Thursday, March 18, 2010

A non-update

Greetings everyone,

My life continues to be very busy. This week seems to be birthday week. My brother Justo has his birthday today. Claudia, he secretary of the Bilingue school (and one of the more active families in the church), had a birthday on Monday, and Pedro Domingues, an English teacher at the Bilingue School who I have gotten to know, also has a birthday tomorrow. 

Besides birthday parties, a trip to the mall with and English class from the Bilingue, and sending off the Elizabeth and Rebecca Lackey, this has been a pretty normal week. I continue to see the Lord's work here in Ecuador, and of course there are still the areas that are lacking, but I'm not here to talk about my life this email, I am asking you: What has the Lord been teaching you in your life? What has been going on in your life? What was your most memorable even in the last 2 days, week, or month?

God's Blessings from Ecuador, and I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you! 

Phil. 3:13-15

PS Don't feel like you have to compete with my updates. One or two paragraphs is fine!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Long overdue update!

Greetings to each and every one of you!

I wish that time permitted me to compose a personal note to every single one of you, but alas, I have been blessed with many different responsibilities and activities which pretty well fill up my weeks. I hope you will permit this hastily "penned" note to fulfill your curiosities, and provide you with some insight to the many marvelous things I have had opportunity to experience.  

The two (plus) weeks that have passed since I last filled you in on my life have been filled to the full with many exciting activities, as well as my regular schedule of teaching. I know many of you follow my brother Justo's blog. To those of you who don't, I would recommend that you drop in to get a pictorial account of my recent activities. If a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, then he has hundreds of thousands of word waiting for you to view. Besides, pictures can explain my recent activities far better than my faltering pen, or rather fingers, ever could. 

First off, what does the weekly "grind," as many call it, consist of for me.Well, first off, "grind" is about as far from the truth as it gets. Rather each and every moment is another opportunity to see the hand of God working in the lives of myself and others. Quibbles aside, my weekly schedule goes something like this: 

Monday-Friday: 11-1 WWII history Classes in the homes of each of the different home-school families. (with lunch afterwards with the family, normally not leaving until about 2:00)
Monday 2:30-4 Teaching Piano
Monday 4:30-6:00 Youth Cell Group
Tuesday 8-11 assisting with English Classes in the Bilingue school. 
Tuesday 2:30-5 Biblical History class with all of the home-schoolers together in the Paz de Dios Church. 
Tuesday 7-9 Men's Cell Group
Wed. 8:30-10 WWII History classes with another of the home-school kids.
Wed. 3-3:45 Teaching Piano
Thursday 8:15-10:45 Classes with the McKweeny family (a missionary family living here in Cuenca)
Thursdays and Fridays 2-4 Spanish Classes with Mateo, the 18-year-old son of the family I am staying with.  
Friday 7:30-9:30 Basket Ball with the youth from in the church. 
Saturday 3-5 (every other week) Youth Group Activity
Saturday 5-6:30 College Cell Group. 

Considering transportation also consumes a good bit of my time each day, I generally am not bored. Most people use the bus system, which is quite inexpensive, but takes time. Generally you have to count on 30 minutes to travel any distance on the bus, counting waiting for the bus at the bus stop, and walking to your final destination. Thankfully, every morning I am able to catch a ride with Pablo (another son of the family I'm staying with) to the area of the Bilingue School (where most of my activity centers around) each morning. 

Ok, life actually hasn't been focused on this schedule to much in the past two weeks. In fact, this week is the first week that I have actually strictly followed this schedule. Last week was spiritual emphasis week in the Bilingue School. Justo and I were asked to help out with the activities for the week. Each morning we had 4-5 classes with the kids, where we sang some choruses, and Justo, or Giovani (the Chaplain of the Bilingue School) taught the "Pot Story."  I assisted leading the kids in the songs, taking pictures, and acting in the "Pot Story." 

On Friday, after our last class with the Bilingue, Justo, German, and I went with another family to the Jungle. We went on a three hour hike in the Jungle on Saturday, spending a good portion of time swimming in the river, playing in some waterfalls. In the afternoon we went to small zoo with a nice selection of native birds and mammals. Sunday morning we had a church service with the Shuar Indian kids that live in the camp we stayed at. After which we went to a nearby river to swim and eat lunch by the river.

The river was amazing. The water was crystalline clear and very deep. We could dive off the rocks, and never touched bottom. However, this was only the beginning of the adventure. We left the Jungle about 1:00 hoping to get home around 8:00 in the evening, but that was not to be. Only about 1.5 hours into the trip, one of the cars broke down. We tried a few things to fix it, but ended up having to leave it at a person's house along the road. The other family took a bus to get home, and German, Justo, and I continued home in German's car. 

By this time it was dark, and the road we were driving is nothing like roads in the states. 3 places the road goes right through a river, (yup, no bridge) and for most of the way, you are dodging potholes and large rocks in the road.  We didn't end up arriving back at German's house until midnight. That made for a bit of a tiring Monday, but it was all worth it. See God's amazing creativity in Creation, the vast variety of different plants and geological formations was truly awe-inspiring. 

This week has been pretty normal, but this weekend, I plan on going on a hike in the mountains (In Cajas national park) with some of the youth from the church. That should be fun. 

So what has the Lord been teaching me in these past weeks? Last week, I read 2 Cor. 12 in my devotions. Verses 7-10 really stuck out to me. Sometimes I feel like my language impediment  in the Spanish is such a hindrance in my work. I sometimes feel like language is my "thorn in the flesh." Just the day before I came across this verse, I had a really tough day communicating what I wanted to teach in my classes. However, the Lord really spoke to me with these verses. "...And He [the Lord] said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will most gladly boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me... For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2Cor. 12:9, 10) We do not know what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was, but almost certainly it was much more difficult than my current lack of Spanish. If Paul, with his "infirmity" could trust fully in the Lord, so how much more with my little impediment, can I put my trust in the Lord. He can give me the words He wishes for me to speak, when He wishes for me to speak them. 

What was really special for me, however, was the confirmation the Lord gave on this past Tuesday. In the Tuesday night cell group which Justo leads, we studied Mark 8:5, and the concept: what can I give to Jesus? Not only can we give Jesus our time, our talents, our strengths, but He also yearns for our burdens, our struggles, our cares. He yearns for us to "cast all our cares upon Him." He pleads with us to repent and give Him our deepest "secrets." God's Word promises in I Jn. 1:9  that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!" 

What do you have to give to Jesus?

Once again, I would like to thank each and every one of you for the prayer support you have been giving. You have no clue how much impact your prayers have been having. Teaching, in general, has been going quite well, better than I expected with my limited Spanish, and the kids have in general been pretty good. However, I still need your prayers:

Safety: Yes crime is present. Just this past week someone in the church was the victim of some petty theft. 

Language: I have really felt the Lord's help in language, but I continue to struggle. I am now having Spanish classes with Mateo twice a week, so that is very positive, and a great help.

Marriages: There are a few broken families in the church right now, pray for the F. family and P. family specifically, and a continued strengthening of the marriages. Satan loves to destroy the family!

My Testimony: That I can be a good testimony in action where I fail in word. That I can not hamper my testimony with social faux pas. 

"Many, O Lord my god, are Your wonderful works which you have done; and your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Ps. 40:8

Relying on Christ's Strength

PS  A big Thank You to each and every one of you who replied to my last update. Even the quick notes are very encouraging! I love to receive emails. If you have the time, I'd love to hear what has been going on in your life! I will try to respond as I have time. 

Once again if you know of anyone else who would like to be added to my email update list, feel free to put them in contact with me! Also, if you wish to be taken off my update list, let me know, and I will gladly take you off my list. If you are recently added and would like to receive my previous updates, let me know and I can forward them onto you as well.