So it’s my turn to write on the Colombia Grace Foundation blog! Having a deadline has certainly helped me take some time away from all the madness to sit down and truly reflect on all that has been going on. So as I have learned in Colombia that it only takes 1 rock to scare away 2 or 3 stray dogs, I am going to write this blog for the beloved readers of the Colombia Grace Foundation blog AND the 1 or 2 people who actually read my own blog Hands and Feet. (Love you Mom!).
I am a punk of kid who is loved by an amazing God. He planned for me to be born in a sketchy Colombian orphanage, but adopted as a baby by an awesome Christian family. I was taught to walk in His ways and revere Him. And even through my own personal rebellion, He captured me. Though I enjoyed a superficial walk of faith for many years, by His grace I am being refined. As He stripped more of me away, a call to missions was placed on my heart. He never let me forget my past and therefore a burden for orphans and the poor has come forth. I returned to this country as a teacher in a very needy village outside of Cartagena. Last year, at a random pastor conference in the city, God introduced me to 2 guys who possessed a passion and vision my heart burned for. I left this divine appointment knowing God was calling me to join this ministry.
Have you ever let guilt, shame, fear, or inadequacy suffocate something beautiful the Lord was trying to do in your life? I almost did. After I met Josh and Mike, I left that church beaming like a 13 year old who just found out that Sports Illustrated makes a swimsuit issue. I could not stop praising the Lord for such an answer to prayer. The exhausting 2 bus, canoe crossing, and motorcycle taxi ride back to my “pueblo” had never passed so quickly. Yet, just like the infamous disciple of Christ, I began to pay attention to outside things and began to freak out. However, God is sovereign and continued to use adversities of living third world style and my personal struggles to refine this wretched heart. This year I began working with the gang just every weekend and in these precious moments He nailed some pretty tough convictions on my heart. So I took a step of faith that was leaving my teaching job to truly commit to work for treasures that will not be destroyed. I have no intention to looking back. I am exactly where He wants me to be and just saying those words brings a tear to my eye. God is worth everything we can offer Him. The only shame I have now is that it’s taken me so long to truly understand that.
So what the heck is going on here lately and what am I doing?
For you people who are probably reading this on my blog, the orphanage is called El Nido de Gracia (Nest of Grace). The Lord brought 2 families all the way from somewhere “in the sticks” of Oregon to a small village outside of Cartagena, Colombia. These wannabe “rednecks” have amazing hearts and are truly known by God!
The property at El Nido is coming along! Supposedly a free bulldozer will be coming soon to help us prepare the plot of land that will be Mike and Stacy’s house. The wood has arrived so the testosterone is flowing. I am betting Josh will be growing out his beard soon in order to prepare for this new manly task and I have noticed that Mike has been wearing a lot of cut-offs lately. So I think I either need to start smoking or letting my Colombian mustache capability take flight. Having this house built will then open up 4-6 beds in the main house for orphans.
Stacy and I have been working to organize the “El Nido School.” Things have been improving each day but we have all been praying about help in the school. Our “Spanglish” skills can only take us so far when we are teaching Colombian children who can barely read themselves. However, the Lord is faithful by giving us grace in these moments and by also bringing us help! Please pray for 2 amazing woman who are and will be doing a tremendous work with these kids, their names are Luz Mercy and Darlys.
God is continuing to strengthen His church here in Turbana. Please join us in prayer as we ask the Lord to reveal a place within the pueblo that we could possibly have hold services. Seeing the van just broke down today (broken axel), I might be unable to pick up the regular 50+ people this Sunday. Having a place within town will be a tremendous blessing and so we have been asking the Lord to provide this. Also a cool story was that Luis Fernando was super sick last Sunday, but just like when Jordan had the flu in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Jazz, he came out and “lit it up.” The Lord is using this little guy in such a mighty way. Please remember Him as he continues to recover from this illness.
While there is a million cool but not important things to share like how the dogs we have enjoy eating our chickens, how I learned to ride a very stubborn donkey, Josh had to get a few stitches in his knee from a run-in with his machete and the assortment of things that bring color to this ministry, nothing is more worth writing about than the two brothers named Geiner and Carlos who just recently were brought to us and what the Lord is teaching us.
We have known about the possibility of them coming to live with us for a while. Without going into all the wretched things they have seen in their short 7 and 10 year lives, they have been abused in ways that make me want to scream. They bear physical scars to remind them that this world is cruel and evil. Yet, nothing compares to the hurt and distrust that lies within their heart. These children are broken.
On my blog I thrive to be transparent and honest. So even though I am giving an update for the Colombia Grace Foundation blog as well, I desire to continue in this manner. This ministry is incredibly hard! I wake up each day on my knees asking the Lord to show up. I have been given the task to have primarily responsibility over these fragile gifts and I am over my head each and every day. As we say here “if the Lord does not show up, we are done!” While this comment could go much deeper, I will just say that for the first time I understand what it means to “trust in the Lord with all your heart. And lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).” While I have gone through tough adversity and trials, I have never been in this situation. What I see has happened is that I have finally moved directly behind the Lord in this journey to be His hands and feet among the nations. And when you stand behind the Almighty, you can’t see what is in front of you. You simply have to follow him step for step and have faith in Who is leading you. Working here in Colombia is a blessing. I am humbled to have this calling. However, this is more than I can handle.
Geiner, Carlos, and all of us need Jesus. He is our only answer to everything we are experiencing. God is making it clear to us that the children we will most like be caring for are not the adorably thankful children seen in other ministries. These are shattered abused children that have already been selling drugs, been involved in prostitution, and have learned to trust no one. But even in that tough sentence, I smile, because I already have seen the Lord working in ways I can’t explain. May He receive all glory and honor as He fills their deep wounds and rebuilds there precious hearts. I promise to write more about “my boys.”
I can’t believe this is most as long as Josh’s last blog…! Please pray for me, Stacey, Mike, Josh, Julie, Fernando, Daiver, Erianis, Geiner, Carlos and the rest of the family and friends whom the Lord has brought to El Nido de Gracia.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:10
Thank you all for your support and prayers!