Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Im sitting in bed at the moment watching The Office with Magda. She's complaining that I'm not paying attention. We decided to make our own tradition for Christmas. We stayed in, made mac'n'cheese, and watched The Office. Of course, being the "old hags" that we are, we fell asleep quite  early. But overall it was a nice Christmas.


I know it's not the normal traditional Christmas that one might expect. But living overseas, living far away from family, means you have to make your own traditions.

So yesterday, Christmas Eve, is the day that chileans celebrate. Usually they all get together with their families, all cousins included. It's amazing to me how extended the families can get here. Somehow people end up siting at the Christmas dinner table with their half brother's wife's brother-in-law's daughter from his first marriage. That's not so much my case (yet). But I do have my own little version of "family" here.







I spent yesterday with the Ceron family, who have become quite my own family here in Chile. Cristobal, Ale, and their three girls hold a special place in my heart. So when they invited me over for Christmas, I couldn't say no. I went over in the morning, had lunch, helped Ale prepare some of the Christmas dinner food, did some arts and crafts with the girls. It was great.

I'm excited to think of all the years that I will get to spend with these girls, seeing them grow up. I spent last Christmas with them as well. And I imagine, God willing, that next year will be the same. So here is to a great Christmas, and many to come.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Goodbye dear friends

I don't like goodbyes. I assume few people "like" goodbyes. But you would think that after so many moves to new countries, that I would be used to saying goodbye to people. But I haven't.

This week I have to say goodbye to two dear friends of mine. Beth and Derek came to Chile to work with ISA (my church) for two years. Sadly, their two years have come to an end and this Saturday they will return to Australia.
My relationship with them is funny. We never really hung out much outside of church stuff, but being on the equipo pastoral (pastoral team) together knitted us together in a special way. I have cried to Beth and shared parts of my heart with her that no one else has seen. And Derek has become more than a trustworthy advisor to me.

On Friday I went to their going-away shindig at a club. A group of us from ISA went together and we danced and laughed and had a great time. But it was incredibly sad to remember why we were there. I know life will continue, but it made me really sad to think that this couple who has a special place in my heart, is going away. And I'm not sure if I will see them again on this side of heaven.

Pool day. with Jesus.

I work and rest in a binge/purge fashion.
Today was more of a rest day. I got some work done around my apartment this morning, dealt with a few work emails, and spent a good amount of time this morning up at the pool with my bible. It was pretty sweet.
I read through part of Revelation, which we are going through in our church. And part of Hebrews, which we will be covering this year in the Lael conference.
And I listened to a few sermons on Colossians. In one of the sermons, the pastor challenged us to examine our lives to see what stirs our affections toward Jesus, and what kills our affections toward Jesus.
Interesting to think through...
Normally, as a faithful workaholic, a pool day is not acceptable. But today, it was so nice to just spend the day with God, laying by the pool (with lots of sunblock mom!) and just enjoy His creation. For the most part I was alone at the pool and I would jump into the pool every half an hour or so. But I didn't jump elegantly, or cautiously, as I normally do, aware of everyone else. Being alone at the pool today felt something like being 6 years old at the pool with my dad. I jumped carefreely into the pool, climbed out and jumped back in. I stood at the edge of the pool and swung my arms wide as I jumped. I giggled.
It was a pretty sweet day at the pool.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Making decisions

I assumed that as I got older, it would be easier to make decisions. But like so many other things in life, I was wrong. Life really only gets more complicated as we get older. More relationships to consider. More factors to come into play. More risks to be taken.

When I first came back to Chile, I told my family to give me one or two years to get settled and then I would want to open my cafe, Tulips. In about a month, I will complete the two year mark in Chile. And I'm not really ready yet to open the cafe. The problem is that I didn't just settle in, but I took on responsibilities and projects that are now hard to give up. Hard to give up partly because of others' expectations of me, and partly because I love a lot of what I am doing.
But it's gotten to the point of collapse in my life. I have too many things going on. Attention demanded in too many places.

I've been asking my pastor for counsel on how to make decisions. I struggle with when to say no. Everything seems good and important. So how do I know when to say no? My pastor told me that it's based upon my priorities. Ok, but I don't know what my priorities are. I don't have the obvious ones: husband and kids. So how do I rank my priorities?
Last night I listed out the various ways you might make decisions. Here are a few of the ways I thought of...
According to:
The biggest, most immediate need
The biggest, long term need
My own personal gifts and skills
My own desires and dreams
Where the money is
Where there is a lack of workers

And according to each of these, I will make different decisions. Someone asked me if I have anyone to help me work through this process. I have a few people who are involved in the process, but aren't we all biased? Of course my pastor is going to encourage me to stay involved in our church leadership. One of my dear mentors is closely related to my work with the Fundacion. My dad and I have been dreaming up this cafe for years. And as a friend pointed out, biases don't have to be bad. But we have to be honest about them.

So all this to say, prayers are much appreciated. What a blessing to have TOO many opportunities to serve God. What a season of life! I dreamed for so long about returning to Chile, and God has gone above and beyond all my expectations in the life He has given me there. Now it's just a matter of wisdom.

BYO syringe

As I posted in a previous post, I got bit by a dog a few days ago and have been going through the rabies vaccine this week, just in case.
Well, a little anecdote for the day:

The nurse who gave me the shot yesterday had warned me that the hospital, which is really more like a clinic, would be closed today. Except for the delivery room. So I was told to ring the doorbell and the guard would let me in so a nurse in the delivery room could give me the shot.
This morning I headed over to the clinic, and as expected the guard let me in and showed me where the delivery room area was. When I reached the waiting room, I found myself with a little family. An older woman dressed in the traditional peruvian clothing, with top hat and all. A few others sitting silently on a bench, staring at the wall. And a young man, pacing nervously across the room. I figured he must be the expecting father.
I timidly explained that I was looking for the nurse. They all looked at my stomach. No, I'm not pregnant, I explained with a smile. I just need the anti-rabies shot.
Ohhh... they all went back to staring at the wall
The man had stopped pacing to hear my story and he told me that the nurse would be out in a minute.
Sure enough, a nurse came out and the man took it upon himself to explain what I was looking for. The nurse looked at me and walked away. Ok.
The man assured me that the nurse would treat me right away. I smiled at him and told him that his baby was more important and that I didn't mind waiting.

After a few minutes another nurse came out of the delivery area and after a quick scan of the room, approached me. I evidently stand out. She asked me for my rabies vaccine card. I handed it to her. Then she asked me for my syringe. Umm... what?
Didn't you bring a syringe, she asked me.
No. I didn't know I was supposed to.
Well, she explained, you might have to go out and buy one. I don't know if we have an extra one here in the hospital. Really? You don't have syringes here in the hospital?
I looked at her pathetically and asked where I could buy one, all the while thinking to myself that buying syringes is something I associate with drugs... not really my normal activity.
She told me to wait, that she would go look for one and let me know. She walked out of the room and I went back to staring at the wall with the light green peeling paint.
The nurse came back after a minute with a syringe in hand. And yes, it was still in the wrapper.
The rest was more or less the same as the other days. A shot of vaccine in the stomach. A little pain, later to be followed by more pain.
I had planned on getting as much information about the vaccine as possible for when I land in Chile and have to find somewhere that can offer the rest of the vaccine. Sadly, this vaccine is produced here. And the only information I could get is that it is the inactive vaccine that is cultivated in the brains of lactating rats. Great. I'm going to have a fun time explaining that one to the doctors in Santiago!


Oh well, it's all a part of the adventure, right? The scabs from the bite itself are forming well, with a little bruising around them. But overall, it's nothing. Hopefully I'll get some cool scars to go along with the story. In any case, it's another story to add to long list of traveling adventures.

a much needed rest

In at the Starbucks along the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. It's my last night here and I'm trying to balance my desire to be home in my own apartment with what I know is a much needed time away from it all. I have been examining my commitments in life. My jobs (I have two part time jobs), my role in my church as a part of the pastoral team (although I'm not employed by the church, it's like another job), my dreams and desires. Everything. I've had too many "almost" burn-outs this past year. And for what? Because I don't know how to say "no"? Because I don't know how to balance the urgency with the need for rest?
So this mini-vacation is good. It's good for me to get away. To be alone for a while. Even though a good chunk of my time here has been spent dealing with the rabies issue, I still know that it's been good for me. I've been able to just lay in bed and read. I've been able to go to sleep without setting my alarm. In Chile, even if I could sleep in, I always set my alarm. I don't want to waste time and what if I accidentally sleep in until noon?
It took me a while to get over my time management habits. I had to keep repeating to myself, Becka, you don't have a schedule today. You don't even have things that you have to accomplish today (except for the daily rabies shot). So chill. Chill!
So here I am. Not concerning myself with much. Just enjoying my time alone, with God. And the Andes Mountains.

Tomorrow I head to Lima for the day before flying back to my beloved Chile. It's nice to go home. Especially when home is somewhere you love.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Beauty and Rabies

Well, there isn't actually anything beautiful about rabies. Nope. And thankfully I don't have rabies. At least I'm trying to make sure I don't.
Let me start from a few days ago. Last Sunday I flew out to Cusco, Peru to meet up with my buddy Liz. She is traveling through South America and since I have been working too hard, I thought it might be good and healthy to get out of town (or even the country!) for a week. So I came up here with the plan of hiking and exploring a bit with Liz and then spending a few days alone, praying and journalling. It was going to be my much needed vacation.
And well, it has been. Sort of.
It turns out Liz and I are great traveling buddies. I figured we would be, but you never know. Sometimes friends turn out to be the wrong person to travel with. But Liz and I are quite similar in how we travel. So it was great to have the first four days with her. We explored around Cusco and other towns a bit, and even headed up Machu Pichhu on her last day. Amazing. Definitely a must-see.

The problem is that on day 2, I got bit by a dog. Not a street dog, but a dog out in the countryside that was "protecting" its territory. The bite wasn't deep, more like a scratch. But I did bleed which means I might have been exposed to rabies. Great.
Chances are the dog doesn't have rabies. But the chance of surviving rabies if the dog does have it, and I don't deal with it now, are zero. Yep. Rabies, once it shows up, is fatal. I think I read somewhere that you have 3 weeks to live. So between my mother's pleas and my own research on rabies. I decided to go get the rabies vaccine. Unfortuntely, it was a bit of a adventure to find where I can actually get the vaccine. But after a few bad leads, I finally ended up in the right public hospital. Hosptial Belenpampa. It was surprising a lovely experience.
Maybe I have lived in South America too long and my expectations are low. The place was dirty. I mean, it's exactly what you think of when you imagine a south american public hospital. But the people were sweet and helpful. The service was what I expected: a lot of hoops to jump through, lines to wait in, dimly lit waiting rooms filled with crying babies and elderly. But once all was said and done, I only spent two hours at the hospital, and they gave me the vaccine for free. Sadly, it's the old version of the rabies vaccine, which is a shot in a stomach. One shot each day, for seven days total. And the shot itself doesn't hurt too much, just like a regular shot, but what I have noticed (now after two of these shots) is the pain after the shot. Yesterday the pain lasted till late into the night. It's not a debilitating pain. But it's definitely painful.
So now I'm in my 3 days of personal retreat, alone in Cusco, praying and journalling. And dealing with the rabies shots. Good times. At least here it's free. The people are lovely. The scenery spectacular. This morning I ate breakfast on a balcony overlooking the plaza de armas. And then headed over to the Starbucks to grab a coffee and charge up my computer. And I was so enamored by the scene. The beautiful architecture, the crowds of people gathering in the town center, and all surrounded by the majestic andes mountains. Beautiful.
Hence my title. I am suffering the rabies shots, but at least I am surrounded by such incredible beauty.






Saturday, November 10, 2012

Convents and Apprentices



Coming at you again with a new post from the convent. In fact, today I'd like to share with you some thoughts about life in a convent. Now, I've only lives here for 4 days. Not really a lifetime. But still, in these 4 days I've had a chance to reflect on life. One of my biggest conclusions is that I am not made out for the life of a nun. Besides the obvious reasons, I just don't like quiet. I miss noise. I miss people. There are beautiful rose gardens here. And everyone (even the men!) have been commenting on how beautiful the rose gardens are. But I crave my barrio. I miss the laughter, the music, the noise of excited conversation throughout the cafe lined streets. 


This is my room. A small humble room, just a bed and a desk with a chair. It overlooks the rose garden. Yeah. I'm sure others would thrive off of this kind of retreat. Time to think. Time to reflect. But I was restless. I wanted to escape. The walls of the convent aren't high, but they are there. It's a little bubble of   neatly manicured gardens. And I feel trapped. The walls don't let me see outsiders. The walls keep others out. The walls seem to be my enemies here, not my protectors. 

My mom tells me that when I was a baby, and she would put me in one of those slings so she could move around with me in front of her, I never wanted to be facing her. I wasn't interested in snuggling or feeling "secure". I wanted to face the world. I wanted to see what was going on. There were way too many interesting things in the world for me to see. And that is true for me today. I want a front row seat to the action. 

So why am I here, living in a convent for a week?
Well, part of my dream job that God has given me, is to plan, coordinate, and run conferences. It's really been a crazy fun and intense run. It's my first time, and there were a few complications in the planning. But I have to say, I like it! Not just because it's a challenge, but because I am working to produce something that I really believe in: pastors who can train others in ministry. Because I am a woman, I think some people may assume that my ministry should be more in children's work, or counseling. But I love coordinating. The whole job of taking a vision, like a conference to train pastors to train others, and giving life to it. Making sure all the details are covered and all the problems get solved. 



Here are the boys. The first conference was a group of 15 men. And me. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Women in the front lines of ministry (part 2)


In my previous post, I talked about the great need for women to be trained in ministry.

It has become one of my passions to see women trained and equipped in the gospel. More than 50% of the Church is women, and I think a lot of pastors would say that the women are quick to serve in really practical ways. Which is awesome. But we need to pastor our sheep, even the women, well and teach them to dig deep in the scriptures. Teach them to teach others to dig deep in the scriptures. Disciple them to disciple others.
So often women are overlooked for leadership because we have this idea that only men can be pastors. Ok, even if you hold to that view (I personally do, but I have plenty of friends who don't) you can't deny that Jesus called us all the same mission. He made us all disciples. And He has given us gifts to build up all the church for ministry.

Having said all this, I have to say that the Lord has doubly blessed me with my pastor. My pastor Cristobal does two things that truly bless me.

First, he values me as a co-worker in the gospel. He actually values my work. It is not petty to him the work that I do in the church. He values it, respects it, rests knowing that I am there. He asks for my opinion. He asks for my help. I feel truly valued as a worker. And it's not just me. And it's not just Cristobal. It's our whole pastoral team. We are actually a team. We work together, eat together, cry together (well, I cry), and pray together. One of the guys, Max, has become something of an ally for me. I don't know how else to describe it. I see him working, pastoring people, and my heart is filled with joy and I am moved to pray for him. We work together, pray together, and rejoice together when we see God's mighty hand at work. He and his wife Caro are really special to me and I'm excited to think that we have years, even decades ahead of us in working together.

Second, Cristobal pastors me. Like really actually pastors me. He knows me, knows my strengths and weaknesses, knows my joys and pains. I can't even count the amount of times I've broken down in tears in his office. He's made the joke that if I don't cry, he gets nervous. And it's sweet to get to be real with your pastor. To get frustrated. To get sad. To be yourself. We joke that he is some mix of being my big brother, my dad, and my boss. He and his wife, Ale, have taken me into their family and loved me as one of their own. You can't buy relationships like that when you are in ministry overseas. In fact, you just can't buy relationships like that in general.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Women in the front lines of ministry (part 1)

I'm writing this post, from a convent, that's right a nuns' convent.

No, I didn't join a convent. But I did come to stay here for a week of conferences with Fundacion Generacion. As I mentioned in a previous post, I took the job of executive assistant with the fundacion. And although the job is WAY more work than I expected, I am loving it. Planning conferences, especially church planting conferences, is really an ideal for me. It's the perfect blend of administrative and people work. It's abstract and concrete. And it's so diverse.
So I've been planning these conferences over the last month or so. There are three back to back conferences, all surround the topic of training apprentices in the local church. And today, the first one took off. It's a group of 16 men. Men. And I say that because I'd like to take a moment to comment on what it is like, from my perspective as a woman at this conference.

This conference is for leaders in the church who are going to train up other leaders in the church. And I'm the only woman. And in the sessions, when I ask a question about women, there is this feeling of "there she goes again." And these men are good men. And they are very kind to me. And maybe I'm feeling something that isn't actually there. But I feel it. I feel like the status quo is to assume that leaders will be men, and they should train up more men. And women? Well, there is coffee to make... and kids to watch... oh right, and the women's bible study. I guess this means that a solid theological education and ministry training isn't necessary to lead a women's bible study.
I need to guard my heart because my sinful tendency is to rebellion and anger. And I know these men are working hard to serve their communities well. But dear men of God, consider your sisters worthy of training. Consider the burden of proclaiming the gospel to a broken world a shared one. Consider us your co-laborers in the mission
If we are going to have healthy churches, churches that cultivate discipleship, churches that reach the lost and the hurt, we need everyone on board. We need to equip all believers for the work of ministry (Eph 4:11). So what does it look like to equip women for ministry? Well, one thing for sure, don't assume that they don't need good deep theology. They NEED to know who their God is and what He has done. And don't assume that they shouldn't be formally trained just because they won't be a preaching pastor. I don't have the title of "pastor" in my church (although I am actually part of the pastoral team). But I will say this, what I do in my church is nothing short of pastoring. It would be a shame, indeed, it IS a shame that we leave women's ministries to women who are not necessarily equipped to lead them. Just because a woman has been in the church for a long time, does not mean she is equipped to lead other women.
Pastors, please, I beg of you. Invest in your women. Invest in building up and equipping godly leaders among your women. Those women in turn, will build up and equip more godly women. Who will continue the process and on and on. The point is, the church does a real disservice when it leaves the women in spiritual anorexia. Jesus called us all to follow Him, to make more disciples of Him. So let's not assume, and let's not overlook. He wants his daughters in this battle too!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Ashlee

Today I had a moment of... nostalgia. Deep profound sentimental nostalgia.
It hit me like a wave and even brought some tears with it.

When I look back on my life, I am overwhelmed by how much I have been blessed with incredible girlfriends. Today, I'm missing one of them in particular. Ashlee.



When we were in college we used to keep each other accountable. You know, our emotional integrity. How is your heart? And today is one of those days when I really wish she were here. We would sit over some yummy coffee and talk about life and God and our hearts.
There are few people who get me like Ashlee does. And few people who have walked with me through so much. These kinds of friendships are nothing short of a blessing straight from the hand of God. And I know that God provides for me in every season of life. I have friends here now, and they are good friends. But they aren't quite Ashlee.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Lies We Tell


Sometimes for the sake of someone's good, we tell a half-truth. Right?
But often this half-truth, which some might even consider a lie, can do more damage in the long run.

I'm seeing that now with single women my age who grew up in the church.
When I was 15, I made a promise before God, my parents, and my youth group leaders that I would remain a virgin till I got married. It was all the rage back then.
Thousands of young men and women stood in front of their churches and made these promises. Some of us had the rings (I did!) and some of us went even so far as to have the "True Love Waits" bible (I didn't). But I can say this. It sure was popular and it was definitely pushed among American youth groups.
This post isn't going to bash the movement, but to show its weaknesses. I'm glad I made that promise. I wore my purity ring for a solid 10 years before I retired it. Not that I broke the promise, but that I realized that the ring really didn't serve me anymore. I wasn't going to look at it while I was in the middle of making out with a guy and think, "Oh right, I made that promise!" I realized that whatever I did with my sexuality had to be based on something deeper than a "promise" I made when I was 15. I needed to know the WHY behind it.

You see, the "True Love Waits" program tells teens to make this promise to wait till marriage based on a few ideas. Here are just a few...
1.) Don't have sex because God says so.
2.) God has someone out there for you, "the one", and you can love that person now by keeping yourself pure.
3.) Sex will be so much more fulfilling if you wait till you're married.
4.) Sex outside of marriage is full of pain, STDs, and heartbreak.

There are plenty more suppositions that go into the TLW campaign. And some of them are true. But some of them set up a false hope in young people.
The term "save yourself" for your future spouse is in and of itself misleading. First of all, who says you will get married? God never promises marriage to His people.
But He does call us to belong to Him. That every part of our lives belong to Him.
What I have seen among my friends is heartbreaking. We were TOLD that God has someone for us, and if we just save ourselves for that man, we will have great sex once we're married. But we hit 28, 29, even 30 years old, and we don't see any hope of getting married anytime soon. And most, if not all, have this moment of thinking, what in the world am I "saving" myself for?
There is this feeling of disappointment. Like God failed me. He was supposed to bring that guy to me! I was supposed to get married so I could stop "waiting".

There has to be a better way to do youth group sex talks.
We shouldn't bribe christian youth to keep their virginity with promises that we can't fulfill (like a spouse or a great sex life after marriage). And honestly, I think we would do well to focus on the heart of the youth and not so much on their private parts. I know, it's super important that we talk about sexual purity with them, but Jesus MUST be the motive for any good deeds. What if we spent our energies preaching the Gospel to our youth, showing them the mighty, wonderful, and awesome God that loves them and has called them to belong to Him. What if we talked more about how our identity is hidden in Christ and how nothing can take that away from us.
I wonder if our teens are smart enough to handle these things. I wonder if they can handle those great truths. And I wonder if these great truths would then turn into fruit in these young men and women's lives. Fruit of the gospel rooted in them. Fruit, like sexual purity.


(Quick note: I want to thank every youth leader, teacher, and any other adult that affected me as a young teen. Although I was brought up in the TLW culture, I know your hearts were totally in the right place- desiring God's best for me. And all of you taught me to seek God first in everything. You did well. And this blog post commentary is not at all meant to be a criticism of you, but a look at the bigger picture of what we are teaching teens and how it might not be the best way.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fundacion Generacion


So as I mentioned in my previous post, I have joined the team at Fundacion Generacion, a church planting group that is working to encourage and support the church in it's training of pastors and planting of churches. They have hired me part time to work on the administrative side of the work. Which is a new venture for me, but it seems like a great way to use my gifts and talents for one of my biggest passions- church planting! 


I'm leaving you guys with a few quotes from our website: www.fundaciongeneracion.cl
I hope you take a moment to look through the website, and I'm sure you'll realize how cool it is what God is doing through this group here in Chile and the rest of Latin America. 


Nuestra fundación Generación busca animar y apoyar a la iglesia en su labor de entrenamiento y plantación de iglesias. (Que Creemos)

El ministerio reformado se caracteriza por su carácter solidario, es decir, el apoyo mutuo entre congregaciones e individuos para el entrenamiento ministerial y la plantación de nuevas congregaciones. Nuestra fundación busca promover esta solidaridad y ayudar a articular esfuerzos de esta naturaleza. (Que Creemos)

GENERACIÓN es un grupo de personas de diferentes denominaciones que aman a Jesús y que comparten Su pasión por la multiplicación de iglesias  que lo confiesan como Señor y Salvador, en el poder del Espíritu Santo para la gloria del Padre. 
GENERACIÓN apoya la búsqueda, el discipulado, entrenamiento y envío de hombres y mujeres llamados por el Espíritu de Dios a comenzar nuevos ministerios basados en el evangelio de Jesucristo con un énfasis especial en plantación de iglesias. Estas iglesias plantarán nuevas iglesias que formarán discipulos que harán nuevos discipulos.
GENERACIÓN anhela promover e implementar una cosmovisión de ministerio cristiano reformado en compañerismo con las iglesias locales. (Nuestra Mision)

A few months in a few words

Yeah, I know, I know! It's been WAY too long since I posted here.

I'm finally sick in bed (this happens when I go too fast for too long) and I want to take the opportunity to post a few thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for a while.

Since May when I last posted so much has happened.

  • I found out that my program with the English institute finishes in October (which means I would be out of work for 3 months till the next year begins).
  • I decided to try to move toward doing full time ministry with my church for a year or two which means raising support from friends and family back home. 
  • I headed home to the USA to witness my dear friend Ashlee get married. I not only got to be in the wedding as a bridesmaid, but I even crashed their honeymoon for a day! I also got the chance to visit them once they were back home and settled into their new apartment. 
  • I did a somewhat crazy tour of the states, trying to fit as many loved ones into a short 3 week visit. 
  • I met my sweet adorable and delicious goddaughter! Her mother Michelle is one of my nearest and dearest and I am beyond honored to godmomma her little Arya.
  • I spent a few days with my sweet grandma, who is one of my favorite people in the world.
  • I had a lot of doors closed with various churches that I had really hoped to have partner with me and my church here. And I had to deal with the disappointment of seeing door after door close, and I had to practice faith that God really does have control of all of this. 
  • I came back to Chile, and hit the ground running with the new semester of my English program starting two days after I arrived. 
  • I again have an AMAZING team of teachers working in the program and they make my day every time I get to spend time with them. 
  • I got offered and accepted a job with an organization called Fundacion Generacion. I'll have a blog post with more information, but I'm really excited about the chance to work with them. 
  • And that leaves me here, now, sick in bed, missing my weekly church small group because I'm too sick to go out. 

So here goes... bring on the blog posts!



Monday, May 14, 2012

Tranquila

I've made my way over to Starbucks. Its a new Starbucks right smack dab in the middle of downtown. And its beautiful. It feels almost like a Peets Coffee. My schedule has slowed down a bit, which is good. I am no longer working 16 hour days. I'm no longer running from one thing to the next without time to breathe. I find myself walking slower, enjoying smaller things in life.

I am trying to take life more slowly. Life in Chile moved more slowly. In fact, sometimes it seems like a snail's pace to me. I know its my gringa-ness that pushes me to not "waste" time. Like if I am in the middle of doing a certain task, and I run into an acquaintance on the street. Social norms here say that I have to fully stop, do the cheek kisses, ask how the person is, how their family is, and then, only then, after a solid two questions can I proceed with my errand. I'm learning to be okay with being a few minutes late. People come first.

So I'm trying to move slower. Trying to relax and enjoy my time. Trying to not feel guilty when I "waste" my day doing "nothing". My natural gut reaction is to think that my day is totally wasted if I haven't accomplished something to better the world, or at least better my life. Chileans value relaxation, rest, time with people. Gringos value accomplishing. So if we are going to spend time with someone, it's to really spend that time with them. We need to talk, to eat, to do something. If we just sit there and say nothing, we are wasting time. Not to chileans. It's not uncommon for a chilean family, with adult children, to spend a few hours together around a table for "tea time". Hours and hours.

So I'm learning to be ok with this perception of time. I'm learning to quiet the voice in me that says that spending a whole day doing "nothing" is wrong. Maybe, just maybe, it's ok to spend your whole Saturday just sitting around. Not always, but maybe sometimes.

I'll never really be chilean in my perception of time, but at least I'm learning to let myself "go native" a bit.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Growing in Maturity




I think when I was younger, I assumed that life at 28 would be settled and almost boring. I mean, really, don’t you already have it all figured out by then?

But we don’t, do we? When I look around, I see so many of my friends in very complicated situations. My heart rejoices with those who are getting their dream jobs and starting that special relationship they have wanted for so long. I grieve with those who are suffering with the tidal waves of rocky marriages and post partum depression. Life is just plain complicated.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to grow older and how in our culture there is such a negative stigma with aging. It doesn’t take much cultural observation to see that our cultures (in the States and Chile) look down on aging. “Fight it!” the culture tells us.  There is something sad about getting old, seeing the years pass you by, your body doesn’t work as well as it used to. But in older (and wiser) cultures, there was honor in aging. I’d like to get some of that back.

What if our goal wasn’t to stay young forever? What if instead of dedicating time to fighting the aging process, we pursued maturity where we are? How do you feel about the word “maturity”? Is it a negative word for you? Do you shy away from it? Or is maturity something you seek in life?

My pastor Cristobal, who is one of my nearest and dearest people here, after working with me for 10 months made a passing comment about my age. It turns out he thought I was considerably older than I am. He thought I was 34 or so. Um… no. 28 years old. I think many 28 year olds would find such a suggestion an insult. Don’t we want to be 25 again? But really and truly I was so encouraged by his mistake. The first thing that came to mind was that he thought I was mature enough to be in my mid thirties. After working so closely with me, seeing my successes and failures, he thought I had the maturity to be 34 years old. What a compliment! It actually made me relax. I am on a good track.

I know my mother thinks I’m being silly when I say that I like gray hairs, but I think any fear I have in getting older is that I am not mature enough to be older. I have this image in my mind about what a woman in her late 20s should look like. She should have her life put together in such and such way. Do I measure up to those standards? Am I good enough to be considered a “grown up”? I think so. And I think the more I focus myself on pursing maturity wherever I am, the more content I will be with what I have. And the more content I am with what I have, the more I will live out of joy and not out of fear.

So bring on the gray hair! It doesn’t scare me, it’s a crown of wisdom. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The heart never forgets

A friend of mine just broke up with her boyfriend. I was chatting with her, trying to love her from afar. It got me thinking about my own break up oh so many years ago. I thought I'd take a moment to look back on some of the emails from my time with Jason. As soon as I typed in his name to search for those emails, I felt a wave of nausea rush over me. I pushed through it and opened the emails that held the conversations between Jason and me... far from love letters, but little notes that made me remember all that I felt for him. After a minute or two, I was so overwhelmed with nausea that I had to stop, close my computer and walk away.
Such an intense reaction to reopening up the past made me wonder. What does it look like to move on? I'm not in love with Jason anymore (obviously). I still wish the best for him, hope that he is doing well, and somewhere deep in my heart I still love him. Given the chance to be with him again, no thanks. Yet, I have such a strong reaction to reading those emails.
I was reflecting on all this with my friend Magda. And she reminded me that God knows how my heart and what my heart can and can't handle. I've seen over the last few years how incredibly sensitive I am. My heart is so easily affected, for better or worse. God knows that and He reigns over my heart.
When I was younger I naively prayed that God would guard my heart and keep all the "extras" away. That He would keep me away from all the other guys until "my man" came. Little did I know how well God would answer that prayer!
As much as sometime I get frustrated or embarrassed by my lack of dating relationships, I realize how affected I am by those relationships and I see the hand of God in keeping me. There are few guys (really, few) that I have loved. And the recovery time for my heart after one of those guys is longer than I'd like to admit.


So Lord, be faithful to me. 
Be King and Lord of my heart. 
May I find my deepest joy and satisfaction in You. 
And may Your love be the hope of my heart

Friday, April 20, 2012

The legacy of my Mormor

Yesterday I realized that I inherited something from my Mormor. "Mormor" means mother's mother in Swedish and it's what we call our grandmas in my mother's family. My mormor came over from Sweden when she was a girl. I have never been close to her. I hate to admit that when she died a few years ago, I was living in Chile and I was more upset about my mom being sad than the actual loss of my mormor. Part of my distance to my mormor might be geographical, she always lived on the other side of the country. Or it might have been other factors. But whatever it was, we never shared a close relationship.

My mother told me stories about her. I knew she had been an archivist in the field of physics. I knew she had found love later in life with my grandpa John. I knew that the women in our family are strong and commanding women and that she was the root of that legacy. But I until yesterday, I hadn't realized that I had inherited something even more particular from my mormor.
My friend Danielle is studying library science at UCLA and she mentioned that she was reading an article for a class that might be about my mormor's contribution to the world of archiving. I shouldn't be surprised, my family tends to pop in strange places like academic articles about archiving. But it struck me as my mom mentioned my mormor "liked organizing things, and she adored brilliant men" that maybe I inherited more than just my hair color from her.

As I've gotten older, there are parts of my personality and character that are coming out. With my new job as coordinator at the English institute, I have realized all the more how much I love organizing and administrating. In the last 5 months, I have created and implemented a new English program for one of our major clients. I have a team of 9 teachers working for me and about 70 students in the classes. It's a ton of work (14-16 hour days were the norm for about 3 weeks) but I love it. I love the multi-tasking that is required. I love making order out of chaos. I love seeing something I created work well. Maybe, just maybe, I get this from my mormor.

And as far as adoring brilliant men... yep. I've always known that a man's brain is more attractive to me than his face. I would love to find a man who I can listen to and marvel at. There is little sexier than a brilliant man.

While I wasn't very close to my mormor while she was here with us, it makes me smile to think that I may have something special of hers. A little piece of her legacy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

what I would if I could...

I'm not sure where to start. First would be a confession that I am just plain BAD at keeping up this blog. It comes and goes in seasons. But I think often about what I would write if I did write a blog post.
Some of the ideas are:
-how I have little patience for other people's change but require others to be very patient with me.
-how I have learned that I am more gringa than I want to admit and I might need to just stop fighting that
-how I am learning to say "no" to various things in life (responsibilities that I tend to take on even though I don't need to)
-what an incredibly sweet time I had on the church retreat this weekend and how God challenged me to count the cost of following Him and to believe that having Him truly is worth everything


Those are just some of the ideas that come to mind. But for now... I'll head to bed. GOODNIGHT!

Monday, February 27, 2012

TCA

I've been hanging out a bit with my dear friend Kari. She is a missionary kid whose parents moved here to Chile from the States and Canada 30 years ago to work with the indigenous here. After growing up in Chile, but doing part of high school and all of university in Canada, Kari understands well what it means to be a Third Culture Kid (TCK). A TCK is a kid who has spent a substantial part of their formative years outside of their parent's culture. Many TCKs struggle with not knowing where their home is, not understanding which culture is theirs, and other areas of confusion. Kari studied psychology with the goal of working with TCKs who are transitioning into adulthood and the whole concept of TCK is often a topic of discussion between the two of us.
I have recently been experiencing some cultural discomfort. Nothing too big. And not even really anything I can put my finger on. And maybe discomfort isnt the word to use. Maybe confusion is.
A few months ago I was riding in the car with my pastor, Cristobal, to pick up his kids from school. They go to the missionary kids school here run by American Baptists. One of my austrailian missionary friends sends her kids there too. And often we wave at each other as we pass in our cars. But this one day, my pastor, who is chilean, commented to me that his family and the other missionary family were quite different. There wasn't any judgement in his voice. It really wasn't a matter or good or bad, it was just a cultural difference issue. One family is much more austrailian and the other is much more chilean. I nodded in agreement to my pastors comment and then began to wonder... where do I fit into this? I voiced my question to Cristobal and sincerely wondered what he thought. I spend more time with his family than any other family here. I feel very at home with his family. And yet, I'm not chilena. But I'm more chilena than most gringas. Cristobal agreed.
I'm not normal (no big surprise there!). I'm somewhere between a chilena and a gringa.
That was a few months ago. These days I feel the difference even more than ever. I particularly feel it when I hang out with foreigners. As time passes, I feel less and less "at home" with foreigners. Whether they are from the US, England, or Austrailia, there is this assumption that we will feel comfortable because we come from the same culture. But I don't. In fact, I feel so different than most gringos that I end up feeling fairly UNcomfortable.
So I talked to Kari and we came up with a term for me... TCA (Third Culture Adult). I don't really fit into either culture perfectly and that leads to plenty of confusion and frustration. And I feel that, quite often. No one really seems to understand me. Not even the other foreigners who live here. I prefer spanish over english. But I think adults should be independent if they have the means to be so. I love mexican soap operas just as much as my gringo sitcoms but I get frustrated with the way the news shows here almost never show what's going on in the rest of the world. And even on my worst days here, when the reality of life is so frustrating that I cry, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love living here. And I can't even really tell you why. It's just home.

Reality Check

This week has been a week of reality checks. One of the biggest has come from the news of this man, Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death in Iran.
Why such a harsh sentence?
Because he has refused to recant his Christian faith.

Just writing those words sends a wave of emotion through me. I've never met this man, but he is my brother. It has been moving me to tears to think of the incredible place he is in. He is prepared to die for his faith. Not as a suicide bomber or recklessly throwing himself at death, but living out what the apostle Paul said, "to live is Christ and to die is gain." The incredible reality of the cross has so transformed the life of Youcef that he would rather die than deny it.
But I don't cry out of despair. There is no despair here. Despair is the product of hopelessness. If my dear brother Youcef dies, I will suffer for his family, his two young boys and his wife, for those who will miss him for the next few decades before they too will face the throne.
But his life will not be in vain. The ancient theologian Tertullian said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Iran is an extremely Muslim country. Obviously from their response to Youcef's refusal to recant, they are aggressive toward the gospel. But Iran belongs to a powerful and merciful God. He will make His name known in that closed land. And He is doing so right now through Youcef.




The Lord is not hindered by governments that hate Him. He is not hindered by death sentences. Heck, He's not even hindered by death. And so I see the mighty hand of the Lord moving in Iran. And I cry tears of somber joy for Youcef. What a man, what a Savior to produce such a man.

This whole situation has come to my mind time and time again these past few weeks. It comes up when I find myself apathetic or frustrated with various parts of my life. When my computer is slow and I feel frustrated, I think to myself how incredibly ridiculous I am that such a silly thing would frustrate me. Youcef obviously isn't feeling frustrated from his slow internet connection. When I feel apathetic toward my work or what needs to be done here, I imagine myself on a road with Youcef, both of us moving toward the same goal and encouraging each other along the way. And it moves me to tears.
My dear Youcef, you are loved by many across the world, but most of all you are loved by the Lord almighty. For He has called you to be His and has made you His own. And this cross that you are bearing, much more literally than most of us, is a reminder of the death that we died in Christ and the life that we have in His resurrection. May He who overcame death give you strength to face this one. He is good and faithful all the time.
And so we proclaim, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain".

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Serving God in "down time"

I've "gone native" this morning. I slept in till noon. It's quite a feat for me but I think being on vacation this last week has helped. I was sick for a few days, low fever and congestion, but Im getting past it slowly but surely. I don't handle "resting" well. I don't like not doing anything with my day. So its been challenging to not be restless this week (even though I still had at least 3 hours of either church or teaching work each day). But last night, after getting home at 2am from a pastoral visit with a girl that I've been disciplng, I laid in bed and watched some tv, fully enjoying my alone time in my apartment. The truth is that over the last 3 years I've become quite a homebody. I'm afraid that it's going to result in even more selfishness and self-centeredness but the Lord has been faithful to give me plenty of opportunity to open my apartment, to chose to put someone else's need before my own. I have seen recently how self serving I am. When one of the kids in the church ask me to do something for them or with them and my attitude is unwilling because I "just don't feel like it", I realize how selfcentered I am, and how much I want to be other-centered. I see it too with the women in my church. I want to serve them, but on MY terms. I like to have control, to make the decisions, to choose the how and when. But that's not how Jesus served. And that's not how He wants His people to live.
So how do you become other-centered? I'm sure there is plenty of counsel for how to become more other-centered. But for me, the best way I can think of is: you pray that God would change your heart, and then you just do it. Even when the desire isn't really there. You act in accordance with how you WANT to be, not how you feel in the moment. And those actions help it become natural down the road.
So yeah, that's my prayer and my desire. That even in this "down" time, I would open to God bringing opportunities to serve Him in loving my brothers and sisters.

Monday, February 06, 2012

THANK YOU JESUS

You'd think that I'd be proclaiming "Thank you Jesus!" for something really deep and profound, like salvation or life. You know, deep stuff. But no, while I'm grateful for the deep things, I'm SO grateful at this very moment because I just spent the last 3 hours searching high and low for my planner. When I realized this morning that I had lost it, I was frustrated and upset but figured I'd just have to get a new one. That was my attitude until I realized that I had a VERY important document tucked into my planner. A document that I need for my visa. One that would be VERY difficult to replace. So let's just say that when I realized what was at stake in finding this planner, I went into steroid search mode. I even made the long walk in the hot sun to the restaurant where my dad and I had lunch on Thursday, the last time I remember having it. With no avail. I wandered around the city, wondering what I would do if I couldnt find it. If I didnt feel so sick (I've had a cold or something since yesterday) and tired, I probably would have cried. But instead I wandered and prayed.
And of course, coming home and doing another search around my apt (I even looked INSIDE the washing machine!) I started taking the books off my bookshelf to be sure that there was nothing behind them. And sure enough, my planner had slipped behind some books on my bookshelf. THANK YOU JESUS! This means I can finish getting my paperwork together and submit my application for my permanent residency visa by the end of the week.
And now... time for a nap!

Time flies


So I know its been a while since I've posted- but time FLIES!!! I was under this silly notion that January would be a slower month since its summer down here, but no. It was quite busy. December passed so quickly and then New Years catapulted me into a January that flew by. But now that we are in February, really, seriously, I want to take some time to slow down, reflect on the new year, on the last year, on the present. This post will be more about my time with my dad but I will write a few times this week to make up for the lost time. But first, some fun-ness with my dad!!!
My dad came down here for two weeks. It was his first time in Chile so I wanted to show him my favorite parts of life here. We spent a week in La Serena, a town up north where I lived for my first 3 months here in Chile. We went to the wedding of my dear friend Fernanda. We visited Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. And we hung out in my town- Santiago. All in all it was a wonderful time to have my dad here. He went home with a few battle scars (you'll have to ask him for the stories of those) but I'm hoping he'll come back soon for more good times!

This is from our hike up Cerro Santa Lucia. It's a hill with a yellow castle on it that I LOVE and I happen to live right next to it.

My friend Cony and I at the wedding

My dad posing from inside an ascensor (a cable car that brings you up a steep hill). These ascensors are all over Valparaiso and this one was on the hill that overlooked the dock of Valparaiso.

Walking down the hill from our hostel on a typical Valparaiso street.