It’s November Already?

Family and Friends,

I left you last with an update from about a month ago before I left for Mexico City. I apologize for not getting one up sooner, but once you read about all the traveling that we’ve done, I hope you’ll understand why it’s up so late.

First up, Mexico City. This city is FULL of culture, history and beautiful architecture. We were in Mexico City with Ashley (the JourneyGirl) so that she could get her visa renewed. We also were able to tour the city for a whole day afterwards where we got to see an old, Spanish castle (El Castillo de Chapultepec), a park which had the feel of Central Park in NYC, we went up into a skyscraper to the 74th floor (if I remember correctly) and we were able to see the whole city from the top. We also ate a ton of American food and drank a lot of Starbucks. We decided that we would stick with Mexican food and local Oaxacan coffee. 🙂 One thing I really enjoyed about Mexico City was that I didn’t feel like a giant compared to the other people there. In Oaxaca, everyone is short (except for a few local friends who just happened to get a tall gene).

Village E: I’m unable to give the name of the village because of safety for the team and the people who live there, but we went to village E with a small team from Ohio (who surprisingly I have family that have mutual friends with some team members). It’s about 5 hours away from Oaxaca City. We were told we were going to be living completely off the grid for a week. However, we had the opportunity to buy WiFi for 24 hours and it ended up lasting the whole week so we were able to (somewhat) keep people updated. This village is beautifully placed in the mountains. We were at the very top of a mountain and the climate was cold and the sun was strong. I enjoyed waking up every morning to what felt like fall. There is one known believer in the village and he is so hungry to learn more about Christ and how he can continue living for Him. He has been working on learning bible stories to tell to his friends and other family members in the village. The team we went with has been going for the last 2 1/2 years about every other month. The relationships that they have built with the people there are amazing to see. They’re beautiful friendships and it was really encouraging to see people one to two generations above me still longing to serve the Lord and carry out the Great Commission in a place very far away from Ohio. Please pray for this team as a few of the members will continue coming down to Oaxaca after the new year.

Afterwards, we came home back to a somewhat regular schedule. We were able to pick back up on regular English classes and continue teaching. Last week we moved in with Ashley because there are a lot of changes going on here in Oaxaca with the leadership within the IMB team. Please be praying for all of these changes, that things would move along smoothly and that there wouldn’t be a whole lot of issues with the changes. Along with the changes that are being made, please pray for good communication among the team. We have all found that good communication is something that we all struggle with and we’ve recognized that and we’re wanting to fix that problem.

We’ve been able to do some fun, cultural things in the last few weeks as well. Last Monday (October 24) was our friend Josue’s “Golden Birthday” where he turned 24 on the 24th. His mom planned a surprise party for him and we were able to participate in the surprise fun. This past Saturday (October 29) I (and Rachel) had the opportunity to go to a quinceanera in the village of our friend Sebastian’s mom’s family. We were able to spend the night there and experience complete village life with no WiFi or phone service, however, the views in the mountains were incredible and you didn’t need those things to take pictures. Sunday (October 30), I (and Rachel and Ashley) were invited by our friend Jair to go to a wedding of one of his friends from his church. I cried at that wedding and I didn’t even know the couple. It was all in Spanish, but something in my spirit just told me that it was very Christ-centered and it was a beautiful display of the Gospel. It was really good to be able to experience these small things of this culture.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be continuing our regular ministries here in Oaxaca, but we’ll also be doing some tourist visits as well so be on the lookout for some pictures. I can’t believe I only have about a month left here in Oaxaca. My time here has gone by so quickly it seems like and I don’t want it to be over. I have made so many friends here and I know for a fact that they are lifelong friends. I do, however, miss my family and am ready to see them and spend Christmas with them. This is my first time being away from home for Thanksgiving so I’m interested to see how it will go this year. Some members of our team will be going to the beach for Thanksgiving, so I’m pretty stoked about that and the fact that I will be able to get a tan before Christmas.

This last month of ministry will be pretty busy with finishing up English classes and other ministry events, such as English Corner and our Translation Class. Our Translation Class has now become a Bible Study. We are going through the book of John. It’s been really good so far as we’ve had really good, deep discussions about the different passages we’ve been going through. Please be praying for this particular part of ministry as this is still a part of training translators and they are learning how to better translate words from the Bible.

As a wrap up of this post, I ask that you be praying for this last month of me being here. Be praying that my relationships with my friends here will continue to grow and that saying goodbye will not be as difficult as I think they will be. Be praying that even though my time here in Oaxaca is wrapping up, that I’ll continue to be putting 110% into my ministries here and that I won’t start backing away from them because I’m leaving. Be praying that I will continue to have opportunities to minister to the people of Oaxaca during my time here and that if it’s God’s will, that I will be able to return to Oaxaca soon. That is all I have to say for now, but hopefully my next post will not be posted right before I leave to come back to the States.

John 12:44-50 (ESV)

“And Jesus cried out and said, ‘Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have no spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.'”

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S. Juan 12:44-50 (RVR1960)

“Jesús clamó y dijo: ‘El que cree en mí, no cree en mí, sino en el que me envió; y el que me ve, ve al que me envió. Yo, la luz, he venido al mundo, para que todo aquel que cree en mí no permanezca en tinieblas. Al que oye mis palabras, y no las guarda, yo no le juzgo; porque no he venido a juzgar al mundo, sino a salvar al mundo. El que me rechaza, y no recibe mis palabras, tiene quien le juzgue; la palabra que he hablado, ella le juzgará en el día postrero. Porque yo no he hablado por mi propia cuenta; el Padre que me envió, él me dio mandamiento de lo que he de decir, y de lo que he de hablar. Y sé que su mandamiento es vida eterna. Así pues, lo que yo hablo, lo hablo como el Padre me lo ha dicho.'”

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Reality Check

These last few weeks have been busy, but oh, so good in many different ways. Since our weeks are pretty much the same every week except for the fun stuff, I’ll try to keep this short and sweet. 🙂 I left you last post with some prayer requests and I’d like to update you on those first.

Last Posts Prayer Requests:

– My thumb: last week I was playing with the kids at youth group and my thumb got bent backwards. It’s been in pain for a week now and has continued to be swollen and tender to touch. I’m trying to not go to the doctor about it because I truly believe it can just heal on its own. Be praying for healing and no more pain. UPDATE: My thumb feels better than it did, however, there are still some days where it gets really stiff and I can’t move it. There really isn’t anything that can be done for it at this point, but I’ve convinced myself that I just pulled something and it’ll work its way back to normal.

– Language class: I have become very frustrated with this class as it is all in Spanish and I will sometimes understand what my teacher is saying and sometimes I won’t. Be praying that I will be able to continue understanding what the teacher is saying and that I will start to be more confident in using the Spanish that I do know out loud and in conversation with friends. UPDATE: I missed the last two weeks of Spanish class due to people being out of town or bloqueos not allowing buses to get through and me being minorly sick. Today (September 26th) I was able to finally get back to class and learn some more Spanish 🙂 It’s still harder than I thought it would be, but according to my friends here, it’s starting to flow naturally whenever I do speak and they’re saying that I’ll get the hang of it by December. So keep praying that this will happen and that confidence will continue. I’ve realized that I freeze up because the only conversations I know how to have are small talk, and small talk terrifies me. So also be praying that I’ll be able to start having less small talk conversations and the right words will come to me when having deeper conversations.

– English classes: Be praying for the Lopez Family*, Elizabeth*, Esmeralda and the market ladies as we continue teaching them English or just being their friend and visiting with them. Be praying that we will have opportunities to share the Gospel with those who are lost and that we would be an encouragement to those who are believers and just need Christian fellowship. UPDATE: Because of Dia de Independencia for Mexico, we missed class September 15th with the Lopez family and September 22nd, Rachel and I both were ordered to stay home and rest due to us being sick. We’re hoping to reschedule with them soon. September 20th, we were able to see Elizabeth and share the story of Abraham with her and her family. It seemed to be received really well. Esmeralda has started working on how to tell her personal story (childhood and her testimony) in English. She’s also agreed to come with us to visit the market ladies to translate from Spanish to Zapotec if we’re able to share a story with the ladies.

– Be praying that I don’t become burned out with all the ministry things that I’m involved with. I have close to 11 ministries that I’m involved with and it can be tiring at times, so just be praying for endurance to do ministry well and that I don’t become sick because I’m so busy. UPDATE: I was able to talk to my supervisors about all the ministry work I’m doing and my supervisors have said to not add anything more to my schedule. The only thing that I’ve added now is I teach English by myself on Mondays to a group of young girls from a village.

– Ashley: She is still sick with a throat infection. She has been to numerous doctors for many different tests and they have said that they don’t know what is wrong with her. She was very discouraged by this news. Be praying that she will be miraculously healed by the Great Physician and that she would be able to continue to serve 110% for the Lord. UPDATE: Her mom was in town two weeks ago and I think that lifted her spirits a little bit. She’s officially been diagnosed with Mono (which in Spanish means “monkey” so we’ve had a lot of fun with that) but the only cure for it really is rest, which she isn’t getting. Continue praying that she will receive the rest she needs and that other people would be willing to step in for her in places that can be covered by someone else.

– Rachel: Continue to pray for good health. She also started classes online last week and she’s already under a lot of pressure and stress. Pray that she will be able to give 100% to ministry work but also 100% to her school work. UPDATE: Last Wednesday (Sept. 21) Rachel ended up in the ER with an intestinal infection. She’s still having some issues, so please be praying that she will make a full recovery and be able to give 100% to ministry and school.

Two weeks past

Week of September 11:

Sept. 11 we went to church and afterwards went to El Tule (this is where the world’s tallest and fattest tree stands). We ate lunch and then walked through the market and saw the tree. We went with Ashley, her mom and friend who were in town, and some of our local friends. This week was the week that Independence Day was for Mexico. We continued going to the villages on Tuesday to meet with Esmeralda and the Market Ladies and also went to the children’s home. September 15th at 11pm Rachel and I met up with some friends and other team members for the “grito” which literally translates into “scream”. It was explained to me that it’s a war cry and it’s basically a reenactment of what happened the day the war of independence from Spain was started. I’ll post what they say at the end of this post. September 16th is the actual day of independence. They have a parade and some other fun things to do. We went to the parade and had a good time.

Week of September 18:

This past week we sat down with Christy (our new supervisor of sorts, there’s a lot of leadership transition going on here in Oaxaca) and planned out the next month’s worth of teaching for each individual thing we go to. September 20th, we went to the villages and were able to talk to Esmeralda about working on sharing her story in English and asked her to translate for us into Zapotec (one of the main indigenous languages here) when we go to the other village to visit with the market ladies. We’ve been praying for an opportunity to be invited into the ladies’ homes to be able to share more about us and get to know them better. Last week, one of the ladies invited us to come to her home to learn how to make tortillas. Needless to say, we’re pretty stoked. We also learned that one of the other ladies is the mother of the pastor of the church in that village. Wednesday is when Rachel woke up sick, so I quickly prepared to tell the story at the children’s home (it went surprisingly well) and even though it ended up raining that day, I was able to connect with some of the children there which made me extremely happy. One of the little boys reminds me of the little boy I bonded with my first time in Ecuador and it just really warmed my heart. Wednesday night we had translation class with our translators. We talked about when to translate for the American teams that come down here and when it’s appropriate. We’re also working on transitioning the translation class to a bible study in English. We’ll start studying the book of John this week (Sept. 28th). Afterwards, Ashley had been invited to go to a concert in the park, so we all went with her. it ended up being screamo bands (which neither her nor I can listen to) but we made the most of it and tried to enjoy it as much as possible. Thursday, we had to cancel classes because I woke up sick that morning and the nurse who is on our team was very clear about Rachel and I both just staying home and resting to get better. Friday was our “day of rest” that we’re supposed to have every week so we had team meeting, then made muffins all afternoon for youth group that evening (they were a big hit). Saturday (the 24th) we invited some of our local friends to come with us to a language exchange (intercambio) and we had a really good time with each other. We went to lunch afterwards and then Rachel and I had the meeting with the women’s ministry.

Week of September 25:

This week (current week) is full of exciting things. Yesterday after church, Lidia, the pastor’s wife and our friend’s mom took us to her village Tlacochuhuaya that she grew up in. We had a TON of fun with her just laughing and getting to know her better and where she lived in the village. We were able to try rabbit for the first time and surprisingly, it does taste like chicken. Today (Monday) I went to Spanish class by myself and am now sitting in a coffee shop working on my blog waiting for some friends to meet up with. This week we get to learn how to make tortillas, join Esmeralda and her family for the “grand opening” of the church in the village (they were just able to get a building to meet in, so they’re having a big worship service), and possibly go to a soccer game 😀

Prayer Requests:

– Be praying that this week will be successful in being welcomed into the village while we’re making tortillas with the market lady. Pray for opportunity to share our story with her and to learn more about her and her family.

– Continue praying for good health for all of us on the team since we all seem to be getting sick.

– Be praying that English classes with the girls from another village will go well and that I’d be a good teacher to them.

– The first full week of October, Rachel and myself will be going out with a US team to a village to share stories. We’ll be living in the village for the week so be praying that we’ll be preparing ourselves mentally and physically for that week.

– Be praying that we will continue building relationships with the locals here and that we will be able to encourage each other in ways that Christian brothers and sisters should.

– Be praying that the Lord will continue to show me where He wants me to serve long term. He’s been showing me more and more that Oaxaca is a beautiful place to be and that there are broken people here that need to hear the Lord’s love and the Gospel. I’ve been able to plug into a lot of different ministries here and I’m continuing to have ideas for other ministries to possibly start up, but since I’m only here right now for short term, I’m not able to. I’m praying, and I ask you to join me, that I’ll have more opportunity to come back to Oaxaca to be with the people I love and to serve them in many different ways.

You’ve made it to the end! It’s been a whirlwind of the last two weeks, but the Lord is SO, SO kind to His children. So, reality is, my life here is very busy. It is not a vacation. I am able to do ministry and what I love while also having fun with friends. I hope to keep you updated more often, but I can’t promise anything. 

Galatians 5:13-15 // Gálatas 5:13-15 (ESV, English; NVI, Spanish)

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” // “Les hablo así, hermanos, porque ustedes han sido llamados a ser libres; pero no se valgan de esa libertad para dar rienda suelta a sus pasiones. Más bien sírvanse unos a otros con amor. En efecto, toda la ley se resume en un solo mandamiento: ‘Ama a tu prójimo como a ti mismo.’ Pero si siguen mordiéndose y devorándose, tengan cuidado, no sea que acaben por destruirse unos a otros.”

Busy Schedules

First, I want to apologize for not getting this post up sooner and to apologize for how long this is going to be. Our schedule these last couple weeks has been crazy busy, which is great! I just feel bad that I haven’t been able to keep up with friends and family as much as I would have liked. Our weeks pretty much look the same somewhat each week because we always have specific ministries that we are a part of, however, we do add in random events and outings occasionally which is why we’ve been really busy recently.

The week of August 22

Liesa took Rachel, myself and some other girls from our team out to learn the bus routes. We took two major bus routes that we would need to know in order to get to the main places we’d be meeting people. Before that though, we met up with a language teacher to set up language classes. That whole week was basically just us going and setting up times for us to start meeting with the people we’ve been meeting with the last two weeks. We visited two villages (that’s what we do on Tuesdays, all day), we were able to meet with the market ladies in a close by village to set up us coming to see them each week to teach them money and basic things that they sell in their little store, Elizabeth* to see her new baby (she’s precious) and Esmeralda* to continue teaching her English and to just give her Christian fellowship as her and her family are the only believers in her village.

The last few Wednesdays have been pretty mellow as the 24th of August we went over to another missionary couple’s home to learn about the indigenous people of Oaxaca and their different styles of worship and all the different dialects of the indigenous languages that are just here in this state. They later took us to lunch and that evening we had translation class. Thursday of that week, I met the Lopez family, Maria, Patricia and Pedro*. We meet with them every Thursday to teach them English while telling bible stories and playing games. The kids are a handful, but I love them dearly and only want them to know more about our Savior. That evening, Rachel and I started our tradition of going to Zumba class and follow it up with tacos at our favorite place to eat in the Zocolo.

That weekend we had team meeting, we started going to youth group at a local church here with Ashley (the Journeygirl), I was able to FaceTime one of my best friends and catch up on life with her, we had many language exchanges we went to, did some prayer walking about a new women’s ministry we’re praying about and starting to set up, and we started house sitting for the Holeman’s as they were out of town the following week for Liesa’s dad’s 70th birthday with his triplet brothers! It was a jam packed weekend but we made the most of it and we enjoyed ourselves. OH! That Sunday, we went to church and afterwards met up with some friends for ice cream (it was basically shaved ice) and I FINALLY got to see the new Bourne movie.

The week of August 29

This week consisted of the usual. Spanish class, English Corner, visiting the two villages with Esmeralda* and then with the market ladies and Elizabeth*. We were able to get to know the market ladies a little bit better as it’s just us girls who are there and they’re a little more open to us. Esmeralda, we were able to find out where she was in her English learning and was also able to get to know her a little bit better as well. Her family owns a bakery, so each week we’ve been given a meal after class and sent on our way with a bag of sweet bread.

The 31st was my daddy’s 50th birthday, so the whole day I was worrying that I wasn’t going to be able to talk to him at all because of how busy we were. We went to Casa Hogar, which is the children’s home and then translation class. After I got home from that, I had to make sure it wasn’t too late back home to call and wish him happy birthday. I was able to FaceTime him and my whole family as I hadn’t been able to because of being so busy, but I was so happy to see their faces and to just talk to them. Thursday of that week we had our English class with the Lopez family* and then since it was opening day for the Vols and the Cards, I sat at home with my ESPN app open trying to keep up to date with the football scores of my two teams. We also were feeling super American that evening and ordered pizza from Dominos.

That weekend was super packed full of fun things to do. Friday we were invited to the pastor’s house by his wife to learn how to make chiles rellenos (they’re SO good) and then later that evening we went to youth group. That evening at youth group we were playing a group game and my thumb got bent backwards and has been in pain for a week now. Saturday we met back up with the ladies who are in the process of doing the women’s ministry here (more on this specifically in the prayer request section) and actually went out and prayer walked the streets that we’re looking to minister on. Sunday we were invited to a friend’s little brother’s 7th birthday party after church. On our way there, we met our taxi driver, who happened to have lived in the states for a few years in Georgia. He was absolutely hilarious and was a great taxi driver. He told us to call him whenever we needed a taxi (which we’ve thought about doing several times if we couldn’t catch a bus home because it was so late).

Week of September 9

This week has been full of ups and downs. It’s been full of emotions and friends being encouraging. I’ve been in Spanish classes once a week for the last two weeks. They’re two hours long and only in Spanish. This past week was really frustrating for me because I wasn’t quite getting what was being said in a video. Learning a new language in that language is hard y’all. We later had English Corner that night and that put me in a better place with my emotions as we had fun with “Speed Dating” trying to find out who would be the best partner to go on a 12 country backpacking trip with. Tuesday I woke up to a text from one of my best friends asking if we could FaceTime. Of course I said “YES!” and we were able to talk, but while she was talking, she pulled out a Starbucks cup with “will you be my bridesmaid?” on it. After crying and getting my emotions together (I really have no clue why my emotions were so whack this week) I said “yes!” to being her bridesmaid. I couldn’t be more thrilled for her and her fiancee.

That entire rest of the day we were out in the two villages visiting with our friends. Esmeralda* really opened up and we really enjoyed getting to know her more and more. She’s doing really well with her English and is remembering the things that we go over. The market ladies are super precious and I was able to use some Spanish with them while playing a game. We later sat around the table and just listened to them talk (either in Spanish or Zapotec) and they tried marrying us off to their sons! Wednesday was our usual Casa Hogar day with Liesa. Those kids are so precious and they have souls that will never die. Many of them come from families who just don’t want them as many of those kids are handicapped or have disabilities that are considered shameful in this culture. I just want to love on them everyday! That evening we had Translation class and I so enjoy going to that because those are the people that are being trained to come out with American groups to do the translating for us. My favorite thing is though, is that those people are becoming some of my dearest friends here. They are all so kind and sweet and many of them have hearts sold out for God and it just excites me to see that I have brothers and sisters in Christ here in Mexico that are wanting to live their lives for the Lord.

Yesterday we had our usual Thursday with the Lopez family*. They did very well and they are receiving the Bible stories and learning sight words really well. We switch up the games a little just to keep them interested. The kids are unable to sit still for very long, but it’s encouraging to know that they are learning a little bit of what we teach them. Last night we were able to have dinner with Janna, our friend who helped lead orientation with us in Peru. She was here in Oaxaca for some meetings and I was so thrilled to be able to see her and catch up on life.

Today (Friday, September 9) marks exactly one month of being away from the US. Rachel and I decided that we’d go to team meeting and then go grocery shopping since we finally have a rest day to catch up on things. We’ve had so much fun together over the last month and she’s truly becoming one of my closest friends. I’m so thankful that God put us together here in Mexico. Tonight we’ll have youth group and I’m also so thankful to God that He’s given us a local church to be able to become plugged into and start serving in.

Prayer:

– My thumb: last week I was playing with the kids at youth group and my thumb got bent backwards. It’s been in pain for a week now and has continued to be swollen and tender to touch. I’m trying to not go to the doctor about it because I truly believe it can just heal on its own. Be praying for healing and no more pain.

– Language class: I have become very frustrated with this class as it is all in Spanish and I will sometimes understand what my teacher is saying and sometimes I won’t. Be praying that I will be able to continue understanding what the teacher is saying and that I will start to be more confident in using the Spanish that I do know out loud and in conversation with friends.

– English classes: Be praying for the Lopez Family*, Elizabeth*, Esmeralda and the market ladies as we continue teaching them English or just being their friend and visiting with them. Be praying that we will have opportunities to share the Gospel with those who are lost and that we would be an encouragement to those who are believers and just need Christian fellowship.

– Be praying that I don’t become burned out with all the ministry things that I’m involved with. I have close to 11 ministries that I’m involved with and it can be tiring at times, so just be praying for endurance to do ministry well and that I don’t become sick because I’m so busy.

– Ashley: She is still sick with a throat infection. She has been to numerous doctors for many different tests and they have said that they don’t know what is wrong with her. She was very discouraged by this news. Be praying that she will be miraculously healed by the Great Physician and that she would be able to continue to serve 110% for the Lord.

– Rachel: Continue to pray for good health. She also started classes online last week and she’s already under a lot of pressure and stress. Pray that she will be able to give 100% to ministry work but also 100% to her school work.

CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve made it to the end of this very long post and I wholeheartedly apologize for it being so long. Thank you for enduring through it. Also, thank you for your prayers over the last few weeks even though there haven’t been specific ways I’ve posted for you to be praying for us. This next week, we will have our usual weekly schedule, but I’ve been asked to start helping in some other ministries around the city and in some villages, so also be praying that those opportunities go well and that it doesn’t add too much stress on me.

*Names have been changes of our friends for security reasons so that you can’t stalk them on Facebook 🙂

“Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!” // “Aclamad a Dios con alegria, toda la tierra. Cantad la gloria de su nombre; poned gloria en su alabanza” (Psalm 66:1-2)

Cultural Experiences

You know how some things you experience in life you want your best friends to be there with you so that you can talk about it for forever? Well that’s how I feel about my first week in Mexico. It was absolutely amazing and even though my closest friends and family are not here with me to experience this alongside me, I’ve made some friends here rather quickly.

Let me just start off by saying that God knew what He was doing when He placed Rachel and I on a team together. We have figured out that we’re basically the same person. We finish each others sentences and like a lot of the same things. When we’re upset or angry (we only know this just by talking about what we do when it happens), we both shut down and don’t want to talk to anyone. We are so similar that we’ve decided that we could easily say we’re sisters and no one would ever know the difference. We get along great and I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate.

Monday/Tuesday:

The first full day of being in Mexico Liesa, one of our host missionaries, took us out to breakfast to meet one of the girls we’ll be working with on a regular basis. Her name is Ashley and she is a Journeyman with the IMB. She’s from North Carolina and she’s been pretty fantastic. We went to a restaurant that we all deemed “preppy and southern” and they had really good omelettes (which is pictured below). After breakfast, we got to experience grocery shopping in Mexico. We went to a chain store and it was a little difficult for me because everything was in Spanish, so I had to guess at a lot of stuff, but I learned pretty quickly what was what. Later that evening, we met back up with Ashley to have “English Corner” which is where the three of us girls meet with a group of Mexican students (all ages, but mainly college age) and we speak in English for an hour and a half. We usually have an ice breaker game and then an actual game where more verbs and adjectives are used. We will be doing this every Monday night while we’re here. It went really well, but Ashley has been doing this ministry for the time she’s been here so it is pretty established.

Tuesday, we were taken to breakfast and coffee with Jeff and Liesa (our host missionaries) and we went over expectations and goals for the semester. That evening for dinner, every Tuesday, is Taco Tuesday so we went to a local taco place and ate tacos (they were some of the best I’ve ever tasted). After dinner, Rachel and I decided that we needed to get our 10,000 steps in (we’re both competitive on our Fitbits). We took Jackson (Jeff and Liesa’s son) with us and he showed us some dirt backroads behind our neighborhood.

Wednesday/Thursday:

Wednesday and Thursday were days full of shopping for school supplies with Liesa for a ministry she has at a place called Casa Hogar, which is a children’s home where there’s a lot of disabled children who are unwanted by their parents who live in villages, a few children who are actually orphans and have nowhere else to go, or during the school year their families can’t afford to take care of them. We were able to experience first hand what crazy school supply shopping in a Mexican school supply store was like (let’s just say it was hectic, cramped and insane). We bought them pretty much everything a child needs for school including uniforms and backpacks. Earlier on Wednesday, we got to go to coffee with one of the friends Rachel has kept up with over the years and his little brother. We went to the Zocalo (which is like a town square) and since the teachers are down there and it’s set up like a market, I was able to buy myself a change purse (coin Pesos are pretty popular and needed) and enjoy the scenery. Every Wednesday evening we will be helping with the translation class where we have the students translate from English to Spanish and then from Spanish to English. Thursday afternoon, we experienced our first Mexican Zumba class. All I’m going to say is that Mexican Zumba kicked my butt and I need to up my game, but when I get back to the States, I’ll be the one going way too fast.

Friday/Saturday/Sunday:

Friday-Sunday was all kinda a blur because it all seemed to have blended together. We had our first team meeting where I got to meet the rest of the team here in Oaxaca. The majority of the team are all older couples who have grown kids around my age or older and have been serving the Lord as missionaries for a really long time. After the meeting, we went out to lunch to celebrate the birthday of Phoebe, one of our teammates. Friday evening I had the pleasure of being able to FaceTime four of my favorite guys back in Kentucky (Benaiah, Joseph, Preston and Coty) and hear about how their first week of school went and I was able to share with them about my first week here in Mexico. Saturday morning I finally got to talk to my sister by FaceTiming (technology really is the greatest y’all) and getting caught up on life. The rest of Saturday was spent with our friend Sebastian and his family. His mom made us hamburgers and we then hiked up a mountain behind his house with him and his little brothers. We were about 10 more minutes away from Monte Alban, but it was even more of a hike and we decided we could just go back some other time. 🙂 Sunday I experienced my first Mexican worship service. I love being able to worship with brothers and sisters in a different country and hearing them worship the same God I serve in their heart language. I’m definitely looking forward to more opportunities to worship in Spanish and hopefully start to fully understand what they’re saying in their language.

Prayer:

Some ways that you can be praying for myself and my team these next couple weeks are

  • Ashley has been sick with a “throat infection”. The doctors haven’t said much more, but she is on four different medicines and hasn’t been feeling any better. Just be praying that she will get better quickly and be able to get back to her normal routine.
  • The Holeman’s (Jeff and Liesa) leave this coming Saturday for a week to go out of town, so just be praying for safe travels and that everything on our end here in Oaxaca will go smoothly.
  • Be praying for the teachers and students at Casa Hogar. The teacher and student count is down significantly and has had a huge impact on Liesa. She’s very close with a lot of the people there and there are a lot of people she was close to won’t be there this year. Also be praying that funding for the children’s home would be taken care of as that is a reason why some people aren’t coming back this year. If there is not good funding, then the children who are usually there are most likely back in their villages where the situation is a whole lot worse (abuse, neglect, etc.).
  • As the weeks continue, be praying that I will become more confident in my Spanish. I’ve downloaded an app called DuoLingo to help me review a lot of the things that I learned in a Spanish class years ago, but it’s good to keep my memory up.
  • Continue to be praying for opportunities to meet with ladies to teach English to. With that, be praying that more females will start coming to English Corner and Translation Class. Those two weekly interactions are mainly all males and we’ve been encouraged to not have one on one meetings with them (which for me personally is hard as I tend to gravitate to building relationships with guys more than girls).
  • Be praying for my health specifically. I experienced some stomach issues this last week being here just getting used to the new food and everything. Be praying I don’t become even more sick.

I’m excited for the weeks to come and how the Lord is going to use us. From now on, my posts will mainly be about highlights of the week and prayer requests/praises. In the meantime, enjoy some pictures I’ve taken from this last week. 🙂

 

~Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord~

Peru

A week ago today, Rachel, myself and three other students landed in Lima, Peru for the first time. We had never met each other before, but we were all really excited and ready to see what God had planned for us while we were there. We dove into intense training for 4 days straight and enjoyed plenty of Traditional Peruvian food. We met multiple missionaries that have been on the field for many years, many of them being in multiple places during their time with the IMB.

Here’s a quick overview of what our week nights looked like while we were in Lima:

Tuesday: arrive in Lima super late in the evening.

Wednesday: First day of training, girls go out to Ovalo (roundabout surrounded by stores and restaurants)

Thursday: Second day of training, group went to dinner at a mall sitting on a cliff overlooking the South Pacific Ocean, at dinner, many of us tried cow heart. Thursday was also the first time I had ever been in a taxi (and Peruvian drivers are scary).

Friday: Third day of training, in the evening, our small group went out to the English school to try and start conversations with people in between classes. Rachel and myself weren’t AS successful as the other groups, but we took the opportunity to prayer walk around a few blocks. We later found an English student bookstore that had a ton of English books for the school across the street in it and were able to have some conversations with the employees as we told them that we were going to be English teachers in Mexico. We met back up with the other groups shortly afterwards to head to dinner and as we were walking across the street, we were stopped by an English teacher at a school saying that he had heard we were talking about the Bible (Rachel and I had been praying that people would come to us). So our leader, Janna, stopped and talked to him for about 20 minutes and during that time, myself and the four other students I was with stopped and took turns praying that the conversation would go well and that the Holy Spirit would work in this man’s life. After the conversation was over, we were able to go to dinner and share what conversations we had with other people around the few blocks we were walking through.

Saturday: Last day of training, we were invited into one of the missionary family’s homes for breakfast (she made homemade cinnamon rolls, can’t turn those down) and we continued our last few sessions at their home. That evening, we were back at the guest house we were staying at and a good number of the missionaries we had met that week came and prayed over each of us and the places we were being sent out to. After dinner, the other students and I took a bus tour of Lima and we were able to go see more of the ocean and just how vast and enormous it is. It reminds me that we are so small compared to our God.

On Sunday morning Rachel, Marcus (another student), and myself left at 5:30am to head to the airport to be flown to our locations for the next 4 months. We had long days of travel ahead of us, but we were excited to have met new friends and to be able to pray for each other about how the Lord would use us over the next 4 months. I know that the friends I’ve made in Peru will be lasting friendships, we all have a heart to serve God and make sure that people of every tribe, nation and language have heard His name. I’m excited to see where the Lord takes us and how He will use us for His glory while we are all away from each other. Here are some ways you can be praying for the five of us over the next few months:

  • Safety: we are all going into areas of the countries we are in where safety can be a big issue. This is one thing we were trained on, but we are praying that we won’t need to use any of our training while we are away.
  • Relationship building: be praying that we will be able to build relationships with the nationals in the countries we are in and that through those relationships, we will be able to share the love of Jesus with them.
  • Team building: all of us are teamed up with local missionaries working with the IMB. Be praying that we would all get along well and that there would be no conflict among us, and that if there IS conflict, that it would be resolved quickly and efficiently.
  • Language: 3/5 of us aren’t proficient in the language of the countries we are being sent to. Be praying that we will have opportunities to learn the language efficiently and quickly and that we would be able to retain what we learn.

If you would like to contact me directly, I have the app called WhatsApp, it’s an app you can download to your phone that is super secure. I’m able to text and call people on that app while I’m connected to wifi. IF you would like to have the number for me on the app, contact my mom and she will be able to get it to you. I’ve added some pictures from my time in Peru below. Thank you so much for your continued prayers!

Soli Deo Gloria

The Final Countdown Begins…

My official countdown I have on my computer says “6 days, 14 hours, 8 minutes and 12 seconds” as I’m typing this out. It hit me today as I was out with one of my roommates that this time next week I will be with my teammate Rachel on a plane fixin to land in  PERU for our 5 day training/orientation.  It didn’t necessarily stress me out or overwhelm me, but it made me realize that I need to take these next days, hours, minutes and seconds very seriously before I leave.

Yesterday, one of my very best friends’ daddy’s lost his battle with cancer, but won eternity with Jesus. Her family is in so much pain losing a father, husband, best friend, grandfather, teacher, pastor and son. My heart is breaking with them, but I know as much as they do that he is healed. He no longer has to suffer through the brain tumor that overtook his body. He is singing and praising the name of Jesus and he gets to do that for all eternity. One day, they will join with him because they share the same faith in Christ that he did and that is why they do not grieve as others grieve.

All this to say, I’m excited to be leaving to share the good news of Jesus in Mexico while teaching English. I’m excited to see how the Lord is going to use myself and Rachel while we’re down there. I want to see people come to know Jesus and have the same hope that my friend and her family do when they lose a very close family member. I want to see people love Jesus so much that they want to do God’s work throughout the world and allow Him to use them for His glory and purpose.

During this next week, I ask that you be praying for a few things…

  1. Be praying for Rachel and I as we say goodbye to friends and family.
  2. Pray that we will be spending these last days, hours, minutes and seconds for the glory of the Lord and be preparing for our time in Mexico.
  3. Pray that our transitions individually and together would be smooth and that there would be no problems with each other or with our families.
  4. Pray for our flights, that they would be uneventful, no incidents (mechanical, people oriented, no delays, weather would cooperate, etc.)
  5. Pray for our time in Peru, this is vital as this is where we’ll be receiving our training for the next four months. Pray that we’ll learn much while we’re there and that we will be able to apply what we learn to the field that we’re going to be on.
  6. Lastly, please be praying for my friend’s family as they’re going through this very difficult time of loss and pain. While they do have that hope, losing a loved one is still very, very difficult.

One more week, y’all! God’s gunna do some great things!

~ Soli Deo Gloria ~

 

3 Weeks Out

5 YEARS AGO I went to Ecuador for the second time and got to experience standing in the middle of the two hemispheres (pictured). That was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity, however, those two trips to Ecuador were where the Lord laid upon my heart international missions and serving those in Latin America.


I can’t wait to see how He’s going to use me and my teammate Rachel in Mexico! Please continue to keep the both of us in your prayers as the day for us leaving is quickly approaching!

Here are some specific ways you can be praying for us this week:
1. Nerves. The day is coming where we will essentially be leaving our families for 4 months to move to another country and live together. We’ve never met each other, but we know that the Lord has placed us together for a reason and we’re both looking forward to seeing how He is going to use us.

2. Our parents. Our parents are letting their children go to another part of the world for a whole 4 months. While I’m not a parent, I can only imagine how nerve-wracking it can be, especially with how the world is today. Pray for them, that their nerves would be calmed and that there would be a peace that comes over them as we begin to pack our things up and get ready to transition.

3. Language barriers. While Spanish is the main language where we will be going to in Mexico, there are other indigenous languages that we will encounter where there will be a huge language barrier and miscommunication. Pray that there will be patience between both parties while working together with the people in these villages (Rachel and myself and also the village people).

4. Travel safety. This is kinda huge. I wouldn’t say that I’ve traveled a ton, but I’ve been overseas before. One of the things that I’m most nervous about is traveling by myself before I meet up with Rachel. Pray that the Lord would keep the both of us safe as we travel to Peru where we’ll be having an orientation type of week before we both head to Mexico together. Pray that there won’t be plane complications (whether that be delays, maintenance issues, etc.). Also be praying that we’ll be on time for everything and that none of our luggage will be lost amidst the traveling to and from different countries and that there won’t be any complications with customs.

5. Lastly, be praying that we will continue to spiritually prepare ourselves for this trip. Everything we say and do on this trip (and the rest of our lives) needs to be God-glorifying. We are there to build relationships with people and the goal is for those people to see Christ in us. Pray that starting today, we will be doing what we can do be displaying Christ through us in our families, work and church.

Thank you all so much for your love, prayer and support. I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart and I can’t wait to come back and tell everyone what the Lord has done in Mexico during my time there. My goal is post a blog post once a week. So bare with me if that doesn’t happen. I plan on posting updates as much as I can. Have a great week yall!

Juan 3:16 Porque tanto amó Dios al mundo, que dio a su Hijo, unigénito, para que todo el que cree en él no se pierda, sino que tenga vida eterna // John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever should believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life.