This time of year is usually full of BUSYNESS, of buying last minute gifts , traveling, and a portion of stress. We are all in different places in our lives, speaking of both location, what we believe spiritually, whether or not we have good relationships with family and friends, etc. I cannot exclude myself from feeling any of the stress of the holidays, but I can say that I am very thankful that God has allowed me to be in this beautiful country during this time.
A few days ago, I woke up thinking of CHANGE. At home in the autumn months, I see changes in the colors of leaves and how the cold weather comes. Here I have been seeing other changes; one is the transition of my way of life; another is seeing God move in the lives and hearts of his people and the growth/progression of Institute Ninawachi , the mission, and all that happens in Huaticocha. CHANGES. There have been a lot in the past four (more really!) months. And here in Ecuador, especially in the jungle region, plans are something that often seem to change by the hour! But, in the change and in the storms, God is there; God is faithful. He goes before us, preparing us and the way (Deuteronomy 31:8), and He also hems us in and watches us from behind (Psalm 139:5). I am learning even more that it is better to move forward and embrace the change rather than stay the same and remain stagnant; the Lord desires to work out his will for our lives, as we sacrifice ours for his name´s sake (Romans 12:1-2).
About a month ago, I visited a church in Tena, Ecuador, and was convicted by the pastor´s message. He spoke about the anointing of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the “uncion;” that we are nothing without Him; that we are chosen (escogidos); we are vessels through which He can pour out his love, grace, and justice on our broken world. As Christ´s followers, we are called to share the truth with others, the Gospel, but we have to make sure we are filled with his Spirit; in this way, we are COMPELLED.
2 Corinthians 4:4-7 says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ´Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
2 Corinthians 3:5-6 says, “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
More than ever, I need his Spirit to fill me and to overflow, that I may be able to share my life and the Gospel with the spiritual and physically needy!
In more ways than one, God has been moving, transforming, providing, CHANGING hearts, and opening doors for HIS story and love to be shared here in the community of Huaticocha, surrounding towns, and in the indigenous communities further in from the roads. The construction of the institute itself is much nearer completion! We now have the kitchen inside of the building, with running water there and in the bathrooms; the tile is completed downstairs in the dining hall; the platform is completed upstairs! On Saturday night (the 21st) we had a Christmas program and nearly 200 people from the community came! It was such a blessing to see faces there that don’t normally come, and to be able to feed so many! Jim shared a great message about why we celebrate Christmas and Easter, and about how we can know the Lord personally.
In the past few months, I have been able to build more relationships with children and people in the community of Huaticocha. Also, I went with Ulises (a missionary on our team) to the towns/communities of Lago Agrio, Kilometer 17, and Awkayaku over a month ago and was able to reconnect and share with people I met in 2010. Many people here in Ecuador were praying for me the past three years as I prepared to return and serve long term, so it is now evident that God has been preparing his way for many of us! Some of us on our team have been out of the country visiting their families and friends, but we have been continuing to visit churches, promoting the institute, and praying God will bring us the students who will study in January! As of right now we have 14 students, but have room for 10 more! We will be started classes three weeks from today, on January 13! Please pray for all of the preparations.
*some of you may remember pictures of this little girl, Yasu, from 3 years ago! Look at her now with her little sister that didn’t even exist 3 years ago! Ha
*Some of my ‘family’ in Kilometer 17 with Ulises (celebrating his birthday!)
*with some kids in the Kichwa community of Awkayaku
*Awkayaku. Gotta love them(:
*With Brandon (the great intern who served with us for 4 months), Jim and the kids during a Wednesday program in La Floresta (:
I want to thank each of you for your support! It is such an honor to serve the Lord here in this place, and I wouldn´t be here without the provision of God and his people. I hope that each of you have a Merry Christmas with your family and friends, in whatever part of the world you find yourselves in! And may new things come in the year 2014! As we remember the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, may we also be encouraged to share with others this gift and relationship we have with Him!
*a recent picture of the Institute from the front!