Friday, December 31, 2010

Home for the Holiday......


The closest thing to heaven on this planet anywhere, is a quiet Christmas morning in the Colorado snow!

Some of you heard that I had a chance to come home to Colorado for Christmas. When I left, when I got on that plane in May, I had no idea if I would be able to come home and visit during the entire 27 month period. But an opportunity opened up since our group is done with school and we don’t move to Puno for another week or so.

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The day I found out we were not moving to Puno until the beginning of January, I was dreading 3 – 4 weeks with little to do. I hopped online and looked at tickets. I had already committed to babysitting at the beginning of the next week so I looked at leaving the day after my babysitting commitment. Thoughts were running through my head that going home for Christmas was a pipe dream, impossible to execute as it was already December 8th when I looked at tickets and I could not leave the country without special permission from the government. But, I looked at ticket prices and dates anyway, just to check. I pulled up prices for a two week stay at home and to my surprise, I found round trip tickets from Lima to Denver for $988! I thought $1600 was a decent price as I have even seen round trip tickets as high as $2600. Immediately, I called my dad for advice, I didn’t want to make the decision on whether or not I should come home by myself. Which is actually quite strange since usually I’m an impulse buyer and very independent, hehe.

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Obviously, Mom and Dad agreed that since everything seemed to be falling into place and I had idle time, it would be a good idea to come home for Christmas. Since it was only 7 days from the day I found the tickets to the day I would get to Denver, we decided to keep the trip a secret and surprise my little sis, Brookie. I also got the chance to surprise my Grandma and Grandpa Carlson as well as my little “sis”, Jessi-Bear.



Grandpa's Chili, I also got some of dad's yummy turkey chili and I made homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. Yummy food!

One Christmas present each on Christmas Eve, our family tradition!

Being home for Christmas was wonderful. Yes, I got to open presents on Christmas Eve and morning, but I got some other wonderful presents before Christmas.

I got to…..

spend time with my Mommy, Daddy and Sissy,

see snow,

smell Colorado crisp winter air,

stare at the beauty of the Rocky Mountains,

look at Christmas lights,

have conversations and coffee with friends,

enjoy lunch and dinner dates with friends and family,

go horseback riding,

spend precious time with my grandparents,

bake Christmas goodies with Brooke,

help at the Breakfast with Santa outreach,

watch a few snowflakes fall,

wear high heels almost daily,

hug so many people I miss and love,

sleep in my old bed (with my sissy),

take hot showers,

and simply be in the same house as my family.

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There is so much more I could list! I am very grateful for the two weeks I had in Colorado. There are people I didn’t get to see and things I didn’t get to do, but I’m thankful for the opportunities I did have.


Family favorites, Heritage Square and the Georgetown train.



As I write this, I am actually on the plane to Lima. I will arrive to the Lima airport in about another hour and a half then I have a few hours in the airport until my morning flight to Arequipa. Leaving this time was so much different. Yes, it was still difficult to leave my loved ones, my closest friends and my family. When I left in May I was excited to embark on this journey but I was also scared. This time, I am excited to get back to my Puno family, the people who I’ve lived with, people I love and call family, true family. I’m excited to get back to my partner Francisca. Although we have our differences and sometimes our partnership is a struggle, I can hardly wait to get back and work on strengthening our relationship as friends and as a team with God at the center. Also, I’m pumped to moved to Puno and get started on the actual work God has prepared for us.

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Despite my excitement to get back to Peru, leaving my family Wednesday morning was difficult. Dad prayed for me as mom and Brooke put their hands on my shoulders. I’m so incredibly grateful for our little family and our strong relationships. But our closeness does make it harder to be away from them! It was difficult to walk away from them yet again, knowing I will be away from them for many months. But, they will be in Peru on a short term trip in just over 5 months!

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I truly hope you all experienced a blessed Christmas season. Maybe not material blessings, but blessings in the form of time with family, simple pleasures, and the experience of a powerful celebration of the birth of our Savior.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hogar....

Most of you probably know "casa" is spanish for house. But "hogar" means home. And that has been my prayer the past few weeks, that God would provide our group with a home in Puno where we can be a family, have fun, relax, rest, prepare for our cell groups and more. It doesn't matter if the house we find is perfect, but that it is the place God has for us, the home we need.

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So, let me tell you what happened.....

We left Sunday morning on a 6 hour bus ride to Puno. We arrived and got settled in the hostal. This is the first time I've ever stayed in a hostal and it was okay. I'm grateful we and our stuff were safe and we had a place to rest. Well, I didn't sleep very well, the bed was incredibly hard. Other drawbacks included the leftover sock in the bathroom from the previous traveler and the dead fish smell in the bathroom. But, we had an electric shower head and therefore had hot showers 24 hours a day! At this point I'd rather have a hot shower than a good night’s rest so it worked out well!

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Anyway, we arrived in Puno just in time for the rain, which I loved since I haven't seen rain in over 6 months. And, we even got to see a few minutes of baby hail! Our Peruvian counterparts had never seen hail before! They were like children seeing something new for the first time and eating these weird little ice balls falling from heaven. My partner Francisca has told at least 5 people here in Arequipa about her first experience with hail. How cute!

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Sunday we basically just hung out in town, went to the evening church service, and spent time with Pastor Herman and his family. Then Monday morning we got together and assigned different parts of the city to each pair to start the search. Here, you don’t just hop onto the internet and got to rent.com or google, look at pictures and details of each house/apartment and call if you’re interested or move on if you’re not. No, here, you go to this giant classifieds board in town and look for ads advertising houses or apartments for rent. Then you call on these ads to see if you can take a look at the place in person. This doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, the thing is, there are only a handful of advertisements on this board. So the board is just where to start. After that, you must walk around town looking for signs in windows saying “Se Alquila” (for rent) or looking for places that look empty and knocking on the neighbors door to ask them if they know anything. Also, talking to tienda owners is a good idea as well.


Here's the board. There's houses for rent, for sale, jobs, items for sale and more! And a picture from the streets of Puno.
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On Monday we all split up after looking at the board and started knocking on doors and walking around town in our designated areas. Francisca and I walked and walked and walked. We found two places that had just been rented out and found another place we were able to take a look at but ended up not working out. During our 5 or so hours of walking around a part of the city called Huascar, we took a few photos and had a good time chatting and spending time together.


Our group reconvened in the late afternoon, looked at a few places together, ate dinner and went to bed after a long day of searching. Then Tuesday most of us left Puno to head back to Arequipa on the noon bus while leaving behind Chad, Garren, Trevor and Sixto to continue the search with Pastor Herman. There were some good possibilities from our search the day before that they needed to check out along with a new lead on the house pastor and his family used to live in.

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When we were almost back to Arequipa I realized I missed a call from Trevor and called him back. He told me they found a place! But he also told me they hadn’t even seen it! Of course I was confused but he explained that they went to the house Pastor Herman used to live in and the current resident would not let them view the house. The owner explained she had other people interested and that they needed to make a decision right then. Pastor described the house to the boys, it’s actually two different apartments, one on top of the other. Even without seeing the house, all the boys that stayed behind felt a peace about this place and agreed to sign a 3 month contract. So we have a place! We will be moving the first week in January. We are not sure if this is the place we will be living for all of our time in Puno or just for the first 3 months to get us up there and more time to search. God will reveal His plan to us in His timing. But at this time, we know our prayers are answered and that we have a hogar in Puno to start our time and work in just a few short weeks! Thanks for your prayerful support in this process!



Here's a little Peruvian lady climbing up the stairs to her tiny home.
And a picture of the door that fell and almost hit Franci and I.


And finally, a Chevy pickup, don't see many of these here! This one's for D and Vic, I hope you guys are proud of me! ;)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Graduation.....





We graduated from Bible classes last night! And by "we", I mean the Puno team. We started classes in the middle of August and had our last class yesterday morning, then graduation last night. Through a variety of circumstances and revisions, we finished the courses in a record 4.5 months (normally its a 6 month process). There were classes on culture, discipleship, relationships, Bible history, prayer and more. Some classes were incredibly insightful and useful to me personally and to our work in Puno. Other classes weren't quite so useful to me but hopefully spoke to others in a different way.






Graduating is a huge transition. Since I have been here I have been living in Arequipa and either in spanish classes or Bible classes. Now I will be moving to a new city, Puno, and be working with people everyday, trying to explain Christ's gift and the Father's mercy & love and the ability to have a personal relationship with Him. Quiet different from sitting in a classroom! These first 6 months have been so helpful to acclamate to the culture, learn how to communicate in spanish, build relationships with my Extreme family, grow spiritually, help with cell groups and help with impact events. I think more than any class we took in our classroom, I learned in the classroom of this city, Arequipa, in the class called "time". Time can be our biggest enemy and our best friend. Time is my enemy in that there is so much more time until I see my family again, so much time until I eat a meal with friends, hug my loved ones, and wear the variety of pumps waiting for me in my closet, hehe! But, time is my greatest advantage here. I've had time to let God prepare me, time to learn, time to grown. And I will have time in Puno. Time to build relationships, time to disciple, time to let God plant 3 churches through me and my partner Francisca. Time make a difference.
That all being said. Even though these 6 months have been awesome to prepare me, and I feel more prepared today for what God has asked me to do than the day I set my foot in Peru. I still feel unprepared and inadequate. God called me to a task that is impossible, impossible without Him. Of course I know deep down that God has and will continue to equip me, that He is working through me. A couple weeks ago I read Matthew chapter 10 where Jesus has just given the disciples the authority to drive out evil spirits and miraculously heal the sick. I feel like that's the point we are at right now. We just graduated and God has said, ok, now go. Go and make disciples, go and play with the children, go and help the physically ill, go and tell the story of my son.
Well, in Matthew chapter 10 Jesus gives the disciples instructions before he officially sends them out to do the work of the Father and evangelize. I took the mandates he gave the disciples and put them into my own words thinking about planting churches in Peru but these are mandates from the Father, mandates to ALL of His disciples no matter where they are. We all need to practice these commands as disciples.

*Go to the spiritually lost (v.6)
* Tell the story of our Father and His son (v.7)
* Help people physically (v.7)
* Show the love and mercy God has shown me (v.8)
* Give of myself, my life, my spiritual gifts and everything God has given me without holding back (v.8)
* Trust in the provisions of God (vv. 9-10)
* Give a solemn warning to those who reject God's message (v.14)
* Guard my innocence in Christ but be wise to the ways of the world (v.16)
* Be street wise and on guard (v.17) * In times of trouble, don't worry about what to say, just let the Spirit work and speak through me (vv.19-20)
* Accept the fact that I will be hated or persecuted because of who I love & proclaim (v.22)
* Stand firm in my beliefs through the strength of God (v.22)
* Be like my teacher, Jesus, follow his example (v.25)
* What God speaks to me personally in the quietness of my personal time with Him, speak to others, share it without holding back (v.27)
* Don't be afraid of man, be afraid of the work of the devil in man and fear God (v.28)
* Remember that I am worthy in the eyes of my Father (v.31)
* Demonstrate to God and man that I am His follower by proudly acknowledging His name in public (v.32)
* Put my love for God above everything and everyone in my life including myself, my mom, dad, sissy, and more (v.37)
* Daily commit myself, my being and my life to Christ and follow Him (vv.38-39)
* Give up my life, the life I had planned and exchange it to God for His perfect plan for me (v.39)
* Receive hospitality with a humble and grateful heart because those who show hospitality to me are actually showing hospitality to Jesus through me and God through Jesus (v.40)
* Be hospitable and giving to the people I encounter (v.42)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Idiot K & Her Mom....

So my Dad has always had a knack for giving us girls nicknames. A few of my nicknames from Dad are....
* Hairball Kid (or HBK for short)
* Kristenitta
* Special K
* Slacker K
* Idiot K

You probably have to be a part of our family to understand us and how weird we really are inside the house. There have literally been many times when Mom, Dad, Brooke and I are doing something crazy, laughing or talking about such goofiness that I wonder what people would think if they saw us in this state.

Well, I'm going to let you all in on an Idiot K moment. But really, it was more of an Idiot P moment, the P standing for my Momma, Pat.

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I will start out by explaining that I can't call home from my cell phone but my family can call me using international phone cards (thanks K&J!). Last night Mom dialed my number, which is complicated and long since it's international. Someone answered the phone (in english) and Momma thought it might be my partner, Franci (who speaks no english), so Momma asks (in english), "Is Kristen there?". The gal on the other end says, "No, there's no Kristen here.". So Mom's next move is particularly funny to me, the way she words things sometimes cracks me up! Mom responds by asking, "Is this Peru?" And the lady on the other end of the phone says, "No, this is Canada." Well, Momma hangs up the phone and dials my number again. But she again gets a strage voice when a man answers the phone and he tells her before she really says anything, "No, this is not Peru". haha!
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Finally, Mom dialed the number right and I answered my cell phone, yes, this is Peru. But my cell phone here has been acting up lately and most of the time people on the other end can't hear me talking. So of course it happened when Momma called me. I tried responding, talking into the phone, but she just couldn't hear me. I was so bummed and frustrated. It's so weird not only not seeing my family everyday, and not talking to them everyday, but also to not be able to just pick up a phone and call them has been a challenge. So I knew she couldn't hear me and I hung up the phone.

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A minute later, she called my cell phone again and she was saying, "Hello, hello, hello?" and I was saying, "Hello, hello, hello?" I could hear her, the problem with my phone is always that the other person cannot hear me. So Momma proceeds to ask, "Can you hear me?" And the Idiot K that I am, I say, "No, I can't hear you." Why? I don't know! I meant to say I could hear her but it came out of my mouth that I couldn't! And Momma thought it was so crazy that I knew she was asking if I could hear her and how convenient that I answered her right after she asked me and just how ironic. So again, I hung up the phone. Sad and frustrated and getting worried at this point about why she might be calling me late on a Monday night.

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I sent Momma and email and told her my phone wasn't working right and to get on skype so we could talk on there instead. We both hopped on skype and chatted for about 40 minutes. Nothing was wrong, I just have an awesome, supportive family and Mommy wanted to say hi and chat. It wasn't until the end of our conversation when we realized we could both hear each other on the phone earlier and could have talked on the phone but we are Idiot K and Idiot P, the apple does not fall far from the tree!
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Love you so much Mommy! Thanks for making me laugh so hard my stomach hurts and thanks for loving me so much my eyes can't hold back the tears! You are my Momma because you are biologically, duh, but also because you are always there when I'm sick or need advice. You are my sister because we are so close sometimes you even forget your my Mom. And you are my friend because I enjoy the time I spend with you whether we are chatting late at night, giggling quietly so we don't wake Daddy or whether we are at Wal Mart on a Friday night while most 25 year olds are out at dance clubs!

Monday, November 29, 2010

6 Months....

I have now been in Arequipa Peru for over 6 months! Our anniversary of arriving was 11/24/10, the day before Thanksgiving and our 7 month anniversary will be Christmas Eve. Here is a list of things I have and have not done in the past 6 months.....

HAVE
* Eaten chicken off the bone
* Been in Bible classes, all in spanish
* Spoke something in spanish everyday
* Lived with 13 other girls in one room
* Made new friends
* Visited Puno 3 times
* Eaten mounds of rice and potatoes (together!)
* Ran out of water in the shower
* Tried cow tongue
* Drank frog juice
* Eaten at Burger King
* Had Starbucks grounds for my coffee press (thanks to mommy and daddy!)
* Seen 8 people be baptized
* Taught Sunday School in spanish
* Helped lead a cell group
* Cried
* Laughed
* Lived with a Peruvian family
* Watched the Nanny with Brooke on skype
* Been to a Peruvian beach
* Worn high heels exactly 3 times
* Used the water bottle Momma bought me everyday
* Opened a letter from family and friends everyday (thanks Kevin & Jamie & NWCC!)
* Watched tv shows online
* Been horseback riding
* Learned to bargain
* Had one Starbucks latte
* Seen a lot of blood and animal guts in the markets
* Hailed many taxis and combis
* Called my Daddy to cry and vent
* Explained what an insulin pump is and why I have it in spanish
* Learned how to wash clothes by hand
* Lost all finess I may have had for speaking in English
* Given the message at church in spanish
* Moved two times
* Had many cold showers (and a few warm ones)
* Skyped my with my family on a regular basis
* Helped a lady on a combi put her escapee Guinea Pig back in a bag
* Learned a lot about myself, God, His Will, His Calling, other cultures, and so, so much more!

And now for the other end of things, here are the have not's.....

HAVE NOT
* Heard my daddy preach
* Sent a text message
* Driven a car
* Seen the inside of a dryer (and neither have my clothes!)
* Seen my friends or family back home in person
* Drank tap water
* Been to Wal Mart or King Soopers
* Showered everyday
* Answered a phone, "State Farm Insurance"
* Bought gas
* Had a bathroom to myself
* Ate sour cream
* Seen snow or rain
* Flushed toilet paper down the toilet
* Cut my hair
* Slept in the room next to my sissy
* Recieved a hug from my mommy
* Seen the Rocky Mountains
* Regretted following this path

When I first started thinking about this, my have's and have not's, I thought there would be more things I have not done in the past 6 months, being away from home. But as I created this list and reflected on the past 6 months, I realized I have had so many opportunities to do new things, to try new things, to learn new things. The opportunities I have had to grow personally, and the opportunities I have had to help build the Kingdom and the opportunities I will have, balance out the things I miss and have not done in the past 6 months.

And, in only about 6 more months, my momma, dadda, sissy and hopefully some others will be coming to Puno to help jump start our church plants with a short term missions trip. If you are interested in coming too, check out this link for more information.

http://www.extremenazarene.org/ShortTermDetail.aspx?ID=29

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Horses and Lima


Happy Birthday Roy! ~-~~~~~~~-~~~~~~~-~ Through the river instead of over it!


Off we go, S/. 20 for one hour is about $7!
The view from the ranch...this is not what I look at everyday. Where I live is dusty and white, it was awesome to see some green and such a beautiful view!

A view of Lima from the taxi.


Starbucks....how I missed you! ~-~~-~~~-~ Christmas Coke advertisment.


Micah admiring his food. ~-~~~~-~~~-~ Garren satisfied after his meal at Chili's!
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Really, Lima was all about the food!




video

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Schedule????

You might wonder what do I do with my time and what each day looks like. Well, here is an overview of the last week and the next few days.....

Monday through Wednesday we had classes with my "Peruvian Father", Cristobal, as our professor. The class was cultural anthropology and was one of the most useful classes we have had. Each night last week we also had some homework but did have plenty of free time in the afternoons. In our free time I usually take naps, read, watch tv online or movies, make my lunch, hang out with friends, spend time with Francisca and whatever else comes up to do.

On Wednseday night Francisca and I went to our cell group and we were so excited that Armando, his fiancee Matilde and their little boy Johnathan came this week! They haven't come to our group in over a month and there had been rumors that Armando was drinking again. Needless to say, I was incredibly grateful to God and we are praying that he continues to come back.

On Wednesday afternoon our group found out there was a house in Puno that might be big enough for all of us (10 40/40's and our cluster family, a family of 4) to live. But the owner needed the down payment on Thursday. So Amanda was going to Puno to check it out and since we didn't have class I decided to go along with her and our VP of Extreme, Dennis. So we left the hose at 4:20 am (I woke up at 4:08 when Amanda called me wondering where I was!). We got to the bus station on time only to find out that the bus doesn't leave at 5 but at 5:30am so we waited around for a while. We traveled the 6 hours up to Puno, met up with the Pastor in Puno, Pastor Herman, and checked out this house. It was not the right place fo us! It needed a lot of work, didn't have a kitchen and the bathroom situation was not going to work. Needless to say, we were bummed. We went back and ate lunch at the pastors house with his family. After lunch we went back out into the city, walking around and knocking on doors with "for rent" signs (in spanish of course) and doors of apartments that look empty. We didn't find anything but Herman and his wife are continuing the search for us as we left on the 5pm bus that evening and got back to Arequipa at 11pm that night.

Friday I caught up on some sleep from the day before and later watched Thomas and Ella while Chad and Amanda went out on a date. ThenSaturday I spent a few hours cleaning our apartment which get quite dirty fast living in a dusty desert and having 20+ people in and out of here daily. Also on Saturday I skyped with my Mommy and Daddy! :)

Sunday I went to church in the morning and helped Francisca teach the children Phillippians 4:13, that we can handle anything with God's help. We came home from church, ate lunch and napped. Then I had to review my notes and practice as I gave the message at our church Sunday night in Spanish! After Sunday night church I came back home and joined in a little late on our Sunday night English Bible study with the parents.

This week we ended up not having class so yesterday we went horseback riding (I will post some pictures later) with Roy for his 49th birthday! Then I had to run by the Extreme office with Francisca and we ended up staying at the office and helping with some clerical duties in the afternoon until our 7pm church leadership meeting at the office.

Today, we had our normal 8am prayer time with the Puno group and our parents gave us "homework". We were to go into the city in our pairs to pray over people and look for someone or some people we can help physically or spiritually. francisca and I went to Alto Libertad where we walked and prayed. Then we saw a bunch of people working in a park and there was a tienda across the street. We went to the tienda to buy some household items for one of the workers, to bless with. As we were buying things, the store owner was hobbling around. As we were leaving, I asked her if we could pray for her health. She said yes so Francisca prayed for her and afterwards we talked about her spiritual life. She says she cannot leave the house much as she needs to tend to the tienda so we told her we would come by next week to spend more time with her and talk more. Not only would this never happen in the states, someone allowing you to pray for them while they are running their business and talk about their spiritual life 5 minutes after knowing their name, but as we were walking out, she gave us each a banana. Wow, what an example of generosity and humility. So keep Nora in your prayers. I know she was a gift from God as we were only going to buy items in her store and she ended up being the best part of our day. After our time with Nora we went over to the park and I gave a gal the bag of food and household items we had purchased for Norma. Her boss was nearby so we didn't have much time but we found out her name was Maria and she has two children. I pray those items we purchased for her make a difference and that she knows they are a blessing from not people but God.

Tomorrow, the North Americans leave in the afternoon to Lima as we are starting our residency process. We will be in Lima Wednesday afternoon and night then most of the day Thursday. We are looking forward to getting Starbucks, Chili's and whatever else from home we can find!

So basically, everyday is different and plans can change at the very last minute. I try not to count on anything happening until we are about halfway through what was planned. hehe.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

David Speaks to my Heart.....

A few weeks ago I was reading through and meditating on 2 Samuel chapter 22, "David's Song of Praise". David sings this song of praise after God gives him victory in two battles. David had to clear the blood stain Saul had left from when he massacred the Gibeonites because the "blood stain" caused a three year famine in David's kingdom. So David went to the Gibeonites and asked what he could do to make things right. The Gibeonites requsted that David's army kill seven of the descendents of Saul to make amends. So David's army completed the task and buried the bones of the seven descendents and God answered their prayer to revive the land from the famine. And after this battle, the Israelites were in battle again with the Philistines. There was a giant man on the Philistine side who had six fingers on each hand and six toes, but despite his extra extremities, (haha!) God gave David victory as David's brother killed the giant.


So that's the background to 2 Samuel 22. It's good to know why David was singing this song of praise. I would really encourage you to read this chapter which this song of praise can also be found in Psalm 18 with only a few differences.


My favorite part of the Psalm is verses 17-25 in The Message, here it is:

"But me he caught-reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate; that enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved-surprised to be loved!
God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I cleaned up my act,
he gave me a fresh start.
Indeed, I've kept alert to God's ways;
I haven't taken God for granted.
Everyday I review the ways he works,
I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
and I'm watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."


I like these verses as they are a powerful testimony and it made me think that some of you might not know my testimony. So without going into too much detail, I would like to share what God has done for me in the past few years!


Most of you know I grew up with awesome parents who strive to follow the right path and live daily in communion with our Father. They are such a great example for me and I look up to them both so much. I am so grateful to God for my upbringing and parents, I am a lucky girl! But despite my parents doing almost all the right things (sorry guys, your not perfect, but close!), I decided to follow my own desires as this world teaches us at a young age. Its all about what you want and with my selfish attitude, I liked the message of the world better than the message from God. So at the age of 18 I started heading down the path of what I wanted. And there was a specific moment when I was 20 that I had a choice, I was at a fork in the road and the signs said "God's way" on one and "my way" on the other. I tried to compromise and have both, but when I couldn't have both at once, (as you can't walk on two paths at once), I chose MY way. I turned my back on God and walked away from him. But thanks to God, He didn't give up on me. He tugged on my heart for two years, calling me back to Him.


So at the age of 22 I started to feel the void and this is where I feel connected with David's words. I felt a void and called on God "In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears". (v. 7 NIV). God took hold of my life, he reached down and saved me from "the void in which I was drowning" (v. 18 MSG). Then I had another opportunity to choose God's way or my way, and this time, I chose God! It was the hardest thing I had to do in my life because this involved letting go of MY plans and a person (specifically a boy, of course), I loved. But I realized God loves me more and that my relationship with this guy was hollow and doomed as God was not involved. So, "God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him" (v. 21 MSG). I placed the broken pieces of my life at His feet and with joy, He took the mess I had made, and put me back together.

Now I am a new girl (yep, I'm 25 and still a girl!) in Him. God has forgiven me of my past and "he gave me a fresh start" (v. 21 MSG), and "God rewrote the text of my life" (v. 25 MSG) when I chose His way instead of mine, when I realized how much I need Him, when I realized how void my life is without Him, "when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes" (v. 25 MSG).

And now I strive daily to follow His path and lean on Him because, "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him." (v. 31 NIV) He pulled me out of the mucky water where I was living, he has cleansed me and given me a fresh start, even gave me an undeserving opporunity to be used for His Kingdom expansion in Peru. "It is God who arms me with strength and makes my ways perfect" (v.33 NIV).

God has given me victory from my past! Horrray to our Savior!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shane....

This past week has been full of changes and emotions with a member of the Arequipa team going back to the states, preaching in spanish for our final exam in class, saying goodbye to the Cusco team as they left for Cusco, moving into the apartments and to top it off, we found out Sunday night that one of the pastors, the house dad for my good friends Garren, Trevor and Micah, during our time in spanish school, passed away last night. His name is Genaro and he has left behind his wife and two children as well as the church body. Please pray for the family and the church (Umacollo Iglesia del Nazareno) at this time.

So you might wonder, why is the title of this blog "Shane". Well, the last memorial service I went to before today was for my good friend Shane Washington in December. And going through this sad time down here makes me think about and miss Shane more than normal. But it also reminds me that Shane is a huge part of why I am here in Peru right now. Shane's passing made me realize the importance of time and the urgency of the gospel. I miss Shane and I still cry some days and think about our long conversations and the fun we had. But I'm glad to be reminded that he is a part of my life now and forever. Better yet, he's a part of my reason for coming here!

I wrote a letter to Shane in my journal in the end of December to help deal with my thoughts and feelings. Here is a part of what I wrote in my letter, keep in mind this was while I had been thinking about and praying for a missions opportunity but before I knew anything about Peru or Extreme....

You have given me a few gifts from this situation, I am learning that this life is so temporary and I can’t hesitate in doing God’s Will, I must do it now, the minute I have been called. Also, I’m learning so much I think, do, and worry about doesn’t matter. I need to get my priorities straight. And, this has emphasized the magnitude and gift of God’s redeeming love. I thank God for helping me learn through a tragedy. It’s the difficult times that we rely on Him and grow closer to Him. Shane, I’m going to miss you but know I will always remember and love you. God crossed our paths for a reason and I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with you.

Kristen, Nathan, Shane - Rockies Game September 2009

Friday, October 22, 2010

Goodbye Zamacola....

Tomorrow morning the Arequipa and Puno teams are moving from this place, Zamacola, over to apartments a block away. The girls will have an apartment and the boys will have an apartment. So in order to say Goodbye (and good riddance), to the place I have called "home" the past 10 weeks, I thought I would show you all where I have been living. I'm all packed up and ready to haul my material life a block away to a place that will feel more like "home" where I can sleep better and have more personal space!
The front of the church, Zamacola Iglesia del Nazareno.
Our "house" part of the church (the third floor). The windows on the top floor are from the girls room.
What you see when you walk in the front door. The stairs to the left are to the pastor's hose, past the stairs to the left is the dining room and kitchen, the spiral stairs lead up to our rooms and to the right is the classroom.
Our classroom, I sit right here in the back. That's my blue notebook, dictionary and Bible.
The inside of our fridge. Yep, that's a sack of raw beef and a bowl of raw chicken. I'm sad there wasn't a whole chicken, head, feet and all like ususal!
This room is where we eat and hang out to watch movies. Through the cutout in the back is the kitchen.
The girls bathroom. Don't be decieved, it is disgustingly dirty most of the time.
Dressers outside of the bathroom doors because there's not enough room in the bedrooms.
The hallway to our bedrooms. The first door is to the boys room and the door at the end of the hall is the girls room.
My dresser in the girls room. Its like a little hallway of dressers and mine is the one closest to the wall on the right. Henrietta has the one opposite of me and I call it "the hole". We cannot get into our dressers at the same time.
The view when you walk into the girls room. (Please not this is the room clean!) There are 6 sets of bunk beds 3 high and we have 14 girls living in this room)
This is my bed, the second bunk, of course, the bed that is not made! Its the only place I can call "mine".