Friday, October 26

This week

This week has been a bit fun! Anytime I have an opportunity to exert creative energy is a good time. So what has this week included? Let me share:
  • I got to take two kids to the park. This park was pretty cool. I've been there before but prior to taking the two kids, I hadn't visited the toy area. This toy area had a whole collection of toys that allow for exercises...for example, the park has one toy that is basically an elliptical trainer and another that is essentially a rowing machine...but they're toys for kids to play with (as well as the adults who accompany said kids).
  • I was assigned the responsibility of providing banana and pumpkin bread for a church service in Tijuana next week. The estimated count is approximately 100 people. So I've been baking up a storm the last three days. With the two banana loaves in my oven right now, I now have 13 loaves ready for devouring. I love cooking/baking so this has been enjoyable. Plus my house smell a-maz-ing!!
  • Then tomorrow, I get to go to a Craft or Homemade Fair in Ensenada. It's all day tomorrow and I've been told that there will be a whole gamut of things from products to food to crafts. I have a friend who has started her own business creating beautiful accessories for hair, as well as jewelry. She is going to have a booth there and I am going to help her man the table from about 1-7pm. The location is right next to the port where the cruise ships come in and Saturday is a cruise ship day, so I'll be the English speaker for such visitors. I think my friend will do fabulously well at this fair...I so hope that is the case. At any rate, I'm excited to walk around and see the sights as well as trying to sell cute things. Maybe I should try the following Mexican salesman lines:
    • For you 99% off!
    • Almost free for missionaries/cruise visitors!
    • Come buy something you don't need! (seriously, I've heard these all!!)
  • And last but not least, I got to operate an electric hand saw. There is something about power tools that make me want to grunt like Tim Allen in Home you know what I mean? I don't know if it's because I'm a woman that feels empowered, in that moment, or if it's just an innate desire of all humans when holding something that roars with power and a little danger. Regardless, I cut some wood and loved it!

Tuesday, October 23

Prayer's struggle

I have this one specific prayer request that I've talked to God for about 4 months now. Not every day but regularly...several times each week, to be sure.

I was reminded yesterday by a Mexican friend of a story in the book of Daniel where Daniel prayed for 24 days on a certain request. On the 24th day, an angel came to Daniel and said that he had left immediately to minister to Daniel but was stopped in battle and had only just been freed to come. If Daniel hadn't continued to pray until he received an answer, I wonder if he would have missed out on the blessing.

This is a good encouragement for me to persevere and faithfully bring my request before God. Plus, even without this encouragement, I know that God cares about the things that weigh on my heart, including this.

But I was also reminded, about two months, ago of a passage in Romans: "Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts..." (Romans 1:24). This came to mind because although I know God cares, I have no desire for Him to answer my prayer in the way I desire, unless it is also what He desires for my life. I don't want to be given over to my desires only to find out one day down the road that I "settled" instead of waiting for God's blessing...much like the story of King Saul and David. The people of Israel demanded a king, so God gave them Saul...a weak and unfaithful king...when instead the people of Israel should have waited for the "man after God's heart," King David.

All this to say, I'll keep praying faithfully, like Daniel, until God provides an answer. And I keep praying humbly, seeking God's time over my own desires.

Thursday, October 18

Tienes amigos?

Since the beginning of September, I have been taking Spanish classes every Monday and Wednesday, for two hours each day.

Up until yesterday (Wednesday), our classes have consisted of many many vocab words. In the first two or three classes, I think she literally threw about 300 words at us to memorize. Then she gave us more. We have reviewed and reviewed with each class. I understand the value of knowing vocab words...but was ready for more.

Yesterday, she gave us questions! Questions we can use to actually converse! My heart soared...I long for conversations! Although I had to laugh over three of the questions:
  • Te pagan bien?--Do you get good pay?
    • I'm not sure I'd ever feel comfortable asking that question, outside my own family or closest friends.
  • Tienes amigos?--Do you have friends?
    • Ummm....yes?!?!
  • Que clase de amigos tienes?--What type of friends do you have?
    • The good kind?!?!
  • And no, this list of questions did NOT include: Donde es el bano? Where is the bathroom?
Learning a language is an adventure, to be sure. Partly because of the teacher. Both this teacher and my previous teacher from high school (from Puerto Rico and Cuba, respectively) have large personalities. They are crazy, loud, laugh a lot, and talk fast! I think they're great!

Going to Spanish classes isn't the most fun I do but it is definitely helpful. I just need to keep practicing in public until I can speak without making my statements into questions, due to uncertainty.

Anyhow, that's enough on Spanish 101 for today...I need to go study some more. I'll leave you one last question that is worth knowing: Cual es tu estacion de radio favorito? What is your favorite radio station?

Tuesday, October 16

Balderdash with C.S. Lewis

You know the game Balderdash, don't you?

If not, you are given random words and everyone has to come up with the meaning of that word. It can be a best guess or a creative absurdity. The definitions are given to the judge who reads off all the meanings including the actual definition. Then everyone guesses which is the correct definition and points are awarded accordingly.

So on that note, let's play! No cheating...choose your best guess!

First word: Dyspeptic
  1. Feelings accompanying disorganization and chaos
  2. Gloomy, pessimistic and irritable
  3. Weak, manipulative
  4. Injuries resulting in bitterness
Second word: Laconic
  1. A way of measuring gravitation force
  2. Rural lifestyle typified by slowness
  3. The use of a few words to express much
  4. Business that comes through forceful expectation
Third word: Cheroot
  1. A cigar with untapered ends
  2. Tobacco including calamus roots
  3. Seeds anciently used to curtail nicotine addiction
  4. A leaf used to roll cigars
Fourth word: Epiphenomena
  1. A medical phenomenon
  2. The sudden recall of a dream
  3. A secondary reaction to tragedy
  4. A secondary symptom to a disease
Fifth word: Etiolated
  1. The causing of becoming weakened or sickly
  2. The causing of becoming disoriented
  3. The feeling of immense energy and vigor
  4. The feeling of immense pain

Do you have your guesses?
Here are the answers:

Dyspeptic: Gloomy, pessimistic, irritable (2)
Laconic: The use of a few words to express much (3)
Cheroot: A cigar with untapered ends (1)
Epiphenomena: A secondary symptom to a disease (4)
Etiolated: The causing of becoming weakened or sickly (1)

How did you do?
I am reading through C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength, which is where all these words came from. I'm pretty sure I've never seen these words before, let alone heard them. This book was written approximately 70 years makes me wonder how much of the English language has been "lost" over the years. Anyhow, it has been fun to learn a few new old words. Good times with literature!

Saturday, October 13

A lesson from Jeremiah, part 2

Okay, I didn't think I'd write on Jeremiah for a little while but writing the last post, my eyes saw another golden nugget that I couldn't resist writing on.

One of the thing I love about God is that He loves and cares for the vulnerable (foreigners, orphans, widows). Furthermore, He is so passionate that His followers also love and care for the orphan and widow that He tells us to do so many times throughout the entire Bible. So if we are not actively doing so, it is sin (James 4:17).

Shortly after the last passage that I shared, Jeremiah is told to tell the king and his people to administer justice. God says:

"Do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger (foreigner), the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place....if you will not obey these words...this house will become a desolation" Jeremiah 22:3, 5

He cares so much about those who are vulnerable that He promises to judge those who fail to do so. Why is this so important to God?
  • Loving and caring for the vulnerable is one practical way to show that you love and care for God.
  • Loving and caring for the vulnerable is one practical way to show God's love and care to those who might feel alone, afraid, weak, and unprotected.
  • It is a way to show the world God's love, tangible hands and feet.
  • It is a way to remind ourselves that without God, we are just as vulnerable (not to say that orphans and widow are without God due to their vulnerable state...their physical state is merely a reflection of our spiritual state without God).
I don't mean to minimize widows and foreigners but let me focus on orphans momentarily.
According to the Christian Alliance for Orphans, in 2008, they estimate that there were 163 million orphans (children who have lost either one or both parents). Three years prior, UNICEF estimated the count to be at 132 million. As of 2011, it is estimated that there are 2.18 billion Christians in the world, of all ages. Let's estimate that 1/3 of that number are children. This leaves 1.53 billion adults. The orphan epidemic could be completely taken care of if Christians followed God's command to take care of orphans!!

I know there are many extra elements to consider and I can agree that my statement above is a bit too simplistic but even if we were to estimate that half of those adults were in a position to adopt, that would still be 750 million adults...far more adults than orphans!

If you're not already doing this, take time today to plan how you can be involved in caring for foreigners (refugees, immigrants legally or otherwise), orphans (domestic and internationals, children with one parent or none), and widows (elderly, single mothers, or true widows). If you need/want suggestions, I can certainly offer some.

Friday, October 12

A lesson from Jeremiah

I've been reading through the book of Jeremiah, in the Bible. It's a long book filled with judgment...or so I thought for my whole life. But reading through it, I have found that it contains so much more. I could share so many tidbits with you, and maybe one day I'll share more, but today I'll just share one little passage, from Jeremiah 21:8-10:

"You shall also say to this people, 'Thus says the Lord, "Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who dwells in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence; but he who goes out and falls away to the Chaldeans (Babylonians) who are besieging you will live, and he will have his own life as booty. For I have set My face against this city for harm and not for good," declares the Lord.'"

When I read this passage, I was blown away by the implications of what it says. If they want to live, they must leave the "safety" of the city walls and walk into guaranteed captivity of the Babylonians. The walls of Jerusalem gave the illusion of safety and yet the Lord declares that if they stay there, they will certainly die.

My immediate next thought was of myself and the church, in general. I think it has become normal for us to want security, comfort and safety (whether or not that is okay is another issue for another day). Very few would seek instability, trials, or suffering. And yet, if God were to call us out of the safe area into a life of guaranteed trials, would we go? Would I go?

The story that follows is exactly what is promised in that passage. This declaration was given to the King who chose to stay behind his fortified city walls and ultimately the city was destroyed and the King was killed. But, while it is not stated in the book of Jeremiah, we do know that some people heard the words that Jeremiah spoke and obeyed. They chose to leave the city walls, go into captivity and lived...we have stories of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Mordecai, Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah.

Walking into a life of trials would definitely be a hard decision to make but this passage (as well as the fulfillment of this passage, as just discussed) reminds me that following God is ALWAYS worthwhile. Captivity and trials does not signify that God is not present or that God has abandoned His people...even then He is present and using people for His glory (read Daniel, Esther, or Nehemiah for confirmation). So if you are facing this hard decision, be bold and confident that God is in control and that God is good, even in the midst of pain.

Thursday, October 11

Partially-Read Books

When it comes to non-fiction books, I have found that I am a good starter but not the best finisher. School is one thing...I'll read books that I'm required to read but other books (for pleasure) are more hit and miss. What this means is that I carry, from place to place, various books that I have started but not finished. I am completely serious when I say that some books have been with me since college days, gone to Germany and back again, and now to Mexico.

Part of my own quirkiness is that I'll buy books because I've heard it's good or because it sounds topically interesting but then it becomes wildly popular and I lose interest. So in some weird inner protest to not join the bandwagon that sweeps that nation, I never read or finish the book. Completely silly, I know.

Anyhow, I have officially declared the rest of 2012 to be the year to finish all these partially-read books that have yet to be completed. Many of them, I started so long ago that I have to start completely over because I haven't the slightly clue on what was originally read. And I will say that of the books I have completed, I'd recommend most of them...they end up being very good which makes me wonder why I was such a delinquent in the first place. Oh well...moving on.

Here is the list:
  1. "Too Small to Ignore: why the least of these matter" by Dr. Wess Stafford (Completed this. Started this prior to leaving Mexico, about 5 months ago)
  2. "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan (Completed this. One of my unnecessary bandwagon "protests" from several years ago.)
  3. "The Making of Marriage" by Timothy and Kathy Keller (Completed this. I started this not that long ago but didn't make much headway. But then I became determined NOT to have another lingering I finished it. It was good.)
  4. "The Magnificent Obsession" by Anne Graham Lotz (Completed this. This was the only book that I would say is just "okay".)
  5. "An Arrow Pointing to Heaven" by James Bryan Smith (Completed this. I started this several years back. This is a book on Rich Mullins' life...well worth reading.)
  6. "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller (Reading it and will likely finish it tonight. A good book. I bought this book twice and it still took me 7-8 years to read it.)
  7. "Radical" by David Platt (I bought this right before it became popular...owed it about 2 years, perhaps?)
  8. "Persuasion" by Jane Austin (LOVE this movie but have had the most ridiculous time reading the book. Partly because whenever I read some of it, I want to see the movie which then satisfies all desire to hear the story.)
  9. "That Hideous Strength" by C.S. Lewis (This is the 3rd in the space trilogy. This series is so not the Chronicles of Narnia.)
  10. **I missed a book!  "The Inner Voice of Love" by Henri Nouwen (This book is a devotional type book meaning I only read 1-2 chapters at a time, which is why it's taking me awhile. But I'll get there.)
Listing it out doesn't make it seem so bad. I'm almost two-thirds done. The only book that I'm not forcing myself to finish by the end of the year is "Les Miserable" by Victor Hugo. This book is one I took to Germany 8 years ago, brought it home to Washington, and now it adorns my shelf in Mexico. It is my desire to finish this it should be on this list.

Perhaps my reading goal for 2013 should be to read all the books on my bookshelf that I have purchased but NEVER read. There are an unfortunate amount of those as well. I'll let you know down the road if that happens.

What are you reading these days?

Thursday, October 4

For His Glory

There's something very beautiful when a person is using their talents and training for God's glory and to serve others. It's a confirmation that regardless of who you are, regardless of your training, strengths, or hobbies, there is a place for everyone in missions. God wants to use every type of person to bless others and be instruments of His glory.

Every. Single. Type. Of. Person!

So never believe that you haven't received the right (or enough) training or don't know what to say or that you are a boring person, because that's not true. God chose to make you the way you are to bring glory to Him...He wants to use you. He wants to use you where you are right now...He wants to use you in places both far and near...He wants to use you always.

Throughout the summer, I've been blessed by watching people come to Mexico and serve others in practical ways...based on their training and employment:

We had two ladies use their time and talents to cut hair

We had a man (with accompanying teammates) cook a delicious dinner for a church.
I've been blessed to watch people serve others based on their interests and hobbies: playing with kids, soccer, translating, just to name a few.


So don't listen to any lies that you have nothing to offer. There is always a place for you in missions, whether at home or overseas. And I guarantee that when you offer yourself to God, He will not disappoint you...He may challenge and stretch you but you will also be blessed beyond belief.