Returned

Many of you know that I started this blog when I was away for my semester in Peru, and even then I wasn’t the most frequent of bloggers but I have decided that I would like to continue this blog and share some thoughts with all of you.

Since being back I have been faced with challenges, changes, and constant activity; not all of which were bad. But most of all I have been again blown away by the goodness of God. For Lent I have decided to write down things I am thankful for at the end of each day. For the first day of lent I wrote down one thing, and that number increases with every day that Lent is. So for the 40 days, on that last day I will write down 40 things I am thankful for in that day. It has been a really good excursive. I have had my eyes opened to how God has answered my prayers even in the small things like more time to just be home in my room, the very next day my internship ended early giving me precisely that.

God is incredible! People can chock things up to chance, to luck, to fate, but I have a hard time believing that it is by luck that I am given exactly what I need, that I receive a call from a friend at exactly the moment I needed it most. I have a God that cares about me, that looks after me, and that is invested in my life. And so do you. You may not know him personally but he knows you and is waiting to welcome you in to his embrace and that is a wondrously hospitable God.

So I encourage you to keep your eyes up, don’t allow your eyes to become heavy with sadness or doubt but allow them to be light and lifted high in thankfulness and praise. Even on those days that seem to never end, I guarantee you that He is there all you have to do is seek… and you will find.

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Drawing to a close

I know I haven’t posted in a long time but I thought it prudent I blog one last time. It is my last full day in Arequipa, tomorrow we will all be boarding the planes and heading for Lima. I literally can not believe how fast the time has gone. When I look back at this experience I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this time and by the faithfulness of God.

I have had the opportunity to do a lot of really cool things this semester. I have learned spanish, I have gone to floating islands, I have seen ancient ruins, I have hiked canyons and volcanoes, I have learned salsa, I have swum in the ocean, I have tried new food, I have become a great negotiator, I have made new friendships and kept old ones, I have cried and I have laughed, I have been uncomfortable and also had abundant peace, and most of all I have grown. Through all of these amazing things, and through the times when things did not seem as amazing, God was there. God has shown me more this semester than ever, or perhaps simply my eyes were opened to it, but that he not only listens and answers prayer, but he truly does have plans to prosper and not to harm me.

There were times when I thought I might be in the wrong place, that I might be doing something wrong, I should do something different, that I was alone, but in every case God was there, he showed up and showed me that there is a purpose to everything: every event, every action and every interaction. I am able to leave this semester with the peace and knowledge that I had the experience God intended for me to have, and that is such a wonderful gift.

As this semester draws to a close I am left with such a mix of emotions. I could not be more excited to see my family and friends in the states; to share with them all I have learned and to hear and see what they have learned and how they have grown as well. But I am also left with sense of grief at leaving this place, the friends and my family here. This place that was once so strange has now been my home for months, these people my friends and family and who knows if we will ever see each other again. How do you say goodbye knowing that you probably will never see them again?

I guess I will see tomorrow. But one thing I know, this experience has forever impacted my life, and I will never forget the memories, sites, or people that shaped my past four months.

Thanks be to God

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New perspective

There has been a lot that has occurred in the last little bit: last excursion, sick, elections and the beginning of my last month here. It seems to crazy to think that this semester is almost done. There have been moments when it seems to have taken forever and then I look back and it also seems like only yesterday it was my birthday or that I couldn’t understand a thing about what was happening. But after 3 months of being here I am happy to say that not only my spanish level has grown but that also my spiritual and emotional side has grown as well.

These past couple weeks have been interesting and have tested me in a few different ways. Having our last excursion (except for Lima which I don’t consider an excursion) was a weird feeling. I knew that when I came back that would mean that the next thing that would be different would be me leaving and that suddenly shocked me in to realizing how much I have gown to not only love this place but the people here as well. It will be so sad to leave here and so I want to soak up every bit of it that I can, spend as much time with people as I possibly can because I know how fast this last month will go.

I was sick also which just made me so thankful for the times I can be home and rest but also for a father who is a doctor that even from miles away can help me find a cure. But when a girl in our group came down with appendicitis and had to have surgery I also realized how blessed I have been with my health and my families health. though I have been sick my fair share it has not stopped me from doing what I want and it hasn’t been super serious making me so thankful for health.

Lastly one thing I have realized from these elections and experiencing them in a different country is that when we pick a leader for our country we really are picking a world leader. The amount of interest and investment people here have in the out come was astonishing. It made me realize how fortunate I am to live where I do but also how incredibly difficult the job must be and how much grace we really do need to give our leaders. It is such a hard job, not only to have a country depending on you to lead them but also to have the rest of the world EXPECT you to take care of them and be involved in their affairs as well. So I just pray for our country and for unity, I pray that we may look beyond ourselves to the bigger picture so that we may not only better out own country but be able to fulfill the role expected of us all over the world.

 

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WWJD

Lately I have had some really good conversations with some of my friends here over some challenges that Christians face every day but seem to be exaggerated when faced with cultural differences. Things that may seem strange or inappropriate to us sometimes seem the cultural norm here. Then what is  your position to be? Are you to stand far away from this or try to learn and accept this? Do you say something or let it be?

As a woman who is always trying to follow Christ I realize that sometimes my actions will set me apart, they will bring attention, not only to myself but to the actions of others and this can come at a cost. I realize this and know that is what I signed up for when I chose Christ and his love, but being a follower of Christ is not always so black and white as we would like it. Things seem grey, especially across cultural lines. One area things seem grey is when to say something, when to step away completely or weather just being an observer is ok. These are so hard for us to know in today’s world, I wish it weren’t so but it is. I wish I could say easily this and that but I can’t. There are obvious commandments such as do not steal, lie, murder ect. There is also when Jesus talked about causing others to sin (Luke 17:1) but how are you supposed to know that? for example lust, yes you dress modestly but what is considered modest? So you don’t dance provocatively but what is considered provocative? Everyone has different definitions and standards on that so how is a Christian to navigate these waters? Especially when language is limited and cultural understanding is only just beneath the surface.

Another thing that we have talked is how to approach the poor. Here there are so many poor, beggars, and cripples that we pass everyday. Now we have been told not to give money to them, it could be dangerous, a lot of them are faking, they will spend it on drugs. But here is a question; who would really fake being so poor they would need to beg? So they are faking that they are crippled, are they faking the fact that they are starving? Am I really allowed to judge what they might spend the money on? Does that make a difference? What would Jesus do? He calls us to take care of the poor, the widowed and the orphans and demographics show that these are the people most often out on the street starving. How are we supposed to react? One time a friend and I were talking and decided that even if Jesus did give them money, he wouldn’t just give them a sole, he would give them everything he had in his pocket because he would know that he would be ok. Do we have that same confidence?

I know that often I do not have that confidence, the confidence to continue to give without making sure I still have enough to do what I WANT to do. But I can take heart, 2 Corinthians :5-10. And I pray that one day I will be able to hear my Lord say to me, well done good and faithful servant (Ephesians 1: 15-18).

sorry to those who thought this was really long, which it is, I just hoped it would reach someone with similar thoughts.

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What an adventure

This past week we had a week off from school and went to Colca Canyon. Colca is a beautiful place and is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. It was absolutely incredible to see the immensity of God in this one place. We were able to experience the canyon in a couple of different ways. We hiked it, doing a two day hike which took us down in to the canyon one night, we stayed at a place called the Oasis which was beautiful and perfect after a long day of hiking. And the next morning we hiked all the way back up. It was a feat but it really reminded me of how grateful I should be for the ability to do things like that, though strenuous and challenging in many ways I was so thankful for the opportunity and ability to do it. 

The next day we went horse back riding and were able to see even more parts of the Canyon and experience it in a new way. A way that involved laughter, relaxation and hurt butts. But it was wonderful. 

At night and during the day we hung around, literally in our hammocks, and talked, laughed and played lots of cards. It really is a blessing to have God provide the people he does in our life, we had such a good time and I was so thankful to have those six people with me that I did. 

The final way we experienced the canyon was in the hot springs in Chivay. After hiking and horseback riding it was really nice to give our bodies a break in some really amazing water. It was beautiful to be able to enjoy that while over looking the canyon. 

But we didn’t just experience the canyon’s natural beauty but its people as well. the man that ran our hotel was so kind and courteous. You could tell he was a hard worker and loved to serve those that stayed at his place. We also went to place to eat every night and had some amazing food and were able to talk to some of the people that worked there. We learned that there is a race every year that starts at the bottom of the canyon and goes to the top. The fastest runner did it in 22 min! What took me 2 hours takes someone else 22 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. We also met one of the runners and his son who was absolutely adorable. 

It was a wonderful week filled with everything one could ask for in a break. So blessed. Image

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Recap of my semester thus far

This gallery contains 18 photos.

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An assortment of things

It’s been a little while since my last post and as I recall my last one was not exactly one telling of success. However today is a different story.

This past weekend the whole Calvin group went to a city called Puno and then to Lake Titicaca to visit some of the islands there. It was amazing. Not only was it a time to bond as group over hours of travel but also to see and experience a completely different way of life. These people live as though many of the modern day amenities have never been invent, even in regards to wardrobe. It was so cool to be able to step in to a completely persevered way of life. And then to visit some history that though it may be persevered it still only is shadows of a once vibrant group of people.

Coming back and stepping back in to every day was interesting though not as tough as I expected. I started my ethnographic study at a place called Unamons, a school for special needs children. The first day I was privileged to work in the room with the smallest of the children. I was able to work with them through physical exercises and mobility exercises. I was able to see these children in a completely different and beautiful light and I felt completely blessed after leaving. The next day I worked there I went on a house visit with the social worker associated with the school. It was eye opening. Not only to the situations that many of these families live in but also to how incredibly blessed my life is every day. Hearing some of the stories of these children and seeing some of the conditions just affirmed the desire of my heart even more to be an advocate for those that have no voice or other option.

Not every moment is easy but every moment has something you can gleam from it. No experience is wasted with God and I am learning that more and more every day of being here.

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