The Navy + La Libertad = Awesomeness

I seriously cannot speak highly enough, of our United States Navy. I get so tired of seeing news stories that portray one man in a bad light. So what I have for you is a news story celebrating them!

What I want you see is men, who serve our country, who risk their lives, sacrifice time with their families, who serve. And then on their day off, serve some more. Are you kidding me?  People, thank a soldier/marine/sailor today. Pray for a soldier/marine/sailor today. DO something for a soldier/marine/sailor today. Go to an airport and welcome them home with banners, applause and cake. Lots of cake and balloons. Always balloons.
We were honored to have 5 amazing men from the Navy come and give their day off to us. Their day off, they spent working for the people of La Libertad….. awe-someness. 
There was a dream to have a clothing bank.  There was an empty room. There was a TON of clothes from a clothing drive in Jacksonville, FL. 
But we needed a way to store and display it all. So they came and worked alongside men from our church, incidentally, on their day off too. It was as Alex described, about 5,380 degrees. I was reduced to a puddle of thankfulness {ie:sweat} as they helped build and mount shelves with men from our church, build hanging racks,  and sort 20 bags of clothing. 
I won’t tell you which one, but one of those dudes had to endure some jeering from the others for being assigned to help me with the sorting of the clothes, rather than swinging a hammer….. I feel he deserves a special medal. 
The goal? To not just give away clothing. That’s too easy. And it isn’t necessarily best practice. When one simply gives away all the time, a dependency is created and encouraged. This is not what we want. 
At Iglesia Gran Comision, we believe in empowering people.  We want to lift people up, encourage, provide opportunity to thrive, not just survive. So our clothing bank/flea market/resale shop will charge minimal prices. I’m talking 10 and 25 cents (There is a local thrift shop, but our demographic closer to  the church cannot afford the prices there).  What ever money is made will 100% go directly back into programs that feed, encourage, and lift people up. 
Thank you so much for all you do!!

When Introspection Isn’t Pretty

In case you thought I was over here being all holy and righteous….

One would think that living here among people who struggle to survive daily, would make it easier to let go of my United States-ian comforts.

I knew coming down here that I would have no idea where and what kind of house I would be living in. I thought I had come to grips with having cold and unreliable water before I got here, not being able to drive, etc., etc., etc. {yawn, blah blah blah, poor me}.
I thought I had it well under control, until the other night, anyway. When you become blatantly aware of your own princess-like demands out of life, its a bit hard to stomach. 
I went to go wash my hair and was putting off and dreading the moment of contact with the icy water. I’m not proud of it, but I had a long inner dialogue. It went something like this: 
*Alex is a big meanie for not buying and/or fashioning me some sort of hot water creating device
*thinking of paying a hotel to just let me have one hot shower
*lamenting the way I had forced Addison and Donovan into the cold shower minutes before. Not allowing for any tantrums or talking back, as they stepped their little bodies into the cascading ice.
Shame on me!! Midway through my mini- pity party, thankfully, I slapped my own self upside the head. Which is tricky. I spent a good 31 years in the land of entitlement and overflowing creature comforts. I should have known that it would take longer than a month to let go of the old self. I’m allowing myself only a smidgen of grace here, however.
Just last week I spent time making, delivering and sharing food with people who have NO running water, no showers. People who have dirt floors, and wash their hair in a bucket (when they have water and shampoo), and are thankful for their bucket, and their water. People who share a one room house and have no beds, no fans and no air conditioning. And are thankful for their house. I was also at an orphanage, where there aren’t Daddies and Mommies, to make sure the sweet children are showering, checking them for lice and then lovingly there, to brush and braid after.
I have water everyday. Thank you God for my water. 
I have a shower, and a tiled floor. Thank you God. 
I have money to buy enough shampoo AND conditioner for 4 girls’ heads of hair. Thank you God.
I have a bed to sleep on, that is bug free!  Praise you GOD!!
I temporarily forgot that I moved to the tropics yes, but not to be pampered at a resort. 
I temporarily forgot that I desperately want just Jesus. More Jesus.
I temporarily forgot that I want to be the kind of person who gives it ALL up for Him.
He said “take up your cross and follow me.” He did not say, “Pack your suitcase, we’ll stop along the way for a fancy meal and get you tucked in early at a 5 Star Hilton. Occasionally I will ask you to tell someone about me, but you can get back into the air conditioning quickly.”

(Edited)I am so ashamed that I even gave a moment of thought that I was in any way sacrificing. Sacrifice is giving up your very life, being tortured and killed for spreading the news of Jesus Christ.  Which is literally happening around the world. I am NOT sacrificing. I am comfortable beyond reason in my circumstances.

Graciously, He reminded me. Chasing a life of abundance and excess and watered down faith was so unfulfilling.  Faith just enough to get me to Heaven….. that was no life for me at all. 
Please remind me Lord that when you come for me, I want to have lived my life proclaiming your glory. I don’t want to pick and choose what I do and don’t like from the Bible. Its your word and its all truth. 
Faith that conforms to my way of life, is limited. Who would want a limited God?? I want YOU God.
Faith that is all about tolerance is not truth. 
Faith that takes the good, but ignores the justice, is half a faith. 
I want the God of the Bible. The one God. I want the God of Love. I want the God of Righteousness. I want the God of sacrifice. I want the God of Justice. Oh how I want and depend on the God of Forgiveness and Grace. I want the God who says the He LOVES and longs for every person on this blessed earth to receive Him as a father. Every person. Ev-uh-ree person.
I don’t want a God that would pick and choose by wealth, station, power, race, lifestyle. I want the God that says He wants everyone. But lets not forget that while he wants every person, he says every person is a sinner. Every one of us. Wants us. Forgives Us. But we ALL have crap that needs cleansing. All of us.
I want the God who will forgive me just as quickly as He will forgive every other person, for every single thing. He is a God who is intolerant of sin. But he is also a God who will lovingly wait and welcome every sinner into his arms. 
That’s the God I want. That’s a God I can easily give up hot water for, and anything else he asks of me. That’s a God who I would lay down my life for. The God who laid down his life for me. I am thankful for my water. And the God who created it.
I am here, out of the immeasurable, overflow of gratitude that I have. 

Ponderings From a Newbie Missionary

There are a vast array of things that we are learning and feeling.  Much of it is still scrambled in my brain and I’m waiting for it to smooth out like the surface of a beautiful lake with no wind.

But there are some very important things I want you to know. 
1. We, {our family} as I’ve mentioned before we do not deserve to be on anyone’s pedestal. We simply said yes. I do however want to put up on a pedestal the people who continually come around my little family to support us financially. We lept off a financial cliff when we decided to leave jobs and come here, trusting that God would catch us. And you my friends are the parachute that God provided.
This is seriously humbling. I tear up. Every. Single. Time. Every time that little email comes through that tells me someone gave. Someone gave up and sacrificed their hard earned money, so that my family can have a roof and food on our table. This is a huge impact on our lives and I want you to know that it is a huge part of being servants, like Christ. We are immeasurably thankful.  I want you to know how much your sacrifice means to us. I want you to really, really feel it, and believe it.  We can’t be here on our own without you. Every time I wrap my arms around a child, or hug a hurting elderly woman and pray with her, your arms are wrapped around her too.  That in the next few months when we welcome 25 more starving children into the nutrition program, our smiles and shouts of welcome are your’s too. God is using YOU every bit as much as He is using us.
2. The second thing I want you to know it that while the people we meet here are living in abject poverty, they are STRONG. They have dignity. May we never, ever, make anyone feel like we are poverty tourists. To be able to get up every day and fight for the survival of your family. To do what ever it takes, to ensure you have something to feed your child… that is strength. Day in and day out fighting for survival is something to be applauded, never pitied.
3. Thirdly, the people here who have been doing the work for years are my heroes. There is one woman in particular who has loved children who aren’t hers for years. She listens to their stories of abuse, fills their bellies with food and goes to their rescue when they are sick and cannot get to a doctor. She is a rock for them in their storms.  She does this every day because she knows The Rock. She is so filled with God’s love for her, that it spills out and over to children who are desperate for her, but more so, desperate for the God she tells them of.
4. Please believe me that God is real. Don’t take my word for it, but seek Him out, ask him to make himself visible to you. Because I can tell you that He keeps coming through for us again and again and again. We don’t deserve it, but He is waiting and waiting for us to choose him. To run through that open door into His arms. This kind of love is something you want!  Peace, that he will provide. Comfort for the hard days. Love for the painful days. Romans 3:21-24, Romans 5:1-11, Romans 6:18