was this morning as I read a blog that I follow.  A little bit harsh and abrupt but totally in line with what Paul says in Ephesians 6:12...

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
A Fight to the Finish
 10-12And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. (The Message)

This reminded me of a message that someone shared last week in the mountains.  He said that we cannot take spiritual vacations.  He even had us turn to our neighbors and say "NO VACATIONS!".  We can never allow ourselves to take a spiritual break and "go on vacation."  He was teaching through the story of David & Bathsheba.  As he taught, I began to see a story I had heard, read, studied, etc so many times in a completely different way.  He walked us through David's unfortunate series of events that led to much misfortune and heartache, all because he took a spiritual vacation.  The enemy is waiting for us to let our guard down so he can attack.  And it doesn't happen with a big bang or all at once, no it usually is a slow process.  A slow, winding process of sin that will drag us into a downward tailspin until we are at the bottom of the pit.  

Yes, I believe that God is in control, but evil still exists and I can guarantee that our enemy is not now nor will ever be (in this lifetime on earth) on vacation.  Let's be on guard today.  Remember the battle we are fighting daily and that we are on the winning side of the Lord almighty. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


"Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.  This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 MSG

Challenge: How many times can I thank God today?  I don't think Paul is so much saying we should thank God FOR everything but we should thank him IN everything.  I am thankful for his presence at all times, even bad times.

We had a great trip to Amixtlan & Cuautatola in the Sierra mountains last week, with a team from Fellowship.  The doctors, nurses and dentists saw over 900 patients!!  That's a record!  We also had an average of 50-60 kids every day!  I met so many new faces that I will never forget.  One in particular will always stand out to me.

This precious little girl is Elisa.  She became my sister in Christ last week!  On the last day of the kids' club, we shared the gospel at the end of our Bible story and gave kids the opportunity to come talk to us afterwards about what it meant to accept Jesus as their personal Savior.  As the rest of the kids were returning to their seats to finish their crafts and coloring sheets, I thought no one was going to stay up front and talk with us.  Then, I saw three girls standing together just waiting.  I asked them if they were interested in talking more about Jesus.  Elisa, who was standing in the middle of her two friends, very confidently said "Yo si" (Yes, me).  Now, you have to understand that in Cuautatola, people are very shy and the kids very seldom talk to us at all.  So for her to step up and say, "Yes, I am interested" was a huge step.  Marita walked the three girls through what it meant to accept Jesus and to have Him as your personal Savior.  I don't know what happened in their hearts that day, as those three little girls sat nervously listening and then prayed that prayer, but I could see a change in the eyes of Elisa.  It never grows old, experiencing someone, especially a child, experience the love of the Savior for the first time and choose to ask Him into their heart.  Please join me in praying for Elisa and for Barby, who will continue to try to water the seeds that have been planted in these three young hearts.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Who is following you?

Hebrews 13:7
"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God.  Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith." (ESV)

"Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God.  Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness.  There should be a consistency that runs through us all.  For Jesus doesn't change- yesterday, today, tomorrow, he's always totally himself." (7-8 The Message)

This morning as Hiram opened our staff devotion and prayer time, he read this verse to Spanish of course, but I just really love the Message version.  As we discussed the grand privilege and even greater responsibility of leadership and all that it entails, I was reminded of three keys to leadership : faithfulness, truthfulness and consistency.  What a challenge!  As leaders, we have to look backwards, following the path that others have led before us, "imitating their faith and way of life", as the verse says, but also looking forward.  Are we setting the same example for others to follow in our footsteps?  The most important thing about a leader is their character.  It's not my abilities or anything of me that makes me a good leader.  It has to be about my character that is molded by Christ in me.  It's also refreshing to remember that my skill, wisdom, creativity, guidance, and every single thing I need in leadership comes from God.  Someone told me a long time ago, "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called."  I have seen this proven true in my own life.  When I was approached two years ago with the opportunity to come to Mexico and provide children's ministry training, I had no idea how I would possibly do that.  I felt so inadequate and lacking in so much training myself.  But God called me and then God equipped me. And he continues to do that every day.
I encourage you, look back and thank God for those leaders who brought you closer to the Lord and then, look around, see who's following you.  I pray that God will make us all leaders of great compassion, strength, wisdom, kindness and mercy, leaders that others can follow and imitate.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

rainbows, rocks and revelations

"God continued, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you.  I'm putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth.  From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I'll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life.  When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I'll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth."  {Genesis 9:12-16}

WOW!!  How often do we look up in the sky to a rainbow and all we see is a beautiful thing?  Yes, it reminds us of God and his majesty and wonder that He could make such a wonderful thing.  But to be honest with you, sometimes I forget this part of scripture.  That when God puts that rainbow in the sky, He is remembering His covenant with Noah, you and me and every generation to come.  His promise that never agin will he wipe all peoples from the earth with a flood, like He did in Noah's day.  Does that blow your mind or what?  God speaking to us through beautiful colors displayed in the sky.  Our God truly is amazing and sometimes I forget to take time to bask in that.  I'm finding myself really excited to see the next rainbow in the sky, just to know that God is reminding us once again of His promise to us.

Right now in Club Neon, we are in our Super Heroes series.  This week I have been studying as we prepare to talk about David and Goliath.  I always love rediscovering a childhood classic Bible story.  I don't know the last time I actually read the scripture about the story of David.  What a man!  Actually, what a boy!  David was so young, obedient, brave and confident in the power of the one-true-living God that he knew was on his side.  He was more than happy to step up and be God's instrument in fighting the battle against the Philistines.  Not to show off or be the battle winners.  No, David couldn't believe that Saul's army had forgotten in whose name they fought- in the name of the Living God.  He wasn't going to stand for any ol' 9 foot tall, giant Goliath to bad-mouth the name and the people of the Lord.  So, when no one else would take a stand- David did.  Now, that sounds like the kind of guy I'm looking for!!  Haha If anyone finds this man, please, let me know!  But seriously, what a great heart-check moment for me as I was reading and preparing this lesson.  I don't want to be like the Israelite troops who wore the uniform and talked the talk, but when it came down to the battle, they backed away in fear.  I want to be like David, who though he might have been lacking in armor, strength, age and training, He knew he had the only thing that he needed...David had God on his side.  So with that little rock and his sling shot, he took a stand in the name of the Lord, swung that rock and killed that giant.  He knew the battle was not his own, it was the Lord's battle to fight, and he was going to use David to accomplish it.  I pray for the strength, confidence and bravery to face every situation in life like David.  Walk a little taller today, knowing that like David, you have the one true living God on your side and He's already won the battle!