Friday, June 8, 2012

Chile to Argentina Part I: The Lord always knows where we're going even if we don't

Our gorgeous 42 hour ferry ride 

Chile was full of amazing adventure and provision, we always had what we needed when it was time.  Almost as soon as we entered Chile I was sent ahead of the team to meet my good friend and new family member, Amanda, who was flying into Santiago.  David and I took a bus from Iquique to Santiago that took 36 hours and once we got there we didn’t know where we would stay that night.  But we followed through with the plan and picked Amanda up at the airport then waited to see what the Lord was going to do and where we were going to stay until the rest of our slow-moving caravan could catch up.  We called a friend of a friend but there was no answer, but we knew that the Lord would provide.  A few minutes later we called again and not only did they want us to stay with them but they came to pick us up at the airport.  It was a huge blessing, we were all sleep deprived from the various forms of travel and David and I had just ran out of money, spending the last of what we had getting a taxi to the airport.

Our days spent there were quiet and relaxing, in the afternoons and evenings we would sit and talk with Valeska, the lady of the house, for hours.  Valeska would be home most of the day by herself but she was so glad to have us there, as her husband and son were not believers and she was very lonely.  So each day we would encourage her and we prayed with her before we had to leave and each one of us was blessed to have the time that we did.  We came across many individuals and families that were more than willing to help us while we bless their country and spread news of how good the Lord is and we are so grateful for all those that blessed us.
One of many bus stations, our stuff and Zoey
            Once our team was all together again we began making preparations to head south, packing what we could in our backpacks leaving our vehicles behind to travel by bus and boat, as it would be more cost effective and faster to travel without them this time.  The goal was to reach Ushuaia, Argentina ministering to anyone and everyone along the way and relying on the Lord to show us how to do it. 

            After days of travel, while stopped at a random bus station in Argentina, we were forced with two choices.  We could spend the night in this town and bus directly to Ushuaia in the morning. Or, we could board another bus within the hour and take a less direct route to Ushuaia, stopping in the Chilean city of Punta Arenas along the way.

Team meeting in Punta Arenas

After praying we felt like we should take the route to Punta Arenas, not really knowing what the Lord had in mind.  Upon arrival to Punta Arenas, a few of my teammates went to find a hostel for our group, and we ended up across the street from a small church.  I hadn’t even noticed it when we arrived, but the following morning, worship music flooded the air.  Taylor noticed some familiar songs and was overcome with a desire to worship.  He walked over to the church, hoping to sneak in for a few moments, worship and then head back to the hostel.

            However, his plan to remain under the radar was quickly interrupted as he was approached by several people from the church who wanted to know more about him.  A teenager who spoke English asked Taylor some questions and relayed to the pastor that Taylor was a missionary passing through.  The church had a desire to send out missionaries and asked Taylor if they could pray for him, excited to be receiving a missionary in their church.  Taylor went up to the front to receive prayer; and afterwards, he spoke a few prophetic words over the church.  As he spoke, several people began to weep, amazed that this young guy from the states was speaking the very words on their hearts.  It was clear that the Lord was moving.

When the pastor found out there were twenty more of us across the street, he was very excited.  He invited us all to worship at the church later that evening.  We were greeted by several youths who warmly hugged and kissed us, as well as offered us warm drinks and sweet cakes.  I liked this place already.  As we spoke to the youth, we realized that we had the same heartbeat for ministry.  The parallels between our vision and theirs were so strong that I was overwhelmed by God’s divine hand in this connection.  Turns out, the church began to receive prophetic words in 2010 about lighting revival fire, starting at their church, and blazing throughout the rest of the continent.  Jesse and Tanya had birthed almost an identical vision in 2010 while living on the other side of the world in Mozambique, Africa.  As we compared timing and vision, we realized it was no accident we’d been re-routed to Punta Arenas.

Caitlin and our Chilean sisters
Though we´d planned to just pass through and quickly find a bus to Ushuaia, the church asked us to stay for a week, offering to host us in family homes.  We gladly accepted, and my friend Caitlin and I were put in a house with three little girls.  The girls were extremely excited to have two new roommates, playmates, entertainers, and live-in jungle gyms.

Throughout the week, we partnered in ministry with the church in various ways.  One afternoon, our team gathered with the youth to worship and pray together.  Afterwards, we broke up into small groups to minister in the streets, praying before and asking the Lord for direction.  When I prayed one of the pictures the Lord showed me was someone with a bruise on their face and someone else saw a red jacket. 

While praying for a woman who the Lord also pointed out, a man with a red jacket and a bruise on his face walked by with his family and entered the restaurant that we were standing in front of.  I looked at my group in shock and excitement, once we finished praying with the woman a few of us entered the restaurant and began to explain what we were doing and letting him know that the Lord had him on His mind.  He and his family were so blessed and each of them received Jesus and their countenance had changed.  Also, the youth that we were ministering with had never done anything like this and were timid at first when going up to people but by the end of the night all the youth were talking to people, encouraging and praying with them!  It was a great night and there were many other groups that also had amazing testimonies that came about by just asking the Lord.

The rest of our time with our families and the church was so encouraging and such a blessing to each of us.  And through this church we had a contact to a church and YWAM in Ushuaia which we met up with, the Lord always knows where we’re going even if we don’t. 

To Be Continued... 
Our team at the end of the world

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ecuador: Into The Jungle We Go

Taking off to Campo Ayui
As we entered Ecuador our excitement for jungle outreach was overwhelming.  We would spend a few days in rest and preparation before a week or longer of being in the jungle and not sure of what was going to happen.  We left on a Friday, split up into teams of 13 and 14, my team headed to the Puyo area and the other to Tena.  After riding on four buses we finally reached Puyo and right in time to find a cheap place to stay and a good meal.  After dinner we found out where area churches were and went to a service that night to see what connections we could make.  While there we expressed our heart for the jungle and by the next day we met with a pilot who agreed to take us wherever we wanted and suggested a small village called Campo Ayui.  By that night we found ourselves jumping onto the grass airstrip with no food and little water, ready for whatever the Lord was going to do.
Loading up the plane
The next day was Sunday and we were able to share at the church with those who showed up, normally it’s a packed house but the villagers were afraid of us.  They had never had white people stay overnight before in their village and were leery of visitors.  In church their faces were expressionless and they never looked at us in the eyes.  That day our group broke up into 3 smaller groups, one group went to a village said to be a 3 hour hike away, another would stay in Campo Ayui and my group would hike to a village 2 hours away.  After the long muddy hike, we arrived in the village San Francisco and met and ate with the chief and his family.  That night Roberta and I did the service with the kids and had a blast!  We taught them “duck-duck-goose”, sang songs that I learned in Africa and gave a short message and nearly all the kids accepted Jesus in their hearts.  It was such a special time, their faces would light up with excitement learning new games and about Jesus, their new friend.  Early the next morning Steven and I stayed to have another short meeting and I had to say goodbye to my new friends, watching them play their new favorite game “duck-duck-goose” as I left.   

Family in San Francisco

Once back to the main village we began planning for a leadership meeting that we were going to do for the leaders of that village and the surrounding villages.  We had 12 to 14 people come and it turned out great.  We talked about how to lead like Jesus and how to trust each other but what we didn’t know was that not all the villages got along.  But by the end one man got saved, the villages were praying together, hugging each other and recognizing that they need to unite as Shuar people.  It was amazing to see them accepting their new brother in Christ and repenting of past wrongs and hurts, truly beautiful!
The next day we woke up early for our going-away party with the village.  We played volleyball, soccer, and shot the blow guns until we heard the sound of the plane coming in.  Saying goodbye was hard and now the faces that were scared and blank in the days before were now saddened at our departure, eyes full with tears.  My time there was so special and in the future we hope that other Iris teams will be back to bless those villages and the ones we weren’t able to visit. 

Colombia: Cartegena to Cali

Greetings from Cali!  Here is just a highlight of what has been happening here in beautiful Colombia.
             After shipping our vehicles we flew to Cartegena, Colombia to await there arrival and meet up with our Colombian friends, who drove from Cali to meet us.  We spent Christmas in Cartegena, most of us skypeing and calling family from a nearby mall, followed by a somewhat traditional Christmas dinner.  Once we heard the vehicles had arrived I spent a good deal of my time with the other vehicle owners trying to get them from the port.  You might think that it’d be easier getting the vehicles back but it took just as much time as putting them on.  We walked back and forth to customs offices, inspection offices and the port trying to figure out what needed to be done in order to have our cars back and drive to Bogota.  It was all very confusing and took days to complete but we arrived with our vehicles late one night and left early the next day for Bogota. 
We were told the drive to Bogota may be dangerous because of recent flooding, but it was surprising pleasant and beautiful with little traffic.  It took 17 hours to get there which was split into two days.  We arrived on New Year’s eve and parked on some land right next to a restaurant on the outskirts of Bogota where we had an incredible view of the city.  We saw the fireworks over Bogota at midnight and had a great time together as a team.
One of the highlights of Bogota was going to the red light district to minister to the prostitutes and transvestites, showing them true love and not the physical.  We were able to bless many of the men and women working and passing by and when we began to pray for one of the ladies who was ministering with us she was healed of breast cancer.  She had a lump that she could feel and after we prayed the lump was gone!  We have been keeping in touch with her and after a doctor visit it was confirmed  that she is now cancer free!!! 
In Cali we had the pleasure of meeting up with fellow Iris Alumni and ministering  in churches, prisons, villages and in the red light district.  It was amazing to partner up the a local church, Rey De Reyes, and minister along-side, we were truly blessed by everyone we met and ministered with.  One of my favorite times ministering was in the largest prison in Colombia.  We weren’t even supposed to get in and minister because of time restrictions but we got in and had an amazing time with the women.  Several of us shared something that the Lord put on our hearts and we all prayed together and again for each individual women, we saw hope return to their eyes and all left with a smile and a hug.  We were sad to leave Colombia but so thankful for all that the Lord did.

Sorry this blog go up so late, thought I had already published it, whoops :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

From Panama to Colombia!

Happy New Year from Bogota, Colombia!

I hope that this update finds you well and that you’ve had an amazing holiday season!  I feel that this year will be the best yet and that a season of refreshment is on its way.

A hectic border crossing day into Panama
                While in Panama we teamed up with YWAM Panama City and a local church located in Gamboa, a small area outside of the city.  We were involved in all types of ministry opportunities including; village outreach, prison guard and police academy services, church services, inner city ministry and a radio talk show.  We also were attempting to get our vehicles on a boat to Cartegena, Colombia because the area between Panama and Colombia, known as the Darien Gap, is Guerilla territory and quite treacherous.

Our team leading worship at the Gamboa church
   One of our first days in Panama we went into the city, to one of the most dangerous parts where even the police are afraid to go.  We weren’t really sure what we were going to do when we got there but some awesome stuff happened.  I was standing in the back of the room and was led to pray for a young man.  As I began to pray I called a few guys from our team over to help.  The guys felt like they were supposed to roar like a lion into his chest, the young man said it was okay with a smirk on his face.  A few days later we were given an update on this young man and when we roared into his chest he had a vision of what his life would be if he continued to live the way he was.  He said that he was in hell and burning and as a result he gave his life to Jesus and is now involved in ministry!  The night we prayed for him he was supposed to do a robbery but because the Lord touched him he didn’t go.

The same night another group of people were praying for a lady who had been bound to her wheel chair for a year as a result of TB.  After praying for a bit they encouraged her to try and stand, she stood up.  Then they encouraged her to walk and she did!  She did a lap around the room with everyone’s eyes glued to her, when she got back to her wheelchair they asked it she needed to sit and rest but she didn’t want to.  A few days after they said she is still walking.  Wooohooo! 


Within the walled city in Cartegena, Colombia
where we picked up our vehicles 
    While in Panama we spent 7 days trying to get our vehicles shipped to Colombia.  Most of those days we ran back and forth between the port and the city which was an hour away, going to offices trying to get documents in order, inspections and not really sure how we were going to pay for it all, which totaled over $12,000!  Throughout the week we continued to go forward with the process not knowing if we could pay for it.  The day that we were supposed to have the payment we found out that an anonymous donation came in for $12,000 and we were able to put our vehicles on the next ship!

So many amazing things happened in Panama and we truly loved being there and teaming up with David Allen Tracy and staff at YWAM Panama City.