Thursday, December 12, 2013

Titles

I announced in my last post that I would be stepping down from my paid position with my church. Last Sunday I was reflecting on my way home after our church service. I was thinking about how nice it will be to just be another person at church. You see, being on the pastoral team means a lot of responsibility. I don't know if my feelings are right or wrong, but they are what I feel. 

Being on the pastoral team, having the title of "women's pastor" means a lot of things. It means that if I am having a rough Sunday, it doesn't really matter. Suck it up and serve. Because it's not about you. Granted I've had Sundays where I've hung out in the back where no one can find me for most of the service. But I know that once the service is over and it's coffee time, I need to be on my game. Cristobal preaches, but I am the backstage manager. Through the service I am making sure everything runs smoothly. New people are greeted, those without bibles are given one to borrow, the offering is collected, the children don't go crazy in the back. Yeap. Oh, and I guess I hear the sermon too. When I'm done counting how many people showed up that Sunday. 
And then after the service is when the action really happens. I have twenty minutes between the service ending and everyone leaving. In those twenty minutes I need to: make sure all the new people are approached by someone, and that they have a chance to leave their contact information. Make sure all the bibles are collected and boxes are packed up to go back into storage. Make sure I communicate with any leaders whatever information I need to get to them or from them. Coordinating weeks, meetings, and programs. And then there are all the women that I need to be touching base with. There are moments when there is a line of people waiting to talk to me about something personal or social. And I am trying to make sure that the logistical doesn't fall apart. I've tried to explain to the girls that I disciple that I love them but that Sundays after church is not the best time to talk. My friends have already gotten accustomed to me saying, "Can you tell me this story after ISA?" And when I think about the responsibilities that I have at ISA, I feel the social/relational responsibilities much more than the logistical ones. I know that there are moments when people have gotten offended because I haven't take the time to do more than just a quick greeting with them. There are moments when I know that someone wants a sit down chat with me, but I just can't mentally or emotionally handle it. So I just give them the quick standard kiss on the cheek and I keep going. By the time I get home from ISA, it's usually around 4-5pm and I am exhausted. 


Ok, so I read what I just wrote and I hear behind the words a heart that is not ok. And I know that a huge part of it is a lack of resting in God. But I think part of it is just that church planting in Santiago Centro is hard. And the harvest is full but the workers are few.

So as I was walking home on Sunday, I was reflecting about how nice it will be to not have the title of "women's pastor". How nice to be free to just go on a Sunday without all the responsibilities. No one will expect me to sit with them for a chat. No one will expect me to be in charge of all the logistics. Things can fall apart and I can walk away. Ha! 

But as I was cherishing the idea of being responsibility free, I realized that a lot of my burden comes from the title of "women's pastor". That title put a lot of expectations on me. That title gives an image that I am trying to live up to. And I don't know if that's right or wrong. For now, it just is. 

So what happens when I don't have that title anymore. Do I no longer have any expectations? No more responsibilities? No. Because my identity is deeper than the title of "women's pastor". In fact, it's much deeper. God has given me various titles: creation, adopted daughter, beloved. But there was one that really captured my attention this week: slave. Paul describes himself as the slave (or bondservant, but I think the word slave provokes an image that is helpful). Paul knew that his life belonged to another. He knew that he was in a sense, not free. Not free to live his life for himself. No, his life had been purchased by the blood of Jesus. And now he was (happily) a slave. And so am I. No matter what jobs I take on or quit, nothing changes the fact that my life has been bought by the blood of Jesus. I am His. His slave. 

So as I look forward to leaving my paid position at ISA, I cannot forget that my life is not going to suddenly belong to myself again. No, it never did. Not this year, not next year. It belongs to a good and sweet God who calls me to live out my freedom in service to others. 



Changes on the Horizon

(Side note: So sorry for the two and a half month hiatus. Life got a bit busy and while I often thought about writing here, it just never happened.)


As you know from previous posts, I am currently employed by three different groups. They are all related, all church focused, and all dream jobs for me. But alas, it IS possible to have too much good in your life. So after much prayer and counsel I decided to leave two of my jobs and go back to English teaching. Wait a second, you hate English teaching. Well, yeah. I don't know if I would say that I hate it, but it's definitely not my favorite thing to do and it will be really hard to go back to it after getting to work in these jobs for a year. But the plan is to work teaching English for a year or two, earn and save money, and hopefully after a while have enough money saved to do something else. Like... open up a cafe.

So I gave my notice to two of my jobs. I'll stay with the church planting network job. Mainly because it's the one that costs me the least amount of emotional energy and yet still refines my administrative skills. Of course the transition will be hard, especially "leaving" ISA. I have to say "leaving" because I am not actually leaving the church. In fact, Cristobal has asked me to stay on the Pastoral Team. So I'm not sure how we are going to manage putting down limits and respecting those said limits. But to be honest, I'm a bit tired and I'm glad to be leaving my paid post as the women's pastor. This isn't to say that I'm not incredibly sad to leave the job. I have LOVED serving in our church plant. But ministry is hard. Pastoring is really hard. And pastoring in a church plant is REALLY hard. There are a lot of blessings that come with the job- seeing people have their lives changed by Jesus is biggest one. I can't tell you how much I have laughed and cried for joy over the last year. Seeing God transform lives right before my very eyes.  Seeing people who have been consistently rejected from social groups because they are conflictive people, seeing them ask for forgiveness from those they have hurt. Seeing resolution. Seeing redemption. Seeing families restored. It's amazing. Nothing less than miracles. And I got to be a part of it all year long.

But I'm tired. All that amazing fruit that I get to see as a woman's pastor comes at a high emotional and mental cost. In our little plant, there are about 30 needy and broken women for every 1 woman who can serve others. I've had various women come to me upset that no one was there for them when they were going through their recent crisis. And all I could do is look from side to side and say, Who is supposed to go? I'm here right now. I'm listening to you. I care for you. I want God's best for you. But I am only one person and there are so many needs. Our church is immature. And if there is no one else looking to serve others, then there is no one else! I have lived all year with the sensation that there are women who just slipped through our fingers. Who needed a loving community, but that I just couldn't give any more.

And so I am stepping down from my paid position with the church. No one is taking my place (sadly) and I will still continue on the pastoral team. Next year, our pastoral team will be Cristobal (head pastor), Max (university minister), and me (the not-paid-anymore women's pastor).

As some of you know, I've been getting some medical tests done. Little did I know that my constantly stressed life was taking such a toll on my body. There are a lot of details that I won't go into, but after 6 months of blood tests and all kinds of fun, they finally sent me in for a CAT scan to see if I had a tumor. Which I don't. But my body was acting like I did, and it's from the stress. Scary, eh? The good news is that since I made the decision to quit two of my jobs, I can literally feel the difference. I live in a much lighter state of being. And this week's bloodwork confirmed the feeling. My body is starting to work again as it should.

So yeah. Let the adventure continue. I started this blog when I first came to Chile. And I named it "capturing the moment with Jesus, one day at a time" and it's been true to its name. This next year I think it going to be a year of settling. My health stabilizing. My work taking an appropriate place in my life. My relationships flourishing. And my life settling into Chile. I'm coming up on my 3 year mark here, so I guess it's about time.






Friday, September 27, 2013

Second Semester Dreaming

I still have moments of amazement  that I live here in Chile. Who would have known that this california girl would find her home in a country so far away from her own? But here I am. I love my apartment. It has become exactly what I dreamed. A refuge for me, beautiful and tranquil. And at the same time, a center of social life among my community. Every week, dozens of people pass through my apartment. For one-on-one discipleship. For birthday parties. For our weekly bible study. For watching futbol games. I love it.
First semester (March- July) was pretty rough for me. There were too many conferences to coordinate. Too many details to remember. Too many events to coordinate. I broke down in tears more or less every week. It wasn't exactly healthy.
But second semester has been much more reasonable in terms of pace of life. I am finding that I love my jobs. I love the coordinating. And I love the pastoral work. I love getting to be a part of developing pastoral leadership in the Church here.
One of the downsides to having such taxing jobs is that I tend to not have much of a non-church related social life. If I have "free time", it tends to be used to catch up with women in the church.
So now that second semester has calmed down a little, I've tried to get out a few times to meet new people, outside of my beloved circle.
A month ago or so, I went to check out a cafe on the other side of town. It's owned by a gringo and it has a lot of the character that I love about cafes: good coffee, live music at nights, and a general community of people who frequent the local. It was so sweet to be in that context. Most cafes here dont have those qualities. So we headed out across town to visit those cafe and see the live music that the cafe was hosting that night. And it was... DELIGHTFUL.




Then the owner told me about a monthly latte art competition that a bunch of cafes host. Ummm.. YES PLEASE! So I used all my social capital and got a group together to go check out this competition! I think it was pretty lost on the chilenos. They didn't seem to get the concept, nor the charm of such an event. 
But I was right in my element. How could I not be? It was hosted that month in a small cafe just across the street from my church. The tiny cafe was filled with the best and brightest of barristas from all over Santiago. All these guys (and the one token girl of course) covered in tattoos, obsessed with coffee, and smack talking about how they were doing to win the competition. 

Fortunately I had met one of them at the other cafe the week before. And I used my beyond ridiculous social confidence to walk right up to him and act like we were old buddies. It worked. He ended up introducing me to some of the other barristas. And I can't quite put words to the feeling, but I was home. I am not a barrista. But I it right in. I left with three new facebook friends. And a ton of connections. My chilean friends didn't quite feel the same, but they enjoyed the free cappuccinos. 

 As many of you know, I've dreamed of opening up a cafe here in Santiago. And moments like those make me think that I am moving the in right direction. I want to be part of my community. I want to make a difference. I want to know my neighbors. I think this is how I do it.

Who knows, maybe someday I can even host one of these competitions! Have all these barristas in my little local, showing off their newest tattoos, and thick rimmed glasses. Who knows.

Monday, August 26, 2013

that same old roller coaster

Over the years I have learned that my relationship with the struggle of singleness is something of a roller coaster. I have seasons where I really deeply struggle and seasons where I am genuinely content with where I am. The seasons can last anywhere from a week to months. I don't think I've stayed in either of the seasons for more than a year. And while it can be exhausting at times, the back and forth, I am actually quite grateful that the Lord has given me this ride.
I've been in the content season now for more than six months. In fact, except for a short period of a week or two, it's almost been a year. I was commenting to Ale, my friend who has faithfully loved and discipled me for two years, that while I have enjoyed this season, and it would be easy to pray that God leaves me here, I know that I am still on the roller coaster. I will struggle again. And I am glad for it.
Strange. Glad to be struggling? Yes.
You see, while the struggle itself is painful, it has taught me to cling to God's goodness in a way that I would not have learned otherwise. The fact that there is a desire in me to be married that may never be realized. The fact that I can't control the whens and hows in this incredibly important part of my life. All of this has forced me to rely on God, put all my trust in Him, and cry out that He be my good and perfect heavenly Father.
That's not a lesson I would easily give up.
I have met women who are older and single and seem not to struggle with it. And good for them. But I have tasted the bittersweet cocktail of good desires left unmet. I have seen what ugliness comes out of my heart. And I have met a God who loves me enough to make all good and perfect gifts from heaven mean that I am still single. I don't buy into the lies that I'm single because I'm not ready yet to be married. Bull. I don't buy into the lies that as soon as I give up the desire, God will give me a husband. Even deeper bull.
God doesn't work like that. But I will tell you how He does work. He purchased my life on the cross and is in the process of making me into His image. He is fully committed to dealing with my sinful heart as a good and perfect Father. And for whatever reason, that means keeping me single for right now. And someday, if I get married, it will be because God is using marriage to deal with my sinful heart. And that is a promise I can count on (unlike the "promise" that He will give me a husband. Show me that verse!)
Why am I writing all this? Well, tonight I felt my heart begin to slip. I use the analogy of a roller coaster  to describe my swings in the struggle and I think I am getting to the top of a big hill. It's been quite a while since I plunged into the depths of struggle. I've been enjoying the ride up the hill, watching the scenery, remembering all those past plunges. And suddenly I realize that I am at the precipice looking down, waiting for gravity to pull me down into what can only be described as despair.
As I prepare my heart for the plunge, I want to remember everything I know is true about God and this roller coaster. God is my good and perfect Father. And His purpose for the roller coaster is a good one: to teach me to depend on Him. And just as I knew that this season of being content wouldn't last forever, I know that the season of struggle will come to an end.
Maybe I'm wrong and my heart will remain firm in it's place of being content. But if I'm not, and the roller coaster is coming to a steep decline, all I can say is, hold on tight and enjoy the ride!







Sunday, August 18, 2013

Iglesia Santiago Apostol (assorted photos)


One more blog post before I head to bed.

As I just wrote in the previous post, I am working with a church plant here in Santiago. If you have been following the blog for a while (or you just know me!) you know that I love my church. I had no idea when I showed up in Chile over two and a half years ago that I would be a part of this beautiful and messy community of christians. It has been a huge blessing to serve on the pastoral team for the last year and a half. This year in particular has been one of learning dependence on God. Last year our pastoral team had 6 people. And then, in one big hit, we lost 4 of them! Not that anything scandalous happened, but that for good and healthy reasons, they all went back to their home churches (or countries!). Even Max, who is a long termer in ISA had to leave for a year to serve in another church as part of his seminary training. So in the end, Cristobal, the head pastor and church planter, and I were left looking at each other and me nervously giggling. What in the world were we going to do? God provided another seminary student, Camilo, to help with the crazy task. But it was still too big for us to do alone. It's a good thing that God enjoys getting glory for His work. And it's a good thing that God is big enough and powerful enough to do all things. It's just too bad that I have a memory problem and tend to forget all that!

Anyways, here you go. Some pictures of ISA in action. 


The men of ISA setting up for Sunday morning service

Cristobal giving announcements during Sunday morning service

Our worship team rehearsing before service

Joe, the random gringo who plays piano for the church

My dear Ale, Cristobal's wife. She has become nothing less than my family here. Beyond grateful!

Amanda and Jacinta (Cristobal and Ale's daughters)


Hosting a debate about education
(if you haven't noticed, we tend to have crazy protests in the streets for the educational system here)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's Complicated

I get the question all the time: what do you do here? I get it. I must be either a missionary here or an English teacher. Those are the only two boxes to place someone like me into. Sadly, my answer is much more complicated.
No, I am not a missionary here. At least I don't think of myself as one. I don't have a sending church, nor am I supported financially by people overseas. I didn't come with a contract from an agency. Not even with a mission really. Except I do have a mission. But I think every christian has a mission, right?
And no, I'm not an English teacher. I have taught English on and off for the last 8 years. But, except for one private class, I gave that all up for my current jobs.
So the answer? I have three contracts.
One is working half time for Fundacion Generacion, a church planting foundation.
Another is working two days a week on the pastoral staff at Iglesia Santiago Apostol (ISA), a church plant in downtown Santiago.
And the third is as the national coordinator for an apprenticeship program for the Chilean Anglican Church.

See? it wasn't so hard to explain. Right?

My three bosses. the "trinity"
Cristobal, Juan Esteban, and Francisco
So as I mentioned, I am working as the executive assistant for Fundacion Generacion. It's a dream job in many ways. I get to organize conferences. I get to deal with a wide database of pastors and church planters all over Chile. I get to promote church planting, a mission a deeply believe in. I get to add my own (sometimes but not always wanted) input on various projects around the country. It's a fun combination of my gifts, passions, and hopes, all mixed together in a context that is full of challenges. I think the job would be challenging for anyone, but add in the fact that I am not actually chilena (shhhh.. it's a secret!) and you've got an extra layer of difficulty.
It is interesting to see how God is teaching me, training me, and challenging me through these jobs. I've realized that I am not as calm, cool, and collected as I would like to think. I realized that I am a perfectionist. And I realized that sometimes, against my will, my emotions are stronger than my logic. All lessons well learned and who knows what God has up His sleeve for me and this crazy adventure He has me on.


Top Moments from "Home"

My family somehow finds the excuse every year for me to go "home" to visit them. I have to put home in quotations because I'm not quite sure that where home is. When I am here in Chile I might refer to going home as going to California, but when I am in California, it is quite obvious that my home is in Chile. Just call me confused. 

The three weeks I got to be home were nothing short of amazing. I want to share with you my top favorite parts of the trip. These are in chronological order:





1. My grandma. This very special 89 year old birthday girl was my excuse to visit home. My grandma is someone INCREDIBLY special to me. She has been one of my biggest supporters in life and I love her dearly. I flew out to Washington to spend a few days alone with her before we headed out to California together. I treasure her greatly. 








2. My birthday breakfast with my mom, Nigel, Aviva and Jeremy. It's not every day that a girl turns 30. I met up with my family in Berkeley for breakfast on the morning of my birthday. It's not often that we get to spend time just the 5 of us. And it was so nice to see that as time goes on, I think my siblings and I get closer. I realize this may seem weird to say. But I know that some of my friends feel like they lose touch with their siblings as they get older. Granted I stopped living with my siblings when I was 12 and they were 9. So we haven't really lived as siblings for almost two decades, but I think that might be part of my surprise to find that the older we get, the more I really enjoy spending time with them. My sister is really unique, artistic, and smart. And she wants to make the world a better place. My brother is one of the sweetest and kindest men you can find.  I feel really blessed that my brother and sister are so incredibly cool. Someday maybe I'll live up to the challenge of being their big sister.





3. Daddy dates. Yep. What 30th birthday isn't complete without dates with your dad? This trip was sprinkled with special moments with my dad. I have to confess that my relationship with my dad is probably one of the biggest blessings I have experienced so far in life. Really. I have experienced a lot of crazy awesome cool things in life, traveling around the world and all. But they don't really compare to getting to have the relationship I get with my dad. Our relationship really bloomed in the last 8 years and most of that time I have spent living abroad. So when I get to go home, it's a huge treat. 






On one of our dates, to a street fair in San Francisco, we ran into some of his friends. I stood there and heard my dad share with his friends how much he enjoys spending time with me. How it's a blessing to have adult children who you can spend time with and just enjoy life together. Amen. What a blessing to see God's faithfulness in our lives. 





4. Meeting Anderson! One of my favorite people in the world Annalisa has been my faithful friend since the days of jr. high. A visit with her is a MUST for any trip home. This visit was especially sweet since I got to meet her little son, Anderson. He is one of the happiest babies out there. No surprise since his parents rock. But still, great to see that he inherited it from them!





5. Ashlee and Andrew. Enough said. Oh, wait, maybe I should explain. You know those friends in life that you just know will always be part of your life? Those friendships that change your life? With too many stories to tell? And too many late night talks to remember? That my friends, is Ashlee. Out of all my friends, I think I have shared the most memories with her. She knows the university me, the Chile me, the happy me, the sad me, and probably the most scary, the crazy me. 
Now, there comes a time in every single girls' friendship when one gets married and you wonder how the friendship will handle such a game changer. But I am happy to report that Ashlee's husband, Andrew is not only an incredible husband, but is one of my favorite people to visit anyways! He is honest and good. And my 48 hours with them was my special birthday treat. We packed in so many good conversations and fun moments that it feels like I was there for a week! Ashlee, Lord knows where our friendship has taken us (literally, New York? Chicago? Bariloche Argentina?!?). Now that we are both settling into "grown-up" lives, all I can say is that your friendship means the world to me. And I'll never forget our talks on the beach while eating Trader Joes. Nope, never!



So all in all, it was a wonderful time visiting "home". Until next year when my family uses my grandma's 90th birthday as an excuse to get me out there again... 

Some posts to catch up


Are you ready for it?

Are you ready for the wave?

The wave of blog posts!!!

It's been WAY too long and although I have found myself thinking time and time again about various things that I want to share with you my dear blogreaders, I haven't sat down to do such. So here we go... the last few months made up in various posts!

(A special thanks to Diana for reminding me to write.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

MOVING!

Today is a big day.

Today is the day that I will be handed the keys to my new apartment!

Actually, its an old apartment. A beautiful old apartment. High ceilings, hard word floors, and french doors that lead out onto the quiet street. And best of all, its a full 2 minute walk to my favorite street in Santiago, Lastarria.

When I first came to Chile, almost 8 years, I had no idea that I would fall in love with this country. I had no idea that I would someday call this country "home".

But then I did.

And those four years that I was out of Chile, heartbroken and homesick, made my return to Chile all the sweeter. None of my family doubted that I was returning to Chile for the long run. Not only did they understand, but they were happy for me.
Funny enough, people here didn't understand that. When you are a foreigner here, people always ask the same questions. Where are you from? what are you doing here? and How long are you staying?

I told people time and time again that I would God-willing be staying for the rest of my life. And they were all so impressed. But it just seems obvious to me.

But when I bought this apartment, people had funny reactions. They all were surprised. They made comments like, "So, you're really staying?" or "Wow, so this means you're going to be here longterm."

 So here you go Chile! I'm officially a homeowner here! I am the proud owner of a little piece of my beloved country.














Wednesday, April 24, 2013

And then I stopped for a moment to breathe

I really do have intentions to write more. Life just moves a bit too quickly these days. But then again, haven't I been saying that for years?

I'm finishing up my third month working in (more than) full time ministry. I say more than full time because between my three jobs, I am actually contracted to work a total of 49 hours a week. Here in Chile, the work week is 44 hours so I'm not that far off. But having three ministry jobs, in a foreign culture that doesn't worship time management like we do in the US, has been quite a challenge. I have to say that my bosses have all been very flexible with me, letting me more or less decide the when and where. And my office is literally a 30 second walk from my apartment building. And I have lots of resources to make things happen. And I work with incredible people who love Jesus.
But more than anything, the key to making this whole three crazy jobs fit into one schedule, is that I love my jobs. My jobs are literally a sweet combination of my deepest desires (to disciple women) and my gifts (administration and coordinating).

My "outdoor" office
One of the lessons I have learned in ministry is to be flexible. Time after time, in the gospels Jesus is on His way to do something, and someone comes and interrupts Him. Needy people tend to not care about others plans and schedules. And statements like "I am to save the sick, not the healthy" make it very clear that our ministries are all about needy people. So while I make plans and schedules, I have to be willing to put people before that. I have to be willing to sacrifice my perfect schedule to deal with a pastoral situation.

My "indoor" office
And there is more than enough of pastoral situations. I wonder if all my churches have been like this, but since I was just a participant, I didn't see it. A guy in my small group last week who is a newer christian and still has on his rose colored glasses, asked me if there was ever conflict in our church. Hahaha. I literally laughed. And then I controlled myself and calmly explained and yes there was conflict. Not more than normally expected when dealing with a community of sinners, but still, we are far from conflict-free.

Now, before I go getting a slew of comments about how I should still be responsible with my time, let me say that I tend to be very "gringa" with my time. After all, time is money, right? But not here in chilean culture. Latin cultures would probably say something like relationships are money, so putting your time restrictions on a person, would harm your relationship. Which is bad. So what do you in cross cultural pastoral ministry? You put love first. Sometimes for the greater good, you have to move on with the schedule and deal with a pastoral situation later. But more often than not, it means putting my own agenda aside and caring for those very ones that Jesus has placed in my life.