Thursday, 14 July 2011

My sweet Colombian family

 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

Quote of the week: "Often there is nothing as godly as inactivity on our part, or nothing as harmful as restless working, for God has promised to work His sovereign will.... Living a life of faith often requires us to leave things alone." 
--A. B. Simpson

This week, once again, has been very relaxed, with a few crazy moments here and there. This past week, I was blessed with the opportunity to volunteer in the church nursery.  Little children and babies are sooo sweet!! Haha, they are even cuter when they baby talk in spanish :) Love it!  One little boy, Sebastian (Love that name!) wouldnt share a toy with another little girl and spent about 3 minutes laying on the floor saying NO NO NO! because he didnt want to share.  Sign language with a 3 year old is a little bit more difficult, but somehow he eventually understood that I was asking him to share and eventually did. Oh, children!

Yesterday was my 21 birthday :) so the Roncancios planned a special day.  We left bright and early yesterday morning and ventured off to several little towns in Boyaca, Colombia (a different state), about 3 hours away.  They are sooo sweet! 

We stopped for breakfast at a little Arepa restaurant.  Talk about delicious!!!

My sweet and precious family!

The beautiful countryside of Colombia!


The first little town we visited in Boyoca, Colombia.  For the first time in weeks, I saw some Americans! 
Random funny story: About a week ago, I went with Lina and Santi to a movie with some friends.  There was an unusually long wait to get into the movie we wanted, so seeing as we had some time to kill, Santi and I ventured off to the only Taco Bell in all of Bogota (and Colombia).  I'm a little embarrassed when I think about how excited I got when we walked into Taco Bell... I guess it just reminds me of home :) Anyways, after ordering, Santi grabbed a seat and I filled our sodas.  While filling mine, it overflowed with fizz and began to spill over.  A woman with light brown hair and clear brown eyes said, "Oh no!!"  Seeing that I was at Taco Bell (a completely American restaurant) and the little she said sounded like she didnt have an accent, I quickly (and with a little too much enthuasim/excitement) said, "ARE YOU AMERICAN????"  She quickly responded, with a thick Colombian accent, "No, why? Do I look American??"  I will admit, that was kind of embarrassing :-/  Bright red, I returned to my seat and am still laughing about it even though it happened over a week ago :)  

My beautiful little sister!

Adriana, my mom here, asked me to sit by this huge church door and look like a lost "gringa." Haha, this is how it turned out!

I have the cutest and sweetest little brother in the whole world! 

The first town we visited was setting up a special carvnival (I'm not really sure what for) and they had a mechanical bull.  Santiago and Adriana both said, "Lindsey, it's your birthday, you should ride it!" Hesitantly, I told them yes... but only if Santiago rode it first.  He did :)  I think I fell off after about 1 minute or so.  It was so much fun! 

This is a little town we visited last before our long journey back to Bogota.  It's famous for its clay pottery and crafts.  

When we got home, Dago, a Colombian pastor staying with the Roncancios this week from Tennessee, went out and got me a birthday cake! That was so sweet of him! Even though it was late, we enjoyed rum cake.  It was delicious!!

I am so thankful for my wonderful family here! I cant believe my time here is over half way over! Since yesterday was my birthday, I spent some time thinking about what I'm thankful for.  I feel so blessed to have wonderful friends, a supporting family, and a beautiful Savior.  I'm so undeserving of his grace and his unfailing love towards me, but He is faithful to me no matter what.  I'm reminded of one of my favorite verses, 2 Corinthians 5:21, which says, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." What an amazing adventure it is to be found in the arms of Christ! 

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Resting in His Promises

Psalm 103:1-5
Bless the Lord, O my soul, 
and all that is within me, 
bless his holy name! 
Bless the Lord, O my soul, 
and forget not all his benefits, 
who forgives all your iniquity, 
who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit, 
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 
who satisfies you with good 
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
Matthew 11:29

It's been a LONG time since I last posted so here is an update on what's been happening in Bogota:

Since my Papaw and the two ladies he came with left, there has been a lot of down time.  It has been wonderful that I've been able to take some time and rest... which is something I'm usually really bad at.  The past couple weeks, I've been able to spend tons of time with my little brother and sister, Lina and Santiago.  Like any little sibling, they totally drive me crazy sometimes (Santiago!!), but I dont know what I'd do without them.  They bring me so much joy and I'm so glad that God placed us in each others lives!  

Adrianna, my host mom, is absolutely amazing! Day by day, I'm learning more and more spanish, and lately (although with the help of a translating website) I've been able to have several long conversations with her.  She cracks me up! I think we spend almost, if not all of our conversations, laughing because we enjoy talking (totally in Spanglish!) with each other.  She's serious about Jesus, and although there is still a HUGE language barrier, I'm still learning crazy amounts from her.  It amazes me how much we can learn if we just be still and listen or observe. 

This past week was the first time I was able to go to youth group at Grace Missionary Bible Church.  I thought my youth group back home had crazy games... boy was I wrong!!! Youth group is every Saturday from 2:30-5pm.  One of the elders usually teaches for about 45 minutes, solidly getting into the Word, and the rest of the time is spent playing all sorts of crazy games (somehow most of the games involve soapy water... I'm not sure how, but I have a tendency to catch water balloons more in my lap than I do in my hands!).  

On a different note, about one week ago, I went running with a friend who I knew from Wheaton.  On Sundays and on holidays the main city streets are closed to vehicles and are open only to runners, bikers, and walkers.  Speratically throughout the city, there are aerobics classes offered (in the middle of the street!), and they are very similar to our American Zumba classes.  Anyways, my friend and I decided to run to an aerobics class. When we got there, there were about 300 people dancing in the middle of the street (salsa, merengue, reggaeton).  I loved it! No one was dancing with a partner, and so everyone was clumped together facing the instructor.  Let's just say that I'm not the shortest person you will ever meet, and I'm typically a foot to about a 1.5 feet taller than most of the women here.  If that doesn't make me stand out enough, I have blonde hair and blue eyes, which is not what a typical Colombian looks like.  All that to say that I stuck out like a sore thumb while dancing.  In my attempt to blend in, I put on a sweater with a hood, and immediately put in over my head.  Almost instantly, all the awkward stares of others around me pretty much stopped.  Basically the moral of this story is: Hoodies = my best friend :)

The past couple times at english school, I've been with the 6-8 year olds. In our last class we learned about the seasons, and practiced for a spelling bee that they had later in the afternoon.  I was so proud of my kids! As they were spelling words in english, I thought to myself, "I'm not sure if I could spell this word, and I speak english!" Haha, well they did well.  

So, what I've been learning:
Recently, I read an excerpt from a daily devotional called "Streams in the Desert" by L.B. Cowman which said: 
"God has nothing worth having that is easily gained, for there are no cheap goods on the heavenly market.  The cost of our redemption was everything God had to give, and anything worth having is expensive.  Difficult times and places are our schools of faith and character." Often, we as believers, look at challenges or periods of waiting as bad, but in reality these times are our "schools" of character.  The times of challenge are the times that mold and form us into more of who God desires we should be.  I love what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10:

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 
 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, 
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies." 

No matter where we are, or what may be happening, I am so encouraged knowing that, as one commentator said, "We are crowded from all sides, but not defeated," or we may "be overthrown, but not overcome."  How great is it that Jesus is with us through the whole process?? Isaiah 41:10 says: 
"fear not, for I am with you; 
be not dismayed, for I am your God; 
I will strengthen you, I will help you, 
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

God not only cares for each and every part of our lives, he desires to walk with us through the whole process! What an amazing God we serve!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Listening to His Heartbeat

Psalm 119: 9-16
How can a young (woman) keep (her) way pure? 
By guarding it according to your word. 
10 With my whole heart I seek you; 
let me not wander from your commandments! 
11 I have stored up your word in my heart, 
that I might not sin against you. 
12 Blessed are you, O Lord; 
teach me your statutes! 
13 With my lips I declare 
all the rules of your mouth. 
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight 
as much as in all riches. 
15 I will meditate on your precepts 
and fix my eyes on your ways. 
16 I will delight in your statutes; 
I will not forget your word. 

Hello again! 
Today is my 13th day in Bogota.  Where has the time gone? I feel like I just got here yesterday.  Last Friday, June 10th, my Papaw (Leroy Peters), and two lovely ladies from the States came down to visit the church here for 10 days.  They will leave late Sunday night; I will be so sad to say goodbye, especially since they have been such a great encouragement to me and the women here in the church.  Lisa and Kerri both serve at a women's ministry in Columbus, Ohio.  This past week has been crazy packed with Women's Bible studies, kids programs, and just having fun being with each other.  How often do you get to hang out 24/7 with two solid women of God??  In the photo, Lisa is on the far left and Kerri is right in the middle.  

Last week, was the first time I got teach english in Chia, a little town just outside of Bogota.  Thankfully, Santiago was paired with me so that I would have a translator.  I'm so thankful for my little brother! 

The kids are so sweet and are so willing to learn english.  The day starts off by everyone gathering for a time of devotion.  Although a lot of the day is spent learning english, I love that we intentionally gather to be reminded what all this is about... Jesus.  The program is all about Him.  What a great reminder! 

Throughout the day, we take breaks for craft time, games, and lunch.  I love sitting and talking with the parents and kids.... Basically all of our conversations are in Spanglish.  Somehow we understand each other :) 
Memory time: So, I've never taught children before (besides being a camp counselor), so my first day of teaching was a little hectic.  We meet for two class sessions of 45 minutes each, and about half way through the second class, Santi and I ran out of things to do.  I think the kids noticed, and they immediately  gathered around me and started me all sorts of questions, like, "where are you from, what are you studying, what's your favorite food, do you like sports?"  I'm so glad we ran out of stuff to do, because it allowed for some time to really talk with the kids! Two little girls, for the rest of the day, were either hugging me and sitting on my lap.  We were inseparable! Yesterday, Santiago and I taught 6-8 year olds about animals and colors.  Who knew that "I Spy" and "Simon Says" could be so useful??

Last Sunday was my first Sunday here in Bogota, and I was so blessed to hear my Papaw speak and teach! After church, once a month, the church in West Bogota, gathers for a HUGE potluck.  I cant wait for the next one! I met several girls my age that were able to speak some english, and I was able to hear little bits and pieces of their stories.  I'm learning a little more spanish every day, so I cant wait to see what conversations I'll be having in a couple of weeks.  The girls here are so open to talk and are excited to practice their english.  The girl on the far right, Danielle, asked Lina and I if we would like to go paint-balling with her.  Part of me has always wanted to go, but I'm scared to death! Haha, I'm sure it will definitely be an experience worth remembering if we go! 

To be completely honest, although this week was amazing, it was also very challenging.  Being constantly surrounded by others who know almost no english is hard.  Communication is 20 times harder and requires constant hand motions to talk about almost anything.  Through this, I have been learning what it means to draw near to the Lord.  About the second or third day Kerry and Lisa were here, I sat in on a lesson that Kerry was teaching some children.  She talked about Psalm 91:4, which says, "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."  Just like a mother hen gathers her chicks under the safety of her wings, so God gather us under the shelter of his wings.  I'm blown away knowing that God desires us and desires to know us intimately.  In a conversation I had earlier this week, I was reminded of this truth: When I was a child, one of my favorite things to do when I was tired was lay on my mothers chest.  Why? Because I could feel her heartbeat.  God desires that we are so close to him that we feel his very heartbeat, just like child does when laying on his or her mother's chest.  How precious He is to me!

Me and my precious Papaw! I'm so glad that I've been able to spend quality time with him this past week.  He has been such a great example to me, and has been such an encouragement to me in my walk with the Lord.  Love you Papaw!

My Family!!

Downtown Bogota!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Better late than never :)

So, today is my fourth day in Bogota, Colombia and I'm loving it! For the next 11 weeks I'm living with my second family, the Roncancio's.  Israel Roncancio pastors Grace Missionary Bible Church in West Bogota, and he and his wife Adrianna graciously opened his home to me as I, with several others from the church, will be teaching english to children every Friday.  We are teaching english and using this opportunity to also teach them about the Bible.  I don't have a crazy amount of experience with teaching, but I will be surrounded with a solid team of believers that will encourage me through the whole process.  Isn't that great?!?!  
The Roncancio's have two children, Lina Maria and Santiago, whom I love dearly! Lina and Santi lived with my family for a year while attending school in the States about two years ago.  Lina just graduated from High School and Santiago is preparing to begin his sophomore year of high school.  The Roncancios live in a home directly attached to the church in West Bogota.

The houses here are so different from the states.  Every house has a huge gate in front and when you enter through the front door, you immediately step into a courtyard.  Because the weather is so nice all year round, most people like to leave windows and doors open to get fresh air.  I love it! 

On Monday, the Roncancio's took me to their church's sister church in Tunal, Bogota, for a Bible conference.  Pastor Roncancio taught out of Genesis chapter 3.  I don't know much spanish, so Lina and Santi took turns translating for me.  I met a couple girls my age that spoke a little english and were interested in meeting up with me so we could practice both english and spanish together :P  I would love that! 

Culturally, it is normal for people to kiss each other on the cheek and hug, so I think I was hugged and kissed by every person that was there that day (about 200!).  
After the conference, we were then invited over to a family's house for an amazing meal :) Once again, no one could speak english, so we just laughed and tried to communicate through sign language as much as we 
could.  The people at the church are so friendly and generous; I can already tell that I'm going to love getting to know the women here! I can definitely tell that God is and has been at work here in Bogota! 
Pastor Roncancio gave me a workbook to work through that will help me learn spanish faster.  I'm sure my spanish gets better each day, but I'm trying not to get discouraged by how little I know.  Monday, when I was a church, I meant to say that I was embarrassed, but I loudly said, "Estoy embarassada," which means, "I'm pregnant."  That was one awkward moment! Haha, all those around me knew what I meant to say, and we laughed as I pieced together what I meant to say.  I'm sure there will be many more awkward moments as I feel my way into a speaking a new language.  

So, some cultural differences that I have noticed so far are: Colombians prefer to buy their milk in bags and not in jugs.  We went to the grocery store the other day and I was amazed to see a isle completely stacked with bags of milk! 
Also, fruit is huge part of daily life.  I don't think I've ever eaten so much fruit ever!! Yesterday, the Roncancios had me try 7 different types of fruit.  When thinking about yesterday, I can only think of two words, "Estoy llena" (I'm full!).  
Today, the whole family got up bright and early and went for a run at a nearby park.  It's so refreshing to get out and run.  I got to spend a little time talking with Adriana, Mrs. Roncancio, and loved every second of it!  She is such a solid woman and is filled with God given wisdom... we just have to cross that language barrier :) Patience and persistence is key!
I am so glad that God has brought me here, and I'm excited to see what I'll learn as time goes by.  Although I've only been here a few days, I've been learning one thing in particular: patience.  Not being able to effectively communicate with many people can definitely be trying, but I know that God is with me through the whole process.  It amazes me to think that God knows my every thought and word and cares deeply about every part of our lives.  Even when I may feel lonely or isolated due to the language and cultural barriers, God is my ultimate comfort and friend.  Two verses in particular have been ministering to me in this area: Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you," and Isaiah 41:13, "For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” 
Although some days will be trying, I look forward to learning more of what it means to depend on God and look to Jesus in all circumstances (Hebrews 12:1-3).