Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nov photos and brief update

I don't have time to write, but things are well! It's Spring in Chile. Our urban garden project is getting underway, but we need tools! Several of us are growing seeds in our homes and getting them ready to transplant in the garden. For some reason I have 16 squash plants growing. I'm not sure how it happened except all the seeds decided to germinate.
We are in week 7 of The Story and it's neat to see how people are responding by getting involved in Bible discipleship studies and are getting into the Word more! Old and new alike are reaping the benefits from this unifying study.
Isabella finished first grade and I can't believe our first official year of homeschool is "over". But it's never really over because kids' keep learning all through the summer! Milan broke his arm, did you know? but he's better now. AND he cut his beautiful long blond hair. I love the new cut and it's so fresh and not sweaty. Mateo is a love, simply put. He was/is the perfect addition to our family, and I can't imagine our busy life without him.
I'm loving our weekly women's study and Ricky is leading a wednesday co-ed study.

Christmas is coming soon and we want to hold an outreach event. That would be spectacular.

We're trusting God through a really rough time financially. After living on our minimum operating budget for several months, now we're down into the red big time. Negative numbers. But the Lord our God is amazing and has wonderful plans when we trust him with everything. If we have to get "jobs" in addition to working in the church we will. But we also just need some new partnerships! We shall see. Pray for us. Thanks! By the way, Cusco is going through some difficult situations. Pretty serious. If you want to know more so you can pray more specifically, let me know.

That is all for now! May our gracious Lord bless you beyond your hearts imagination and may His grace be on you always. And on us as well!
Sunday school class, going through The Story!

Eduardo with Flabio

We started The Story and it's been really great so far! 

I love watching and praying for Ricky while he gives the Word. I rarely get a picture, and this one is full of wires and other things that don't make it the best photo, but I think it captures well his heart, which is what I love so much about him. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

a story of transformation

Last Sunday, we had the privilege of watching four dear people take the step of faith to get baptized.

Each of the four of them have a special story of how God has been working in their lives.

Today, I want to share about Ian and his father Eduardo. I remember the first time they visited our church. Eduardo and Betsebe's littlest son, two years old Flabio, ran right up the aisle to the front of the church and stood there. He was a tiny, brown-haired, bright-eyed little guy. Soon someone came to get him. It was his father, Eduardo. He smiled, with a little wince of embarrassment for having to walk up to the front of the church to get his son. It never fails that each week either Eduardo or his eldest son, Ian, are running after Flabio.

It was hard to get to know Betsebe because she always stayed in her place, didn't talk to anyone and generally seemed sad. Week after week, we would say hi and give her a hug and wait for her to open up a bit. With patience we learned that she has a hearing problem. Her difficulties had never been properly treated by a doctor and it was causing a great deal of strain and anger in her life, marriage and family. She didn't seem to want help. So we prayed for her.

We watched as Eduardo and Ian both began serving in the church. Ian seemed the opposite of his mother, always showing a smile and having an available word of conversation with those around him. God was working. One day we had a special visitor at our church, someone who works with hearing impaired people. She was able to help Betsebe with some hearing aids. From that time Betsebe started opening up a little more. She started to smile a little more. And then something special happened. She gave her life to the Lord. We are still praying that she finds the healing and peace that come through Christ. Praise God. And last week Eduardo and Ian got baptized!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Libertad church

I found some random pics from April and wanted to share. I love our church family!

Magdaly and Elena. Please keep Elena in your prayers as she lost her husband, Sergio, to cancer last December and has been a difficult year for her.

The Hidalgo family.. missing a few more

I rarely take my camera to church, so when I do I like to try and get Ricky preaching but it turned out blurry! Maybe next time I can get a better shot.

Every last Sunday of the month we share breakfast together before church starts. It's a good time to fellowship together!

After breakfast worship time.

Some of the worship team

Cusco update

Cutting trees in Cusco

The "legal issue" is resolved, the determination was that the claim was unprecedented, which we already knew. So, we have begun clearing the land and cutting the eucalyptus trees. I wish I could be there to see it, but these are the photos that Jorge shared with us!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

thoughts about burden and my heavy heart

Having a heavy heart or a burden does not mean my trust in God falters. Just because I share my heart about my journey does not make me weak. It does not mean I am discouraged or down. When the world is going through times as these... when my fellow brothers are being persecuted... when my friends are hurting... when other missionaries are suffering... when my own life experiences pain or frustration... it does not mean that my hope is gone. It is in times as these that my hope is fanned into a flame of trust and faith in our GOD who can save us. Our Lord who already saved us. We do not despair during difficult times! Yes, we face them. I face them. Our world is not perfect and I cannot pretend things are perfect in our lives as servants of God. And times like these should not be kept quiet. We share in the burdens of our friends and fellow servants. Their pain becomes ours, we weep with those who weep. But we also rejoice with those who rejoice. And we rejoice also because of the sunshine that comes after the rain!

During times as these, is when our eyes are looking upon our Creator, when we can be SURE that He is capable of answering the tough questions. I will not be intimidated or silenced into superficiality. Life is hard. Yes. But life is LIFE and it is GOOD! God is good, all the time. And our hope is always in Him. Jesus is our hope and with Him we are able to carry the burdens of this world, and are able to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us.

Amen for that. And blessed be those who are persecuted for His names' sake. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied!

Matthew 5:1-10 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. By Handlettering

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

our family, August 2014

It's still winter, but the trees are beginning to flower. It's as if they have been just anxiously awaiting the time to appear again that they can't contain themselves. Spring won't be here for several more weeks, but please don't tell the trees.

In July, Ricky got to go to Cusco to receive a mission team from Washington. They planned to do the ground breaking on the church's land there; with tree cutting, digging and constructing a retaining wall. But we've discovered over the years that some things just don't go as planned, and the enemy likes to mess things up as much as he can. In the days before the team arrived, the trees were about to be cut and the hired workers were on site, when some men showed up and started throwing rocks at them, and soon physically pushed them off the land. These men are family of the previous land owner. While they have no legal rights over the land, they have gotten the previous owner and the land itself entangled in a little legal mess where it may take some time to get fixed. It's all somewhat frustrating but God is in control, and for that we are patient and waiting to see how this will get resolved.

So the team couldn't do construction, but they did a lot of other things and their trip was a blessing to the locals and the church there. Please keep praying for Jorge. The enemy has tried to get Jorge in a place of isolation and discouragement. We know the brothers and sisters in the church are growing, but there is a lack of service among the brethren, which leaves Jorge alone doing most of the work. Ricky and I know how hard that is because we spent many years alone in the work in Cusco as well. We prayed for help. We still pray. Please pray for a missionary couple to commit to serving in Cusco alongside of Jorge and Janet. They need it, really. And even more than we did because we were already experienced and both of us had more than a decade walking with God before leaving for the missions field. With physical, emotional and spiritual support on a daily basis, Jorge and Janet could grow and accomplish so much in their service. The church could get back to a place where it is flourishing. They could have all the tools they need to pastor and encourage growth in the church. Please pray for them and with us. And besides, who wouldn't want to serve God in an amazing place like Cusco? Why is it that it's so easy for others to abandon our brothers there?

While Ricky was in Peru, I was at home here in Chile with the three lil ones, wishing time would go by fast because we miss him when he's gone! We filled our days with school and keeping indoors during the cold, rainy days and even managed to spend a few days at the beach. I drove there for the first time alone with the kids and managed to not get lost or pulled over. I did have to take a detour because my exit was blocked by road construction. But with only 15 minutes out of my way, we got back in the right direction. It was a beautiful few days we could spend with my parents in law and sister in law and her two boys. 

Now that August is here, the 2nd semester of school has started. I can't believe Isabella is half way through first grade and I am fighting against feeling the pressure of completing certain things. I know learning in children is constant and that her schooling doesn't magically stop when the school year is over. She is doing really fantastic though. A few areas are harder than others for her, but I have to remember that she is learning everything in two languages. Reading has been the hardest. She is doing consistently better, reading in both English and Spanish. We are proud of her! Milan and Mateo are having fun in "school" too. Milan is starting to read and says it's his favorite part of school. 

I've been fighting loneliness and pressure (self-induced perhaps) of being "pastor's wife". It's different than it was in Cusco, where we brought Christ to people and led them spiritually. We were like parents to them. Whereas here, we are leading a church that is already founded and with believers who, many of which, have walked with God for decades already. Also, I'm learning about Chilean culture first hand. It may be hard to believe since Ricky is Chilean and we've visited numerous times before our move, but I am experiencing culture shock!

Thankfully Jesus is constant in His love and grace. He is still Lord whether in Peru or Chile, or whether in wealth or want. We can put our trust in him because He is trustworthy! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

When the devil hits you with a car

Isn't it ironic how when a believer in Jesus finally makes that decision to follow and serve Him that same time an attack of the enemy comes along, tries to plants seeds of doubt, cause pain and ultimately a scarred or severed relationship with Him?

Jasna, a woman who has been in our church for a long time and has participated with the women's group finally made the commitment to lead one of the nights of the women's Bible study. She mentioned she was nervous; not ready to speak in front of the group and even less lead it. But God gave her the power to say she'd give it a shot. She has a heart for the Lord and is ready to take a step of faith and get past the nervousness to share with the other women. Amazing, right?What a big step toward maturity in the faith!

But then the devil came along and tried to mess things up. Jasna and her two kids got hit by car today! I know, crazy. Her kids got little bumps, and Jasna may have a fractured wrist, but all in all, the Lord kept them safe.

Why does that always happen? When we are comfortable, not making much of a difference for the kingdom, he just leaves us alone. But when we start acting on our faith, making progress in our walk with God and start serving Him, the devil comes to wreak havoc. I'm not sure if Jasna will teach the class tomorrow. We'll have to wait and see. Pray she does! And that she doesn't get disheartened.

Monday, March 03, 2014

first day of school

Today was our first official day of homeschool! The kids were so excited! Even though Milan is only in preschool and isn't required to do anything except play, he joined us for the majority of our activities.I didn't do quite all I had expected and time went by way faster than what I thought it would, but overall I'm happy with our first day. We all woke up a little late and didn't get breakfast til 9am and school started til 9:30. My goal is to get us started at 8:30 or 9 so we can get in the 3 hours before lunch and be finished for the day.

3 hours a day doesn't seem like a lot but when lessons range from 20-30 minutes each, it's surprising how much materials you can cover. My homeschooling style is still developing, but as I read and research and gather lessons plans, books, online materials, worksheets, etc. I realize that my style is eclectic. I have Montessori hands on materials and love child-led learning. I am always attentive to what they talk about, what questions they ask and then I guide them into discovering more about those things. When one starts asking questions about animals that live in holes, we get a chance to read books about rabbits, foxes, moles, etc, watch documentaries and educational videos from national geographic, we talk about them, draw pictures or sing songs about them. All these kinds of things help cement learning. and it's fun. We've gotten to learn so much about science this way, and just this summer they have learned about nocturnal animals, herbivores, carnivors, hibernation, colonies of ants and so many other things.

They also love math. I think most kids learn a distaste for math by seeing their parents or peers dislike it. But when they can see that math is interesting, they just want to learn it all on their own. I have a list of numbers on the wall and every time Milan (when he was still only 3 year old) walked past, he would count. Now I hear him counting everything and sorting things into groups and patterns by number or color, biggest smallest.  Isabella loves numbers too and is already able to figure out word problems with addition and division. She is a problem solver and really is growing in her critical thinking skills.

But I'm not all Montessori either... I don't let them lead the way all the time. I plan to give them a routine, which I think give kids security in knowing what comes next. I also will challenge them to do the things they may not want to do that day. It is not child-led in those moments, but some day in the future when they are at a job where they just dont feel like going to work or don't want to do something their boss tells them to do, they will have the skills to submit in the correct moments to challenge themselves and do their best even when they don't like it.

There are some pieces of Charlotte Mason that I really like, too. The writing and literature. Other parts of my homeschooling style are classical, using workbooks and worksheets with quizes and tests. But on the opposite of this scale is the unschooling part of me. I know Isa will learn through the daily activities of life. Homemaking, cooking, cleaning, learning to take care of our garden or pets, visiting elderly, learning to talk to different people, at the store or a restaurant, or feeling confident to talk to a police officer or talk on the telephone. These types of social skills are not taught in schools. Children who sit all day with 40 other children their own age do not get as many opportunities to interact with older and younger people. In fact, the older kids are "too cool", it's not okay for interacction. And the younger kids are "babies", and also not cool to interact with them. Adults are "boring" and elderly are "scary and wrinkly". I'm glad my children have the opportunity to make relationships with all types of people. I would even say they are MORE socialized that schooled children.

Homeschooling gives me the chance to let my kids experience what they are learning. We learn about shapes by encountering shapes in our every day lives, we learn about nature by going out and touching it. Learn about number by counting how many tomatoes are on the bush.We learn geography when we get out a map to see the places we've been and will be going this year. We talk about history when we learn what the Bible says about the beginning of man, or when we want to know why some cultures dress, talk or do the things they do. When we talk about why they eat different foods than we do, instead of just talking about it, we get to visit places, museums, and cook and eat those foods to make it an entire experience.

More than anything, I think the importance of early education lies in character formation, developing a sense of the world around them, and encountering a love to learn. As they grow they will be able to teach themselves because they will know how to learn. And above all else is to teach an awareness of God who is all around us, that they will discover His interaction in their lives, and recognize His love for them and their own need for Him.

It is a lofty goal to homeschool but just as lofty to be a mom. I want to join in my children's learning. I hope to model the way, by showing them patience, love and respect and expect the same in return. The goal is not for them to be little adults, but rather to have an amazing childhood that lasts as long as possible. While growing up will happen naturally, so will all the other developmental aspects of learning. Having fun, loving live. Loving each other. That's what I want this year to be.

Friday, February 28, 2014

the real me: the truth about frienship

It's been really hard to make friends here. Honestly, it's been hard for me to make friends at all the last 10 years. Since I left the US, it's been a time of highs and lows, times when I've really felt the need for friendship and other times where I didn't feel that need. I've mourned the loss of friendships. Before I left the US I had some really "close" friends. At least that's what I thought. My heart has been heavy so many times, just wishing my friendships with those people could go back to what they once were. But then I realize 10 years have passed and I just may never regain them as friends. There are a small handful of people who have stuck with me through thick and thin, who have loved me despite all the things that are wrong, selfish, or misguided about me. Others have judged. Some stuck it though. I love those ones. But I can't just sit down with them over coffee and chat. I'm still thousands of miles away. My kids take up most of my time (which I wouldn't change), but it doesn't give me a quiet space condusive of having a meaningful Skype conversation either.

And although I love my husband for being so amazingly understanding, he's still a man and I still need a friend that is not him. We've been in Chile for almost a year and a half and it's been soooo hard to make friends. People don't just open their lives to a new person every day. They have lived their entire lives here in Chile without me and frankly don't need to add another person into their circle. ouch. But it's true. I understand people. And sometimes I feel the same way. I dont need to add more people into my circle. But that's just it, i DO need to add.. maybe for my kids sake, my sanity's sake, my marriage's sake. I need conversation with someone who is not on the other side of the computer screen and who I can share life's trial and struggles with.

But what I don't want are handouts. I don't want pity, nor superficial junk. I want real conversation about real topics that affect our lives. And in English would be preferred. Ok, I'll give up the English. Any language that I can understand is ok.