Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Satan must be feeling really threatened

Well, the good news is that Lima has got The Wireless. The bad news is that I am in Lima, (Peru). This is disappointing for various reasons...

#1. The airport in Lima has a one-hundred percent disappointment rate, with a fifty percent chance you will be harassed on your way in and out of the airport and a fifty percent chance the attendants at the check-in counter will blame you for the high winds in Cuzco which delayed your plane and made you late for the check-in on your connecting flight.

#2. I am currently in said airport, awaiting my flight home....

This was so unexpected. I am still in a state of shock. I don't know whether to cry or cry harder. I have been in Ecuador the last three months on a tourist visa (good for 90 days). The plan was to renew the visa after three months and stay for three more months on a new visa. This plan would have worked well if Ecuador actually renewed tourist visas for any foreigners besides Columbians and Peruvians, which they did up until about five days ago. This information was not made available to me when I went to the immigration office two weeks ago to ask what I needed to do to renew the visa. The information given me at that point was, "come back on the 20th and we'll renew it then." Then on the 20th, I got a "come back on Monday." and yesterday, I got a "no deal. we do not renew visas for anyone other than Columbians and Peruvians. You have to leave the country tomorrow or you will have to pay a $200 fine and you will never be allowed to enter the country again.

Then there was a scramble to try and find a flight out of Ecuador. We went all over the place to find a flight for me. Yesterday morning I found a flight out of Ecuador for 6:00 yesterday evening, and here I am in Lima awaiting my 12:00pm flight.

I don't know where to begin...I feel absolutely devastated. I feel like I was just getting started. I am really tired. It all happened so fast, there was hardly any time to think. I still have not fully processed what just happened.

It was terrible. Word spread pretty fast Monday evening about what was going on and by about 8:00 everybody from the church was at my house with tons of questions. And everybody was crying. It was too much. This is so not how I wanted things to happen. And it's really painful. And the worst was saying "see you later" to the group of close friends who went with me to the airport. Oh it hurt so much. There were a lot of tears all around. It still hurts. But...

If there is one thing I have seen and learned on this 26-year adventure it is that God is faithful. And He knows what He is doing. And I am confident that though I do not understand the reason for or know the outcome of all this, God is currently, tirelessly working in it for the good of those who love Him. I am certain of that. And so, the only thing I can do is continue to pray for my brothers and sisters in El Recreo, and do the best I can to get back as soon as possible to finish what I started.

I want to thank you so much for your prayers. I was blown away by you. I asked for prayer on Thursday afternoon for the burdens of the church and the general feeling of discouragement. Thursday night during the class Marcelo has been teaching weekly on how to prepare a sermon, there was so much laughter. It seemed like everyone felt a little bit less burdened, and there was a sense of unity in the humor of the evening. Thank you for lightening the load a bit, even if it just was for the evening. We all needed the good laugh. Please continue praying for this. And please pray for me. And for my good friends in El Recreo. This was all so sudden, and very painful. I am still in shock, and I think I am going to be realizing during the next week or two everything I forgot to take care of before leaving in the short time I had to pack my bags and get out!

Also, please pray for the rest of my trip home. If you're reading this before noon on Wednesday, I am still in Lima. From Lima I fly to El Salvador and from El Salvador to Los Angeles. And my flight lands in LA at 11:50 Wednesday night. This has been a very long, very draining couple of days.

Please pray for me as I begin the process of obtaining a missionary visa so that I can go back to Ecuador as soon as possible and not have to worry about having to leave the country after such a short time.

Man...we were just getting started.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

my head itches. the special shampoo did not work well.

Hello, Friends!!

Well, things are pretty difficult and discouraging here lately. it seems to me that with all the good changes that have been happening in the children´s ministry here, and all the good changes happening within the music ministry, satan is feeling pretty threatened.

firstly, a lot of the youth here have been having relationship troubles. this is something that really affects the spirit of the group in general. people are breaking up left and right and everybody seems to be really deeply hurting these days. i know, this is not something new...it happens everywhere. but i´ve never seen so many relationships suffering all at once.

also, a lot of people are having family troubles too. one of the guys in the band is in the middle of a home that is breaking apart and on top of that, he has lost the opportunity he had to study because of the financial toll his parents´ separation is taking on the family. he is really hurting.

there is still a big problem with gossip that has affected everyone (even i have been the subject of some hurtful gossip).

last week someone that everybody from the church knows stole two of the guitars that belong to the church, sold them for some quick cash and skipped town. and on saturday, when i was running around like crazy trying to get errands run and tasks accomplished before the kids bible school class began, and there were a ton of people in and out of my house all day preparing food for the event we had at the church in the evening, someone took sixty dollars from the little box on my dresser where i keep my money. though i won´t deny that the loss of the money itself does hurt (because it was all the money i had for the month and the month isn´t nearly over yet), what hurt even more was the fact that the only people who were in and out of the house all day were people from the church who we trust. this cuts me deeply. how can i get past that? i don´t know...it´s hard. when trust is broken it is difficult to move forward. especially in a situation like this where the trust is broken with everyone because i have no idea who took the money. sandra and marcelo say that this has happened before and it hurts a lot...and what can we do?

and if all that weren´t discouraging enough.....i got The Lice.

my group of friends here is a little bit....uh....oh dear, i am forgetting english words already. the only word i can think of to describe them is "pesado" which means literally "heavy"....in the sense that they like to joke around and make fun. whenever somebody seems confused/physically in pain/lost...or something like...they look at you and say, "are you lost? do you want your mommy?" and then they shout, "i´m looking for the mommy of this little girl...has anyone seen her mommy? she is crying and she needs the mommy!" it´s usually pretty funny in the moment, even for the people who are being picked on. anyway, the point is...i definitely need the mommy. and so do a lot of people here.

the general spirit is one of discouragement and hurting...and everybody seems tired. there are some people ready to throw in the towel and just go back to a life of nothingness. there are some who already have made the decision to do that.

i really feel it is an attack from the enemy who does not want us to be successful in what we do for our Lord. and i ask that you would please pray hard for all of these things...for everyone who is feeling weary and burdened and who just needs rest...that we would find rest in the Lord and that we would press on, not letting the enemy discourage us like this. please pray for restoration for the hearts that have been broken, and for restoration of the trust that has been broken. please pray for the gossippers and the subjects of their gossip. please pray that God will be victorious in all this, and that He will renew us and fill this church with joy and the desire to persevere in the face of trials. pray for me to be able to help in any way i can. your prayers are very important. please help!

thank you, thank you! i expect things will begin to change soon, because your prayers are powerful.

i hope to share some better news in my next post.