Saturday, June 29, 2013

Last Week Of June

Hello, Hello!
This past week in Oaxaca was pretty interesting! We didn't have as much village time as usual because my partner got sick one day. She was better the next day so thank God for that! It is rainy season in Oaxaca, so i've been caught in the pouring rain twice already, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing! It has been a pretty great adventure exploring more of the downtown area where we live. The culture out here is really "rico". I've seen some really cool parade type celebrations called a "calenda". It involves people playing music, dancing girls with long skirts and baskets on their heads full of flowers, and giant dancing paper dolls. They usually go on at night, and there's fireworks too! I really love it out here, and can't wait to upload pictures as soon as I can! 
Also, this week I had the chance to check out some really awesome markets including a black pottery market in one of the villages! 

Village update: So on Monday we went out to the village and we set off to look for the 17 year old girl that is from California, but is living with her grandma for the summer in our village. After going to a few wrong homes, we finally found our friend. Let's call her L.A. So when we to to L.A'S house, she invited us in. We had a good time getting to know her and also getting to know her grandma and cousin's that also live there. Her grandma was nice enough to feed us some delicious chile rellenos, and ague the tunas. We are really glad to have met L.A because otherwise, we wouldn't have been so welcomed into a house in the village. The next day, my partner was sick, but I still had the chance to go to the children's home! That was a lot of fun, and I even had a really awesome conversation with a little 9 year old boy about the gospel. He told me that his dad was shot and killed last year. I was able to tell him about my dad who also passed  away when I was 9. This opened the door to me being able to tell him about my heavenly Father who is all powerful and will never leave me. He is a really sweet boy, so please pray for him as well! 

The next few days in the village, we were able to hang out with L.A. again. We were sitting around talking one day when she told us she had an appointment that night with a lady that was going to come over. I asked her what the lady was coming for and she told us that the lady was a "curandero". This is basically a healer type of witch doctor. She told us that her grandma's friend is the healer, and a few days before she had read her palm and told her that her spirit was absent from her body and still in California. The girl explained to us that she would come over and mix holy water with basil leaves for the process. When she told me this, my heart sunk, and I just wanted to tell her "NOOOO DON'T DO IT!" So, instead, I just asked her some more questions about it, and I was able to share with her the story about the demon possessed man that Jesus drove the demons out of, and into a heard of pigs. We shared with her that God has power and authority over all evil spirits, and we were also able to share Ephesians 6 with her about the Armor of God. She quickly reminded us that she was Catholic, but we assured her that everything we told her she can read in her catholic bible as well. Our conversation ended when her grandma got home and offered to help us roast our cacao beans that we had bough. So, we had a good time roasting the beans, and pealing the skin off of each bean so that they can be ready for the grinder! That night, we were able to attend a small christian church in the village that had about 20 people in it. We felt so welcomed in such a way that we had never experienced in our village before. It was exactly what we needed after a spiritually exhausting week. We went up front and explained the translation project with the church, and we were even able to play some bible stories in the indigenous language of the village to the church. This is something they had never heard before, so it was really awesome being apart of that experience for them!

On Friday night, we had a small party at the guy's apartment, and we were able to invite a friend of ours that is about our age that we met in the Zocolo the week before. We introduced our friend to the guys on team since this guy plays soccer, and so does our new friend. Let's call him… John. So at the end of the night a few of us were talking to "John" and the topic of God came up. It was really cool hearing what he believes, and the questions about God that he has. We were able to share with him what we believe, and he though it was really cool that we spend time studying the bible. He seemed really open, and he even made plans to play soccer with the guys on our team on Sunday! Praise God for these new doors that are opening for us!

These weeks are just flying by! It's so awesome watching God's plan unfold before me, though! Here are some prayer requests from this week:
-Pray for the 17 year old in our village that is confused with religion and animism, and is also suffering from many personal, and health issues right now as a result of a pretty tough life. Also, pray for her grandma and family as well.
-pray for the children at the children's home, especially the little 9 year old boy I talked to on Tuesday.
-Pray for the small church in our village, that these few believers may be bold in sharing with their neighbors. 
-Pray for the guy, "John" that we met in our downtown area, that more spiritual conversations may come up!
-Pray that we will find more older people in our village that have a better understanding of the indigenous language that will be willing to help us with the translation project!
-Pray for our health, as my partner and I both got sick this past week

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Village Work and Sports Camp

Hey everyone,
This past week was pretty great!  I am just so amazed with all the awesome opportunities that God has been giving us. There have been so many open doors, it is so apparernt that God is working! This week, I spent my days working in our village and in the evening we had a church from North Carolina come down for the week. They put on a sports camp in the village for the local children as well as children from the surrounding villages. But, more about that later! 

First, let's go back to last Sunday! We went to a new church that is near the villages that my team is working in. It is a great church, and since it was Father's day, we had a special Father's day message. Speaking of Father's day, Happy Father's day and Happy Birthday to my older brother Scotty! If you're reading this, I tried calling you, but you didn't answer! :(

Now for the village. This past week we didn't spend as much time as we usually do in our village because we were helping out in the sports camp, but we still had some great stuff happen. We went back to visit our lady friend in the village. She welcomed us into her house and was ready to help us with the back-translation. This time she even had her bible ready! She has been a really great help! Please pray for for the opportunity for us to have a spiritual conversation with her so that we can share the gospel. We'll be visiting her again next week! While we were walking in the village, a local shop-keeper called us over and asked what we were doing, and where we were going. She invited us into her shop and we explained the project. She began to ask us questions about the bible. She has a lot of religious beliefs that are not biblical once so ever, so we tried our best to explain the gospel to her. She is an older woman and we plan on talking with her again soon. Please pray for her as well. 

Here's a a great story from the week! Bailey and I were exploring our village one day and for some reason we decided to hike up a mountain in the village. When we getting close to the top, a young couple stopped us and asked if we needed any help. We told them that we were looking for someone who speaks the native language, and we explained the project to them. They were very nice, and told us they would take us to their grandfather who has a very strong knowledge of the native tongue. But first, they needed to feed their goats. The next thing we knew, we were inside a stable playing with a bunch of baby goats! Then, they walked with us down the mountain to their grandfather's house! We sat down and had a conversation with the older man. It was very apparent that he is a very religious man. He was telling us about how he used to go to mass every Sunday, and how he doesn't drink anymore, and that he prays his rosary. He also told us about his saints that he worships. He is especially devout to one saint in particular, Peter. We went back to visit him the next day, and he was waiting for us for our next conversation. This time, we told him about a story from his personal bible that goes like this:

In Acts chapter 10 there was a man named Cornelius. He was a very religious, devout, God-fearing man. He gave generously to the needy and he prayed regulary. However, as religious as this man was, he did not know about Jesus. As "good" of a person that he was, he did not have salvation. So, God sent Peter to tell Cornelius about the good news of Jesus the Messiah. When Cornelius first met Peter, he fell down before him in reverence, but Peter told him, "Stand up, I am only a man myself."

Using this story that we read to him out of his very own bible, we were able to explain to him that being religious will not save you. We are all sinners no matter how good a person may be, we ALL fall short of the glory of God. But, that is why God sent Jesus to die and caused him to be raised from the dead so that we may be saved. We can have salvation through Jesus, and through Jesus alone. We also explained that Peter was just a man who followed Jesus. He is not a god himself, and should not be worshipped. Peter himself told Cornelius that he is merely a man. After sharing this with our friend, "Mr.G", he sort of just sat there thinking,. He told us that he had never heard anything like it before, and then made arrangements to talk to him again next week! Please pray for this man! Pray that he can look past anything he has ever heard from people or from churches, and that he may believe what the word of God says, and nothing else. God truly provided Bailey and I the perfect story for him, so please pray that God may continue to equip us with the right scripture to share with him. 

Okay, finally, time for the sports camp! So around 4:30 each week, we walked down to a large auditorium in our village for the sports camp that the North Carolina team was putting on. I was able to use my Spanish skills to help translate instructions to the kids. (it felt really good to be useful!) I also over-came my fear of public speaking when they asked me to welcome the kids to the camp using the microphone! (even though public speaking in front of kids is WAY less intimidating than adults haha) Next, we played soccer and basketball with the kids, and they also had the chance to do arts and crafts. I especially had fun teaching them "Futbol Americano". A lot of the kids found the American football to be funny looking, like a lime! The church that put on the camp told the children a different bible story each day, and it was obvious that the children loved it! This camp really opened a lot of doors for Bailey and I because we were able to meet a lot of parents from the village that we otherwise would not have ever seen. I even had the chance to sit with some moms/ grandmas from the village and I was able to share my testimony, and God's story with them. It turns out that these ladies are believers themselves, and have been for the past two years! How awesome is that?! I also met a 17 year old girl in our village who is visiting her grandmother from California. Bailey and I both got along with her very well, and we even made plans to hang out next week! Please pray for this new relationship as well!  I am extremely thankful for the new people that we were able to meet, and for the great time we were able to have with all the awesome kidos!

It was a long, hot. and exhausting week, but it was well worth it. I'm about 5 shades darker, so I'm really starting to blend in with my fellow Mexican friends! (; I can't believe that it is already June 21st. I feel like time is going by super fast, and there is still so much time needed to talk to all these people. At first 2 months seemed like a really long time, but now it's starting to feel like it isn't enough time. Fortunately, God has already appointed awesome missionary families that are living down here permanently to continue keeping up with all the great relationships that we are making this summer. I think that is all for this week, so stay tuned for the next blog post! Here are some more prayer requests:

- Please pray for all the new relationships that we have made
- Pray for Bailey and I that we may be ready to share the gospel in th most effective way that we can
- Pray that we will not speak our own words, but God's only.
- Pray for focus, focus, and more focus on Jesus, and NOTHING else. 

Thank you again for all the prayers. I am realizing that prayer is literally EVERYTHING! It is so important and I am praying that God may bless all of you who are fervently praying for God's Kingdom to come. 

Wherever I go, the king goes. Wherever the king goes, His kingdom comes. Wherever His kingdom comes, the powers to be must submit! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

First Week in the Villages

Hello everybody,
I know I just posted a blog post a few days ago, but we've already done so much since then! So a few days ago, we met a pastor and his wife who are both from an indigenous village. They are extremely sweet, and I am so glad to have met them. They took my whole team in and fed us some delicious home-made food with giant tortillas called "clayudas", and home-made agua de horchata. There was so much work involved in making that simple meal, I just couldn't believe it. So, please keep this Godly couple in your prayers. They are just awesome!

On Tuesday, we went to the children's home and let me tell you, it was amazing! These kids are so sweet. When we first got there, I sat on a picnic table carrying a children's bible story book. Out of no where, a ton of little children ran up to the picnic table and started climbing on top of it, (and me) to get to the book that I had in my hands.They really don't have many toys, so they were very excited to see what kinds of stuff we had for them to play with. After having fun with them for a while, I had the honor to read them the story of "Daniel y Los Leones" from the bible story book. The story was interactive, so they had a lot of fun with that. Afterwards we sang and danced and had a blast doing it! The kids were sad when it was time for us to leave, but they were really excited to be able to rip some pages out of the coloring books that we brought so they could color throughout the week. We should have a chance to go to the children's home at least once a week, so I'm really excited about that! Please pray for these kids, that they may keep these stories that we share with them in their hearts.

Now for the village, at last! Bailey (my partner for my assigned village) and me had our first official day in our village. While we are there, we are helping with a huge project that a missionary couple down here is working on. They are translating stories from the bible into the indigenous language of the village. The people in the village speak both their native language, and spanish. Most of the people can not read, so the missionary couple down here have been able to record many bible stories in this native language for them to listen to. But, the recorded stories that we have so far are only rough drafts, so that's where our job comes in. Bailey and I must go in to the village and ask the people if they would be so kind to help us with our project. They listen to a short story, and then they retell the story in Spanish. This helps us make sure that the story that they heard is accurate, and without error. The dialect of this language varies from village to village, which is why we need to make sure that our recorded stories are correct. Once all the recordings are fixed, we can distrubute them to the village. I'm really excited to have the opportunity to be apart of this amazing project. I know the end result will allow the people to hear to gospel in their heart language for the first time. Praise God for this life changing project that is in the works!

This past week, we were in our village for two days in a row. The first day, we met some local shop owners, and distrubuted flyers to the kids for an upcoming sports camp that will take place in their village next week. The kids are really eager and excited, and so am I! Day two, we had our ipod and speakers ready to start the backstory project. We were rejected by many people who were not interested in helping us, but God still opened some doors for us to share with a few people. One woman, invited us into her humble home and was enthusiastic to help us. She listened to the creation story, and re-told it to us in Spanish. It was a really great moment when she told us that that was the first time she had ever heard God's word in her native language. She told us that we are welcome to come back at any time. I know that God placed this woman in our path, so please pray for her and her three small children. Pray for our friendship, and pray that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we may share God's powerful good news with her the next time we see her. Pray that she may not reject the gospel, but that she will have a burning desire to know more. This woman has been heavy on hearts since then, so please pray for her.

More prayers:
-Please pray for this village that God may place the right people in our path that will be open and receptive to his word.
-Pray that Bailey and I may have favor, so that people will welcome us and not reject the good news we have for them, or the project we are working on.
-Pray for career missionaries that live out here with their families. I'm only here for two months, but they have been here for years.

That's it for now! I should have another update next Friday! Thank you everyone for your prayers, and for supporting me through this awesome time in my life! I read a quote this week from a deceased missionary and really liked it. "An entire lifetime is worth the salvation of one soul." That quote, and being out in the villages has made me realize that the harvest is indeed plentiful, and the workers are few. Please pray for clarity for me to know if God is calling me to career missions work.

I love you guys,

-Karen (:

To God be the Glory!

Monday, June 10, 2013

First Post From Oaxaca, Mexico

Hello everybody!!
I'm so glad that I finally found time to post! Right now, i'm at an internet cafe near my home that i'm staying in this summer. June 1st was the day I got on the plane to Alabama, where I had a 6 day orientation to prepare for the summer. It was a really great time to meet all my teamates, bond, and learn the ins and outs of what the mission field will be like. On June 6th, I finally landed in Oaxaca, Mexico! I'm staying in a house with 9 other girls near downtown Oaxaca, also known as the Zocolo. So far, we have been really blessed to have two career missionary couples that are training us for what we will be doing this summer.

God is just so awesome!! He already gave me a chance to share the gospel and my testimony with a random guy while walking through the Zocolo! The guy was really affected by the gospel message that I was able to explain to him. I know the Holy Spirit was doing all the talking, because the perfect bible verses were coming out in SPANISH that I didn't even memorize in Spanish. It was incredible! I learned that Holy Spirit WILL use me, and WILL give me the right words to say. I just need to be obedient, and He will speak through me. Please pray that this young man's heart will be receptive, and that he may want to know more. Also, please pray for more opportunities for me to share with boldness!

Lets se... what else....A few days ago, I met a local Oaxacan, and we really get along! She is around my age, and yesterday we were able to spend the afternoon together after church. She is such a sweet girl, and she  told me that she is Christian. Please pray that she may have the courage and strenth to live out her faith despite living in a society with a polluted gospel and pray for our friendship, that it may flourish- for his glory.

Now for the village!!!!!!!!!! Because we can speak Spanish, my friend Bailey and I were both assigned to a village where we will work with natives, and ask them to translate Bible stories from their indigenous language into Spanish. This task will open doors for us to share the Bible stories they are translating for us and then, we can ultimately share the gospel and our stories with them! Today Jeff, John and Jenny took us to the village that we will be working in, and showed us how to get there. On Wednesday, we will be going by ourselves! Please pray for the indigineous people in the villages. They have a very polluted knowledge of the gospel that is a mixture of catholisism, animism, and syncritism. Please pray for these people that God loves, that they may be open and friendly to the two of us going into their home and sharing the beautiful good news that they have never heard! Please pray against any boundaries that will keep their hearts from being responsive to God's message that will be delivered to them through us. 

Well, I thin that is about it! Today is only Day 4 of living in Oaxaca, but we have already done so much! Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. I'm learning how truly important and vital prayer is. Literally, every single day that I am here will be completely impossible if I do not rely on God. Here are some more prayer requests that I have not already mentioned:

- pray for unity of my team
- pray for health, as a lot of the girls have already gotten sick
- pray against any forces of ev evil that will try to stop our work
- pray for my focus on Christ and my tasks, as a lot of things are going on at home

That's all for now! A new update will be posted next week! (or as soon as I can)

I love you all, and miss you guys! 

To God be the Glory!!!!!
- Karen (: